Saturday, 17 November 2007


At long last, here is the next instalment.

After Hector fell out with Mr Chips, and it became apparent that I would have to take Hector to Singapore with us, there was a fairly hectic period while I found out what was required. As far as I can remember, he did not need any injections that we had not already given him. What was required was a cage for him to travel in. Mr Petty gave me a tranquiliser to keep him happy.

The last day or so was spent with C's Godmother near Heathrow and while there we found the cage. She took us (me and A aged 6, C aged 5 and Hector) to the airport. No 1 was already out there getting a home organised. We boarded and had seats near the back on the left hand side. Funny the things we remember! Hector was in the cabin with us and at the back, where our coats were hung up. (Please remember that we are talking about 1969). Off we went to our first stop at Zurich.
By the time we got there, Hector had bitten his way through the wire on the front of the cage!. Everyone got off while we refuelled, Not the P.....'s. Because Hector was now free, we had to stay on board. The only wire they could find was fuse wire. Quite useless. We darned it across the hole but we knew it was not going to keep Hector in. He had had a tranquiliser before take-off. It had had the opposite effect. (Later A proved that it could happen to a boy too!!) Anyway, the plane took off and went to, I think, Bahrain. There were soldiers in all directions with guns. No one was used to that in those days. We could not go to the transit lounge because of Hector.
On to Delhi, so far as I can remember. Same thing - couldn't land. It was pretty horrific. I had C aged 5 in the window seat, then me then Hector in his cage. I had to keep calming him whenever he tried to bite his way out, so I couldn't sleep. By the grace of God, there were 2 off duty air hostesses, on their way to Singapore to bring a school party home, sitting behind us. They took A. Dealt with his almost hyperactivity and air sickness!! So I only had to cope with C and the dog!
After Delhi we went on to Jakarta, I think. There was a change of crew and a lovely pilate came aft asking who was the lady with the dog. Having identified me, he said he would look around when we got there and make sure there were no dogs about and if all clear, we could go for a walk! He was the man who was going to have to sign a piece of paper that said that Hector had not met a dog on his way from London to Singapore (rabies) Once there, he gave us the all clear and we went down into the great heat and walked on the spiky grass. Hector said it was not his idea of a place for peeing and so didn't! I bet if he had got lose in the cabin he would have! Still, it was the first time we had been able to stretch our legs. Hadn't since leaving the UK! That was the last stop.
The next stop was Singapore. 23 hours and only the one exit. No 1 was there to meet us. Our entry was simple but it took at least an hour to get Hector passed through. No 1 had decided that we should stay in a hotel as we arrived fairly late. The Singaporeans do not much love dogs. We managed to secrete him somehow until we were in the lift! He then had to spend the night in our room, still not peeing. I really cannot remember if he peed while walking round about the airport! The next day, we smuggled him out and went to our house in the Naval Base.
There another story awaits.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

"Short-term" dogs - and Hector

While we had Charlie, we also had a black labrador who was a relation (despite the colour) but not in any way the same. Black Rocket was a rangy bitch. A nice enough companion but before she was very old, she developed a problem with all her mucous membranes. This involved drooling, eyes running etc. As we had a small baby, and Petty could not find a cure, we ultimately had to make the decision that she would be happier in Valhalla. For some time, I painted all over inside her mouth at least twice a day with something given to us by Petty. Not a nice job but would have been worth it if it had worked.

Rocket was followed by another yellow lab, Jasper. He was a beautiful animal but he never got control of his gut, so there were piles every morning - fortunately on a stone floor. As time went by it developed into a diarrhoea form of movement. In the end, he went to stay with Petty in the hope that he could do something about it. Finally his back end turned massively inside out, so he went to join Rocket. This all caused us much distress and made us feel that although we loved labradors, we should perhaps not try with one again. However, we were not going to give up the idea of a dog altogether.

One day, my sil rang to say that a friend had a Border Terrier with a litter of mongrels. The mum was a lovely well behaved dog and they were looking for homes for the puppies. Right, said I, I will be over. Of course I fell for the babies - they are always so adorable, aren't they?
Before long they were old enough to go to their homes so one morning I collected a small person who could almost stand on my hand. We spent the day getting to know each other and then we heard the car and No1 was home. We went out of the front door to greet him and the small object started as he meant to go on - he growled! and growled! and growled!!!!! I seem to remember that No 1 was able to laugh - he really was a ridiculous sight being so small. We called him Hector.

I think that was about 1967. Little did we know what a mixed 17 years we were letting ourselves in for!

Towards the end of 1968 No 1 was offered a job in Singapore. The available work in the North East, in ship owning/repairing was not exciting and he really needed to do something drastic. To me it really was drastic - we had 2 children and a dog. I had only lived for a short time outside the NE of England. All my friends and interests were here. My Father was getting old and my Mother had multiple sclerosis. On the other hand, I had 3 younger brothers, our son was 6 1/2 and daughter was 5 - ages that would move easily. What about Hector? My parents had 2 Sausage Dogs, (sorry, Dachshunds), Fish and Chips. Fish was a black and tan bitch but Chips was a large red dog. Hector knew them well. The parents said they would take Hector which was a golden offer and I am sure was made with some misgiving. No 1 went off to prepare the ground and find accommodation and so on. I was left to sort out our belongings and complete the sale of the Old House. Having completed all that, I moved, with the children, to my parents and Hector of course. It was not long after we got there that Chips and Hector had a whale of a fight. Thank goodness it happened before I left because it was clear that they could not keep Hector if they were going to fight - they were too old for that. So the decision was forced on us to take Hector with us.

The flight and the 4 years in Singapore were not without incident but they are for the next post.

Friday, 12 October 2007


While we were still at Withy Brook, A was born. As Charlie was a child substitute up to that moment, it could have been difficult. However, he was a dog in a million. He certainly was not adversely affected by the advent of a baby into his life. The fact that said baby was a 'screamer' affected his missus a great deal more than him!.

Life continued in a rather different way. A baby who had to be 'walked'. Charlie did not know the meaning of the word - so this was a benefit though the walks were constricted to the only road, because of the pram! An extra person entered his life - the Mother's help. I dare say she slipped him food which, being a labrador, was of immense importance. When the baby was about 10 months old, missus became pregnant again and after a while, it was found that her blood pressure was up. As far as I can remember, it was at about 6 months. After that life became very boring for a labrador. Missus was in bed. The mother's help looked after the baby during the day. Master came home about 6.0 but the baby had to be put to bed. The dog took a very minor part. Looking back, as I write this, all I remember was the terrible frustration of being bed-bound and the difficulties of a hyper-active todler. No memories of how we looked after a yellow labrador. It is part of his glory that he did not cause us any problems.

