And a few pears too! I was at Durham Old Gardens. Where better for a Heritage event than with these ancient fruit trees and an old stone wall?
Midway through Becky’s September Squares challenge. Hope you are all In the Pink! It’s my ambition in life to be two steps behind Debbie. She takes Six Words to the loveliest heights. Wishing you all a great Saturday!
Scarcely were my feet back on English soil, last November, than I was scampering up to Durham to see Lumiere 2017. The consensus was that, in comparison with previous shows, this one was a bit of a disappointment. It’s hard to maintain such standards as were set in November 2015.
I’ve been so busy sharing my Algarve exploits that I’d almost forgotten about the show. I thought it time to show you a few of my highlights, before I move on. As usual I started my tour in daylight, curious as to what I’d find. Below we have ‘Dome and Arches’ in the Market Place.
One of my favourite light installations took place in Durham University Botanic Garden. ‘For the Birds’ was very clever and wonderfully atmospheric, but extremely difficult to reproduce in photographs. Softly tweeting birds, suspended on fine wires, swooped through the trees in the darkness. Patches of dramatic colour illuminated the valley, leading you on a magical journey.
Castle and Cathedral next. ‘Our Moon’ smiles, blinks, twitches and frowns as the faces of Durham’s residents animate the facade of the Castle. The Cathedral complex came in for a lot of criticism. The Nave of the Cathedral was flooded in an eerie light, while the cloisters featured ‘Entre Les Rangs’, illuminated ‘flowers’ intended as a tribute to shimmering fields of wheat.
In all there were 28 installations, scattered throughout the city. My opening photos were taken inside St. Oswald’s Church and were probably my greatest challenge. ‘What Matters’ features thousands of hand-blown glass pieces, depicting the birth of light in the universe. Incredibly beautiful.
I hope any hangovers are long gone. and that you enjoyed this look back with me. Don’t forget to share your Six Words with Debbie.
I shall be busy helping my son to move home, so I thought I could leave you with a bit of fun from the Brass Band Festival in Durham last weekend. The atmosphere was great and we had a smashing time, despite drizzly, miserable weather. It’s not the same as being there but I have videos of my favourite two bands, Back Chat Brass and Xaral’s Dixie (all the way from Portugal- small world!)
Sharing six words with Debbie will keep you out of mischief. Go on- you know you want to! Happy weekend!
Stroll along the river bank with me, in the heart of Durham City, and let me take you to an idyllic garden. I intended to visit a new exhibition at Durham Cathedral but, as luck would have it, it was closed that day. I’m a firm believer in serendipity and, as the gentle sunshine warmed my cheeks, I suddenly knew where I wanted to go.
Crook Hall dates from 13th century and is a vision in golden ivy-clad stone. It sits back a little from the footpath and the gently elevated position makes for majestic views over Durham. Crook is a Grade 1 listed Medieval hall with a rich and colourful history. As all such places should, it has a resident ghost, ‘The White Lady’, and has been enjoyed by such luminaries as William Wordsworth and John Ruskin. Today I’m going to focus on the garden rooms, described on the website as each having their own personality.
It’s impossible to ignore the constant presence of the house. It provides a benign backdrop, yet with an almost tangible air of mystery.
Close by the house, a secret garden has been in existence for more than 700 years.
Statuary is an integral part of the gardens. Nymphs and maidens shake out their tresses, demurely lower their eyes, or gaze seductively out. Monks perform solemn duties, urns cast playful shadows and a rather mischievous Puck plays his pan pipes, sheltered beneath a weathered tree.
The golden lady follows me with her eyes, and what of the lady reclining, neglected, on the bare earth? She must have a story to tell. Ornate chairs and benches invite me to linger, admiring the pure white snowdrops. Beyond the lake, fiery witch hazel brands the limpid blue sky.
I drift from ‘room to room’, each leading to the next, yet independent and sufficient in itself. A mighty lion bench, breathing fire, gives me pause.
Through a gate, precisely trimmed hedges in the newest of these still evolving gardens, etched with remnants of winter shadows.
Leaving the house behind, I wander down towards the rusty maze, bereft of leaves this early in the year. Did you glimpse the koala, dangling in the tree? And yet another selfie! One more surprise awaits- a softly slumbering giant!
And then I’m back at the entrance and The Garden Gate Cafe. (open all day, separately from the Hall, but there are Tea Rooms inside the Hall too) The Sparkling Afternoon Tea looked very inviting but my lift had arrived and so I’ll have to disappoint you yet again. No cake! How come you missed this place, Jude? It would have been a natural for the Garden Challenge.
