SNV30239

SNV30239

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Social life of a dog days......

My dog has a better social life than me at the moment....granted, it's a slower pace of life, but then she doesn't have to go out to work.

Boo is now four months old now and a really sociable little soul. She loves to go out to meet other other dogs...even though she's never met them before..

.and even though they're bigger than her....


Her new best friend is Roxy (occasionally known as Poxy Roxy when she comes to defecate on our lawn) who lives next door.....

Roxy is a Staffordshire Bull terrier who thinks she is working cocker spaniel, but who has a body builder's shoulders. She also has jaws which could snap my arm in half if she chose to, but she's as soft as butter.

Boo loves going out to see Roxy, and they really are funny to watch....mind you Boo has learnt to be respectful, mind her ps and qs...and then everything in the garden is lovely.

But Boo's other close friend also lives in the village...and I've never seen such a close friendship between a goat and a puppy before.



Boo adores Billy, and Billy seems to know we're on our way.He whizzes upto the gate, puts his head down, so that I can scratch that spot between his horns....and he simply adores Boo licking the top of his head.

Boo's evening walk is similar to an Italian passegiata...she strolls around the village graciously allowing everyone to stroke her, and then she forgets to put an act and tries furiously to jump into everyone's arms for a cuddle.

Her favourite walk lies beyond the gate about  a hundred feet from our cottage. Across the fields, on what used to be the main road to London.......well, I am talking in mediaeval times!











Her other favourite walk is the mile long walk to the next village..by the fields
where there is a pub we can sit outside to chat to other dogs and humans....here's my eldest son marching purposefully to the pub on Sunday.....





Every day brings a new meaning now that Boo is in our lives....and  who'd have thought that Boo and I would be best friends with a goat?

But for Boo, every day is a new adventure...what's next?



She's out walking with my husband at the moment....I wonder where they've got to?


Today's track is Take a Walk by Passion Pit....love, love , love


Friday, 20 July 2012

other days at the Botanic Garden

Imagine the early years of the twentieth century. Four houses being built in the Arts and Craft Style, each with four acres of gardens for wealthy merchants and industralists. It was a golden age for plantmanship, and I'm sure there must have been some upmanship between the owners of those houses called Beaumont, Southmeade, The Knoll and Hastings.


 Here's one of them.....Southmeade



Fast forward to 1947 when all all the separate gardens were merged into one sixteen acre garden and became the University of Leicester Botanic Garden.The houses became halls of residence for students.

 Fast forward again to when my three children and I  spent hours here over the years, learning, sharing, playing and yomping around the garden in every sort of weather.  Different spaces for different seasons....in summer on dry days, the children would all spend an hour or so roly polying down the bank in front of The Knoll.



The lawns weren't just a place to romp around though....they learnt which trees were which, to estimate...how tall do you think that tree is.? How many times bigger than you is it?
 There's some silver birches in the distance, and one day my daughter who was about six then, suddenly starting singing a lovely Canadian song "Land of the silver birch" which she'd learnt at school that day. And I still start humming that song to myself even now, years later as I walk past them.....




This is one of my favourite places ...so tranquil, so pretty in high summer, a place to sit and reflect....when I'm on my own that is.When the gang were younger , this was a place where I was always on tenterhooks - my hyperactive eldest son had a habit of falling in water anywhere....

But it was also where he and his brother and sister learnt about nature, about life cycles...they would  sit for ages looking at the frogspawn...and demand to go back each week by week to wait to see frogs.My youngest boy learnt to count here, by seeing how many fish he could find....



Meanwhile I would just enjoy the view....but it winter when the pond froze over they found out how dangerous the ice could be....thanks to my friend (another Bridget) who, warning our huge gang of nine children, accidentally putting her foot through the ice..accompanied by hysterics from everyone else there.



On  cold winter walks around the gardens , so icy you could see your breath in the air, and the children barrell shaped with so many layers of clothes on.....this was the place to warm up ...the cacti and succulent house...or the cowboy house as the boys would call it...




My eldest son would dive in, and start speaking in an American accent, using his fingers as an imaginary gun...and would pretend he was in the wild west. He loved it in here....but he also learnt about the real history of the wild west and geography.


The glasshouses belong to Beaumont House. In it's glory days it was known as the finest garden in and around Leicestershire; it employed ten gardeners - five outside and five in the greenhouses. Nowdays, there's four gardeners....for the whole sixteen acres.


I've learnt so much from this garden too.....in  the herb garden, the herbaceous borders, and it's always lovely to see the national collections of Skimmia, Aubrieta, and hardy Fuchsia .To see mature plants in all their glory and what plantings work together.

But in this garden that I learnt to sit and really look, to relax in the tranquil gardens and appreciate the legacy of those gardeners from Edwardian times.This is an absolute jewel of a garden....