It was probably during this time that 2 things happened. The first was when I was up. An Indian carpet seller came to try to sell us carpets (!) He got no nearer than the front gate. A yellow lion stood between him and me. A huge ruff and a deep voice were enough to persuade him that I did not need one of his carpets.

The other thing was when, about 1.00 am, a knocking came at the door. We were the last house on the way up to the moor. No 1 went down to see what it was all about. He was quite frightened and took Charlie with him. Again the huge ruff and the deep bark were enough to reduce the man whose car had failed up the hill to a heap of shaking jelly!!

In the end the baby who had caused Missus to be in bed for 2 1/2 months arrived. 6 months later the family moved to Hurworth and The Old House. This was a large house in the village. It had a large garden, but there were no longer fields around. Despite this, Charlie seemed to keep well. He was, by now getting on in age. He developed a kidney problem. The vet that we used was in Darlington. Those of you who know the Herriot stories may remember that Herriot used a vet in Darlington for small dog problems. This was Petty who was a brilliant vet and looked after Charlie very well. By the time he died, I reckoned I had bought at least one wheel of Petty's Bentley!! Charlie was not allowed any meat for the last part of his life and lived on a special kidney diet, which came in a can. The butcher and his delivery boy knew about the ban on meat. Charlie had always had an absolute passion for kidneys. No 1 went to Harrow School and had fond memories of Sunday breakfast - bacon, egg, mushroom, and kidney. As a result, we often bought kidneys from the butcher. One awful day, the 'boy' gave Charlie kidney, or maybe put the kidneys where he could get at them. The result was fatal. During that night he started to leak almost continuously and could not stand up by morning. It was clear what was to happen. I took him to see Petty, knowing what he would say. I could not stay with him - isn't that awful? But I just couldn't. I went back to the car and just wept and wept. After a short time Petty came out and said that Charlie had gone peacefully to Dogs Valhalla and what could he do for me? He offered a cigarette which I took, but all he could really do was leave me till I felt I could drive home. I got there in the end! (I have tears in my eyes as I write this)

More will come in the next addition. It would not be right to go on, after Charlie's going.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Niggy and on -

As I told you, I was at boarding school when I got Niggy. After Vl form, I had a year at home (now known as a gap year). Most of it I actually spent at home. I did a correspondence course in Physics, which I hadn't done at school' and typing and shorthand. The latter was very difficult by post because they simply did not understand the long a that I used!! Anyway, that has nothing to do with Niggy. I disappeared for a fortnight to France to practice French but otherwise spent my time with Niggy and Jenny, my pony if I was not in my room doing one of the courses, writing to friends, going to the pictures with a friend, learning to drive and passing my test at the second try or trying my hand at the garden because that was what I had decided to do. Oh, and no doubt falling out with the parents - that's what one does at that age isn't it?

The next 3 years, for Niggy, were the same as when I was at school. Mine in the holidays, the parents in the term when I was at College learning Horticulture. After I left College, she remained at home because I got a job in South Harrow, working in a Nursery. About the end of this time, I met No 1 so came home and saw more of my dog, though I was working for the parents of a friend. No 1 and I were married in August 1955 and went to live in Cullercoats as he was completing his Chief Engineers qualifacations in Gateshead. As we looked out to sea and all I had to do was walk on the beach, it was very sad that we were not allowed a dog in the flat. Consequently, we were only with Niggy at the weekends. We had already bought a house on the North side of the Cleveland Hills, and spent our weekends working on it, usually staying at my home, so Niggy came with us. It was at this time that we became very friendly with someone who was to be very important to us for the next 15 years. He had a breed of yellow labradors, and usually had several of them about. It must have been about then that his main bitch gave birth to a litter which included Charloch (Charly), Cassiopea (Cassy) and Cobnut (Cobby).
We moved into Withy Brook in the spring of 1956. Niggy moved in with us and we were soon joined by Charly. Cassy went to a family who soon returned her as they couldn't cope. They had used a rolled up newspaper to control her, so that she went beserk if she saw a paper. Our friend soon got her sorted out and she was a happy member of the family group. Cobby was a really lovely dog - darkish yellow coat and huge. His gorgeous labrador head was vast in proportion and he was loving and giving. Very sadly he met an untimely end by jumping out of friends van and straight under a car. He was always headstrong. I have a lovely bit of old movie of him jumping a fence - beautiful.
Charly was one of those dogs that you never forget. He was a child substitute for the first 6 years of his life but still loved A when he finally arrived. He gave Niggy abit of hassle as a puppy, but she didn't really mind. She liked Withy Brook and pottered about happily until she became old and ill. She ended her life at my old home which I think she had always thought of as her home. Back to Charly. He was very naughty and very happy to go hunting on his own. I had to watch him the whole time. Despite that, he would escape quite often. I remember once, he had been missing for a few hours. The gamekeeper, who lived just down the lane and was a fairly nasty character, appeared at the door, with Charly's collar in his hand. He drew it out as long as he could before he told me that he had managed to get hold of the collar, but Charly had slipped it! I was quite certain that he had shot him! [Said gamekeeper, shortly after we left, was shot by his wife who then shot herself!]
So, Niggy has gone. Charly is growing mature and we are still at Withy Brook. There is still quite a lot more to tell about him and it is bed time, so that's it for now.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Dogs I have known.

When I was born, my mother's terrier ran all round the village to tell everyone that there had been an Event at the Hall! I know Ma loved that terrier but I do not know much about him and certainly do not remember him.

The first dogs that I remember are Joey and Peggy. Joey was a smooth-haired mongrel, about the same height as a small springer, belonging to my Mother. She was black and tan and I loved her dearly. She was soooo long-suffering. I was fixated on driving her and used to try to make her go in 'harness' but it really was not part of her ethos! Peggy was a white and tan springer spaniel. She belonged to my Father and was a 'shooting' dog. She always accompanied my Father when he went shooting, but how good she was, I have no idea. She lived inside and was more of a pet really, I am sure! I did not have much to do with her - she was very much Pa's.
I remember a terrible event - to me, a small child. Peggy had gone missing as happened often with Joey too. On this occasion, Joey had come home but not Peggy. In the middle of the night, the person sleeping in the room at the West end of the house, heard a sort of whining and went down to investigate. Who-ever it was found Peggy outside the gate, in a very weak state. When, next day, she was taken to the vet, she had a very large number of pellets removed from all over. After careful nursing, she recovered, and went on to enjoy many more shooting days!

