Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This past weekend, we finally made it over to nearby Cherkley Court & Gardens, which was the home of William Maxwell Aitken, (1879-1964), the first Lord Beaverbrook, and a former Member of Parliament and newspaper mogul.
I'm not sure when the house was originally built, but the website notes that it was damaged by fire in 1893.
In around 1910, the story goes, that Aitken was driving in the countryside with his wife and their friends, Mr. & Mrs. Rudyard Kipling, and they stumbled across the lane to home and a for sale sign. After Aitken took one look at the house, he declared that he would buy it. He rebuilt and restored Cherkley Court in the French chateau style.
Here are some of the photos we snapped while walking in the gardens.
There is a lovely cafe on the premises, and they have outdoor seating when the rain is off and the sun is shining. The day we were there, the skies varied from clear to gray, and back again. We started a walk with a very cool breeze, and half way into our walk, we ended up in a 15-minute rain shower.
We took refuge in one of the gazebos in the garden, along with two elderly English ladies out for a garden stroll.
They were interested in my American accent, and assumed I had come from thousands of miles to see Cherkley Gardens. I think they were a little disappointed to learn that I live just up the road! They weren't the least bit interested in Niall's very definitive Ulster accent. Ah, but he's used to being snubbed!
While at Cherkley, would took time to enjoy a cream tea, complete with fresh scones, clotted cream, Tregothnan kea plum jam, and Tregothnan tea. If interested in the Tregothnan products, please click here. We would have loved to sit on the patio, but the weather kept us from doing so. Maybe next time!
Click to read more about Cherkley Gardens and Lord Beaverbrook.
We decided to join up and become Friends of Cherkley, which will entitle us to return to the gardens anytime during the summer season. We find it fascinating to see how the vegetation changes through the year. Cherkley is open until 30 September.
Monday, July 13, 2009
As the weather has turned more manageable again, I decided to drag the family to the nearby Box Hill Village Fair. This annual event featured some interesting activities, including Birds of Prey Demonstration and the always-anticipated Dog Show.
I suppose there were about 50 vendors of all varieties at the fair, too. It all made for an enjoyable day out as a family, and we all were a little bit sunburned when we came home.
We got there just in time to see a demonstration of the birds of prey, featuring Honey, a European Eagle Owl, which some say is the largest of all the owls. Even though it looks huge next to the other birds of prey, this particular owl, Honey, weighs between 3 and 5 pounds only! Goes to show you how powerful and strong, yet light, bird bones are.
I thought you would enjoy some photos of Honey and her handler. Yes, one of the photos shows Honey with a chick hanging from her mouth. This is the real world after all!
This weekend, we also managed to catch another elusive bird in our camera lens, although this one is much more placid! The Ringed-Neck Parakeet is such a beautiful green parrot with a lovely elegant tail.
I've learned to recognize the call as they fly overhead; we have at least five living in our neighborhood. However, they rarely come into to feed on our feeding station. Amazingly, we had two of them come to munch and investigate in our back garden on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the starlings are so annoying that they wouldn't give the poor parrots any peace, and they flew off after 10 minutes or so. During that time, I was able to snap some photos at a distance; hence, the graininess of the image. Still well worth the effort!