Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Penshaw Monument

An opportune moment occurred over the Bank Holiday for me to visit Penshaw Monument, located in the North East of England near Houghton-le-Spring and Washington. The monument, or folly, should be more accurately referred to as 'The Earl of Durham's Monument', as it was built in 1844 and dedicated to John George Lambton, the first Earl of Durham.

Built atop of Penshaw Hill, the monument is still, at 20m high said to be a half size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus, in Athens, and is very striking with its Doric columns, built from grit stone quarried locally. It can be seen for miles around and is a prominent and well known local landmark that has been in the care of the National Trust since 1939, when it was gifted by the 5th Earl of Durham, the hill and woodland was acquired later, in 1982 with a grant from the Countryside Commission. The architects were John and Benjamin Green from Newcastle, who were also responsible for the Theatre Royal, and Grey's Monument, also in Newcastle. 

My post is mostly photographic, as I spent much of my visit trying to capture the colours and qualities of Penshaw Hill and monument, where the exposed slopes are clothed by a surprising variety of wild flora. The links will provide much more information than I aim to share here, including

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Butterfly Bite - Red Admiral

This was one of those beautiful garden sights that stopped me in my tracks.
A quick snap on a dusty mobile phone it may be, and a common butterfly many would say, but I snapped this Red Admiral a few moments ago as it paused on some Verbena bonariensis blossom. Nothing outstanding on the face of it, but with my head down in work most all the time, at such a vast place as Compton Verney to boot, it is easy to miss the finer things that are just off to one side.


Another snippet worth mentioning, is the plant it sits on - which didn't even exist last year. The Verbena was one of a number of 'historic' plants, brought in this spring to add colour and interest to an otherwise plain shrubbery. It obviously worked, as while I stretched slowly to photograph the butterfly, a hoverfly landed on my arm to watch the proceedings!


Friday, 17 August 2012

Grounds Update Aug 17th 2012

I last posted an update on the grounds activity at Compton Verney around a month ago yet so much has been happening that it feels so much longer. Time of course is at a premium for many of us, especially during the school summer holidays but work has continued one way or the other, and we've tried our best as a team to slot in and around the summer visitors whilst endeavouring to keep the grounds up to scratch.

It's been quite a treat to see family groups visiting with little ones eager to explore, and it is fascinating to hear the shouts from children enjoying themselves whilst playing in such a lovely environment. The willow tunnel is proving very popular for this, sitting neatly in a sheltered clearing, and the decision to re-weave the stems a little earlier than planned has paid off, as the previously wild feature once again looks inviting and cared for. In fact, our new grounds volunteer 'Mo' wasted no time in tackling the pruning and weaving for us on her first two visits, so all credit goes to Mo for a lovely job!


As with the last update, the story is much the same regarding the weather - which continues to toy with us. On the whole I think we've acclimatised to the weathers peculiar behaviour quite well, but there has been the odd day here and there when the weather has misbehaved so badly that I might have muttered the odd negative word here and there... we've utilised the technique of laughing in its face however, and have carried on regardless! Every now and again though, the clouds part, the blue sky opens up, and the welcome sun bursts through to lift our spirits and remind us that we are in fact at the thick end of summer!