Down at the river bank, this scene awaits, but if you turn and walk back towards the cathedral you might just be able to catch the exhibition, Open Treasure. And if not, Durham Cathedral is always beautiful.
Lots of walks to share this week and I hope you can spare time to visit as many as you can. Especially as I won’t be posting a walk next week. I will, I hope, be skip, hop and jumping (or walking) in Florence. I don’t want to schedule a walk in my absence because it’s too hard to catch up again afterwards. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I hang on to any walks you share till the following week? Details are all on my Jo’s Monday walk page.
Eddy was close in my footsteps last week, but his were even cooler!
It’s been a cold and murky old week here in the north east of England, but are we down-hearted? Reasons to be cheerful this week include a stroll through the back streets of Durham, and a trip to Newcastle-on-Tyne to meet up with a lovely friend. I came across a few Numbers along the way.
Share your ‘reasons to be cheerful’ with Cate at Six Word Saturday. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you on Monday for a cool, English walk.
“Where will I find a crocus walk?” I asked my garden expert husband. “I’ve searched the web and can’t find one anywhere!” He gave me one of those looks, and said “You can’t find one, because there isn’t one. You’ll have to make do with snowdrops.” Now, I have nothing against snowdrops. Most years I visit our local snowdrop walk, in Greatham village. I simply felt a need for the uplifting surge of crocus colour.
Never one to let me down, as we drove towards Durham he said thoughtfully, “What about Shincliffe Village?” It seemed like a good idea.
We parked in Durham and walked out along the river- a direction we’ve taken many times before. From nowhere, one of those sparkling Spring days had materialised. Rowing teams skulled by vigorously, and the whole world seemed to have taken up sport. A university town, Durham has no shortage of able-bodied youth to indulge in running, throwing and kicking a ball.
One side of the river is still barriered off, following a serious landslide a year or so ago. I was delighted to see that work has finally started on the precarious river bank. The path will be open again to walkers. A gentle sun filtered through bare branches, reflecting ethereally in the river.
Out beyond the extensive sports facilities, the path meets the A177 at Shincliffe Bridge. Cross over the busy road carefully and you reach ‘The Rose Tree’- a pub with an inviting beer garden. A sign directs you to Shincliffe Village. As you enter the village, you’ll see the Poplar Tree garden centre. Always busy, I’m never sure if the plants or the tea rooms are the main attraction. Beyond this point no-one but the inhabitants of the village seem to venture. Which is a great shame, unless of course you are a villager and value your peace and quiet.
Did I mention crocuses? I had a real treat in store. And not only the crocus, but a bevy of Spring beauty.
Shincliffe is regarded as one of the most affluent villages in Durham, according to Wikipedia. Which is a pity as I could quite see myself living there. I was surprised to find that the Anglo-Saxon origin of the name Shincliffe means ‘steep hill of evil spirits’. The history of the village goes back to Roman times, when there is thought to have been a ford where Shincliffe Bridge now spans the River Wear.
In the Middle Ages Shincliffe belonged to the Prior of Durham Cathedral. It was a largely agricultural community until coal mining came to the area, with a resulting expansion. I was unaware that Shincliffe had had a railway station, but it was in fact Durham’s first. It opened in 1839, as part of the line to Sunderland, but closed again in 1893. The closure of the colliery meant a dwindling population. Shincliffe today is a gentle haven, seeming to have not a care in the world.
A small green leads to a row of raised houses, set back from the road. Originally the Durham to Stockton road ran right through the village. The post office would have been a busy place then. Now it’s a private residence. In 1826 a tithe barn was consecrated to become a Chapel of Ease for the community. It proved a little too cold and draughty, and in 1866 became the Rectory.
John Wesley is known to have preached in Shincliffe in 1780, and in 1874 a Methodist (Wesleyan) chapel was opened- the pretty one in the photos. The parish church, St. Mary the Virgin, was only completed in 1851. Snowdrops swaddled the graveyard in a soothing white blanket. I lingered, reading a few headstones and admiring the rose coloured church doors.
I peered through the windows of the Seven Stars Inn rather longingly. It was already lunchtime but my husband had to get back for an appointment. Go and press your nose up against their menu. You might be tempted. Alternatively, try the Brambles tea rooms at the garden centre, or maybe The Rose Tree. For me, it’s a swift walk back along the river, but not before I look for Shincliffe Hall. A sign points to it, down a private road. But it’s by invitation only.
