Thursday, 29 August 2019

On our Doorstep - Elford Hall Garden

Hi there everyone ๐Ÿ˜€

As promised in my last post, here we are back in the Elford Walled Garden. It's tucked right at the back of the village and not somewhere you are likely to stumble across by accident. It's a real hidden treasure and I kind of have mixed feelings about sharing anything that would make it less so.

It is a really beautiful garden and has been an ongoing project for the last 10 years. It has come on in absolute leaps and bounds since we last visited a good few years ago and it's somewhere that I will definitely be going back to. You can read more about the history of the garden and how it has come to be on their website but it has been a real labour of love and a tremendous community effort to make it what it is today. It really is a treat.

We got to see it at its absolute best, in glorious sunshine and as part of this year's very well supported scarecrow festival. Even though the scarecrow festival has been and gone I believe there are still a fair number of scarecrows resident in the garden, just waiting to be discovered.

We had a lovely walk down the footpath along the edge of the field to the garden, passing lots of pretty straw hats along the way ...
The garden is surrounded by the loveliest old red brick wall ...
... and offers a range of allotments, an orchard, flower borders, a rose garden, a sensory garden, space to play boules and giant chess, as well as a good patch of grass which is perfect for picnics. Just 10 years ago this walled garden was literally just a patch of grass.

There is plenty of access in and out of the garden via these pretty gardens gates which are just asking you to explore further ...
The first thing we saw when we entered the garden was the rose garden, which was just lovely and absolutely full of blooms of all colours, the scent really hung in the air, it was just idyllic ...

Having visited a number of years ago when the garden was in its infancy we were both really quite taken aback by how much there was to see. The allotments were bountiful, watched over by some of the local residents ...
The dahlias were simply spectacular, an absolute riot of colour ...
... and it's definitely been a good year for sunflowers ...
Along the far side of the garden we found The Bothy, somewhere to keep dry if you get caught in the rain and maybe even grab a sneaky cuppa ...
Until this visit we hadn't realised there was more to be seen out through one of those lovely looking wooden gates at the back of the garden. We pretty much stumbled across the sensory garden by accident ... but we were really glad that we did. It is just perfect for little people with lots of winding paths leading to lots of interesting things to see ...

Bug hotels ...
Mosaic stepping stones ...
Colourful sculptures ...
... casting colourful shadows ...
Pretty bridges and narrow pathways ...
At the very extent of the garden is the river, with plenty of picnic tables ... we did an about turn to head back through the garden past the stumpery ...
... giant herons and butterflies ...
We carried on along the narrow pathways through the trees ...
... past the gate back in to the main walled garden ...
As we exited the sensory garden to make our way into the orchard we came across this colourful garden spade just propped up against the wall as though the gardener had just nipped off for lunch ...
All I can say is ... he must be a pretty big chap ...
At the edge of the orchard we couldn't resist a go on Ted's Tuneful Tubes ...
... though we were very good and did manage to resist the lure of a bright red, rosy apple ...
There was plenty of garden produce on display on this side of the garden ...
 
... along with the chance to try cider made from some of the orchard apples.

That was it then really, we were back where we'd started and it was time for us to move on. We'd only had a whistlestop tour but we both know that it's somewhere that we definitely want to go back to, when we have a bit more time to really explore and appreciate the garden's beauty ๐Ÿ˜€

Another lovely place ... pretty much right on the doorstep ... how lucky are we?

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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Bank Holiday Sunshine, Scarecrows, Boats & BBQs

Hi there everyone ๐Ÿ˜€

What a Bank Holiday we've had ... wall to wall sunshine, a bit of gardening, a lovely day out on our doorstep, lots of time outside, plenty of family time, BBQs three days in a row ... and the sun is still shining today ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž

The Bank Holiday weekend started for us with a day of pottering in the garden, getting through some more of those 'getting the garden ready for autumn' jobs ... plenty of planting of the ever growing collection of plants that we have accumulated over the last few weeks, a bit of cutting down and general tidying, finished off with our first BBQ of the weekend.

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The forecast for Sunday was glorious and we were meeting up with Mum, Dad, David, Alison and the little man at Elford for their Scarecrow Festival ... it is literally 10 minutes down the road so lovely not to have to drive too far and a reminder of how close we are to some really lovely places.

We picked up Mum and Dad and we found David, Alison & Bobby in the play park and were soon on our way ...
Our first scarecrows were a real treat ... a bit of a circus montage with an elephant with real water spraying from his trunk and a very colourful juggling clown ...
I know it was the first we'd seen but it was definitely an early contender for our winning our vote for best scarecrow of the festival.

