Arundel Castle, West Sussex, U.K.

Arundel is an ancient town situated on the River Arun in West Sussex, England.  Its castle, massive and dominant in the landscape, dates from the 11th Century, although considerably altered and added to since that time.

Arundel Castle has undergone many restorations and extensions since it was first built in the year following the Norman Invasion of England in 1066.  It was officially  established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067.   By the grace of William the Conqueror, he was the first to hold the earldom of Arundel.   The castle has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since and is now the home of the Duke of Norfolk, who is the Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England.  The current duke is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk.

My photographs, featured below, are amongst those I took on a recent visit there in October 2017.

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Arundel, showing its position just a few miles inland from the English Channel and about 65 miles from London.

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Showing how the castle position dominates the town and the surrounding area

 

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Looking up to the massive southern wall of the castle

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The Castle’s Western Gateway

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Part of the extensive castle gardens, looking towards Arundel’s Roman Catholic Cathedral

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The more private part of the castle where the present Duke of Norfolk lives

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Further view of the gardens

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The Root Garden, planted with the upturned roots of trees lost in the great 1987 Storm

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It was pumpkin time in the castle vegetable gardens, and Halloween was approaching

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A medieval montage within the castle keep

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An important 12th Century visitor to the Castle

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A re-enactment of 12th Century knights in battle

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More Norman knights

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A view of the River Arun and its bridge at Arundel after several days of rain

 

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Westonbirt National Arboretum

[ Photo Blog #60 ]

Westonbirt Arboretum can be found near the historic market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England.  It is the UK’s National Arboretum, managed by the Forestry Commission, and is perhaps the most important and widely known arboretum in the United Kingdom.  The arboretum’s 18,000 specimen trees and shrubs sourced from all over the globe provide a remarkable place for people to enjoy and learn about trees. It has 17 miles of marked paths which provide access to a wide variety of rare plants.

When I visited there in 2003 there happened to be an exhibition of what, only in the broadest sense, could be called ‘garden sculpture’.   I offer below some of my photographs taken at the time . . . 

 

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Westonbirt 01 (1)

Just taking a work break

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A pointed remark

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Tear-drop Tree

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All wired up …

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… and suitably pigeon-holed

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Water-glass

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A hairy situation

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‘The green trees transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap and almost mad with ecstasy.’

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Mirrored garden #1

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Mirrored garden #2

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Mirrored garden #3

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Three Essex Villages, England

[ Photo Blog #47 ]

Just a few of my photographs taken in three beautiful villages in Essex in South East England – to the north and East of London.

Greensted Church, in the small village of Greensted-juxta-Ongar, near Chipping Ongar, is the oldest wooden church in the world, and probably the oldest wooden building in Europe still standing, albeit only in part, since few sections of its original wooden structure remain. The oak walls are often classified as remnants of a palisade church or a kind of early stave church, dated either to the mid-9th or mid-11th century.

Ingatestone is a village in Essex, England, with a population of about 4,500.

Ingatestone Hall is a Grade I listed 16th-century manor house in Essex, some 5 miles (8 km) south west of Chelmsford. It was built by Sir William Petre, and his descendants live in the house to this day.  William Petre bought Ingatestone manor soon after the Dissolution of the Monasteries for some £850 and commissioned the building of the house. Queen Elizabeth I of England spent several nights there on her royal progress of 1561.

The hall represented the exterior of Bleak House in the 2005 television adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel and also appeared in an episode of the TV series Lovejoy. Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s novel Lady Audley’s Secret is set at Ingatestone Hall and was inspired by a stay there.

Orsett is a village and ecclesiastical parish located within Thurrock unitary district in Essex

( Information based on entries in Wikipedia )

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A timbered and thatched cottage in Orsett

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Greensted Church

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Greensted Church –  Wooden South Entrance

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Ingatestone Hall

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Ingatestone Hall – Clock Tower & Weather Vane

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Ingatestone Hall

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Ingatestone Hall – Roadside slogan – ‘Never Underestimate A Minority’

One evening in July

One evening in July

swift-swallows

High in the sky
crescent wings spread
swallows swoop in the setting sun
sweeping the sky in graceful bursts
of focussed energy

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squirrels scamper back to hide
in the broad bold arms of the copper beech
massively dominant
heart-fulcrum of this garden’s universe
dark and russet red
against the pure blue of the dying sky

all movement
matching mood
the random respite in the dreamy breeze
the occasional breath of the wind’s touch
and sporadically
 complete stillness

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greens, so many greens
each tree, shrub, plant
varied in their shades
proving their uniqueness
setting themselves apart
by shape and colour
claiming their own personality

offshoots of dandelion down
breeze-drift ever upwards
losing themselves in the beech’s canopy
awaiting an eventual
descent to earth
and re-birth
to live and breed again

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a low-key insect hum
a buzz about the borders
and the beds
those ‘I-must-be-about-my-business’ bees
bustling flower to flower
seeking out colour
honey essence
on the move
feasting
surviving

other minutiae fuss and flurry
in their chosen domains
butterflies, beetles,
hoverflies
nature’s drones
engaged with their own agendas

the collared dove cooing on the rooftop
the chirrup, twitter, chatter of
evening’s bedtime birds

the whole garden sings softly to me
showcasing summer’s sustenance
the season’s splendour
acknowledging the diurnal cycle
preparing for the sun’s departure
and the oncoming darkness
bringing languor and tranquility
paving the way for the
life of the night
to commence

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SIDMOUTH and John Betjeman

[ Photo Blog #43 ]

SIDMOUTH and John Betjeman

 I supplement my photographic gallery post of Sidmouth a week ago with a further collection of photographs of this’ jewel of England’s Jurassic Coast’.  The town was beloved of our 20th Century poet laureate (1972-84), John Betjeman.  He wrote a poem as the sound track to a 1962 television film on the town.  In the poem, called ‘Still Sidmouth’, he says of the town :

‘Gothic or Classic, terrace or hotel,
Here does the backbone of old England dwell.’

On my own recent visit there I made a point of looking for what Betjeman describes in his poem as the ‘bright and outsize Devon  flowers’ in Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens.

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The Betjeman Plaque in Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth

‘Pause on Peak Hill, look eastward to the town,
Then to the Connaught Gardens wander down
And in the shelter of its tropic bowers,
I see its bright and outsize Devon flowers.’

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As befits the Jungle theme of just one part of these gardens, most plants here originate from the Far East.  There is a fascinating bamboo collection, but what, in particular, caught my eye was this exotic plant which reached up tall into the sky and leant at an angle over the pathway.  So far I have been unable to pin down it’s name.  There is a lot of information about these gardens on the internet and on the plants it contains, but nothing I can find which matches the description of this tall, broad-stemmed creature. It has a myriad of small blue and mauve periwinkle-like flowers encircling the massive central stems, which, at the time I photographed them, were covered in honey bees.

The following four photographs give a better idea of its exotic character . . .

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Below I include 4 more of my photographs of Sidmouth flowers, wild ones this time, which John Betjeman would have seen and loved . . .

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Seashore Foxglove

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River Sid Daisies

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My Bird Of Paradise

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My Bird Of Paradise

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 When I awoke and drew the blinds
One bright and sunny day
A sight awaited my poor eyes
Which filled me with dismay.

When looking out my bedroom window
I’ve never before found
Something which has so puzzled me
It truly did astound

Exotic birds do not frequent
My garden usually
But yesterday I gazed at one
Amazed – excusably.

Was it a bird of ill omen
Sent to cause me worry
I told myself, “I doubt that much,
At least not here in Surrey.”

Perhaps a Bird of Paradise
Had managed to break free
From its New Guinea jungle home
And come to delight me.

Maybe a Rainbow Lorikeet
Toucan or Golden Pheasant
Peacock or a Red Macaw
Sent here as a present.

I was quite mystified you see
Until this afternoon
The gardener came, looked up and said,
“It’s an escaped balloon.”

I was quite mortified to find
I had not recognised
My own discarded birthday gift.
… I’m so demoralised.

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TIME OUT

 

TIME OUT

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Time out for Reynard.
He’ll just wait.
Eyeing up those chickens
To seal their fate.

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Time out, but wary,
On the qui vive.
Fodder for his family
Just about to thieve.

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Time out for him now,
Night’s work done.
Taking a siesta
In the sun.

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Say what you will, but
The urban fox,
Is part of Nature’s spectrum,
Not unorthodox.

 

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Photographs taken in a Surrey garden … WHB: 2015-17

 

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Dublin, City of a Thousand Welcomes

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Dublin has many such beautiful doorways dating from the Georgian period

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This one photo is from Pinterest – the others are all my own

Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland, is a beautiful city.  It is an absolute delight to wander around the lush green parks and open spaces, especially on a sunny afternoon.  My first visit, many years ago, was in torrential rain.  A lorry driver who generously gave a lift, southwards from the city, to two itinerant hitch-hikers, welcomed us with the comment, “Ireland is beautiful – just needs a bloody great umbrella over it”.  My second and third visits were in delightful sunshine which showed off the city’s exquisite Georgian architecture and its many monuments and statues to great advantage.  I add below a gallery of photographs taken during my last visit in 2010 …

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Sea approach to Dublin Harbour

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The Aviva Stadium – formerly Landsdowne Road Stadium – venue for major rugby and football matches

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Church Of Ireland.   Founded in 1191, its 43 metres high spire makes it the tallest church in Ireland.

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Ivy covered Georgian Terrace houses

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Georgian-style Bay Windows

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Front façade of St.Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre

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Memorial Stone in St.Stephen’s Green Park, to Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa,  (1831-1915) a former Fenian Leader.

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Statue in St. Stephen’s Green Park, to Wolfe Tone a leading figure of the Irish Independence Movement

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The Papal Cross in Phoenix Park commemorates the Pope’s visit to Dublin in 1979  

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The Wellington Testimonial Obelisk in Phoenix Park.  Arthur Wellesley, ‘The Iron Duke’, general and politician, was born in Ireland.

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The Isle of Ghia

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I have eulogised in previous blogs about the Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland.  Today I include a gallery of photographs which I took, some years ago now, on the southernmost Inner Hebridean island of GHIA.  Ghia has one of the warmest climates in Scotland and is a beautiful destination, with sandy beaches, the renowned Achamore Gardens, good food, history and wildlife, a golf course, quiet roads and friendly people.

One of the main attractions of this small island is the ease with which one can reach it from the mainland.  It lies just four miles from the Kintyre peninsular and the ferry, from Tayinloan, will take just 20 minutes to reach the small landing at Ardminish.  The island’s one hotel is close by and I had a delightful few days based there whilst I explored the island.

The population of Ghia is approximately 160.  The island is just over 6 miles long.  Its single-track main road runs from north to south covering almost the whole length of the island which is nowhere more than two miles across from east to west.  The highest mountain on the island is Creag Bhan in the northern part of the island which is exactly 100 metres in height.

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Isle of GHIA – marked with the red pointer

Find out more about the island at:  GHIA’s website

PHOTO GALLERY . . .

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20 minute ferry ride from the mainland of Kintyre

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Ardminish Bay and the island’s one hotel

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Bikes for hire will take you the length of the island’s one north-to-south road

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Scene at the island’s south Pier

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Many birds on the island’s foreshore

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The island’s Manor House and magnificent gardens

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Roadside flora

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More roadside hydrangeas

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Sheep roaming the foreshore

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Shade under the palm tree

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Ancient Runes

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… and ancient tombs

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View of the Paps of Jura looking west from Ghia

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The APPLEGARTH

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The APPLEGARTH

When morning
meets my melancholy
I must refocus
dispel my clouds
and reconnect to nature
through her glory

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The garth gate invites
pledges enchantment
such memories harboured here
once the cloister garden
of my medieval monastery
now still the repository
of the priory’s peace
ancient orchard
now transformed
but still a place
to rejuvenate the soul
to touch
feel and taste
nature’s serenity

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   The morning mist
lingered low
over the once fallow fields
then no longer virgin earth
but become thick with apple trees
and those
long gone
and autumn dormant now
awaiting its wheat-carpeted
summer season

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The morning advances
only half-appreciated
until the
the priory arch
proud against the sky
bursts through the mist
into the weak sun’s gaze
the veiled sky
allowing
the gathering sunlight
slowly
to prove its strength
and bring clarity
to a waiting world

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And The pathway
its ancient course
 piercing its length
into the shrouded distance
remembrancer now
of those Augustinian brothers
traversing
this ancient orchard
who with such care
tended nature’s gifts
now bare of fruit
but never fruitless
no longer cosseted
by priestly presence
and full of nuanced context still

For me …

The Applegarth
my own memory
of this sanctified place
sings of golden corn
bordering that arrowed path
where also was
the winning post
the last gasp
of those long-past
teenage
distance running races
marking my triumphs
measuring my success
against the countless strides
I had wrenched
from my straining body
to accomplish
to lead the race
the end of endeavours
signifying my own
my personal
accomplishment.

The Applegarth,
a trope
my metaphor
for my life.

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Photographs by WHB . . . 2016

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