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Monday, 20 March 2017

GETTING OUT OF SHEPTON!

If I had listened to today's weather forecast of rain, I wouldn't have ventured out for a walk!  However, I had arranged to meet up with Belinda, to explore a couple of villages, not far from Shepton.  We didn't get wet, and we even saw the sun for a short time!

We had plenty to talk about, as I hadn't seen Belinda for sometime!  She has just finished writing her first book, of a trilogy that she has planned, aimed at young people...  


We started off at Nunney Castle, a magnificant, moated, medieval ruin, which is owned by English Heritage.  It dates from 1370, and is open and free to visit.  It is in the village of Nunney, which has a great pub and is very picturesque...
  

We then drove to Mells, famous for its Daffodil Festival, which takes place on Easter Monday.  This year, as Easter is late, and not until the middle of April, I wonder whether there will be any daffodils left!

We walked into the churchyard, and onto some public footpaths for a circular walk, which ended for a cup of tea, in the cafe attached to the village shop and post office (see below).  Mells is a beautiful village, full of wonderful stone properties, and a thriving community, if the bustling village store is anything to go by...




Wednesday, 15 March 2017

YELLOW FLOWERS BRIGHTEN MY DAY!


Today the morning was murky but mild, with the gloom punctuated with flashes of colour, from the Spring flowers.  This time of year, it is the yellow flowers, which really give a show and stand out.  It is no wonder that the official flower of March is the daffodil!

I started my walk by going to Collett Park, photogenic whatever the weather, (see above), and then walked to West Shepton, took a diversion along a muddy bridle path, before heading home...



Unfortunately, I was walking on my own again, so I had the walk but not the talk! The other day on the television, I heard somebody say that he enjoys 'twalking' on 'twalks' with a group of like-minded people!  I have never heard it called that before! I must say, I walk further and enjoy the walks more, when I can chat to a friend...



Friday, 24 February 2017

STORM DORIS DID FOR IVY!


This morning was a beautiful one for a walk, however, the winds of the recent Storm Doris had ripped the ivy from our garden walls, smothering plants and shrubs - see top above pic.  I felt the priority was to rescue them, so I set out to cut the ivy down at the expense of a walk!

Luckily, I found the ideal tool in the shed, which was an impulse buy at a garden show!  It is shown in the largest pic above, which also shows the job halfway through, with some of the plants emerging!  Up to now it hadn't had been used, as I usually get someone in to do the heavy pruning.  The photograph, above right, shows the finished job, but there is still loads of pruning, clearing up and tidying to do!


The one bright spot in the garden, are the hellebores, a member of the buttercup family, that are in full flower.  It is such a shame that they hang their heads down so much, that their full beauty is not revealed, until you lift them up. The photographs above were taken by pointing the camera underneath the flower heads and hoping...


Friday, 17 February 2017

SNOWDROP FESTIVAL HAS STARTED!

I have to confess, that this morning was my first walk for a few weeks!  A combination of not having anyone to walk with, and cold, wet, murky weather has put me off! Today, however, it was fine and there was something in town to walk to and see - the first Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival, which began today as part of the Friday market...


At the One Craft Gallery, I and a fellow member, had put together a window in celebration (see above), which was given a special award by the 'snowdrop' committee!  Today it was great to see snowdrops everywhere - I never knew there were so many varieties...


The festival is in celebration of James Allen (1830 - 1906) who lived in Shepton and was the first person to breed snowdrops from wild varieties.  It has been organised by the local Horticultural Society and they have been busy, not only planting snowdrops around the town and in planters, but they have arranged a series of events and competitions. 

Above you can see stalls selling snowdrop varieties, all with different names and features.  Top left, is an example of snowdrops which were stencilled onto to the pavements to show people the way.  You could even have your face painted or photo taken in a snowdrop setting (see above)...   