This next one had the little man beside himself with excitement ... The Hungry Caterpillar ... and a story he knows very well as he proceeded to tell us about everything that The Hungry Caterpillar had eaten. This one was definitely getting Bobby's vote ...
This first little stretch was just bursting with scarecrows, all easily recognisable to little people ... Shrek, donkey and the biggest gingerbread man ever ...
This one knocked the first circus scene off our top spot for now.

Then we had a pirate, one of Bobby's favourite things ever, though he was not so sure about getting up close, even with Nanny's help ... he was a bit braver with Baby Shark ...
... another Very Hungry Caterpillar ...
Our route took us out onto the Main Road through the village where we found a fierce looking Peaky Blinder ...
... along with one of the little owls that we were also looking out for ... which was far less fearsome ...
A bit of a mole infestation ...
... and some Toy Story favourites ...
By now it was absolutely roasting and we were all flagging a bit. It was definitely time for a bit of a pitstop in the Village Hall ...
... where a shady spot was a welcome treat, as were ice creams, sandwiches and cold drinks. We stayed a fair while, just listening to the Walled Garden Wailers and watching the little chap, who's energy was very soon revived, kicking a football around ...
We were soon ready to continue our meandering ...
... with plenty more scarecrows still to be found ...
We made our way into the welcome shade of The Avenue to find a Spaceman, who Bobby was fair taken with ...
... and plenty of food stalls and other bits and pieces going on ...
It think it would be fair to say that not all of the scarecrows were aimed at a young audience ...
It was lovely to see the church open, though bobby was adamant that it was actually a haunted house ...
... and full of people, taking the chance to spend a few moments in the cool, with plenty more scarecrows in residence too ...
From the church we headed for the walled garden, which is right on the very edge of the village, with the river to one side and open countryside to the other. It really is in a lovely spot ...
I was really taken with these miniature straw hats ...
They were all individually decorated and adorned the fence along the path down to the garden ...
The hats got gradually bigger, the closer we got to the garden ...
It was even hotter down by the garden, with not much shade so it was definitely time for the most welcome treat ...
It turns out that we were just in time as there were plenty more with the same thought ...

It was so hot by now that everyone was flagging a bit and didn't really fancy a good look round the garden, so Martin and I had a look round on our own.

It's been a long time since we've seen the gardens and we were both blown away by how much had been done since our last visit. It was just beautiful. I took loads of photos but I think it's probably worthy of a post on it's own so for now I'll just show you our first impression ...
... and the scarecrows ...
You probably can't really tell what the third one is but it's four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, with all of the birds being made from plastic bottles ...
We could have spent ages in the garden, it was a real delight and I'm sure we will back to visit again, when we have a bit more time and maybe it's not quite so hot ... but I will do a separate post to show you what we saw this time, so do look out for it.

We found Mum and Dad ... David, Alison and Bobby having gone off to get their picnic ... and made our way back down to see the last of the scarecrows and they had really saved the best till last ... a pod of playful dolphins ...


... and a fabulous high wire act ...
... which ended up getting my vote as the best in show.

We found the picnickers in the shade of the trees and squished ourselves onto the blanket to join them. Bobby was having the most fun ever and agreed to just the one selfie ...
It was then back to the car, via platform 9 3/4 ...
... to say our good byes and head for home for a BBQ tea, to end the loveliest of days.

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Monday brought yet more sunshine. It was a little cooler, which was no disappointment at all.

We spent the morning pottering at home, got the grass cut and got ready to head over to Mum and Dad's, where the whole family were getting together for a family BBQ ... one of the rare occasions where everyone just happened to be available and in the same place at the same time.

We had an hour or so to spare and decided to have a drive out to Alvecote Marina, where the local pub, The Samuel Barlow, were holding their 'One Big Weekend' event.

Our plan had been to bike along the canal, which would have been lovely, but we just didn't have time to fit it in.

We had no idea what to expect but the place was absolutely buzzing ... there was a real party atmosphere, with loads of people about, great music, a bit of a floating market ...



... and more boats than I have ever seen in one place ...
And the colours ...
It was spectacular ... I've already put it on the calendar for next year.

We were sorry we couldn't stay longer but BBQ was calling so we headed off to meet up with everyone at Mum and Dad's to spend the afternoon eating, drinking, catching up and generally just making the most of the rest of the long weekend ๐Ÿ˜€

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