It was difficult knowing what to do with my afternoon off. By the time I’d been round Aldi to track down their prize-winning mince pies (which weren’t that good in the end) and eaten lunch, there wasn’t much time left.
Clumber is a bit too far, so I thought I’d have a look at the oaks of Sherwood Forest. Well, was I in for a surprise. The car park is closed, the new visitor centre is in place and they now have a new car park. It’s about 400 yards away from the visitor centre and across a main road. When you get to the visitor centre it’s a long way from the proper forest. I say this from distant observation as I couldn’t be bothered with the walk.
Several people feel the same way if Trip Advisor is to be believed.
In shock, I tried Budby Flash. It’s nothing much, on paper, just some flooded subsidence with a few birds, but it can be quite magical at times.
Budby Flash, Notts
The sun tried to be entertaining, a flock of tits came to frustrate my camera skills and despite a lack of funding to build a visitor centre I left feeling cold but happy.
This is what happens whe you are on a mission to post every day, when your wife is going mad looking for something and you can’t concentrate because of the noise and bustle. Yes, twenty four days into the 100 day self-imposed challenge and I’m sticking in three photos to make sure I don’tmiss a day.
Julia was working today so I had an afternoon to myself. This is obviously a mixed blessing – things are usually better with Julia, but they also tend to involve housework or shopping and neither of them rank high on my list of preferred activities.
The featured image is the Lime Avenue, planted in 1840 with 1,296 Common Limes, it’s two miles long and the longest double Lime Avenue in Europe. That presumably means there are longer single avenues and longer double ones elsewhere in the world.
You may notice that there are black bands on the trees – these are grease bands, applied in 1906 to foil insect attacks. They have lasted a long time.
Unfortunately the sun was a bit low and I didn’t have a lot of time, so it wasn’t as productive as it could have been.
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On the other hand, I do have a lot of notes for haiku, which was one of the things I was hoping for, so it wasn’t a complete waste.
It was school holidays so there were a lot of kids shouting and getting underfoot so my haiku may include some unconventional subject matter such as the benefits of family planning and the use of baseball bats.
We had an excellent cream tea at Clumber Park on Monday – our second visit of the year. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
National Trust cream tea
Rodda’s – what else?
National Trust jam
Clumber Park cream tea
There are many things I could say about the National Trust, and they wouldn’t all be compliments, but they do know how to put on a good cream tea. At Clumber they may have staffing issues, as we’ve found on both visits, but the teas, when you eventually get them, are excellent.
To be fair, if you take scones, jam and cream it should be hard to get it wrong. On both visits the food has been excellent but the service has stuttered a bit.
We had 13 packages to send off this morning, including two very expensive bank notes and two very cheap football cards (my labours of last week bearing fruit!).
Then I took Julia to lunch and decided to get some use out of our National Trust membership. Last year, we didn’t get a lot of use out of them. We went to Clumber Park, which isn’t far from the spot where I took the bluebell pictures yesterday.
It’s home to a number of things including a lake, which I photographed a few times last year, and a chapel which featured in a few photos.
This time we decided to visit the kitchen garden. It’s an excellent place, and very well designed. There’s a massive lean-to greenhouse up against a south-facing wall and a gentle slope to let the cold air flow away downhill. I didn’t walk all the way down, but I’m pretty sure there will be holes in the wall to let the cold air flow away. They designed things better in those days.
The woods have really pinged into life since the frost and we are finally seeing some good autumn colour. My camera, of course, is doing its best to take the colour back out. I really don’t know what goes through the minds of camera designers, but they really seem to hate colour.
I first noticed this when taking a sunset with my old camera. A deep red, cloud-flecked sky behind Sandal Castle became a pale pink sky with pale grey wisps.
Sunlit oak leaves at Clumber
Oak leaves at Clumber
The lake at Clumber Park
Autumn Beech leaves – Clumber Park
In the old days of film you used to buy Kodak for restrained colour or Fuji if you wanted something brighter. These days, with my camera at least, you can get the same effect from selecting “Scene” mode. I selected the “Cuisine” option, which brightens all the colours. It’s meant for taking pictures of food but it seems to work for autumn leaves too. Some, like the oak leaves didn’t need help. With others I forgot to use the setting. It did help with the landscapes but even with this help the colours in the photographs are more restrained than they were in real life.
Walkers at Clumber
Leaves at Clumber Lakes
Autumn Beech leaves
Brambles leaves at Clumber
Julia had a Safeguarding Course at Worksop today so it seemed like a good time to visit Clumber Park. It’s the home of an 87 acre lake and the longest Lime Tree Avenue in Europe. It was planted in 1840 and is 2 miles long with 1,296 common limes.
Clumber in Autumn
The Lime Avenue – Clumber
Clumber in Autumn
At the end of the lake is a shallow section with a number of tree stumps and drowned trees. These date from the 1980s when subsidence from coal workings dropped the level of the ground. The new low-lying areas filled up and the trees dies. A few still stand to provide perches for cormorants and gulls.
