Cragside

On arriving at Cragside we did the Carriage Drive in the car, it is six miles long, The road winds around the hill past lots of tall trees and rhododendrons.

We stopped for a while to have a look at Nelly’s Moss Lake. William Armstrong created the lake in order to have water to provide hydropower electricity for his house and estate.

After parking the car we set off on foot, we didn’t know where to go first!

We were hungry (as usual) so started off with The Tea Rooms,

With tummies full we set off to explore. The big house was built into the rocks between 1869 and 1882. The house was equipped with all sorts of hydraulic machines including the lifts, and the lights all powered by hydroelectricity.

There is an iron bridge which spans the Debdon stream. We are standing on it in this photograph.

Here is the iron bridge photographed from below.

There are a few bridges in the woodland crossing the stream that runs down from the lake.

This bridge is on the way to the Power House which is at the bottom of a gorge, there were holes in the walls just the right size for bears to sit safely in for photographs.

It was quite a long way to the Power House.

We passed a big wheel which had been used as a water powered machine in farming.

We finally reached the Power House. Inside there was a turbine turning a dynamo that created the electricity for the house using water. Here we are looking at the dynamo.

It was quite a climb back up to the house to see the inside.

I had to stop and wait a little while for Nye who has shorter legs than me.

The food being prepared in the kitchen looked quite tasty, until the human pointed out that it was all plastic!

In the kitchen there was an absolutely huge pestle and mortar; initially we thought it was a washing dolly!

Down in the basement of the house there was an amazing spa, complete with a very deep plunge pool.

The shower was really impressive too. I was glad no one turned it on while I was stood under it though!

Upstairs we said ‘Hello’ to a one eared bear who was resting on a little bed.

In one area of the house there was a very interesting room showing Lord Armstrong’s experiments with electricity. This is the wine glass experiment.

Armstrong placed a cotton thread between two wine glasses filled with pure water. After applying a high voltage of electricity a watery connection formed, and after a while the thread pulled into one glass just leaving the a rope of water.

We had a wonderful time at Cragside, a really fascinating place to visit.

For more information see https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside

Horace the Alresford Bear 25/6/2022

Fountains Abbey & Studley Water Gardens

We have seen lots of photos of Fountains Abbey and were keen to get there to explore. As we walked down the path to it the ruined tower came into view.

We stopped for a rest and looked out through the meadow towards the Cellarium (I have used the guide leaflet to get the correct names, they aren’t word normally in a bear’s vocabulary)

The humans decided to do the walk along the water gardens before exploring the ruins. Here we are running through the meadow to join them.

Studley Water Gardens are really beautiful. They were created by John Aislabie in the early 18th Century nearly 300 years ago.

When we had got as far as The Temple of Deity we noticed some weird heads poking out of the water in the lake. The quickest way down to the water’s edge was to roly poly.

There were several statue heads in the water. This one had a garland of flowers around it.

Further along on our walk there was a canoe full of animal statues in the water. Having seen the heads in the water at first we thought that they were replicas of something that had always been there! However, it turned out that they were part of an art trail, Waterlogged, by an organisation called Henshaws. We enjoyed looking at them and thought they were quite quirky.

When bears find a tunnel exploration is necessary, so we made our way through this one.

We eventually emerged into the daylight.

The Serpentine Tunnel led to The Octagon House. Can you see us in the photo?

We went back down to the lakeside path until we reached the Fishing Tabernacle. Fishing used to take place from here, and below the building sluice gates that keep the water in the lakes are hidden.

Walking back towards the Abbey we discovered lots of animal sculptures floating on a raft, which was also part of the ‘Waterlogged’ art trail.

On arriving back at the Abbey we started to explore. The building of Fountains Abbey by monks commenced in 1132, so it has been there a very long time. We climbed up some steps leading from the ruins of The Warming Room.

We could see the Cellarium from the top.

One of the humans took a photo of us from the bottom.

On entering The Cellarium we were amazed by the wonderful ceiling structure.

Legs were getting a tad tired but we managed to find the energy to get to the prison.

We didn’t feel very comfortable in the Prison.

Before leaving we had a look inside The Tower, which like the rest of the Abbey doesn’t have a roof.

