Earth Garden is on

Hello, hello – we are on our way to the Garden. Wanna tag along?

It is always gorgeous day to be in Ta Qali. Do we see a cat?

It is always gorgeous day to be in Ta Qali. Do we see a cat?

All right kids, the end of May is here. Do you know what time is it? Tents ready? Fancy summer outfits completed? Cameras charged to take tons of photos? Forget Coachella, we are going to Earth Garden!

This annual mid-summer event is one of our favourites in the whole calendar year. We will be taking part in it for the fourth year in a row. Isn’t it divine? Rita and I are truly excited to be doing another festival and you can expect some nice updates to follow.

We didn’t blog about last year’s edition due to rather particular family situation (Rita had to undergo an operation that was long overdue), so this year we will pull double duty in reporting – before and after the festival.

Ta`Qali National Garden panorama with a Cat guardian sculpture.  What did you expect? Flowers? We run a cat shop!

Ta`Qali National Garden panorama with a Cat guardian sculpture. What did you expect? Flowers? We run a cat shop!

You may ask what’s in store this time around. Like on previous editions of Earth Garden we will mostly concentrate on our stand in the Ethnic Market. Last year Rita did some amazing impromptu workshops for kids using balloons, markers and notebooks and this year we want to go in this direction. Since it will be just two of us, we will not join our creative friends at the Art Square. Not enough man power unfortunately! But it will be great fun as usual.

One of the coolest aspects of being part of Earth Garden is meeting so many incredible people. Amazing experience! Hand on the heart, we go back from the festival with sore throats because you literary speak to hundreds of visitors. We are also positively charged for weeks afterwards giving people bear hugs and smiling from ear to ear. So in case you meet us and we look like Cheshire Cat – it’s a sure sign we have been to Earth Garden.

We are slowly preparing for our stand - those arty papers will be turned into certificates and business cards for the day!

We are slowly preparing for our stand – those arty papers will be turned into certificates and business cards for the day!

Air pumps and balloons - kids will love that!

Air pumps and balloons – kids will love that!

We have enough balloons to decorate the whole ethnic market. Actually, we may just do that.

We have enough balloons to decorate the whole ethnic market. Actually, we may just do that.

Ethnic Market community at the festival is one of a kind and consists of creative, helpful and practical members. Over the years we have formed some solid friendships among exhibitors and this is another great feature of the festival. You spend two or three days in the company of fellow creative minds. You should really try it if you are into arts and crafts.

Reuben during the briefing

Reuben during the briefing

Mahii during the briefing

Mahii during the briefing

Of course market is still a market and every artist want to sell their works. It is a nice bonus to do so. Last year four of Rita paintings have been sold and it made us feel grateful. So here’s a short appeal. If you want to get yourself a unique hand made gift and you want to support local artists in the meantime, please put few Euros on the side. It is completely worth it. Local talent pool is nothing short of amazing and once you are on the market you are spoiled for choice.

Before the festival kicks off, there is always a brief meeting for the participants where you are informed about stand conditions, where you pay the fees and you meet your fellow exhibitors. We had our briefing this year on May 8th 2014. It is always a delight for us to meet up with Earth Garden organizers, especially Reuben and Mahii. They are not only good friends, but professional and detail orientated event managers. Without them, the local scene would be one festival less. Oh and Mahii, this time hot chocolate is on us!

Gaia Foundation members - the coolest kids in town!

Gaia Foundation members – the coolest kids in town!

Briefing in progress

Briefing in progress

Briefing in progress - just ignore that annoying girl with a camera :)

Briefing in progress – just ignore that annoying girl with a camera 🙂

In case you don’t know – last year’s edition of Earth Garden was knows as the “freeze edition” because of the rainy weather and cold wind. Mahii was making rounds talking to exhibitors and offering hot chocolate. Her contagious smile and hot beverages melted even the grumpiest exhibitors on the market. We tell ya, Mahii is an angel and her crowd control skills are legendary.

This is a screen grab from this year`s ethnic market booklet. The photo in the background is actually our stand from 2013 edition.  Yep, our very own cat shop. So nice!

This is a screen grab from this year`s ethnic market booklet. The photo in the background is actually our stand from 2013 edition. Yep, our very own cat shop. So nice!

