Monday 28 September 2020

A Favourite National Trust Property from a Different Slant.

 I have been visiting Lanhydrock since I was a young teenager and my mum remembers seeing the Robartes family who lived there on their trips or Bodmin. Our visit this time was a little different. Like all NT properties booking ahead is essential and I had done this before we left home. This time arriving at the correct time shouldn’t have been difficult considering our B & B was less than 3 miles away. How then did we manage to get lost in the Cornish lanes so that when I finally reconciled that my navigating skills had failed and resorted to the Sat Nav we found ourselves 6 miles away? Whoops!

We arrived with what we thought was time to spare only to find at this venue our tickets were not checked on arrival at the car park but down at the Gatehouse by the house. Despite a rapid walk down we were about 10 to 15 minutes late but fortunately encountered another understanding ticket collector who happily let us in.

It was rather like arriving in a ghost town. Admittedly it was still only about 10.45 and of course the numbers are limited but there was hardly anyone around. The stable yard is usually a bustling area with a cafe, outside seating and ice creams for sale. Sadly none of this was open. It was ideal however for photography with so few people to obscure the view!

The house was open with the now usual social distancing and a limited number of just the bigger rooms available to be seen. They had taken the theme of one of the Lady Robartes opening the house to the public for the first time. Each room had a notice “written” by her. There were subtle little additions referring to the need for distancing.

She didn’t beat about the bush with her notices.

We then headed into the gardens which were looking splendid in the September sunshine.

It is worth considering as well that only 2 of the 5 gardeners have been working and there are no volunteer gardeners.

I had Naked Lady envy referring of course to the Belladonna lilies.

Sadly the two that I planted in our garden have done nothing.

Farmer Husband spotted a plant that he would like in our garden so it will be going on his birthday list. 

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’.

It was then time for a picnic lunch. No roast dinner for the farmer today! We spent a little time reminiscing about our visit on our honeymoon when we had Sunday Roast in the Servant Quarters restaurant. The cafe in the car park was doing a limited menu and although it is important to try and support them we didn’t feel too guilty having spent out in both the shop and plant centre. Spot the essential of any 2020 picnic!

It was then down to the bottom of the estate at Respryn for a walk along the river. Another idyllic spot.

My mum often talks about coming here with her dad as child to go fishing. I suspect it was a quieter spot back then.

The medieval five arched bridge has a fair bit of traffic using it. Width of vehicles is carefully controlled by concrete walls either side making a very narrow entry and exit. It was quite amusing watching vehicles negotiating these with real danger of a scraped side to their car!

Our day was not yet finished! It was then off to Harlyn Bay for a picnic cream tea on the beach with my sister, brother in law and mum who were also staying in Cornwall. 

There was even time for Farmer Husband and I to take an early evening walk along the cliffs.

Friday 25 September 2020

A Bit of Visiting and a bit of Sea

The present circumstances mean that if you want to go anywhere you have to plan in advance. While we were in Cornwall we were not keen to visit any of the overcrowded tourist locations such as St Ives and many gardens etc have to be booked. We knew we could get to see the dahlias easily as described in my last post but it was then a case of what to do next. Visiting Cornwall for me with my mum being Cornish has always been a time to visit relatives. Sadly I no longer have any living kin in the county so instead it was a trip to Penlee Museum in Penzance to visit Great Great Grandma.

This was not so simple as it may seem. The museum requires prebooking. There were plenty of spaces available in 5 minute slots so it was just a question of choosing the right time. Luckily we gave ourselves plenty of leeway even though we were only 10 minutes away because we couldn’t find the car park. The not so trusty sat nav took us up a pedestrian area (the summons letter hasn’t arrived yet) and then down a very narrow no through road... Luckily we retrieved ourselves, parked and got to the museum on time.

The main reason for our visit was to see an exhibition of the work of the Newlyn artists. These were a group of artists who lived and painted in and around the fishing village of Newlyn just outside Penzance. Their work portrays the everyday life between 1880s and the early 20th Century. My great great grandmother was the model used in several of the works of one of these artists Walter Langley. She was a fisherman’s wife called Grace Kelynack and the most famous of these paintings is “Time Moveth Not, Our Being ‘Tis that Moves”. You can see the picture by clicking the link here. I am reluctant to post the picture for copyright reasons. It was very emotional seeing the actual picture and I did ask the steward if I can have permission to take a photo. This was not granted.

It was then time to visit the sea so we headed to Godrevy for the afternoon.

This is one of our favourite spots and a good location for a picnic (Cornish Pasties of course) and a walk.

Our walk took us around the headland and a along the coast path.

This is a wonderful location for seeing seals both in the sea and basking on the rocks. Why therefore did I leave my telephoto lens in the car?! Should you have good eyesight you may spot some pups being encouraged up onto the rocks by their mums.

It was drizzly afternoon but fortunately the sun managed to just inch through.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Dahlia Overload

 Are you a dahlia lover or hater? Should you happen to be the latter then this post is definitely not for you! I feel I should give you a health warning that a lot of dahlia pictures are about to follow. It was mere chance that I discovered the location of The National Dahlia Collection at Varfell Farm near Penzance just days before we were going to Cornwall. I had been trying to discover the name of a particular dahlia when I came across the details and realised that there was a field open to the public.

We were actually staying in a village called Lanivet just outside Bodmin but our position less than a mile from the A30 meant that it only took us 40 minutes to get down to the field which is just minutes from the Hayle to Penzance road.

The 2 acre field is home to 1600 plus varieties of dahlia and is an impressive sight. The dahlias are in rows of 3 according to variety. It is easy walking along the aisles between them.

The collection was originally made by David Brown in Oxfordshire who realised that the number of varieties available was rapidly diminishing and set out to acquire and collect varieties that he spotted in both private and public gardens in the 1980s and 90s. He was eventually forced to sell the collection due to health and financial circumstances to Winchester Nurseries who with his help have continued to grow his dahlias and sell them to the public.

What is evident from what I have gleaned online and what we observed at the farm is that all is not good. 

Despite being a spectacular sight the flowers have been sadly neglected. They have not been staked this year or deheaded. Some are missing, weeds particularly thistles are becoming rampant and many labels have fallen off or faded.

The poly tunnels in the adjacent yard are in disrepair and many potted dahlias have been left to dry out.
I think from what I have read that the company has been bought out. 

The National Dahlia Collection website is not accessible other than a front page about the hours of opening of the field.

You may have noted above the agapanthus that are also being  grown. We didn’t go home empty handed as there was a rather scruffy number of dahlias for sale with an honesty box. We bought a couple and a large agapanthus so there could be something to see next year!
I will leave you with a gallery of some of the gorgeous and varied blooms we saw. The perfection of the individual bloom was something to behold.

I just hope that the future of this collection is secure and the hard work that has gone into preserving these beautiful blooms won’t be wasted.