After making our way back up the hill we went in the shop. Instead of buying cake in the cafe we bought ourselves a little pine cone hedgehog each. The hedgehogs are made by a local wood carver, they will remind us of our lovely day spent at Fountains Abbey and Studley Water Gardens.

For more information see https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey-and-studley-royal-water-garden

Horace the Alresford Bear 22/6/2022

Exploring Shugborough

After walking a little while from the car park a very big house came into view.

The main house was closed on the day we visited, but ‘downstairs’ where the servants worked was open, the area of big houses that we find most interesting. There was a huge iron warming stove covered in lots of flat irons. Apparently it was originally used in a training school for maids.

We were amazed by the huge contraption that was used for wringing out wet clothes.

The copper boiler was huge; I was a bit worried that Nye might fall in.

A laundry maid’s life was very hard, they had to get up at 5am every day to fill the coppers with water using buckets.

The kitchens were very big too, with a huge collection of jelly moulds.

Being in the kitchen made us feel very hungry so we called into the Mansion tea room for a pasty lunch.

Here we are outside The Flight House.

Inside The Flight House there were beautiful stained glass windows.

The River Trent runs through the Estate. We stopped and watched the swans for a while.

Swans always look very serene on the the water.

This is the Chinese House. It is thought to be one of the oldest Chinese style houses built in the UK and dates back to 1746.

The bridge makes an excellent backdrop for a photo of two handsome bears!

Only staff and pigs were allowed through this gate, so I didn’t proceed and further.

The Tamworth pigs came outside to say Hello in pig language, the humans lifted us up so that we could see them.

We wondered why this cow only had one horn. She was expecting a calf soon and staying cool under the shade of the tree.

The dipping pond in the kitchen garden was dry. Gardeners would have used this to fill watering cans. Shugborough was only taken over by National Trust in 2016 and they are still in the process of restoring it.

There were beautiful flowers and vegetables available on the produce table. We thought about having some rhubarb, but being on holiday the humans had already organised our food.

When we got back to the car we sat and enjoyed a rhubarb yogurt each, eating them with rather strange bits of cutlery known as ‘sporks’.

Shugborough is a great place to visit with plenty to explore outside and inside, though we were only able to see the downstairs area as the house and Lichfield apartment are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays at the moment. Please check before you visit!

For more information see https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shugborough-estate

Horace the Alresford Bear 21/6/2022

Symonds Yat adventure

Today has been the hottest day of the year so far. The humans decided to take full advantage of the sunshine and have a day out at Symonds Yat. I was jolly pleased they took me along too. First thing I did when we arrived was to make a cup of tea for everyone.

Shortly after finishing our tea we set off upstream along the river Wye in our kayak.

After about half a mile we came across a swan with her cygnets.

After paddling for another ten minutes we paddled past lots of geese and their goslings.

It was great fun being on the river but after a while my tummy started rumbling for food. We went back downstream to our base where I cooked some sausages to make hotdogs.

Yum yum yum. Food always tastes better in the open air!

We decided to spend the afternoon walking along the downstream section of river. The humans wouldn’t take the kayak that way as there are rapids in that part of the river, and they only do calm water kayaking. In order to get to the other side of the river we had to use the ferry. I watched as the ferry man pulled the boat across using his hands holding onto a cable strung across the river.

It was quite a quick journey across to the other side.

We walked along the path for about one and a half miles before reaching a rope bridge that we could cross back again on. I stopped for a drink as was feeling thirsty in the heat.

We don’t have any photos of me toddling across the bridge as my human finds the bridge a bit wibbly wobbly and gets a bit scared crossing it. She was too busy holding the handrails to take photos! Though I did manage to get her to take my photo just before I walked across.

It was indeed rather wobbly especially when other humans were also walking over. Only 6 humans are allowed on it at a time. We walked back towards our base and I enjoyed looking at the scenery. There is a special trail marked out with poles over the rapids for humans that like to race kayaks through them

I squeezed through two tree trunks to see another view.

Sitting on top the tree trunk was more comfortable.

We will visit Symonds Yat again one day I am sure, it’s not too far from Bristol and is a good place to kayak, walk and cook sausages.