During this year’s briefing we had a chance to reconnect with friends old and new. Beside Reuben and Mahii, we need to mention a fellow Earth Garden veteran and a healthy food guru Natalie Debono. We have met on our first edition of the festival in 2010 and since then, we run at each other at all possible events dedicated to fair trade and arts and crafts. Natalie is the creative genius behind Core Green Eco-Foods – a shop that brings ecological and fair trade products to Malta. Then we have met some fantastic people from Gaia Foundation – Sophie who is a fellow photographer and who was brave enough to travel all over the island on a bike and her friends who were just as incredibly sweet and friendly. We are thrilled to see them again on the festival grounds in Ta`Qali. We have been given a lift back home from Ruth who also runs her own business concentrating on fair trade products and who turned out to be a great person like five seconds into the conversation. So much to look forwards to this year.

 

Jana - newcomer to the ethnic market

Jana – newcomer to the ethnic market

We guess that will be all for the first of the posts about Earth Garden. But before we sign off we want to show you a new addition to the cat family. Meet Jana – our new painting that will be up for grabs (or for seeing) at our stand at the ethnic market.

Isn’t she just adorable? We definitely think so!
Mal+Rita

****** 05.06.2014******

Small update cause it was too late yesterday to make additional notes to the blog. We have finally set up an event page for The Cat Shop. You can access it via the link on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/247409178801082/

 We will be making regular posts to the event page in case you feel like following us and our company of crazy and colorful kittens.

 

Our event page.  Simple but very cute design.

Our event page. Simple but very cute design.

Also if this will be your first time to the festival, you can get easily lost or miss something. Ta`Qali National Park has many corners and magical spots. But fear not, we have got a map for you, with the Ethnic Market nicely marked on it! Now you can find your way to The Cat Shop in no time!

Map of the Festival grounds. You can see the Ethnic Market location in case you need to get to the Cat Shop!

Map of the Festival grounds. You can see the Ethnic Market location in case you need to get to the Cat Shop!

For those who want to follow Earth Garden on the internet, please click on the URLs below – they will take you to the Facebook page and to the official website. If you want to have the best experience of the festival, it’s better to plan in advance.

The official poster. It is happening this weekend.

The official poster. It is happening this weekend.

 

https://www.facebook.com/EarthGardenEvent
http://earthgarden.com.mt/

We told you Earth Garden is fun! Hope to see you there!

M/R

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One Castle a Day – British Camp & Malvern Hill

Hey there soldiers!

Stand in line, straighten up, no lollygagging! This is your captain speaking. Welcome to another edition of “One castle a Day” and we can tell you straight away: we are hundreds of miles away from any castles today! Real soldiers and vagabonds like us are not interested in artsy-fartsy ruins or anything as simple as sightseeing. When we go out, we like to work hard and play hard.

Combat boots on, brothers and sisters in arms! There will be a lot of climbing and those of you dear readers who find little or no pleasure in wild beauty or trekking, can skip this entry altogether. We are hijacking the blog (just for a little bit) to take the brave ones into the wilderness that inspired excellent books like Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia!

British Camp Information board

British Camp Information board

British Camp fort illustration

British Camp fort illustration

Map of Malvern Hills

Map of Malvern Hills

Your intuition is correct – we are off the see the Malvern Hills, one of the biggest tourist attractions in West Midlands. The Hills are known far and wide and are strategically located in the heart of the Three Counties: Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire.

Look below, our military intelligence prepared a short  useful report about our destination. A bit of statistics always comes in handy :

Number of hills 22 (including End Hill, Table Hill, North Hill, Sugarloaf Hill, Worcestershire Beacon, Summer Hill, Perseverance Hill, Jubilee Hill, Pinnacle Hill, North Black Hill, South Black Hill, Tinkers Hill, Herefordshire Beacon (British Camp), Millennium Hill, Broad Down, Hangman’s Hill, Swinyard Hill, Midsummer Hill, Hollybush Hill, East Raggedstone Hill, West Raggedstone Hill and Chase End Hill)
Highest points Worcestershire Beacon – 425m
North Hill – 397m
British Camp Hill with Herefordshire Beacon – 338m
Number of springs and holy wells  88
Total length of trails and                                                               roads  160 km (100 miles)
Total length of hills in a  straight line 13 km (8 miles)
Total area of natural reserve 105 square kilometers (41 square miles)
Official site http://www.visitthemalverns.org/malvern_hills_leaflets
Herefordshire Beacon

