30 May 2016

May moments

May is almost over and today I've the opportunity to sit quietly for a while and think of the many happy moments that made this particular month a good and memorable one. Here are some that I give thanks for.......


I'm grateful and give thanks for my eyesight that allows me to see the beauty around me especially in nature.  It's been a good month for flowers. In particular I looked to see if the buds of the lily-of-the valley (my birthday flower) were open. The plants were in a pot and given to me by a daughter a couple of years They were transferred last year into a raised bed by the sitting out area. I didn't mind if they multiplied there, but now they're back in a pot indoors as like many of the tender plants in the garden the buds are being munched up by some Nasty Creature. Of all the plants in the garden that flower at this time of the year in this part of the world I'm being rather protective of my lily-of-the valley.

Birthday moments
I'm thankful to be a year older and well although I don't take my health for granted. I'm grateful for medical care that we receive.  I have a recall at the hospital this week after going for a routine screening and although apprehensive I'm hoping that it's nothing to worry about. I'm also grateful for a wonderful husband - a patient one who's happy to take me on outings. Actually we do enjoy these times together even if it's only a short drive in the countryside.
I had a lovely birthday.  It didn't matter that rain stopped play with regard to spending time out of doors with our daughter and grandchildren, but we did have a lovely lunch and tea together and I had some wonderful gifts from all the children and grandchildren, too many to include here.

 Gifts -  a mug and and two plates with a cherry blossom design from grandchildren

More birthday gifts. There are some good recipes in this cook book, some variations on those I already know and many new ideas to try on the family.

Books from my daughter-in-law who knows what I particularly enjoy reading.

An enjoyable meeting
It was lovely to spend a few hours with Marilyn and her husband in York.  We had such a good time chatting over lunch and then looking around the nearby Museum Gardens.  I give thanks that we met and can continue our friendship through the wonders of the internet and the blogging experience. 

Marilyn gave me this lovely porcelain ornament made by Margaret Furlong, an Oregon artist. It's exquisite in every little detail and I shall treasure this beautiful gift from a delightful lady.

Here are some more photos of the gardens in York where we wandered and spent such a happy time together.

This area within the walls of what was once a small part of the grounds of  St. Mary's Abbey has been created as a garden for edible plants. There are entrances on a main street in Marygate and another leads into the rest of the Museum Gardens.

Hovenia dulcis Japanese raisin tree
Szechuan pepper (edible seeds)

Swiss chard

By midday the sun really began to shine which explains the blue skies in these later photos.

The fruit or 'grapes' of the mahonia aquiflorium.The mahonia aquifolium is the state flower of Oregon and an appropriate way to end this post. It was just after seeing this that we had to say goodbye to Marilyn and her husband, make our way to the car park near the river in Marygate and go back home. There were days of sunshine in May and I'm thankful that our day in York was one of them

I hope to catch up with all of you soon. Wishing you a good day and a good rest of the week.

27 May 2016

Five on Friday

Hello everyone!  I hope you're well and you're having a good week.  Mine has been eventful in a good way, especially over last weekend and at the beginning of the week. There was a lunch time outing to a local Italian deli/caffé and the traditional blowing out of the candles on my birthday cake at tea time, some gardening in the sunshine on Sunday afternoon and a day out in York on the Monday. A bit of a rest was needed on the Tuesday!  Some reading, writing, watching the televised programmes from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sorting out some technical glitches on my printer, doing the usual household chores also filled my days. 

A leafy pathway along the bank of the River Ouse in the city of York

My husband and I went to York to meet a blog friend and her husband.  Marilyn from Portland, Oregon has a blog Delights of the Heart - "seeking beauty in everyday life" and she certainly conveys that in the imaginative photo images she shares and the verses she often writes to illustrate them.  I've also learnt a lot about different types of tea and enjoyed seeing the tea rooms that Marilyn visits. Naturally we had lunch in a tea room before taking a stroll around the York Museum Gardens. Everywhere we went there was something interesting to see, talk about and photograph. I'll share more of my week in a later post.

