The Changing Seasons 2016: January On Wenlock’s Olympian Field

We had the first hard frost of winter today and, after weeks of dreariness and both rising and falling damp, it was a great relief to feel some good crisp cold. Not only that there were clear skies. And sun. And brilliance. Up on Windmill Hill there were also fine views all round, although the midday light did have the strangest quality – creating vistas that were sharp in parts, but soft-focus in others. The landscapes I snapped looked like water colours even before I snapped them. Also the farm fields loomed in unnatural shades of green, at least for January.

As we strode home beside the Linden Walk we passed the frosty picnic tables. They looked as if they had been freshly spread with perfect white cloths, but sadly there was no sign of lunch. It seemed a long way off till summer.

This post was inspired by Cardinal Guzman’s The Changing Seasons monthly photo challenge, which now comes in two versions. Please follow the link for more details.

I’ve chosen to feature Much Wenlock’s Linden Field and nearby Windmill Hill, since this was where the modern Olympic Movement had its beginnings, and was (and continues to be) the venue for the annual Much Wenlock Olympian Games, founded by Dr. William Penny Brookes, the town’s physician, in 1850.

These days the games take place at the William Brookes School just below Windmill Hill, and on purpose built tracks, but in the old days spectators sat on the hillside and watched the events taking place in the field below. Please conjure races on penny farthing bicycles, hurdling, tilting, and all manner of athletic events – not least the Long Foot Race that was only open to Greek speakers. There would also have been cricket and football matches, and fun events such as ‘an old woman’s race’ for a pound of tea, and a blindfold wheelbarrow race.

Dr. Brookes had serious objectives however. He was a man ahead of his time, who embraced a holistic view of human health that included both physical and mental exercise. He also planted the Linden Walk, no doubt because as a trained herbalist as well as a physician, he knew of the soothing effect, and sense of well-being imparted by lime tree blossom on warm summer days. It is good to walk in his footsteps.

copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

53 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons 2016: January On Wenlock’s Olympian Field

    1. I think the Greeks were invited over from home turf. I really need to find out more about this. I wonder what they made of Much Wenlock and who hosted them, or even how they were invited in the first place. It’s a bit Alice in Wonderland-ish, isn’t it.

  1. It has been — so far — such an odd winter. Cold for a few days, then warm. Just a dusting of snow, then warm again. Your town is so lovely and other-worldly. I’m so glad you decided to join the project. I’ve found it fascinating the way our town changes as the seasons progress.

    1. It was your post today that prompted me to start, so thank you. It’s good to have a quest for one’s photo forays; it gives them more shape and purpose, and my choice of location will bring its own challenges: to see it through the year with fresh eyes each month.

  2. What lovely photos. Your walk must have been really invigorating. The Linden walk looks so inviting. I haven’t seen frost since I moved to the coast. I miss it.

  3. Lovely photographs. There s nothing quite like ‘English Green’.
    It rained last night, thank goodness – quite heavily, too – and we’ve had gentle rain throughout the day.
    Our frost is still due and I am hoping I can get all my seedlings
    planted and established before it arrives.

  4. How funny Tish – you and I were both out today capturing the frosty landscape. You in MW and me around Ludlow castle. The light was very interesting, we had a lot of fog over the river so I had clear sky and softly focused foggy sky. Backlit leaves rimmed with frost were a joy to see and it was so GOOD to get out for once with the camera and breathe in that cold but fresh air. I think your Windmill Hill is a great place to focus on this year 🙂 (Shame I ended the bench challenge, I love the frosty picnic tables and confess to snapping a bench or two myself today. Oh dear! )

    1. It’s interesting the way those benches keep making their presence felt. I can now just imagine you roving round a frosty castle, and the way the light and mist do amazing things along the river valley. We’re so lucky to live in such beautiful towns.

      1. Yes I did write something about a year ago. Lots of fairtrade food, ethically made stylish but simple clothes, and local products and gifty things. No tat. Good coffee is also served. And nice music too. There, I think that’s enough of plug, except to say it’s in one of Stretton’s oldest buildings – a timbered tithe barn near the Co-op car park.

  5. Looks like a place I’d love to walk, Tish. We have a bit of lovely snow here and I’m so glad it’s gotten cold enough to freeze everything, especially all the germs that have been floating around. Have to admit I’ll also enjoy visiting my parents in Arizona next week, where it’s 70F. 🙂


    1. Arizona sounds good, but as you say – frost to kill the bugs, and maybe the slugs. We had a population explosion last year with no really cold weather to check them.

    1. I like to give him a cheer every time I walk along the Linden Avenue. I wouldn’t have been so happy with him as a teenager when enforced hockey was on the school timetable. The good doctor was responsible for lobbying and getting physical education on to the English national school curriculum. He carried out experiments with the children at Wenlock National School to demonstrate to the powers that be how physical exercise benefitted growing kids. What a star. I can say that now the threat of hockey is long gone 🙂

      1. Ugh I hated hockey, it was like going to battle! Credit to him for introducing PE in general, but I did my utmost to get out of as much as I could!

      2. I even opted to learn Russian since the timetable clash meant there was no time for ‘games’. And other sports skivers used to hide in the cupboard in the classroom where we had the Russian classes. What a hoot.

  6. Happy new year, Tish! Glad to see you in 2016. How time flies! I’ve been away from blogging ( I was stuck with my writing) but I’m back now. I wish you well.

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Peter. I’m glad you’re back. I didn’t read all of your most recent fiction post, but I read several chapters and thought you sounded very much in command of yourself. Great stuff. Keep going.

  7. Just coming out of an arctic blast, this season will not end soon enough for me, Tish. Seeing the green in your photos, however, is a much-needed reminder of the good things to come.

      1. I checked this challenge out Tish. I didn’t join in last year as there is very little change from month to month in my area, and I wasn’t home most of the year to show a consecutive view of the same area . But I like the challenge of the new version 2. I will think about it.

      2. I like the way you can mix the two challenges, and use other media for the monthly post. I’m sure you’ll think of a cunning theme/vista/place that could be revisited in different ways.

      1. I was thinking more of the lid of my slow cooker, smashed all over the kitchen floor 😦 Fortunately the food didn’t follow. There’s always a bright side, Tish 🙂 Not grumbly any more.

      2. Oh, I so dread breaking the lid of my slow cooker. Other half does a lot of scary clettering with the washing up, plus making hair-raising structures in the rack if I’m not supervising or wiping up fast enough. Of course now I’ve said this, it’ll probably be me who drops it. Glad you didn’t go foodless, and the grumbles have dispersed.

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