Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A sudden day out

The weather report said Monday was going to be a sunny day, so being retired and having done all our chores on Saturday and Sunday, and like Mr Mole in the Wind in the Willows we decided not to waste a lovely spring day and so on the spur of the moment we went out for the day.
Having an annual pass for Blenheim Palace, we headed off to Oxfordshire and the village of Woodstock.

Getting out of the car, the wind seemed a little fresher than we had expected, but it soon warmed up. The grounds of BP are so vast, in the years we have been visiting there, we have never done it all, so there is plenty of scope to find something new each visit.
The first stop was the cafe for some coffee.

We then strolled around the gardens.

 To get to the larger gardens, you have to go through the main building and then through this ornamental garden

You can then either go down by the lake or along past the South Lawn to the far side of the grounds.

One of the local residents

A spring idyll, sunshine, daffodils in the foreground and sheep grazing in the distance

The parkland has a large variety of different trees

The house viewed from the south

Not a well kept secret
After this walk, it was lunch time and we ate in the Water Terrace Cafe.  The meal was not exceptional but better than a motorway service stop.

After lunch, we then walked off in a different direction heading for the weir. 

On the way we passed all this blossom
Last time we were there, the weir was not running very fast owing to a lack of rain, but today it was trying hard to imitate Niagara. 
This year the weir was flowing well

Last year,
Walking back, we passed under this tree, which was literally buzzing with activity as several dozen bees were gathering pollen.

A bumblebee working hard

I am glad that I do not have to find my lunch in such an undignified manner.
The amusing thing about this posture is that they keep flapping their feet, even though they are in the air and so gives them no purchase.

After that, we were walked out and so around three, we started back for home.
On the  way, I was reminded that this is the time of year when you can see where the local houses dumped their garden waste when no one was looking. 
Feral daffodils
If you look at the ditch opposite a house in a country lane, you will often see daffodils growing there in the spring. Sometimes in the ditch or just on the edge of it.  When gardeners dig over a flower bed, it is not unusual to accidentally dig up a few bulbs that were planted there and disposing of the waste soil, they get disposed of too.  If the gardener decides to dump their rubbish in the nearby ditch, rather than find somewhere to dump in on his own land, a few months later up come the daffodils.  So you find these little clumps of daffs at intervals along country lanes opposite a lonely cottage or two.  Just occasionally you will find an isolated bunch where there is now no house.  This show where there was once a farm hand's cottage.   In the 60s, you would often see an old abandoned cottage which once housed a farm hand and his family, but since farms have become more and more mechanised, these workers were no longer needed.  In those days, people were moving away from the country and so a small isolated cottage with poor accommodation and maybe no bathroom, no mains water or gas, were not saleable. So they remained empty and fell into disrepair, to the point where it was more economical to pull them down and plough up the land they occupied rather than repair them.
Lastly, this sign has always made me wonder.  It is not the thing you expect to find in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside, but it is a rather specialist zoo and does in fact hold a collection of crocodiles and related species from all over the world.