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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Rosemoor RHS Garden, Devon

I have wanted to visit this garden for years, but every time we were in Somerset it was either the wrong time of year, it poured with rain or we just didn't have time. This time, finally, we made it! 

We visited on 16th May, and set off in the morning in glorious sunshine, but as we passed Dartmoor and saw Exmoor off in the distance, the cloudier it got, until we arrived at our destination 90 minutes later under full, overcast grey skies. Isn't that just typical?

Well sometimes sunshine can be the enemy of the photographer so I decided to look at it that way; after all the gardens were full of colour so who cared what colour the sky was. The sun came out about an hour before closing time - typical yet again, so we enjoyed that too. We were at the gardens until closing time and I think the last car out of the car park - just goes to show what an enjoyable place this is.

The garden, now covering 65 acres, is divided into two parts with a road running between the two. The original garden was mostly planted up and developed by Lady Anne Berry during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Lady Anne gave the gardens to the RHS in 1988 along with a further plot of land (that which is across the road), which has been developed by the RHS into many gardens of different styles and a rich wealth of planting. A brief history of the garden on Wikipedia here, and further info on the website here.

The Winter Garden - lots of interesting coloured bark - I loved it!

I think it was about a week after the Cherry blossom was at its peak, but even so we had quite a magnificent display over many areas of the garden. One thing we were too early for was the Rose Garden, but you can't have it all.

The Herb, Potager and Cottage Garden

Quite ornamental too, it's every gardeners dream to have a potager like this but unless you have an army of gardeners to help you, it's pretty unlikely your veggies will ever be presented like this......

Of course there were flowers galore in there, and I was rather taken by these multicolour Wallflowers. Just gorgeous colours. I think this patch represented the Cottage Garden.

A view, one of many!

An Acer of some sort.

A Song Thrush with something for the babies in its beak.

The pond with..... not just a Moorhen but a baby too! Only the one but one is better than none. We here at Chateau Moorhen have been starved of baby pompoms these last two years. Sob.

The Orchard - there were many varieties of apple, I presume some local and heritage ones. They stole the show being in perfect full bloom.

Now what I'm going to do, because I have a lot of photos and I don't want to bore you to death, is put the rest of the photos from this visit into a Picasa/Google album and give you the link at the end. I've already whittled these photos down from 176 to 50 (!!) so if you'd like to see more, I have just captioned them where necessary but there is no more blurb from me. Believe me, if you like public gardens, it's worth looking at the rest. More importantly, it's worth visiting here yourself!

But first, I leave you with this gorgeous Robin. I have never managed to get a photo of a Robin before, but I might have guessed there would be some tame bird life around the restaurant terrace! Sure enough, there were Dunnocks, Blackbirds and Sparrows around willing to let you take their photo if you shared a few crumbs with them. Here this Robin is having a bit of my shortbread whilst we sat and enjoyed tea on the very pleasant terrace.

The moment the Robin leapt off the chair towards the crumbs!

Yummy shortbread!

For the rest of the photos, please click on this link to my album. Thank you for looking!

Friday, 15 July 2016

MoHo Trip No. 2 La Turballe, Part 2

Day 3

Our third day dawned cloudy and grey and was to remain so all day, unfortunately. We had planned to visit the medieval fortified town of Guérande so off we set. We were lucky to find some MoHo parking nearby - this is the downfall of having a motorhome - it's less the length than the height which is a problem as so many car parks have height barriers, particularly by the coast. Not something we'd ever really noticed in a car before!

A map of the walled section of town taken from Wikipedia - wish I'd looked at this before we visited! It's so easy to walk around in circles in these places and you wonder if you missed anything! I think that we saw most of it though.

When we were there the market was just finishing and packing up - but not before I spotted these eggs for sale which interested me! How much?!! I need to open a market stall...... :-)

Loved the suit of armour and cute half timbered houses are to die for.