Herefordshire Beacon

Beautiful view from the top on Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Beautiful view from the top on Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Malvern Hills panorama

Malvern Hills panorama

Malvern Hills raw, untamed beauty can literally heal body and soul. Running up and down the green gables is a great exercise and your mind can finally rest as well. No telephone calls (the reception is poorly), no shouting bosses, no emails or laptops (unless you take it with you). Clear, fresh air, cold wind and wide open space everywhere you go. Locals say that Malvern Hills are magical – human race has been living here since the prehistoric times worshiping the powers of nature and pagan gods on the hilltops. Wild animals can be seen roaming the valleys and endangered birds are nesting despite millions of tourists coming here each year. The legend says that the Hills are indestructible – they have been created at the beginning of time and will last until the time itself runs out. They offer comfort and peace for those who look for it. All you need to do is to sit down, close your eyes and listen. In few minutes you will find yourself in a completely different universe. It is truly amazing what can you hear: wind whistling among the rocks, buzzing of the bees, skylark singing, strange whistles made by buzzards and distant echoes of laughter and talking. But there is more: concentrate harder and you will realize that birds of prey are floating nearby and their wings slash the air like arrows, rare High Brown Fritillary Butterflies are dancing above the ground and a family of dormice is just starting to eat their lunch. And in the background, the most soothing music of the Hills can be heard – the gently singing of a mountain stream.

Long way up

Long way up

Trails

Trails

And yet another road

And yet another road

Tiny brooks made of rain and snow-melt water flowing lazily among the rocks are crystal clear. They are said to have healing properties and several miraculous springs are in constant use since the middle ages. Great Malvern has been a spa resort since the 17th century and even today people are coming here to recover after hospital stays or prolonged illnesses. We have seen lots of tourists on wheelchairs, walking with canes or slowly climbing supported by their partners or relatives. It’s really uplifting seeing them trying so hard to get back to health – that’s the spirit we say! Nothing comes easy but climbing the hill is incredibly rewarding. Kudos to everyone that tries!

Did you know that royal family has been drinking Malvern Hills bottled water for few decades now and Queen Elizabeth doesn’t go abroad without a large supply? This is not an urban legend or a patriotic tale repeated by Malvern based tourist guides. Local holy wells built around 14th century have been thoroughly tested and the analysis will amaze you. The water is filtered by Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock, one of the oldest in the entire United Kingdom. The rocks are estimated to be 670 million years old and are extremely hard. Water drops are perfectly filtered by large cracks in the stone cleared of any impurities and dirt but at the same time, they are unable to do any damage to the stone! Water has been penetrating the rocks for millions of years and yet the scientists can find none or very little minerals in it. We are sure you are familiar with the ever famous saying by Ovid that simple drop of water can dissolve mountains. It is a scientifically proven fact, yet Malvern Hills seems to be an exception to this rule. A true miracle of nature and so close to us!

Tourists resting on the trail

Tourists resting on the trail

The main road

The main road

Deep rows better known as ditches were constructed to  keep palisade in place

Deep rows better known as ditches were constructed to keep palisade in place

Bottled water from Malvern Hills can be purchased in hotels, shops in the city centre and on trails. Thirsty travellers are usually stopping at St. Anne’s Well, a popular café that offers good food and nice selection of ice creams and refreshing drinks. Another attraction of the café is a natural spring located in a small separate building on the right hand side from the main entrance. The water sprouts into tiny basin and visitors are able to drink straight from it. Please try not to make a mess when you are using the spring. We have seen several jokers that thought it would be funny to throw food or their dogs into the spring. Malvern Hills are protected by law and you will be quickly removed in case of any trouble. The whole area is designated as a Biological and Geological Site of Special Scientific Interest and as National Character Area 103 by Natural England. It was also recently named as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and any antisocial behavior will be severely punished. A special reminder from Malvern Hills Conservators we were asked to pass: don’t leave the trails and wander through the hills on your own. Walking paths, stairs and trails have been created to make the visit smooth, easy and safe. Going off road is not prohibited but can be fatal for many protected species of fauna and flora. Just one step in your heavy boots can crush rare plants (bracken, gorse, harebell or a black poplar) or kill great crested newts or adders that live on the hillsides. Malvern Hills is a nature reserve with acid grasslands, mixed broad-leaved, semi-natural and ancient natural woodlands so treat it with respect. Smoking and littering can earn you a 3B’s (big boot to the backside) – you have been warned!