In the course of time, both dogs departed this life. I do not remember either going or when. Maybe, by then I was at boarding school - I really don't remember.

Then there was Poppy-poo-pa. Where did she come from? I've no idea. She was a brown and white, smooth-haired terrier of some indefinable sort. She was memorable because she just disappeared. She had a habit (as all dogs at home did) of going hunting. That day she was reported as having been seen, about tea-time, in a tired and grubby state, but was never seen again. We thought that she had probably gone down to the river and in her exhausted state had managed to be drowned but it was all speculation.

There may have been others that I have forgotten but we come now into the time when dogs belonged to me!

A black bitch of undefineable parentage appeared in the village and was taken in by the school teacher. She was very pregnant and ultimately my parents took her in. She gave birth to 3 puppies, Gog, Magog and Niggy. Gog and Magog were large yellow, dog puppies. Niggy was a black bitch. After a great deal of wearing down of an imovable mountain, I won and was given the black bitch. The other two were found homes in the village. I expect that I named her Niggy because she was black! As I was at boarding school, it was accepted by all, including Niggy! that she was mine in the holidays and theirs in the term-time. As a very lonely child, Niggy took a very important place in my life, along with my pony, which was of much more use as someone to talk to than to ride! (A future blog perhaps) Niggy's mother was called Gippy and there was only one thought in their minds. That was to escape and to have a jolly good hunt. It should be remembered that in those pre myxy days, there were oodles of rabbits and dogs knew that they only existed to be hunted!! The trouble was that we were in an area with a lot of sheep, so dogs out on their own were in danger of being shot (which was what had happened to Peggy) As a result, one of the dogs was on a lead at all times. They were swopped over regularly. Every now and then the 'on lead' dog would manage to get off and away they went. Even if you were there, you could shout your heart out and they wouldn't take a blind bit of notice!! However, despite a great deal of heartache caused to all, they both survived. I do not remember how Gippy met her end, but I know that Niggy lived to a good age and her story follows next. [I hope to add scanned photos later]

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Terracotta Army and China

Last October, G and I set out for Beijing. As the times of the tour companies flights did not suit anyone from Northumberland, we arranged our own flight by BA. G's son-in-law got us an upgrade (he is a BA pilot) but when we arrived our luggage was still in Heathrow!!. It arrived in our hotel next day.

We did all the usual things in Beijing, including visiting Tieneman Square and the Forbidden City and the Great Wall

Then we went on to Chian, where the army is. It was as amazing as they tell you, to go into the huge aircraft hanger-like place and to see all those soldiers.

This chariot was frequently seen on the television the last few days, in bits and programs about the army. I was amazed at how well it came out. Yes, I did take it myself! Here is a picture of the soldiers. And here is a picture of Belsay Bear from Belsay First School having a look!

We went on to see lots more of China including the 3 Gorges Dam, and having a cruise down the Yangste.

We ended in Hong Kong, which I had last visited in 1970, when I spent Christmas there, while living in Singapore.

While we were in HongKong, the Daughter and son-in-law arrived and the s-i-l flew us home. As a result, Belsay Bear was invited onto the flight deck and had his photo took!

Saturday, 18 August 2007

G's family week in France

On Saturday, we set off in good time (for us!) for Camp de Levat, between Tournon d'Agenais and Cahors. We went the most direct route, so very little motor way and not much double track, but despite one bad hold-up we made it by 5.0, at the same time as step-son W and his family. Step daughter S and husband arrived about 7.0 by which time we settled in and had sorted bedrooms. W and wife Sa had both children sleeping with them - A (3) was on a mattress on the floor and E (15months) in a cot. She wakes and screams in the night, so the original idea of the 'dormitary' in the roof was not viable - too many steps and carrying etc.

We had a lovely room under a sloping roof, with a bathroom (and the only proper shower) next door, leading to the outside world. It is a lean-to with a very thick wall between it and the screaming E.!!!

That night was mine for feeding the herd, so we had stopped at a supermarket, known from the past, in Condom to buy essentials and food. We had an excellent meal outside of cold things and salad and cheese and felt very French! Later the pattern was set for the week - they all went for a walk in the gloaming (and full moon) while I baby-sat. A valuable time in which I showered and recharged before a last drink and chat, when they came back.

Sunday - W et al went off to a distant market (he's addicted!) in the morning and S & D went to look at Tournon in the afternoon and the rest of the time everyone did their own thing. W et al used the pool. S & D claimed to get a rash from pool water - what a waste! It was a lovely sunny day and I used the pool to cool off (which it did too effectively, being rather on the cool side!) Variously we read, walked, dozed and generally enjoyed ourselves. W was in charge of dinner, so he bar-b-qed and we ate and drank very well. That is the bbq table at the far end of the lawn. Our room was under the sloping roof.

Monday - S&D went to Toulouse Airport to get Sd A and her daughter C. They got back in time for lunch. A & C shared the 'dormitary' with the mice! Meantime, W et al and I went to sus out a restaurant for the all-important birthday dinner. Fell in love with the place and could only hope the food would be OK! As it was showery and cool all day, we lit the fire in the sitting room. The girls did beading and I read and used my camera. E took her first 2 steps with me and C was a witness, otherwise I guess they wouldn't have believed me!! Later it improved and we got outside and some swam. S&D fed us on salmon and raspberry tart outside, so all was more as it should be!

Tuesday and the Birthday - It was wet in the morning but undaunted we set off for Cahors, arriving in a downpour. Luckily it was a last throw from the weather, the sun came out and it was lovely but not too hot. Some shopped, some explored and we met up at a mini roundabout, where we found the girls with the babies happily occupied!

We had an excellent light lunch on the way to the famous bridge and then went on to look at it. It is very interesting and we spent some time walking over it and taking pictures. After we found a nice lady who took pics with all our cameras of all of us which was very kind. They were taken with the above bridge as the background and mine is excellent - everyone smiling and paying attention!! After that we set off for home, showers and changing. The baby sitter turned up on time while we were drinking to G. Off we went in 2 cars to the restaurant whose name I have failed to retain. It is a chateau and hotel with a few rooms. The owner and chef has been there for 30 years and his Dutch wife for about 20. The food was very good, but we had to eat inside because of the weather. No hardship really and the other guests all seemed nice. The hotel knew it was a celebration but as Msr said 'Incognito' when I had said that there were to be no speeches etc. The 2 taxis turned up on time and off we went home after a lovely day.

Wednesday - The first thing to do was to combine the croissants run with retrieving the cars, so people got up remarkably early. We also had to pay the bill because the card telephone connection would not work the night before!! They seemed quite happy, we gave them what cash we had and they had the 2 cars, even without the keys!!