We decided to lunch out and it was moules frites for K. I stupidly ordered a galette, and it was every bit as boring and tasteless as every other galette I've ever eaten. Why do I do this?!!

K outside the medieval city walls.

That afternoon we did more stooging around and came across some lagoons with interesting bird life, luckily in a place where we were able to park nearby. I forget where this was exactly. The Grey Plover below was a lifer bird and I've only seen Dunlin once before in northern Spain - well any waders get me excited, except for Avocets and Black Winged Stilts as I've seen so many, especially here and the gulf of Morbihan. Doesn't that sound awful, but you do get really blasé about them!!

However, I've never seen an Avocet doing a mating dance before. I should have videod it as it was very funny, and photos just don't show it like it was.

A lifer Grey Plover top and bottom left, with Dunlins galore on the right.

An Avocet again top left, bottom right is a Ringed Plover and top right and bottom left are Black-tailed Godwits in colourful breeding plumage.

My OH's photo of the Black-tailed Godwit.

Day 4

The sun returned on our last day, and not only that - it turned surprisingly warm! We returned slowly up the coast in the direction of home. We didn't visit the town of La Turballe but decided to stop at Piriac sur Mer a bit further up the coast. What a surprise - I had been expecting a typical touristy seaside town but in fact the town had the label "Petite Cité de Caractère", and character it had a-plenty. 

The port

The sea front overlooking the port area.

Up the many back streets with many beautiful granite houses. It is a very pretty place to stroll around, not big but well worth a visit if in the area. Plenty of restaurants and some tourist shops, but not enough to spoil the character of the little town.

There are sandy beaches here too but it was low tide so all the people who go out with their buckets and spades were out. But not like the bucket and spade brigade in England (kids and sandcastles!) - when you see people out and about like this they are collecting shellfish. If they are doing so in sand and mud I think it's cockles they are collecting, but thanks to my camera zoom I was able to conclude that here it is rock oysters that are being harvested off the rocks.

A bit further up the coast at the Pointe de Merquel near Mesquer, we had a delightful stroll beside the sea and next to a field which apparently had a particular type of orchid in it (purple something? and which I forgot to take a photo of). That's because we were too busy watching the Linnets flitting about and seeing what other birds we could spot. 

On the sea side we spotted this Wheatear.

And in the field I managed to capture this male Linnet in full breeding plumage. There were other males around which were not nearly as colourful as this one. I don't know why some were so much redder than others?

My final photos for the day were these Turnstones sitting on the rocks beside the Pointe - it was fun watching them as the waves were washing over the rocks at times and the birds would be floating around before the wave went out and they could resume their places on the rocks.

So that ends our four day trip to this part of the world. We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit and on top of that, were beginning to get to grips with this motorhome camping lark. :-)

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

MoHo Trip No. 2 La Turballe, Part 1

This trip was taken back in April (18th-21st) - I am working at clearing a backlog of travel posts. I'm just glad I have something to write about other than my garden!

This time we set off for the coast around the border of the departments of Morbihan and Loire Atlantique. We'd picked out a camp site in advance but there is no need to book in April as they are practically empty outside of school holidays. We visited this area once before as this coastline is very close to the Parc Naturel Régional de Brière, where we visited a bird reserve a couple of years ago, but didn't see any of the coastal area except for one place, Le Croisic, better accessed by car than motorhome.

Day 1

Loving the fact you can pull into a layby and brew up - no more ridiculously expensive motorway/main road service station prices. You have your own loo too!

Lunchtime and we stumbled across a lovely spot just by chance. This is still in Morbihan and is called the Anse (cove) de Camaret, and is close to Penestin. It's right by where the Vilaine river flows out into the sea. It was warm and the blackthorn was in full bloom with bees buzzing around it - a really quiet heavenly place.

