An afternoon in Southport

Almost six weeks since I last saw him, Michael finally arrived home from Ireland early last Friday morning ; circumstances kept us both busy on Saturday but yesterday the weather was looking quite promising so we decided to have a ride out somewhere and Southport was the choice. We arrived there at lunch time and with four hours on the car park ticket we went our separate ways, agreeing to meet up again at 3pm to go for a meal somewhere – it had been several years since I was last there so I wanted to be off exploring and taking photos and I didn’t expect Michael to trail round with me.
Starting off near the pier I walked along one side of the Marine Lake then went up onto the bridge which crossed the lake and took me to Princes Park, then from there I wandered along to Pleasureland, the large amusement park. On my last visit to Southport the funfair had been a partially closed small shadow of its former self so this time I wasn’t expecting to see much, however I was quite surprised to find that it’s now grown into a large vibrant and colourful amusement place with rides and attractions everywhere I looked.
After wandering round there for a while I made my way back to the lake and headed through King’s Gardens towards the pier then went down to Lord Street, the long main shopping street. With many nice old buildings, monuments and gardens I could have taken several photos along there but unfortunately I ran out of space on my camera card ; having the dogs with me meant that I couldn’t really go in any of the shops and as it wasn’t far off 3pm anyway I just made my way back to the van and waited for Michael.
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Southport pier
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Marine Lake
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Pleasureland amusement park
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Hook A Duck stall
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Colourful artwork on the carousel canopy
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King’s Gardens
As Michael had been a frequent visitor to Southport over the last few years he said he knew a nice place to go for a meal so I settled the dogs in the back of the van and off we went back to Lord Street and to the Westminster Tea Rooms – and this place wasn’t just any old cafe. With wood panelled walls hung with old pictures and mirrors, ornate coving, chandeliers, white table linen and proper napkins, tea and coffee served in silver pots, afternoon tea served on 4-tier cake stands and the waitresses in black dresses with white collars and aprons, it had a very 1920s feel to it and I felt as if I’d stepped back in time. The meal was good too and once we’d finished we made our way back to the van and I took Sophie and Poppie for a short walk along the lakeside before we set off for home, arriving back just before I needed to put the van lights on. All in all it had been a really nice afternoon, and the old fashioned tea room experience had made a nice change – I don’t know when I’ll get to Southport again but at least now I know of a really nice place for a meal when I do go back.
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Off on my travels again

Hopefully, if things go to plan – which they probably won’t – I’ll be leaving home at 7am tomorrow for my annual 10-day holiday in Norfolk. I really wanted to leave earlier than that – 5am would have been ideal as it’s a six hour journey – but I’ve had so much to do today and various things have conspired against me to make sure some of them didn’t get done, so I need to finish them off in the morning before I go anywhere. My friend round the corner is feeding the cats for me until Michael comes back from Ireland on Thursday, then he’ll take over until I get back the following Tuesday. The van is packed and my bag is packed so I only need to finish off the things which didn’t get done today then I’m off – so I’ll ‘see’ you all when I get back and hopefully I’ll have lots of photos for here and my other blog.

