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architecture National Trust The National Trust

Avebury Atmosphere

We have visited Stonehenge and always found it cold and uninviting especially now as English Heritage are messing it up so much. However every time we wander around the village and stones of Avebury we are always mesmerised by their special presence.

We visited in 2019 and again enjoyed it so much. We walked around the outside of the whole ring of stones. It is such a magical place and always makes us feel calm and relaxed.

I took so many photos of the stones either as individuals or in group I thought it best to share them as a gallery including a few shots of the village of Avebury. So follow by clicking on the first pic and navigating using the arrows. So come on a wander discovering the Avebury stones.

Partway way around our circular walk around the stones we came upon a magical tree with obvious special meaning to some. The tree was decorated with ribbons, written thoughts and natural objects in memory of a lost friend. It felt a special place as we stood beneath its boughs.

We continued on our wander around the stone circle to complete our walk.

We are pretty sure we will return for another wander!

 

 

 

Categories
architecture buildings Church architecture

Salisbury – part 2

As we return to Salisbury you find us still exploring the Cathedral. We left the Chapter House behind after a long stay and returned to the nave. Enjoy a tour with my photos.

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Two mystery photos to finish off our tour of the cathedral – what do the two following pictures show?

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As we left the cathedral after several hours of walking on hard stone floors our feet were relieved. We were pleased to discover that the weather had improved and we had blue skies and sunshine. This gave me the chance to take a few more pics of the cathedral as we walked through the close and back into the town.

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We went off in search of more architecture but this time on a much more domestic level.

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We returned to the car via the river bank where we followed a path that we used to walk along when we used to live close to Salisbury over 40 years ago. I thought I would finish my two posts from the city with this shot of a brightly coloured outhouse door. Someone has a sense of humour!

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Categories
architecture buildings Church architecture memorials outdoor sculpture remembrance sculpture townscapes

Salisbury – a cathedral city

We hadn’t visited the city of Salisbury for many years so as we traveled down to Hampshire for a mid-week break we decided to drop off there on our way. We wondered if any memories were stirred up.

We wandered through the city following tourist signs which directed us to the cathedral. As we passed through the streets we tried to see if we remembered anywhere but it all seemed such a long time ago.

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We found the ancient stone gateway which led us to the Cathedral Close, a peaceful open grassed area where couples sat talking and individuals sat with a book or newspaper. A group of youngsters played a game of cricket appreciating all the freedom the space gave them.

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We wandered around the Close to gain views of the vast building and discovered the occasional piece of sculpture.

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The Cathedral in Salisbury is well known for two main features, the Magna Carta and its wonderfully preserved cloisters. When we walked around the four sides of the square Cloisters memories began to stir. We remembered this part of the building clearly.

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There were small reminders around the Cloisters about the importance of the Magna Carta. We loved this piece of calligraphy on the floor. “Responsibilty, Society, Change, Freedom, Justice, Liberty”. We found the historically important document itself carefully protected from the light and visitors’ fingers deep within the Cathedral building.

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The document itself was displayed in the Chapter House where a new display showed replicas of King John’s seal and a piece of vellum on a stretcher. When we saw the Magna Carta we were in total awe at being so close to possibly the most important document ever written. Our hearts skipped a beat! It was incredible to think that this document was written in 1215 and it was still in perfect condition.

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We loved this quotation from Franklin Roosevelt!

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The Chapter House which housed the Magna Carta was beautiful in its own right especially its vaulted ceiling. A Peppa Pig helium balloon had floated to the ceiling and added  a splash of colour, bright cerise pink! Jude was pleased to find a kneeler dedicated to St Jude!

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Wandering around the Cathedral we found many interesting artifacts  illustrating many centuries, including the world’s oldest surviving mechanical clock created in 1386 and a memorial plaque from the Burma Campaign.

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A much more recent and very eye-catching piece was this font designed by William Pye. It reflected the stained glass windows and produced a gentle sound of running water.

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The huge stone pillars in the nave were decorated with fabric hangings once again reflecting the thinking behind the Magna Carta. They said so much and also added great beauty and colour.

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Art work hung from the roof of the side aisle depicting the colours and falling leaves of autumn. They were fascinating and intensely beautiful, moving in the slightest breeze.

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Salisbury was so full of interest I will continue in part two.

 

Categories
community gardening garden design garden furniture garden seating garden wildlife gardening gardens gardens open to the public natural pest control outdoor sculpture poppies recycling sculpture wildlife Yellow Book Gardens

A Wonderful Community Garden

Returning from a few days away down south we made a diversion from the direct route home to visit a community garden in the Wiltshire town of Swindon, a town renowned in its heyday for manufacturing everything to do with railways at their peak in the era of steam.

As Jude, aka The Undergardener or Mrs Greenbench, and I are involved in running an allotment community garden we were keen to see what was going on at TWIGS, another community garden which like us open under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme.

TWIGS stands for Therapeutic Work in Gardening in Swindon, which proved to be a perfect reflection of what goes on in what we discovered to be an amazing and caring enterprise.

