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


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



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


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.


copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

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


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:



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.



Lens-Artists: Blending in or standing out

Today A Touch Of Garden Magic ~ Foxgloves?


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.



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



Charlotte Bronte Was Here ~ North Lees, Hathersage 1845


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


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.


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


copyright 2018 Tish Farrell