Over The Garden Fence ~ The Monochrome Series

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Sunset foxgloves

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I am much in love with black and white photography and often use the monochrome setting on my camera. My small Lumix Panasonic ‘point and shoot’ camera used to produce the best results, the current small Canon not so good. The photos here are a mix of original monochrome and converted colour shots featuring various views of Townsend Meadow in different seasons.

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Excavating the flood attenuation pond at the top of Townsend Meadow 2017

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Bringing in the wheat harvest

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Teasels

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Clouds over the Edge

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Lens-Artists: black and white   Anne at Slow Shutter Speed  wants to see black and white this week.

On The Reef ~ Tiwi Beach

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In bygone days of Nairobi living we often made the long-haul drive down the old Mombasa Highway to the south Kenya coast. After 300 miles and six and more hours of judder and roar in the Land Rover, humping in out of potholes, getting covered in dust and smothered by truck fumes, being broiled in the queue for the Likoni Ferry, which once boarded you could never feel quite sure of making touch down, to arrive at last on Tiwi Beach felt like stepping into heaven. There were rarely many people there, not even in the Christmas high season, just a couple of beach cottage enclaves, the  local farmers calling round with fruit and vegetables for sale, the Digo fishermen bringing parrot fish and lobsters, and the unbroken soundscape of ocean pounding on reef, fluting notes of the water bottle bird, soft ting-ting of a bicycle bell when the vegetable seller came calling, the breeze in the coconut palms.

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Madagascar Flame Tree and beach cottage

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Life in Colour: greener shades of blue

Tree Square #11

Trees For Everything On Zanzibar

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While I’m in East Africa arboreal mode, I remembered Zanzibar could not be beaten for its array of fabulous trees – from giant mangos and jackfruits to its plantations of spice-bearing nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves trees. On the family farms there are papaya, orange, banana and coconut groves, not only sources of family food, but also crops for market. And the leaves of the coconut palms can be turned into all kinds of useful recyclable household essentials – roof thatch, baskets, screens and sleeping mats.

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The Coconut Harvester

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Island guide, Hari, doing a deal at the farmhouse door.

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Roadside spice farm stall:

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Jackfruit tree:

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Maruhubi boat builders’ beach with an ocean going dhow under construction:

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And then there are the baobabs. This one coming up is a little unusual – apart from being in leaf which only happens now and then, it’s providing the structural wherewithal for a Stone Town pizza joint:

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Tree Square #10

Where Trees Grow On water

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In my last post I mentioned the exposed Silurian seabed in our local quarry was once located somewhere off East Africa. And Jude at Travel Words said she wished she was somewhere off East Africa – to escape our recent rain-pouring summerless weather. Which then had my mind whizzing back to our years in Kenya, and in particular to a trip to Lamu Island, and a December day spent sailing by the mangrove forest of Manda Strait, drifting and dreaming aboard a traditional dhow.

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The timber from these curious trees has long been an absolute necessity for the Swahili seafaring people of the East African coast. They built their dhows from mangrove planks and harvested the pole wood (boriti) for house construction, both at home and for export to places as far away as Yemen and Iran. The traditional Swahili merchant’s house was build of coral rag, excavated from old reefs, with the roof raised on boriti poles. The oldest surviving houses in Lamu Town date from the 18th century, but the Swahili City states of the East African seaboard – from  Somalia to Mozambique – date back to the 8-9th centuries – a fusion of Arab and African cultures.

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Christmas Day on Shela Beach. Distant baobabs across the strait.

Lens-Artists: on the water This week the challenge is hosted by John at photobyjohnbo.

Tree Square #8 Becky wants to see trees in square format.

Life in Colour: blue is Jude’s colour of choice at Travel Words.

Square Roots

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Some very wintery views here on the wooded flanks of Windmill Hill. Where the trees stop, the land drops off into the massive, now abandoned Shadwell Quarry. Once freight trains from South Wales came chugging into the vicinity to take on cargoes of Wenlock limestone. It was a highly valued resource – mostly used as a flux in iron smelting, but also burned to make fertilizer or ground to produce lime mortar for building; or simply to build with. It’s hard to imagine this place as a hive of heavy industry, but it was – a stinking, dust-palled quarter too. Now the old railway line that runs below the wood is a peaceful footpath, over-arched with ivy-clung ash, hazel and crab apple trees. It’s a good place for pondering on how things are always changing and that it is only our wilful, wishful, often narrow perception that makes us believe that there ever were times when everything was static and predictable.

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Shadwell Quarry and an impressive slice of the Silurian sea bed, some 400 million years old, and once located somewhere off East Africa.

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Tree Squares #6

Night Comes To Sytche Lane Rookery

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This view of rookery wood was taken from my upstairs office window. The wood, mostly ash trees at the south end, is on the lane that runs beside Townsend Meadow. As the field name suggests, this area once marked Much Wenlock’s actual town boundary. At different seasons and times of day the rooks provide a favourite household diversion: watching the cohorts return at sunset, the aerial displays over the meadow, especially as autumn approaches, the caw-cawing racket as they fly in and out of the treetops while they sort themselves out for the night’s roost. Sometimes late on a summer’s night, with the window open, you can hear them chattering branch to branch. Sometimes you wish they would close their beaks and go to sleep.

