Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Hadrian's Wall at Housesteads Fort

We were so close to an ancient wall that still has remains standing, we decided to include it in our itinerary on our Golden Anniversary trip to Britain last fall.  The Roman Vallum Aelium (Hadrian's Wall) stretched across from the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth in the Irish Sea covering a distance of 73 miles. 

There are many places we can view this ancient wall.  Hadrian's Wall defended the northern border of the Roman province of  Britannia for over 250 years.  We decided to travel to the Housesteads Fort to see a structure that was begun in AD 122!  Let that sink in for a moment...2017 marked the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian becoming the Roman Emperor.  It was also the 30th anniversary of this area becoming a World Heritage site.

  Sheep are plentiful in England.  Aren't they beautiful?  This one appears to have lost his way.  We often saw them in the road and on the other side of what appears to be a rock wall to keep them in.

We drove to Northumberland over this incredible pass.  If you look closely you can see the road we are taking winding over the mountain through the foggy beauty of the Lake District.

Getting closer to a lower elevation the views become clearer. 

At the top of the hill is our first view of the ancient Roman fort and wall located in Northumberland. There are sheep everywhere!  Their size is bigger than those we have seen.  When we inquired about the type we were told they were Mule Sheep.  They were just as nosy about us as we were about them!

We learned that this area has been farmed for many centuries and it wasn't until fairly recently it has been managed by the National Trust and English Heritage.  We joined both of these organizations before going to Britain.  The Royal Oak Foundation is the United States arm of the National Trust.  By joining these organizations you are helping to preserve these sites for posterity.  It also allows you to visit without a fee or parking charge.  Our English Heritage passes were not sent to us before we left home, but proved to be no problem as we had our printout and the first English Heritage site we visited the lady gave us passes to use on our trip.

After getting our passes we visited the small museum to learn more about this fort and wall.

Visiting this wall reminded me of our own ridiculous thinking that walls need to be built in the first place!  I don't speak of politics here and don't want to debate it.  I feel very passionately about this and I'm sure you do as well.  Let's leave it at that!

Along the 73 mile wall there were forts built to house soldiers and munitions.  Housesteads or "Vercovicium" is from the Celtic "place of able fighters."

This inscription was found on a stone altar on the hillside around the fort in the early 18th century.  Over the years the stones from the wall have been used in the construction of castles and barns and other buildings.

Leaving the museum we climbed the hill to view the Housestead Fort.

 Grayden is touching the Wall that you are allowed to walk on here.  Many hikers walk the length of Hadrian's Wall, but alongside it and not on it.  The first time we visited England we met a couple on the Queen Mary 2 that were going to do just that! 

Here we are standing on the edge of the Roman Empire.

A couple we met from San Francisco asked if we wanted our photo taken.

Walking back down the hill we enjoyed the views of Northumberland.  

It's hard to believe that this lovely peaceful place was once occupied by 800 soldiers defending the border of the Roman Empire so long ago.

Friday, August 17, 2018

August Days

August days in Virginia can be hot and humid.  This year is no different.  We have been blessed with plenty of rain and plenty of sunshine.  Along with the rain and sunshine the flowers as well as the weeds require a gardener to stay on top of things.  Working outdoors this morning only allowed me to weed for an hour.  Then it was back indoors where I could cool off in the air conditioning.  

In spite of my uncomfortable situation these elements make the flowers happy in my garden.

The Vinca in the patio planter is doing well.  After not being able to have impatiens here (because of downy mildew), I'm happy to have found another substitute. 

Mushrooms are quite abundant with all the rain we have received.

We have a lot of shade on our patio that makes a wonderful spot to enjoy on the less humid afternoons.  We often read, or chat or just enjoy the sights that surround us.

Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird

I hope you have a hummingbird feeder nearby to enjoy their antics.  They are getting ready to take a long journey to the south so it's important to continue feeding these hungry ones as some fly as far as South America for the winter.  Isn't nature amazing?

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird

If you wish to make your own nectar for the hummingbirds it's quite easy.  I boil one cup of water with one quarter cup of sugar.  Do not substitute artificial sweetners or honey.  They need the sugar for nutritional needs and they can't digest honey.  It's not necessary to add red food coloring.  It may be harmful to them.  Believe me they will come.  Just be sure to replace the food as it can get moldy in the heat.

We mostly enjoy relaxing in the afternoons, but sometimes "I" notice jobs that need attending.  Our patio is concrete.  Since we are shady and have had such a wet summer it appeared to be quite dirty!  Grayden has a small pressure washer that he had used once.  He really was not pleased with it and so we hired a fellow to pressure wash our patio.  Unfortunately after he finished the job we had to replace the brick planter the following year!  Our patio has not been pressure washed since then.  Grayden, reluctantly agreed to try his pressure washer this time.  He and I were thrilled with the results.  I think he did a great job as you can see.  He was very careful with the planter.

I can't believe how dirty this concrete was!  Now in all fairness I need to tell you that I looked in my gardening journal and saw that it was last pressure washed in March of 1999!  He also pressure washed the dirty patio rug and the results were amazing.  Now maybe we'll not wait another 19 years to clean the patio!

The Heavenly Blue Morning Glory is covering the trellis.  Hopefully soon it will be blossoming.  I looked in my journal again and noticed that the blooms usually appear in late August.

The weather will be changing soon to less and less humidity and we will be able to enjoy our afternoons on our clean patio. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Salt Water is Good for My Soul

If you have been reading here for long, you realize that I love the ocean.  The ocean seems to have a draw like none other for me.  Growing up visiting the ocean with my parents that adored the water probably influenced this passion of mine.  It's fun to see that same passion passed down to my children and to their children as well.  I was taught at a very young age to have a great respect for the mighty ocean and her beauty.  Our annual beach week was enjoyed by our family again.  Experiencing this vacation in the same place at the same week on the calendar gives a sense of rhythm to my life.   

The week for me is not about taking photos, but enjoying time with my family.  Relaxing by the ocean is what we do best.  

We set up our colorful umbrellas and chairs according to the tide chart.  I have graduated to a higher beach chair as the years have gone by.  Do you know how hard it is to get up from a chair that sits on the sand?  It's not pretty, so a higher one helps me keep my dignity.  Maybe!

Big kids get involved to make sure the engineered structure keeps the tide at bay.

A dip in the ocean is really what the doctor ordered.  What a good feeling it is to be weightless.  Our daughter is an open water swimmer and enjoyed time swimming with the tides.  

The beach provides good bonding times for father and son.

Even a double rainbow knows where my pot of gold lies.  Right there in the gorgeous ocean!  I've heard it said that the earth is 71 percent ocean and we should call our planet Ocean, not Earth!  Umm... Maybe so.