Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s holiday in Skye. It shows his daughter Susan, my fellow recorder player, enjoying a magnificent view on her birthday earlier this week in the company of one of her brothers.
We spent all day today crossing the country to visit the gardens at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. We were hoping to see 350 Japanese cherry trees in their full glory but we probably arrived two or three days too late.
There was plenty of blossom still out but a lot had already fallen and the leaves were starting to appear. In real life the cherry orchard was wonderful but for the camera, the leaves got into the picture a little too much. It was a dull day which didn’t help. Having said all that, it was well worth the two hours of driving each way (and the rather stiff entry fee).
The gardeners have thoughtfully placed many swings among the trees and Mrs Tootlepedal had a moment of reflection on one of these benches.
We walked through the plantation, which is on the side of a hill, down a serpentine path…
…which was lined with fallen petals.
The plantation is still young and the trees will soon form complete arches overhead but for the moment, we could see the grey sky above.
The camera cannot convey how beautiful the scene was, far whiter in real life than the pictures show. Rather oddly, I think a black and white shot coveys the colour better.
The gardens are very popular and even on a dull midweek morning, they were full of people enjoying the scenes. A bit of blue sky for a contrast would have helped.
Apart from the cherry trees, the main feature of the gardens is a rather showy water feature….
…which bursts into life every half hour so that childish people like me can enjoy themselves.
There are other smaller water features all over the place…
…along with well trained hedges….
…both large and small.
The hedge on the left in the panel above is in a large walled garden. It is made up of crab apple plants and will look sensational in a few days when the blossoms come fully out.
The walled garden is divided into small ‘rooms’ each with with their own ‘walls’…
…and tulips were the featured plant today. …
…though there were other plants to see as well.
It is a great pleasure to wander through this recently created garden and see so many people of all ages enjoying the little nooks and crannies filled with plants and features.
I enjoyed these two clematis in one of the garden corners.
We left the flowers and cherries….
…and went and had a good lunch in the cafeteria before going to have a quick look at the town centre.
We passed the castle on our way.
There was a lot of extensive planting as you can see and we noticed a fritillary meadow and a scilla meadow as we went along.
I was much struck by two street names in the town….
A gate is a street of course and not a gate. This is a gate….
…and it is this that the streets are within and without.
Within the gate is a market place with a fine hall…
…which has an attractive portico.
We didn’t spend long in the town and went back through the gardens, where Mrs Tootlepedal bought a plant or four in the plant shop, before passing this fantastic tree house….
…on our way back to the car.
Google Maps had offered us choice of routes to Alnwick. It is almost exactly opposite Langholm on the map but unfortunately there is a large lump of hills and moorland in between with no direct route. We could either take main road to the south and travel 100 miles at speed and take two hours or go by more minor routes to the north and (rather surprisingly) take two hours.
I chose to do both and went by the main roads to the south and came back by the more scenic northern route. Just as Google said, they both took two hours, more or less exactly.
As the sun started to shine just as we left the gardens, we were a bit annoyed about our timing but it did make for a beautiful drive through the border hills on our way home.
We got home in time to fill the feeders, have some tea and then for me to go out to a practice with our Langholm Choir. After 60 miles cycling yesterday and 180 miles driving today, I was quite tired but all the same, it was a useful practice and I enjoyed the singing.
I found a moment to catch a flying bird of the day when we got home.