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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End of year Facebook page compilation…

Since I started the Photo Sans Frontiers Facebook group earlier this year (and subsequently, this blog) I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a constant supply of striking, beautiful and wonderfully artistic pictures from a great selection of photographers.

The variety of styles, subjects and locations that group members have come up with has really impressed me and I thought that it would only be fair to post a couple of selections of their work for your enjoyment.

So here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite shots from 2015’s submissions.

Watch out for more, coming soon.

(Thank you to Dulce Alma, Sandy Trapp, Madilyn Benrubi, Netty Riggs, Rick Francis, Chris Adams, Paul James Pearson and Kilburn Adam for their contributions.)

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Autumnal colours…

A short Sunday morning stroll is all it takes to see some glorious autumnal displays of colour, structure and fruitfulness.

So I took some pictures…

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…and if you want to see more like these, check out this companion post on Diary of an Internet Nobody for additional autumnal awesomeness.

Heading for a Fall…

Signal connection problems at home and a busy writing schedule are the twin excuses I’m using to explain my photographic hiatus of late, but as my tenuous link to the internet appears to have finally stabilised, I plan on posting on here more regularly again.

For now, here are a few snaps from the weekend, a couple of sunny/hazy/warm/chilly days in the garden and at the local wildfowl reserve.
There’s a definite autumnal feel to everything…

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“Swan-bergs”

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Marwood Hill gardens, North Devon…

Marwood Hill gardens, twenty minutes drive from Barnstaple, was established in the 1950’s by original owner Dr Jimmy Smart and has evolved into a spectacular landscape in the hills of North Devon.
Cottage garden planting at the top of the valley gives way to water and more exotic plants at the bottom, all tied together by hundreds of beautiful trees.

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Salt Pill nature reserve, Fremington…

Salt Pill duck pond is a nature reserve owned by The Gaia Trust and is accessible from the Tarka trail, a short walk up the cycle path from Fremington Quay.
Birdsong, wild flowers, bees, butterflies and moths all add to the unspoilt landscape on the banks of the river Taw, where we took a walk on Sunday…

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…and just after we got home, I captured this sparrow outside our kitchen window.

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