Bluebells, Rufford Abbey

I’d planned to post this last month, when the actual bluebells were still in bloom, but as I’m otherwise without a post this week, here they are. This is Rufford Abbey, outside Nottingham, one of my favourite places to walk in the area.


My partner and I are currently planning to move house, and not just a few streets away but completely out of the area. As a result, a lot of our trips this year have felt a bit like ‘this might be the last time we see such-and-such’. As we often miss the bluebells at Rufford anyway, that’s incredibly likely this time, so it was a real pleasure to see them in such fine form this year.

What I Did On My Holidays (by Amy, age 25 1/2)

Time for a few photos. Last week, my partner and I had a weekend away in the county of Somerset, enjoying the lovely countryside and towns, a lovely B&B and some not-so-lovely grey, dreary weather (you can’t haven’t everything when holidaying in the UK, it seems). Here’s what we got up to.

We visited the historic town of Wells, browsed its market, circled its cathedral and visited the oldest intact residential street in Europe.

Next we visited Cheddar Gorge

…and saw goats!

In a rare moment of sunshine, we stopped at the impressive Stanton Drew stone circle, the second largest Neolithic stone circle (after Avebury) in the UK. (I’m in this one for scale!)

And on our last day, we managed a five mile walk around the estate and gardens at Stourhead, with its follies and grottoes galore (pictured is the Temple of Apollo).

There really is an impressive and varied amount to do and see in this particular corner of the UK, so we’re hoping to go back for a second visit – with better weather next time, hopefully!

Walking in the Peak District

Where my partner and I live, we’re lucky enough to be more-or-less on the doorstep of the beautiful Peak District. We’ve been trying to get out there more this summer, to go walking and exploring, and I thought I’d share a few of the photos.

[For anyone who lives in the vicinity of the Peaks, we’ve found this a useful website for walks.]

These are some of the hills above Wolfscote Dale, which remind me of similar countryside in the Yorkshire Dales, where I grew up. You might be able to get an idea from this photo just how changeable the weather was on this particular walk – we had glorious sunshine and blue skies one minute, and got absolutely soaked the next!

Here we have a pool in the Haywood, which we crossed by stepping stones…

…and on the same, very varied, walk, this is the view from the top of Curbar Edge, on a pleasant but hazy morning. This part of the walk reminded me a great deal of the Roaches, which we visited only a few months ago, on an equally pleasant but much clearer day.


Newgrange & Knowth

So, I’m back home after my short holiday in Ireland. We had a great time there, both in the countryside and in Dublin, with lovely hotels, fantastic food and probably better weather than the UK was having.

The main reason we picked the part of Ireland that we did was to see its Neolithic monuments, particularly the passage tombs at Newgrange and Knowth, beside the Boyne river. Both are fantastic sites, particularly the brief trip inside the mound at Newgrange, with its atmospheric lighting and beautiful stone carvings. Both tombs are older than Stonehenge, in a striking location, and very impressive – although I should point out that the white facade of Newgrange was reconstructed in the 1970s, and its interpretation is more than a bit divisive amongst archaeologists. Anyway, there’s more information at that link, for those who are interested (the photos are worth a look, for one thing, to make up for the dreariness of the weather in those we took!).

These two photos show Newgrange’s exterior, and demonstrate just how big it is (and there’s that white facade that may or may not have ever existed in the Neolithic – as I pointed out, and as is noted on Wikipedia, how would Neolithic technology have managed to hold so many small stones up so neatly, and at such a steep angle? At Knowth, where similar pieces of quartz were found, they’ve been instead interpreted as a pavement area in front of the entrance).

As I mentioned before, both sites are also home to some stunning rock carvings. This particular one – probably the most famous from the site – marks the entrance to the passage tomb itself at Newgrange.

As with many such Neolithic sites, both Newgrange and Knowth are fairly touristy, and it’s difficult to get a sense of what the atmosphere would have been like at them when they were constructed. Still, both are incredibly impressive and well worth a look if you’re in the vicinity.

