We went up to see my parents in Stoke-on-Trent just after Christmas. We arrived a bit early, so we went to the Gladstone Pottery Museum. Well, we tried to, but it was closed.
Here are its old potbanks – these used to be all over Stoke but now most of them have been demolished now that most pottery is made overseas.
We went to the canal instead.
There are lots of interesting canal signpost/sculptures along here.
There was an old railway line crossing the canal here, which is now a footpath.
I love these trees and the shapes they make, especially the negative shapes between the branches.
The ducks were enjoying themselves.
We saw a few old structures while we were in Pembrokeshire. These were the oldest.
These were neolithic (I think) burial sites, and there are several scattered round the coast. Our chief difficulty was finding them, as neither of them were signposted!
This was called Carn Llidi and was along the coast path in quite a lonely, stony area. Anselm provides quite a good guide to the size of the stones.
The kids enjoyed climbing on the rocks and attacking one another.
The second was called Carreg Samson and was in the middle of a farmer’s field. Here it is in the drizzle and murk…
As you can see, it is bigger than the other one…
On the last day of our trip, we went to Pembroke Castle. The kids had fun because it is pretty intact for a medieval castle, with lots of steps to towers, narrow corridors leading all over the place and walks around the walls.
All those steps were very tiring!
I liked these little old houses outside the walls.
While we were in Pembrokeshire, we went on a small boat to Skomer Island, a nature reserve. It is part of a group of three off that part of the coast. Earlier in the summer it has puffins but they had left for the Bay of Biscay, unfortunately. But we saw lots of gulls and other wildlife, including a pied wagtail from a hide in the middle of the island. It was lovely just to be able to walk around somewhere free of cars. It is quite a small island – it only took us a couple of hours to walk round it.
This is called The Neck, and you can only go there if you are on bona fide research – everyone else has to keep to the very clear paths.
This part apparently was the best place to see seabirds, but most of them must have been out at sea when we were there. Amazing, sheer cliffs …
There were lots of burrows on the island – the manx sheerwater bird apparently makes them, along with the numerous rabbits around. We saw lots of gory bodies of these birds as we walked along – eaten by the gulls in the night.
The views were amazing.
Look at the orange lichen on the rocks!
I don’t know if these are burrows, plant-covered rocks or strange growing clumps of plants but they looked weird…
That shape on the top of the rock is a sleeping seal. It blends in quite nicely with the rock itself! It didn’t move for ages…
There are some more seals on this beach if you look carefully! They drag themselves up at low tide to sun themselves.
Sorry for the quiet few days. I’ve been helping with the kids’ crafts activities at the holiday club at church all week so I’ve been absolutely shattered by the afternoons. So here are a few more pics of the views from the tower we went up to in Oxford. Maybe in a few days I’ll have something else to talk about!
This is one of the colleges.
This is the Radcliffe Camera, which is a sort of overflow for the Bodlean Library. Apparently the Dangerous Sports Society at the university used to require people to climb up to the top of it as a condition of membership!
I liked the colourfully painted shops on the High Street.
But this is my favourite… looking at people enjoying a cup of coffee down below…
The herbal medicine course was great fun. We did it with Sarah Williams, a medical herbalist. She passed round herbs in various forms for us to taste, we made creams and lotions and learnt about the actions performed by various herbs on the body, and all sorts of other information. We also had a herb walk, to help us identify herbs in the wild. There were a couple of trout ponds on site where people were learning fishing and we found quite a few around one of these – St John’s Wort, water mint, meadowsweet and lots of others. I felt sorry for the poor fishermen because just as we were all going on our herb walk, the kids were raftbuilding and there were also some people doing oil paintings of the area! I wonder if they caught any fish that morning!
Here is the general area where we walked:
Here are a few herbs I took pictures of:
This is meadowsweet
I don’t know what this is called but I love the halo effect caused by the flash!
I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything for nearly a week – we were actually away on holiday the week before last at Marlborough College Summer School and had a wonderful time, but I came back with an infected armpit which needs antibiotics. As they are the third lot of antibiotics since May, due to my dental abscess, I’m going to take great care over the next few months… I also had to have a visit to the out of hours doctor this morning because the antibiotics gave me nasty stomach bloating so I’m now on a different sort. Hopefully these will be better!
When I say ‘we’ were at Marlborough College, I actually mean me and the kids – DH went to an airshow in America. The kids were entertained from 8.30 am till 9 pm and I got to go to two marvellous courses – the Magic of Herbs and Creative Papercraft. I will try and post photos shortly!
To cover it chronologically, however, here are some photos of Avebury, which is 6 miles away, where we stopped and spent a few hours on the way down. (Avebury is supposed to be linked to Stonehenge in some way – the latter is not far away). There is a very impressive stone circle there, with massive earthworks and you can walk all the way round. (We also coincided with a car boot sale and football tournament which pleased the kids!).
Here is a row of the stones. This is just a few of them. They look quite small from here…
… but this is deceptive.
Here are some of the earthworks around it.
It is a very touristy village (the site is owned by the National Trust) but here is one of the picturesque houses in it.