The rest of the day was spent in the pool, reading and walking. W et al went to a market again. He was the feeder that night, and we had prawns, mayo and ratatouile followed by a delicious peach dish with mint and some form of alcohol. There was wall to wall sunshine.
Thursday - W took A & C to the airport, getting back in time of lunch. The day was spent by or in the pool. After tea G and I went of to have a look at Tournon and liked the look of a restaurant, so decided to take them there for my cooking night next day. At home, S&D were busy cooking and we had roast chicken with so many herbs that it was mind-blowing. Why is it that herbs taste so much better and stronger in France. All that sun I suppose. There was certainly plenty that day and it was very hot.
Friday - G & I went with S&D to Penne d'Agenais, a pretty medieval village. It was very hot so we did not explore too much, but I went again the next week. Before going up there we went over the bridge to the supermarket. The rest of the day was the usual, lunch by the pool, swimming, reading etc. W et al went of to P d'A to have a look too. That night the baby sitters came again and we went back to Tournon. We found a market in progress, which meant there was a great atmosphere. Once ordered, we went and had a look, but there wasn't much. The only blot was the little rather aged group who kept singing the same 4 or 5 songs until about 9.30! The food was very good.
Saturday - They all got themselves packed up and were away by 11.30 leaving us time to sort things out abit and prepare for the invasion later!
It was a lovely week. The only thing was that A, who had been talking about nothing but seeing Granny Rho for weeks, wouldn't speak to me at all! I just let her be, but was always there for her, helping her get her confidence in the pool and such-like. Children are funny, aren't they? E on the other hand, who doesn't go to other people willingly, came straight to me and on occasion I was the only one to be able to stop her screaming!! I don't think A was jealous - tried very hard to give both attention, but it could be the reason. We'll see what happens if I see her next weekend when I am with my A in the same village.
So that's it for now. The next week was enormous fun too but quite different.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Seneccio greyii

Here are the pics for the Gardening forum. Seneccio greyio - all one plant



Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Birthday Bash Part 1

Our holiday comes in three parts. First out to Bilboa and on to St-Etienne-du-Baigarry. Then from there to Camp de Levat (Howard's End) near Cahors for the week of The Birthday, with G's children and grandchildren. Next in the same place, but with my children and grandchildren and a Postscript takes us home.
So for the first bit. We started off the day before the ferry because it is quite a hike from Northumberland to Portsmouth and if you have a dead-line it is a nightmare. We spent the night at Ye Olde Bell Inn, an old coaching in on the A1, near Retford. It bears little resemblance to the Inn that our parents used to patronise before the war, but was comfortable and the dinner was good and straightforward. It has recently been taken over by a local man from a chain and he is gradually doing up it and its surroundings. It was not particularly photographic so I don't have a pic to add.
Next day we had a leisurely drive to Portsmouth, arriving in time to go and visit The Mary Rose. What an achievement her salvage was and so exciting to see her in real life. Currently, they are still spraying her with a waxy solution - the last stage of her preservation. As a result the glass you have to see her through is not very clear. I would love to be able to revisit in 2 or 3 years time when she will be safe and able to be seen directly. It was a gorgeous day, so we enjoyed walking round the Victory as well. We didn't have time to go aboard her as it all closes at 5.0ish. From there to the Ferry, where they kept us hanging around for ages but they still managed to sail on time and we had dinner in the mailstrom of everyone else eating too, at 9.00.
I had to make my mandatory visit to the cassino, where I lost twice my limit (!!) and then won back the overspend! 13 was kind enough to come up in the end!
On Tuesday, it was OK in the morning and we walked the deck in the sun. However, by lunch-time the sea was building and my head started to go mad - the first step to sea-sickness. I retired to my bunk and was amazed that G was still going strong! By supper time, I was able to go and buy a sarny and eat it in my bunk.
We came in to Bilbao pretty much on time the next morning (Wednesday) and we were off the ship by 8.00. G. drove and we reached St-Ettienne-de-Blairgorry by mid-day for lunch on the river-side at the Hotel Arce. It is in the foot-hills of the Pyranees. We had a room at the back, because the front rooms are over-exposed to the Church clock!! It was a double room with the bed at one end and chairs at the other. The bath was near the bed and the loo was at the other end, which I found rather odd.
This pic is the view from the French Windows. There was a gravelled area between the Hydrangeas where I did quite a lot of reading.
The next day we drove up a narrow road for a few miles to the pass over the mountain and the Spanish border. We saw 3 eagles on a thermal and a vulture sitting on rock in silluette. The following day we went to look at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a staging post for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compastella. In the old main street, there are still lodgings at a reduced rate for pilgrims. It is a pretty and interesting old place, with a disappointing castle/chateau and town walls which we enjoyed walking.
We much enjoyed our break there, despite the food being disappointing. We both felt we needed the rest and certainly the rest of the holiday was NOT a rest cure!

Friday, 13 July 2007

A Busy Weekend

On Friday afternoon G took me to Newcastle Airport in plenty of time to catch my plane. I was surprised to find that Eastern Airlines have a fast channel through security - you actually queue barge!. Consequently, I didn't need to leave lots of time for all the extra faff.

We took off at the right time and arrived in Cardiff Airport on time too. Finding the Hertz place was no problem and I was soon in my Ford and ready to set off. Fortunately, the route to the M4 is well marked and I had road numbers readily availabe. Once I had reached the first turn off the M4 it was well signed to Methyr Tydvill (Sp?) and on to Brecon. Popped round the bypass and on to the turn off to my youngest brother's nearest village. A call produced him in his car, very quickly to lead me up to their house, where they gave me gin to revive me and scrambled egg to fortify me. No 3 (youngest) daughter was already there. Next to arrive was No 2, with her new partner. Then my eldest brother and wife. They took us up to a nearby self-catering converted barn and we settled in.

Saturday was the day that youngest brother and wife were celebrating their 60th birthdays. We took ourselves down in time for breakfast - 10 people because No 1 and wife had arrived after we left. Excellent - sausages, bacon, egg, tomatoes, fried bread and baked beans!! After a bit of hanging around we set of for a layby on the Abergavenny to Brecon road where about 38 people gathered - many family members and some friends. My children were there, though one grandchild was on a school trip, so missed it. About mid-day we set off to climb the Alt. That's not the full name, which I cannot remember, but it was always called that by the family who lived in the big house on the edge of Llangorse Lake, below. I knew it was about 4 miles but I did not know what it would be like. Just as well! The pace was mostly fairly slow, luckily. The ages ranged from 6 to 76 (me) The young tended to go fairly fast but there was so much gossiping going on that it helped to slow people down!! At one point we stopped for a sugar break (chocolate biscuit) and the chance to look at a ruined hunting lodge. The next bit was horizontal across a steeply sloping field - not the easiest bit! Then the climb started again and rather steeper. It was a hard slog to the top - and I was not the only one to find it testing!