The Roaches, Staffordshire

This is going to be a bit of a drive-by post, as a combination of extra shifts at the day-job, birthday present preparations, a broken washing machine and a trip away this weekend have made this week a mad dash (and I’ve got, at last estimate, about 5000 words left to go to finish the first draft of my novel! eek!).

So, as I don’t have a lot to say this week, here’s a photo – taken by yours truly, just last weekend – of the glorious view from a ridge known as the Roaches, in rural Staffordshire, on the edge of the Peak District. Enjoy.

Rufford Abbey, Redux

After last week’s spring photos of Rufford Abbey, I thought I’d post a couple more to brighten up the blog. Photography is one of those creative things I do when I need a break from writing. It makes a nice change to be able to simply take a photo, make a couple of tweaks and call it done – rather than endlessly redrafting a piece of writing, never being entirely sure it’s ‘done’ until it sells (and even then seeing improvements to be made every time you look at it).














Credit for the teasels beside the water goes to my partner, Ash – I just cropped the original and tidied it up in Photoshop. As for the swan – I’m assuming it was a male, and it has to have been the biggest swan I’ve ever seen. It’s not clear from the photo, when you can’t compare it to the others in the vicinity, but it had a really huge head and a neck thicker than my wrist. Not the elegance you usually associate with swans!

Spring at Rufford Abbey

We’re having some absolutely glorious weather here at the moment, so I’ve been trying to spend a bit less time at the computer and more outside. As ever, being outside usually means having my camera with me, so here are a couple of photos from today’s jaunt to Rufford Abbey, just outside Nottingham.















I still can’t quite believe we’re still in March – the temperatures here now are what we usually get in the summer (i.e. pleasantly warm, but not really very hot). Still, all this sunshine makes some lovely photo opportunities, and a great start to my favourite season!

I’ve also just noticed that this is my 200th post, so a couple of photos of the great outdoors seem like a good way to celebrate!

Photos: Northumberland

After my last picture post, featuring two shots of the beautiful island of Lindisfarne, I wanted to show a couple more from the Northumberland holiday. The first is, actually, another from Holy Island. Down on the shore near the castle, people had been building these little stone sculptures, which were both simple and very striking. This one was my favourite:


On another day, we took a wonderful boat trip out to the Farne Islands, which are a haven for nesting sea birds. After we got over the smell (which was unpleasant but fairly easy to get used to) and the attacking terns (which were defending their chicks, which had a bad habit of wandering aimlessly over the paths), Inner Farne was a spectacular place to take photos. Out of the ones I took, this one is definitely my favourite:

What can I say but… Puffins! They’re fantastic little birds, amusing and attractive in equal measure. They also seemed supremely unconcerned about all the people wandering around on their island, and were quite happy to pose for photos.

That’s it, for the moment, for my planned photo posts. Unfortunately, getting back to novel writing is going to leave me without much spare time for photography this summer, but the holiday was a great chance to remind myself just how much I love being behind the camera. And how brilliant puffins are!

Photos: Lindisfarne

Picking just a few photos out of the 350 or so that my partner and I took on holiday in Northumberland has been tricky, but here are the first two of my half dozen favourites, taken on Lindisfarne, or Holy Island.

The first monastery was built on Lindisfarne in AD635. The priory which remains today (in ruins, as you can see) was built in the 11th century and is believed to have been something of a ‘test’ for Durham Cathedral, which was built afterwards in the same style.


Also on the island is Lindisfarne Castle, which was an Elizabethan fort, later converted into a home and now open to the public. It’s perched up on a rocky hill, with absolutely stunning views across the island and the Northumbrian coastline.

I’ve got a couple more holiday photos to post (including puffins!), but these two give an excellent taste of the beautiful weather, scenery and history which Northumberland offers.