Monday, 24 September 2007

Serene I stand . . .

'Serene I stand among the flowers and only count life's sunny hours,

For me dark days do not exist I'm a brazen-faced old optimist.'

Sometimes, places and events become so familiar that you forget to look for new things. I discovered this at the weekend when we went for one of our regular walks around Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge, which is one of our favourite National Trust haunts.

We have a bit of a set route around the grounds, which are wonderful and change with the seasons. But we've become sort of complacent, forgetting to look around us.

So, on Sunday, it was great to discover something new there. For most of the time we've been going to Anglesey, the Rose Garden has been the preserve of the family which owned the place and lived in the summer house (a mere 11 bedrooms) next to the abbey itself. They've now moved out and the Rose Garden has been opened to the public - and what a treat it was.

First discovery was the sundial (above) adjacent to the entance. Sorry about my shadow spoiling the picture, but I was trying to get the dragonfly in the shot without scaring it away. I thought the inscription (Serene . . . ) around the 'dial' was lovely - but having looked it up on Google, it must be on every other sundial there is.

Continuing the weather theme, I noticed for the first time (I think) the golden weather vane (below) in the shape of a longship. In all the years we've been going to Anglesey Abbey, we've always been too mean to buy a guidebook, so I'm afraid I don't know the significance of the sundial or the longship, or any of the other things we spotted on our first visit to the Rose Garden.

Flanking one of the entrances to the garden are two statues of Pan, which are slowly (I presume) being enveloped by the yew hedge.

But even more intriguing is this tombstone(?), the head end of which is now under the hedge - one assumes the hedge came second.

Then, on the other side of the hedge, in the Rose Garden itself - by the way the actual roses had begun to fade a bit - was an even stranger discovery . . .

What seem to be stone coffins or, more to the point, empty stone coffins! It's no good - I've got to get the guide book, I have to know . . .

Further into the garden is a doorway - presumably leading to the old private quarters of the family. The door looks really ancient and, according to a plaque fixed to it, once belonged to Henry Cromwell (Oliver Cromwell's son).

Either side of the door are the heads of what appear to be bishops - but they look too mischievous to be senior clergy - one has even suffered a broken nose!

Finally, a detail from the gates leading into the garden. A lovely, surprising and intriquing afternoon stroll which taught me not to take things for granted. And when I find out whose coffins they were, I'll let you know.

Sunflower power

The sunflowers in my garden sort of gave up the ghost at the weekend - heads heavy with seed, no support, dogs running round them etc.

I've chopped off the heads so they can dry out and the birds can peck at the seeds through the winter.

It also gave me the chance to get close up and take some pictures. They're fantastic things, sunflowers - beautiful, shapes colours and patterns.

Monday, 3 September 2007

False start

I returned to the house after setting off on the dog walk this morning (6.05am). After seeing this rather explosive looking sunrise, I had go back and get my camera.

The verbascum (?) and teasels looked good in the half-light, too. There's something unnatural about the tall spikes.

Yesterday, I dug up the first of my rather pathetic crop of parsnips. I'm having to ration them, but there was enough here to roast with our Sunday lunch.