Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens


Many moons ago, we toured Doddington Hall with my Mum and Dad. It’s not too far from where they live. On the second day of our trip to Lincolnshire this summer, TBH and I were eager to go again. For some reason, Dad wasn’t so keen, and kept turning up alternatives which he thought might appeal to the kids. He balked however, at the idea of accompanying them on a treetop trek, so in the end Doddington Hall won out.


There was a wedding in the hall that day, so we were restricted to the gardens, but that kept us well occupied beyond the advertised closing time, so it wasn’t really a problem.

Be warned, if you’re planning a visit: there are signs near the entrance forbidding picnics in the gardens. There’s a lot of green space at the back of the carpark though, which was a halfway decent alternative, but a bit rough on my Mum and Dad who prefer not to sit on the ground these days (or prefer not to have to get up again, anyway).


There is a cafe in one of the many estate buildings, which looked to be doing a roaring trade. I’m told that the cakes that some of the party sampled there later in the day were very good. The wasps certainly liked them.

Just by where we picnicked, there was a small pond…


And so some potential for flora and fauna…


Common Darter (I think).


Tachina Fera on Mayweed – both very tentative identifications.


Tachina Fera again.

This photo shows the strong black stripe on an orange abdomen which makes me think that this fly is Tachina Fera. The larvae of this fly parasitise caterpillars.

The plant is Gipsywort…


“Rogues masquerading as itinerant fortune-tellers and magicians used in past centuries to daub their bodies with a strong black dye produced from gipsywort, in order to pass themselves off as Egyptians and Africans. Swarthy looks were supposed to lend greater credibility to these vagabonds when they told fortunes; it was this use that gave the plant its names of gipsywort and Egyptian’s herb.”

Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain

Moving into the gardens…


Little S was particularly impressed with the huge…


…squashes, pumpkins? I’m not sure which.

He won’t really remember our last visit, since he was barely a year old at the time.


Small Tortoiseshell.


Large White.





Another Tortoiseshell.


This bee was absolutely coated in golden pollen, having just emerged…


…from a courgette flower.


Something that really stuck in my memory from our previous visit were these gnarly old Sweet Chestnut Trees.


They predate the hall, making them very, very old indeed.






One more Tortoiseshell.


The gatehouse.


Unicorn topiary.


The Hall is Elizabethan and was built, between 1595 and 1600, by Robert Smythson, who was the master stonemason when Longleat was built and who also designed the highly impressive Hardwick Hall, among others. Apparently, it has never been sold, which must be highly unusual. These days it seems to be the centre of a thriving industry, with several shops in the grounds, as well as the cafe and weddings. Not to mention the biennial sculpture exhibition in the gardens….of which, more to follow…

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

A Busy Day in the Dale


Every Saturday morning in Silverdale, almost without exception, there is a charity coffee morning. This Saturday’s wasn’t in the usual venue, the Gaskell Hall, but in the Church Rooms instead…



And was a Scout fund-raiser. I’d cried-off helping with a Rugby tournament which S was playing in, and sent TBH in my stead, but now felt well enough to help here by selling tickets for the raffle.

The reason the Gaskell Hall (named for Elizabeth Gaskell who holidayed in the village and whose daughters lived here)…


…wasn’t used was because it was being filled with exhibits…


…for the Spring show…



A Hellebore? Cousin to the wild ones growing by Holgates caravan park?

There are classes for photographs and craft items as well as flowers and we usually submit several entries between us, but this year only Little S entered, in the Cubs craft-class which he won. (Being the sole competitor – he was very happy.)


Later, we popped across the road to the Methodist Chapel where there was an Art Exhibition. Sadly, once we got inside I was too busy looking at the exhibits and forgot to take any pictures. TBH bought a vase. You can see the work of three of the artists by visiting:



Threlfalls Art Studio

Given our recent adventure, it was particularly enjoyable to see a number of paintings and prints featuring Striding Edge.

As you can see, the weather was very fine and I was champing at the bit to get out for a walk. Which is what I did next…

A Busy Day in the Dale

Jersey – Naked Ladies

Calm down, calm down! Stop pushing at the back there. It’s not what you think – Jersey tourism’s hospitality didn’t extend to improprieties of that nature. Really! I’m surprised at you….

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – leaving the bloggy Alan and myself still en route to lunch (oh – the hardship) I shall digress, but only slightly.

