Monday, April 12, 2010

Houses and gardens

I've been gardening but have been driven inside by the heat! All right, it's not hot by continental standards, but for our little northern island, it's toasty out there if you're actually working. It must be ... oh... coming up for 20 Celsius, I'd think - the high 60s Fahrenheit. (Don't laugh. This is Scotland. And I'm wearing a black tee-shirt and black trousers. Gardening clothes, you know, though black does absorb heat as our science teachers told us. The cats find the same problem.)

Above you see the view from the house of the Ladies of Llangollen near Llangollen in Wales, not far from Chester. (The double "l"s are pronounced a bit like a Scottish "ch", as in "loch", or the German "ch" as in "ach" or "Eichmann". So, "Chlangochlan". Sort of.) The Ladies were two "romantic friends" as they were called - who set up house here in 1780 in what was regarded as a cottage. They called it Plas Newydd (New Place - one could imagine more exciting names, but it was their house) and panelled the inside with lots of bits of mediaeval carved wood from churches, old houses and so on. The wooden fancy bits on the outside were added by a subsequent owner though the Ladies had the porches made. They were actually Anglo-Irish and their families didn't approve of their relationship, though later accepted the inevitable and gave them an allowance. The Ladies became quite famous, though not for actually doing anything as far as I can tell, and they were visited by various distinguised people of the day.

It was interesting in a mad sort of way and it shows what life can be like if you don't have anything much to do. They had maids and gardeners so just spent their days reading and so on. Very restful.

Llangollen itself has a steam train. Mr Life takes some photos.

It's a pretty little town, though a bit full of tourists.

We walked along the canal. Look! Sunshine again!

We also went to Chirk Castle, which has extensive views. Whenever I'm in the country, I wish I didn't live in a city. Just gazing out over distances empty of people feeds the soul. Though I like people too.

It's rather a fine place, satifyingly castle-ish, don't you think?

It was so wonderful to wander around in the sunshine. The winter has been so long and cold. I can't believe that Australians are still in shorts in what looks like baking sun - which they are - I've been reading blogs. Sunny clime people probably can't imagine what it's like to have warm sunshine on your face after months of cold, mostly dull weather (fantastic) - though as you see, Mr Life is still wearing his jumper. It wasn't that hot.

Ness Botanic Garden. Not quite up to the standard of Edinburgh's - but I would say that, wouldn't I? But most acceptable.

Great magnolias. I didn't know they grew that big, and according to a radio programme I heard yesterday, neither did anyone else, or at least no one knew they would grow this big here. The first ones brought over by plant hunters are only now getting to this sort of size. Just as well I never planted this variety in my front garden, though in fact I could sell the house and be thoroughly dead before it would have grown this large.

And here's Port Sunlight, a "model" village built by William Hesketh Lever for the workers in his nearby Sunlight soap factory. Very cute. Prince Charles would like it. We liked it too, though it must be a bit tedious for its inhabitants to have tourists wandering around looking in their windows.

Lots of open spaces. I wish our area had as many.

Mr Life inspects a house.

Building started in 1888 and as you can see, the houses are in the Arts and Crafts style. Port Sunlight contains 900 Grade II listed buildings, and was declared a Conservation Area in 1978.
And now, sitting in my cold study, I'm distinctly chilly and will return to my gardening.


  1. Absolutely lovely pictures! It's very chilly and rather wet in Berlin these days, unfortunately.

  2. Sixty degrees F sees us wrapped in our woollies! Glad Spring has found its way to you. You deserve it after enduring all that cold and snow. Such lovely, settled looking places and buildings.....sigh.

  3. What beautiful photos and interesting stories. I remember going to Wales when I was about 7 - my uncle took us. I wanted to live there!

    I like your comment about having not much of anything to do and just sitting around reading. Doesn't that sound heavenly!

    p.s. It's about 5 degrees celsius here. We're still in our woolies!

  4. Wow! It looks absolutely gorgeous Isabelle! You do make me laugh though -- it was 65 amd breezy here today and I was clutching my jacket around my neck when I was outside!

  5. I've always had a yen to go to Port Sunlight and/or Saltaire. No idea why I haven't been as neither can be more than 90 minutes from home!! Get on with it woman!!

    Very interesting to see the sights of your hols, glad you had good weather.

    Lesley x

  6. Anonymous2:26 pm

    Vicky from East Texas says...Beautiful! I've always wanted to go to Scotland. Now I can see that I just thought I wanted to go, because I know now that I WANT to go! I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing your pictures. I'm like you in that my nest is empty and I don't like it...but we have grandchildren and that makes those empty years fade away. By the way, "Mr Life still has on his jumpers"...what are jumpers?

  7. Only one jumper, Vicky, but it's what you would call a sweater, I think. Always sounds a bit unsavoury to me, "sweater". You know: "Horses sweat, men perspire but ladies merely glow" as they used to say at my rather refined school.

    And to be accurate, Chester is in England, not Scotland. Sorry to mislead you.

  8. I loved the photos! The castle-esque place was beautiful!

  9. You are in the wrong job, Isabelle - you should be in the tourist industry! Your photos and accompanying descriptions are enough to make anybody want to visit this lovely town.
    I am curious as to why you say Prince Charles would like Port Sunlight. Is he 'into' Tudor Village architecture? Correct me if I'm wrong - I understood that style of black and white woodwork was called "Tudor"..