There are some interesting snippets of village history, if you’re minded that way, under the link ‘steep hill of evil spirits’. Shincliffe is easy to find from the city of Durham. Do you know of a ‘crocus walk’ near you? I hope you enjoyed mine. Spring is wonderful, isn’t it?
Many thanks to all of you who keep me company each week. I do appreciate you looking over my shoulder and enjoying the view. If you’d like to join in with a walk of your own, you’d be very welcome. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walks page. Just click on the logo above.
The joy of having a son. Ask Jesh- she’ll tell you!
My last post, about Lumiere 2015 at Durham, is a hard act to follow. I was tempted to just let it ride until I come back to the blog in December, but the Christmas ‘rush’ will be well and truly here by then. There’ll be no opportunity to bid farewell to Autumn. It’s been kind to us this year and I’m quite reluctant to let it go. Just a week or two ago I was wandering through Durham.
The cathedral gardens were looking pretty
And the cloisters empty of the activity soon to come
Artworks inhabited St. Cuthbert’s space
The weir was calm
And on the riverbank, benches for Jude
Such a cute otter!
On a bright Autumn day the shadows can be as beautiful as the blue sky. I loved playing with them on my walk at Auckland Castle this week.
It must have been about the same time last year that I was here, because there’s a poster advertising the Christmas Food and Craft Market on 20th November. I well remember my ginger wine and mince pie, whilst looking at the palatial dining room, shared with you on this walk. This year they’re going a step further, with an outdoor skating rink until 3rd January. I might just have to come back for that.
This is the bench from the other side
And there go the walkers!
Of course, it’s no good having a great view without a bench to admire it from. And one bench invariably leads to another. Let’s leave the Deer House and go looking for some more shadows, shall we? I’d better catch up to those walkers too.
Leaves against an old stone wall
A wall and a stream
A last flourish of rust
A spider’s web of branches
I think I’ve just about got Autumn out of my system. And managed to share a few more benches for Jude. It’s the last week of Festival of Leaves too and Verena has done a wonderful job.
If you do get the chance to visit Auckland Castle in the near future, don’t hesitate. It’s a beautiful setting and there are plans afoot to make it even more interesting.
That’s all from me for a week or two. Take care of each other, please.
Are you ready for a little evening stroll? I can’t promise you moonlight, but I think you will still enjoy the sights we’re going to see. I’m taking you to the historic city of Durham, where Lumiere 2015 has been lighting the streets with enchantment. This is the 4th event of its kind to take place here, and it attracts an international crowd.
I have my map in hand, and I’m starting off with light installation no. 1, but I may well deviate from the route shown in the programme. There are so many distractions! I’m on Framwellgate Waterside, beside the River Wear, which winds through the centre of the city. Cloud, the work of a Canadian pair, is an interactive sculpture built from 6000 light bulbs. Tugging on one of the dangling switches turns them on and off. Rapt faces glow with pleasure as they look upwards and smile.
Behind me, flying the flag for the USA and swirling in the breeze like a merry kite, 1.26 Durham, installation no.2, is vying for my attention. Such was the strength of the 2010 Chilean earthquake’s vibrations that it momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds. Data sourced from NASA was used to turn this phenomenon into a 3D image, the basis for this sculpture. Strong but delicate, it asks us to consider the interconnectedness of our world. A specially designed app was created by a local company to enable you to change the light projected. How amazing is that? Far beyond me, I’m afraid.
It billowed about gleefully and I scarcely noticed the rain that was beginning to fall. Not a good time for sitting on benches, but no. 4 in the programme, a German installation called Lightbench offered one in lilac and one in electric green.
Not a soul in sight!
Where is no. 3 you might be asking? Over Milburngate Bridge and dangling on the side of a building, Big Knitting is a UK entry for which drain pipes had to be utilised as jumbo knitting needles. Ever heard of ‘magic’ knitting?
Through Market Place and around the Castle and Cathedral a directional flow was in operation to control the crowds, but there was nothing to stop you lingering to admire a French entry, Les Lumineoles. The gracefully gliding fish were one of my favourite installations.
I managed to capture a video of these sinuous and wonderful creatures, but alas, I can only display it sideways! Lesson learnt for next time I use my phone camera? Perhaps! A short walk from here, across Elvet Bridge, you will find The Red House, created by France. The Old Shire Hall has been illuminated in warm shades of orange and yellow, with rainbow windows. A pretty red brick building by day, at night it radiates colour.
Silver St. was all aglow with lanterns, but my next destination was Fowler’s Yard, where I hoped to see something rather special.
