Wednesday, 11 March 2015

on my window sill...

I have two pots of extremes flowering in my kitchen. 

A £1 pot of miniature tete-a-tete daffodils (though even these seem to have shot skywards!)...


Love that these don't disappoint with their quick growth into little splashes of spring yellow.
  
Whereas, frankly, the enormous amaryllus has taken an age to turn into this big, bright, blowsy and somehow unseasonal looking show off...


I was beginning to think it would never flower. I'm sure I planted it around Christmas-time, when the prospect of a big red flower seemed apt. For several weeks it seemed to do nothing, then just grew up and up, several cms a day or so it seemed. It is not far off 3ft tall and the flower head is huge; the whole thing is so heavy that I've had to lean it against the window!

Can't quite decide if I like it or not, but its certainly impossible to ignore!

S x

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Spring sunshine...

With the temperature briefly hitting a heady 16C yesterday, it was possible to really begin to feel Springlike. Even with a hefty dose of flu I decided it would do me good to take a slow meander up to the river in the late afternoon sunshine.

My walk takes me through the cathedral grounds then along the back of the school playing field behind it.

The verges seem to have suddenly come alive with purples, yellows & whites of crocuses...



This is Cow Tower, glowing golden in the afternoon sunshine; this is part of the remains of the Norwich medieval defence structure and would have been used to house gunners and arrowmen defending the approach to the city across the River Wensum. 


Built in the late C14th, this tower is a ruin but I love that some of the detail of the window& arrow ports remain...


This stretch of the riverside walk is covered with daffodils; in a week or two it is going to be glorious...


For now just the odd flower is bringing a welcome splash of colour...


The birds seem to have cottoned on to the Spring feeling too. A pair of blackbirds have been flirting like crazy by my door (last year they nested in the holly tree in the courtyard - hoping for the same again this year!) and down by the river a pair of ducks were dancing round each other on the water...



Back through the cathedral grounds the light was lovely through the trees...


and the cathedral looked beautiful against the blue sky...


More crocuses and a few early daffodils in the sheltered courtyard of Tombland...



and even some beginnings of pink blossom cheering my soul...


It really feels like winter is receding, hurrah for sunshine and colour, I love this time of year when everything is getting going again.

S x

Thursday, 5 March 2015

'city of perspiring dreams...'

Apparently this term was coined as a counterpart to Cambridge's rival city Oxford, the 'city of dreaming spires'. I quite like it, sounds somehow as though more effort goes into the dreaming in Cambridge, more grounded...
Though in reality, both are lovely cities with beautiful buildings and a different level of eavesdropping (not many 'football TV' type pubs near me where the neighbouring table of young lads are earnestly discussing the economy!). 

For a myriad of reasons we decided to get out of the county last weekend and took a day trip to Cambridge, with the intention of visiting the snowdrops and orchid displays at the botanic gardens combined with a bit of lazy lunch and shopping.

The gardens didn't disappoint, even with the slight drabness of winter it is a lovely space and the snowdrops were almost luminous in the spring sunshine...




I would love to come back here at different times of the year - there are seasonal gardens, a fragranced garden, sensory gardens, even a whole area full of lavenders which must be stunning in early summer. 

There are some beautiful trees...


and it is easy to forget you are within easy walking distance of the busy city centre.


It is, of course, a part of the university, and there was a bit of science there too - the techy stuff behind living walls was interesting, very clever...


Sadly our trip was a little shortlived as there was a bitter wind blowing that threatened to thin the winter deadwood from the trees which meant that, not long after testing the delights of the cafe, the gardens were emptied for safety reasons. Definitely one to go back to though.

Cambridge, for me, is typified by a few things - narrow old streets and bicycles...


Beautiful buildings...


Bridges, river and punting...




We walked along the backs, behind the colleges...



and came upon a carpet of lilac crocuses...




And, of course, you can't go to Cambridge without popping into the fudge shop for the butteriest, sweet treat...


We wondered why we don't go there more often?

S x

Monday, 23 February 2015

Happisburgh to Walcott...

With a bit of bright sunshine today and previous plans for the day going awry we decided to head up to the coast again. I've written about Happisburgh before (almost exactly a year ago, it seems!) - it was a regular haunt of ours when the boys were small. At that time it had a lovely sandy stretch of beach with shallow pools that formed behind the wooden sea defences, perfect for toddler paddling.


Now, huge chunks of the fields that edged the coast line have been swept into the sea - taking with them the houses that balanced precariously on the edge in the last big tidal surge in December 2013.  It has left the beach a curious mixture of layered cliffs, compacted clay and piles of rocks, in addition to the usual sand and shingle...



It is still a lovely beach but has a rather different feel to the busy, family seaside of 20 years ago, especially today with just a few hardy dog walkers... 

This way faces back toward Eccles-on-sea to the East...


Looking North-West, towards Mundesley, the coast sweeps round and the sea crashes onto the black rocks that are trying to delay the erosion...


There are still reminders of the buildings that fell into the sea, bricks and pipes on the beach and wires hanging off the cliff edge...


The old groynes provide a handy perch for the gulls...


The clay base layer protrudes like grey rocks onto the beach but are soft and sticky to touch, making it easy to see how this coastline has eroded so quickly...


Particularly when you consider the force of the sea pounding repeatedly against it...



Today wasn't stormy and the waves were pretty tame but we could hear the shingle being dragged up and hurled against the remains of the wooden structures that are gradually being washed away...


Quite hypnotic to watch and I'll spare you the ridiculous number of photos I took, transfixed by the sheer power of nature. 

We were a bit short of change for the car park so headed back before driving along to the next easy bit of parking at Walcott. From here, we walked back to Ostend Gap, which is right at the end of the stretch of beach from Happisburgh...


From here the beach has a long concrete walkway, pretty much all the way back via Walcott to Bacton, where the North Sea gas station dominates the coast road that runs alongside this strip of seaside and is just visible in the very distance here...


There are large pebbles caught between the panels of the groynes, making them look something like a giant abacus...



Where you can get down to the beach here it's pretty sandy with just a few well rounded pebbles in wavy lines where they have been dropped by the tide...


Walcott beach is a much more commercial little resort, with a large caravan park just the other side of the road from the beach, shops and an ice cream van. Even on a quiet day, the smell of fast food dominated and there were lots of hopeful gulls loitering along the sea wall...



I quite like the symmetry of the zig-zag old groynes, but I have to admit to preferring my beaches where the needs of human beings are a little less catered for and I can smell the salt of the sea rather than chips! 


By this point the little bit of winter sun had disappeared and it was decidedly chilly. Heading back to the car, these made us smile - almost every post topped with a seagull, looking in formation all facing the same way!


I am about a third of the way along the Norfolk coast now, onto the North Norfolk, rather than the Easterly bit. Next stop Mundesley, which I've been to many times but never actually set foot on the beach, Spring sunshine willing...

S x