On the last day of February Partner-who-loves-tea took me to Chirk Castle in N Wales. We had set out in mist.
But by the time we arrived at the castle it was gloriously sunny- if cold and with a sky that was still hiding behind misty clouds. It boded well for the walk.
The entrance to this National Trust property is in what were at one time the stables. Being National Trust members this year (thanks P-w-l-t) we didn’t have to pay anything. Had we come tomorrow it would have been free as well – no admittance charges on St David’s Day!
The stables look to have been built in the sixteenth century but it was the fire in the entrance hall that I had difficulty dragging P-w-l-t away from on this briskly chilly day. There is a small second-hand book shop in the entrance as well – that necessitated a trip back to the car to leave our little hoard of opuscules.
We decided against attempting to storm the battlements. Or creep in through the back door. (This one is for you two, Librarian and Dawn Treader).
At the main gate the man-at-arms hailed My Lady and allowed us entry.
The castle courtyard which is built in the form of a square.
Everywhere there are lovely medieval doorways.
Mind your head as you go in – folk were less tall in those days.
In the café there were no fish on the menu – just on the walls –
The gardens are full of topiary hedges.
And beautiful statues.
We pass the hawk house.
And suddenly there are masses of Snowdrops.
The camera can’t give you the feeling of what it is like to walk in a wood full of snowdrops. And I thought one would need a Wordsworth to express it in words. But when I checked his poem I wasn’t impressed. Nor was I with those of other obvious poets. I found one by a modern poet (born the same year as me) called Edward Ryles that I liked but it wasn’t the atmosphere I felt in Chirk Castle woods.
So I have tried my own piece of blank verse……
On walking in Chirk Castle woods
The last day of February as
Two of us, walking in the woods,
Follow the paths of fallen leaves
Through the woodland carpet
Of white, on white, on white.
The sun hits the ground in little spots
But most of the world is in shade.
Even without their leaves the woods
Filter the sunshine away in the treetops.
So the snowdrops, now fully awake
After their wintry sleep, hang their heads
And glimmer from the woodland floor;
Light shining upwards instead of down
Each little flower invites one to scrabble
On hands and knees to see the earth
From their perspective. Petally perfection
With green swords. A whole world
Of white, on white, on white.
And there were lots of Spring Snowflakes as well.
The woods don’t just have Snowdrops and Spring Snowflakes. There are also lots of lichen.
And the trees themselves have such character. At first I thought this splendid tree was a Sweet Chestnut but then I decided it might be a Walnut, a tree I have always wanted in my garden. But even if I win the lottery I can’t just create a two hundred year old tree. I’d have to buy a garden with in already in – Thelwell’s perhaps; as shown in ‘A Plank Bridge by a Pool’ (1978) .
The views out to the Cheshire Plain and the Welsh Hills are beautiful.
And there was even a Rhododendron out.
And a little patch of Winter Aconites.
But it's a big thank you to the Snowdrops - the highlight of the day....