A Gypsy and a Restless One

You know you have trouble on your hands if you have to pick your friends up from the police station in the rain don’t you? Have no fear, I ‘put leg in bed’ under her umbrella and marched her to the safety of a café. Dear Jo and I sat and talked, and laughed, and laughed and talked, until the sun came out and we hit the streets.

We got on well from the start, we have much in common and there wasn’t a moments reserve between us, just hugs, giggles and a desire to learn all about each other and the city we were in. Jo had come south to Birmingham the afternoon before and found her way around, I’d got up at 4.30 and the coach whisked me northwards, to the midway point.

Neither of us had spent any time in Birmingham before, and Jo wondered what she’d let herself in for, it seemed that lots of the city was being pulled down on the northern perimeter that was her approach, but here is our first glimpse of the shopping area near the Bullring.

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There are trams all around Birmingham and Jo loves them, I confessed to never having been on one, I’ll have to give it a go in Barcelona this year.
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I wonder if they’ll have any pink ones!

birm5On we wander, arm in arm like a couple of school girls, or do I mean old women? We both fell for this killer heel.

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And the matching bag.

birm6Our cameras were happy as we were enticed into elegant arcades.

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We oohed and ahhed at the reflective, wibbly wobbly walls, and the city is full of quirky miscellanea.

The sculptures around the centre are amazing, and of course Jo is as enthusiastic about them as I am.
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We ramble around, very excited and seeing amazing things everywhere we turned, Antony Gormley’s Iron Man was an unexpected treat.

birm11Just standing there minding his own business.

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Old and new architecture blends beautifully, and the building that looks like it’s been crocheted was a huge favourite for both of us.

Jo had booked us onto a guided walking tour in the early afternoon, it took us all around the canals, like here,

birm15and we had to squeeze our way past hundreds of graduating students, being photographed in their gowns, against the backdrop of this surprising city. Before that we had time to visit the countries biggest library, the crocheted building above.

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Here’s a sneaky peep at one of the libraries two roof gardens, and a certain lovely lady trying to decide if the broad beans were worth snitching!

I’ll be back as soon as I can with the next bit of my amazing day with Jo, meanwhile, it will probably leave you traumatised because there are photos . . . of me, arrrgh, as well as Jo’s view of the day, here.

Wildside, the Bit in the Middle

Last week I posted about a quick visit to Buckland Abbey and hinted that I went somewhere else, between munch stops there. As well as Buckland, just two miles away is the beautiful Garden House, a long time favourite of mine. It was created by Keith Wiley, and considered one of the most innovative gardens in Britain. Keith left the Garden House behind twelve years ago, but he didn’t go very far, Wildside, along with Buckland and the Garden House form a trio of must see gardens, within three miles.

With his wife, artist Ros Wiley, Keith has taken a few acres of field and transformed it into a paradise filled with plants from close to home and around the world. The garden has a naturalistic style, and aims to allow plants to thrive as they would in the wild. They began by developing the lower garden.

It looks so mature, you’d never believe it’s only been twelve years.

The upper garden and the transitional areas are still being worked on, but of course a garden is never finished anyway.

I’m afraid it was a rainy day, I was holding my camera and an umbrella and both wobbled around, so my photos don’t do the garden justice. I’ll just have to go back again!

The garden is only open a few days each year, and they have a few plants for sale. My eyes feasted on a little Molly the Witch peony, I brought it home and hope I can keep it alive. Keith and Ros were there and happy to chat, I asked how many people they have helping them. The answer, none, they’ve done it all on their own, a remarkable feat.

I’d highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area at the right time, and I intend to watch the future developments of this glorious floral canvas.

Looking up at the Alcazar

Nancy says that,

Going about our day, we often don’t pay attention to what’s directly above us. We’re more likely to focus on what’s in front of us rather than what’s overhead.

But like some of my friends here, I look everywhere when I’m out and about, you never know what your camera will find otherwise.

If I hadn’t looked up when I went to the Alcazar in Seville last year, I would have missed loads of photo opps, like these.

And then there was naughty Neptune!

al5 Are you observant, do yo look up? if you have images to share go visit Nancy at the Daily Post.

How to choose a coffin

Frizztext reminded me in his post today of when I visited a coffin makers shop in Accra, Ghana, quite a few years ago. He has seen a film about funerals over there, Frizz you’ll be amused to know that I danced at one! He was impressed by the choice of coffin designs and says he would like to be buried in a giant guitar shaped one.

Me, I would choose the mobile phone because I’m a techno hen, but I’d like it to be a smart phone, not the kind that was around all those years ago!

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Which would you choose?

Weekly Photo Challenge, Opposites

Hey WordPress guys, could you come up with an easy prompt once in a while please? Only joking,  know it’s a challenge.

Opposites. Well Exmouth, my closest beach, is opposite the nature reserve across the estuary at Dawlish Warren. Here is the nature reserve at low tide, in winter when its a rest stop for migrating birds, as well as a permanent home to a variety of birds.

warren2Now, the depth of field makes this look different from the reality. The grassy sand dunes are on the south west of the Exe, while the yellow apartment blocks are on the north east, with a mile of water in between.

warren1Does this second photo help or hinder? I promise you that nature and manmade are definitely opposites here!

