Nature in unexpected places 

We were on the road for several hours today, heading north for a holiday! Along the sides of the motorway, on the verges, splashes of wild flowers brightened the journey, nature flourishing where humans fear to tread. 

We stopped at Hardwick Park, a National Trust property with an old and new hall, both pretty old! The Old Hall is a grand ruin, a statuesque skeleton looking over the valley. Here, despite the tramp of visitors’ feet, nature is gaining a toehold. On ledges and tops of walls, plants are growing. If left alone they would soon cover the ruin, their tendrils reaching out over the stones to make it their own. 

Overhead swallows swooped and dived. Standing in the shell of the old kitchens we were surprised to watch one of the birds dive down then disappear up the huge chimney. I stepped inside, peering up into the gloom, eyes adjusting to the dark, a cup shaped next against the stones came into view, swallow perched atop, tail ribbons trailing out. The picture is rather grainy, but I hope you can make out the bird. 

In an adjoining room, up the next chimney more swallows nested, an avian back to back in a grand ruin. I watched a swallow fly up, beaks appearing over the lip of the cup, young swallows demanding to be fed, a faecal sack being carried away. 

How wonderful to see these hardworking little birds making their home here. 

The views from atop the ruins were far reaching and beautiful, 

In the formal gardens, much of the planting was perfect for pollinators, buzzing with bees and hoverflies. The bright colours were beautifully arranged, giving lots of ideas for small changes to make in our own garden. In among the blooms a vole darted, hesitant, nose twitching before making for cover, delightful to see. Even in the formal gardens, nature finding a place. 

We walked through the park, enjoying the views, back down to the ponds, where we’d parked. Through the cool woods we came upon a badger sett, an unexpected pleasure to see an active sett and know that badgers make the park their own. 

The unexpected scent of wild garlic, only seed heads left, hung in the air and we were delighted by the beautiful longhorn cattle as we walked across the meadows. An unexpectedly wild day in a beautiful place. 

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