Last Day of April….

April Showers Bring Forth May Flowers…..

The old rhyme may well be true even if this year April has, until the last few days, not provided many showers. But the flowers both in our garden and in the wild are showing their colours.

The Poppy above is a bit of a ‘Cross Over’…..usually found along country lanes, in the shadow of hedges. However these little beauties have self seeded in our garden some years ago and for a few brief days flourish. Not sure what their real name is but we have always known them as Welsh Poppies. They are similar to Icelandic Poppies but very much smaller. The single flower head is not much bigger then my thumb nail, it is carried on a slim but long stem that hardly looks strong enough, the length of the stem depending upon the growth around it as it stretches to reach above all else. Colour is orange fading to deep yellow and the petals just like tissue paper.

Again many class this little wonder as a weed…..so let me repeat my mantra “a weed is just a flower in the wrong place”……but who’s to say which is the wrong place.

30th April
(C) David Oakes 2015

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Wordless Wednesday….Another Favourite Place

Castle and Roses….

Chirk-Castle

Location:- Chirk Castle (circa 1295) from the Rose Garden, Ceiriog Valley,Wales

29th April

(C) Davis Oakes 2015

Spring is full of Surprises

I am always amazed that on such a relatively small group of island as the U.K. that the weather should be so varied from place to place and from day to day.

Today the forecaster predicted a return to wintery conditions.  Very true for to the north of us there was snow and strong winds.  To the south it was heavy rains.

But across the central belt we enjoyed a very sunny spring day…… we did have a north wind but the cold it carried before it did little to reduce the warmth from the sunshine.  All in all it was just a great day to enjoy the new ‘spring green’ filling the woodland.  Bluebell carpets, Cowslips and lush wild hedgerows racing to cover every space, even Fallow Deer calmly grazing and still waters on the Lake.

Dreaded by Gardeners who wage war on them,the Dandelion is now gracing the hedgerows….as well as many otherwise pristine lawn……A weed some cry reaching for the extermination liquid. I prefer to think that Dandelions aren’t weeds just a plant in the wrong place and a garden may well be the wrong place….the hedgerow is another matter.

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The Dandy of the hedgerow

28th April

(C) David Oakes 2015

Not Long Now…..

Clematis Buds are near to Bursting……

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It looks like a bumper display of flowers are in store for the garden this Spring……  Over the past two days the buds on the Clematis have suddenly swollen in small clusters ready to burst.  At the moment the sun is shining but heavy rains are forecast which may well not just dampen our spirits but damage the flower blossom just as it bursts.  We just have to wait and see.

27th April

(C) David Oakes 2015

It All Started with a Baker……

Sometimes the Truth is Stranger than Fiction……

In this instance it all started with a Baker from Derby.  Improbable as it may seem now he had a dream in which the Virgin Mary told him to go to Depedale (now Dale Abbey) and take up the solitary life of a Hermit, living in solitude and devoting his time to prayer. This was early 1100’s.  The Hermit carved out a cave in which to live from the wooded Sandstone cliffs of the Dale.

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His solitary life must have been a meagre one but one he endured for many years.  Inside the cave you can see the old cross carved in the wall but also sadly much modern graffiti.  Even though the world beyond the cave must have beckoned he remained faithful to the commandment of the dream.

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All changed when the Lord of the Manor spotted smoke from the Hermits cave, investigated and heard his story.  The Hermits commitment so impressed him that he not only allowed the Hermit to remain but bestowed a sum of money upon him to secure a local Mill.  The Hermit still remained faithful and built a small Chapel and home just below the cave.

That Chapel is still there.  Whilst it and the adjoining house has been rebuilt in various stages over the centuries the original size and shape of the Chapel remain much as it was when built in the early 1200’s.

The Chapel is now known as All Saints, Dale and remains one of the smallest in the U.K.  Measuring 25ft x25ft it is crammed with wooden pews, small alter and of course a pulpit (the later only being squeezed in in 1634)…..

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The walls appear whitewashed but in recent years a Wall Painting was discovered hiding behind the plaster.  For heritage reasons it has mostly been left undisturbed…

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The windows have lost most of the coloured decoration they once had but a little survives that provides a clue to its style…

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I mentioned that the Chapel was also part of a building that became the Hermits home.  Much altered and with an equally colourful story, today at first glance that building does much to hide the existence of the Chapel….

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The Chapel is to the left on the lower floor level.  The remainder is now a private dwelling but in the past it has been a farm, an Inn “The Blue Bell”, and the upper floor has also been a hospital for the Abbey.

Hard to believe when you visit this little village today, but the Hermits story and achievements attracted a wider religious audience, and a large Abbey was established in the early 1200’s. History tells us that its early years were problematic and at time economically unsustainable. But after the acquisition of much land in the area it succeeded and became an large and important Abbey. The 1539 Act of Dissolution lead to the destruction of this and many other Abbeys in this case ending over 4 centuries of monastic life in Dale.

The only indication to the size of the Abbey is a 40ft high Chancel Window.  Some other foundation stones can be found but I guess most of the stones were robbed (as was the practice) to build houses in the area.  It does seem rather undignified for such a part of a grand Abbey now to be pressed into service as a field boundary….

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The Village of Dale, because of its history, is allowed a good degree of tranquillity now listed as a Historic Conservation Area…

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As for All Saints Church…well the Chapel still plays an important community role and continues its history as a place of worship….

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All Saints, Dale Abbey, Derbyshire.

26th April

(C) David Oakes 2015