Surprise, Compost-heap, Potato Plant Update














More images from the garden. I know that there will be legions of you wondering what became of the potato plants which unexpectedly sprouted in our compost heap. (Get away – you were waiting with bated breath I’ll warrant). My Dad’s theory is that they grew from peelings, and I can’t think of a better explanation. They did produce a few tatties, not all that many, although every time I dig out some compost I find one or two more. There, I’m glad that’s cleared up!

Surprise, Compost-heap, Potato Plant Update

Camping in Wasdale


Shortly after our return from Norfolk, the kids and I joined a friend from the village and his gaggle of children and spent a couple of nights camping at Church Stile in Nether Wasdale.

On the way over we stopped for lunch (pies) in the charming square in Broughton in Furness.


Inevitably, the boys wanted to try out the stocks.


I didn’t take all that many photos whilst we were away. We had some mixed weather. Were eaten alive on the campsite by midges. Had nightly campfires in a brazier we rented from the campsite and which was fashioned from an old washing machine drum.

We also had a wander up to Ritson’s Force in Mosedale Beck – we’d been told it was a good place for a swim. In honesty, the water wasn’t deep enough, but we had a bit of an explore and managed to get fully immersed, one way or another, so it was worth a look.


Camping in Wasdale

Oxburgh Hall


Our last day in Norfolk. We were heading home in fact, but wanting to make the most of our opportunity, had decided to stop en route at Oxburgh Hall. Not that it was really on our homeward route, but in retrospect, it was well worth a bit of a diversion.


There’s was lots to see. So much so that we didn’t get around to a walk around the extensive woods in the grounds.


The house was interesting, both inside and out.


You can possibly tell that it was the moat, and the views of the house across the moat which captivated me.


I think the kids might pick their visit to the tight little priest hole as their highlight of the day. I deferred that pleasure for another visit – I had an unpleasant image of myself stoppering the entrance like Winnie the Pooh stuck in Rabbit’s hole with washing dangling from his legs.


But, as I say, it was definitely the moat for me. It had a huge cast of attendant dragonflies and damselflies. Some of the dragonflies were of quite a size – I like to think that they were Emperor’s, but I’m only speculating. Other dragonflies were mating in flight, quite a curious thing to see. I took lots of photos, none of them even remotely successful. The damselflies were more accommodating, often settling on a lily pad…


These are red-eyed damselflies, which are apparently very fond of lily pads, and who don’t venture as far north as Silverdale: always nice to spot something not found on our home-patch.


The moat is fed by water diverted from the River Gadder and very clean and clear looking it is. And abundantly full of fish. I wondered whether it had been stocked.


There seemed to be at least two sorts of fish swimming about. Smaller stripy ones swimming nearer the bottom of the moat…


…not sure what these are. Perch are quite heavily striped, but they aren’t really small. The larger fish however…


…with their red fins, I think are probably Roach.

Meanwhile this bundle of fluff looks drab enough to be a young Coot, except that the colour on its beak makes me suspect that it might actually be a Moorhen.


The formal gardens were resplendent, not just with flowers, but also with butterflies and moths. I would have been flummoxed by this little, colourful moth – it isn’t in my field guide, but fortuitously I discovered that it is a Mint Moth when a picture was posted over at Quercus Community





We did manage a little wander down to a pleasant flower-filled meadow where there were many more butterflies and dragonflies. I think that these are both Common Darters, although I’m not at all confident with dragonflies.


And I’m guessing, thanks to an informative comment in a previous post, that this…


….is a Turkey Oak acorn.

I watched a little drama unfold whilst I was photographing the dragonflies. A ladybird ran along the top bar of the fence, straight into the clutches of one of the Darters…


Both are predators, but I feared for the ladybird in a quarrel. However, the dragonfly seemed quite perturbed by the ladybird, and after a cursory examination allowed it to continue on its way.

Oxburgh Hall

Castle Acre Priory


Having had a gander at Castle Acre and a wander around the village and the church, we still had one more treat in store: Castle Acre Priory.

First however, we had to say goodbye to my brother and his kids, who were heading back to Zurich via some old friends in London, and to my mum and dad, who were ready to head back to Snettisham.


The priory is pretty stunning…


And, like the castle, had surprisingly few other visitors.


As ever at English Heritage properties, our visit was hugely enhanced by the audio guides, which brought the history of the priory and the monks who once lived here vividly to life.



The Abbots House.






I was struck, as I was when I visited Furness Abbey, by the ingenious way in which water had been diverted through the Priory for use by the monks and then into fish ponds.



