"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 21 April 2014

A Walk Round Kenilworth and Garden Nesting Activity Update

Leicester's Gatehouse - Kenilworth Castle

I visited Kenilworth a few weeks ago with D and E to go for a walk round the "old" part of the town.

Kenilworth castle (composed of Kenilworth sandstone) was first built in around 1122. The castle was enlarged by King John and besieged by King Henry III for 6 months in 1266 - it is believed it was the longest siege in English History. John of Gaunt turned it into a medieval palace and added the Great Hall. It is, however, probably best known due to the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth I in July 1575 where she was entertained by her favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to 19 days of hunting, jousting, music making and pageantry. Robert Dudley who held the castle from 1563 restored the buildings, mainly for the Queen's benefit creating a fine Tudor palace with ornamental pleasure gardens and a tiltyard.

We didn't visit the castle this time (I've noticed a marked reluctance by D and E to visit historic places since becoming too old to be included in family tickets or family membership!!!). I will return this summer though as I have yet to see the restored Elizabethan garden and the castle ruins are incredibly atmospheric and romantic and you can imagine just how it would have appeared to the most fascinating and interesting of Queens - Elizabeth I.

Queen and Castle, Castle Green

The houses and cottages in Old Kenilworth demonstrate 400 years of changing architectural stylesand there are some beautiful buildings.

Initially, it was difficult to get photos of the cottages due the amount of parked cars

and tourists

and, oh joy, now we have a jogger!!

So I switched to photographing some rather pretty house signs.

Finally, away from the busy area of Castle Green the parked cars had disappeared!

The lamp-posts were very decorative!

There are reminders of the visits of Elizabeth I everywhere.

Abbey Fields - a beautiful green space where ruins of the Abbey of St Mary the Virgin founded in the 1120's can be found.

Moss and lichens growing on a wall

A mixture of Cultivated and Wildflowers growing on a bank

The Castle is just visible in the background

War Memorial

Market House

The Clock Tower in the Town Centre was erected in 1906 as a focus point in modern Kenilworth and in memory of the wife of GM Turner, a local benefactor. The area surrounding the square was destroyed by a bomb in World War 2 when the top of the tower was also damaged.

Almost back at the starting point

It was lovely to see Lesser Celandine and Primroses flowering on the grass verges.

We decided to have a late lunch at a very quaint and picturesque tea room.

I just love the shape of the teapot!!! If you ever visit Kenilworth I can thoroughly recommend "Time for Tea" - delicious food at reasonable prices, excellent service and so quaint :)

A very strange name for a brewery!

In the evening I attended the Warwickshire Badger Group AGM and a very informative talk and presentation on the interactions between Otters, Mink and Water Voles. The traffic was awful on the way due to the M6 being closed and I had to cut across country to get to the meeting on time. I passed through some very picturesque villages close to Kenilworth that I haven't visited for years so as well as hopefully visiting the castle later in the year I'll take some photos of some of the villages.

Garden Blue Tit Nesting Activity

The female Blue Tit is continuing to lay an egg a day - there are now 8. She hasn't started to incubate the eggs yet so I think she will be laying a few more.