the humble bumble

One of the things we noticed on our earlier visits to Tasmania was the presence of the bumblebee, something we had only seen in Britain. I was distracted from my gardening recently by the frenzied activity around the Grevillea.

1.Grevillea

I sat with my camera, trying to capture these gorgeous little creatures at work. Bombus terrestris have round, furry bodies with a yellow band across the thorax and abdomen and a buff coloured tail end.

2.bumble bee3.bumble bee

They were first found in Tasmania in 1992, presumably introduced from New Zealand. Like their honey bee relatives, the bumbles feed on nectar. They lap up the liquid with their long, hairy tongues, sometimes making a hole in the base of the flower to access the nectar.

4.bumble bee5.bumble bee

Our cooler climate doesn’t bother these bees, they can absorb heat from even weak sunshine and are well insulated under their thick coats.

6.bumble bee

Bumblebees are very social insects and, apparently, very smart. There have been many studies on the behaviour of bumbles, I like the idea that they can play football

https://www.nature.com/news/bees-learn-football-from-their-buddies-1.21540

7.bumble bee

Unfortunately, in Australia the bumblebees are considered feral, with some concern that, being such efficient pollinators, they will increase the spread of environmental weeds. However, their decline in Europe, North America and Asia is causing concern as they are important agricultural pollinators. Tomato growers in Tasmanian have fought for years to change the laws to allow them to use bumblebees as pollinators but their applications have been rejected on environmental grounds.

8.bumble bee

The Conservatory

Over the years of living here in Tasmania, we have made many trips to Launceston. About halfway along the Bass Highway, at a place called Parramatta Creek, there is a fascinating building that has always intrigued us. The conservatory was built 40 years ago by a Devonport man who designed it to house his grand piano.

1.Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory

The mother-daughter team who run the café and providore approached the owner of the building and he eventually agreed to sell. In March 2015, The Tasmanian Food & Wine Conservatory opened. The interior is reminiscent of a bygone era,

2.interior Conservatory

the furnishings are comfortable and inviting.

The beautiful grand piano has pride of place.

The shelves are stocked with 100% Tasmanian goods from the best growers and producers across the state.

I took a stroll around the gardens before lunch, the late spring rewarded with some magnificent blooms.

27.front garden

Returning through the rear entrance,

36.rear view

lunch was served. The menu changes daily to make the most of fresh, local produce. Two of us chose Okonomiyaki; Japanese savoury pancake served with Scottsdale twice cooked sticky pork belly, crushed toasted peanuts, crispy fried shallots, bean shoots, fresh chilli and Thirlstane Gardens coriander.

It was a tough decision between the pork and the Braefield pulled lamb burger on a Pigeon Whole bakery brioche bun with smoky baba ganoush, baby spinach, crispy Brandsema balsamic eggplant and house pickled red onion served with sweet potato chips and tzatziki.

39.Pulled lamb burger

There are also vegetarian options, including a selection of delicious dips.

40.dips

Of course, the local wines are superb. I don’t think we can travel to Launceston without stopping in for, at least, a coffee and cake.

41.not our car42.Tasmanian Food & Wine Conservatory

https://www.facebook.com/Tasmanianfoodandwineconservatory/

Shakespeare’s Stratford

Stratford-upon-Avon is a wonderful town and no visit would be complete without a slathering of Shakespeare. It seemed logical to begin at the birthplace of the brilliant bard. William was the third of eight children born to John and Mary who owned the largest house on Henley Street.

1.Shakespeare's Birthplace

The early 16th century building also housed John Shakespeare’s successful glove making business.

2.Shakespeare's Birthplace

William lived here with his wife, Anne Hathaway, for the first five years of their marriage. After John’s death in 1601 William inherited the house and leased part of the property as The Maidenhead Inn. Photos of the interior weren’t allowed but they were as beautifully restored and maintained as the gardens and exterior.

3.Shakespeare's Birthplace4.Shakespeare's Birthplace5.Shakespeare's Birthplace

Of course, we exited via the gift shop.

6.The Shakespeare Gift Shop

We wandered along Henley Street, the shop windows already shining with Christmas decorations.

7.Henley St

The magnificent Tudor buildings have stood the test of time, despite many of them being destroyed by fire four times between 1594 and 1641.

We turned into High Street,

10.High St

the intricate timber frontage of The Garrick Inn was stunning. Dating back to the 14th century, the oldest pub in town is reputedly haunted.

11.The Garrick Inn, High St

Next door, Harvard House had an equally impressive façade, adorned with various carvings.

Crossing over Sheep Street, High Street changed its name to Chapel Street. The 4-star Mercure Shakespeare Hotel dates back to 1637 and each room is individually decorated and named after a Shakespearian play or character.

14.Mercure Stratford upon Avon Shakespeare Hotel, Chapel St

Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Nash in 1626 and they lived in a lovely Tudor house in Chapel Street

15.Nash's House

with a gorgeous traditional knot garden filled with herbs and aromatic plants.

16.Nash's House knot garden17.Nash's House garden

There were several sculptures depicting characters from the Bard’s plays and poetry.

18.statue Nash's House

I don’t know if Thomas enjoyed an ale or two but his house was conveniently close to The Falcon Hotel, built in the early 16th century with a second floor added in 1645.

19.The Falcon Hotel, Chapel St

Further on, the road name changed to Church Street where we encountered a row of almshouses. Built in 1417-18 by the Guild of the Holy Cross for old or needy members of the guild, they were transferred to Stratford upon Avon Corporation in 1553 and enlarged to provide 24 homes for the elderly. Following refurbishment in the mid 1980s, there are now 11 self-contained units .

20.The Almshouses, Church St

It wasn’t far before the Shakespeare story continued. William and Anne’s eldest daughter, Susanna (Elizabeth’s mother), married a local physician, John Hall in 1607. The rather impressive Hall’s Croft, built in 1613, was their home.

21.Hall's Croft22.Hall's Croft

We were running out of time and so, only briefly stopped at Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Anne was born here in 1556 and lived with her family until she married Shakespeare.

23.Anne Hathaway's cottage24.Anne Hathaway's cottage

It would have been nice to linger in the beautiful gardens but we were on a mission to visit Mary Arden’s Farm…. but that’s another post.

Arimia

We had worked up an appetite with a morning walk along the spectacular Meelup Trail and lunch at Arimia had come highly recommended. Australia’s most westerly commercial vineyard, the unusual name is a blending of the owner’s daughters, Ariann and Mia. The cellar door and restaurant were airy and welcoming.

1.cellar door & restaurant2.restaurant3.restaurant

We chose a table on the sunny deck

4.alfresco

amid the relaxing atmosphere of the peaceful bushland setting.

5.garden

Accompanied by winery dog, Bess,

6.Bess

we took a pre prandial stroll around the immaculate grounds.

7.garden8.garden9.veggie patch10.garden11.garden12.garden13.alfresco

We enjoyed our delicious meals and superb wine

14.meal

under the watchful eye of Bess.

15.Bess

A perfect way to end our wonderful Margaret River experience before travelling back to Perth, a back seat snooze inevitable.

Lyme Park

Leaving the beautiful county of Yorkshire, we made our way south to the equally stunning county of Cheshire. We couldn’t resist a visit to Lyme Park estate. The largest house in the county, surrounded by 6 hectares of formal gardens, is set in a deer park of 550 hectares in the Peak District National Park. The entrance gate was impressive, I love the mysterious padlocked door.

1.entrance gate Lyme Park

The house dates from the late 16th century and has been gradually developed since then, with modifications made by Italian architect, Giacomo Leoni, in the 1720s. The sweeping circular drive approaches the north front of the house.

2.north facade

The west front dates from the 18th century

3.west facade

as does the magnificent south front.

4.south facade

You may recognise this as Pemberley from the TV production of Pride & Prejudice. Who can forget the scene where, after taking a bath (fully clothed) in the lake, Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy encounters Miss Bennet, attired in his soaking wet, white shirt?

5.Lyme Park

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the gardens. The formal gardens were created in the late 19th century,

6.Lyme Park

the intricate Dutch garden was initially laid out as an Italian garden and is usually bursting with colour. Unfortunately, the summer bedding plants had finished in late autumn. The four cherub statues represent the elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water.

7.Dutch garden

The Huntress, Diana,

8.statue of Diana

overlooks the Orangery Terrace

9. Orangery terrace

and an aged stone eagle majestically stands guard.

10.stone eagle

The Timber Yard is a cluster of buildings where we found a cosy café and quaint shops. Created in 1904, the café was once the joiner’s workshop and the ice cream parlour was the boiler house. During the war years, it was used as living quarters for the RAF. Some of the buildings are now residential cottages.

11.The Timber Yard

I can think of worse places to live.