The case of the disappearing Norwegian Spruce cones…

A Sunday ramble in Gloucestershire

Worcester Lodge, Badminton through trees

Last weekend I hopped out of the car on the way over to Westonbirt to take a shot of the Badminton back door for you.  Seen first through the trees, it makes a serious statement of wealth and power as you sweep round the corner on the A433 through the Cotswolds heading into the heart of hunting country towards Tetbury.

Worcester Lodge – a little classical house dating from the 1740s built under the guidance of William Kent – a fine place for a rendezvous on the Badminton Estate. It only has one room inside.

Hanging around on the side of the road taking pictures of small and perfectly formed buildings as cars speed past and you almost fall into the Duke of Beaufort’s ha-ha is not that exciting so we continued on to the Arboretum with the dogs howling as usual in the back of the car.

As we walked into the Silk Wood, looking for squirrels, chatting to other dog walkers and generally mooching along, we passed a Norwegian spruce with loads of splendid newly fallen cones on the ground below.  I picked a few up, intending to practise my close up photography and something about their shape reminded me of those balloons that clowns used to turn into balloon dogs at children’s parties.

Send in the Clowns

Quickly I fashioned my artwork “Send in the Clowns” while trying to kid myself that Andy Goldsworthy probably did much the same when he was about three and a half years old. Something about pinecones and driftwood and dry leaves makes you want to handle them and see what shapes they make. I am not terribly imaginative though.

Maybe they’re here.

But alas the ephemeral nature of working with found materials!  As fast as I positioned my chosen cones, they were purloined, abducted and shredded. So ended my future career as a nature artist, scuppered by a poodle and his friend.

And then the sun set fast and furious and we had to go home.

Sunset through trees at Westonbirt

To see the real thing have a look at the work of Andy Goldsworthy showcased here on the Morning Earth org website.  I would love to copy one or two over here, but I respect artists’ copyright so I’m afraid you will have to click over there to see what I’m talking about.

Ramble over.  Where have you been walking recently? The days are getting longer again in England, the woodpeckers are rattling away in my local woods and I am feeling all light-hearted again.

24 thoughts on “The case of the disappearing Norwegian Spruce cones…

  1. hotlyspiced

    That is hysterical. I didn’t know dogs liked to eat pine cones. I thought they liked bones. Maybe there’s not much of a difference. What beautiful countryside. I can’t believe such an impressive structure was built to provide just one room.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Poodles like anything that they think you are paying close attention to. They are nosy and acquisitive. When Zeb was a pup and I was trying to plant things out in the garden he would sneak up and nab the discarded pots and run away and chew them up. They didn’t actually eat my lovely cones – more destroy them :)

  2. Suelle

    Strange creatures, dogs! Perhaps they needed a carbon supplement. :)

    You’re so lucky to have Westonbirt close by! In the winter and early spring our favourite place is Anglesey Abbey, as they have a winter garden walk, where flowers such snowdrops and hellebores are the main feature, along with trees specially chosen for winter details such as colourful barks or scented winter flowers.

    1. Joanna Post author

      They are thieves, no two ways about it ;) Anglesey Abbey is definitely on my list of places to visit one day :)

  3. ceciliag

    That was funny watching naughty Zeb. My big dog does that with eggs, i have to guard the bucket or he swipes them. Loved the back door. And the reminder of a Ha Ha.. i had forgotton about them. c

    1. Joanna Post author

      He’s never run off with an egg yet Celi, don’t give him ideas !

      It’s such a very grand estate that one, even the sheds have crenellations :)


      1. ceciliag

        Oh my goodness, I miss this kind of walk so much out here, When i lived in england every weekend was doing EXACTLY what you are doing. Well, without your exceptional bread of course.. c

        1. Joanna Post author

          The bread is a relatively new thing for me. On the other hand I was trained up to walks round stately piles and their glorious grounds and estates from an early age, there are so many of them here as you know :)

  4. heidi

    I love your walks. Mine are depressing- I don’t have a dog to go for LONG walks so I just go around the neighbourhood. Or to the end of the driveway to get the mail. Up and down the stairs to do the laundry and check out the freezer. It’s snowing out, again- white-out conditions and I’m not going out anywhere.

    1. Joanna Post author

      This walk involves a car ride first, about half an hour or so. But I do have nearer ones. How terrible that it’s snowing again. :( :( It seems not very long ago I was reading about your trips to the coast. I don’t know where the time goes sometimes.

      Our weather is so changeable – that fine weather lasted maybe three days, and then turned to mist, fog and hair twizzling damp once more.

  5. sallybr

    Joanna, when my Jack Russell was a puppy – and he was soooo impossibly cute and naughty – I once found one of my panties in the backyard, close to the fence to the neighbor’s yard. You would assume that I leave my stuff all over the house in a complete mess, right? Nope. I have no idea how he found it and carried it outside!

    I can only hope I got to it before anyone else saw it… so embarrassing! ;-)

    loved this post, too cute!

    1. Joanna Post author

      LOL Sally! Naughty puppies! Zeb has never been interested in underwear, though I have heard similar tales. His interests as a callow youth were more inclined to leather goods: belts, shoes, handbags, slippers, only the thinnest and finest sort mind. the inner bit of the boot where the zip runs, the glove fingers, the bag handles…

  6. Ann Hall

    I’m afraid Spot has thieving tendencies too. He once nicked a whole carton of eggs (thankfully only 6), took them out through the cat flap, opened the carton and ate every one just leaving the shells! Might be a throw back to his days on the streets before he was rescued? That’s his excuse anyway.
    Had never heard of Andy Goldsworthy – what fascinating work. It doesn’t get cold enough here otherwise i might try sticking icicles together with saliva!

    1. Joanna Post author

      How funny Ann! I bet you would have loved to see him do it :)

      Did Spot carrry them out unbroken? At least he didn’t smash them up indoors ! Celi says her big dog takes eggs too. I wonder what Zeb would do if offered a whole egg in its shell…. The time I saw AG working many years ago, he told me that he often peed on ice if he needed to stick it together too. I love his work!

      1. Ann Hall

        Spot carried the whole carton out with the eggs in it – I don’t know how he worked out how to open it but it was relatively unchewed and full of empty egg shells by the time I realised that some of my shopping was missing! Moral – never leave shopping bag on the floor even if the phone is ringing as you come in.

        Re AG’s work – I think I would stick to saliva! OK for a man but it would be a bit chilly for a woman let alone the aiming factor.

        1. Joanna Post author

          I think Spot is a very clever chap to do that. :) I think it might make your icicles a bit yellow too…

    1. Joanna Post author

      A folly, I read somewhere that it was where one of the former Dukes entertained his mistress, another said it was used as a dining room… It is very striking when you head round that bend in the road. Look at me it shrieks, am I not incredibly rich? But it is beautiful I think.

      As to your second comment LOL !

  7. Misk Cooks

    One time when my in-laws visited us, when Molly was only 4 or 5 months ago, we returned from a day out to find all of their clothing removed from their suitcase they’d left opened on the floor, bath towels in the hall landing and all the toilet paper pulled off the roll. Molly was never allowed upstairs again. She still runs off with shoes, socks, plants pots, rakes, trowels, all the tomatoes at the bottom of the plants .. and so forth. She doesn’t chew things up or destroy them, she just wants to play games and expects us to chase her, which we do. :D

    1. Joanna Post author

      They are so curious at that age, Molly sounds like she was a delight, and I know she gives you lots of pleasure still. That’s exactly it, I think they thought the pine cones were for them and that I was playing a game with them. Picking things off the ground and holding them makes them ‘important’ to the dog and an opportunity for fun :)

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