Horace the Alresford Bear 17/6/22

Kinver Rock Houses

Until 1965 people were living in houses carved into the rock at Kinver. It was a very interesting place to visit. Here are my photos. Please note the captions are below the photos (they are usually above them!)

Two of the Rock Houses have been restored.
Here I am outside of one.
I rather liked the wash stand that had a mirror.
The kitchen had some things that people used to eat years ago on the shelves.
This is an old fashioned washing machine.
This cave was being used as a shed with tools inside.
There was a splendid range in one of the cottages, and I enjoyed warming my fur next to it.
More interesting bottles from years ago.
A stone hot water bottle; we have one of these at home that we use to warm the rabbit hutch sometimes.
Here I am watching the world go by from this cottage.
The hole in the well is very deep and goes down very very long way. I was glad to see a grid on top to stop people and bears falling in.
The top caves haven’t been restored into houses but visitors can still walk around them.
The buildings at the top have been restored and are now a cafe.
Yum yum yum….

As you can see I ended my visit in the cafe. I was hoping to sit outside under the top cave but a cold wind had blown up so we sat inside the cafe. The women running the cafe were very friendly and helpful.

For more information see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kinver-edge-and-the-rock-houses

Horace the Alresford Bear 23/4/22

A cottage in Cadgwith

We stayed in lovely little National Trust holiday cottage called Ruan.

There are wonderful views of Cadgwith Cove from the cottage.

A lovely place to enjoy a bun or two!

The beach at Cadgwith is split into two by a promontory known as The Todden. There is a great view of the Fishing boats from The Todden.

The fishermen keep lobster pots stacked up on a wall nearby.

Here we are sat watching the waves on the half of the beach that isn’t used by fishermen.

We walked around to the other half of the beach and climbed up onto one of the fishing boats.

In this photo it is possible to see the holiday cottage, the terrace of three cottages is just to the right of my right ear. We stayed in the one at the end of the terrace, just to the left of Nye’s left ear. Ears are very useful.

Right opposite our cottage, on the other side of Cadgwith Cove perched up on the top of the cliff is a very small bear sized house.

Here we are back in our cottage garden, you might just be able to make out the tiny house over the other side, it is to the left of my left ear.

After a few hours out exploring in the cold we warmed our fur next to the log burner, but didn’t get too close!

Every day for breakfast I made porridge, which is good for bears and humans.

We forgot to get any honey, so used sultanas to sweeten our breakfast.

When the weather was wet and windy, it was fun just to watch the waves from broom cupboard window!

We also kept busy making a jigsaw puzzle of the cove.

While the humans were out one day we decided to go to the log store and replenish supplies.

It was quite challenging opening the door but we got there in the end.

Between us we filled up a very big bag of logs, but sadly we couldn’t carry it, so had to wait for the humans to return to get the logs into the cottage.

We enjoyed a treat of special cream choux buns. Bears do like buns.

The Devil’s Frying pan was just along from our cottage, so we went to take a look.

We were in such a hurry to see it we nearly got stuck in the stile.

The Devil’s Frying Pan is an inlet where the sea whooshes in, with a steep drop down to it, so we stayed safely behind the fence.

On our last day at Ruan in Cadgwith we were able to spend a short while warming our fur in the sun (we can’t do this for long as sunrays aren’t really good for our fur, but in winter the sun is far away).

When it was time to go home, Nye wanted to stay a bit longer, but the housekeeper had arrived and more humans would be arriving to stay in the cottage later, so Nye came along with us.

We had a lovely time in Cadgwith. For details of the cottage see: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/ruan-cornwall

Horace the Alresford Bear 13/3/2022

Eden Project

When we arrived at Eden Project we thought for a moment we might be on a different planet!

The model of the giant bee was rather disconcerting. We like bees, as they make honey, but not giant ones.

Back in 1999 Eden Project was a disused empty clay pit.

Humans built the Biomes and filled them with plants that usually grow in warm climates. There is a tropical rainforest biome, and a Mediterranean biome. It’s very warm and humid in the rainforest biome

Baka people live in the rainforest in huts a bit like this one while they are out hunting and gathering food. The women build the huts using weatherproof leaves from the ngongo tree.

