Archives for posts with tag: nature

Photographs from the park at Virginia Water, Surrey, which is part of the Royal Landscape.

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The Cascade is a 10m tall waterfall built in the 1780s by Thomas Sandby, King George III’s architect, after the previous waterfall was destroyed in a storm in 1768.

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This totem pole is 100 foot high, erected in 1958 to mark the centenary of the establishment of British Colombia as a Crown Colony. Incredibly, it was carved from a single tree, a 600 year old Western Red Cedar from the forests of Haida Gwaii, 500 miles to the north of Vancouver.

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The park is home to many species of bird.

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The county of Ayrshire, birthplace of Robert Burns, Hendrick’s Gin and little old me. The best thing about my county is the great outdoors, particularly when the sun is shining, which it certainly was at the weekend (28°C, unheard of in Scotland). Ayrshire is home to rolling hills, lush green pastures and a plethora of beaches.

On the first day of my trip home I visited Dunure and Croy Beach in South Ayrshire, which was glorious after months in landlocked Berkshire. I try to avoid the busier beaches, such as Troon and Ayr, and head up the coast for more secluded spots.

The views here are incredible: rugged coastline, vast sparkling ocean, and the hazy outline of the uninhabited island of Ailsa Craig in the distance, ten miles out to sea. The few fluffy clouds gave interest to the vivid blue sky and white cabbage butterflies and wild flowers were in abundance.

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If you ever visit this area be sure to take a picnic as you’ll want to spend some time here. There is also a farm park for children close by called Heads of Ayr, and a few caravan parks for longer visits. Dunure is also very close to Turnberry, the famous hotel and golf resort, which has held many Open tournaments.

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I’m so happy to be writing a travel post again, especially one on a country I have wanted to visit for a long time: Norway, land of fjords, lakes and snow-capped mountains, and the most beautiful country I have seen so far, the town of Olden in particular. From above Olden literally looked like a model village, to the point that I thought it was some kind of mirage. Lush green trees crept up the hillsides dotted with colourful wooden houses, with great waterfalls speeding down the mountains.

On the way to the glacier trail I photographed a large turquoise-hued lake that I could have sat next to at all day. I really wanted to find a rowing boat and get out on the water.

I then hiked for 45 minutes uphill past waterfalls, goats and grass-roofed huts to Briksdal glacier. It was my first time seeing a glacier, and it was an impressive sight; they really do look blue close up. At the bottom of the glacier was a small turquoise lake, which looked beautiful next to the rugged landscape, although alarmingly a man who has lived in the town since 1998 informed us that when he arrived in Olden, there was no lake.

An equally pretty place was the small town of Eidfjord, with the opportunity for kayaking and of course more hiking.

The Norwegian landscape was everything I imagined it to be and more, like the Scottish Highlands but even more rugged, with higher mountains and clearer lakes.

I hope you enjoy the photographs.

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Although I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person, I am often drawn to churches and cathedrals. I suppose it helps that these buildings are often some of the most impressive examples of architecture in the world.

When I visited Tiggywinkles recently, I drove through a chocolate box village in Buckinghamshire called Haddenham. I felt compelled to stop and take some photographs of the local church, St Mary’s, which is a beautiful 13th century building situated by a pond.

It was a bright and sunny day, with the smell of freshly cut grass in the air. The pond was busy with wildlife but the rest of the village remained sleepy.

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Tiggywinkles is an animal hospital and sanctuary situated just outside Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. It is billed as the world’s busiest wildlife hospital and is available 24/7 for animal casualties.

The hospital cares for all kinds of wild animals, including deer, foxes, badgers, squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits and birds. Its aim is to rehabilitate sick or injured animals, but when this is not possible they are cared for at Tiggywinkles for the remainder of their lives.

Tiggywinkles was officially opened in 1983 and named after the Beatrix Potter character Mrs Tiggywinkle, due to the large number of hedgehogs coming into the centre. A special hedgehog only ward – St Tiggywinkles – was thus created.

 

As the hospital is not state funded, they rely on generous donations from the public and from the proceeds of their visitor centre, which includes a gift shop, outdoor picnic area, coffee shop, a hedgehog memorabilia museum, and children’s play area.

