Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Days and Travels

Midsummers day has been and gone. The sweet william are beginning to fade after flowering their precious clove scented hearts out. Sweet peas and pinks perfume the days. The creamy tiny elderflowers and meadowsweet blossoms replace the faerie hawthorn. The year has twirled, jumped and shifted and now points the other way, dancing to greet the other side of the year.
 I didn't find time to stop by and share this painting, finished a couple of weeks or so ago. It's title is 'Between Two Trees' and was inspired by May and the magical energy that is sometimes felt (I feel) when two trees are side by side and make a doorway or portal.
Twin trees. An entrance to another realm. Hawthorn, elder, yew and hazel are the species that I find give off a magical vibe.
There are also some new card designs that also haven't been shared.  The images lifted off of the previous wooden hangers and mounted onto a green background to celebrate the greening. 
I love this shade of green. It's a kind of war time 40's green and reminds me of Enid Blyton books for some reason and the paint work on an old house near to where I grew up.  
Between Two Trees and the cards are both available via the Etsy shop.

To be honest I haven't really felt like blogging much or speaking much on social media. Sometimes I need to step away and just be, away from the continued updates of each others lives and political moaning and blaming. Plus summer is one of those times to get away from the screen or device and lose myself in the outdoors. I often tend to recharge this time of year. When the weather is good and the days are long and light, it's also the time for little adventures.

One such adventure was had last week. With bag and camera packed it was time for a little trip up north.The sun shone as we travelled M4 then M5 making sure we stopped off for a coffee at this favourite service station. Travelling onwards and upwards and across country surrounded by blue skies we arrived at our first stop for the night. York.
York has been on my list of places to visit for ages.  The minster on one of the hottest afternoons of the year looked amazing. The skill and work in the architecture and carving was breathtaking. I couldn't help think of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as we gazed up at the statues looking down at us.  When it cooled down a little we walked along the city wall.
The old medieval street 'The Shambles' which looks like Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter books was very pretty and filled with tiny quirky little shops and cafes. As a Harry Potter fan it was a must to venture into 'The shop that must not be named' I bought myself a present to celebrate 20 years since the publication of the first book. A ministry of magic sign which shall be put up on the toilet door. ;) (see bottom right picture below)
A trip to the Jorvik viking centre was on the list too, but as time was limited and it was just a  passing through visit, that shall have to wait until next time.

Next morning with sun shining again we carried on our journey northwards into Northumberland. A fleeting glimpse of the Angel of the North the sculpture by Antony Gormley on our way. (Photo actually taken on the journey home hence the clouds)
Within a couple of hours we had reached our next stop. Alnwick Gardens
It was perfect timing to see the roses all in bloom in the rose gardens. These were a few of my favourites.
I loved the adorable fox taking pride of place on top of the sculpture, the blue delphiniums and hearing all about the plants in the poison garden.
There is a wonderful tree house cafe and restaurant where a cup of tea and scone was shared with friendly blackbirds and thrushes. Definitely my kind of place. :)
The castle at Alnwick dates from the 1300's and has been home to the Percy family throughout the years. It is sumptuous and filled with magnificent chandeliers, art and antiquities, but despite this,  still has a homely feel to it inside. The current Duke of Northumberland and his family still live here six months of the year, when the castle closes to the public throughout the winter months. (No photography was allowed inside) 
More associations with Harry Potter here as the castle was used as a location in the filming of the first two films. The scene where they are learning to ride broomsticks, that's here on the the lawns in the castle grounds. It was great for kids young and old here, with broomstick training and a dragon quest. 
Our next place to visit was Holy island.
A retreat. Bleached skeletons of small crabs washed up on the shore casualties of a high tide tangled in seaweed. Driftwood, white shells and skylarks. The island is home to the ruins of Lindisfarne priory, base in the north of England, of spreading the Christian word long long ago and of St Cuthbert monk, healer,  bishop and hermit of the kingdom of Northumbria 635-687. The Lindisfarne gospels a sacred illuminated manuscript was produced here by a monk named Eadrith who was Bishop of Lindisfarne between 698 and 721.
Offerings that had been left for St Cuthbert beneath his statue.  Money, pretty stones and shells.
The other sculpture in the photo below is also St Cuthbert and stands in the grounds of the priory. 
Sadly the castle is closed for renovation work at the moment and doesn't reopen until 2018 so I didn't get to see, but maybe I will return another time for that adventure? Possibly on my way up to Scotland, one of these days?
I bought a souvenir to refresh me on my journey. Mead some would say, nectar of the gods. 
The local birds were very friendly at the cafe and the pub where we happily shared our tea with them and one was even brave enough to feed from my hand. No photograph of that moment captured though I'm afraid,  he was one super quick sparrow! :) 
After visiting other little places on route like Alnmouth, and Seahouses where we were going to book a trip to the Farne islands but didn't because of rain and thunder forecast. (that will have to wait until next time too ;)) we finished up at beautiful Bamburgh ancient capital of Northumbria. 
Windswept from the north sea salt spray. The old castle stands strong, granite walls holding it's memories and secrets quiet while the waves roll in reassuringly as they have for so many lives before. Foot prints of the past lost in the sand like my own instantly dissolved in a moment, as another wave covers any trace that I have stood where Vikings came to shore.
The dunes were filled with dog roses and valerian, pied wagtail and tern flying overhead. And a pink orchid.
This day was the longest day, the 'Summer Solstice'
"Welcome back" whispered the north sea as my skin connected with the chilled water that sparkled and swirled around my ankles. "I remember you" 
But I had never stepped into the north sea before, at least not in this lifetime?  