Pimm's o'Clock
Pimm’s o’clock

Looking down from the balcony of my favourite Pimm’s hostelry, the sand spit on the opposite side of the estuary is Dawlish Warren nature reserve.

 

Orchid Alley

I called into Buckland Abbey today for tea and cake – Bakewell tart if you’re wondering and while I sat avoiding the mizzle, my friend went outside. After a few minutes she came back in, all excited, ‘Gilly, Gilly you have to come see now!’

This is what she’d found.

bu1Just past the Elizabethan garden, there’s a little path with a patch grass to the right.


Definitely two, maybe three varieties of orchid, a delight to see. I’d left my camera in the car so these are phone pics, click for a better view.

Partners in mischief

Sabah, Christmas 2009, at the Sepilok orang-utan rehabilitation centre. I was beginning to feel pretty rough, dizzy in fact and I didn’t get better for a few days. It was annoying because we’d found somewhere to have an English Christmas dinner and I could only watch my friends enjoying it. Before that though, I’d seen a troup of orangs arrive for lunch in the centre. There were lots of long tailed macaques, cashing in on the free tuck. Very cheeky monkeys, who would sneek up behind you to see what they could find. Like the baby orangs they were cute when tiny, but here are a couple of pre-teens.

partnersI don’t know what they were up to but they were definitely partners in mischief!

Beside the City Wall

Yesterday I grabbed a little bit of sunshine and walked the dogs in towards town, with no particular plan. They aren’t very keen on the High Street, so I took a right and headed up Northernhay Street to the park. It was the first time I’ve been there for years and a perfect day for a peaceful stroll. Back in the days when I worked in the Civic Centre, it was a regular lunchtime spot in summer. When I was little and when my own children were, it was a favourite spot, along with the adjoining Rougemont Gardens, for roly-polys, so there I was again.

At the Gate
At the Gate

The first borders on my left were mostly new to me.

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And I don’t remember this Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum)

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Acer Griseum
Stunning borders
Stunning borders

Time to walk up the steps

mw10This is part of the old city wall.

mw11But it feels like I’m walking in the woods.

mw12One of the old gates, walking on past there are places to peep through.

mw13Dido and Daisy prefer the shade and would like to run off into the trees, I like the sun on my face.

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One of the city’s great and good on a nice curvy path

This wall cries out to stroked.

mw14mw17Ahh more steps!

mw18But the view makes it worth it.

mw19This is the entrance I was looking for. The path through Athelstan’s tower leads to Rougemont garden where you can walk inside the wall.

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I didn’t linger in Rougemont, a sign said no dogs, but I ignored it long enough to spot the teenagers through the trees above.
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And to get another angle on the tower.

Okay, time to follow the rules and back through to Northernhay. By the way the ‘hay’ part means field and we have Southernhay as well.

A rather show offy foxglove variety.
A rather show offy foxglove variety.

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I walked up past the war memorial, to the little pond at the bottom of the slope.

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When I was little there were goldfish that I loved to see, but no-one’s home now.
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This is a short circular walk, part of the longer City Walk Trail, perhaps I’ll take one of the Redcoat Guide tours one day. For now I’m nearly back to the beginning, with the wall high above me. Northernhay is actually England’s oldest public space, it was created as a pleasure walk for local people in 1612, 400myears and still giving pleasure. I hope you enjoyed it, are you walking with Jo this Monday?

mw32A last little bit of treasure.

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Exeter’s history began nearly 2000 years ago, when the second Augustan Roman legion settled here in 55AD. A fortress was built overlooking the lowest crossing point of the Exe, known as Isca and manned by 6000 soldiers. An earth and timber rampart with a deep ditch in front protected the fortress.
Over the centuries the original grey volcanic rock was repaired using Heavitree Breccia, white Triassic sandstone and a pink Permian sandstone was used in the 17th century.
When the fall of the roman empire the city was pretty much abandoned and the land inside the wall returned to farmland, and little is known until Saxon times and from the 9th century the city grew quickly becoming one of the most prosperous in the country.
King Athelstan is credited with repairing the wall in time to withstand Viking attacks in 1001 AD and William the Conqueror in 1068 AD.
This photo is of a print I have, showing the city in the 17th century with the wall still intact, about seventy percent remains now. You should be able to click for a bigger view.

Exeter, inside the wall 1618
Exeter, inside the wall 1618

Curves inside and out

Cheri at the Daily Post has chosen the theme of curves for this weeks photo challenge. I have a friend who likes straight lines in imagery, but I’ll always choose the curves and swirls we find in nature, in any design or art.

I took this first photo a few weeks ago at Coldharbour Mill, in east Devon. It was leaning against a wall at the back of a courtyard and I had to capture it.

curvesa1Next, there’s a humpy hedge behind these curvy evergreens. Apparently when it was a baby hedge, there was a very harsh winter and it was weighed down by snow. The gardeners tried to repair it, but failed and knowing they’d lost the battle, they decided to allow it to grow it’s own curvy way.

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A few weeks ago I posted a black and white version of some William Morris wallpaper,

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There were several comments about the original colours, so here it is, colours, curves and even a well placed ceramic plate.