Impressive earthworks changed the entire hill range and neighboring valleys

Impressive earthworks changed the entire hill range and neighboring valleys

Earthworks number 2

Earthworks number 2

And number three

And number three

The beauty of the hills can melt even the hardest heart of a soldier but this is not why we are here today. Our interest lies on the very top of Herefordshire Beacon Hill. This is where an ancient hill fort has been located. Historians do not know the real name of the fort but the Iron Age settlement is commonly known as the British Camp. The unusual name has been coined in 1879 during major excavation works led by F G Hilton Price when the archeologist tried to distinguish this particular structure from other forts in the region that were constructed by Romans. It is believed that the large settlement (around 120 wooden huts encircling large castle-like building) has been created  more than 3,500 years ago by native British or Celtic tribes.  Legends say that the fort has been attacked numerous times and survived intact until around 48-43 AD when it was probably burned down along with other forts  at Midsummer Hill, Bredon Hill and Croft Ambrey near Leomister and subsequently abandoned. According to folklore, British Camp was an important strategic point against the Romans and it was defended by famous chieftain Caratacus, prince of Catuvellauni tribe from South-Eastern part of Britain. After losing the battle, Caratacus has been taken to Roma as a prisoner and was to be killed after the triumphal parade. However,  he was allowed to address the Roman Senate before his execution as a token of respect for his bravery and fighting skills.  His speech given in front of  Emperor Claudius made such a big impression on everybody that Caratacus was not only pardoned but also received full civil rights and a house in the capitol! Truth or not, he spent his remaining days in Rome and passed away sometime after year 50 AD. His name is mentioned by several credible Roman historians so we can be sure that he lived peacefully and was held in great esteem.

Stairways to heaven

Stairways to heaven

Road to Worcestershire Beacon

Road to Worcestershire Beacon

One of the deepest ditches  found  during our trek

One of the deepest ditches found during our trek

British Camp during its heyday looked like a big wedding cake with multiple layers. Extensive earthworks forever changed the entire hill and even today we can easily identify where certain buildings or defensive structures were located. Deep ditches  were dug especially to hold tall palisade or a stake wall (up to four meters tall), narrow passages led to four city gates and living quarters were spread evenly around the rampart built on the top of the hill. Round huts had no chimneys but could accommodate extended three generation family. The rest of village grounds were used for farming and animal grazing. As you can see soldiers, British camp was self sufficient and could withstand not only prolonged occupation but also harsh weather and famine.  Archeologists haven’t found any temples or places of worship inside the fort, but religion was an important part of  everyday life and it is almost impossible for such a large, permanent settlement not to have a designated place for praying.  Some theories mention that  celebrations and rituals could take place on a main square in front of the rampart, but we have no evidence to support it. We don’t know how many people lived in and outside of British Camp, but the number could be as high as 4000. Very impressive indeed!

Water reservoir  near Little Malvern Priory - we haven't been there yet, but  we are returning for sure!

Water reservoir near Little Malvern Priory – we haven’t been there yet, but we are returning for sure!

Tomb Raiders, beware!

Tomb Raiders, beware!

Strange marks found on the hillside of  Hertfordshire Beacon - it looks like a devil's hoof :)

Strange marks found on the hillside of Hertfordshire Beacon – it looks like a devil’s hoof 🙂

Now, we promised not to mention any castles, but we are forced to eat our own words. In 10th century, Harold Godwison, the last Anglo-Saxon king in England constructed a small bailey castle within the fort, using its location and remaining walls  as additional protection. The castle didn’t survive  to this day but you can clearly see the foundations on aerial and satellite photographs.  It was probably erected at least ten years before the Battle of Hastings and was known locally as Colwall Castle. Harold died at Hastings and the castle was passed from hands to hands, finally being given to Waleran de Beaumont, Count of Meulan and 1st Earl of Worcester sometime around 1130. Waleran and his twin brother Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester, re-modernized the building in early 1150 adding new walls and guarding towers. Sadly the castle was burned down by Henry II just five years later and was never renewed.  It is a bit of a shame as Malvern Hills could benefit further from having yet another landmark worth seeing.