I am back home again now.
Until my next adventure.
Enjoy these summer days.


  1. Hi Karen,
    Another beautiful piece of writing :) Your travels sound wonderful and you went to some places I'd like to visit. Not a great fan of cities but The Shambles looks pretty amazing! And the Poison Garden at Alnwick is definitely on my wish list. There used to be a wonderful poison garden at Fulham Palace in London, many many moons ago but when I visited a few years back, it had been given a makeover and was no longer a poison garden - too risque these days I guess, as you used to be able to wander freely around it unsupervised! Sad it's gone - I have great memories of it.
    Fabulous solstice photo too - very wild and free.
    Enjoy the summer and any more travelling adventures that you have :)
    P.S. Absolutely stunning twin trees painting! My twin trees would be rowan & birch.x

    1. Thanks Lynda :) I'm also no fan of cities either, but am okay in the smaller ones or just the historical parts of the big ones for shorts spells at a time. The poison garden was only small at Alnwick and you weren't allowed to just wander, as you say probably wouldn't be allowed these days. It was locked and you had to be taken on a little tour and the guy told us about the plants and the horror stories behind them. Oh yes, rowan and birch, good choice. Enjoy your summer too. x

  2. Thanks for taking us on tour ;-)
    Love that old street with the funny stores (hmmmm indeed : like Hogsmeade ...!)
    Wow that tree house cafe .... gorgeous !!!
    Have a good summer too.

    1. Thanks Els, hehe sorry for the overload of pictures was bit of a tour wasn't it ;) The tree house also has a restaurant which is amazing inside. Click on the Alnwick gardens link that takes you to the website and you can see inside, it's just stunning.

  3. A favourite place of mine, we love Northumberland and find it very 'connective' very 'spiritual' and always come away with a mixture of longing and being fulfilled - sadly not going to be able to get up there this year and my heart is saddened but you photos have certainly helped.

    1. It was my first visit up there and I can understand that you feel that way. It's very unspoilt and echoes of the past seem to drift on the sea wind. I would like to next time explore more inland as we only did the coast really. That's a shame that you are unable to visit this year. I'm so glad that I have helped ease the longing a little. I hope you manage to visit next year.

  4. What a magical, wonderful journey that must have been. I long to see those castles and walk the grounds of Britain.(maybe some day) Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I so enjoy seeing the sights.

  5. the poisonous plants garden looks exciting and is firing my imagination! What a lovely place to visit, made all the more magical through your eyes, thanks for sharing.

  6. How lucky you are to live in an easy drive of such wonderful places. Thanks for the tour.


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