Picture of the Day – Castle Howard, Yorkshire

This is a picture of a very grand house in Yorkshire, called Castle Howard.

It is a bit of a misnomer, because as you can see it isn’t a castle at all.

There are no battlements or crenellations. It doesn’t have an outer wall, or a portcullis gate. It wasn’t built for defense or to hold a strategic position.

It was actually a Palace, but despite being so very grand, it wasn’t built for a member of the Royal family but for an Aristocrat. The Earl of Carlisle.

The Howard family is descended from the Dukes of Norfolk who had been influential since Tudor times and supported Henry VIII and plotted against Queen Elizabeth I (The one they make lots of films about).

This particular branch of the family became Protestants and were given the title Earl of Carlisle by Oliver Cromwell for supporting him in the English Civil War AGAINST the king. Then cleverly they backed the man who would become King Charles II, who was still in exile in the Netherlands and it was when he became King that the family fortunes took off and this house was built.

It wasn’t quite as grand at first but gradually bits were added until it became this pretty breathtaking palace.

It had been used for many films and it was also used for both the Television series and the later movie of Brideshead Revisited.

Image result for brideshead revisited 1981



Picture of the Day – Me and a Tree on the Island of Mersea

As you may already know, I love trees.

This is a picture of a particularly lovely tree that is growing on the edge of the beach on the Isle of Mersea in Essex, England.

This was taken in early May and it was a particularly glorious sunny and hot day. The tide was pretty much all the way out, so swimming wasn’t an option, it was more or less just mud. Also the sea would probably have been too cold anyway, it doesn’t tend to warm up until end of July.

Mersea Island is a really lovely place and is separated from the mainland by a salt water creek. The road, known as the Strood, allows you to drive over to the island without any trouble, except around high tide when it is underwater for about an hour (this happens twice in every 24 hours).

The Island has one town, West Mersea, which has a nice beach and lots of beach huts and fish and chip shops. The east side of the island is mainly just farms and caravan parks. It is quieter on the East side. The whole island takes about 30 minutes to drive around, but sometimes it can take longer than that just to find an empty car parking space!

I hope you liked this picture.


Picture of the Day – Hyde Hall Gardens

Yesterday I went to Hyde Hall Gardens which is about 20 minutes drive from where I live in the heart of Essex. The gardens are run the the Royal Horticultural Society and they have 4 gardens across the UK, so we are lucky to have one in Essex.

This particular day was a craft weekend so they had lots of stalls selling glassware, pottery, hand dyed wools, soaps etc.

It also happened to be one of those rare days when it was lovely and sunny.

Why the umbrella? Well actually both the name Umbrella and Parasol refer to the objects original purpose, which was to keep off the sun. Umbrella comes from the latin Umbra which means Shade.  I was putting it to it’s original purpose to keep the sun off.

Have a nice Day. x


Picture of the Day – Happy St. George’s Day

The 23rd of April is St. Georges Day in the UK. He is the patron saint of England and the cross of St. George, the Red cross on a white background is the flag of England.

However for some reason there is no public holiday or celebration for this day.

In Scotland they have a Bank holiday for their patron saint, St Andrew, on his day on the 30th of November (only since 2006 though).

and of course we all know about the celebrations for St Patrick’s day.

It always seems remiss to me that this day goes by without any pomp or ceremony. It is just another day in the UK.

So wherever you are in the world, put the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea, when you raise it to your lips, think of St George and England.

Happy St George’s Day, wherever you are.


Picture of the Day – The walled garden

This is a picture of the Walled Garden at Cressing Temple Barns in Essex.

This place has an excellent tea rooms and a lovely green lawn for picnics.

It was also one of the sites owned by the Knights Templar, or the ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’ to give them their full name.

There are two large barns one of them dating back to around 1200 AD which are still standing and maintained. They are often hired out for weddings and other function.

Also on the site is a Walled garden. This would have been used by the Knights Templar to grow necessary crops and herbs. Today it is laid out in as near to a traditional medieval garden as possible, with section of herbs for medicine and for dyeing. There is a small orchards and a nuttery, with Hazels.

It is a very lovely place to visit, if you happen to be in Essex, England and fancied walking in the footsteps of the old crusaders and also having a nice cup of tea.

I hope you enjoy this picture.



Picture of the Day – The Rotunda at Ixworth

This is a picture of Ixworth House in Suffolk, England.

It is a very interesting house, not only because it had this fantastic rotunda and had two large wings either side of it. One is still lived in today by the same family that has lived on the estate for many years. Most of it is now owned by the National Trust and as such is open to visitors.

One of the things that marked it out was the servants quarters. I have been to many stately homes, I like to wallow in the ‘upstairs downstairs’ or ‘Downton Abbey’ experience. They all had an army of servants to run these big houses in their heyday.

What marks this one is that the servants were so well-respected that after the first world war when the few men that did return refused to go back into service, Ixworth retained its staff right up until the 1930’s.

I remember the servants hall with its upright Piano, so evocative of evenings singing along to the latest music hall tunes (still on the piano waiting to be played.)

This was a really lovely place to visit.