"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, 4 June 2012

A Rainy Afternoon at Calke Abbey

I visited Calke Abbey in Derbyshire with a friend last Thursday afternoon. The approach to the house is along a long drive initially lined with an avenue of the most beautiful lime trees and then through parkland containing many ancient trees.
Unfortunately it rained the whole time we were there! We started off in the restaurant with egg mayonnaise rolls and fruit loaf for lunch - the National Trust certainly know how to provide delicious foods.

The house is only open for guided tours on a Thursday so we made our way down into the hollow where the house is situated down a winding path lined with wildflowers with views to the parkland in the distance.

I am not sure what species of flower this is - I thought at the time it was Lady's Bedstraw but on checking in a book when I got home the leaves are wrong for this species. If anyone has any ideas I would love to know.

Edit - Many thanks to "Abbey Meadows" for identifying this plant for me - its Common Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris).

Yellow Rattle

I am struggling with the id of this beetle too - I thought it was a Rose Chafer but it seemed about half the length of the size mentioned in id books.

Edit - Many thanks to Shy Songbird from Shy Songbird's Nature News who has identified this beetle for me - its Gastrophysa viridula. Its often found on dock leaves as in the photo.

Click Beetle - these are amazing - if one is threatened, or attacked or overturned, it will flick itself into the air making an audible clicking sound (hence the name)

View of the Parkland

Approaching the house

From the distance the house resembles something out of a Jane Austen novel but in actual fact the National Trust has deliberately not restored or renovated the house apart from essential repairs. It symbolises a country house little changed since its decline in the late nineteenth century when little was thrown away.

It portrays a time in the twentieth century when many country houses and estates did not survive.

The "End of Era" Tour took about an hour and was very interesting with audio clips from servants who had served at the house.

I didn't take many photos mainly because the light was very poor in the dark rooms with many blinds drawn and flash photography is not allowed. The highlight for me was a beautiful state bed with beautiful embroidered silk covers and curtains which had been hidden away since the eighteenth century.

The eccentric family who last lived there had a huge collection of treasures and the house is completely full of stuffed birds, animals and family portraits.

The saloon had cases full of shells and skeletons

The Breakfast Room decorated for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend

The Dining Room

The Butler's Pantry

After the tour we wandered around the overgrown courtyards and looked at the many outbuildings.




I stopped to take a photo of the parkland on the way out.

There was so much we missed, due to lack of time and the weather, such as the walled garden with an auricula theatre, orangery, ice house, grotto and church, that I really must go back soon.

Even more I really want to walk around the 600 acres of parkland which is a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has a red and fallow deer enclosure, many ancient trees including "The Old Man of Calke" a thousand year old oak tree, ponds which contain the now rare white clawed crayfish. The park holds many species of bird and bat and the park is the 10th best site in Britain for invertebrates which live in decaying wood (there are at least 350 species of beetle found there!).

Despite the rain it was lovely day out in great company - thanks J.

Blue Tit Update

The two young fledged some time early in this morning. When the camera was switched on at 7.30 a.m. they had already left. I hope all goes well for them in the next few hazardous weeks.


Toffeeapple said...

What a shame that you missed the fledging.
You go to some very interesting places. Imagine 350 species of beetles! I hope that you manage to find out which beetle it is that you captured and which flowers.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Yes, it was a shame but they often go very early in the morning. I am just glad they didn't leave yesterday when it was heavy rain all day!

I am still working on the beetle and flowers!

Rohrerbot said...

I wish them good luck!!!! I found my owlets from several weeks ago 2 nights ago. Absolutely gorgeous...so hopefully you'll see them around your place.

Those rolls sound delish!!! What a great way to spend the rainy day....although the bones display would trip me out a bit:)

We're sitting in the airport right now waiting:) Hope you had a good day! Or maybe it's Good Morning?:)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris - Many thanks. Really pleased to hear that you found your owlets again. Two adult blue tits are feeding young hidden away in the whitebeam tree in the garden as I type so perhaps they are the ones from the nestbox?

Have a good flight and a great trip - and enjoy your time with your family. Its morning here now :) Not sure about the time difference - is it about 8 hours??

Omi said...

Sounds like a great day out, always nice to leave something to go back for. Good luck to your blue babies!

ShySongbird said...

What a shame you had rain for your day out! It looks a very nice place to visit though with plenty to see and I'm sure a return visit would be well worthwhile. Lovely, interesting photos too.

I think your beetle may be Gastrophysa viridula, there doesn't seem to be a common name See This Link

Ragged Robin said...

Omi - Many thanks. Looking forward to returning just wish it wasn't so far away from where I live!

ShySongbird - Many thanks and especial thanks for checking out the beetle id - I have followed the link and yes it does look very like it. They were very pretty jewel like creatures.

It was a shame about the rain especially as I had had to cancel the day the previous week when we were due to go when we had glorious sunshine - I felt a bit guilty!

Thanks so much again for the beetle information - I will edit the blog posting after I've cooked the tea :)

abbey meadows said...

The mystery flower looks very much like Common Wintercress (Barbaria vulgaris).

Ragged Robin said...

Abbey Meadows - Many thanks for identifying the flower for me - I've found it now in one of my books :) Your help is really appreciated.