Picture this: Tapeley Park…

First posted January 2013

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Tapeley Park house and gardens is a unique and fascinating place, on the road between Barnstaple and Bideford.

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Tapeley Park house, seen from the Italian terrace garden.

The estate has been in the same family since the 1700’s, and is now owned by local anti-corporate campaigner and political activist, Hector Christie, who runs it on a sustainable basis, and he is proud of his Green credentials, supplying the local community – as well as the estate cafe – with organic vegetables, and using recycled materials wherever possible.

The house has it’s own claim to fame – the fact that it has an important collection of William Morris furniture – ironically preserved over the years, due to the house being unheated and mainly closed up for years, as revealed on a C4 documentary.

But it has always been the grounds – which include a Victorian kitchen garden and experimental permaculture garden – that make us go back time and again.

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The lake is a beautiful place for a picnic.

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Many exotic plants grow in the mild, sheltered climate.

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Neatly trimmed arbours lead you on…

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…to surprises around each corner.

There are animals too. Apart from the wildlife scurrying in the undergrowth, the estate keeps rare breed pigs, sheep, and highland cattle.

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Three little pigs.

The hard landscaping has been lovingly restored, most notably on the steps leading down to the Italian terrace garden…

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…and yet, there are still echoes of the past, lending a eerie calm to quiet, reflective corners.

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There is even a labyrinth, made from the stone shards of an exploded obelisk, victim of a 1931 lightning strike.

A fascinating and, in some indefinable way, enchanted place, it’s somewhere to return to again and again, always discovering something new.

If you’re ever down this way, why not go and see for yourself, you never know what you might find…

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Picture this: Historic Winchester…

First posted November 2013

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Winchester in Hampshire is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the country, having had settlements of one sort or another there since the iron age.

The Romans later made it one of their most important towns, extending it until it was the fifth largest town in Roman Britain.

After the fall of the empire however Winchester, like many other English towns of the day, fell into decline.

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King Alfred. Great, apparently.

The Anglo Saxons rebuilt much of the town, (Alfred the Great himself laid out the street plan) making it the capital of the Kingdom of Wessex and much of their architecture remains, including this ancient defensive feature, the Westgate. It is one of two remaining gateways, the other being Kingsgate.

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Partially rebuilt in the twelfth century, this magnificent fortified gateway (featuring the earliest examples in Britain of inverted archers’ slits, designed specially for hand-held cannon) was still in use as late as 1959, when the High Street was diverted round it.

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Next I went on to the Great Hall, which is all that remains on the site of the old castle that once stood here.

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Originally built around 1225, the imposing hall looms over the large open courtyard that leads to the main entrance, the intricate stonework forming almost geometric patterns on the walls.

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Inside, the cavernous space is surprisingly light, the weak wintery sunlight filtering in through beautifully crafted stained-glass windows.

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On one giant wall there hangs the 12th century recreation of King Arthur’s Round Table

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.. and opposite, on the far wall, HRH Prince Charles’s “Wedding Gates”, made to commemorate the 1981 royal wedding.

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Queens Victoria and Elizabeth are both immortalised in wooden sculpture, Liz getting a more restrained make-over than poor old Vicky, who looks like a teak Davros.

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Finally a stroll down to the cathedral.

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Winchester Cathedral was originally built in 1079, but was added to right up until the 16th century, giving it many differing architectural styles.

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Then it was time to meander back to the car to continue my journey homewards, via a café for a much-needed coffee, taking a last chance to snap a few interesting shots.

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We bid farewell to Winchester as King Alfred saluted the setting sun…

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..and what better to play us on our way than The New Vaudeville Band with “Winchester Cathedral”. (after “Peek-a-boo”)
Take it away boys…

K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge…

Today’s Cosmic Photo Challenge really gives you a theme to build on…

Diary of an Internet Nobody.(Archive)

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Yes, I’m afraid it’s Monday again, but look on the bright side; Monday means it’s time for K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge, today brought to you by the prompt, Architecture.

I was very gratified to see there was already a post waiting for me when I woke up this morning, and from a new participant, too! (You can check out Marie’s entry here.)
So I thought I’d make sure mine was posted early, giving you plenty of time to find inspiration.

You should know by now that I often like to go the abstract route with my challenge, this week’s being no exception.
I decided to go for an industrial look today, using this original photo of the skylights in the roof at work, taken at six this morning…

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…and mucking about with it, until I arrived at this selection of strangely organic constructions;

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K’lee’s…

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