Tuesday, July 14, 2015


And the living is easy. So George Gershwin wrote so beautifully about the life in slave-ridden Deep South of Porgy & Bess. Well, this is a village in the North York Moors National Park so it's rather different. Yesterday was a warm day for us so I decided it was time to take you all on a walk up and down our garden.

Some of you will remember the story of how we bought our current house. Whether you know or not, you might like to dip into my old 'The Old Chapel' blog. It was once a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel but when the various Methodist disciplines began to merge, it closed and everyone then went to the bigger Methodist chapel just around the corner. This also closed when chapel attendance fell away and was eventually converted into 3 separate properties. (The times we get deliveries and visitors for The Old Methodist Chapel!)

Anyway, back to our Old Chapel - as it's simply called.  It had already been converted into a house in the 1960s,  I think, and the garden was acquired. It was then altered several times. When we first viewed it, it had been uninhabited and for sale for quite some time. We decided not to buy it then but, one year later, we I spent a week in a holiday cottage nearby and fell in love with the village and persuaded Jon that we had to buy it!  Eventually we signed the contract and then began the slow progress that such a project needs. When work began more than a year later, it was  gutted it back to a stone barn with the help and guidance of our great architects and especially our local builder- with whom we have not only remained on speaking terms, but regard him and his family good friends.

To explain our garden... are you sitting comfortably?
Imagine our house at the bottom of this blue isosceles triangle (ie the garden) This elongated trangle lies between the second steepest road out of Rosedale Abbey called  Heygate Lane or Bank (R) and a field (L) on which,is held the annual Rosedale Show. As the widest part of the triangle is the nearest to the house, we wanted a lawn there but didn't like the very steep slope there. So small earth-moving vehicles were used to level the land and make drainage workable make workable drainage, too.  But we can't alter the fact that as the garden extends to its apex, it rises steeply as it narrows. With me so far?

In my Old Chapel blog  -  dated 2009 (almost at its end which, as is the way with blogs, is easily found at the beginning!) I took you for a walk up and back the garden. So I've decided to bring it up to date to show how it's matured since then.
So now it's few words and let the pictures tell their story with a caption or three.

Outside our east-facing conservatory is the terrace and steps up to...

the now-flat lawn 

..with its  herbaceous border on the lane-side

Look at our 'small' sequoia, 'chair' bench and the pond to the right...

Where we have friendly visitors every so often

up through the yew hedge

where I stop and admire the Gunnera

To the other side is our mini-orchard and little meadow (which as just been mown)

up again past our little knot garden and the copper beech hedge which hides the compost heaps...

...and onwards and upwards to a welcome bench, our 'famous' rock, maples and azaleas.

I'm finding it hard to balance now,  so to avoid falling over, I'll turn round and go down back through the maples

and over to the ditch - often dry in on summer days

and back to 2 more shots of the herbaceous border

and so back to the terrace and conservatory and a cup of tea. Care to join me?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Life goes on.

As I write that, I find myself, as you do, imagining I am a Roman centurion from anywhere in the Empire, but let's say for the sake of of it, North Africa who might find himself posted to the far edges of the Empire against his will and is shivering on Hadrian's Wall, demanding olives, blazing sunshine and er, a woollen cloak and thick socks. I mean, it is nearly July now and we were there in good weather despite one day of low cloud and drizzle last Sunday before things improved considerably and heralded the current mini heatwave.

For anyone not used to Northern Britain, moorland and its driving sleet and blasting winds any time between October and May, it can take a bit of getting used to. It is often bleak in June.

I love it! But then, I am an adopted northerner and wouldn't live anywhere else. Hadrian's Wall  is less than a two hour drive from our doorstep...

Here you will find - not the White Rose of Yorkshire but the fried egg and tomato sauce breakfast that is Northumbria's stunning flag:

So, we camped at the stunning friendly and comfortable Hadrian's Wall Camping where, in the snap below, you can spot the flags fluttering at the entrance gates and see our van basking in the sun despite the thin cloud cover:

And, only a hop, skip and a jump away is this...

Can my trusty Roman expert friends recommend a historical novel featuring a homesick, freezing cold soldier, wife or girlfriend or even camp-follower up here? Don't say I have to write it for myself!


As you've probably realised, my blog has been dormant for far too long - well, it's been a long winter.  Although this blog has b...