Some had finished lunch by the time I got there! Fun with a kite was just starting. We had each been given a plastic bag with an interesting picnic in it, so I settled down to eat mine - and still lots of gossipping. At one point a poor lady walker appeared, was barked at by one of the dogs, nearly attacked by the kite and horrified to find all these awful people on what should have been a peaceful resting place. Her face was a picture and she went on at a vast speed! Meantime, we were able to enjoy a view up and down the Usk valley, across to the Beacons (with no cloud on top) and in the other direction, the Black Mountains. It was fabulous. This pic is looking north over Llangorse Lake.

The walk down was much easier though quite a few of us suffered from pains in the knees. My middle brother was absolutely infuriating because he has had both knees replaced and kept going on about how HE was alright. When we got down to the cars, I couldn't believe how well and untired I was. Everyone who knew my age was as amazed as me!

The next stage was to return to our barn, have a cuppa and a bath and back to youngest brother's house. A mini bus turned up a little late and we all climbed in. Off to Brecon and the Restaurant that is part of the Theatre. It is beside the Brecon-Abergavenny canal, so we wandered about talking and drinking champagne cocktails before going in for dinner. I was sitting next to my grandson, which was nice, also middle brother. We had a fascinating and delicious dinner. Lots of smallish amounts of all sorts of things, served on dishes for 4 and coming one after the other. eg bread to dip in oily dips, lavabread and Welsh cheeses, salmon and a wonderful sauce, small pieces of lamb etc. Each was entirely different and equally delicious. Grand Son didn't like some of them, which meant more for us, but he did like salmon and lamb, so Granny went abit short there!! After this it was all change and I found myself with a nephew and, under the table, his 6 yr old son who was fast asleep in a bag. Also my daughter-in-law, who I love, and an artist. Masses more talk and the pudding - a choice of mocha creme brulee or summer pudding. The mcb was out of this world! Then not one but 2 cakes came in for the birthday people and a few words were said - not too many! After a while the minibus arrived and we were driven home at a vast pace as he had at least 2 other things to do and was running late! And so to our barn.

Next morning we did breakfast at the barn, then I found myself being taken round a large pond/small lake by a real plantsman. He has many trees and some shrubs of all sorts and varieties, some of which he has bred himself. There are 30+ varieties of oak, apart from all the rest. He is plant mad, used to show all over the place and knows every horticulturist worth his salt!! Fascinating! Then to Brother's house and tea/coffee/wine/beer or whatever you wanted. Quite a number of people from yesterday came + all the family who were still around. People gradually disappeared as lunch proper was not on the agenda. My young and I remained and had good food! Lovely bread made by a friend and all sorts to put in it. Eldest brother had gone off to the family home, aquired by our Grandfather and now owned by a first cousin once removed who had been at the supper. After lunch, my lot and I went to the said family home. Brother and wife were still there and we all ate lovely sponge cake and drank tea. Unfortunately, it was pooring with rain so we could not go and look at the garden, stream etc. which was sad as my lot had not been there before. About 4.0 they left for home in Sussex and I went back to base, where I found them glued to the Wimbledon finals so I joined them. What a match! Later we had roast Welsh lamb and then I went back alone to the Barn.

Next morning, after I had sorted it and left it as I would have expected when I did self catering, I had a tour of the vegetables and more trees etc. What a man! I left with cuttings which I hope will take. From there I went to cousins even older than me!! He was an Admiral in the Navy and is a great friend of G and me. I had lunch there and found that the controversial pipe line is passing right by - going under the Usk, under his fishing and also under the way down to his house. He seems very calm about it, but had just thought that perhaps the concussions from pushing the line under the river might kill the fish! Somewhat worrying. I left there at 3.0 and headed for Cardiff. By Methyr there was an almighty downpour, which reduced us all to 40mph! When I got down to the M4 I missed the pull off so was heading into Cardiff centre towards rush hour! Help!! Kept my head and managed to extricate myself and achieve the airport. Loaded on time then held by Flight Control Brussels for an hour. Luckily, it being a one horse airport, we were allowed to use our phones, so G knew not to meet me!! Had an untroubled flight to Newcastle, drinking Champagne and Sloe Gin on the house! Never tried it before - it is delicious! Then "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news again, but there is a fault on the runway, so we are being held for a while"! We must have circled for at least 1/2 an hour! Once down, I got straight into a taxi, who charged me less than usul, and arrived home about 9.0.

Quite a weekend! Did not really feel exhausted until the next day and on Wednesday, when I had to get up at 6.0 to get to Darlington in time to judge Northumbria in Bloom. We all find judging tiring, so you can imagine what I felt like on Thursday! However today, I feel fine and am on the count-down for the next adventure!

Sunday, 24 June 2007

I am so sorry to have kept some of you waiting for the next stage of the guided tour. I really think that it is time to cross the 'drive' and go onto the larger lawn.

This is looking back towards the 'drive' from said lawn. It was taken a while ago so now the Aubretia is going over. The dead flower heads are still there and are great value. The blue stuff is going over too.

I think that I do not have a pic of the Clematis - Ernest Markham - which has been lovely but is now looking delapidated due to the rain, to the right of the front door. The other side of the window is a red rose.

When G came here, he didn't like the lead downcomers (extra-ordinary man!) so he planted an upright conifer in front. This was not liked one little bit by the rose, which somehow survived and occasionally produced the odd flower. Two years ago, (24 years later) I finally managed to achieve the removal of the conifer (which showed up rainwater damage to 16th Century stone!) and the rose gave one terrific cheer and then put all its energy into recovering. Now it is growing well and covered in red flowers.

The herbaceaus borders are growing well but have little colour. They are the least satisfactory things in the garden. They need a lot of attention and I am physically, or interestedly, not up to doing them properly. They run in front of the east end of the house - the 18th Century addition - with a path between. The back one is quite wide, but because there are two windows behind it is difficult to plant. I have a shrub between but the space is not really wide enough. The Paeonies in both borders were lovely but when the rain came, they turned into big brown blobs. I have at last got them cut off. There is lovely Geranium, which was there when I came. The picture does not do justice to the very strong colour.

