Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Bressingham In Bloom

Bressingham Gardens must be one of the finest gardens in the East of England. What started off as a piece of agricultural land, when it was bought by Alan Bloom in 1953, has evolved under the management of three generations of the Bloom family into today's floral wonderland of 8,000 species and varieties of plants. Lets waste no more time and just immerse ourselves in the Dell Garden.

That's only part of the gardens, I'll show you more in the next post. Also on the site there's a steam railway museum, miniature steam railways, a fairground ride, a cafĂ©, a gift shop and a collection of old vehicles used in the Dad's Army TV series. Then right next door there's a large garden centre which also has a restaurant. 

Take care.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Sandy Tracks

A slightly cooler day with temperatures just perfect for a walk, so we made the short journey to the RSPB's headquarters at Sandy Warren, a fairly frequent destination for my brother and me. 

After a journey through the wide wheat fields of South Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire it is always a delight to find yourself in the very different landscape along the Greensand Ridge, an outcrop of sandstone that forms a low series of hills, dominated by woods and heathland.

The RSPB are trying to restore more of the area to heathland, which it is hoped will attract specialist birds like Nightjar, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler - and there has already been some success in this endeavour.

Not that we ever see that many birds on our visits here, but there's always something to photograph. The bracken always interests me as it's a plant seldom encountered in my home area, though it's by no means uncommon elsewhere. In fact it can become a nuisance, overwhelming other plants.

This is Common Centaury, a widespread flower throughout Europe, and flourishing up on Sandy Ridge. Perhaps if people knew it was a kind of Gentian they might pay it more attention.

A pretty, rotting tree stump always will have me reaching for my camera! And even more so if it's backed by wispy dried grasses.

Down near the old quarry the bracken is backlit by the sun just appearing over the crest. But you'd probably like to see some birds....

So here's an Avocet, easily recognised by its upturned bill.

And there's a monstrous owl lurking among the trees!

In a month or two all the bracken will be turning gold. Maybe I'll return to take some more pictures then....or maybe I'll forget like I usually do!

Before then all the heathers will be blooming (though we might go somewhere else to see that spectacle).

But right now we can enjoy the butterflies like this colourful Peacock.

It's starting to warm up and more people are out and about on the trails, so we'll head back to the car park. It's been a pleasant way to spend the morning.

Take care.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Jewels And Treasures

Recently it's been what English people call "hot", but I've managed a few short walks and found some of nature's smaller wonders, none that are rare or unusual at this time of year, but all of which pleased me greatly.

A Large Skipper butterfly,
the sort of tiny thing that I often see as it flits across the path,
but seldom stop to look at.

a plant which has a bad reputation as it's said to be poisonous to horses.
However it's a food source for many insects.

A Common Blue Damselfly.
Very common indeed around some of our ponds in July.
But how can all the necessities for life be packed
into such a slender form?

The Red-Eyed Damselfly may be even smaller.

At the side of the water
a young Moorhen waits for its mother to return.
I was hoping it would step on to drier ground where we could see its enormous feet:
they always look like children who have put on their father's boots!

These are the flowers of Traveller's Joy or Clematis vitalba,
also known as Old Man's Beard from its hairy white seed-heads.
Another name is Boy's Bacca because the dry stems can be smoked 
(other harmful substances are available).

A Comma butterfly.

A Ruddy Darter dragonfly.

Young Swallows have fledged but still wait for their parents to feed them.
They'll have to learn quickly, as they'll be flying off to Africa in a couple of months.

Another quick snap then I'll leave them to it.

White butterflies are everywhere
This is a Green-Veined White.

Banded Demoiselles are also abundant
alongside the stream.

There's another one!

Take care.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Pretty In Pink

A row of pink cottages with a church tower appearing above the thatched roofs: if you haven't seen the view before then you can now...

Search for "images of Cavendish, Suffolk" on the computer and you'll see countless variations on the above photo, taken from every conceivable position on the village green. Now that we've got that out of the way, lets see what else there is to see in this quintessentially English village.

Just behind the church stands Nether Hall, a timber-framed sixteenth century farmhouse.

The Five Bells pub stands just a short distance from the church, as pubs with "bells" in the name often do; they were the establishments frequented by the bell-ringing teams - and I have it on good authority that pulling those bell-ropes is thirsty work.

The George, just down the road, seems to be more of a hotel and restaurant these days.

The Bull promises Live Music from "Cockney Pete" on Friday - which, I'm afraid, has now passed if you were hoping to go.

Lets go for a wander and check out some of the buildings and gardens. As we go I'll tell you what I've been able to find out about the village's past.

The name is thought to come from a man called Cafa who had an eddish here, which then became Cavendish. An eddish, in case you were wondering, is pasture land from which a cut of hay has already been taken, so perhaps this Cafa had the rights to put his cows out on the land to eat the second growth, after the hay had been carted away.

Back in the twelfth century one Roger de Guernon married into a wealthy family from the village and, as often happened, the family took the name of the estate and became the Cavendishes. In 1372 a certain Sir John Cavendish was appointed as the King's Chief Justice.

It was a time of great unrest in the country. There was a shortage of labour following the Black Death and workers found themselves in a strong bargaining position when it came to wages. There were laws passed to limit the bargaining power of the peasantry, which was of course widely resented. Furthermore there were poll taxes levied to pay for the ongoing war with France.

In 1381 an attempt by the King's officials to collect unpaid taxes led to a violent confrontation. The unrest rapidly spread across East Anglia and other parts of England and became known as the Peasants' Revolt. Their leader was Wat Tyler and a rather shadowy figure known as Jack Straw, and the mob was whipped into a frenzy by the radical preacher John Ball.

Sir John Cavendish's son, another John, was part of the young King Richard II's party when they met with Wat Tyler and other rebels. Exactly what happened is not known but a scuffle broke out and Wat Tyler was killed, allegedly by John Cavendish.

Word got back to Suffolk and a mob set out to capture Sir John (the father), who was already unpopular as he was responsible for collecting taxes in that part of the country. Sir John tried to claim sanctuary by clinging on to the door of Cavendish church, but to no avail as the mob dragged him off to Bury St Edmunds, where they beheaded him. After the rebellion was quashed the King pardoned many of the rebels, but not the men of Bury St Edmunds.

All of which is a gruesome tale to digest while walking around flowery streets on a summer's day. Who would have thought that such things could occur in such an idyllic backwater?

For some reason this little sign telling you to use the other door, when this door is so thoroughly barricaded with fuchsias and petunias, amused me.

Cavendish was also home to Leonard Cheshire and his wife, Sue Ryder. Their humanitarian and charitable work is too varied to mention in detail here. Their Wikipedia pages are here and here for anyone who wants to find out about two remarkable lives.

An old mill building reminds us that all these now quiet villages once had their own industries and
workshops. They must have been bustling, active places at one time. And with that we'll leave Cavendish and be on our way.

OK, just one more picture of those pretty pink cottages standing by the green.

Take care.