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Tree Square #5

On Windmill Hill

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The old windmill is a much loved landmark, seen from many quarters as you approach Much Wenlock. To reach it you can take the Linden Walk which brings you to the wooded flanks of Shadwell hill. Or you can walk across the Linden Field to the far corner where there is an old iron gate that opens onto the well worn trail up to the windmill. It’s a steepish climb mind you, but at this time of year there’s plenty of reasons to stop and gaze: every few steps a fresh wildflower panorama to take in, the scents of summer grasses and of lady’s bedstraw.

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Along the path where the footfalls of Wenlock’s denizens have worn the topsoil to bare rock – wild thyme – a mass of tiny purple flowers, spills over the exposed limestone. There is also pale pink musk mallow, seemingly clinging to the most meagre soil cover. Then by contrast, on either side the path is an exuberant  floriferousness, typical of an unspoiled limestone meadow: a host of flowering grasses whose names, I’m sorry to say, I do not know, purple pyramidal orchids, pale yellow spires of agrimony, golden stars of St. John’s Wort, pink soapwort and pea flower, purple knapweed, yellow vetch and buttercups, pink and white striped bindweed, viper’s bugloss, musk thistles and clovers. One could spend all day up here and not see everything.

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Tree Square #4 This month Becky wants to see trees (header shot) in square format.

Blissful Linden Green

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Full flushed green and the air beneath filled with lime-flower scent – now is the moment when the Linden Walk is at its billowy, verdant best – the perfect resort for soothing overheated body, mind and spirit. What a treasure our long-ago town physician bequeathed us when he planted this avenue of  lime trees.

I think they must be the broad-leaved variety, Tilia platyphyllos , since they always start flowering in June, whereas the blossom of the Common Lime only gets going in July. But good for old Doctor William Penny Brookes who roused his chums to go tree planting some fifty years ago. Ever since, the trees have thrived on the limestone soil (an intriguing congruency of lime and lime), and in fact a Professor of Lime Trees who visited Much Wenlock some years ago to give them a health check, told us that, with care, they could last us another 150 years.

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Tree Square 1# For the month of July, Becky’s square extravaganza features the arboreal. The only ‘rule’ is the header photo must be squared.

The Changing Seasons: This Was June

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This week the wild flower plot at the allotment has burst forth from the meadow grass to bring us poppies, blue cornflowers and bright yellow anthemis. More exciting still is the discovery in the nearby communal orchard of a spotted orchid. Thank you, bird. Something you did must have resulted in this new arrival. Spotted orchids are of course quite common around Much Wenlock. Nearly 4,000 were counted last Friday up on Windmill Hill in the annual orchid count. They thrive in limestone meadows. I’d show you its picture of the newbie, but when I went to check on it yesterday morning, the flower was very much ‘over’.

On the home front all is chaos in the Farrell garden – the vegetation rampant and he who builds sheds and greenhouses up to his ears in the new lean-to greenhouse whose parts are currently reclining rather than leaning. Well, it seemed like a good idea to remove the nasty plastic conservatory from the back door. But then how do you attach a metal framed greenhouse to a very unstraight limestone boulder wall? Much pondering involved. I am however informed that progress has finally being made – an intervening wooden frame being attached to said wall which will make gap filling and water-tight-involving interventions feasible. Phew!

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This is the ‘upstairs’ garden with (thankfully) few glimpses of the greenhouse construction chaos below. Here you can meet some of our best ‘girls’.

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And then there are tumbles of campanula and the exuberant ‘tapestry’ of colours in the downstairs garden:

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Out in Townsend Meadow the barley is changing colour – hints of buttery yellow with gingery flushes, but still green on the peripheries. The grains are swelling fast after a few good showers. And talking of showers, the path to the allotment is now very overgrown, this despite my frequent to-ing and fro-ing. It is now the season of wet knees and rising damp in the gardening pants, and otherwise arriving dew-soaked on the plot. I could of course take the garden shears to it. This has been known.

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We have not been far this month, though we did pop over to Ironbridge last week. It was good to see lots of visitors in the outdoor cafe in the Square, and the Severn Gorge brimming with greenness. But there’s no pretending, life is not as we knew it.

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The Changing Seasons: June 2021

It’s A Wonderful World: From Kenya’s Rift To Wenlock’s Edge

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Two landscapes a world apart, but for the most part both largely shaped by human endeavour. The first shot is one from the old Africa album: the Great Rift Valley just north of Nairobi. In the foreground is Escarpment, a faulted terrace of the Eastern Rift. The patchwork of fields are smallholdings – some 12 acres, others much smaller. This was one of the study areas for he-who-builds-sheds-and-greenhouses’ doctoral thesis on the smut fungus of Napier grass, an essential staple fodder crop for farmers who, for lack of pasture, zero-graze their cows and sheep (i.e. stock is kept in pens and paddocks and food is delivered to them).

Beyond Escarpment on the Rift floor you can see the yellow wheat fields of large-scale farming concerns. The last time we drove that way from Lake Naivasha there were zebra and other plains game helping themselves to the crop. Zebra in a wheat field? Now there was a sight to excite a Shropshire lass used only to seeing flights of greedy pigeons in her homeland fields.

The hazy peak in the distance is the old volcano, Longonot.

But that was then.

So now to Shropshire – a winter view from Wenlock Edge not far from home: farm fields and the Wrekin, which is not actually an old volcano but a hill composed of lava layers spewed from other volcanoes.

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Lens-Artists: wonderful