The River Ouse looking towards Lendal Bridge,
York Minster and other historical sites

Enjoying the sunshine

Marygate Water Tower near the river's edge was part of
the old precinct walls of St. Mary's Abbey (built c. 1324)

Gardens in Bootham Bar and Marygate, York 

Now it's Friday and I'm joining the Five on Friday link-up hosted by Amy and sharing photos of some moments I enjoyed on two wonderful days this week. Click on the link here to see what others are sharing. 
Wishing you a peaceful weekend

25 May 2016

Up in the mountains (1)

Hello, everyone! I hope you're well.  As for me I had a lovely birthday weekend.  Thank you for your kind wishes.  Yesterday I had an afternoon out in York.  It was special because I met up with a blog friend from the US who is over here on vacation. More about that on my next post. 

I'm still writing about our time spent in Italy during April.  As I've mentioned, we were not well and unable to go far.  Once we got some treatment from the doctor we did feel slightly better and having been confined to the house and garden I was ready to drive up into the higher mountains and take a walk in the woods.  It's a favourite place to go especially in the Spring and Summer.  It's cooler in the woods and a popular place for walking, camping and picnicking in a protected nature reserve. There are trails following the old tracks that lead to even higher secluded spots where the rarer alpine flowers can be found.  It's probably best to go in a group with a guide whose interested in botanical plants although there are leaflets giving details of the different trails.  It's a wild mountainous region where the weather can be unpredictable. The Monti Ernici mountains are part of the sub-Apennines of Lazio and are a natural border between the Ciociaria where we live and the Abruzzo. Here hermits used to live in the caves or build shelters in the natural formation of the rocks and later on these abandoned places were the hideouts of brigands.  As for us we were content to stay on the road leading up to the small town of Collepardo (Leopard Hill) so called because wild cats lived in the woods. We stopped in the environs of the Charterhouse of Trisulti.   I've written about the Charterhouse here, here and here and I will write again about this recent visit as we went into the church (not photographed in detail before).   This may be the last opportunity to visit this hidden treasure rich in history and artistic decoration as there are rumours that the monastery will soon close. Once it was the retreat house for the Cistercians who took over the monastery from the Carthusian monks after the second world war where young men were sent in order to test their vocation to the religious life as it's located in a very isolated spot. At one time it had a substantial number of men in the community, but now there are only three monks who are in their eighties. At the moment they're supported by volunteers who help maintain the grounds and the small shop that is famous for selling herbal liqueurs as well as devotional items. 

If you look at the map above you'll see that the road passes a small settlement of houses and then winds around the contour of the mountains traversing a bridge over the river at the bottom of a deep gorge called the Bridge of the Saints referring to the holy men led by St. Dominic of Foligno, a Benedictine, who came to the spot and settled there in the first dwelling, the ruins of which can still be seen.   My husband remembers the present tarmaced road just being an unmade track when he was a boy.  Even today the road is narrow with a sheer drop on one side into the gorge and no barriers in some places.

As an armchair viewer will you come on the drive starting on the road that turns off from the road that leads to the local hill town?
Firstly, let's stop to admire this wisteria.  In April it was in full flower.

After driving through a valley with wooded hills and olive groves where the modern houses would once have been no more than the dwellings of shepherds, the road winds up onto another level of the same valley.

We can look back at the way we have come. Where we live is somewhere in those distant hills in the middle ground.  

Along this stretch of the road is a place where water from the mountain streams continually runs from a tap.  Locals come and queue up to fill their bottles and jars with this mineral water.

We had started out mid morning as the Charterhouse closes at noon until the late afternoon. We passed the school bus on the way back home as the school day finishes about 1 p.m. Sheep are kept on the hillside pastures and in the meadows in this wide valley.  Crops are cultivated on the flatter land.

Climbing higher we can see The Charterhouse of Trisulti on the other side of the ravine.

Once again we stopped to take photos of the Charterhouse.  Below you can see the width of the road as the car was parked against the rocks on the right hand side of the car.

Another view of the Ernici Mountains across the gorge.  The highest one in this photo is Monte Rotonaria. We are now 800+ metres above sea level. (Our own Italian village is 300+ metres above sea level).
There's a cave on the opposite cliff face and a little building inside it (marked by a cross on the above photo) This was once one of the hermitages that would have been accessed by a path which can still be taken.

Now we have to go down into the gorge before driving back up to Trisulti.  It's here at the bottom of the ravine where the road crosses the river that the waterfalls and streams have become a popular picnic area in the Summer.  We haven't been with our own family since 2011 so the few photos I've included are from that time.

To be continued.... when we'll take a walk in the woods although we won't go as far as St. Dominic of Foligno's hermitage in the rocks as it's quite a trek up the mountain path.

Wishing you a good day,