British camp, Iron age earthworks and a beautiful scenery are not the only attractions that each tourist should see with their own eyes. There are plenty of  interesting places that we haven’t discovered yet and that’s why, another expedition was called for. Our next trip will take us to Gullet Quarry, Little Malvern Priory, Wynds Points, Pink Cottage and The Giant’s Cave! Soldiers just cannot wait!

Unusual road sign!

Unusual road sign!

Go West

Go West

 

Till our next time!
Stay safe and come back again shortly.

xxxx
Your commanders,
Rita and Malicia D.

 

Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum Part 2

Welcome again!

It’s good to see you again! What a lovely time we are having recently. We don’t want to spoil the surprise but very soon, you can expect some excellent stories to be published on our blog and we are absolutely thrilled! This month has been a true ball for us and we don’t want it to end! All we can say for now is, we have been to some extraordinary places, met and talked to the hottest names on the national TV and have tons of pictures to prove it. Give us a week or two to write it all and you will not regret coming back.
Thank you for all views and click, we are always grateful for those who stop by and dedicate their spare moments to read what we have to say. We are pleased to know that you liked the first part of Queenswood Park review and today we will continue our journey through this beautiful ancient woodland. As we always say, Herefordshire is a hidden gem, there is so much to see it and almost nobody knows about it! The time has come to change it once and for all.

Queenswood Park

Queenswood Park

Blossoming tree

Blossoming tree

Japanese cherry sakura

Japanese cherry sakura

If you have joined us today, please click on the link below to read the previous article:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/queenswood-country-park-and-arboretum/

Queenswood Park can be enjoyed everyday and every season. Come rain or shine, there is always something interesting to do. If you are keen on jogging, yoga or cross country walking, you have several perfect trails to practice. During our visits, we had a chance to see people preparing for many national and international highly publicized events like London Marathon, Boston Marathon and even the most famous, New York Marathon. In 2012, several Olympians were seen jogging around the arboretum in their last preparations before the Olympic Games. It’s funny that local residents could give us very detailed accounts who trained where but the local press was totally oblivious of it. Maybe it is better that our athletes were left alone and could practice without anybody pestering them for pictures or interviews. Yet, we are sad that another great opportunity for promotion has been lost. Anyway, you should treat this as the highest recommendation – if Queenswood is good enough for an Olympian to train there, it is good enough for anybody. Put your trainers on and off you go for a jog!

Redwood Grove

Redwood Grove

Redwood trees can grow up to 100 meters

Redwood trees can grow up to 100 meters

Badger Trail

Badger Trail

Solitary training is great but the park is a splendid place for group activities. We have mentioned picnic stands, family luncheons at the Queenswood Café and dog walking, but what do you say about a biology lesson outside of the classroom? Did you know that the country park is often visited by organized school trips? Believe us the kids are having so much fun playing in the forest, walking around and discovering different animal species and plants and the teachers don’t have to scream to gain their attention. We have met all age groups there: from toddlers, middle schoolers to art students that arrived to paint and take pictures. Watching one school trip was a great learning experience for us as well. A group of kids, about ten or twelve years old, was sitting around two female teachers on the grass, laughing and eating their lunch. The teachers were describing all plants that the kids could see around them. They were answering all type of questions, from ecology, recycling to modern history and gardening. It was a biology lesson but the kids were interested in very wide range of topics. If the teachers didn’t know the name of certain plants or trees, they would take a picture with their cell phones and promised to have the answers ready for the next lessons. Do we have to tell you that the kids were absolutely delighted? Some of them were writing the names down on pieces of paper, some even picked up the wild flowers to dry them as souvenirs. We are sure this is the best way to interest the younger generations in science, biology and learning in general. Of course, the kids were given home work and had to make tree and plants sketches that were later collected by the teachers, but nobody protested or argued! Instead of boring routine, there was a load of laughter, discovering and fun. Parents and school officials should take a closer look what’s locally available. Many institutions are struggling financially during the crisis and school trips and days out are the first ones to be taken out of the budget. It is important to take the kids to London or abroad to show them the world, but we seem to forget that the learning starts at home, or close to home in general. To quote one of our favourite movies – “think locally, do globally”. Hire a bus, convince parents to help during the trip and show the children a local park, museum or a listed building. Chances are the kids have never been there at all! Now, we know it’s not as easy as it seems. Everybody can be a critic. There are health and safety rules to follow, kids are misbehaving and parents don’t want to co-operate. These are very valid points but any obstacle can be overcome. Enthusiasm is contagious and the costs are small when you are discovering what’s closest to you.