It was hard to find even though the directions in the NGS’s Yellow Book made it look simple. We navigated our way around the bypass searching for the right exits and often failing, until we found the right district. We wriggled through industrial and business parks in search of a garden centre which shared its grounds with TWIGS.

When we successfully arrived were welcomed by this cheerful planter alongside the gateway in. Once inside we immediately spotted colourful borders and rows of busy polytunnels.

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Come around with us now as we wander the paths of TWIGS discovering their wonderful work.

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The staff and volunteers here help their clients who have problems of all sorts, to regain their pride and confidence through raising plants, looking after chickens, making bird boxes and insect homes, creating gardens and crafting sculptures and much more. The plants raised are used both in the gardens and for sale in the little nursery and the nestboxes and insect homes are found around the site to encourage wildlife as well as for sale to visitors.

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The gardens themselves are peaceful places, calm and quiet and great places to relax in or retreat to. The gardens are managed using organic approaches and in partnership with nature. They must have such a strong effect on those who care for them or like us just visit them.

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There were some original ideas here too created by the clients, such as this sedum planter.

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We found wandering around TWIGS a most enjoyable, relaxing and enlightening experience. It shows what can be achieved by dedicated people who want to use gardening and working with nature to improve the lives of others. It was good to visit another community garden which proved to be very different to our own at Bowbrook Allotment Community.I shall finish with this set of pictures which illustrate what TWIGS is all about. A sunken retreat had been designed by an artist in residence and built by the TWIGS clients using all recycled materials. It is a peaceful place to sit and widlife has found homes within it.

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Categories
conservation countryside flowering bulbs hedgerows landscapes light meadows nature reserves spring bulbs Wildlife Trusts

A Fritillary Meadow – North Meadow, Cricklade

We have a book at home where we list places we must go to, gardens we must visit and things we must do. A visit to the Fritillary Meadows in Wiltshire has been on our “Places to Visit” list for a few years now but we have been thwarted by the weather and the effect this has on these lovely flowering bulbs. This year we made it.

We drove down to Cricklade in Wiltshire and with great difficulty due to heavy downpours of rain making it hard to see, we found the first signs of where we were aiming for, The Fritillary Tearooms. The tearooms open each year when the Fritallaries are in full bloom and the proceeds go towards boosting the “Cricklade in Bloom” funds. Naturally we had to support them and so enjoyed a warming cup of coffee and a splendid cake before we embarked on our wet walk around the wet meadow. Apologies for the sloping photo of the tea shop but having one leg shorter than the other does sometimes result in strange sloping pics!

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We entered the reserve, called North Meadow, run jointly by English Nature and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, via a bridge over the River Churn, one of the two rivers that skirt the wet meadow, the other being the Thames. In front of us lay an old, flower-rich hay meadow situated within the glacial flood plains of the two rivers. The meadow covers a vast area of 108 acres. It is designated a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Scientific Interest and is an internationally important reserve.

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We were never far from one or other river as we walked the reserve margins. It was good to see beautiful ancient pollarded willows much in evidence aligning the banks of both. Seeing these brings back memories of my childhood fishing my local brook “The Carrant” whose banks were lined with them. We hid inside them as many were hollow and loved looking up inside them spotting wildlife mostly spiders and beetles but on special occasions a roosting Tawny Owl. The willows were pollarded which involved pruning them hard back to their main trunks every few years to harvest the stems for basket making and hurdle manufacture.

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The reserve was one grand immense flat meadow which is flooded for a few months each year creating an unusual habitat for plants and all sorts of wildlife. At first glance we were amazed at the expanse of the meadow but somewhat disappointed at the relatively few numbers of Fritillaries visible. Seeing just one Fritillary is a treat though as it is such an unusual and beautiful flower. It is now sadly a “nationally scarce” plant.

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Even though the light was very dull we soon spotted more of the little beauties we had waited so long to see and realised that there were far more than we had first thought. We grow Fritillaria meleagris in our spring border at home and in the orchard meadows on the allotment communal gardens but we had never seen them growing in their true wild habitat, the wetland meadows. We wondered just how amazing they must look on a bright day. To begin with we found them in small clumps including the odd white flowers which although lacking the checkerboard patterning have a delicate beauty of their own.

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This wetland meadow habitat was home to other site specific species such as Comfrey and Kingcups, Lady’s Smock and Ragged Robin. Lovely old fashioned names for our native wildflowers. To maintain the special requirements of this collection of damp loving plants it is essential that the meadow is managed properly. It has to be grazed, used for hay and flooded for set periods.

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We were surprised to find one comfrey with yellow and green variegated foliage.

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Along the margins of the meadow we stumbled upon these little carved stones, looking like miniature milestones. We later found out that they marked the plots allotted to individual “commoners” for haymaking.

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As we reached about two-thirds of the way around the meadow the density of the fritillaries increased markedly and tall reeds grew on its margins.

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The last part of our wander around this wet meadow was alongside the river once again where Willow and Blackthorn trees grew happily in the damp soils.

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In a very damp patch we came across a clump of this very unusual looking sedge with its jet black flowers thus finishing off our visit to the field of Fritillaries with a mystery as we had no idea what it was.

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As we left the reserve we just had to stop and admire this old and very unusual toll cottage.

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