‘Naked Ladies’ is one of the common names of…

Jersey Lily

…these beauties, amaryllis belladonna otherwise known as Jersey lilies. You see the connection now?

The name naked ladies originates from South Africa where the plant is indigenous, and refers to the fact that, like cyclamens, these flowers are hysteranthous, or in other words the flowers appear before the leaves. To see a mass of these tall and striking blooms on their native Cape without the strappy leaves must be amazing.

Confusingly, here both the leaves and flowers were present…

Jersey lilies

The connection with South Africa is apt since apparently the Jersey accent is like a South African one. To me it sounded more Australian, but it certainly isn’t anything like a west country burr which for some reason is what I was imagining on the flight over.

So why is amaryllis belladonna known, in the UK at least, as Jersey lily? And is there a connection to that other Jersey Lily, Lillie Langtry?


Millais’ portrait of Jersey Lily – holding a Guernsey Lily. Apparently no Jersey lilies were available. Knowing what I do now about the rivalry between Jersey and Guernsey I assume that this must have rankled. Millais, although born in Southampton, was from a Jersey family. He was probably ostracised.

There is a connection, but it’s that Lillie was nicknamed the Jersey Lily after the flower – so the flowers have been known as Jersey lilies for quite some time. Why the flowers are called Jersey Lilies when they originate in South Africa is a question to which I can’t find an answer. Perhaps because they are naturalised here and so British holiday makers associated these striking flowers with the island?

On several occasions we passed places or buildings with Lillie Langtry associations and whilst Arthur was recounting the relevant tales I would be wondering, ‘Who was Lillie Langtry?” I didn’t have the heart to confess my ignorance – it seemed clear that as far a Arthur was concerned some basic familiarity at least must be common knowledge. I had a vague idea that she might have something to do with the Wild West, but that seemed unlikely now that I knew she was a Jersey girl. It emerged that she had been one of Edward VII lovers when he was Prince of Wales, and an actress. Now that I’ve had a chance to read a little more, I find that she led a very eventful life and eventually became an American citizen. I understood too why I made a connection to the American West – because of the Paul Newman film ‘The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean’ in which Lillie Langtry is played by Ava Gardner.

Sadly, my ignorance of Lillie Langtry is merely the tip of the iceberg. I even contemplated a post entitled ‘Things I Didn’t Know About the Channel Isles’, but life’s too short. Even an infinite troop of monkeys and their typewriters would never finish that list.

It’s much easier to say what I did know before I went: potatoes, cream, tax haven, Matt Le Tissier, Graeme Le Saux, German occupation during WW2…..err, did I mention potatoes?

It was a great pleasure, during my short stay on Jersey, to learn a great deal more, chiefly thanks to Arthur’s encyclopaedic knowledge – and I hope to return and fill in a few more gaps before too long.

Amaryllis belladonna

Jersey – Naked Ladies

Holehird Gardens

Beautiful gardens, free to visit, just above Windermere on the Troutbeck road, which means that the views are fabulous too. Wansfell, which TBH and I climbed a couple of weeks ago, is just across the valley…

We visited earlier this week on a beautifully sunny day. It houses the national collections of hydrangeas and astillibes, which weren’t flowering yet, but there was still plenty to see…

There are glass houses with alpines rather than tomatoes…

And a heliochronometer, one of only eight made nearby in Preston. We tried it and it was very accurate.

Of course, flowers are all very well but sometimes a nice lawn is best…

From Holehird it’s possible to access Highlands Wood…


S and I decided to take a timeout and walk around the new path there.

Actually he mostly rode on my shoulders. The bluebells here weren’t as far advanced as at home and looked magnificent…

S was more excited when we found some holes in the ground. I thought perhaps a fox’s earth…

The way through the woods.

Holehird Gardens

Doddington Hall

Almost next door to Whisby is Doddington Hall. Mum and Dad had won a family entrance ticket in a raffle, so that’s where we went after lunch in the cafe at Whisby.


