Author Archives: wherefivevalleysmeet

Trebah, Cornwall

Trebah is one of the ‘Great Cornish Gardens’ – climate and geography being the keys to its success. The secret elements are its sheltered wooded slopes, and closeness to the warmth of the Gulf Stream in the Helford estuary. This illustration is a good indicator of the way both the house and garden lie in […]

Happy Christmas to Everyone

Kelmscott Manor – William Morris’s home in the country

via wikipedia The frontispiece of the Kelmscott Press Edition of ‘News from Nowhere’ was based on a drawing by Charles Gere. William Morris designed the type and ornamental borders. When we sat beside the River Thames recently, enjoying our picnic lunch and contemplating William Morris’s home in the meadows beyond the trees, we never envisaged that […]

Ring a Ring o’ Roses

illustration by Jessie Wilcox-Smith As a small child you probably danced around to this nursery rhyme ending up in a heap of laughter at the end when you all fell down. However, there is a much more sinister tale connected with this childish rhyme which I was reminded of when visiting childhood haunts in Derbyshire […]

Strawberry Hill

“It is a plaything house…….and it is the prettiest bauble you ever saw.” Horace Walpole, June 1747 Walpole was the dilettante son of Britain’s first Prime Minister and author of the first horror novel, The Castle of Otranto. Horace Walpole took a lease on a small 17th century cottage with 5 acres in Twickenham a […]

Simply apricots and lavender

I am cross with myself for not bringing a box of apricots back home with me from our recent holiday in France, especially after discovering how simple it is to make la confiture d’abricot the ‘French way’. I have seen recipes which suggest putting a split vanilla pod in the mix, or some lemon juice, […]

Botanical Giants

How can I possibly convey the size of this Giant Hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum – later in the post I will call on some help from H.  Introduced from the Caucasus to Britain in the 19th century for ornamental reasons it is a spectacular plant but with a very dark side to its nature. This giant is […]

Steam Train nostalgia in Scotland

  The Strathspey Steam Train is now boarding at Platform 1  for the Spey Valley at 3.30pm

Blue Magic – If you go down in the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise!

Nature creates blue magic around this time of year in British forests and cliff tops stretching from Scotland in the north to Cornwall in the far south –  it’s bluebell time. British bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside act. You cannot pick them or dig them up. If you […]

Oxford roofs and spires

“That sweet city with her dreaming spires” Matthew Arnold – Professor of Poetry at Oxford Brasenose College All Souls College Exeter college chapel via wikipedia The Bodleian library In the distance it is possible to make out the river Thames meandering through the trees on the right We took our granddaughter out for a birthday […]