The area at the East end of the house, when I came here, was just grass with a pear tree in the corner against the outside wall. It is a difficult area.Everyone says how lovely and sunny and sheltered. But in fact it loses the sun by at least 3.00 and the East wind hits the end of the house and comes back down and the West wind hits the wall and comes back over! At the back, from left to right, is a new Buddleia, (not visible) replaceing one which got too tall to prune, having been there for 20+ years. To the right is a Pyrus salicifolia pendula (Willow-leafed weeping pear) It has not been there very long but is doing well. It is not really suitable but at least it likes it and is growing! In front is a red shrub rose - loose growing and I can't remember what it is - it grows to at least 15feet and has red urn shaped hips. To the right of that is a shrub that I don't know the name of and it is not of much value. Then on the wall is a forsythia spectabilis (I think!) It is meant to absorb the wind coming off the house. It flowers quite well but is a bit wild! In the front row are
Hebe Diamond (very good value), and Cistus x hybridus Gold Prize planted in September 05. Beyond them is a small growing Buddleia and a small red-leaved Berberis. Geraniums act as ground cover and are currently flowering, so it is quite good, though the only other colour is the shrub rose.

Facing East, the next plant is an ancient white rose of some unknown age. It does very well, considering everything. Next to it is a Russian Vine, planted to catch some of the W. wind and deaden it. It does that quite well but ... it is enormously vigorous so I have to do a great deal of controlling! Most of the year the wind is in the West and it grows up and over the wall, taking some of the starkness away from the Green side. However, at some point every year (usually about June) there is a strong wind from the east, which blows it back into the garden and it looks dreadful for a while! 2 years ago, about 2 weeks before a step-daughter's wedding, that was exactly what happened. In fact, on the day there was the mother and father of a thunder storm, with accompanying rain so everyone made a mad dash for the marquee and only 2 or 3 came to look round the garden!

Next is Penelope, which I planted when I first came here. It struggled while partially shaded by the Prunus mentioned below, but is now doing well.

Beyond Penelope, when I came here, there was an Ash tree, which was a seedling in the early 20th Century. It finally grew so wide at the base that it pushed over the old wall. God bless the Insurance Company, who funded rebuilding. Having felled the ash, we put in a door in the wall, which is down some steps, as at some point the ground had been leveled off in the garden, so the difference between the garden and the Green is about 4 feet. I planted an old yellow shrub rose in the corner which I had brought with me from about two houses before! Also there were very old red shrub roses, probably planted in the 40's or 50's. In front of the ash was a Prunus, with a stem whose bark went round in a spiral, planted in the lawn. The spring of the wedding, we had to remove the Prunus which was dying, which left great scope for change. The new planting there has mostly been there for 2 years and now looks like this................
Not bad really for our position at 650ft and mid Northumberland, where everything takes for ever to get going!

We are now (in the pic) facing South. Go on to the right and you come to a pond in the lawn, with my Helebore/hosta bed behind. The pond went in exactly a year ago and is coming on well.
You can just see, to the right back of the pic, a holly which is called the Policeman. It is quite big but kept clipped and guards the front gate. Between it and the gate post is a Philadelphus, the old-fashioned single sort, which has a terrific scent.
So, roughly, that is that for the front of the house. Lots of plants not mentioned, of course, but I fear it gets pretty boring as it is, without adding any more!!!
Next time, we will go round the veg and cutting/holding/anything goes bed and the back lawn, or some of it anyway!
By the way, the reason this did not go up several days ago is that I took pics for back then and when I came to take them off the camera, the card was already in the printer, so there was nothing in the camera!!! How stupid can one get? Then we had nothing but rain or bad light, so only took the pics again today, IN THE SUN!!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

A Day's Hard Labour

Have just looked in here and found several comments I didn't know about! Thanks to one and all. I hope that HB comes back in time to see her picture on yesterday's (20th June) front page. If not, I shall post it again when the weight of gardening eases.

This is just an account of a day's gardening - I haven't the energy to do a further walk.

I can't keep up with everything coming out - I suppose it is always the same at this time of year, but it always takes me by surprise!

The dreadful weather last week put an end to the Paeonies and one of my jobs today was to cut off the dead heads, with a lot of soggy petals hanging about all gone brown.

First job before that was to empty my barrow, which G had filled with very nasty manure that he collected from the road. It was dropped by the farmer clearing a barn where he had beasts during the winter. It had sat through the .6inch of rain that fell the night before last so was very soggy and the bad smell was agravated! The Lord alone knows what he has been feeding the beasts but it must be something nasty!! Also it is completely raw straw with urine and not much proper muck. I didn't show any of the gratitude that was clearly expected!! Anyway, it is now sitting in a shapely heap giving off its perfume.

Cut a few sweet peas for the third time this year. In the past they weren't out till G's birthday on 24th July. They are a cheat this year as I bought plants as I failed to sow them. Much better plants I regret to say, but not the ones I would have chosen.

Raised the string supporting the Broad Beans. Some of the mass of flowers on them were looking pretty soggy and no bumble bees polinating - I hope they haven't all been drowned in their holes. We had masses before the rain. No sign of set beans yet, but here's hoping.

Also raised the string holding the CD's over the peas. They had got lost in the vigorous growth, so not doing their job. No flowers there yet.

Then I got slap happy with the secateurs. A beautiful palest mauve Abutilon, probably mentioned on a walk, is now almost fully out and has survived the rain. The shrubs on either side are growing hard, so I cut them back hard and now the Abutilon can be seen properly.

There are 2 or 3 places where paths are really too narrow, or rather, I planted too vigorous things too near on either side. When ever we get really wet weather, it brings the new growth down so that you get soaked if you need to go by. The secateurs did good work here, but I won't know whether it was good enough till it rains again.

Then, after lunch, round to the yard by the back door. The Lilac flowered very well this year but it needed cutting back a little. It is a very necessary wind-break so I never want to cut off too much but Lilacs do better if they are cut quite hard. I hope I managed a happy medium. I cleared up some of my rubbish, but the lovely G had said he would do some of it, so I just took one barrowful to the bonfire. (A bit of a hike)

Then into the front garden. Found that the dreaded dead-heading of roses had to start. The Old English roses are just beginning to come out, so only one to cut off there. Isfahan is coming on well and there was a bit of work to do there. After several years, it is making quite a feature, on its support. Climbing roses on the front of the house needed tidying as did an ancient white rose on the garden wall and a Penelope ditto. A number of years ago I planted a Russian Vine against the West-facing wall of the garden, which was beating back the terrible winds we suffer from. I suppose it does its job, but it really is a thug! Sometimes it hangs over the outside of the wall, which is nice but then along comes an east wind and tips it all back, leaving it looking horrid! The current vigorous growth has hidden the last 'tip' and is beginning to grow back over, but there was a lot to cut off, to keep it in its bounds. By the time I had done it, and taken it to the bonfire I was very weary, so that was my lot for today.

Friday, 1 June 2007

A bit of rambling

What a lovely two days we have had! And it sounds as though it will go on. What a lot of gardening has to be done. Some of it has been - lots is waiting.

Yesterday was my Hexham day. Got there in good time and bought some bedding plants to put into a bit of the garden that has been wasted for several years. Then did the other routine things and then escaped to a Farm Shop which is arguably one of the best. Bought lots of vegs but disappointed that there was none of their asparagus. Apparently the cold nights had discouraged it! As that was the main reason for going there I was a little upset, but they were offering tasteing of an excellent ham, asparagus and cheese dish which was delicious so I went away happy!

In the afternoon, I planted some of the bedding plants and did some weeding in the veg garden.

It was there that I thought that you should hear about the strange behaviour of the Parsley. Last year I let a plant seed by mistake and covered some more with a cloche which meant that I always had some available. Earlier in the spring, I was sowing various seeds including parsley. Nothing came. BUT around the one that had been under a cloche, there are numerous parsley seedlings! So all will be well. I should have some to pick before too long and certainly some to cover for the winter. The one that was covered last winter will be allowed to flower and seed so I expect to have some for next summer.

Today, I had to go to my dentist to have a filling where I had broken a bit of tooth. Luckily, there was a filling there already, so I did not have to have the horrible numbing injections. I now have a renewed tooth. As the dentist is not far from the Farm Shop, I went back and bought some lovely fresh asparagus as well as a pack of the dish being tasted today. Yesterday's was much enjoyed, so bought some of those for the freezer too. I went on from there to my favourite Garden Centre. Couldn't resist some more bedding and also fell for a Ceanothus. We have not been able to grow them, but have a feeling that global warming has gone far enough to let us do so now. I actually went there to get a small version of any upright conifer in a small pot. I have a small stone thing with a fairly small hole in it. I grow upright conifers in it until they die, then replace. Found one and brought that back too.

This afternoon, planted some of the bedding plants - when (if) they are in flower, I will put up a picture. Also, planted the Ceanothus in the same area. It should be reasonably protected. The Thyme went into the herb area (I don't call it a herb garden because it is very hit and miss. Things go in as and when!) Then I went round the front garden, tying up and cutting down! A red rose on the front of the house, which we have not yet visited, is coming into flower and had two bits that needed tying in. The Russian vine, also not yet met, had a considerable lot cut off. As it can grow 40 feet in one year, that was not surprising! Then into a bed that again, you have not yet met, and found that there was rather a lot of a Weigelia that had died, It has just come into flower. I cut out the dead so it looks better. Then went to the area that you have travelled already and did various bits of tidying up.

Things are coming out so fast just now that I can't keep up. Hopefully, tomorrow I shall take you to the other side of the drive. And there will be lots more pictures. Till then - goodnight.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

A re-vist to part of the Garden

This is the full picture which I tried to put alongside, but for some reason, I couldn't made it work. In fact, I have grown to be rather like the close-up of a small bit!

Things always move on in gardens. Some things go over and others come out - that is the nature of things.

Today we are going to revisit bits and add a bit.

These people were out on the Green, they are orphans. The black one has since died so the brown one is very lonely. The farmer always has a few orphans, who are brought up on the green, with lots of bottles of milk. Later they join the flock, but they never do as well as the rest. Very hard work.

This box was made by a local joiner to hold the papers. They used to be delivered into the

telephone box, but 'They' took it away, so we bought a plastic box and put it by the Village notice board, then we bought another and another because they broke, leaked, blew away and so on. In the end G decided that we had to do something better. All the people who get papers contributed. Unfortunately, today was the first wet test and water gets in when the lid is opened, so we have got to be inovative!

This is the second year for this Morello Cherry on the North wall of the house, near the back door. I hope that some of them will set and develop. I shall have to net it if so, otherwise my friends the Black Birds will get them all!

This does not do the Lilac justice. Maybe I took it a little early, it got better than that, but now the first flowers are beginning to go brown. It is by the back door and has been magnificent.

Here is one of two winter hanging baskets by the back door. I haven't had winter ones before, but saw these in a garden centre and decided to give them a go. They have been a great success. I am trying small trailing pansies for the summer ones - planted them yesterday but I'm not sure whether they will work.

These Hostas are near the Conservatory. They are two of many in the garden. I am extremely lucky that the slugs do not do much damage. These, like the rest are now much bigger. They were taken about 10 days ago.

This is a Viburnum - which one? It has been like a waterfall. Just going over now.
You can just see the bird feeding place. There are masses of birds about now, lots of them babies - standing there shaking their wings and saying 'Pleeease feed me' .
This is the same Viburnum seen from the other side - the vegetable garden.
Then I thought I would give you a view of said veg garden. Things are still small - it is no good sowing too early here even with global warming

That's enough for tonight. We will see some more of the front garden next time - soon! And cross the drive too before too long.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Catching up

I haven't blogged for ages, just a few comments on the main blog page. Now I can't remember what I last wrote about, apart from the garden on here.

Oh well - lets go to Saturday. A lovely day and I spent it in the car and a Hotel. It was worth it though. The drive was pleasant - not too much traffic and the countryside looking lovely. The Hotel was too hot but the people and the food were more than good - 103% perhaps?

I always enjoy my old School gatherings. Although the Association will have a limited life as there are no new members anymore, (for various reasons), I feel sure that it will see me out! We had a Committee meeting in the morning, which meant I had to make an early start, but we had lots of good discussions, then to the bar where the drink was free and there were a number of my old school mates and others I have got to know well over the years. No skool uniform but we do have a badge and I had remembered to wear it. Only problem - I had 1 3/4 hours drive home, so had spitzers. Excellent lunch in the best of company and then the Association AGM. I am arranging a visit to Durham later in the year, and was able to drum up some support. By the time it got to about 4.0 I was exhausted with all the lovely chatter. (It was abit like it might be if a group of us purple lot got together!) Got home without falling asleep at the wheel.

Had to leave this earlier as I was the host for a meeting of our new Local Ministry Group. This is a small group of people from the United Benefice (3 parishes and 4 churches). This evening we were discussing how to provide for the young in the parishes - not just the church people. Lots of ideas and I am sure something will come out of it all. Since then I have been talking to my son for at least 50 minutes. They are in the process of some major alterations to their house so he had lots to say (as if he didn't always!) Better be careful because I think he may well find us before too long!! As he is of a similar age to many Purple coos, he will probably understand more of the mad house chat than I do!! Only joking!

