Sunday, 13 January 2019

The hat and shoe shops of London

Between Christmas and New Year's, I had a weekend in London visiting friends with my husband.  We had a day to ourselves on the Saturday, to allow our hosts some rest from our Friday night of talking and drinking late into the night.  First stop was St James's Park, to meet another friend (not pictured, she's blog-shy!).  We had a long overdue catch-up over coffee and then headed out for a walk to send her toddler to sleep.  We passed Buckingham Palace and stopped for the obligatory photo opportunity, amongst the throngs of people doing the same.  I don't remember seeing the palace up close before.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Endings and Beginnings

Happy New Year!  Today dawned with patches of blue sky and a peep of sunshine here in the Rhondda Fawr.  It's a welcome relief from weeks of endless grey.  My last blog post was back in November, so there's rather a lot to catch up on.  For each event, one picture, and a description.  A whistle-stop tour of the last two months of my 2018...

My mum and I went for a rather festive afternoon tea at lovely Miskin Manor.  They were just starting to get their decorations up, and it was lovely to see a bit of colour to brighten up the drab weather.  I wore my late 1930s coat, along with a dress by Pretty Retro, and a fedora from M&S.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Westonbirt Arboretum

The Autumn colours have been particularly spectacular this year.  Here in the Rhondda, the landscape has looked more like North America in places than Wales.  We have ancient oak woods clinging to steep valley sides, and vast stretches of pines on the mountain tops.  In the valley bottoms are woodlands of ash, oak, sycamore, wych elm, alder and willow.  All of these trees have put on quite a show for us.  My favourite trees at Autumn have to be acers, also known as maples, which unfortunately for me don't grow in the wild here.  Luckily, we are within easy driving distance of Westonbirt Arboretum, with its world-renowned collection of Japanese maples.  A beautifully sunny but cold Autumn day dawned, so we hopped in the car headed across to Gloucestershire.  It was the day the clocks went back, so the extra hour was in our favour.

When we arrived it was already super busy - seems like a lot of people had the same idea as us.  Fortunately it's a very large site, of about 600 acres, with 17 miles of paths.  We headed off into the Old Arboretum area first, and enjoyed exploring the twisting pathways.  It wasn't long until we found the main attraction, a huge area of red Acers, casting a magical rose-hued light throughout the whole glade.  It was packed with people taking family portraits with dogs and children, Asian tourists doing selfies, and some serious photographers with big bits of kit.  We took a few snaps, but didn't linger too long as we knew there was still much to explore.  One of the other highlights was a raised wooden walkway that winds through part of the woodland, with little crow's nest lookout points.  It certainly gave a different perspective, being at squirrel-level up in the trees.

It was a cold day, but I was kept cosy in my new-to-me 1970s Eastex coat.  No, I don't need any more coats, but that doesn't stop me buying them - especially as this was just £3!  I also wore a 1970s hat, matching its navy colour with my tights and gloves.  As we were in an arboretum, I chose my horse-chestnut brooch to finish things off.  The Prada boots had an outing again, as they are a flat and sensible choice for walking around all day.  Even so, our legs were aching after walking solidly for about two and a half hours.  Back at the car, we had a welcome cuppa from the thermos we'd brought, and then decided it was time we headed back to Wales.  If the arboretum was closer, I would definitely be planning a return trip for their enchanted Christmas trail, as they deck out parts of the wood with lights.  I'm sure it would be spectacular.

I was left with one burning question - why have we had such a good display of Autumn colours this year?  I knew it was to do with the weather, but until I read this article, I wasn't sure of the science behind it.  Apparently, a warm summer is a contributing factor, as is not too many frosts early in the Autumn season.  If you don't like your news to be fake, I highly recommend The Conversation online news site.  It's written by contributing academics, so everything is fact-checked and presented in a non-sensationalised way.

Westonbirt @porcelinasworld

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