Posts Tagged ‘gardens’

Tyninghame House and gardens

July 2, 2018

Last Sunday, we went to see the gardens at Tyninghame (pr Tinning’am) House, which were open for the day as part of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, which features a wide range of gardens in Scotland which are not normally open to the public. Tyninghame House is a magnificent looking structure. The brochure we bought tells us that there had been a residence there since medieval times, but the modern building was developed in the late 1820s by the architect William Burn.

In the first photo below, you get an idea of the extensive parts that make up the house. It was the seat of the earls of Haddington for centuries and is now broken up into flats. It retains its impressiveness when you look at the quality of the sandstone walls, the turret and the unusual chimneys. A critical eye might think that it is overcomplicated, with turrets and chimneys vying for space, but as walk around it, you can appreciate the architect’s achievement.

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Tyninghame House and part of the gardens

In the 2nd photo, you get a better view of the smoothly conical towers – dunces’ hats to some – and the rectangular chimneys. The stonework on the rounded towers is outstanding, so the masons at the time must have been very skilful to achieve such sandstone elegance.

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The turrets and chimneys of Tyninghame House

So to the gardens, which you come across immediately you walk behind the tall hedges in front of the house. The parterre is what you first see and consists of a series of beds which are edged by box hedge and feature a number of rose varieties. The brochure informs us that the roses are “mainly white Iceberg and yellow King’s Ransom and Graham Thomas”. The King’s Ransom roses were most impressive and had a delicate scent. In one of the beds, mainly filled with flowering peony roses, a delicate white rose had emerged between the more blowsy peony roses, see the photo below.

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A rose fights for space with the larger peony rose flowers

At the south side of the house, you can walk through the trees to a vegetable garden, which is of course much smaller now than it would have been when such houses were self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. A set of stairs leads you up to a small courtyard and on each side of the steps is an attractive Grecian-type urn. The photo below shows one of these and the leaves on the urn are nicely complemented by the yellow roses behind and the newly flowering lavender

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Decorative urn at the south side of Tyninghame House

To the west of the house is the Secret Garden which was created in the 1950s. The brochure refers to the date as a cringeworthy 1950’s. When I was teaching, I got to the stage of telling my students not to use apostrophes unless they knew how to do so. The photo below shows the “white painted gazebo sheltering a statue of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and spring”. This is a very peaceful garden even in the presence of the many visitors, you could feel that it would be a haven to come to on a quieter day. Again, the border is of fragrant lavender and the roses include Gertrude Jekyll (good photo) and Bloomfield Abundance (good photo). Many of the roses had delicate but beautiful scent, unlike many roses you get in flower shops today.

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White gazebo in the Secret Garden at Tyninghame House

When you see the various colourful beds of roses at Tyninghame House, you can’t fail to think of Elvis Costello and …

At the end of our tour of the gardens, which included the exquisite lawns and hedges of the walled garden, the wilderness and the herbaceous border, we walked down the avenue of lime trees to St Baldred’s church (good photos) which is an attractive ruin. The guidebook tells us that “Two fine arches remain from the church enriched with chevron ornamentation” and these can be seen in the photo below. The church was first built in the 12th century and added to and changed in the 17th and 18th centuries. It lies in an idyllic spot, surrounded by farmland and trees. The stonework on the arches is remarkably well preserved and there are many shades of pink and grey in the sandstone of the church.

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The remains of St Baldred’s church at Tyninghame House

On the day, we visited, a herd of cows in the field next to the church were curious onlookers to the numerous visitors to the church’s ruin. For one calf, however, feeding time was more important, as you can see in the final photo.

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Cows in the field at Tyninghame House

You can see the extent of the house and the gardens in the wee video I made during our tour of Tyninghame House gardens. Ignore the first 4 seconds, as I have yet to learn how to delete sections in Movie Maker.

 

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All that Man Is and Cliveden House, near Windsor

November 10, 2017

In most cases, when I buy a book in a bookshop – I try to do this mainly, although I do order online as well – and read the blurb and the recommendations from reviewers, I enjoy the book, and mostly agree with the positive reviews on the cover of the book. I have just finished David Szalay’s novel All that Man Is but I found myself not agreeing with most of the review quotes. In the book, there are 9 stories of men of different ages and nationalities telling the reader their woes – often related to romance or the lack of it. There are some quite humorous scenes and there is no doubt that Szalay writes very well for the most part. I agree with the Guardian reviewer that 9 stories do not a novel make, despite the fact that there is a common theme of men in some sort of trouble and doing a lot of soul searching. I imagine that many female readers – as well as male readers – might find that some of the men in the stories are pathetic and need a good shake, although some female reviewers praised the novel. There are some very good passages in the stories and in the last one, the man reflects on how, to him, the present often seems to be impossible to define, that indeed impermanence is the only permanent factor in  our lives. Szalay writes “How little we understand about life as it is actually happening. The moments fly past, like trackside pylons seen from a train window”. On the other hand, this guy thinks he is old  and not long for this world as he is 73. My cycling pal  John is 74 and he floats up hills on his bike. The book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and you can read a very positive review of the book here,  so don’t let me put you off trying it. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it – post a comment.

Szalay

In mid-October, we went down to by train to Thames Ditton for my sister-in-law Hilary’s significant birthday celebrations. We had a charming walk along the Thames, going through part of the impressive Hampton Court. On the Thames, we passed numerous house boats which were reflected in the river, and enhanced by the  backdrop of autumnal trees, as shown here.

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House boats on the River Thames

On Hilary’s birthday, we all went to Cliveden House (pronounced Cliv-den) with its magnificent grounds and luxury hotel. The property was built by the famous American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, who passed it on to his son Waldorf. The grounds are extensive and on a sunny day, you can enjoy a peaceful, rural walk past the modern sculptures, seen here in the context of the grounds and then, closer up, looking back to Cliveden House.

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Sculptures and maze at Cliveden House

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Sculptures with the back of Cliveden House

Cliveden House is historically best known for the infamous Profumo Affair, the repercussions of which brought down the Conservative government in the early 1960s. When you walk down to the river, you pass the cottage where the affair took place. It was a lovely autumn day when we visited and we saw some startlingly beautiful trees by the river, such as the one below. You can also walk by the pond which has a pagoda, a range of trees and on this day, a very calm heron, seen below. Cliveden House and its gardens are well worth a visit if you are in the area.

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Autumnal splendour at Cliveden House gardens

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Heron at the pond near Cliveden House

 

Hailes Castle and municipal tulips

May 26, 2016

A visit last week from friends whom we met in Australia many years ago. I worked with my former colleague, now Professor Anne Lloyd of the University of Boras (pr Boroos) at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, where her husband Jim Zantiotis works as an educational psychologist in local schools. We took Anne and Jim to nearby Hailes Castle (good photos) to give them a flavour of historic East Lothian. The castle is not as well-known as other castles in the county such as Tantallon Castle (many photos) and nestles in a dip in a narrow country road, where I often go cycling. Depending on the time of year, you can have the place to yourself. We went on a Sunday morning and a few people followed us in. At first, the castle looks restricted in size as you enter the gate and cross the wee, gurgling burn but when you get to the entrance, you see that the castle extends greatly to your left and right. You can see a possible reconstruction of the castle here.

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Stonework at the entrance to Hailes Castle

There is a wide range and age of stonework in the castle which was originally built in the 13th century, and as you can see from the photo above,  the more modern finished red sandstone sits beside the original rough stonework used to build the castle. The castle has a long history and the Hepburn family, one of the greatest landowners in Scotland, occupied the castle for long periods and there is speculation that Mary Queen of Scots may have stayed there briefly. As you walk around the castle, you come across the pit prison (photo) which went into a deep dungeon and you get the feeling that if you were put down there, you might never see the light of day again. One of the main parts of the living quarters of the castle was later turned into a doocot (photo). The castle sits by the river Tyne and if you walk round the back of the castle – see photos below – you get a peaceful feeling and a great view up to the castle walls and along the river. If you are visiting East Lothian, put this castle on your list – just don’t tell anyone.

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North wall of Hailes Castle.

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View along the River Tyne from Hailes Castle.

I wasn’t going to put any more photos of tulips on the blog this year, in case readers might get tulip fatigue but taking our friends to North Berwick Gardens we came across 2 vibrant displays which the local municipal gardeners had planted. The combination of the tulips and wallflower was not too harsh, despite the bright colours – see photos below. I took a close up of one of the tulip heads and it could be an example of Japanese art.

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Tulips and wallflowers in North Berwick gardens

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Tulips and wallflowers in North Berwick gardens

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Stunning tulip head in North Berwick

 

Lucy Newton and Aix En Provence

July 14, 2015

A new exhibition at Waterstone House, Aberlady features the artist Lucy Newton and it is a stunning collection of paintings of animals and birds. For me, there were three outstanding features of the work on show. Lucy kindly gave permission for me to include two of her paintings on the blog and they are shown below. Firstly, there was the amazing detail on her animal paintings of a badger and a fox. On both portraits, the animal’s fur is crystal clear and the hairs are delicately drawn and there is a real sense of life in the paintings. (Click on paintings/photos for best effect)

Badger by Lucy Newton

Badger by Lucy Newton

Secondly, in most of the paintings, the artist has included background which is a mixture of the realistic – grass, leaves and a tree – and the abstract, and this gives an intriguing depth to the paintings. Thirdly, in the bird portraits (and I use the word “portraits” deliberately as you get a real sense of these being “real” birds with personalities of their own) Lucy Newton uses splashes of colour which also have a realistic and an abstract quality. This exhibition is another winner for SOC and I would urge you to go and see the exhibition if you are in the area.

