Sunday, 31 August 2008

Frog End wildlife

House Sparrows and Wood Pigeons are among the most common bird species at Frog End. This is a juvenile Wood Pigeon - it lacks the white neck patch of the adult.

This Willow Beauty moth came to the kitchen light one evening.

An unidentified caterpillar - possibly a Clouded Drab but I'll need to check that out when I get home.

A male Southern Hawker was around the pond for a while - the Southern Hawker has been the most frequent dragonfly visitor since I arrived.

Another female Lesser Stag Beetle was rescued from a post hole prior to it being filled with concrete. Note the typical red Devon clay soil.

A female Golden -ringed Dragonfly oviposited in the pond on Saturday and then flew to a garden chair to bask.

The Golden-ringed is the sixth dragonfly species to be seen at Frog End. The others have been Migrant Hawker; Southern Hawker; Broad-bodied Chaser; Common Darter; and Emperor.

Saturday - around Lydford

On Saturday morning we drove along the A30 and had a walk alongside a beautiful river and hedgerow and through a small wood,

Then we went to Lydford Castle. Lydford was once an important town and one of the four Saxon Boroughs of Devon. It was big enough to have a mint in the days of Ethelred the Unready.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor the town was the most populous in Devon after Exeter. The Domesday Survey recorded that forty houses had been laid waste in the brief time since the Norman Conquest and the town never recovered its former prosperity. Nowadays it is a delightful little Devon village.

The castle dates from the late twelfth century and by the thirteenth century it had been fixed as the prison for the Stannaries and the meeting place of the Dartmoor Forest Courts. In 1512 it was described as "one of the most heinous, contagious and detestable places in the realm" and Lydford Law was a byword for injustice. By Cromwell's time the three storey castle was in ruins but it was restored in the 18th century and once more used as a prison.

This stone jutting out of an internal wall had a hole in it which obviously ran some way up the wall.

The castle bailey.

The perpendicular church of St Petroc at Lydford.

This is the Castle Inn, Lydford. We briefly stepped in with the idea of having a bite to eat but whilst the menu looked attractive it was a bit too expensive for a Saturday snack.

So we went down the road to a pleasant little farm shop and cafe where sausage toasties and homemade soup (carrot and honey, excellent) were duly ordered.

On the way back the Police directed us off the A30 and we wound our way through the Devon lanes instead. Apparently a caravan had broken down, somehow blocking the whole A30, and traffic was at a standstill with people out of their cars.

Study of a Doorway

Cathedral Close, Exeter, is a delightful row of medieval buildings. The area of the Cathedral Close has been the heart of Exeter since the Romans first built their bath house, and basilica, in the First and Second Centuries. Cathedral Close has the highest concentration of Grade I listed buildings in Exeter and although it is the other end of the Close which has the most famous buildings, this is the end that appeals to me.

Exeter Cathedral - Friday

After going to the University on Friday morning I made my way into the City Centre for a wander around. My first stop was the cathedral area. St Peters Cathedral was first built in Norman times, around 1114, and its present form was finished around 1375. The two magnificent towers are the main survivors of the original construction.

Beneath the cathedral's green there lies a Roman bathhouse. Excavated in the 1970's after its rediscovery - it was then subsequently wrapped and recovered a few years later. This bathhouse was built by the Roman Army and used by its soldiers of the Second Augustan Legion. There have been talks over the years to re-excavate the area for permanent public display. Personally, I like the green as it is.

A look at some of the gargoyles and faces led me to an internal debate about the relative merits of conservation and restoration. Some of the old ones are so weathered that they are almost obliterated. By contrast there are some in pristine condition. Some have been created as part of the restoration works over the years and I am torn between wanting to see what the original building is like (even in a weathered state) and enjoying the skill of the modern craftsmen working on what is effectively a living building.

I'm not quite sure why this bishop is holding what appears to be his own head!

The Three Gables in the Cathedral precincts were built in 1540 and were occupied by the craftsmen employed by the Cathedral.