Saturday, 23 August 2008

Bridgewater - Friday, 22nd August 2008

We stopped for afternoon coffee in the Somerset town of Bridgewater which, upon its approach looked remarkably unprepossessing. This only went to show one should not judge a book by its cover.

A restored Victorian crane on the quayside.

I was especially taken with St Mary's Church, Robert Blake's statue, and the market's facade.

We did our second crossword of the day at the Old Vicarage cafe which incorporated a 14th century inn. The oldest room (14th century) had superb Tudor panelling and must have been very popular for functions. Just imagine, the Black Death was just beginning to make its rounds of Europe as this room was first used. The monarchs on the throne since it was built in the time of Edward III or Richard II have included Plantagenets / Angevins and all the Lancastrians, Yorkists, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanoverians, Saxe-Coburg Gotha and Windsors.

Detail of a building as we were on the road leaving Bridgewater.

Harvesting in Devon.... and so to Helen and Ian's.

Friday 22nd August 2008

GB and I set off for Exeter and his satnav decided we were going down the A roads through Shropshire and Herefordshire - much to my delight though I was momentarily mystified when it failed to turn us off through Gloucester and instead took us across the Severn Bridge.

Our coffee stop was at the Copper Kettle in Leebotwood near Church Stretton. Pleasant service and enjoyable coffee (try their banana and walnut cake!) made this well worth putting on a map of coffee spots of the UK. Memo to self - make such a map in Google Maps some time.

The thatched pub next door was attractive and I loved its inn sign.

Looking for a vole wot went down an 'ole...

In and out of the Welsh border on the way down...

Why, I wondered, as we passed through Hereford, do highway engineers stick railings and armco barriers alongside the roads. It would be worth the occasional car falling off the road to allow folk like me to photograph the view as one goes along.

The same thought occurred as we crossed the Severn.

Once over the Avon on the M5 we hit traffic for a few miles which at least enabled me to photograph Portbury church.

Across the Somerset levels.

The Axbridge end of the Mendip Hills.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


There are occasions when I am totally flummoxed as to where a plant in the garden has come from. In this case it is a very tall white Campanula – a bit like C. pyramidalis but with the wrong leaves. It has a basal rosette of soft, fleshy bright green, heart-shaped leaves. It appeared in a garden trough that used to be at the caravan. I certainly never bought it (a fact confirmed by the absence of any record in my purchases books); I don’t recall being given it; and since it is in the trough it could not have been in the garden when we came. It has never flowered before – as witnessed by the absence of any previous photos as well as the fact that I surely would have remembered it.

As the flowering shoots were growing (and growing and growing) I surmised it was going to be a tiny-flowered, self-seeded plant from the bird seeds. Instead it is a brilliant Campanula but the source could be, I suppose, the bird seed. Gardening is always full of surprises.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Poor Fish

I forgot to mention that one of our two goldfish died the other day. The one that is left looks very lonely. Do Goldfish get lonely. I cannot recall that being mentioned in The Drunken Goldfish.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Rhantus exsoletus

This is a predacious diving beetle – Rhantus exsoletus – which I found in one of the ponds as I evicted some of the algae with a net. It frequents the vegetation in almost stagnant water. It’s a species I haven’t seen here before and some people may wonder where insects like these come from when the nearest neighbouring pond is some distance away. The answer is simple – they fly! Like most species of beetle this one is quite capable of flight, the wings being hidden, folded, beneath the hard wing case or elytra.


As I have done a fair bit of gardening the last couple of weeks I have disturbed quite a lot of frogs from their hiding places in the ponds, water features, vegetation, and even sitting on top of a dwarf conifer. They have been of various ages and sizes from the smallest – probably last year’s tadpoles – to a few fully grown three, four or five year olds. This is one of the latter, sitting on the path wondering where to go next to avoid this disturbing influence busy weeding around him.

Friday, 1 August 2008

My Country Hedge

There are not many things I am proud of creating but my native garden hedge is one of them. It began as tiny seedlings in little pots when we were in our temporary rented house at Brackenside and I planted them out when we got here to The Willows. It consists of 18 species of native plant (and one non-native the Copper Beech which sort of crept in by accident).

The native species are:-
Downy Birch
Silver Birch
Pedunculate Oak (English Oak)
Goat Willow (Great Sallow)
Wayfaring Tree
Guelder Rose
Field Rose
Field Maple
Rowan (Mountain Ash)
Horse Chestnut

Even though it is less than four years (and only three growing seasons) since we moved in, the hedge has been layered once and trimmed at the top twice already. It doesn’t need to be stockproof but it is. The wildlife loves it and so do I.