I had a good look around Snowdrop HQ in Town Street, where they were serving coffee, tea and cakes.  There were also stalls selling artwork and snowdrop inspired wares and displays of the winning photographs and poems. 


The town was teeming with people and colourful displays.  There was even a display by a rhythmic gymnastic group called The City of Bath Snowdrops - see above right! There are events throughout the weekend, including a ceremonial walk to James Allen grave to plant some snowdrops, and a guided snowdrop ramble through Edford Woods, 3 miles north-east of Shepton.  Hopefully, this festival is just the start of a successful  annual event for the town...

Friday, 27 January 2017

LOOKING FOR SIGNS OF SPRING!


I was walking on my own today.  It was dreary and cold but there wasn't a frost. Plenty of mud, but in some places the ground and paths were still frozen and icy underneath, so I had to step carefully on the pavements.  However, by the end of the walk there was weak sunshine... 


Visually, this is not the best time of year for gardens - mine is looking a mess! However, when looking into other people's gardens for signs of Spring, it was heartening to see the fresh green shoots of spring bulbs and the occasional bright splash of colour.  I saw a couple of misplaced gloves - pictured above.  It is so annoying to lose one of a pair.  I am frequently doing that with earrings and it makes me mad!

One of our favourite front gardens seems to have acquired a new structure - see above.  It will be interesting to see how it gets incorporated into their garden design...

  
On my way home I passed the allotments and there were a few signs of activity...


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

FROSTY, MAGICAL MORNING!

Today I had the pleasure of Belinda's company for a walk.  There was a particularly heavy frost, turning the ground white and the pavements sparkling, as though they were encrusted with diamonds!  The sun came up, casting a golden glow over the browns of the skeletal trees and hedgerows, which gave a satisfying contrast to the ice and frosted ground...


There is something about an early morning walk, especially this time of year, that is magical.  It may be hard to prise myself out of a lovely warm bed, but the results are so worth it!  I keep reading articles on how walking and connecting to nature is so good for your mental health and I have found this to be true.  Not only is it physical exercise in the fresh air, but when you have an interesting companion, the talking is very therapeutic... 
  

We walked up towards Windsor Hill, away from the town into the surrounding countryside.  We saw a field full of woolly sheep and these two delightful highland cattle (see above right), who had no trouble keeping warm with their long, dense, hairy coats!


On my way home, I walked through the park and took time out to look at the pond, which was half iced over.  Instead of all the usual ducks - they must have been sheltering in the park, there were many seagulls, miles away from the sea, who looked confused by this frozen water!



Friday, 20 January 2017

GREAT TO BE OUT IN THE FRESH AIR!

Today was my first early morning walk of the New Year!  My excuse is that I haven't, until recently, felt fit enough after my bout of sickness at Christmas time.  It has also been cold, dark, damp and murky!  Now, however, it is getting lighter and the weather is drier - still very cold, but the Winter sunshine makes up for it!  Today I saw the beautiful sunrise casting a golden glow over the sculptural shapes of the bare trees and heard the crunch of boots on frozen ground...


My previous lack of motivation was given a boost today, as I arranged to meet Miriam at 7.30am.  We walked through the park into town, where the market was setting up. I bought some lovely fresh fish at the fish stall for supper tonight.  We then walked up past the cemetery, and onto the top of the meadows over to a lane that led down to Bowlish, before heading home.  It was really great to have company and be striding out in the fresh air... 


At Bowlish, I showed Miriam some of the lovely old properties in this area, including Bowlish House - the hotel and restaurant, (see largest pic below) and Old Bowlish House (the house with the pale blue front door), which is one of my favourite houses in Shepton.

Jenny and I have had a history lesson, tour and tea at Old Bowlish House in September 2015 - written up in a previous post (press on the label below).  


Today, I saw my first Spring flowers of the year - some snowdrops.  I have been doing a lot of artwork featuring them, as in Shepton we are having a Snowdrop Festival in February, which I will be talking about in future posts...