Whilst looking for somewhere to stop off on route to our recent break in Shropshire, I came across Hawkstone Park Follies, a unique 100 acre country park near Shrewsbury. In the 18th Century this rocky sandstone landscape was developed into caves, grottos, towers and arches and became one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country.
It was in 1700 that King & Queens diplomat and Lord of the Treasury Sir Richard Hill inherited the Hawkstone estate and together with his younger brother John ,started making changes to the scenery. Over the years more and more turrets and towers were added until eventually the Hills family money ran out and by the Twentieth century Hawkstone was all but abandoned, overgrown and forgotten. Luckily in more recent years the area has been designated a Grade 1 listed park by English Heritage, allowing it to be restored to its former glory.
Dogs are permitted to visit as long as they are on lead, so we spent a couple of hours exploring the follies and then had lunch in the glasshouse tea room.
The park has a Troll trail especially for children. We found ourselves following it, completely by accident of course. 😉
We soon found ourselves regretting not bringing Hugo’s water with us. It was a humid type of day and Mr H was puffing and panting quite a bit. Unusually the park didn’t seem to have any brooks or ponds for him to dip in either. We decided to only look at a few more follies before turning back.
We did miss a few other follies such as The Hermitage and Foxes knob. Not sure what that is! Have you ever visited Hawkstone?
Books I’ve read recently have been a bit of a mixed Book- Bag. See what I did there.😅 There have been some goodies though. Two recommended by bloggers….and one written by a blogger. Yay!
Convenience Store Woman ~ Sayaka Murata (2016). Keiko has always been a bit disconnected from other human beings. Her response to an annoying boy in primary school is to hit him with a shovel. And shouldn’t a dead budgie be taken home for dinner. It’s apparent her family think she’s definitely strange ,so it’s a relief to them when she gets a part time job in a convenience store. The in-store training manual shows Keiko how to be an acceptable and productive member of society and Keiko is happy to appear normal at last. However many years later Keiko is unmarried, has no children and at 36 is still in the same role. She no longer conforms to what society thinks she should be. This is a funny, sometimes sinister, a little heart breaking and actually life affirming story. Go Keiko! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Water Cure ~ Sophie Mackintosh ( 2018). I really wanted to like this book, but it just annoyed me more than anything. If your looking for a distopion classic then I recommend The Handmaid’s Tale. The storyline idea is good. Three daughters are brought up by their mother and father on an isolated island, away from the real world which is apparently full of deadly toxins. They are subjected to cruel purifying treatments which involve drowning dresses etc. But to them this is all quite normal. Then oneday their father disappears leaving their mother to carry on his good work. Things go awry when three men are washed up on the island. Read it and let me know what you think. ⭐⭐
Yeshiva Girl ~ Rachel Mankowitz ( 2018). A Jewish novel about a teenager whose father abuses young girls ( herself included) is difficult subject matter , but Mankowitz’s quiet yet real writing provides the reader with a heroine we really want to hear more from. When Izzy’s parents put her in a new orthodox school whilst he goes through a court case, she finds herself dealing with having to make friends & relationships whilst questioning a religion that appears to very much prioritize men over women. And how can Izzy get on with her life when her peers don’t realise just how manipulative her father really is. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady ~ Edith Holden ( 1979). Book illustrator and art teacher Edith Holden’s Nature notes for 1906 lay unseen and unpublished for many years after her death. Then in 1979 her beautiful paintings and observations were set out in diary form and shown to the wider world. They were an immediate success even spawning a TV series. The diary contains poems and sayings about each month, lovely illustrations and Edith’s day to day pondering’s about the wildlife she saw whilst walking or riding her bicycle in her beloved Midlands. Unfortunately for Edith she died in her forties. Leaning over a river to observe some plant life, she fell in and drowned. 😦 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Chess Men ~ Peter May (2012). Back to Peter Mays trilogy set on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. In this novel many loose ends are tied up and it seems former detective Finn MacLeod has reached some sort of peace in his life, back on his childhood home of Lewis. Of course as is mandatory in Mays trilogy, Finns past is brought back to haunt him when a former friend turns up dead and another is suspected of his murder. ⭐⭐⭐
Remarkable Creatures ~ Tracy Chevalier ( 2009). I must admit to not having heard of the fossil hunter Mary Anning until quite recently. She was a working class girl from Lyme Regis who discovered some of the greatest fossil finds of the 19th Century. Due to her sex and lowly station she wasn’t even credited for her discoveries for many years. Her story is currently being made into a feature film ‘Ammonite’ starring Kate Winslet & Saiorse Ronan. I’m not sure if the movie is based on this book by historical novelist Tracy Chevalier, but her tale is a compelling one. Chevalier tells the story of both Mary Anning through Mary’s own eyes but also through her friend Elizabeth Philpot, who befriended the young fossil hunter after moving to Lyme with her two sisters. Remarkable Creatures is a very easy read and shows just how remarkable a woman needed to be to make her mark in a man’s world. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Have you read anything good lately? Any recommendations?
It’s been a while since I have written a post. As I currently have no job, I thought I would be writing lots. But nope. Instead I find myself procrastinating when it comes to things I probably should be doing, like finding a job. Instead I have been booking trips away…..and we’ve bought a caravan.
Yes I am now the proud owner of a 38 ft 2005 Willoughby Vogue static caravan! I can’t quite believe it! Here she is the day we looked round her, and I bought her on the spot. No procastinating there…
She is quite beige inside so for now we are just brightening her up a bit with some rugs and throws. Really not sure how simple it is to paint the inside of a van.
We will probably get around to changing the curtains too. For now though it’s Summer at last, so we might as well enjoy our purchase and start exploring the area. 🙂
Can you guess where we are?
We got the keys on Friday and have been busy kitting out the van whilst Mr Hugo is being looked after for the wknd. Hopefully he will get to see it next wknd, before we head to Shropshire glamping with him, a trip we booked a few months ago, before my impulse buy.
If you had told me back in January that by June I would have taken redundancy and bought a holiday home, I would never have believed you. Life can be crazy like that!
This June is definitely not very similar to last year’s hot and dry ( almost flaming!) one. We’ve had rain here in the North West on most days this month. It does make enjoying wild moments that bit more challenging !
At the weekend we took Hugo for a walk round Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve in Clitheroe. As its name suggests, Salthill is a former quarry, now reclaimed by nature. As well as being geologically fascinating ( fossilised crinoids or Sea Lillie’s can be found here), the reserve is a haven for wildflowers and butterflies. The rain kept the insects away but lots of flowering plants to see including vibrant blue milkwort, ground spreading wild thyme and clusters of yellow rattle. I even got to sample a wild strawberry ( there are lots right now) , a tiny burst of flavour on my tongue. 🍓
On Sunday we travelled to Cumbria to visit family. On the way I couldn’t fail to notice all the many Ox -Eye Daisies blooming on the roadsides. I actually know them as Dog Daisies. They have many other names too including Moon Daisy, Midsummer Daisy, Bull Daisy and Marguerite. Daisy originates from ‘ Days Eye’ as their flowers open up to the sun. Apparently ‘That’s a Daisy’ was used as a phrase describing something good in the 1800s. Over the years that changed to ‘ That’s a Doozy’ .🌼
Monday was a rare sunny day and Hugo and I had an enjoyable walk. The rain has made everything so green! After spotting some open dandelions in the morning, I returned later to collect them ( after finding a recipe for Lemon & Dandelion biscuits on Pinterest) , only to find they had all turned into fluffy seed clocks by mid afternoon. Perhaps a blessing in disguise! 🍋
I treated myself to some Nature inspired reading this week. I remember my Gran having this book when I was growing up. ‘ The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady’ is just that, a beautifully illustrated chronicle of the flora and fauna that Edith Holden spotted when out and about ( often on her bicycle) in Warwickshire in 1906. An entry for June reads ~ Cycled through Widney : The Yellow Irises are out in the marsh there now, and at the edge of the stream I found the large blue Water For-get-me-not. While I was stooping to gather some, a beautiful Demoiselle Dragonfly came skimming across the water and lighted on a bunch of roses, the next moment it was away again. This book is really lovely to dip in and out of, I will be doing that alot I think. 🙂
Meanwhile in the back yard, my washing up views take in a succession of birds feeding their young. Sorry for the bad photo ( taken with my phone camera) of some coal tits and blue tits. They are loving the fat balls. So too is the jackdaw, who now brings a friend and knocks alot of crumbs to the ground. Luckily I have a fledgling blackbird visitor, who is enjoying the spoils.
The Wildlife Trust is again challenging people this month to join in with #30dayswild. Every June folks are encouraged to perform a random act of wildness each day. It could be something as simple as walking barefoot in grass, feeding the birds, enjoying an alfresco coffee in the park or watching insects in the garden. Just take a little time out to enjoy nature every day, and see how good that makes you feel.
I have joined in with the challenge a few times and this year I thought I would take a relaxed approach to blogging about it as I really don’t have anything particularly planned. I will take each day as it comes.
We were camping at Meadow Falls Campsite in Ingleton at the beginning of June with friends and their girls , so of course we just had to walk the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, which is well worth doing if your in the area. The recent rainy weather meant that all the falls were gushing impressively. The trail meanders through 4.5 mile of woodland and hillside terrain. Remember to wear sturdy walking boots if you do it!
We could smell the aroma of wild garlic ( it covers the woodland floor) as we ambled along and it was lovely to see wild orchids growing near Pecca Falls. Out in the fields meadow pippits called and tiny yellow flowers called tormentil ( known as the walkers companion flower) dotted the hills. The kids collected sticks for toasting marshmallows on the camp fire later, whittling them smooth with potato peelers.
I found this moth ( a nice man on twitter identified it as a Clouded- Bordered Brindle ) in the tent before we took it down. It was gently removed into the hedge.
Back home and a new visitor to the feeder! A jackdaw who swings on the fat balls, making even more mess than the raucous starlings. I also have visiting bluetits and House sparrows ( some are fledglings) , blackbirds, a robin and a coal tit.
A wet walk with the dog on Tuesday and I spotted this fungi growing through the greenery ~ possibly a pleated ink cap. I think they look quite ghostly.
I planted the Thirty Days Wild seeds in pots in the back yard. There are poppies along with some scabious I bought. Hope there are signs of growth by the end of June. 🌺
Yesterday I got caught in the rain out in the fields with Hugo. We did get to see a roe deer springing through the grass at great speed. A lovely wild moment, if it wasn’t for getting soaked to the skin! Once home I decided to download the RSPB single Let Nature Sing , which I have been meaning to do for a while. I’m quite late to the party as usual, apparently this cacophony of birdsong reached number 18 in the charts. I enjoyed listening to the Cuckoo, woodpeckers, curlews etc, with my brew.
Hi it’s the end of another month ( 2019 is going crazy fast! ) , So I thought I would join in with Kate’s/Hawthorns Scavenger hunt. Her words for May are Seat, View, Starts with a P, Transport, Lunch & My own choice.
Seat. I am recently back from a few days in the seaside village of Ravenglass. Wil & I are lucky enough to have friends whose family have a holiday cottage right on the sea front. And we can rent it for mates rates. So happy days. 😎 Anyway there is a balcony where we spent most late afternoons admiring the sea views and pretending we were in the South of France. You could be fooled ~ apart from my knees are wrapped in a blanket. 🙂
View. The view from said balcony is fantastic, looking out over the estuary. The sunsets in Ravenglass are also to die for.
Starts With P. P is for Sea Pinks. These pretty in pink flowers cover the cliffs of St Bees head , a little further up the coast. Sea Pinks are also called Thrift. Pinks apparently do well in rock gardens and have appeared on the British threepence coin from 1937 to 1952.
Transport. The best way to get around in Ravenglass ? Well I can recommend the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway , a narrow gauge railway set in 7 miles of stunning scenery. My kind of transport.
Lunch. Here’s a recipe I found which was a hit with my other half. It could be lunch or tea.
