Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hever Castle ~ Hever Gardens ~ England

Hever Castle has a history of over 700 years but this will not be a history lesson.  I shall toss in a few tidbits of information about some of the residents’ history but more about the building of the castle and grounds to be what it is today.

Hever Castle
The entrance shows some of the great expanse of the 125 acres of the Hever Castle.  The list of sights to visit given on the program suggest about 8 hours to see everything on the grounds including the castle  This was more time than we spent so although we did not see everything, we did see much of it.
We were there!
The Hever Castle has a double moat and we are standing on the outside of the second one.  Hever Castle was little more than a farmstead when it was purchased by William Waldorf Astor 1903.  His passion for art and sculpture is prominently seen in the gardens today. We had a great time wandering the grounds with my sister and her husband who are quite familiar with the area.

Historical room
The was the first room we saw after receiving a greeting as we entered the Hever Castle.  I had not understood the heavy accent that apparently told us there were to be no photos taken.  I was quickly re-told but at least I had taken one before knowing what that accent had said.  lol

KSY Military Museum
This museum was a wealth of information with stories and artifacts from 1794 to today.  The Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry bring it to life with combat noises and voices overhead.  They are so realistic I almost hit the ground with a quick thought of "find me a foxhole!"

Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday
This garden monument was designed for Queen Elizbath II's 90th birthday in 2016.  Her actual birthday is April 21 but the official one was held June 11, 2016.  The tradition of holding royal birthdays in June began many years ago and was done due to the weather being unreliable during some other months.

Gardens galore
Over 1,000 men worked on the gardens between 1904-1908.  The former gardens had all but disappeared.  There was a temporary railway used to help with the features.  In those four years, classical gardens and natural landscape filled the 125 acres of what was once marshland and meadows.  

Hever Loggia
This is the Loggia, a beautiful setting where weddings and other celebrations can be held.  The original structure of the castle was preserved and any updates that had been done to it were replaced with materials used similarly to the sixteenth century and using tools from that time, as well.  This project employed 748 craftsmen.

Sights and sounds of Hever Gardens
Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII and mother to Queen Elizabeth I, spend her childhood years here and so there is a lot of history in this castle.  The interior was amazing to see as it shared the history; it had photos of the royalty of the time as well as a journal of Anne Boleyn’s.  As tempting as it was to take a picture of Henry VIII's room, I did not take any more interior photos.

Hever Lake
An additional 800 men were employed to build the Hever Lake, also a major undertaking which took over two years.  There is a lakeside walkway all around the lake to enjoy the view, the resident swans as well as many other birds and residents of the lake. This is adjacent to the loggia which overlooks the 38 acre lake.

Our visit was done in the Fall but the gardens were still very enjoyable, Springtime would be amazing when the 35,000 annual plantings are done in this worldly recognized garden.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snowcapped Mountains ~ Skyview

Christmas spent at home with the family is the best place to be.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to do that and to those who cannot, we know you’ll be missed.  Family and friends are what makes this occasion so special, but soon we depart.  

Sunset in Kamloops, BC
The sun is setting on this January winter day and we see the glow on the mountains in the far distance.  We are not sure exactly which peaks we are seeing but the highest peak in the Cariboo Mountains in that area rises to 2946 m (9665’) and is unofficially called Mount Lyons.

Deicing the airplane
An early morning flight from Kamloops required some deicing due to a light overnight snowfall then this deicing was done in Calgary on the larger plane we were on to head south.  The color used here is green and the procedure was quite interesting to watch.  There are different colors used for different circumstances.

Snowcapped mountains
The route followed by this flight was directly south from Calgary, AB.  We were above the clouds for a distance but once we got past the heavy cloud we had so many opportunities to see the mountain tops.

Rocky Mountains
We follow the Rocky Mountains for many miles and are able to enjoy the many snow covered mountains from a viewpoint that many people could not.  We travel at 37,000 feet yet these mountain tops do not look too far away.  The distance is deceiving.

Mountains of western states
The Rocky Mountains extend from Alberta down into Idaho but looking at a map of that state we also see the Blue Mountains, Bitterroot Ranges with Salmon River Mountains as well as the Monitor Range. So not to leave any out, I would expect we may have seen mountains from each of these locations.

Snow covered ranges
The flight was a two and one half hour flight and we had these mountains to see out the window for almost two hours.  The small and not-so-clear windows definitely limit the views but still offer plenty to see and enjoy.

Desert of southern California
We followed the southern Nevada border to fly into Southern California. The last half hour we had sightings of the desert with some scattering of clouds.  The changes in topography were interesting, mountain tops with a different look.

The Coachella Valley
The snow covered mountains are beautiful to see but this was the sight we were looking forward to.  Blue sky with warm days of sunshine and no snow to shovel!  The Coachella Valley often has some signs of smog that arrives with the airflow from the big cities in the coastal areas but continues on.  Once we get on the ground, it won’t be noticed.  All we shall be seeing is the warmer side of winter.

Wherever you may be, enjoy your winter and the wonders of nature that surround us all.


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