The inside of the House was interesting, and the kids loved the leaflet that they filled in by searching for things in each room. And they especially enjoyed the bag of goodies reward for when they had finished. But it was the garden that really interested me. In the walled kitchen garden Artichokes were flowering:


And pears and apples had been trained up the walls:

Another Comma on a Dahlia:

A squash:

I’m not sure what this is, but it must be related to Bindweed:

Look at this seedhead Granddad:

Pictures of children climbing trees seems to becoming a recurring theme of this blog:

But who could resist this wonderfully gnarly…

…Sweet Chestnut:

And for those of us who didn’t want to climb, there were always the Cyclamen beneath to admire:

A Tortoiseshell butterfly and a bee on a Sedum:


More tree climbing action:

Old wagons in the stable behind the cafe and farm shop:

We even had time to take a short walk across a field to the pond before we left. A got in on the Nature Photography act. No doubt she’ll soon have her own Blog.

White dead nettle:


Fancy fretwork clouds:

Heading back to the car park:

It was a fabulous day and particularly good to see my Dad making progress after major surgery a few weeks ago.

Doddington Hall

Carn Fadryn

Although we rarely ventured far from the campsite and the beach, we did find time one afternoon to walk up Carn Fadryn, the highest hill on the peninsula at 371m. The boys fell asleep in the car as we drove to the start of the walk so our eldest went with our friends and we set off quite a long while after.

We were joined for our ascent by a cat from the village which accompanied us almost all the way to the top. The boys were delighted. I worried after a while that the cat would be lost, but when we returned to the village it was there to greet us affectionately and then to delay our departure by hiding under our cars.


The first part of the climb is steep, but as you climb above the bracken and the vegetation becomes bell-heather and ling with occasional low spiky gorse bushes the path begins to contour at a comfortable gradient.

In amongst the the heathers were these white-flowering plants:

A thought that the leaves looked ‘like sage or mint or some sort of herb’ which turned out to pretty astute since it is Wood Sage.

Since the peninsula is generally flat the views as we climbed were excellent both of the peninsula itself and over to the mountains of Snowdonia.

The others had apparently enjoyed great views from the top too, but we arrived into a cold wind and cloud cover. As we entered the cloud B asked ‘are we floating?’. I asked ‘ what do you think – do feel like you are floating?’. ‘Yes!’, he said. The kids weren’t daunted by the mist and in fact were pleased to be ‘high as the sky’.

The summit has extensive low remains of a castle which was apparently built in about the twelfth century, although there was also an Iron Age hill fort here.


The top:

Only today my daughter was telling some of her young friends about standing on the yellow pillar and being ‘on top of the world’.

In the grass near the summit my friend G found this sickly creature:

It’s a Giant Wood Wasp and I’ve never seen one before so it’s a shame that I didn’t get him in focus. Also near the summit there was a patch of English Stonecrop, seen here with the tiny leaves and flowers of wild thyme which seems to grow everywhere on the peninsula:

Another slightly out of focus shot:

Which I include because B found lots of these beetles on the way back down to the car and delighted in catching them and showing them to all and sundry. Not everyone shared his enthusiasm, but we were all almost as pleased about the ripe and juicy bilberries growing around the highest part of the hill.

Carn Fadryn

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

Walked the same route again today, for the third time this week, but this time in reverse and with the whole family and Amy’s friend Sarah. The kids raced across the lots. The starlings weren’t so busy today. I did briefly see a head in the hole in the tree, but the children didn’t get to witness the birds feeding the chicks.

However, they were more than happy to get down to the Cove and plodge in the mud:

Then scramble up the rocks to the small cave here:

This little cave mouth always makes me think of one of the children’s favourite books ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’ and the cave in which they eventually find a bear. Ben was clearly making the same association because he was expecting to find a bear too. He seems to have lost his fear of caves: back in January he became convinced that all caves were infested with Dragons and could rarely be induced to enter. He’s now keen to come back with a torch to explore further (he won’t get very far because they isn’t much to this particular cave.)

I explored the high-tide line at the back of the shingle.

I found a couple of pieces of this rusted, curiously light material. Could this be almost heart-shaped if you squint a bit and stand on your head to look at it? Cynthia over on Cynthesis finds hearts seemingly everywhere.

Silverweed, which thrives in the marginal spaces between land and strand, has now come into flower:

This plant also seems abundant and vigorous in these same unpromising spots:

Anybody know what it is?

I like the way the wind has given the cliff-top trees here a perfect manicured trim:

On the way home we found that Oxeye daisy flowers are finally opening up and showing off:

(See the previous post for more about the mathematical properties of this flower.)

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt