The Magic Of Winter Light

P1060462

You cannot beat the Menai Strait for magical light shows, and especially in December when there can be perfect days like these. These photos were taken on Anglesey near Beaumaris, looking across to mainland Wales: the first at midday, the second in the early morning from behind the town, and the third at Penmon Point in late afternoon.

P1060524

004

 

Lens-Artists #19: Magical Light

For more inspiration please visit Amy and the other Lens-Artists to see their take on magical light.

If We The People Do The Remembering And Grieve For The Lost, Who Is It That keeps Forgetting?

P1090825

That wouldn’t be the people who rule us, would it?

STOP THE WAR COALITION  NEEDS US

P1090819

These images are presently being projected onto  the tower of Much Wenlock’s parish church.

Time For The Big Leaf Harvest ~ The Gardener’s Gold

P1090795

For the last week I’ve been out and about on woodland paths scooping up fallen leaves into big blue IKEA shopping sacks. This pursuit invites worried stares from passing dog walkers and the ingress of nosy dog noses into my bags of gatherings – presumably in hopes that I’ve also raked up decomposing animal parts, or at the very least, an interesting stick.

Two days ago, by such devices, I was nearly able to kidnap a very nice cockapoo, and after my exchange with its human companion, I rather wished I had. ‘They are lovely dogs,’ I say to the man as he closes in on me. ‘I wouldn’t know,’ he says dismissively. ‘All I know is it needs a lot of exercise.’ Well, I thought, such disgruntlement in the face of this good-hearted, intelligent canine whose cappuccino coloured face I am presently clutching (come home with me little woolly dog). I decided he must have been dragooned into enforced dog walking by a wife at work, or an aged mother-in-law – how else could one explain such sour reactions.

But back to the leaves. When I’ve filled two bags I haul them down the footpath to the allotment where I tip them into wire silos. After that it’s a question of waiting for them to rot down into leaf mould. Usually this takes about two years if you want dark crumbly loam. The process can be speeded up by shredding the leaves first, hence my collecting them on paths where people walk and mash them up. Oak, beech and hornbeam leaves are said to make the best leaf mould since they break down well. It also helps to turn the pile now and then and give it a watering if it looks like drying out.

There’s not much nutrient content in the finished product, but it helps retain moisture and is brilliant as a general soil conditioner, to pile round the roots of cane fruit and for mixing into potting compost. Last year I was also glad to use the half-rotted stuff as a mulch to stop the vegetables from baking in the heat wave. In this state, too, it can be used to cover bare earth over the winter. Always a good move if you want to encourage worm activity as every gardener does.

But obviously the best part about the leaves just now is their magnificent glow. At half past four yesterday as I left the allotment it was already heading into dusk, but the bird cherry was lighting up the place like a torch. And further along on the field path a beech hedge was floodlighting its garden. What a show. I took its photo, while making a note to return when all the leaves had fallen off. So much treasure for the taking.

P1090813

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Lions ~ Now You See them, Now You Don’t

375

Lions are the past-masters when it comes to both standing out and blending in – this week’s photo challenge from Ann-Christine at Lens-Artists, which sent me rifling through the old Africa Album for some good examples. These were all taken in Kenya’s Maasai Mara back in another lifetime. The header shot shows both leonine proclivities – the art of showing off and of disappearing in foot-high oat grass. I think there are at least three lions in this shot. In the following close up you can see one of them – just right of the lioness’s left ear. Probably a male.Mara lioness 2 (2)

But what about this next shot – can you spot the second lion? Course you can, now you know what to look for:

Scan-130520-0019

*

And here’s a different kind of concealment – the whole pride in a gully; their concentrated gaze suggesting thoughts of dinner and where they might find it.

Scan-130520-0011

Scan-140731-0033

Lens-Artists: Blending in or standing out

Today A Touch Of Garden Magic ~ Foxgloves?

IMG_7787

Well, it has to be some kind of magic, foxgloves in November. And not just one aberrant stem, but several all set to bloom. And this after last week’s several frosty days. But what a treat to find it flowering outside the back door – its blushed peachy shades looking far too delicate for this autumn outing.

There are other treasures too. In the raised bed at the top of the garden there are delicate cascades of Aster Lady in Black. I bought it at the end of last summer, and it has just now come into its own. It doesn’t grow too large, but has dark stems and feathery leaves and a slightly unruly habit, and while the individual flowers are tiny, the overall effect is perfect for brightening a late season border.

IMG_7796

P1090541

And then there are still some crimson snapdragons and coral hesperantha:

IMG_7792

IMG_7794

Charlotte Bronte Was Here ~ North Lees, Hathersage 1845

P1080850

I stepped over the threshold. It was a fine autumn morning; the early sun shone serenely on embrowned groves and still green fields; advancing on to the lawn, I looked up and surveyed the front of the mansion. It was three storeys high, of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman’s manor-house, not a nobleman’s seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look.

Charlotte Bronte’s description of Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre

P1080848

I’ve written about this before – that the Derbyshire village of Hathersage and its bleak high moors seem to have provided Charlotte Bronte with much of her setting inspiration for Jane Eyre (See earlier post Jane Eyre was here: or was she? ). But on our recent trip to Derbyshire I had the chance to have a look at North Lees for myself and take these photos.

The house sits on a wooded  hillside above Hathersage and below the millstone scarp of Stanage Edge. There is the sense of great isolation there, and it was anyway not a good day for photographs. But my timing was apt given Bronte’s description.

P1080821

Jane Eyre was published in 1847. In 1845 Charlotte Bronte spent three weeks in Hathersage, staying with her old school friend Ellen Nussey, the vicar’s sister. The vicar himself, Henry Nussey, was away on his honeymoon. He had apparently once proposed to Charlotte and been rejected. His absence from the vicarage may well have been chosen for an opportune time for her visit. The two friends then did the rounds of local worthies, including more than one visit to North Lees Hall.

At the time George Eyre, his widowed mother and two sisters were living there. The Eyres had lived in the house since 1750. During the 1400s members of the same dynasty had lived in the manor house that preceded the present hall which dates from around the 1590s. During one of Charlotte’s visits she is said to have been told the grim tale of a previous ‘lady of the house’, one Agnes Ashurst, who became mad and was confined on the second floor, in a room with padded walls so she would not injure herself. Like Edward Rochester’s wife in the novel, she apparently also died in a fire.

Clearly it was a story too good to waste. It is also an excellent example of how writers hoard everything and anything that resonates:  tales, impressions, details of vistas and people, all to be reworked in the ‘world building’ process of creating a convincing context for their narrative.

Knowing that a writer’s source of inspiration could be a real place does not add to our appreciation of the novel; for some it may even detract, and especially if they subscribe to the (false) notion that fiction writers make everything up. Of course they don’t. Immaculate conception without source material to inform the creative process simply does not happen. Here’s some more description of the hall’s surroundings:

Leaning over the battlements and looking far down, I surveyed the grounds laid out like a map: the bright and velvet lawn closely girdling the grey base of the mansion; the field, wide as a park, dotted with its ancient timber; the wood, dun and sere, divided by a path visibly overgrown, greener with moss than the trees were with foliage.

Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre

P1080849cr

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Turning Accident Into Artwork?

P1090190

I am not sure why he who lives in my house interfered with the washing machine hose, thus causing said machine to disgorge all over the utility room floor; and not once but twice due to the rinse and spin cycle. I think it was something to do with the fact that he had stored some of his bookbinding card on top of the washing machine, (he being in need of a flat surface that was relatively dust-free beneath the counter top) and earlier in the week was having a sort out in that vicinity, fishing out supplies that had slipped to the back, and thereby dislodging water exiting hose.

I was upstairs writing while all the repercussions of this earlier manoeuvre were happening, and so blissfully unaware of the downstairs flood. It was only as I was coming downstairs to get the washing out of the machine, that I heard loud exclamations from bookbinding man. ‘What on earth’s been going on in here,’ he says. I have no idea, I say, but I note the accusatory tone that suggests I might have been responsible for whatever it is.

By now I have reached the flooded utility room. Oh, no! I think. The washing machine’s given up the ghost after 18 years. But diagnosis will have to wait. First there is water mopping up to do. Luckily the floor is covered in quarry tiles so there is no particular damage done. The only casualties are the dustsheets that are kept under one of the cupboards. The downside is we don’t discover this till later, by which time they are very fusty.

In the meantime, after pulling out the washing machine from its slot, investigating its innards, the penny is beginning to drop in the mind of bookbinding man. ‘I think it’s my fault,’ he says meekly. ‘I must’ve dislodged the hose.’ Then he says brightly that at least it’s good to know we don’t need to buy a new washing machine, and that we also now have a very clean floor, even in the places where we don’t normally clean it.

The day is saved then, but for the washing and airing of dustsheets. And as the sun is shining I go out and take a washing line photo. Look! The garden is putting on a shadow play.

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

 

Lens-Artists: Just for fun