Sissinghurst on Leap Day

The last day of February brings more squalls from the west with intervals of piercing blue sky and pristine spring sunshine. The castle garden is subdued with the plants starting to grow but needing a run of warmer, gentler days; white magnolias are bursting; the crocus, iris, squill and summer snowflake are out; and aContinue reading “Sissinghurst on Leap Day”

Eleochorio

The hill village of Eleochorio perches on the edge of a wooded ravine; most of the houses are empty, some crumbling away and others just used by visiting families. On the cliffs below at least two pairs of kestrels and a raven nest; the red-rumped swallows fly around the church and houses at the topContinue reading “Eleochorio”

Below Kastania

This side of the Mani peninsula is a narrow belt of land between mountains and sea, untamed where the slopes are too steep to create terraces. The narrow road between the hill villages of Kastania and Saidona runs along narrow ridge through rocky maquis where swathes of pink and white cistus are flowering as wellContinue reading “Below Kastania”

Early April on the Mani

There are days of blue sky and cool winds and others where the land is drenched by great thunderstorms or smothered by blankets of grey cloud that creep over the mountains to slowly suffocate the coast. The sea is often blue glass and sunsets a simple wash of orange; under grey skies there is oftenContinue reading “Early April on the Mani”

On the eastern edge of the Taygetos Mountains

31st March 2019 The road up from the small village of Paleopanagia just to the south of Sparti, leaves the olive groves that cover the plain and winds up through impenetrable scrub oak and maquis past the turn to the village of Toriza to a shaded car park at Manganiari Spring, with a fast flowingContinue reading “On the eastern edge of the Taygetos Mountains”

Mani Olive Groves

Below the village of Platsos, a sheepdog escorts her flock up the track and moves the herd off to let an olive pruner’s car pass. Passers by are few and are barked at as sheep watch on carefully. The endless olive trees cover the flat ground as well as the shallow slopes where ancient terracesContinue reading “Mani Olive Groves”

The Mani

The Mani Peninsula is a land of olives and honey squeezed between the steep slopes of the Taygetos mountains and rocky coastline. The limestone landscape is dry and unyielding yet after the winter rains spring brings a rich and colourful flora. After an unusually harsh winter, the February sun warms the day but the nightsContinue reading “The Mani”

April’s end

April went out with great downpours and fleeting blue skies; the air cold-washed and crystal clear. Watched from the down at Fackenden, the slow but relentless passage of an evening storm creates a moving patchwork of contrast and colour with great folded blankets of falling rain. After the deluge catches the edge of the escarpment,Continue reading “April’s end”

Elenydd

21st – 23rd April The Elenydd mountains are an empty landscape of soft grassland plateaus cut by deep, bracken-clad valleys; the myriad small streams feed the Cothi, Elan, Teifi, Tywi and¬†Ystwyth rivers. The highest plateaus are capped with blanket bog and mires full of sedge, cotton grass and Sphagnum¬†fill the shallow depressions. These uplands areContinue reading “Elenydd”