I first heard about Stu Langley’s Wave a few months ago when he contacted my husband for assistance in bringing his project to fruition. A giant wave, fully clad in sea glass, was designed by Stu as a tribute to East Durham’s industrial heritage. Seaham, on the north east coast, was once home to Europe’s largest glass bottle works. Waste from this was dumped into the sea, and continues to be washed ashore today in the form of sea glass. An artist who works in stained glass, Stu was enormously enthusiastic about his project, and the involvement of the local community. Soon we too were gathering sea glass to cover this 2.9 metre high wave.
The sea glass had to be affixed to the wave by hand. Definitely a labour of love. Stu was standing there proudly beside ‘his baby’ when we arrived. He was so pleased that Seaham are interested in buying his creation for display after Lumiere. One more step in the regeneration of this former mining area, which suffered large scale unemployment with the closure of the pits. Stu has another installation on display in North Rd.- Wheels of Industry, a Robin Reliant with themed stained glass windows. Sadly, in all the excitement, we didn’t get to see it.
The lanterns lure us on towards Palace Green and the Cathedral, not quite sure what to expect. The previous two Lumiere’s had featured the Lindisfarne Gospels, marching with great drama across the front face of the cathedral. This year the son et lumiere was to be The World Machine – the story of the birth of modern cosmology from 12th century until the present day, and a collaboration of UK and Mexico. I really can’t do it justice with photographs, but there is a short video at the end of my post to give you a better idea.
Let’s continue into the cathedral itself. Complex Meshes is another French installation, clinging colourfully to the ribbed vaulted arches, whilst music floods the vast space. This was an opportunity to take a seat, and simply wonder.
The cloisters , for me, are one of the cathedral’s most beautiful features. I was spellbound by them during Lumiere 2013, but this year it was my husband’s turn to get excited. Litre of Light is a replica of the cathedral’s own rose window, made from thousands of plastic bottles.
Leaving the cathedral, further delight awaits. Garden of Light, another French installation, brings a hint of fantasy. Giant illuminated plants bring a tropical vibe to a wintry English November. Smiling faces abound, and selfies too!
From this garden of delight, you are directed down to the river bank. At Prebend’s Bridge you find Rainbow River, a prism casting coloured patterns over the Wear. Crossing to the far shore the path rises quite steeply and you are treated to a view across to the cathedral.
Just for Lumiere, fog swirls mysteriously above the river, rising through the woods . Fogscape #03238 is a collaboration of the UK and Japan, conjuring up the spirit of St. Cuthbert in the mists.
South St. takes you past some lovely old Durham houses and back to the centre. There are other installations in the surrounding area if time and your tired legs permit. When I passed by Elvet Bridge early in my walk the crowds were quite dense, and so I came to miss one of the stars of the show, Mysticete by France. This company was responsible for Elephantastic in Lumiere 2013 and amazed all of Durham. Unfortunately the last showing was at 10.45, and unaware of this I barely managed to see the flip of the whale’s tail from the riverbank.
Durham can be subject to flooding and on the last night Mysticete had to be cancelled due to rising water levels. I do recommend that you watch this short video, which brings to life all the 3D effects and drama that I cannot hope to replicate.
What more to say other than ‘hope you enjoyed the show’? Terrible to think that, whilst I was there, horrific events were unfolding in Paris. The last couple of days have been harrowing. I would like to end on a positive note though. The future looks bright for young Stu Langley. He will be featured on the “One Show” in early December.
That’s it for another week. I’m exhausted, aren’t you? But exhilarated too. Please find time to visit all these wonderful walks I have to share, and huge thanks to all my contributors. If you’d like to join me with a walk, details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page. The logo takes you there. I will not be posting walks for the next two weeks however, as I take myself off to the Algarve. Kettle on and here we go!
Gilly has out-bedazzled all of us with her Autumn scenes this week. Don’t miss!
That’s it for now. Once again my thanks to everybody. I don’t leave until next weekend so I will still be scurrying about visiting you all till then. In the Algarve I switch off from the world. Take good care of yourselves, please.
This week I’m taking you back to the north east coast of England, with a bit of a purpose. I’ll explain more later but I need you to keep your eye open for sea glass. The beach at Seaham is one of the best locations I know for finding it.
Between 1853 and 1921 Seaham was home to Europe’s largest glass bottle works, supplying millions of hand blown bottles. Enormous amounts of waste glass were left at the end of each day, and this was generally thrown over the cliffs and into the sea. More than a hundred years later, scrubbed smooth by the power of the water, we have sea glass in many shapes and colours. Are you ready to hunt?
We’ll start on the cliff top and work our way down
It’s not very steep
And soon we’re at the beach
With more pebbles than you could ever want
And among those pebbles, the precious bits of sea glass. You can follow the beach round to the small harbour and the lighthouse, if you like, but I’m going in the opposite direction- north towards distant Sunderland.
There’s rather a lot of beach to examine!
Rusted groynes litter the shore
Filling up with pebbles
Rather incongruously, some have been mended
While overhead, the cliffs menace!
Let’s get up close and personal with a few stones. You never know what you might find.
We’re looking for a hint of glitter
Unconcerned, a man walks his dogs
What’s this? Look at the shimmer!
I simply love the textures
You might remember we did something similar just south of here on Crimdon beach, a while ago, and ventured into some caves beneath the cliffs. I’m drawn on along the endless beach, intrigued by my surroundings. Dog walkers pass me by, with a nod and a smile, and occasionally children ferret on the beach.
Mindful of the dangers these crumbling cliffs can pose, still it’s hard not to be lured closer.
The cliff formations fascinate
Torn and twisted as they are
And here a table, nicely laid
You know that I’m not going to be able to resist some close ups, but I treat the cliffs with due caution and the respect they deserve. So should you!
I know that some of you are claustrophobic so I won’t linger. The fascination of the shapes and vistas can keep me endlessly there on the shore, forgetting my purpose. That morning a lady was standing, her dog patiently at heel, gazing out to sea. After the briefest of smiles, I carried on my exploration. As I turned to retrace my steps, she spoke to me. “Did you see the dolphins?”
Crestfallen hardly describes it! I would have loved to see them and wished she had spoken sooner. We stood a while, hoping for a return, but they had gone. And so I climbed, regretfully, back up the steps.
Depending on the tide, this walk can be as long or as short as you want to make it. If you are free the next few Sunday lunch times, you will assuredly have company on the beach. My husband, who designs gardens, does most of his work with CAD (computer aided design). He was more than pleased to be contacted recently by Stuart Langley, a local artist, in connection with a light installation to appear at this year’s Lumiere, in Durham. It’s an imaginative and exciting event, and Stuart has been a previous contributor with his Stained Glass Cars. The project he is working on requires a substantial quantity of sea glass, and so he’s hoping for some help in gathering it.
If you can help in any way the Lumiere site gives details. The event itself takes place from 12-15th November, and if you can be there I can promise you a delightful evening. It takes place on alternate years, and this was my post for 2013. It was a magical occasion.
No putting the kettle on today! I will still be in Bristol for the Hot Air Balloon festival when you’re reading this, and not back till very late in the day. As usual, I will catch up with you all as soon as I can, and apologies to all those who are sitting unattended in my Inbox. There’s plenty to keep you busy till then because once again I have some wonderful walks to share. Many thanks to all of you who have joined me and, if you would like to do so next week, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Just hit the logo above.
Gardens with rhodies have always been irresistible to me. Bogs, not so much! Thanks, Anabel!
On a recent visit to Durham, I decided to seek out Old Durham Gardens. I had known of the existence of these 350 year old gardens for a long time, but they’re a little off the beaten track. When I arrived, on a warm and sunny Wednesday morning, I discovered that the gardens only open between 2 and 4pm on Thursdays and Saturdays in Summer. After initial disappointment (and a peer through the gates), I discovered that there was more than enough to keep me happy from the outside.
Fragments of colour were everywhere
The old walls themselves are full of characterful whirls and sworls, causing the eye to drift from the gentle planting. The place has a past and the walls reflect that. In the 12th century this was a rectory. The walls were added in the 1700s to enable the cultivation of south facing fruit trees, and in the 1750s music concerts were held within. Glamorous times were ahead when the gardens were owned by an artist and icecream maker, Victor Mazzini Walton. The gardens were described in 1921 as having tennis courts, putting green, running track and a tea garden, and dances were held at weekends.
After the Second World War, Mr. Walton sold up and the gardens fell into decline. Happily, in 1985, Durham City Council purchased Old Durham and began a programme of restoration. When this lapsed, Friends of Old Durham was born and the gardens today are run by this group of volunteers.
After wandering the boundaries, it’s down the steps, and a gentle meander back to the river.
One last bloom!
Looking back up to the walls
Always a source of inspiration!
I hope you enjoyed my Saturday amble. Next weekend I’ll be in Bristol for the Hot Air Balloon festival and I suspect I’ll be too busy to join you. I hope so, anyway!
Meantime, there’s Cate at Show My Face to visit with your six words. I was browsing my photos wondering what to show you today and looking for inspiration. I think I found it.
You must be logged in to post a comment.