What looks like a really white sandy beach is in fact made up of many crushed oyster shells! I wouldn't want to walk barefoot around here. Like most places around Brittany and parts of the Atlantic coast oyster and mussel farming abound, and at low tide the poles, ropes and baskets that the various shellfish are grown on are visible. Flat bottomed boats are common sights going out to the oyster and mussel beds.

We stooged along the coast that afternoon and when we got to the campsite it was really busy!! There were only two other vehicles there and parked nowhere near us. The campsite, Les Chardons Bleus, was a 3 star municipal one with a nice swimming pool and a bar (closed in low season) and fairly cheap. But it was its location which was so stunning - you couldn't see the sea from the site as it was behind the dunes, but a short walk up over the dunes and there was the most magnificent long sandy beach. Coupled with being next to a pine forest and across the road from the salt marshes, it suited us right down to the ground.

Off we went to explore the Marais. As well as oyster and mussel farming, another traditional coastal occupation in marshy areas is salt making, and the Guérande area is famous for its salt, made in saltpans created out of the salt marshes. The sign says 'The salt marshes of Guerande Classed Site. Thank you for respecting this fragile environment and the work of the salt workers.

P.S. Is there an English word for a salt worker?

We'd been very lucky with the weather this day. The lower pic shows the salt lagoons. They look not a lot different from the rice paddies we saw when birding in the Ebro Delta in Spain!

The only bird of note during this early evening walk was a Cirl Bunting. The two photos below show my photo taken with the Canon SX50 and Keith's photo taken with his then new megazoom camera, a Nikon Coolpix P900.

It seems that wherever there is a marsh, there's Highland cattle! I'm not sure why that is.

That evening we christened our new little gas barbecue - which involved me sitting inside with the central heating on, and my OH outside in the dark and cold cooking sausages and burgers. Just how it should be. :-)

Day 2

This day we decided to revisit the bird reserve at Saint-Malo de Guersac in the Brière Natural Park. Suffice to say, we were not amused after having parked up and walked nearly a kilometer up a track to find the place shut. Not a notice anywhere explaining why. The only bird life that we could see were these Greylag Geese with goslings - I could have tried walking closer for a better photo but I didn't want to disturb them. When we got back to the little village we found a sign in a window saying the reserve was closed due to flooding. Fat lot of use that sign was for prewarning us! This was a big disappointment as it's the only place where you can really watch birds in this large wetland, unless you go out in a boat on an organised tour.

We drove through the park and stopped at one of the little villages which are in effect built on small islands in the marsh. Thatched roofs are common here given the reedbeds everywhere - very pretty to see but the tatty old thatch is the most interesting for seeing what is growing in amongst the moss - in this case it was a species of sedum that was flowering. Talk about a green roof! 

It's best if you are looking on a pc or similar to click on the photos to view them larger.

Back at the campsite we went off for more exploring. This time we wanted to see what was over the dunes. We were quite amazed at just how fabulous the beach was, and thought about how heaving it would be during the summer holidays! But we will avoid any campsites then like the plague. :-)

View of La Turballe in the distance. I hate sandy paths like this as I just can't walk on soft sand - it's absolutely exhausting.

On the other side of the dunes, a view of the beach looking towards La Turballe.

In the pine forest it was a bit disappointing as there was little life, except for some cuckoos flying through. One stopped and perched not far from us so I managed this one photo before it flew away. The other bird in the bottom right pic is a Turtle Dove.

I loved this! Someone had made a fort/den/camp in the forest out of fallen wood. It was fabulous and so much attention to detail. I wonder who made it....

On the Marais side of the forest the vegetation was very unusual - kind of like heathland but different. Where the tiny pine trees are growing the vegetation which looked silver from a distance is some kind of lichen I think.

I'll finish off at the end of day 2 with a couple of pics of us - I think we tend to forget that we can take photos together using the timer!

And a selfie of yours truly. I'm still trying to get to grips with taking selfies. We also discovered that our MoHo step (Ikea, about €2) makes a good low coffee table!

Part 2 to come shortly with days 3 and 4.