Full Steam Ahead!

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The Talyllyn Railway is a Welsh heritage treasure, once a working line opened in 1865 to haul slate from the quarries of the mid-Wales hinterland to the coast at Tywyn. The narrow gauge line may be only 7 miles long, but you can spend a whole day stopping off at stations en route, exploring Dolgoch Falls, having lunch at the station cafe at Abergynolwyn, or hiking up through the woods to the old Bryn Eglwys quarry.  And not only that, you meet lots of happy volunteer drivers and guards along the way, all of them bursting to fill you in with fascinating railway facts.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: trains or tracks

Over The Home Hill: More Hills

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Wenlock Edge behind our house runs for twenty odd miles, a wooded escarpment that bisects the county of Shropshire on a north-east-south-west axis. It’s not always easy to see out for the tree cover, but here and there, a few choice viewpoints give you a glimpse of Shropshire’s other hills, the Long Mynd living up to its name in the distance here. I’m fumbling for the name of the hill in the middle distance (not recognising it from this angle). It could be Caradoc.

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If we turn right round in the other direction, then we can see Clee Hill:

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Closer to home, you can take the National Trust footpath out of Much Wenlock and head for the Edge landmark, Major’s Leap, from where, on a winter’s day, you may be treated to an other-worldly view of the Wrekin, subject of many quaint Shropshire tales. (My version here).

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And coming down the Edge footpath behind our house you have a fine view of Much Wenlock hugged round by hills, Walton Hill and Shirlett Forest:

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And while I’m showing off our local hills, I can’t leave out the town’s favourite landmark: Windmill Hill with a small turquoise person heading over it:

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Lens-Artists: over the hill  Donna at Wind Kisses has set this week’s challenge.

Monochrome Favourites

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Ash trees at St. Brides Castle, Pembrokeshire

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This week Cee says we can pick our own black and white images. These are some of my favourite shots of Welsh winter scenes.

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Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey

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Farm fence, Aberffraw, Anglesey

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P1060515edWinter dawn, Menai Strait, Anglesey

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Family gathering, Penmon Point, Anglesey

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: favourites

Light, Shadow, Sun And Storm…

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This week at Lens-Artists, Tina shows us many creative ways to interpret her chosen theme ‘opposites’. I thought I’d choose just one photo – a chance weather moment in Wales – one of those hard-to-credit solar beams piercing a storm-heavy sky. I mean to say, how can that field be so luminously green when the town of Harlech below is so deep in shadow, and the clouds above so full of rain? I even desaturated the image a notch or two. Of course there are other opposites here too: townscape-landscape;  manmade-natural; urban-rural.

Lens-Artists: opposites

Urban Fantasies In Downtown Manchester

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This is the wheel that was, aka the Wheel of Manchester, a version of the London Eye, which was sited in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester until  2015 when its licence with the City Council expired. This photo was taken in April of that year. It finally came down in the following June. I’m not sure what my camera was doing to produce the washed-out, somewhat retro look, but I rather like it. In fact everything about it says ‘urban’ to me – the sense of detachment/isolation/alienation/coldness; an environment overwrought to the extent of being pointless.

You can tell I’m a country lass.

Though having said that, generations of my maternal ancestors worked in the Manchester cotton trade that created the city and all its wealth: hand loom weavers, yarn winders, blouse finishers, machine weavers, bleachers, fustian cutters, fly and spindle manufacturers, cotton merchants and one mill owner. And then there were the bricklayers who helped build the place. So perhaps, after all, I do have some investment there – at the cellular level.

Here are more odd photos taken on that visit…

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Last walls standing: the facades of the old wholesale fish market, preserved as the perimeter entrances to an apartment block courtyard garden.

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Not sure what’s going on here – Steam Punk meets Mary Poppins the musical?

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A tribute to city high-rise window cleaners perhaps?

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The Bridgewater Hall international concert venue. We were there to see Buena Vista Social Club on their farewell tour.

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Affleck’s in the Northern Quarter – an indoor market specialising in alternative clothing and music and retro-gaming

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The Palace Hotel where we were staying (now The Principal Manchester). It was a long climb to find our room in the converted former Refuge Assurance Office built between 1891-1895.

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Lens-Artists: Urban environments  Sofia has set the theme this week. Please pay her a visit.

There’s A Storm Coming…

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Over the garden fence this afternoon. And yes, after weeks of drought, we’ve had some rain, though the showers have not been as generous as these clouds seem to promise. I watched them roll out across Townsend Meadow towards Wenlock Edge. A cloud serpent, or a Chinese dragon in many shades of grey. There were pigeons flying every which way and some horizontal lightning.

Nothing like a spot of wild weather to stir the spirits.

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The Changing Seasons ~ August 2022

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Harvest time in Much Wenlock came early this year. With the brief heatwave that lasted less than a week, but the months of drought, some crops looked baked-in-the-ground. Without regular rainfall, our heavy Silurian soil very quickly turns to concrete and cracks open.

The field beans in Townsend Meadow behind the house that started off so well in spring, did not make good, fat pods before they started turning black and drying out. The plants themselves have been standing in the field, blackened and leafless for weeks. Until today that is (September 1st), when they were finally harvested amid a great dust storm. I dare say  the beans that have been harvested will be very well dried, but probably only suitable for animal feed.

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Thistles and the field bean crop just before harvest

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Now when it comes to apples, both wild and cultivated, it’s a whole new story. Here is the crab apple tree in our back garden. The fruit is tiny, but what a crop. I’ve never seen this little tree so laden: enough to make crab apple jelly and leave plenty for the over-wintering birds.

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Up at the allotment, the Discovery apple tree is also cropping earlier than usual, and again, weighed down with fruit. The skins are bit tough though; again likely due to lack of rainfall:

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Windfalls in August

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Since the three very hot days early in the month, we’ve had lots of cool and cloudy days, when we were sure it was going to rain. We’ve even had weather forecasts that threatened deluges. But no. They did not materialize. Only one passing shower that teased all the plants, and this gardener into thinking things were about to improve.

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Here’s the allotment bonfire in waiting. It looks very autumnal. The stalks of the artichoke plants on the pile, dried so hard they could not be chopped up for compost.

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Teasels already

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In the home garden, many plants have struggled without rain. The phlox that usually flowers all summer, bloomed and then was quickly desiccated. Hand watering simply did not cut it. Now though, some of the helianthus (perennial sunflowers) are trying for a bold recovery, and I spotted the first Michaelmas daisy yesterday. The geraniums, too, have soldiered on valiantly. Things in pots (cosmos and echinacea) are probably faring better because it’s easier to manage the watering. Which also means we have a jolly new sunflower just out by the greenhouse door. It’s sharing a tub with some tomatoes.

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And finally a view from Wenlock’s old railway line, taken yesterday:

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The Changing Seasons ~ August 2022:   Please visit hosts Brian at Bushboys World and Ju-Lyn at Touring My Backyard

Here Comes The Sun

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Snowdonia, North Wales from across the Menai Strait

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Wales tends to have a reputation for being short on sunshine and  long on rain (washed out family holidays often looming large in people’s memories). And it’s true it does receive a lot of rain from the Atlantic. And yes, it can often be a question of catching  it while you can. But then when you do, the combination of mountains, sea and active weather systems can produce some other-worldly effects. The island of Anglesey in December and January puts on some specially good sunlight shows, and what can be more heart and spirit-lifting than winter sun.

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The Pilot House, Penmon Point, Anglesey

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In Henllys Woods

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Aberffraw Beach: January sunset

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Lens-Artists: Here comes the sun  This week Amy asks to see our sun photos and anything under the sun.