Cleethorpe’s Saltmarsh

Promise of sun all day persuaded us to travel to Cleethorpes for a long walk along the beach. The saltmarsh has been pushed back from encroaching on the sand in the town but with the seabirds wheeling like starlings in the sky, clear, bright sunlight all day, the saltmarsh has an invigorating beauty.

Burnby Hall Gardens, Pocklington, East Yorkshire, 8th September 2012

We visited Pocklington for family reasons, stopping off at Burnby Hall Gardens where they have a National Collection of Hardy Water Lilies. Founded by Major Percy Marlborough Stewart and his wife Katharine in 1904 it was left to the people of Pocklington on Percy’s death in 1962. The day in 2012 when we first visited the gardens was quiet, last summer we visited on Sunday and it was packed and vibrant. There are two lakes packed with fish and lilies of all colours. Following the gardens we visited Flamborough Head, accounting for the last image, Burnby not being big enough to accommodate white cliffs and tides.

Wentworth Woodhouse, 31st January 2016

Built by the Watson family who became the Fitzwilliams (amazing what money can do) on the basis of vast revenues from their coal seams, the 300 room Wentworth Woodhouse with its 185m facade is an epic house and has an epic tale of family feuding. After the Second World War everything went belly up with the South Yorkshire family fortunes as, in a spirit of rebuilding the nation and a socialist disdain for the rich, the Minister of Fuel and Power, Mannie Shinwell, ordered that the whole estate be dug up for open cast coal mining. The mining went right up to the house with inevitable subsidence. When in 1948 the eighth earl was killed in a car crash alongside his lover, “Kick” Kennedy, sister of JFK, the house became Lady Mabel College of Further Education, the majestic Marble Hall, below, a gymnasium. Decline upon decline, until it was purchased in 1999 by architect Clifford Newbold, who died in April 2015. The house is still for sale at £8m from Savills. Subsidence is still a problem. And one sale has fallen through. We visited on a dark day at the end of January, and in the drizzle the house still looks vast, grand and sadly, if one looks beyond that glorious facade, a tad neglected.

Postscript (4th February) And ever on the pulse as always   .. a matter of days after I wrote the above comes the news that the property has been sold to, very good news here, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust for £7m, half of which came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. A spokesman for the Trust said, “The long-term strategy is for the public to visit and enjoy all the most interesting parts of the property while restoring the others for revenue-earning uses such as events and holiday lets with business units in the stables.”

Wentworth Garden Centre, Historic Garden

This is a tale of garden renovation that requires wider publicity, so I will spread the word to my reader. A full history may be found here, but briefly the gardens at Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham, were commenced in the mid 18th century, once occupied up to 36 gardeners, were more or less abandoned after the Second World War and their decline mirrors the decline in the fortunes of the house dealt with in tomorrow’s post. Actually the gardens were in a far worse state than the house. Thirty years ago, with the success of the Garden Centre from its opening in 1976, there has been an on-going project to restore the gardens on which the centre stands, from total dereliction to the haven we visited yesterday. Each year sees more work, whether it be on the fantastic maze or, as with our visit, the woodland trail through the terraced sunken garden brim full of stonework, water features and topiary. Thousands of snowdrops and other bulbs have been planted in the last few years and they were well displayed for the last day of January. For 2016 the garden has become part of the RHS Partner Garden Scheme. A labour of love. Do visit.

Salford Docks Decline and Rebirth as Media City, Saturday 16th January 2016

I remember Salford from the days when my grandmother took me to see the Manchester Ship Canal. The canal connected Manchester to the sea and its terminal or starting point was Salford. It was in decline even then. The final dock closed in 1982. Reborn as Salford Quay it is now Media City writ large with the BBC and  ITV basing a sizable chunk of their operations there. Money seems to have followed with a multitude of apartment blocks and retail outlets, not to mention spin-off companies and a theatre complex containing the unmissable Lowry Museum. It was a day when the snow burst through just after I took the photographs. Colour had drained from the concrete, glass and steel edifices and yet they possessed a beauty in their reflections in the water. The spots of colour that existed were appreciated. Pity we were two of very few to enjoy the spectacle.

Cleethorpes Beach, Meridian Line, Windsurfers and First World War Forts

A house full of family (see New Year’s Eve) is at times a rumbustious affair so after saying our farewells, to clear the head, for the second time in three days we walked for miles along Cleethorpes beach and salt marshes. We passed the Greenwich Meridian line that crosses the Humber Estuary, first entering Britain at Withernsea and then passing through Cleethorpes. The stainless steel plate crossing the walkway has withstood the rigours of time and footfall since being presented to the town in 1930 by the Sheffield Steelworks, Hadfields Ltd. Tough stuff. The signpost and granite globe were erected in October.

The Humber Estuary drains something like 20% of England’s land mass so the water that is presently flooding Northern Yorkshire flows here.

Birds flock in their many thousands to over-winter on the rich marshland. The egret tested my zoom lens.

Wind surfers and one of the two estuary forts constructed in 1914 to defend the coast. The forts are lonely features of the seascape now. In the far distance behind the close-up of the windsurfer is the second fort.

And here in the thin winter sun, the sea defences and vast sands have a beauty.

Forde Abbey and its Mighty Fountain, 26th July 2014

I have never been inside Forde Abbey as it was felt hosting a wedding to be more important than hosting the two of us. On a lovely July day in this lovely county of Dorset I was not so disappointed for we were there to see the fountain, the highest powered fountain in England reaching a height of up to 160 ft. It is not some historic creation, being constructed in 2005. The spectacle is eagerly awaited by visitors and a sense of excitement pervaded the gardens. It did not disappoint as the waters crashed down to the Mermaid Pond. I had to turn the camera sideways to capture the height!

Kew Gardens Davies Alpine House & Waterlily House, 4th May 2014

Opened in 2006 the Davies Alpine House is a modern take on the glass houses that have been such a feature of the world famous gardens at Kew. In the state of the art ventilated and lit glasshouse it is possible to grow alpines in a way I, funnily enough, fail to do so. The primulas in particular caught my eye.

Completed in 1852, Richard Turner’s iron work is a feature of the Waterlily House and, for a time, both the images below adorned my computer as a background. Were it not for the heat and humidity inside I would suggest the water, flat lilies and reflected ironwork are very cool.


Seasonal and Unseasonal, Alexandra Palace, 19th December 2015

My car registered the temperature as 17ºC early this afternoon here in London. The highest recorded London temperature in December is 17.2 C. In the car park at Alexandra Palace I snapped daffodils in full flower. (The limitations of my ‘phone camera are clear to see.) And below is a more seasonal offering. Freddie is on the left! I know I’m getting older when Santa Claus seems so young.