Monthly Archives: June 2019

Autumn Colours at Westonbirt

Autumn Colours at Westonbirt

Today’s blog is a pictorial one, because sometimes a picture does paint a thousand words, and the National Arboretum at Westonbirt has 15,000 specimen trees to choose from.

Covering 600 acres, the arboretum lies about 3 miles south-west of Tetbury and is located next to Prince Charles and his Highgrove House Estate.

There are 17 miles of footpaths covering two distinct areas; there is the Old Arboretum, which is an area formally planted to create vistas and avenues of trees – and Silk Wood, which is less formal and has a more natural woodland feel to it.

The planting began in the mid-19th century as part of the Westonbirt House Estate (the house became a girls’ boarding school in 1927) and is now managed by Forestry England.

From Mid-October to Mid-November people flock to Acer Glade to witness the fantastic spectacle of the Japanese Maples changing colour. The exact time to see them at their best changes slightly each year depending on weather conditions before and during the season.

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From Tiger Bay to Cardiff Bay

From Tiger Bay to Cardiff Bay

At the beginning of the 19th century the population of Cardiff was less than 2,000, but the lush green valleys to the north were about to change – and so was this small town at the mouth of the River Severn.

The reason for this dramatic change was all down to the increase in demand for coal which was needed to power the Industrial Revolution – and which the valleys of South Wales had plenty of.

The Glamorgan Canal, and then the Taff Valley Railway, enabled the Black Diamonds to be transported down the valleys to the coast where places like Newport, Barry, Penarth and Cardiff all vied for the lucrative export trade.

While everyone else was working down the coal mines, there was one man that was sitting on a gold mine, – namely the 2nd Marquis of Bute. He realised early on that there was going to be money made in the iron and coal industries of South Wales, and in 1839 he built the first of Cardiff’s docks at West Bute to handle the trade.

As the docks expanded, so did the appeal to come and work here: Butetown, as the area became known, attracted immigrant workers and seafarers from all corners of the globe, and it wasn’t long before the area became known for all the wrong reasons. Although several theories have been bandied about, it’s not really known for sure why the docks and Butetown became known as Tiger Bay – but the name stuck, and just like its feline counterpart, began to earn itself a fearsome reputation. If you wanted somewhere to go and get drunk, have a fight, or meet a prostitute – or all three – Tiger Bay was the place to come.

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The Isle of May

Pilgrim's Haven

The Isle of May

Located in the mouth of the Firth of Forth, about 5 miles and a 45-minute boat ride from Anstruther, is the uninhabited Isle of May. I say uninhabited, but that’s not strictly true because it’s home to a fantastic collection of seabirds.

If you think that this is yet another lovely peaceful Scottish island, you’d be wrong because the first thing that will hit you when you arrive on this 1½ mile long island is the deafening noise made by around 200,000 birds.

Admittedly, it was breeding season when we came, and apart from bringing some ear plugs, I would also recommend wearing a hat, preferably a white one.

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