Ahem,....but when I said really relax.....I also learnt what it's like to lose a child here...and minutes and minutes of panic seemed like hours as I frantically searched for the eldest boy...........I found him here, hiding.....grinning away as he thought it was the best game of hide and seek ever. The thing is, we weren't playing that game at the time!

And when I found this place again the other week, I couldn't help but smile ...even so, my heart began to beat faster as I remembered the sheer fear of thinking he'd disappeared....



The Botanic Garden is open 10 until 5pm in the summer, 10- 4pm in the winter and it's free to get in.
University of Leicester Botanic Garden,Stoughton Drive South,
Oadby, Leics.
LE2 2NE

Back to the silver birches  for today's track....This is the song my daughter sang EVERY time we visited the garden....!

This version is by Michael Mitchell...Land of the Silver Birch



Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A day of looking at things differently

 I can't count the hours I've spent over the years in the University of Leicester's Botanic Garden. It's a favourite place of mine ....and I like to think I know every inch of it , all sixteen acres of lawns, trees, national collections, and glasshouses. Come rain, come shine, I've been there.

But going there for the launch of the annual Sculpture Exhibition has given me the chance to look at the garden with new eyes. It's called "Interesting times".

Before I saw the sculptures though, a glass of icy cold Pimms on a warm Saturday lunchtime accompanied a warm welcome from Bob Burgess, the University  Vice Chancellor theme and the curator, Almuth Tebbenhoff. Almuth chose as her theme, the hubris of consumerism in a fragile world .




After lunch, a delicious few hours wandering around, sometimes following a map of where the sculptures lay, sometimes not....

This piece "Carapace" by Eilis O 'Connell was one  I spent a long time looking at. Carapace: the hard upper shell of a tortoise or a crustacean...I was really intrigued by this. The shape, the way the light played on the stainless steel and



and the handwoven stainless steel cable. Above all, it was so tactile....



"Open Pillar "is made of fabricated , painted steel by Almuth Tebbenhoff, the only piece of hers in the exhibition....a beautiful location for quite a stunning piece of work....




I came upon This "Man with Potential Selves (111)" by Sean  Henry quite by chance..such detail, ,so well executed....and so talked about as others walked along the path. I loved his works





And his other piece Walking Man had an equally arresting  impact....




There were a few exhibits in a wild part of the Botanic Garden from Paul Tecklenberg and Mikey Georgeson, which attracted alot of interest...lots of visitors bending down, knees bent, bottoms up  to see inside the birdboxes. "Avian Intelligence " displays photographic prints in what look like bird boxes.Intriguing.....





I didn't photograph every piece of sculpture ....I want you to go and see all the exhibits for yourself. Sixteen sculptors have been brought together by Almuth.....Nick Turvey, David Worthington, Sean Henry, Ann Christopher, Katherine Gili, Mary Bourne,Halimi Cassell, Ann Christopher, Simon Hitchens,Brigitte Jrack, ALena Matejaka, Atsuo Okamoto, Keith Rand, Richard Trupp, William Tucker and David Worthington..
The 2012 Sculpture in the Garden exhibition is open from 1 July to 28 October at the Btoanic Garden. It's  open seven days a week and free to visit except on special event days. Do try and visit.....

More about the Botanic Garden in another post....but in the meantime, some music from Skalpel....called "Sculpture".....dreamy, atmospheric....just like my afternoon at the sculpture exhibition.....





Sunday, 1 July 2012

Blaston show day


This time last week I was at the Blaston Show.....held between the Leicestershire villages of Blaston and Slawston. 

The show celebrates traditional country life - it's the fifty fifth time the event has been held and there was lots to see and do. Early morning rain made everyone cautious....but we needn't have worried.

There was a full range of cattle showing classes.....


Sheep were shown and shorn ....







Goats were on display plus lots of horses - both in the showjumping ring and with hounds...here's the local Fernie Hunt in action parading around the ring....


The Fernie Hunt dates back to 1853 and is the only one of five Leicestershire Hunts to be contained entirely in the county.

The Westerby Bassetts also performed in the main ring ...they used to hunt for hares pre 2004....now the bassett hounds follow a trail.



But the show wasn't just about animals...there was a vintage car rally too. A succession of classic cars with character swept into the showground - I fell in love with this one.The owner had a lucky escape, I felt like diving into the car , demanding he take me for a drive....






  And here's Brett (in the bowler) Marshall, who made sure everything happened  how it should and when it should in the Main Ring....


But there were even bigger toys for the boys on display too....

Yes there were trade stands, terrier racing and rural crafts too....


All in all, a lovely interesting day out with lots to do and see.... to catch up with lots of old friends who I didn't expect to see there. It really is the friendliest, and laid back of shows. Here's to next year's....


Today's track is from the wonderful Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny singing "Come all ye". An uplifting song, to match a lovely day out.