Drowned tree at Clumber Park
I read a haiku today, by coincidence. I can’t remember it, but it was about how maple leaves are at their best just before they fall. I wish the same could be said for me.
In Japanese they have the word koyo – autumn foliage.
Stilton cheese improves with age, but knees do not. That point was brought home today as I ate cheese and biscuits tonight after a walk by the lake at Clumber Park. Fifteen years ago I visited the lake for the first time and walked right round it in an afternoon.
Today we went to Clumber Park and selected a suitable car to allow us to park close to where we wanted to be. This saved time and pain, and took us directly to the end where all the birds had clustered last week. This time, of course, they all seemed to be up at the other end.
In two visits I estimate we’ve walked the equivalent of halfway round the lake. I am reminded of the words of Roger McGough:
No, old people do not walk slowly because they have plenty of time.
We left the main road at the fourth sign (it’s a big place) and followed the network of roads through the estate. First we used the Lime Tree Avenue, the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. At “over” or “just under” 2 miles long (depending on where you get your information) and 1,296 trees it’s impressive, though it wouldn’t be practical for my garden.
From there we took a left turn, went through a checkpoint, where we had our cards scanned, and pottered off through the woods, where we saw a buzzard lurking in a tree on the edge. Naturally it flew off as I tried to get the camera on it.
Unused farm buildings
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Houses at Hardwick village
Finally we reached the village of Hardwick, which is slightly confusing, but nothing to do with Hardwick Hall. There are toilets here and a mobile cafe working out of a converted Landrover. This map might help – it’s better than the others I’ve used.
It’s a great walk round this end of the lake, with trees on one side of you and the lake on the other. Over the years this end of the lake has been remodelled by mining subsidence (the estate of the Dukes of Newcastle literally being built on their coal mines) and has a number of skeletal trees standing in the water. When I walked this way fifteen years ago these trees were streaked with white from the many cormorants that sat in them. These days they are cleaner and were occupied by gulls and a male Sparrowhawk. I did see one cormorant, but it flew along low to the water and carried on flying without stopping for a photograph.
Shoveler at Clumber Park
Drowned tree at Clumber Park
Right at the end, as the lake tapers to nothing, we found a group of Shovelers and Goosanders, which added a bit of interest to the walk.
We had a variety of weather on the way round, including rain, sleet and snow. At one point we even had snow that was so icy the noise of it hitting leaves was even louder than the conversation being held by two retired teachers. It appears the school has gone down the pan since they retired. We knew that while they were over 50 yards away – they must have been games or drama teachers with that ability to project their voices.
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Swan and Gadwall and snow
We decided to call it a day due to the snow and call at The Big Fish at Ollerton. The lure of warmth and food was greater than a look round the Kitchen Garden in the snow. It’s a good place to eat fish and chips (actually better than some coastal chip shops we’ve been to) and there’s nothing like a nice piece of haddock for restoring the spirits on a wintry day.
Next time we’ll look at the Kitchen Garden and the 135 types of rhubarb.
We decided to use our new National Trust membership yesterday with a late visit to Clumber Park.
There is no house now. After a number of problems, including fires, declining fortune and death duties the house was demolished in 1938. A house that once had 105 rooms (and a dining room that seated 150) was brought to nothing, though statues and fountains were removed for reuse. The contents were sold – the Library sale raised £70,000 and the rest of the contents for £60,000 – a total of £130,000 (around £6,000,000 at 2017 values). There are rumours that the house as rebuilt in Arizona, but nobody can say where.
It wasn’t just a house that disappeared, a whole way of life disappeared along with the houses. It wasn’t just this house that went either. Since 1900 0ver a thousand country houses have been lost. Causes include social change (lack of servants), declining income, taxation (with death duties up to 80%) and damage from the military during the war.
Despite this, there is still plenty to see, including the Chapel (which looks more like a Church to me) and a four acre walled kitchen garden which contains a 450 foot greenhouse and 135 varieties of rhubarb.
How the other half lived
Lake at Clumber Park
Lake at Clumber Park
There is also a Lake, which is what we went to see. It’s 87 acres, so it’s a lot bigger than the duck pond at Arnot Hill.
To be honest, despite the Greek temple and bridge, the lake isn’t that interesting. The bird life was also rather dull – no Mandarin, no cross-breeds and no Pochards. The trees on the lake’s edge did, however, provide food and shelter for a flock of Bramblings, which was worth the trip as I haven’t seen any for years. They have a profile very much like a Chaffinch, and come to visit from Scandinavia each winter.
They kept flying round, making it difficult to count them, but there were about 40 of them. Despite that it was still tricky getting a good photo.
There was also a small flock of Greenfinches masquerading as something interesting.