 

The public are able to visit the animals in the sanctuary, which features a large aviary for red kites. The kites are the subject of daily talks, as are the hedgehogs.

The sanctuary also has a large pond for ducks and swans, a deer paddock and several gardens for smaller creatures.

If you would like to donate to an excellent animal charity or for more information please visit the website http://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/index.html

Open to visitors 10am to 4pm seven days a week until September 30th. Adult tickets priced at £5.10

Mainly found on ancient woodland, bluebell woods in full bloom are a wondrous sight. Violet-blue flowers blanket the earth in Heartwood Forest, Hertfordshire, as sunlight floods through the great trees above. It’s easy to see why bluebell woods are so intrinsically linked with fairies and magic.

Bluebells are a protected species in the UK, which is home to up to 50% of the world’s population. Heartwood Forest is also home to many species of butterfly. I saw this European Peacock on a path near the glade.

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This Forest is protected by the Woodland Trust.

Today was the first day in a long time that the rain stayed away for the entire day. I was able to leave the house without a jacket and took a relaxing walk down by the Thames, close to where I live in Berkshire.

Green leaves had appeared on the branches of the oaks and the willows, and the river was abundant with wildlife; swans, ducks and geese were enjoying the water, and many of them stopped to say hello. I’m looking forward to seeing their cygnets, ducklings and goslings soon too.

I recently spotted two Rose-ringed Parakeets on the tree outside my window but sadly they left before I could photograph them.

Last summer I encountered a dragonfly in the house, which was a new experience for me. It was around the size of a large butterfly, and had an iridescent petrol-like sheen, which was visible in its languid movements. These are creatures I have only seen in nature documentaries and books so hopefully I will get another chance to photograph them both this year, as well as any other interesting animals who choose to visit my garden.

Fingers crossed for a good summer.

Autumn has got to be my favourite season. Russet-hued falling leaves, chestnuts, that crisp, fresh air, and of course an abundance of pumpkins. Sadly, this is the only time we get to see pumpkins in the UK, so it was nice to see so many of them (75 varieties), and so proudly displayed, at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in Richmond, Surrey.

In the Waterlily House, a pumpkin pyramid featuring varieties of pumpkins from all over the world, many of which I had never seen before, such as the Red October and the Buttercup – which is black – rose from the water. Around the edge of the pond, there were pumpkin displays from different continents, featuring traditional recipes and ingredients.

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Kew Gardens, as it is more commonly known, was founded in 1759, becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. It is a world leader in plant science and conservation.

As well as beautiful plants, trees and flowers, Kew Gardens features many decorative structures, the tallest of which is the Pagoda. It is 163 feet high and has 10 stories, completed in 1762. The size of the Pagoda is impressive and looks fabulous from a distance, but it doesn’t look particularly interesting close-up. It was once adorned with 80 gold dragons and was very colourful. After restoration, it unfortunately looks a little bland.

Another decorative structure is The Japanese Gateway, a replica of the Gate of Nishi Hongan-ji (Western Temple of the Original Vow) in Kyoto, although it is not as large. It was built in 1910 and the landscaping has been specifically created to complement the Japanese design.

Kew also has eight glasshouses including The Palm House, designed by Decimus Burton and engineered by Richard Turner. It was constructed between 1844 and 1848 using iron and 16,000 panes of glass, at a time when the Victorians started to import tropical plants to Europe. It features a walkway around the top so you can look down on all of the palms and exotic blooms. In the lower level of the Palm House there is an aquarium with seahorses and upside down jelly fish – a new one on me. I think one of the seahorses was pregnant: his belly was huge!

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A newish addition to Kew is the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, an 18 metre (59ft) high construction, which opened in 2008. It was nice walking around the path amongst the tree tops but if you’re looking for a view, there isn’t much to see beyond the leaves.

Overall, Kew Gardens is a very nice day out, one that would be enjoyed by all ages. It’s the kind of place that you’d want to visit every season. The squirrels, geese and peacocks seem to agree.

The pumpkin displays last until November 3rd. Adult tickets cost £14.50, open daily from 9.30am. Visit http://www.kew.org for more information and upcoming events.