When I have got the notes written up from this evening, which will have to take precedence tomorrow, I am going to take those who are interested back to see one or two new photos of the first part of the garden tour, before we move on across the 'drive'. Look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 14 May 2007

A Little Further Stroll

Before we move further round the right hand lawn, we must catch up on the way we have come already

Just inside the back gate, I mentioned a crab - it is now fully out. That shows you how far behind most of the country we are! Then, a little further along is a large white lilac. It had been promising much for some days and today it really is coming out, though still a way to go to be at its best.

The Kerria is just about over, but a Laurustinus in the bed by the Conservatory is flowering very well and I will try to take a pic between downpours to put here later.

On the way through the little gate, the yellow tree Paeony on the right is almost out. It sets seed most years, but I have not managed to germinate any.

In the far right corner, by the 'well' is a Prunus amanagawa which is blooming like anything,
Now, we follow the lawn back towards the house. There are a number of small plants in flower, which I thought I could show you, but can't find it. You've got one from May last year instead and taken from the other lawn. Half way along there is a Rose, Isfahan on a metal support. You may hear of this later on, when in flower. It looks hopeful at the moment.

And now the Broom - not as good a picture as I should like, but too late to get a better one this year.

As you look at it, behind your left shoulder, is a bed of Austin roses. Not doing very well but they will certainly flower before too long. Here is a picture of Graham Thomas taken on 27 December, 06, in mid Northumberland at 650ft up. Quite extraordinary!
So sorry, the pictures have a will of their own tonight and I can't make them go where I want! Still, they are there to see.

That's it for tonight. We will go to the other lawn next time, I hope!

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Church this morning

Today, I went off to the Church in Cambo, as we only have one service a month. Our Vicar is away, so we had a visit from the young son of our ex Vicar. He is such a nice young man and although there were only 8 of us in the congregation, he preached an excellent sermon with great conviction. The reason for this very short, pictureless blog is that I wanted to share two things from his sermon with anyone who visits.
First, there are so many blessings. We should all look about and find them. If we read the Bible (which I am very bad at) we find masses of things. And even when we are feeling low, we could probably find something. If I sat down now and started to list them, I would not get the Sunday chicken cooked!
Second, a comment from a woman who worked a miracle in improving the behaviour of men in a dreadful prison in South Africa. When asked how she did it, she said "God was always here, I just needed to make him visible" How I hope that just once in a while I manage to do that. God Bless you all. Luv Rho

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Through to the Front Garden

It is time to go through the small gate into the front garden.

And look back at the little gate! The Amelanchia which was what I meant to take can't be seen!!

Although this was never a farm house, the garden is similar in its layout. If you come out of the front door, you look down what was once a short drive, but is now more of a path. To either side there is a lawn, and a wall (listed 2*) goes all the way round.

We have come through to the right-hand lawn. In front is my latest piece of work. There was a huge Ribes, which the year before last I took the clippers/saw to and reduced it to a sensible size. Before, the birds always ate the flower buds, but this year, it had proper flowers on it! Don't know what that should tell me! Behind it are a tree or two, a Prunus mainly and rather boring Viburnums. I have planted all sorts of things in front but at the moment they are making a slow start. I find that shrubs and trees that I plant sulk for a year or two before they start to really grow!

To the right is a hidden path down the middle of the things in the pic. It leads to an arty farty little well, with no hole or water!!. Actually, a water diviner found that there is water about 20ft down! The tree(s) is a Beech which seeded itself many years ago. It was an absolute menace - the branches came almost to the ground and nothing would grow under it. There was a third one which shaded the place where we were adding a Conservatory. The beastly Council people would not let us remove the whole thing, even though if it fell it would demolish the end of the listed house!. They said that walkers coming down the right of way would miss it! At the same time permission was being given to 3 turbines which would blot the view for same walkers going the other way!! Any way, we removed one of the stems and pruned the rest of the tree hard back. It looked like a bottle brush, but now that it has done some growing it looks quite nice again and the shading effect has been partially dealt with. As you can see, things do now grow!

At the far end of that bed is this Seneccio greyii (now called something else). You can just see the top of the 'well' behind it. The Seneccio is all one plant. It is the biggest I have ever seen. I prune out all flowered wood in the late summer and cut it back round the lawn edge and anything that goes up too high. You will be subjected to another picture of this when the shrub behind comes into bloom.

Well, that's it for today. We'll carry on another day. The broom will be over, but I'll put in a picture of it, so that you don't miss it. Bye for now.

Monday, 7 May 2007

What a busy Weekend!

Before I start on the weekend, I must say that it is great to hear how many people are involved with their local schools. It is the most satisfying thing, even if exhausting!

Now the weekend. We had a cousin of G's staying, so:

On Saturday, we went to Wallington. First we 'did' the gardens. So you'll see a few pictures above - I have failed to move them to where I wanted to. Last time, I could. don't know what I've done different. After lunch in the cafe, we 'did' the house, which is always lovely to see, however many times we go. I love to talk to the volunteers, while our guest(s) ooh and ahh ably abetted by G! We came home to 'Sunday' dinner ie a roast.

On Sunday, we got away in good time, leaving G to recuperate! and went to Alnwick Gardens. As there was a gale blowing, the water features were not fully working (to conserve water), but she was impressed all the same. She was blown away by the walled garden, which pleased me greatly as I think it is marvelous, but some don't! We had lunch (a bowl of soup) in the Restaurant. A. was overcome by the wash basins which change colour! After that we walked down to the Castle and gave it a thorough going over! She was enormously overcome by that too, especially the pictures and furniture. I was not so aware before of how 'lived in' it feels. The family really do live in it, in the winter months, - moving elsewhere in the summer when it is open to the public.

I was exhausted by the time we had done all that and A, who is 10 years younger, was fairly weary.
We went on to my step daughter's near Rothbury, stopping at Eglingham (I think! there are several places that sound about the same, and I can never remember which is which,) a tiny 11th Century Church and the remains of a 'Tower'. The church is fascinating and we spent some time there, before going on. We had a very welcome cup of tea and A. was able to catch up with her God daughter. Then home to a nice easy cold meat, baked potatoe and salad supper.
A left this morning and we hope that she got home to London, safely, before everyone else blocked the roads.

Sorry about the awful muddle but I hope anyone who visits enjoys it regardless!