A great weekend in North Wales

On Tuesday afternoon I got back home from a long weekend at Manorafon Farm camp site in Abergele, North Wales – a weekend where, for once, I hadn’t been camping alone as Michael had been with me. I’d actually asked him last Tuesday if he wanted to come with me as I thought a few days of sea air might help his continuing recovery from the broken ankle but he’d refused and said he was quite happy to stay at home. I’d left the van packed up from my Anglesey holiday a few weeks ago so his refusal meant that I didn’t need to re-organise and re-pack it with extra stuff for him, however at half past midnight last Friday he suddenly said he wanted to come, the deciding factor being that as there would be electric on my pitch he would be able to charge up his phone. So at 6.30 on Saturday morning I was busy packing the van with camp bed, mattress, extra bedding and food etc, and instead of leaving home at my intended time of 7.30am we didn’t leave until 8.30.
Although it had been rather overcast when we set off the sun started shining not long into the journey and from then on the weather just got better and better. My usual route down the M56/A55 was abandoned for once in favour of the A548 running close to the River Dee estuary as I wanted to stop at Greenfield Dock to take a few photos – I’d read about this little place on Ruth’s blog but when I wanted to find it for myself last year I’d missed the turning off the main road so didn’t get there. There was nothing much there other than a little creek with a handful of small fishing boats beached on the deep mud banks but in the sunshine the views across the Dee estuary were worth a couple of shots and it was nice to have a short break from driving.
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The Dee estuary from Greenfield Dock
I’d originally intended to make a stop at Talacre beach further along the coast, but the later-than-planned start to the journey meant I was running out of time as I’d arranged to meet my blogging friend Eileen at 11am and I didn’t want to keep her waiting too long. Having met properly for the first time last August it was lovely to see her and her adorable little dog Annie again and a very pleasant couple of hours was spent chatting over a coffee and a walk round her local boardwalk before we said our goodbyes. It was just after 1pm when I got to Manorafon – I’d been able to select my pitch when I booked online back in May so I knew exactly where I was going and with Michael’s help, albeit limited because of his foot, the tent was soon put up and pegged down and the inside sorted out, then the rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the sun.
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Manorafon Farm
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One of the site’s many residents
Late morning on Sunday saw us driving the 43 miles to Anglesey; although it was only a few weeks since my holiday there I was going for a particular reason – to photograph Parys Mountain with the heather in full bloom, which it hadn’t been back in July. And it was certainly worth going – in the six weeks since I last walked round there the mountain had burst into colourful life with pink and purple heather everywhere, and needless to say I took far more than just a handful of shots. My walk round the mountain was followed by a drive up to Penrhos for a cheeseburger then it was back across the island to Benllech where we spent some time by the beach before finally leaving the island and going back to the camp site.
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Parys Mountain in bloom
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Benllech beach
On Monday, while on a morning dog walk, I discovered that the old castle up the lane from the site was partially open to the public so Michael and I had a walk round up there. It was good to see what progress had been made in the restoration over the last year but I was rather disappointed to find that the most interesting parts of the place have been closed off since I was at the open day last August. Later on we had a drive along the coast and I finally found Talacre beach and its lighthouse and got the photos I wanted, then on the way back to the camp site I called at Eileen’s with a brochure which I’d forgotten to give to her on Saturday. I’d left Michael at one of the amusement places down near the beach and on my way back to collect him I managed, from Eileen’s directions, to find and photograph a possible ‘escapee’ from the local zoo peering over someone’s high hedge.
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Gwrych Castle
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Talacre beach & Point of Ayr lighthouse
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Anyone lost a giraffe?
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The Pantri Bach Cafe, Pensarn
After some overnight rain Tuesday was dull and overcast though the sun did keep trying to break through the clouds. A leisurely breakfast was followed by the packing up process and by 11.15am we were ready for leaving the site; a dog walk down on the beach was followed by an early lunch in the nearby Pantri Bach cafe then it was time to set off homewards. The day brightened up as we got further north and we arrived home at 3.15pm in glorious sunshine, a fitting end to a very varied and enjoyable North Wales weekend.

