Taking The Broad View ~ Mara Grasslands

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In the rainless months it is the oat grass that gives the Mara plains their golden hue. The small trees with their sculpted looks are desert dates, mulului trees, much browsed by all the local herbivores.

These photos from the Farrells’ old Africa album were taken outside the main Maasai Mara National Park, below the Oloololo Escarpment on territory owned by related Maasai families, locally referred to as a group ranch. Visitors pay a daily fee to group ranch elders. We were lucky to be able to make three trips there while living in Kenya.

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Life in Colour: Gold

Lens-Artists: Going wide

Day’s End Over The Garden Fence

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Summer came back this week, a few days of full-on sun before tomorrow’s promised thunder storm. As you can see, the helianthus in the guerrilla garden are all of a glow, caught here yesterday evening – sun dipping over Wenlock Edge. Even Townsend Meadow, recently doused with herbicide, looked quite good in sundowner light. The story here is that after the barley was harvested in July, much of the fallen grain germinated, turning the field into a grassy sward. This has now been dealt with. Next comes the ploughing and drilling. It is also the season of muck spreading, though thankfully not in the field behind the house. Even so, the odour is wafting about the town, especially pungent when combined with a heat wave. All of which is to say,  beauty presently comes with a bit of a whiff.

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Meanwhile back in the Farrell jungle, all is gold…

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Life in Colour: GOLD

The Changing Seasons ~ This Was August

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And it has been all about tomatoes. The allotment polytunnel has been in production for many weeks now: more than enough from a dozen plants. This in turn has meant tomatoes with every meal and much processing of the remainder. For the latter, this year’s method of choice is simply to roast  them until soft. Additives include a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, sea salt, garlic and fresh basil.  Once cooked, all is whizzed with an electric wand-thingy and put through a coarse sieve into plastic containers. These are then frozen, contents decanted and stored in bags as sauce ‘bricks’.

Otherwise we’ve been enjoying a very simple Greek dish of repeat layers of thinly sliced potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes (starting and finishing with the potatoes) – also with added basil, seasoning, garlic, drizzle of olive oil, and baking the lot slowly in a moderate oven until the potato-slice topping is crispy. Good with baked fish and/or thinly sliced and steamed runner beans or Violette French beans. We’ve also been eating runner beans as a meal on their own, sprinkled with parmesan or pandano cheese, with or without a homemade pesto sauce, or the pistou version which uses up a tomato.

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I’m thinking that by now we must comprise 99% processed vegetable matter.

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For several weeks the weather here has been more like early autumn than summer – some sun, but many overcast days and often quite chilly. We’ve even lit the wood stove a couple of evenings. But lacklustre temperatures have not stopped the garden. Geranium Rozanne made a bid to take over the entire upstairs terrace. Serious curtailing had to be implemented to ensure a bit of space for human kind. The rest of the borders also seem to be several feet taller this year, including the guerrilla garden which has done great service standing in for the too often absent summer sun.

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For those of you who missed our special garden visitor in early August – here he is, the male Holly Blue butterfly. It was spotted first on the sedum also seen in the photo above. Later I saw it feeding on the oregano, also much favoured by the bees:

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One of my favourite August flowers is the wild yellow toadflax. This is one I’ve grown from seed bought from a specialist wildflower nursery. It is common along the verges of Shropshire’s hill country, especially on the lane up the Long Mynd to Rattlinghope.

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Another summer latecomer is the Morning Glory. The deep indigo-purple ones have just started blooming in the polytunnel where they’re happily growing up a Sun Gold tomato plant. A pleasing cohabitation:

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And in the home garden we had a single ‘Flying Saucer’ version. I caught it fully open just as a little bee found it too. Said little critter could not get enough of the nectar. Every time it thought it was full, it made to leave, only to return again and again. Made me wonder if there was something seriously addictive in there. And what with all the pollen too: a new take on the meaning of Bee-line perhaps.

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And just to show we have had some sunny interludes along with the sun flowers:

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The Changing Seasons: August  This month hosted by Ju-Lyn at Touring My Backyard alternating with Brian at Bushboy Blog. Ju-Lyn has been doing some delicious cooking, though sadly short of tomatoes when she needed them (Sorry about that!) And Brian has some fabulous plant and birdlife on show.