Narnia at Killerton-take 2

A couple of weeks ago I had a very quick look at the Narnia installations at Killerton House – see here. I have now been back and had a better look – here are a few photos. It is well worth a visit – details here and it is a welcome break from shopping!






A small flavour – don’t miss it – Killerton House is getting quite a reputation now for its Christmas offer

Narnia at Killerton

I was over at Killerton yesterday for a meeting and afterwards had a very quick look at the new Killerton offer – Narnia – the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I will be going again as it was all a bit of a rush but it looks great. For visiting details see here.

Killerton Xmas 11
Was rather impressed by the wolf!

Killerton Xmas 14
The Chapel looks lovely in the fading light

Killerton Xmas 13
The installations in the garden / park are best seen after dark

Killerton Xmas 8
There is a Narnia theme throughout

Killerton Xmas 4
Fancy a game of swords and shields?

Killerton Xmas 2
Hoops and lanterns

Killerton Xmas 18
A festive courtyard

Christmas at Killerton is now becoming quite an institution and it is definitely worth a visit. Catch the House part during the day and the parkland bit after dark.

You can see the full photo set here.

Never seen so many butterflies in one place before

I had an all day meeting at Killerton yesterday and after the meeting finished and as the sun was shining I popped into Ashclyst Forest again to look for white admirals. What a success – never seen so many butterflies in one place before. Counted them all up and then submitted them to Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count. 123 individuals in 15 minutes!

Silver washed fritillary 5
There were 15 silver-washed fritillaries including this male

Silver washed fritillary 6
This is the female

Silver washed fritillary 4
This is the characteristic underwing pattern

Silver washed fritillary 3
Love the eyes

White admiralAnd I did see 4 white admirals – only got this photo which is poor but at least proves the species is there!

If you haven’t tried the Big Butterfly Count – have a go it’s very easy and you will also make David Attenborough happy – see here

Ashclyst Forest in between the rain

Sunday was a pretty bad day weather wise – it poured with rain all morning but finally the skies cleared at 2 o clock – I ventured out to Ashclyst Forest on the Killerton Estate in search of some white admiral butterflies – I failed but I did see a few other insects before the rain came back in again at 4.30pm.

Silver Washed Fritillary-Ashclyst
Silver washed fritillaries are hardy beasts

A gatekeeper catching the fleeting sun

A battered Ringlet

Meliscaeva cinctella 2
The tiny hoverfly Meliscaeva cinctella – you can  see the halteres – the pale white blobs just below where the wings join the body – all insects have two pairs of wings – in flies the second pair are modified and are called halteres. These act as mini gyroscopes to help flies buzz around!

Rutpela maculata-Ashclyst
The common longhorn beetle Rutpela maculata – the black and yellow longhorn

Dark bush cricket-AshclystA female Dark bush cricket – you can see the sabre shaped ovipositor at the rear of the insect

So no white admirals …. I will try again during August if and when the promised heatwave returns!


Visiting Killerton’s Nutcracker

A couple of week’s ago we visited Killerton’s christmas offer – the Nutcracker. Here are a few pictures and the full photo set is here.

K4As soon as you start to walk up to the House you are greeted by the Nutcracker theme

K6Interactive displays for children (and adults)

K10Great graphics within the House

K17Following the story of the Nutcracker around the World

K20To China!!

K23Outside in the grounds there are a number of games for children to play based on the Nutcracker theme

K28The Devon team of General Managers with their Assistant Director Operations Toby Fox

Killerton’s Nutcracker offer is open up to Christmas – it is worth a visit – you won’t be disappointed – full details here

Clyston Mill – Broadclyst

We held our SW Leaders Day in Broadclyst at the Victory Hall yesterday – at lunchtime some of us popped over to the NT’s Clyston Mill property in the village for a quick look around. It is a working flour mill and well worth a visit. The season this year is nearly over but it is open until Sunday week – NB – it is only open Saturdays to Wednesdays 1pm-5pm.

IMG_2733It is  water driven mill (has an emergency electric backup when water levels are low)

IMG_2732This mill dates from the 19th century and has 3 sets of grind stones – there has been a mill on the site since the Domesday Book era

MillHere is a plan of the mill – you can visit and see all the areas

FlourAnd here is a bag of Clyston Mill flour! – Time to get the bread maker out.

If you want to visit – I recommend you contact 01392 462425 to check opening and milling times

A very colourful black and red bug

I was over at Killerton on Thursday for meeting and afterwards in the car park I photographed this bright red and black insect. The insect in an order known as the hemiptera or true bugs – they are identified from other insects by their mouth parts which are adapted to suck the juices from plants or animals – rather like a type of insectivorous hypodermic syringe! After flicking though my ‘Chinery’ – The Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe (possibly the best book in the world) I quickly found the beast – it is a squash bug called Corizus hyoscyami – this species can be muddled up with some of the ground bugs but our species is much hairier.

Historically Corizus was found along the coast of south Britain but in recent years it has spread inland and northwards as far as Yorkshire – a species responding to a changing climate! For more info on Corizus – see here.

Corizus hyoscyamiRather a smart looking animal with very detailed marking – feeding on a yarrow flower

Corizus hyoscyami 2In this close up you can see the hairs referred to above


Killerton House – an unexpected visit

My Mum’s 86th birthday: Plan A meet her from the 9:50 from Barnstaple at Exeter St Davids – up to London – lunch at Jamie Oliver’s in Covent Garden and then a river cruise down Greenwich and then back to Devon…… Plan B: Barnstaple train late – arrives as London train leaves … so no time for the London plan so we go to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (Mum’s never been since it re-opened) and then lunch at the Mill on the Exe with my partner who has legged it down from London….

Post lunch we decide to go to Killerton House – I knew my Mum would like the ‘Objects of Desire‘ exhibition – an exhibition put together by the esteemed interior designer Russell Sage. Here are a few photos. The full photoset can be found here.

Britannia 1

Britannia 2


Dress 5

Dress 9



Dress 7


Dresses 2


Definitely worth a visit – good cafe too! but not sure about 2 of the 3 videos in the exhibition – what do you reckon?

p.s. Mum had a great day despite the change of plan :))