Sunday, 14 August 2016

Hard Times

I'd never heard of Hardwick Hall before until a friend mentioned it to us.  It's located not far from the M1 in Derbyshire and is stewarded by the National Trust.  After a scenic drive up to the hall itself the hall and the gardens come into their own.

On the day we decided to visit, the weather was changeable to say the least.  We arrived in bright sunshine and after a cup of coffee and we started to walk up to the hall,  thunder boomed and the heavens opened.  I regretted leaving my jacket at home.

The hall dates back to the 1500s when it was built by Bess of Hardwick, a Lady in Waiting to Elizabeth I and a powerful woman in her own right.  As much as I would have enjoyed taking pictures of the impressive interior the delicate nature of some of the exhibits and the diffuse lighting keep the interior in a protective gloom.  The history of Arabella, Bess's granddaughter is told throughout the hall and illustrates the dangers of being of a royal lineage. Hardwick ended up being her prison rather than a palace.

The original hall was left fall into disrepair once the new hall was constructed.

 The walled gardens are maintained beautifully by a dedicated staff and volunteers.

 The grounds below where designed mimic a wine glass and during the war Hardwick Hall was also acted as an airfield for fighter planes.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Rock of Ages


For years, driving around the surrounding area we've seen signs pointing the way to Creswell Crags and haven't given it a second thought.  Last month, we eventually got round to checking it out.

Creswell Crags is a limestone gorge riddled with caves formed during the last ice age.  There have been a number of animal bones and other archaeological objects  found on the site over the years and you can arrange a guided tour of the caves (we didn't realise that you had to book for this).  Helpful signs inform you of where such creatures as hyena bones were found.  The thought of them roaming across Nottinghamshire does seem hard to imagine.

The visitor centre is an impressive structure with cafe, conference and exhibition spaces. It sits nicely in the landscape and with the silvering wood exterior designed to soften its impact.

The Visitor Centre
The gorge itself, on a warm Sunday afternoon was beautiful and surprisingly free of visitors.

 The paths are accessible for wheel chairs and not to demanding.  The crags are a haven for bird life.  When we visited, jackdaws that where nesting in holes in one of the limestone rockface where fighting with each other for possession.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Double Vision

A short bonus post this week.  On the first day of July we were hit throughout the day by  heavy rain showers.  I just happened to be getting a beer from the fridge when I looked out of the window and spotted a double rainbow to the east.  The outer rainbow is actually a fainter reflection of the brighter rainbow which is why the colours are inverted.

Meanwhile, over towards the west an impressive cloudscape.

Monday, 4 July 2016

On The Fly


Another recent trip to the Whisby nature reserve near Lincoln.  We had gone with the intention to explore part of the reserve that  had previously been inaccessible on previous visits due to the construction of a foot bridge over a railway line (we did get to explore it, and were rewarded with plenty of midge bites for the effort).

I can't remember seeing Damselflies before.  They are smaller than Dragonflies, and are capable of folding their wings long the length of their bodies but share the almost iridescent markings.  Whisby was teeming with them.  The air and  water's edge were filed with breeding pairs. We must have seen hundreds of them.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

June Afternoon

Clumber Park near Worksop falls under the stewardship of the National Trust  and a beautiful location for a stroll around the lake and grounds while enjoying the warm sunshine.  Strangely, it tends not to be a place that we go to particularly often (the last time we visited must have been two years ago when we strapped the bikes onto the car and went for a cycle around the dozens of different paths).   On a sunny Sunday afternoon we thought it would be worthwhile driving over.

We weren't the only ones who had this idea.  The place was packed out.  Hundreds if not thousands of people taking advantage of the warm weather and bright sunshine to go and enjoy the remainder of the weekend.

The Chapel

Cooling Off

Is there anything more British than a game of cricket on a Sunday afternoon?  The game seemed to be in full swing when we returned to the car.