The bamboo at Eden is much much much bigger than the bamboo we have in our garden at home. The stems are nearly as wide as me.

We had a look at a little stall showing crops grown in West Africa, the cocoa being of particular interest.

Human activity is starting to affect the weather around the world, which is being highlighted by this model of the earth showing the delicate balance.

There isn’t a photo of us on the high rope bridge, as our human was too busy getting to the other side, but here we are about to go across. It didn’t wobble as much as we thought it might.

This tropical flower looks more like a fluffy pom pom. It is a Bixa flower. Many people who live in the Amazon region paint their bodies with with the red juice which repels insects. It is also used as a food colouring, annanto, which is used to colour foods such as butter and cheese. Red Leceister cheese is orange coloured due to the annanto added to it.

We found rubber trees with lots of information about how rubber is extracted from them, and had a rest on old tyres made from rubber from rubber trees.

Here we are sat in front of a coffee bush. The coffee we buy in shops looks like the beans next to me, while those next to Horace are in their raw form prior to being roasted.

These pineapples have a lot of growing to do before someone can eat them.

We found some orange fruits on a plant but forgot to make a note of what they are; if anyone reading this knows, do please let us know!

We went on to visit the Mediterranean biome, but forgot to take any photographs, silly bears! Anyway, we were getting hungry so went downstairs to the cafe and ordered pizzas, and very yummy they were too….

All in all, a lovely day out, though a tad warm for wearing fur coats!

For more information see: edenproject.com

Horace the Alresford Bear 13/3/2022

PS Please let us know in the comments if you know what sort of plants are in the photo before the pizza photo.

Revisiting Lanhydrock with Nye

It was good to be able to visit Lanhydrock again, I visited back in 2016 but didn’t find the swimming pool then.

Before exploring we had some lunch in the old stables. Soup is good for bears.

With full tummies we set off to explore the gardens….

Some of the camellia were in flower and looked very beautiful.

We found a lovely little cottage…

Also lots of cheerful daffodils in the woodland garden…

Finally we found the swimming pool, which is next to a stream. Many years ago the owners of Lanhydrock would have swum here.

We decided to stay in dry ground!

We were hungry again after all the exploring so stopped for a cream tea before leaving.

We really like Lanhydrock and will visit again.

See my previous blog at https://horacethealresfordbear.com/2016/09/24/lanhydrock/

For more information about Lanhydrock see: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock

Horace the Alresford Bear 4/3/2022

Searching for snowdrops at Lacock

Today we went to Lacock to look for snowdrops.

We followed a walking route around the town. The Ford was very full of water.

Not too deep for the Postman’s van….

It just ploughed through the water…

….and continued on it’s way.

We walked a mile or so next to the river until Lacock Abbey came into view, then had a little rest next to the river.

Some of the styles are quite difficult to climb over and have special holes next to them for small bears to go through.

I couldn’t bring myself to jump so ended up using the small Bear hole with Nye.

We called in the Abbey Cloisters, well worth a visit (Harry Potter was filmed here)

The main mission today though was to find snowdrops, and we found quite a few.

We also found a friendly badger sitting inside a Wellington boot. Life is full of surprises.

The last visit to Lacock was in summer, when all the trees were in leaf and lots of flowers were everywhere. See my previous blog at https://horacethealresfordbear.com/2020/08/04/lacock-adventure/

For more information about Lacock see:https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lacock-abbey-fox-talbot-museum-and-village

Horace the Alresford Bear 11/2/22

Dyrham Park in winter

A chilly wind blows at the top of Dyrham Park in winter.  

Fortunately I have my fur to keep me warm.

There are also trees that bears can shelter in.

The gardens near the house are more sheltered from wind.  I was pleased to find Percy the Park Keeper’s wheelbarrow Bear sized….

The sun came out very briefly, just enough to warm my tummy fur a tiny bit.

I posed for a selfie in the splendid Christmas wreath.

I was starting to feel a bit chilly so headed to the hot food hut to get some lunch.

I opted for a cheese and onion pasty and a nice cup of tea,  and very much enjoyed them sat in the courtyard.

I will probably visit again soon!   For more information about Dyrham see: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyrham-park

Horace the Alresford Bear  5/12/2021