Meadow with bluebells

Meadow with bluebells

Lets walk on the wild side

Lets walk on the wild side

Another great picture of walking trails :)

Another great picture of walking trails 🙂

Please excuse this prolonged digression, but Queenswood is a terrific learning ground and this is something we feel really strongly about. Let’s hope school directors and head teachers will come across our blog (or any other blog that promotes alternative teaching methods) and maybe they will give it a try. Nothing to loose and everything to gain!

Now, all artistic souls are asked for immediate attention. If you are enjoying nature or macro photography, you will not find a friendlier spot for your hobby. Despite large crowds visiting the country park on Saturdays and Sundays, for the majority of the week, Queenswood is still and you shall not be disturbed. Photographers are arriving usually early in the morning and stay throughout the day. Sometimes, you can see them wandering about even after the nightfall, especially if they are trying to photograph birds or animals. Artists prefer the Autumn Gardens, a real maze of sunshine and colours. Japanese maple trees with bright red leaves, blooming magnolias and cherry trees look like sparkling gems on the green background of trees and grass. It’s a real pleasure to see the painters at work. We have approached several of them and had a nice chat about acrylics, organizing art exhibitions and H-Art Festival. You don’t have to ask for permission to paint or take pictures, admission to the park and car park are free – all you need is a canvas, easel, paints, a sandwich and a bit of inspiration! Rita loves sketching in the summer house, a small wooden structure decorated with faces of nature spirits and deities. It is hidden far away from the main walking routes and offers visitors a great deal of seclusion and privacy. You can listen to music, have a dinner and feel like the Queen of the World 
Queenswood has 6 main walking trails that are worth exploring. Each trail has a different difficulty, ranging from basic to the most advanced ones. Usually the routes are going in different directions but some of them can merge into mega-trails that will have you walking for hours.

Fox Trail

Fox Trail

Deer Trail

Deer Trail

Be careful!

Be careful!

You should start discovering the park with the Badger Trail. The trail encircles the main attractions and gives you easy access to Lime Avenue, Autumn Gardens, Cottrell’s Folly, Oak Avenue, The Summer Garden, Sovereign Walk and ends at the View Point. The paths are well surfaced and the journey takes about 30 to 45 minutes. The Badger Trail is perfect for small kids, lazy strollers and beginners. After mastering the basics,  you can move onto something harder. The Fox Trail is 1, 5 miles long and it will take you 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete it. It has a medium difficulty and when it rains, you can expect a bit of mud under your feet. The trail looks amazing during early spring walks sometime around the beginning of April just as the bluebells are starting to bloom. It is probably our favorite route flowing through the arboretum,  beech plantation, the Redwood Grove and into the ViewPoint. The longest and the hardest trail available for walkers is the Deer Trail. It is 2.5 mile long and an hour and 30 minutes are needed to  finish it.  Before you set out to conquer this trail make sure you are in good physical condition and you have a pair of sturdy boots on. We like this road because you have to give your very best: you climb up and down,  jump above ravines and avoid slippery stones. The spectacular views are your reward – Redwood Grove, the wildest part of arboretum, beech plantation and untamed
beauty of north and south parts of Queenswood.  The three remaining trails were created to showcase the beauty of the park and  give the tourists a chance to enjoy it. They are: Animals of the Forest sculpture trail, Early autumn tree trail and Late autumn tree trail.

Forest deity featured in summer house

Forest deity featured in summer house

Summer house  - West

Summer house – West

Summer House - Letter H (do you know what it stands for?)

Summer House – Letter H (do you know what it stands for?)

