Swoop, swirl, glide, dive… Sweeping over the waves or clinging on the cliffs, seabirds are everywhere! This is Bempton Cliffs on the coast of Yorkshire just north of Bridlington. Gulls, gannets and guillemots; razorbills, fulars and kittiwakes all circle around these sheer white sides and manage to find a ledge, a niche, to nest and lay eggs. It seems precarious and counter-intuitive but they’ve been doing it successfully for years so I guess they know what they’re doing. Puffins are about – but none visible while we were there. The bird above is a gannet, by the way.
Even a grand mansion benefits from a little bit of careful framing. The house is now the Northern College but the gardens, from where this is taken, are open to the public. Some nice variation from parkland to ‘Union Jack’ beds and then the slope up to a folly castle. Good place for picnic. On the way back we took in the fernery and a walk glowing with camelias. Finally, a view of the restored glasshouse which is majestic.
Conwy Castle on a misty morning, seen from the walls which encircle the town, giving excellent views not only of the castle but of the estuary and the hills and everyone’s back gardens. It’s a lovely town – compact enough to walk around in a short while but with everything you might need for a relaxing week. Lots of great scenery within a short journey of course – or if we fancied a three minute walk, The Albion pub was just one of the best, and there was a chip shop round the corner!
Too often Surrey is associated with boring commuter towns, traffic and suburban sprawl. But there are other parts of the county which are beautiful. Some of the lanes through the North Downs are more like Devon roads with their overhanging branches and deep cuttings. One long and winding lane led onto the road to Ockley where we found the Inn on the Green and a nice lunch – together with views over the green to some interesting cottages. Most properties in the Hills would probably need a banker’s or a footballer’s income but there’s no charge for visitors – yet.
One of the many delights of the Bowes Museum is its collection of art. I’m ashamed to say that I can’t remember the artist who painted this but it’s just one of a really wide-ranging collection. (See also the detail from one of the Canalettos, below.) Well worth the trip to Barnard Castle along some (alternately) sun and rain drenched back roads. We were just too late to see the mechanical Swan in action but never mind – there’s plenty of interest here, not least the story of the amazing couple who built and filled this French style chateau in Yorkshire.
John Harrison makes the big time! A cleverly curated exhibition at the National Maritime Museum has Harrison and his clocks centre stage – where they should be. Once again, the coming together of science and aesthetics takes your breath away when you see them, especially H1, his first, which made its watery debut on the River Humber just down the lane from here. The rest of the exhibition is good too: well thought out and innovative where it needs to be, as some of the concepts and the arguments need resenting carefully if they are to be conveyed meaningfully. Next day, off to Kew Gardens!