My Favourite Places… Buriton Pond

collage_buriton

Not far from where I live is a lovely rural village called Buriton. When we first moved to Hampshire, we discovered the place by accident and fell in love with it and their beautiful pond.

It is always peaceful there, something to do with its location, I’m sure, as it nestles in a lush green valley quite close to the South Downs. Unfortunately, it is quite a popular spot and you have to take your chances, but it is always worth a visit. Always something going on, from ducklings in the spring to the changing of the seasons.

We have gone there in the summer, winter, sunshine and showers, (and the ice and snow) Spectacular at any time of the year, and always conjures up a deep spiritual peace.

Yesterday, I played hooky from all the writing, blogging and all the millions of other jobs that nag to be done. Telling myself it was probably a good opportunity for a blog post at the very least, I was determined to enjoy both the warm weather and the time off.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped out of the car was a grey crane, wading through the shallow water. We ended up following him all around the pond, as he obviously didn’t like the look of us at all.

We like to walk around the edge, seeing the pond from every angle, and as we passed a tall clump of yellow iris, we saw something small and brown busily chewing on a stalk at the water’s edge. We crept towards it, fully expecting it to scurry away, but it did not. It seemed to be just as curious about us, peering up at us with its little beady eyes. I went closer and closer, camera at the ready and ended up incredibly close.

Not sure what it was, but it studied us with great interest. We offered some of the wholemeal bread we had brought for the ducks, and he nibbled away, keeping an eye on us.
Just then, a couple with a dog came along. Quick as a flash, we surrounded the creature to keep the dog away. When we turned back, he had gone and we knew we could stop worrying.

If there is one thing I am grateful for in this digital age, is that you no longer have to have a several rolls of film in your pocket. I can take as many photographs as I like, and by heck, I do!

One of My Favourite Places…

Southsea Rock Gardens

southsea collage

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!)

 

#Throwback Thursday: Unexpected walkabout…

New_1_DSCF1605

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!

New_1_DSCF1609

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.

New_1_DSCF1591

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!

 

My Favourite Places… x6

waterfall-Merlin-s-Well-Classic-View

St Nectan’s Glen, Cornwall

Some of you will probably know that I am inordinately fond of Cornwall, and have explored quite a few of its special places.
The minute you cross the Tamar Bridge, the air seems different and the magic starts to stir.

We always make our way to Tintagel first, as we are Merlin and Arthur fanatics and this is our most important stop.
On our many trips to the West Country, we have discovered so many wonderful places, from magical forests to beautiful waterfalls. The stunning Atlantic coast with its rugged cliffs and caves, some of which involving a death defying climb that will literally turn your hair white.

We have visited most of the sites that are reported to be connected to Merlin and Arthur, including the pool where the sword Excalibur is supposed to lie. We have almost been blown off the cliffs when the weather turned bad, and have lost count of the times we have been soaked to the skin. But the weather, with all the glorious sunsets and scenery, including the sudden downpours, are all part of Cornwall’s magic.

And if you ever visit, you must remember to look up at the night sky. Nowhere else in the UK will you see night skies like the ones in Cornwall. The heavens seem so low; you can almost reach out and touch the millions of stars right above your head.

My personal favourite is St. Nectan’s Glen. Not easy to find, or get to, as it is only accessible on foot. This sacred site is where the river Trevillet has carved its way through the Devonian slate, and created a magnificent 60-foot waterfall. This water then punched a hole through the original kieve (basin) and cascades into a beautiful valley.

You walk through ancient woodland to get there, and it is quite a route march to reach the small hut or hermitage at the top where the monk St. Nectan built the sanctuary in 500AD. The frustrating part of this particular journey is the fact that you don’t see the falls until the very last minute. You gradually hear the murmur of the water as you get closer, but the landscape seems to keep it safe and secret until the very last minute, and is even more stunning because of this.

This place is sublimely spiritual, like nowhere else I have ever been and always has a profound effect on me. From the trees with all the multi-coloured wish ribbons, to the freezing spray of the white water, fighting its way through deep chasms in the rocks, this place inspires me to be better than I am…