My first real day out for over a year since the pandemic started, my last big day out before was a trip to Oxford on the day I picked up my new car (which stiil has less than 2,000 miles on the clock) at the end of January 2020. Spurred on by memories of May 2020 where we had some beautiful sunny weather (but couldn’t get out much under lockdown) I had decided to take a week off in May 2021 for some first tentative steps to get out a bit further than the local walks and weekly trip to the supermarket. Of course the weather didn’t really cooperate, although I probably picked the best day for the only real trip I managed to get in:
After not having been for probably more than a decade I decided to visit Westonbirt Arboretum, in the hope of some nice spring colours. A few days before I pre-booked my ticket online, for the time being admission is only with pre-booked tickets so that they can control visitor numbers and make sure it doesn’t get overcrowded, allowing social distancing to keep everyone safe. After an uneventful drive I arrived at 11:00 to some mostly cloudy weather with occasional showers. Luckily the clouds broke up early afternoon, giving me some beautiful sunny intervals to enjoy the colours. My hopes for some beautiful May colours were certainly fulfilled, lots of plants in bloom and a lot of fresh greens (and reds). I took a lot of pictures, here are 10 of my favourites:
I spent the whole day until closing time at 17:00 walking around, discovering new views, new trees, new colours, new plants, revisiting places for different light after the sun came out and more. It wasn’t busy most of the time, I think through a combination of the pre-booked tickets and the not very promising weather forecast (with the weather turning out much better than forecasted luckily). Some features (e.g. small parts of the treetop walk) were closed to ensure social distancing, but the vast majority was open. My enjoyment of the arboretum wasn’t diminished at all. The staff was friendly and helpful when I needed them. All in all a great day out, I felt safe pretty much throughout and enjoyed the May colours I had come for.
On my return journey I decided to a small bonus and made a detour to an old haunt of mine, a place I had visited many times when I first arrived in the UK, Avebury. I didn’t stay long, but had a nice time revisiting familiar views.
I arrived back home in the evening very tired, but also very satisfied after a great day out.
With some nice early morning sunshine and clouds forecasted for late morning and the afternoon I decided to head out for an early walk today. What was originally planned for a 1-2 hours stroll turned into a 3 hours walk as the sunshine held up longer than forecasted and I discovered a few footpaths I hadn’t used before. My route took me from Aldermaston Wharf via Mill Lane to Home Farm near Padworth College. I then followed the road south until the junction before backtracking to Upper Church Farm, where I took the footpath west towards Aldermaston. Reaching the road a short stretch along the road, then turning north again on the footpath towards Fisherman’s Lane. On Fisherman’s Lane back towards Padworth Mill. A short stretch on Mill Lane before taking the footpath over to Padworth Lock. Then back to Aldermaston Wharf along the Kennet and Avon Canal. A few impressions from my walk:
Click on the pictures for the larger version in a gallery. The map for the area is:
Time to revisit my November Rose, as it presented a new photo opportunity this morning. The last few days have been very cold and sunny, yesterday morning I used the opportunity for my longest walk yet: Over three miles in beautiful sunshine walking back from my GP appointment/review (taxi is ridiculously expensive as mentioned earlier). While I must admit some of the inclines were rather tough the flat parts and certainly the downhill sections were beautiful (especially as they were south facing in the sunshine). Quite motivating after some not so good days before (more about that some other time). When I arrived home at lunchtime the Rose was bathed in beautiful winter sunshine, so I took a few pictures. However, they didn’t turn out too different to the ones I already had, so I didn’t do anything with them. Good thing I didn’t, as this morning after a very cold night for here (-6°C, we don’t get that often in West Berkshire) ice crystals had settled on the Rose, giving me some nice views:
(click on the pictures for larger versions, including a bonus picture of a view over the canal)
A bit of an unexpected nice surprise during my recovery from heart surgery. I’m not entirely sure when I first noticed them, it was either just before I left for the hospital or the day I returned from the hospital with my sister. Anyway, back then the flowers were still closed and considering it was the start or even middle of October I didn’t really expect them to flower. Especially after a few night frosts in late October and early November I thought they would fade away. But they didn’t:
In mid November three of the five rose buds opened and started to flower, a nice view especially on the often grey and dull days. Cheered me up when I had a bad day during my recovery. Today is a nice and sunny day, so I thought I try to take a few pictures of them to share the joy.
Following a few tests in the hospital I had to get done on Thursday today was the first day I was allowed to go out again (I got home Friday afternoon), and even that only carefully. So all I did was a short walk along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon canal. Took a few pictures of some of the flowers along the canal: