Bodnant Garden

Hello! I meant to come back before now to share some of the photos I took at Bodnant, I’ve been quite busy in my own garden amongst other things and had not found the time.

But I’m amending this now – this will be a picture heavy post. If you’re ever in North Wales do go and visit, it is just incredible. Make sure to leave plenty of time to explore; the gardens cover a huge area and it’s like entering another world going down into the bottom of the valley to the waterfall and mill race.

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Version 2

 

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Advent: December 24th

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So from the distant past to the here and now:

I took this photo this afternoon; the sun was shining (for a few minutes at any rate – we’ve had rain squalls continuously!) and the wind was keen and biting as it whipped along the hedgerows and lanes.

I spotted these early daffodils a week ago on the bank by my neighbours house. I couldn’t believe they could be out so early, I’ve never seen daffodils out in December before, not here in Wales, not this high up. They should be tucked underground for a bit longer and not flowering for another 12 weeks or so. This is the only clump – maybe 7 flowers. All the rest of the verges are wintery and void of colour.

It makes me think of Wordsworths poem ‘I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”. The last verse as he muses on the “host, of golden daffodils” he’s seen on his walk o’er hill and vale he reflects…

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I hope that over Christmas you will get to spend holiday time with people you care about and that your heart will be filled with the pleasure of good memories from times past too, especially if this Christmas is perhaps a hard time for you. May you dance with the daffodils.

The daffodil of course is also the emblem of Wales. So from this little spot in the Welsh hills on Christmas Eve, my animals and I wish you

Nadolig Llawen!

Meanderings…

Summer is really picking her feet up now. Time just whizzes past and things grow when you turn your back for a second. May is just a memory and as my mother reminded me to my dismay a few days ago it’s not long now till Midsummer… and the longest day. I hastily Ssssshhhd!! out the next bit about it being “downhill to winter” after that!!

When I was last at the coast a few weeks ago I saw many things I hadn’t seen before. I’m really loving these first experiences of seeing a place I love and know so well in its different guises throughout the year. I don’t think I could ever tire of Wales in any season; there is beauty in everything and every season. Even if it’s just the timely lesson that all things pass and if you wait a few minutes some other weather will come along!

I took photos of various coastal plants that I didn’t know what they were because I’d not been at the coast in spring before. I meant to look them up when I got home but I was delighted to discover pictures of two of them in Colours of Shetlanda truly gorgeous collection of knitting patterns (and so much more) by Kate Davies which I bought as a download the other day. I had treated myself to a print copy of her other book “Yokes” for my Christmas-Present-from-me-to-me last December but hadn’t yet acquired “Colours”… I really love Kate Davies’ patterns which combine elegance and femininity with a quirky touch – each pattern being thoughtfully anchored in it’s inspiration. I’ve only knit a few of the small items like her wonderful colourwork hats but I’ve greedily stashed away various sweater patterns I’ve bought over the past few years and hope to have a major sweater knitting session in the very near future now that I’ve finally managed to shrink my person back to a size that I’m happier knitting handspun sweaters for! ;0)

I think anyone could enjoy reading these books regardless of whether they’re a knitter or not, there is so much else of interest in each one, from the beautiful styling and photography to the fascinating essays included throughout. So although I’ve still got the treat of knitting my way through the patterns to look forward to, I was prompted by the pictures in the book to look up the names of the flowers I saw and I’m happy to know now that this photo I took is of a Sea Campion:

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and that these exquisite little flowers which I spent some time kneeling on the spongy turf photographing but seemed to me to carpet the headlands like a million blue stars are Spring Squill.

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There were also carpets of Sea Pinks or Thrift everywhere.

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Those I had seen before on many visits but it made me realise all the other things in life that I take for granted because I see them every day but when you’ve never seen them before, even the very ordinary can become the extra-ordinary. The most humble or common thing takes on an exotic flavour and it’s so wonderful to really see things again – with the freshness of a child’s eyes as it were. Seeing for the very first time… It’s like a precious gift.

I’m well used to seeing Bluebells here in the woods, hedgerows and glades around my home – I love them. I was pleased and surprised to see how many were growing around the cottage as well, they’ve come back in the past year or so since some brambles got cut back and they flower for such a short window of time I wouldn’t have known they were there if I hadn’t visited at the right time. They were everywhere on the headlands, dotted amongst other plantsand undergrowth.

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Something that I remember well from childhood holidays was the way that Wallflowers take to the hot dry environment and naturalise themselves along the dry stone walls. I was glad to see them out – they smell so wonderful even if they don’t have the delicacy of the native wildflowers on the headlands.

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I was able to get closer to the Oystercatchers I missed last time around. I know these are very common birds but again – to me they weren’t. I stalked this chap for a while…he was a bit suspicious of me!

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and then half an hour later rounded upon a whole bunch of Oystercatchers on the shore and although they seem to be quite coy about being watched by humans, these ones were so busy dabbling around at the water’s edge and the wind and waves were making enough noise to cover my approach so I was able to quickly lie down on the bank and spent a happy half hour on my tummy watching them going about their business, feeding…

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mooching…

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skimming the waves…

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or hanging out with a Ringed Plover.

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They look so comical and ungainly waddling along the beach with their big orange bills but in flight they take on such a beautiful form, tapering to the V of their tails and the markings set off so well by the wing beats. Just awesome.

This little Stonechat was also not very happy about my presence on the coastal path although he stood his ground for considerably longer and “chatted” at me from the top of “his” hedge before finally taking off in a huff.

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It makes me wonder what I will find next time I go – so different from the Wales of my home. Different again from the land that lies between us too – this time I came back through Snowdonia rather than my usual trip skirting the northern and eastern edges of the country which is less picturesque but an awful lot quicker.

Hugging the flanks of Snowdon and sweeping gently down the Llanberis Pass it feels like you are driving through a timeless landscape of Giants and Heroes; or as though somehow you’ve been transported to Middle Earth. It’s quite unnerving for me; not only do I dislike precipices and sheer drops which give me a nervy swing in my stomach, it’s also quite spine tingling just seeing the majestic scenery round and about so I spend the whole time feeling quite keyed up and on edge – literally. You could almost believe that a dragon would crawl out from behind the massive boulders.

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Next time I shall make sure someone else is driving so I can really appreciate the landscape!