A Rivington ramble

After doing the long walk round Anglezarke reservoir several weeks ago I decided that when the opportunity allowed I would do the much shorter walk round the neighbouring Upper Rivington reservoir, and this decision was reinforced recently when I came across a map of the walk while tidying some papers and magazines at the boss’s house where I clean. The map listed a few points of interest which would be worth looking out for so yesterday I set off with the dogs and the camera to explore.
My walk started on the Rivington Embankment, the road which separates Upper Rivington and Lower Rivington reservoirs – Lower Rivington was constructed in 1856 with Upper Rivington being completed in 1857 and Anglezarke being constructed the same year. Just up the road from the end of the embankment a kissing gate set in the wall opposite Rivington village green took me to a footpath bordering farmland; according to the map a stone face, which had once adorned a local village inn which was demolished in 1903, could be seen on the gable end of a nearby barn but with no barn in sight anywhere I came to the conclusion that it must have been demolished since the map was produced and the face no longer existed. The path eventually took me downhill, across a narrow stream and through a wooded area before reaching more open land where a rough track took me up towards Yarrow reservoir.
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The track to Yarrow reservoir
Now although I’d started the walk in bright sunshine the once-fluffy white clouds had amassed and joined forces to obscure the blue sky and by the time I’d reached the reservoir the afternoon was looking decidedly dull and grey. According to the map there was a face carved on the front of the drystone wall opposite the reservoir embankment – it was believed to represent a foreman who worked on the reservoir’s construction and had been carved by one of the labourers, but if there was a face there at all it was so obscured by overhanging foliage that I couldn’t find it no matter how hard I looked. I gave up eventually and instead climbed over the gate at the bottom of the embankment and walked up to the top to see what was up there. Constructed in 1868, with the embankment being raised in 1875, Yarrow was smaller than either of the Rivington reservoirs, and with views across to Winter Hill it would have looked quite nice if the sun had stayed out.
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Yarrow reservoir looking north
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Looking towards Winter Hill
From the reservoir a wide track led down through another wooded area and eventually brought me out onto Knowsley Embankment, the road which separated Upper Rivington reservoir from Anglezarke. Nearby, and supposedly worth a visit, were the ‘waterfalls’, the overflow from Yarrow down into Anglezarke, but looking at all the green covering the floor of the channel I would assume there had been no water flowing down there for quite some time.
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The waterfalls
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South end of Anglezarke from the road
My walk continued along the road to the far end of the embankment then a wide tree-lined track marked ‘Private Lane’ took me off to the left. Passing a couple of stone cottages I came to The Street, an imposing residence built in the late 19th century for a local industrialist and set in its own landscaped and terraced gardens. The map had told me that close to there was a pet’s grave and though I couldn’t find it at first I eventually saw it, or rather the top bit of the headstone, sticking up close to the top of the steep bank on the right. It was far too steep for me to climb up there for a proper look so that was the third thing to go un-photographed, though I did get a shot of some of the brightly coloured flowers at the driveway entrance.
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A short distance past The Street the path emerged onto open land, running first between fields then widening out into a tarmac lane alongside the west bank of Upper Rivington reservoir. A handful of cars were parked along the lane and when I looked over the wall I could see several people fishing from various spots along the water’s edge. A short distance through another wooded area and I was on the road across Rivington Embankment where I’d parked up, then with one quick shot of the village green I returned to the van and set off for home.
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Upper Rivington reservoir looking north
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On the skyline – Winter Hill tv mast, Pigeon Tower & Rivington Pike
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Rivington village green
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My walk, anti-clockwise from yellow spot
To be honest I have to admit that hadn’t been the best of walks as I’d found the wooded areas quite boring, and apart from the reservoir views much of the countryside had been uninspiring. I arrived home thinking that I probably wouldn’t do that one again but maybe it would have been a whole lot nicer if the blue sky and sunshine hadn’t disappeared. It was only a short walk too, just two-and-a-half miles all the way round, so who knows – maybe sometime when I’ve an hour or so to spare on a really nice day I’ll go back and do it again. And as for the dogs, well they are happy wherever I take them.
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week where black-and-white buildings, quaint shops and a beautiful old church make for a lovely stroll around Church Stretton in Shropshire. If, like me, you’ve heard about it but never been there then this walk, seen through Jo’s camera lens, gives a lovely insight into the place.

Back from Anglesey – and I definitely need a new tent!

I arrived home late yesterday afternoon from my holiday on Anglesey; weather-wise the eight days had been a bit of a mixed bag, with two days of rain and a day-and-a-half of grey cloudy sky, but the other days were full of sunshine and blue skies and also quite hot.  Other than a few weekenders who arrived last Friday and left on Sunday the camp site was very quiet and I was the only one in the field where I’d chosen to pitch – the peace and quiet were absolutely blissful.
The start of the holiday wasn’t without it’s problems though; if I’d thought that getting a rip in the side of the tent a couple of weeks ago was a disaster then this was a catastrophe of Titanic proportions. I’d got the tent up and was in the process of pegging out the guy lines when it decided to give up the ghost completely – there was a horrendous ripping sound and a huge – and I mean really huge – tear appeared right along the top. The tent was definitely dead this time but luckily I had a back-up plan, which will be explained on my other blog, so it didn’t affect the holiday too much.
My out-and-about days produced plenty of good photos including various animals, birds and flowers, and I even found a couple of places which I’d never been to or seen before. I finally found a beach I’d been looking for for several years and at another beach I managed to get myself cut off by the tide, though fortunately I was able to wade the few yards back to dry land. The dogs had to swim though, and while Poppie was okay with that Sophie wasn’t too impressed. On Monday, armed with a tin of black paint and a couple of artist’s brushes, I took a walk to Tyger’s memorial stone near Rhoscolyn and repainted the faded lettering engraved on it – I really needed a finer brush but it didn’t look too bad, and no doubt by next year it will have faded again so I can do it better next time.
A couple of the grey days were spent on the unsuccessful hunt for a new tent and on one of the days I got a free meal and coffee at the Morrisons cafe in Caernarfon. I also visited my cousin, who I managed to track down at my second attempt, and I spent a good couple of hours with him and his wife, catching up on our respective news over a coffee or two. The sunny days produced some lovely sunsets and glorious colours in the late evening sky and the bedtime dog walks were spent rabbit spotting as there were loads of them hopping about round various parts of the camp site. Early morning yesterday saw me walking the dogs along the nearby beach and at only 6.30am we had the whole place to ourselves; after breakfast a final fling before packing up to come home was a photography walk round Parys Mountain.
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Nefyn beach – finally found after several years
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Amlwch harbour
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A lake on Parys Mountain
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A random garden at Amlwch
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Garden flowers at Porth Dinllaen
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Lesser black backed gull at Holyhead port
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Late evening sky over the camp site
With well over 200 photos taken during the eight day holiday, and the hot sunny days making up for the dull ones, my much-needed time away was very enjoyable in spite of the tent giving up the ghost at the start. My back-up plan had worked out well enough that the demise of the tent didn’t really spoil things so all in all it was a good holiday. Now all I have to do is sort out my photos and update my other blog – it may take a while!

A weekend away

I returned home yesterday afternoon after a weekend away at the Elvaston Castle Steam Rally just outside Derby. Always the early bird I was on the road by 5.15am on Saturday, arriving at the show ground just after 7am. Weekend camping for the rally is actually on four huge farmer’s fields across the road from the show ground, and while most people camp in the two fields closest to the entrance I prefer to be in a quiet corner out of the way, so after checking in with the camping stewards I made my way over to my favourite spot near the far end of the far field.
It was while I was putting up the tent that disaster struck but I’m not going into detail here – I’ll save that for my camping blog, when I finally find time to update it. As well as all the usual stalls and attractions at the rally there was camel racing (which I thought was rather boring but it would have been okay for kids) and Winged World with some very colourful parrots and cute little owls. The weather was gloriously sunny and warm all weekend and I was able to get out and about with the dogs and the camera, especially on Sunday when not only did I walk round the show ground but I also went for a lovely walk along the nearby canal – and even though my step challenge has officially finished I surpassed myself that day by walking a total of six miles and 21,339 steps!
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With the opportunity to catch up with various camping friends, and friends from years ago who live nearby, plus a walk round the castle grounds before setting off on the journey home, it was a very enjoyable weekend, and already I’m looking forward to doing it all again in July next year.

Ambling round Anglezarke

Although I’m not sure that ‘ambling’ is the right word as I usually walk at quite a reasonable pace. The latest long walk was done a week ago on a gloriously sunny (and hot) day, and I must admit that if I’d known beforehand just how far I would actually go I probably wouldn’t have chosen that particular route on that particular day.
Anglezarke reservoir is just beyond Rivington, and as I’ve recently explored the Rivington area on two separate occasions and it must be about twenty years since I’d last been round Anglezarke I thought it would make a good dog walk and also add to my daily step count. The reservoir was reached by taking a minor road off the road leading to Rivington village; just before the turn-off for the car park the road went uphill to a lay-by and viewpoint high above the reservoir and as I’d never been up there before I went to take a look.
Next to the lay-by was a very pleasant and well kept grassy area with a couple of benches overlooking the reservoir and several people were chilling out in the sunshine or just sitting looking at the view. And what a view it was; although there was a heat haze on the horizon I could see for miles and it was well worth a few photos.
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Three reservoirs – Lower Rivington, Upper Rivington in the centre, Anglezarke in the foreground
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View over Anglezarke
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From the view point I drove back down the hill to the car park and my walk started from there. A stone wall separated the path from the water but after only a couple of minutes the path veered to the right and took me through the remains of a small quarry. I remembered that the last time I went round there all those years ago the quarry had quite an open aspect but now it was quite overgrown with trees and bushes, although it was still very pleasant to walk through.
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Anglezarke quarry
From the quarry the path went back to the waterside for a short distance before veering off once again and taking me uphill through a densely wooded area which seemed to go on for ever and had no view of the water. After a while the path went downhill and crossed a narrow stream before going back uphill and through another wooded area, though eventually it went downhill once again and I left the trees behind, emerging onto a tract of open grassland with a good view across to the west side of the reservoir.
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A bench with a view
Unfortunately the open land didn’t last long and I was back into woodland again, with a steep bank of trees separating the path from the water. It was so steep in places that it was an almost vertical drop of about 30ft so for safety’s sake I put Sophie back on the lead. Eventually the path brought me out onto a minor road which took me across the north end of the reservoir and disappeared round a bend to who-knows-where. Just on the bend I picked up the path again and I was back through more trees though this time reasonably close to the water, which enabled me to get a shot of the lovely old waterside house I’d just passed the back of.
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After a while the path led up through the trees and I came to a gate into a small field; there was no sign telling me which way to go so I assumed it was straight on, and sure enough at the far side of the field was a kissing gate which took me out onto a farm track. And that’s where I began to feel confused. I have an extremely good memory for places I’ve previously been to, even if it’s been many many years since I last went, and I was sure that on my last walk round there I was able to walk close to the water at that point. I certainly didn’t  remember having to go up through the trees and cross a field to a farm track, and as I walked along the track the unfamiliarity of it convinced me that I was right. There were sheep in the fields though so maybe that was the answer – where once I would  have been able to walk close to the water access is obviously now denied if the land is used for livestock. It was a very pleasant, if rather hot, walk along the track though and I did get a couple of nice photos.
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View along the farm track
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Looking east, with Winter Hill mast top left, Rivington Pike top right
Eventually the farm track turned right but there was a bridle path which went straight on, and a notice on a nearby post told me that ice cream, lollies and bottled water were available at the farm at the end of the path. That sounded good to me, and as I was going that way anyway I thought I may as well stop for some refreshment. Two ladies were operating a stall just outside the farmhouse gates, with the proceeds of any sales going to a local hospice; the ice cream turned out to be various Magnums, which I have a great liking for, so I chose a Classic one and chatted to the ladies while I ate it then bought a small bottle of water to replace the one I’d shared with the dogs while we were walking round.
After Sophie and Poppie had slurped copious amounts of water from the dog bowl near the stall I set off again, down the farmhouse driveway and onto a tarmac lane. A little way along was the high bank and wall of the reservoir so wanting to be back near the water I climbed over the wall bordering the lane and made my way up to the top, where I was greeted by a great view across to the far side.
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Looking west
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At the far end of the wall my way was blocked by a thicket of trees so I had to go back down the bank, scramble over the wall at the bottom and pick up a sheep track of a path which followed the contours of the reservoir on my left. On my right was a large open tract of grassland dotted with trees which were all green except one not far from the path – this had a white trunk and branches which stuck almost straight out, and it was completely bare except for one bit of green growing out from near the top.
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A bit further on the path became separated from the water by a tree-shaded stone wall and not far ahead I could see a group of sheep mooching about with their young ones – thank goodness both dogs were on the lead. Strangely enough though, most of the sheep didn’t seem to be bothered by us and carried on calmly grazing as we went past, though one mum and young one insisted on blocking the path for a while before moving out of our way.
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Yes, they really were so close
A little way beyond the sheep the path ended in a set of crude steps up and over a stone wall and I was back on the road which passed the bottom end of the reservoir and eventually took me back to the car park. It had been an enjoyable walk but in the heat, and with the distance being greater than I’d thought, it had also been a very tiring one so it was a relief to finally get back to the van. There was one thing I wanted to do though before I left the area – I wanted to get a shot of the view from up at the view point but with an empty bench in the foreground, which I hadn’t been able to get earlier as someone was occupying both benches. So I drove back up to the view point and I was in luck – one bench was unoccupied so I got my shot, turned the van round and headed for home.
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Another bench with a view
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My walk, anti-clockwise from yellow spot
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week she’s on an exploration of Rufford Abbey ruins and gardens, and discovering some strange and wonderful sculptures along the way.