Sunday, 22 April 2018

Spring at Wakehurst

We visited Wakehurst Place last weekend, a lovely National Trust property with links to Kew Gardens and the site of the National seed bank. I managed to (eventually) persuade The Parents to take us there for an outing- they have previously refused since the property starting charging parking fees to all National Trust members. In my consideration, the fee was well worth it as the gardens were beautiful. They were in a 'just starting to get going' sort of a phase, with the Rhododendrons in full bloom and the Daffodils shining. The posh flower beds are still dormant, but the woodland walk is well worth it to see the trees starting to bud, and we made some new feathered friends along the way.
The Brother has a thing against Rhododendron trees, ever since he was a Scout and went on a forestry course that bemoaned the voracious nature of these plants that spread and are difficult to get rid of. Personally I like them. I like their flowers and the way the flowers fall and carpet the ground underneath. I like the different variations in colour too, some are light pink, some dark pink, some bright pink, some purple, some yellow, some white, some combinations of different colours.
I had originally wanted to see the big Magnolia trees that line a stream and series of waterfalls, but we were too early for the big showy blooms to be out; only the smaller flowered Magnolias seemed to have flowered, although they were also very pretty. This just means that we will have to return in a couple of weeks time when the trees have flowered! No hardship there- other than the £5 parking fee for 2.5 hours. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Bracklesham Bay

Bracklesham Bay was our lunchtime picnic area on Friday, and it was so lovely to be sat eating sandwiches on the beach again. The weather wasn't perfect, but it wasn't raining or so blustery you can't feel your fingers, so we'll take it! The beach itself stretches as far as the eye can see in either direction, and was really quite peaceful as most visitors seemed to be keeping to the nearby cafe. We were able to do some beach combing, and found lots of shell fossils, which this beach is renowned for (see this website here), quite literally lying among the pebbles waiting to be picked up. The tide was relatively high, but apparently at the lowest tide there is a much bigger stretch of sand which could contain shark teeth, bits of fish bone, lots of different fossilized shells, carbonised wood and seed pods, and if you are really lucky, crocodile teeth! Now I know about it, it kind of makes me want to go back with a sieve and see what else I can find there! For me though, beach treasure is all about sea glass, and I added four little green pieces to my collection so I'm happy!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Earnley Butterflies, Birds & Beasts

It was Dad's birthday on Friday so we have had several days of celebrations with various collections of family members, eaten lots of cake, drunk many cups of tea and coffee, and generally enjoyed ourselves. Actually on Friday we went up to Earnley Butterflies, Birds & Beasts which is sort of near Chichester. It didn't look much as you went in through the car park, but actually it was a really fun place to visit and quite good value for the entry fee as it seemed to go on forever with all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore.

As you walk through the entrance, the first part you come across is the butterfly house, full of very active (and large) butterflies which chase each other around you and the room. I really love butterfly houses, especially when a butterfly lands on you as if you are 'the chosen one'. They are really good fun to photograph too.

The next room is a walk through aviary, although most of these birds were asleep by the looks of things. They had divided themselves into two factions and each group of birds were sitting at either end of the room, dozing together on their branches. Our favourite was this little chap below who seemed to be the only one of his kind, but who walked down the length of a branch to come and stare at us a little closer.

You can buy little bags of chopped carrots and lettuce at the entrance to feed the guinea pigs and rabbits with. They are essentially small hoovers and snapped up any food offered to them. We also did a little bit of weeding for the keepers of Earnley and pulled up dandelion and milk thistle plants to give to the 'pigs, which they absolutely loved! There were two separate guinea pig houses, and we found that one little family were a lot friendlier than the other so played with them for a little while, offering them leaves which were snatched from your hands. They are funny little creatures, constantly squeaking and huffing and puffing, running around each other and bumping into things.

There is a rescue section with reptiles; snakes, lizards, iguanas, red and yellow striped sliders (above). Plus an outdoor section with owls, chickens (love the pom pom chicken!), guinea fowl, rabbits (including a giant rabbit) and miniature donkeys. So lots of creatures to play and interact with.

The whole place is built in an old giant greenhouse as this area of the country is known for it's greenhouses and crop fields. This was obviously an unused one which has been re-purposed so most of it is technically indoors. A huge section is devoted to different kinds of garden with different themes, so for example, the roman garden, the gnome garden, the rose garden, the paved garden, the Japanese garden etc... Due to the time of year, this probably wasn't the best time to visit for the gardens but there was lots more to see with more animal enclosures and a local colony of wild lizards.

There were some pretty spectacular fish, Grey African Parrots, Lovebirds, more guinea pigs, and the cockatoos which were hilarious!

At least one of them (the chap above) can say hello, and if you sing or whistle at them, they will whistle back. Of course, they are very noisy and when they are all screeching together it is totally deafening, but they also chuckle and laugh which is hilarious in itself. The chap above also has quite the moves and spent ages working a little routing where he angles himself like shown, opens his wings a little bit and waggles them, then changes angle so he is facing the other way and repeats over and over, staring at you quite intently throughout. Sometimes he mixes it up and raises his crest for some serious headbanging and screeching before settling back down to the (honestly quite unnerving) 'angel wing' dance.

They were very funny, and if you are ever in the area, we can recommend this place for a visit. As well as the gardens and creatures, there is a museum of the twentieth century to walk around with all of the tools, appliances, toys, clothes and fashions of the 1900s, and a separate museum about locally discovered shipwrecks. It's a little bit random but very entertaining!