Tag Archives: landscape

May colours at Westonbirt Arboretum

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.

Big Stones at Avebury Stone Circle

On my first big day out for over a year due to the pandemic I went to Westonbirt Arboretum (pictures from that in a separate post) on a May day with changeable weather. On my return journey I decided to make a detour via Avebury Stone Circle, a place I had great memories of from my early years in the UK 25 years ago. I hadn’t visited since moving to West Berkshire over 10 years ago. I had the place pretty much for myself (well, apart from the sheep and lambs) and took a few pictures of some of the standing stones during a few short sunny intervals. I used my wide angle lens and went close up, hopefully showing the massive size of these stones.

I didn’t stay long as I was tired after a long day walking around Westonbirt Arboretum, also some heavier clouds moved in and it looked like rain was on the way. But I’m sure I’ll be back later this year or next year as we hopefully progress with overcoming the pandemic and the country opens up further. In the meantime I hope you’ll enjoy these pictures.

Autumn colours along the Kennet & Avon Canal in West Berkshire

Having decided not to travel to Islay because of the Covid-19 pandemic this year I had a two week staycation at home in West Berkshire. Unfortunately the weather didn’t turn out as nice as I had hoped, so I didn’t get out for walks as much as I had thought (I ended up visiting a Swedish furniture store and completing some home improvements I had thought about for a while instead). Still, I managed to squeeze in a few short sunny walks along the Kennet & Avon Canal allowing me to take a few nice autumnal pictures (click on the pictures for the full size gallery):

Except for the first picture (which is from my flat overlooking the canal in Aldermaston Wharf) all the pictures are from the towpath from Aldermaston Wharf walking west towards Woolhampton. Some really nice autumnal colours around, especially over the second week. All the pictures were taken with my large wide angle zoom lens (14-24mm, mostly towards the 14mm), allowing me to capture some big views of the trees and their autumn colours.

I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures and the colours.

Grass Snake going for a swim on the canal

Having only taken pictures from my windows for a few weeks I ventured out along the Kennet and Avon Canal when the lockdown restrictions were eased a bit. I stopped near Frouds Lane to try to take a few pictures of birds crossing the canal. That wasn’t very successful. I was just about to leave when I got lucky, although not with a bird. I noticed some motion on the other side of the canal and suddenly a Grass Snake swimming across the canal came into view:

I must admit I didn’t know that snakes can swim until I saw this one doing it. This snake had to cross the canal twice (and did it quite easily it seems): It came across only to realise that on the other side was a retaining wall about 2 ft high, so it couldn’t get out. It had a brief look, then turned around and swam back where it disappeared into the undergrowth (no wall on that side). The tongue was nicely visible several times and the head nicely reflected/mirrored on the water. I hope you like and enjoy these pictures. I certainly enjoyed the moment and watching the snake.

Big tree, cattle, butterfly

It was a very nice sunny spring day in West Berkshire today, so I went for another walk in the countryside near the village. I had hoped I might still be able to see some Bluebells, but couldn’t really find any. Didn’t see anything spectacular, so here are three fairly mundane pictures of a big tree, some cattle in the sunshine and a butterfly on a leaf:

(Click on the pictures for the larger versions)

I hope you had a nice weekend as well, hopefully spring and soon summer continue to be nice.