Summer spirit  carved onto the summer house

Summer spirit carved onto the summer house

Animals of the Forest sculpture trail is probably the biggest attraction of Queenswood Park. 7 wooden sculptures have been cunningly hidden among the trees and your mission is to find them. We have located them all but it felt almost like hunting for Pokemons (gonna catch them all). If you don’t like spoilers,  kindly skip our trophy session below:

 1. Black bear and a curb from American Pacific Redwood forests (Ursus americanus)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_black_bear

Climbing the Redwood tree

Climbing the Redwood tree

Mama is watching

Mama is watching

Don't turn around

Don’t turn around

2.  Scandinavian pine forest eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_eagle-owl

Look into my eyes

Look into my eyes

Splendid and glory

Splendid and glory

3. Munching hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_dormouse

Food!

Food!

Food again!

Food again!

Loads of food!

Loads of food!

4. Family of European badgers (Meles meles)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_badger

One badger

First badger

Second badger

Second badger

Third badger

Third badger

Fourth badger

Fourth badger

All together now

All together now

5. European pine martens playing (Martes martes)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_pine_marten

Playtime part one

Playtime part 1

Playtime part 2

Playtime part 2

Playtime part 3

Playtime part 3

6. Lesser-horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_horseshoe_bat

Look up!

Look up!

7. Common buzzard hunting for a dinner (Buteo buteo)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_buzzard

Free as a bird

Up and away

Up and away

There is another sculpture of black bear located by the entrance to the park.It is another American black bear, but this time he is welcoming all visitors!

Welcome, welcome

Welcome, welcome

All sculptures have been made by local chainsaw sculptors, Steve Elsby and Harry Thomas. Steve is based in Hereford and Harry lives  near the Welsh border, at the edge of the Radnor forest. Both artists have  more than 20 years of experience and are  award winning creators. This year Steve and Harry took part in APF 2014 – A W Jenkinson & UPM Tilhill European Chainsaw Carving Championships. Harry was ranked 6th and Steve finished at 10th position. Congratulations to both of you!

Steve Elsby official website: http://www.elsbycarving.co.uk
Harry Thomas official website: http://www.thomascarving.co.uk
APF 2014 website: http://www.apfexhibition.co.uk/

Well dear readers, there’s nothing more we can add! Please visit Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum one day and see it all for yourself. We will leave you with a beautiful photo-session taken in magnolia garden. after all, pictures are worth thousand words!

Magnolia 1

Magnolia 1

Magnolia 2

Magnolia 2

Magnolia 3

Magnolia 3

Magnolia 4

Magnolia 4

Magnolia 5

Magnolia 5

Magnolia 6

Magnolia 6

Magnolia 1

Magnolia 1

Have a splendid day!
XXX
Rita and Malicia D.

Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum

Hello hello hello!

Can you believe, dear readers that it’s May already? Days are disappearing like magic and soon half of 2014 will be behind us! Don’t despair – we have many interesting stories to tell and hopefully, you will be paying us a visit loads of times before the year is done.
Recently, we have received a comment from one of our readers. The gentleman complained that since we have moved to Worcester, Herefordshire doesn’t get mentioned on the blog anymore and surely it has been forgotten.

Rita loves proving everybody wrong and today’s issue will be dedicated to the pristine shire that she called home for nearly three years.  If she was to publish all materials, stories, anecdotes and pictures regarding Herefordshire she collected over that time, this blog would have to be renamed Hereford Avenue! You can be assured – nothing has been forgotten and Rita is still better informed than the Hereford Times – sorry guys, you know that it is true!

Entrance to Queenswood

Entrance to Queenswood

A plaque with information about the park placed at the entrance

A plaque with information about the park placed at the entrance

Viewing Platform

Viewing Platform

Looking through the telescope

Looking through the telescope

If you haven’t been to Hereford yet, know that you are missing a lot. Herefordshire is one of the most picturesque and unspoilt counties in the United Kingdom and it’s a real shame that the local council doesn’t do anything to promote it. Yes, we have had that discussion in the past, some people are convinced that printing newsletter and updating Facebook page once a day equals to a strong and efficient marketing campaign. We hate to disappoint you folks but it’s not enough to bring tourists and businesses into Hereford. A new shopping center will not help either. But let’s leave the politics aside.  Rita’s personal opinion will not change anything so we will save our breath to tell you something that truly matters. Hereford is the summertime is simply gorgeous yet there are special places where the nature is at its most beautiful all year long. The ancient woodland commonly known as The Queenswood is not only a popular relaxing/camping spot among the locals but has been voted as an important place of scenic beauty and natural significance by TripAdvisor and Natural England. Recently two new titles were added to a large collections of awards recognitions already owned by Queenswood: Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

Queenswood logo

Queenswood logo

Forested meadow

Forested meadow

Bluebells in bloom

Bluebells in bloom

A typical Queenswood trail

A typical Queenswood trail

In short, coming to Hereford and not seeing Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum is considered to be a serious faux pas. Mind your manners kids, Herefordians are a proud folk and they hardly ever forgive those who dare to disrespects (and ignore) the natural splendor of the Shire.

The only designated country park in West Midlands consists of 123 acres of semi natural and ancient woodland, 47 acres of tree collection with over 1,200 rare and exotic trees from different parts of our globe, several forested meadows that are the home to many unique and endangered species including rare dormice, polecat and yellow-necked mice, whilst fallows and muntjac deers. Over 190 rare plants and wild flowers have been discovered in Queenswood in recent years, among them very uncommon wood vetch (Vicia sylvatica) and Paris quadrifolia (herb paris) that hasn’t been seen in this part of the UK for a long time! The Queenswood Coronation Fund and Herefordshire Council (both responsible for managing the park) recorded also about eight different species of orchids such as birds nest (neottia nidus-avis), butterfly (platanthera bifolia), early purple (orchis mascula) and common spotted (dactylorhiza fuchsii). You can also see bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), wood anemones (anemone nemorosa), foxgloves (digitalis purpurea), columbine (aquilegia vulgaris), giant bellflower (campanula latifolia) and many, many others.

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwood trunk

Redwood trunk

Young fern

Young fern

Japanese Maple in the Autumn Gardens

Japanese Maple in the Autumn Gardens

The Arboretum or collection of rare trees that are not native to England was started in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Launched by Sir Richard Cotterell, Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire and founded from public donations, the collection is considered to be one of the greatest on British soil. It consists of nearly 400 trees including Japanese maple trees, California Redwoods (that can grow up to 100 meters tall!),  nearly 40 species of oak, beeches and alders. In 1981, The Arboretum received a gold medal from International Dendrology Society in recognition of the quality and for the number of trees. Each tree in the collection has its own identification card and unique catalog number (. The card is usually located near the tree and contains basic information about the species: country of origin, Latin name, name of  tree sponsor and date when it was added to the collection.  Some trees have a special Tree Register number included on the card. They are known as “Champion Trees” and are the finest (and the biggest) examples of their own kind that can be found in the UK and Ireland. There are 10 Champion Trees in Queenswood and you can visit them all by following the Champion Tree Trail:
https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/2708435/Champion%20Trees%20of%20Queenswood%20TROBI%20leaflet.pdf

Magnolia Star Wars

Magnolia Star Wars

Identification card

Identification card

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood

A unique tree from Chile known as Monkey Puzzle

A unique tree from Chile known as Monkey Puzzle

If you’d like to know more about Queenswood fauna and flora, please see the official website at:
https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/queenswood-country-park-and-arboretum

More about Natural England sites of Special Scientific Interest:
http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designations/sssi/default.aspx

Detailed history of Queenswood Park, from the first mention in the Doomsday book, to the times of Queen Victoria:  https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/2708415/Archive%20information%20for%20Queenswood.pdf

Queenswood offers everything you can dream of and it is not just a slogan to sell admission tickets. The entry is free of charge and you don’t have to pay a dime for a spacious parking. There are seven walking and trekking trails of varying difficulties from basic ones that can be completed under one hour to long, complicated routes that take nearly 4 hours to finish. Visitors have access to a picnic area with several barbeque designated places,  small family run cafe (the food is delicious and very cheap!), country store that sells ice-creams and drinks, tourist information center, playground area for kids and even a small book store!You can bring your dogs with you  under condition that they are well behaved.

Darrell Dean Magnolia from USA

Darrell Dean Magnolia from USA

Cherry Shogetsu from Japan

Cherry Shogetsu from Japan

Small brook flowing through the park

Small brook flowing through the park

 

Isn’t it a gorgeous place to be? Please come back tomorrow as we are going to show you our favorite trail and an art gallery in the middle of forest!

Till our next meeting,

XXX
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz