The Old Quarry ~ Thursday’s Special



I’ve always found quarries disturbing places – the wholesale delving into the earth, the ravaged landscapes left behind. And yes, I know we need the resources. (Our own house is built of this fossilized Silurian Sea, although actually I’d be just as happy with brick or timber).

Shadwell Quarry behind Much Wenlock’s Windmill Hill is only one of the many old limestone quarries along Wenlock Edge. These days they are no longer worked but host various business enterprises that simply need a large amount of storage space. Quarry owners are supposed to do some restoration after the blasting has stopped, but I’ve not noticed much of this actually happening.

These photos show how slowly recolonization of quarried land takes place. (For an aerial view go HERE.) It has been twenty years since Shadwell was decommissioned.

The water in the quarry bottom is also a strange blue, almost turquoise at times, coloured by the limestone deposits. At over seventy feet deep, it lures tipsy young men to prove their manliness by diving in from one of the man-made cliffs while their mates film the act and post the videos on You Tube. Last summer I spotted gangs of school leavers heading off behind Windmill Hill. They were armed with ghetto blasters and towels and I overheard them saying they were ‘going to the beach’.

It’s interesting how people’s perceptions of places differ. One sees ‘exciting resort’; another oppressive dereliction – albeit with strains of desolate grandeur.



I’ve written more about the history of Wenlock’s limestone quarrying  at Hidden Wenlock #4

This week at Lost in Translation Paula’s theme is ‘forbidding’. Please call in there if you want to take part in the challenge. She suggests many possibilities for interpretation.

We can see you…


Ladybirds, as gardeners know, are good bugs to have amongst the fruit and veg. They eat aphids. Yay!

And they need to get gobbling now. For despite my recent whingeing about cold wind and lack of spring weather, the greenfly are already with us. And there’s a reason – our warmer winters.

We may have had endless rain, bad floods and storms this year in the UK, but we have not had the hard ground frosts that help to check slug and aphid populations; nor have had for several years. Back in early February when I was pruning the autumn raspberry bed up at the allotment, I was also finding ladybirds out and about.  They are supposed to be hibernating (overwintering) between October and March, so hopefully they were finding something to eat and hadn’t simply been fooled into waking up too soon by the unusually warm February temperatures.

The ladybird in the photo is nestling in my garden sage bed, spotted last summer. And for those of you who wish to find out more about ladybirds (Coccinellidae) there is a brilliant website at UK Ladybird Survey. And if you live in the UK, they want to have details of sightings.


#7-daynaturephotochallenge  #day 2

With thanks to Anna at Una Vista Di San Fermo who nominated me.


Related:  Warning: Reptile Alert #day 1

Warning: Reptile Alert


On several warm days last summer I found a slow worm sunbathing on our lawn. When I say ‘lawn’ I use the term loosely. There’s not much grass in it, only many buttercups, dandelions and even some dreaded ragwort.  Nor is this so-called worm a worm, or even a snake. And for that matter it is not slow. If it doesn’t like the look of you it can slither off at quite a pace. At other times it may pretend to be a bit of old rope, not very convincingly I might say.

Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) are in fact legless lizards, although this is possibly no comfort for those of you out there with a snake phobia. (Sorry, if you viewed this by accident).

That they are lizards is apparently proved by the fact they can blink their eyes and shed their tails when attacked. They grow up to half a metre in length, and may re-grow a shed tail, although it won’t be quite as long as it started out. Provided they are not caught by the local cats, who do not know they are dealing with a protected UK species, they live up to 20 years. They like old gardens and to burrow in compost heaps. And best of all, they eat slugs.


Until the first Sunday in April, Jude is looking for examples of garden wildlife at The Earth Laughs In Flowers

And thank you Anna at for nominating me for the 7-day nature photo challenge. As I’d just done this post on slow worms, I thought I’d start with it. Anyone who wants to take up the challenge from me, please do. The actual M.O. is to nominate another blogger to take up the challenge on each of the 7 days you post a photo. But since every likely soul seems to have already been nabbed, I’m following Gilly’s lead and throwing it open. In fact I think I’ll just link back to Anna who got me into this – because she’s lovely and takes some great photos around Milan. Please do visit her.


March: Windswept


It was blowing a gale when I took the February #ChangingSeasons  photo on Windmill Hill. So too for this March photo. On Sunday the wind was so fierce I could hardly hold the camera steady, and these poor daffodils at the foot of the hill were being whooshed off their roots. You can almost hear their trumpeting distress calls.

So if, as the saying goes, March means to go out as a lamb, and not persist in roaring at us, then it needs to go in a corner and think some calming, and softly woolly thoughts. It does not need to cover us in snow as it did in the early hours of Monday morning. Not that I saw it for myself. I was up far too late, by which time it had melted. Even so, we are left with icy draughts that zoom inside any gap in one’s under-layers, or sting the ears that are silly enough to go outside without a hat.

So what is going on with all this gust and bluster? Is this more El Nino effect? In between the rain and wind storms, spring seems to have been teasing us here in the UK since December. That was when I photographed the first daffodils, albeit in the slightly milder climes of south-coast Cornwall. Meanwhile at home on Sheinton Street, the tulips have been pushing out of the garden pots since January, accompanied by flurries of white flowering currant blossom – all far too early. So spring, if you truly do mean to come this year, please get on with it, and cut out the frigid blasts. Now please visit Changing Season’s host, Cardinal Guzman. This month not only does he give us fine photos, but also a master class in sofa assembly.