200g Chick Peas, 200g Chorizo diced, 200g yellow cherry tomatoes halved, 2 tomatoes chopped, 1 red pepper cut in strips, 2 cloves garlic crushed, handful of frozen onions ( I use these because chopping onions always makes me cry) & a little olive oil.
Fry onion & garlic in a little olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add chunks of chorizo & fry for a couple of minutes on a high heat, before adding the pepper strips and lowering the heat again. Cook for 5 minutes then add the chick peas & tomatoes. Stir thoroughly and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.
Serve with crusty bread.
My Own Choice. Our very own handsome Hugo conquered his third Wainwright last week, Crag Fell looks over Ennerdale Water. I did too….about 20 minutes later!
Head over to Kate’s blog to see more Scavenger hunters.
If your looking for miles of dog friendly coastline then you’ve hit the jackpot in Cumbria. Because most people head for the lakes and fells, the beaches are almost always quiet, few having any dog restrictions at all.
We recently spent four nights in the coastal village of Ravenglass, and visited a couple of other seaside resorts whilst we were there. All three are served by the Cumbrian Coastal Railwayline.
Ravenglass. A tiny harbor village, Ravenglass has an ancient history. The Roman settlement of Glannoventa stood here and was an important naval base. The remains of a Roman bathhouse lie on the outskirts.
The beach is a mixture of sand, shingle and mud. There are lots of well signposted walks along the coast or up into the fells. Our dog Hugo enjoyed running here and his favourite nearby hill walk from Ravenglass was a mornings yomp up Muncaster Fell.
Hugo was made a fuss of in all three of the pubs in Ravenglass. We ate out at The Ratty Arms & The Pennington Hotel. Both were very good. 🐶
St Bees. Twenty minutes north of Ravenglass, St Bees is actually named after an Irish medieval Saint, St Bega . Bega ( a beautiful & devout princess) fled across the Irish Sea by boat, having been promised in marriage to a Viking Prince. She had other ideas, preferring to live in religious solitude on the English mainland.
I’m not sure if St Bega liked dogs ( there is a statue of her and her rowing boat in the village center) but the beach she landed on is a great place for a bracing walk. We took Hugo to the sands at Seacote Park, where there is a caravan park, lifeboat station and beach cafe. I don’t think dogs are allowed inside the cafe but as it was a nice day we had icecream on a bench outside and Hugo was brought water & dog treats.
St Bees is the start of the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk and the cliff top ( safely fenced off ~ Phew!) is also ideal for walkies. Look out for all sorts of seabirds. The cliffs at St Bees head are an RSPB bird reserve.
Arnside. A pretty estuary resort, Arnside resides in the Arnside & Silverdale Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is from here that I took part in The Morecambe Bay Cross Bay walk with Wil and Hugo, three years ago. This iconic organized hike across the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay must not be attempted without an official guide.
On our latest visit Hugo had a good run on the beach but there are also plenty of coastal and inland walks to do in the area including Arnside Knott and along the shoreline to Silverdale. Do make sure you listen out for the sirens that are sounded to warn of the incoming Arnside Tidal Bore, a high tidal wave that happens once a month in Arnside’s estuary.
The village has a couple of dog friendly pubs and cafes. We chose to sit outside with the best ever fish & chips from Arnside Chippy. We also visited a very cute little jazz cafe opposite Arnside’s Railway station. Moochin About is a teeny tiny espresso bar with the cutest decor and vinyl jazz records playing on a record player. Sad to say no doggies allowed inside, purely because it is so small. There are two benches outside though, water bowls and the lovely owner brought out biscuits for Hugo and a collie customer. 🐕
If you have a dog, what beaches do you like to visit with them?
Dog friendly hikes and exploring, mostly around New England. Our Adventures includes: waterfalls, the beach, conservation land, lighthouses, state parks, the woods, the mountains, statues, and castles.
This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. I am a 15 year old young naturalist with a passion for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I have been blogging since May 2013 and you can read my old blog posts at www.appletonwildlifediary.blogspot.co.uk