One of My Favourite Places…

Southsea Rock Gardens

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Living as I do, quite near to the coast in the south of England, I have visited several places of interest during my time here.
One of my favourite places is the Southsea Rock Garden, which is just a short way from Portsmouth and on the sea front so it is very easy to find. Access is easy and free, and if you like gardens you’ll love this one.

Calling it a rock garden makes it sound small, but it is over 12.000 square metres. You can wander around and lose yourself in the peaceful tranquillity that is always there, no matter what time of year you visit.
I was surprised to discover that it was built in the early 1920’s by unskilled labourers, set to work by the government during the years of depression after the First World War

The garden is designed on several levels with paths and steps leading you to many areas of natural beauty filled with an impressive array of plants. Huge rocks and boulders were brought down from Cumberland to create magnificent rockeries and a huge fountain and waterfall occupy the centre stage, with a goldfish pond at the bottom. I never could find out who actually designed this garden all those years ago, but if I ever come into any money, I would have this garden replicated in my own back yard. I would need a very big back yard and lot of money though, for this place is huge!

Nearly a hundred years later, we can still enjoy the layout and beauty of the unusual planting, despite its being badly flooded on several occasions whenever a fierce enough storm arrives from out at sea. The last time this happened was just a few months ago, and I worried that the damage would be so severe the garden would be ruined.

But when I went there it was as if nothing had happened. The voluntary organisation, The Friends of the Garden, had done a magnificent job, pumping out all the sea water as quickly as possible to prevent the salt damage and there were flowers in bloom everywhere I looked.

I expected to find desolation and ruin and be saddened by the loss of a beautiful thing, only to have my heart gladdened by the display of care and attention that I did find there. To say I was pleased does not begin to describe my joy as I walked around and enjoyed the sense of peace and serenity the garden has always given me…

(and I need to go back again in the near future!)

 

The View from my Writing Desk…

 

 

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Our Gum Tree

 

 

Although we live in a town, it isn’t an inner-city town. Tucked behind the South Downs in Hampshire, we are just 19 miles from the sea.

An ordinary town really, rows of streets spreading out from the town centre with all manner of shops and businesses. The local council keep it tidy and provide us with well-kept trees, bushes and green areas.

Sometimes, if you know where to look, you can find something special here, something that doesn’t quite belong. Hidden among the sprawling streets, small treasures can be found. Little rivers emerge unexpectedly, creating a magical atmosphere. ( I have recently found another such treasure. Post to follow…)

We have such an oddity in our back garden.

We all have trees and bushes in our gardens, but we have a giant gum tree. Far taller than our house, it dwarfs every tree for miles around.

It seems so much supple than other trees and maybe this has something to do with it being a gum tree. The leaves smell faintly of eucalyptus and it has such a graceful way of moving with the wind.

I watch this tree most mornings as I wait for my brain to warm up, but this morning we had the aftermath of Storm Eric.  The wind was fierce, so the view from my window was dramatic. Strong gusts tried to break the tree, viciously pushing and shoving until I thought one would give way. But the branches were so supple they simply danced away, ducking and weaving like a Whirling Dervish until the wind abated.

We could learn a lot from trees. Most of them have been here longer than we have and will remain long after we have gone. They survive, I think because they simply do what they were born to do and they do it well. They take what comes in their stride (so to speak) patiently waiting for the seasons to change or the wind to stop blowing.

A lesson for us all there, I think…

#Throwback Thursday: Unexpected walkabout…

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The sun was shining and it finally felt warm. I desperately needed to get out of the house and go for a walk, but not sure if I was fit enough to go where I really wanted to go.

It is nearly a mile to our local pond, and this is such a stupid thing to call it, for it is huge. It takes nearly an hour to walk slowly around it, so this will tell you the size of it.

I was prepared to make the trip, even though it was a risk. Getting there isn’t usually the problem, but after you have walked around for a while, you don’t have much energy left for the return trip. In addition, I was still recuperating for the cancer treatment.

At the last minute, help arrived in the shape of an unexpected lift in my niece’s car, she fancied a walk too, and it quite made my day. I could enjoy the water and the scenery and come safely home, energy levels intact!

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I adore this pond. All the different wildlife and trees, the sunlight glinting on the water, rounded off with a lovely cup of drinking chocolate at the waterside café.

I didn’t need to walk right around the pond, but it was Spring and the resident swans could be laying their eggs and I wanted to see them.

Half way around, I spotted the enormous white birds. One was sitting on the nest, a huge pile of twigs. The other stood guard, one eye on his mate and the other on me, lest I went too near. No fear of that really, the nest was way out in the water.

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I am always amazed by how successful they are as parents. Every year they rear at least six cygnets, and during the time it takes to build the nest, lay the eggs and then rear the young, you hardly ever see them eat, so devoted they are to the job in hand.

I thought back to two years ago, when I had the good but scary fortune to be witness to a close encounter with the pair of them, complete with ten small cygnets in tow. I was sitting on a bench by the water enjoying the day, when they decided that particular spot was where they would come ashore. They clambered out of the water and waited patiently for their babies to join them. I hardly dared to breathe, for they were so close to me and not known for their tolerance to humans at this time of year. It was an amazing moment, and one I will never forget.

I wondered how many eggs they would lay this year, so far I could only see five in the nest.

These incredibly beautiful birds have a very special relationship, loyal and dutiful, and I made a mental note to mark the calendar when I returned home, so I would know when it was time to come back and meet the family…

Looking forward to going back this year when the weather gets a little warmer!