Fieldfare Study by Lucy Newton

Fieldfare Study by Lucy Newton

One of the delights of our trip to Marseille was visiting the beautiful town of Aix En Provence – the Aix is pronounced Ex. The town is a world away from the bustling city of Marseille and, although there are many tourists in the town, once you leave the main streets, there are many quieter side streets to wander through. Aix is well known as the home of the painter Cezanne and we went to the Musée Granet which contains a range of paintings by Cezanne but also many other artists. The ticket to the museum also allows you to visit the very impressive Chapelle des Pénitents, an old church which has been refurbished into a stunning, high-ceilinged art gallery, where there is an extensive exhibition of painters such as Cezanne, Picasso and Klee. The gallery (photo below) is on 3 floors and the interior itself is a work of art.

Musee Granet Chapelle, Aix En Provence

Musee Granet Chapelle,
Aix En Provence

Aix is an historic town and as you walk through the streets, there are many impressive squares with numerous cafes in which you can sit with a nice glass of Provence Rosé and watch the world go by – or study the concentration of chess players.

Chess players in Aix En Provence

Chess players in Aix En Provence

On our second visit to Aix, we went to the equally impressive Caumont Centre D’Art which is housed in a grand 18th century mansion. We were there  to see an excellent exhibition  of the artist Canaletto and the paintings came from galleries all over the world. At the back of the mansion, there are beautiful gardens, part of which includes an outdoor restaurant, set in a corner with a number of attractively planted jardinières, as in the photos below. We did not know about the gardens when we went to see the paintings and lunch at the Centre D’Art was a treat. If you are in Provence, Aix is a must-see.

The formal garden at Caumont Centre D'Art, Aix

The formal garden at Caumont Centre D’Art, Aix

Jardinière at Caumont Centre D'Art, Aix

Jardinière at Caumont Centre D’Art, Aix

The rose on our lunch table at Caumont Centre D'Art, Aix

The rose on our lunch table at Caumont Centre D’Art, Aix

I’ve put a slide show of photos from part of our trip on my Photopeach page (click on full screen for best effect) and it includes a delightful song by Francoise Hardy, whom I absolutely adored in my youth.

Trip to Manchester, Calf Hey Reservoir

June 10, 2015

I was away for 3 days last week to Manchester. I was staying with our good friends John and Stella whom we first met in 1974 when I was a young librarian and John an English lecturer at what was De La Salle College, situated at Hopwood Hall now the site of an FE college. Stella and John have redesigned their back garden since I was there last and have installed a slate path which takes the viewer’s eye up through the garden to the tall trees.

The Fitzpatrick's garden in Prestwich

The Fitzpatrick’s garden in Prestwich

Another feature of their garden was that many of the plants attracted bees, including cotoneaster and large headed aliums. I managed to get a close up of one of the bees on an alium and the yellow and black of the bee contrasts nicely with the purple flowers, which appear to be blue from a distance.

Bee feeding on an alium head

Bee feeding on an alium head

The front garden has some impressively large oriental poppies with their big, open, look-at-me red/orange flower heads with internal wheels. In the photo below, the centre of the flower head looks as if a small, round, highly decorated cake has been placed there, perhaps made of marzipan with purple icing.

Oriental poppy

Oriental poppy

John took me for a walk around Calf Hey Reservoir where you can see two reservoirs side by side, and on a sunny day, which we had, it’s an idyllic place. As you enter the reservoir area, there are the ruins of old houses which formed part of Haslingden Grane which was occupied in the late 18th and early 19th century by farmers and weavers. The photo below shows the ruins of Hartley House where there was a large farmhouse and cottages operated by weavers who had looms in their houses. John and I speculated that it would have been a huge shock for these weavers who may have had to leave the household looms to work in the large factories in the Manchester area in the 19th century.

Hartley House

Hartley House

There is a very pleasant walk through some woods and round to the reservoirs and you pass a little waterfall created on five levels. When you stop, all you can hear is the rushing water and some bird call from the trees. In the photo below, you can’t see the thousands of midges which were frantically dancing above the water – they may appear if you click on the photo and press the + icon.

Waterfall at Calf Hey Reservoir

Waterfall at Calf Hey Reservoir

When you come out of the woods, there are a number of shorter and longer walks around the reservoirs. Calf Hey sits in a wide valley and I found it a very peaceful place with good views and, on the day we were there, a family of mallards, two adults and 3 fairly grown up ducklings, swam gently across the reservoir.

View over the reservoir

View over the reservoir