Cardinal Guzman: Changing Seasons

There are two monthly Changing Seasons 2016 challenges, and you can join in at any time. Here are the Cardinal’s rules:

The Changing Seasons 2016 is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

Rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1)

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

Related: My chosen location for tracking the changing seasons is Windmill Hill  and its associated Linden Field – a few minutes walk from my house in Much Wenlock, Shropshire.  Here are the  January and February posts.

Tall Story? Downtown Manhattan From The Staten Island Ferry

New York 009

Doesn’t time just fly. I can’t believe that it’s nearly eight years since we sailed into New York on Queen Mary 2, star of the Cunard fleet. The Atlantic crossing takes seven nights, and seasoned Cunarders will be quick to tell you that this voyage is a crossing (The Crossing in fact) not a cruise. We docked at dawn in Brooklyn after a long and majestic glide up the Hudson River. The Statue of Liberty glowed through the mist. It was May, and a heat wave was brewing.

Over Brooklyn and the dockside cranes a huge red sun was rising. It gave a surreal glow to the instantly recognisable (to us that is) corporate blue and yellow of the new IKEA store (America’s first if I remember rightly). It was set to open the following month, and we later noticed much associated fanfare on bill boards around the city. Free sofa cushions came into it somewhere. I also remember feeling a bit offended that I’d been at sea a week, all pent up for the grand sail-by of the Statue of Liberty and that first stunning glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, only to have this bland blue furniture shed be the next landmark imprinted on my mental landscape.

They should definitely move it.

Anyway, for those visiting NYC by plane rather than ship, you can have the grand ‘sailing into New York’ moment for free, and thus as  many times as you like, on the Staten Island Ferry. Pick your moment for the best shots. Sunset would be good.


Thursday’s Special: tall  Please sail over to Paula’s for more tallness.

Not Something You Often Think Of ~ Self-Renewing Onions



Here are my allotment  Welsh Onions as seen late last summer. They are simply bursting to make lots of little onions. The flowers are white, a good  2-3 centimeters across, and the stems are around half a meter tall.  And so yes, they do look like giant chives, but with more vigour and verve. I anyway like their style (admittedly a little Triffid-like) as they try to outdo their globe artichoke neighbours.

The artichokes are also intent on self-renewal, and it’s often a toss up between eating them and wanting to enjoy their wonderful mauve flowers. But then this is what I love most about my allotment – the endless cycle of regeneration. It’s the same for the gardener too, in spirit, if not in body, though I often wonder if I might not respond well to a good dosing with liquid seaweed fertilizer – just about now I should think, with spring at last upon us.


This week’s guest challenge at Paula’s  Lost in Translation is Renewal. Please follow the link to see some inspirational shots from Michelle Lunato.

It’s in the stones: messages from alien ancestors?



I discovered these rocks on Seaton Beach when were down in Cornwall at Christmas. My attempts to find some sensible information about the geology have so far proved fruitless. So I’m just going with my initial interpretation – that here we have a mythic precursor to runic script left by some race of Northern Giants.

But what are they telling us? Have they left us instructions on how to find a parallel universe? Or could these be warnings to mankind to take better care of the earth? Or maybe they are the crossings-out of an infant Northern Giant learning to write. Can anyone out there crack the code before the rising sea levels claim them?


This my response to Meg’s ‘calligraphy’ challenge. She is Paula’s guest at this week’s Thursday’s Special.

The Monochrome Garden: Dandelion Delight?


I know most of us gardeners curse dandelions, but don’t they look lovely in sepia? Little constellations. Firework bursts. Spreading those all too viable seed parachutes here, there and everywhere. You can’t keep a good weed down.

But these plants do have their uses too. Young leaves are excellent in salads. Dandelion leaf tea has long been used by herbalists to cleanse the kidneys and lower blood pressure, while the root is mainly a liver remedy, helping to boost the immune system. I do quite like dandelion coffee, perverse as this may sound, although it has to be the real roasted roots, and not the instant stuff, and it’s definitely improved with a sprinkle of raw cacao powder, and a pinch of cinnamon.

The plants of course can develop prodigious root systems. The main tap root drills down into the depths of poor soil, and so helps bring up trapped nutrients. This is one of the reasons why they are so darned difficult to dig up – they are so very busy nourishing the ground. Well that’s their story anyway. I have tried roasting the roots to make my own coffee. Very fiddly. A lot of scrubbing. And then I ate the crunchy roasted bits and didn’t have any left to make coffee. They tasted like root vegetable crisps – weird but vaguely compelling.

And I suppose I have to say  too (somewhat grudgingly) that the flowers’ bright yellow faces are very cheering, although I was a bit cross to find them already grinning at me up at the allotment. In February, for goodness sake? Please give us a break, dandelions. How about a September blooming instead?

Anyway this is my entry for the last week of Jude’s monochrome garden photo challenge. With this particular composition, I’m also thinking a little of Sue Judd’s negative space challenge over at  Paula’s. But please drop in at Jude’s The Earth Laughs In Flowers to see what she and others have been doing with their monochrome compositions. Next Sunday there will be a new  theme: garden wild life, and a chance to show off visiting my reptiles. Yay!