Here the local flint has been cleverly used to decorate the outer walls of the Abbot’s house.




More scenes from the village – I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a pub called ‘The Ostrich’ before. I wondered whether it might once have been ‘The Ostler’?

Meanwhile the boys had never encountered a red telephone box before…



The Bailgate again.

And that would be all I have to say about our visit to Castle Acre, except for the fact that it was a warm sunny day, and as at the castle, I was often distracted by the resident insect life.

This stunning dragonfly…


…was feasting on some sort of fly atop a wall by the entrance to the Priory.

In the little recreation of a walled physic garden by the visitor centre, there were Gatekeepers…


And these marvellous flowers (I’d really like to know what they are, as they were a magnet for insects – very tall, six feet or more, with large spherical white blooms) were host to many bumblebees and hoverflies…






Castle Acre Priory

Castle Acre


More Norfolk adventures, to wit Castle bagging, a favourite pastime of ours. The small village of Castle Acre still has some of its village walls, and is flanked by the remnants of a castle and the more substantial remains of an abbey.

Although there’s not all that much of the castle left to see – no winding staircases to clamber, no battlements to charge around – even what remains of the huge moat and earthworks are very evocative. What’s more, on an afternoon which had, slightly unexpectedly, turned sunny and warm, the castle grounds, a haven for wildflowers – were full of butterflies and bees; a great place to explore.


Whilst the kids were running around being knights of old (or somesuch) I was revelling in the abundance and variety of the flowers on offer – particularly those which I haven’t encountered close to home.

I think that this,…


…which was ubiquitous, is Common Calamint.

This enormous plant…


…is a Mullein. We do see Mulleins at home, we’ve even had them appear as ‘weeds’ in our garden, but I’m pretty sure that this particular specimen is a Hoary Mullein which is an East Anglian speciality.


The castle itself is very interesting (and free to boot). It was built by William de Warenne a Norman baron who fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings and subsequently became a very wealthy landowner with properties across thirteen counties.



It’s all built, perhaps not surprisingly, of the local flint.


The kids charged around. TBH found a spot out of the wind to sun herself, and naturally I took photos.


A mallow.


A (large) white on Calamint.

The butterflies led me a very merry dance. There were lots about – chiefly Whites, often in groups of two or three, but also Meadow Browns and some Small Blues. To my great delight, I also spotted a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, only the second one I’ve ever seen, but I wasn’t anywhere near like fast enough to catch it’s darting flight on camera.

Whilst I was pursuing a trio of amorous Whites, I encountered this long-legged beastie…


…which I’m pretty sure is not a spider, but rather a Harvestmen (Harvestman?).



Castle Acre village.


Meadow Brown.


I could have happily stayed at the castle photographing plants and insects etc, but we had other fish to fry. We had a wander through the village, through the Bailey Gate…


…to the church of St. James the Great….


…(wasn’t it enough that he was a Saint, doesn’t that imply that he was Great? Or was there another St. James…St James the Slightly Cheesy?)


The Church of St. James.

A bit of internet research reveals that I should have ventured further in – the pulpit on the right has some paintings of saints which I wish now I’d taken a closer look at.


Impressive medieval font cover.


Ornately armoured stained-glass knight.


In this huge Norfolk church I was transported back to the area close to home by this painted panel. I’ve seen very similar, but much smaller, panels in modest Furness churches. (See them here and here.) Those were both dedicated to Queen Anne, but this one, dated 1748, is too late for her: it’s from the reign of George II – which explains the G II above the Lion’s crown.

On to the Priory next…

Castle Acre

Dersingham Bog


Dersingham Bog is a largish nature reserve hard by the Royal residence at Sandringham. You can visit Sandringham, although you have to pay a hefty fee. Dersingham bog, on the other hand, is completely free – and a much more attractive proposition. The bog is encircled, to the west, by a steep escarpment – a remnant of a former coastline. It came as quite a surprise to find this relatively wild area in the midst of rural Norfolk.


The boys were all mightily impressed with the numerous grasshoppers we spotted.

My nephew….


…proved to be equally adept at catching them as his cousin B.


There are several UK species of grasshopper and I have to confess that I can’t tell them apart. I thought that this rather strikingly coloured specimen…


…would be easily identified, but I’m not even sure that I can do that with any confidence.



A shield bug, getting in on the action.

There are a couple of small car parks and three adjacent, way-marked routes on the edge of the bog. By joining two of those routes together we found a walk suitable for the many age-groups represented in our substantial party…


If you ever find yourself wavering in the proximity of Sandringham, I can heartily recommend Dersingham Bog as an alternative.

Dersingham Bog