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.
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.
The lake at Clumber Park
Autumn Beech leaves – Clumber Park
Sunlit oak leaves at Clumber
Oak leaves at Clumber
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.
Brambles leaves at Clumber
Autumn Beech leaves
Leaves at Clumber Lakes
Walkers 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.
The Lime Avenue – Clumber
Clumber in Autumn
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
Houses at Hardwick village
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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.
Lake at Clumber Park
How the other half lived
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.
The walk started with me scanning the treetops for greenfinches, which were calling loudly, though they were quickly chased away by Fieldfares. I couldn’t get a decent photo because the twigs prevented the autofocus from working. That was followed by a photo of a blurred dot over the abbey as I failed to get a good shot of a circling buzzard. Bird photography is a bit trickier than buildings.
We decided to walk round the lake, a route which includes walking through woodland. The first birds we saw on the walk were eating food someone had put out for them on a picnic table. We saw blue tits, Great tits, chaffinches and (something I’d hoped to see) a Marsh Tit. I’m sure it was a Marsh Tit, though Willow Tits are very similar in appearance. In fact, Victorian ornithologists didn’t even know they were two species until 1897. The glossy cap and white stripe on the beak (which you can’t see on this photo) are good pointers to it being a Marsh Tit.
Marsh Tit – Rufford Abbey
Great tit – Rufford Abbey
Further round, we crossed several bridges and took pictures of Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and Black Headed Gulls, though the light wasn’t very good and they were mostly blurred. many of the gulls were in their 1st winter, as shown by the brown feathers amongst the grey and white. I find I have difficulty with autofocus on subjects with white bits – the Coots all came out looking like the heads were blurred. I also had trouble with a Magpie and the heads of the Great Crested Grebes.
Teasel – food source for goldfinches
Small Lake – Rufford Abbey
Black-headede gull – 1st winterERA
On the main lake we saw Great-Crested Grebes in winter plumage and Greylag geese, finally walking round to the shop and tea room (where you can buy duck and goose food). We bought Bakewell tarts and tea, crumbling the pastry from the edge to feed the birds and provoking a minor riot.
Bird feeding riot at Rufford Abbey
Great Crested Grebes on Rufford Lake
Mill race sluice at Rufford Abbey
Adult Black-headed gull – winter plumage
When the boys were small (oh, how easily I fall into nostalgia mode) the Canada Geese were both numerous and aggressive, but these days there are only a few about, though they were quite aggressive in the pursuit of food from small children. There was also a small group of Egyptian Geese, which I always thought must have escaped from a collection somewhere. When I was searching for information for the link I found out they’ve been breeding in England for around 300 years, so it’s possible they might have been proper residents.
There also used to be a lot of rats around because people were over-feeding the birds. At one point the water by the tearoom used to be full of floating bread and the surroundings full of notices about not over-feeding. The current lack of notices suggests that people have become more sensible, as does the lack of rats.
You can currently buy duck and goose food from the shop for £3.50 a bag. Let’s say that at that price I’d rather be a seller than a buyer, as the bags don’t look very big. Next time I go I will take some of my own bird food. Once the cold weather takes hold the smaller birds will appreciate it, and are happy to comedown and feed. I may take a little bread too, but there really isn’t much danger of the ducks and geese going hungry.
The featured image is a Tufted duck – the white bits on his back are the water droplets from his recent dive.