Discovering Wildegoose Nursery was one of the high spots of 2019 – a plantsperson’s paradise set in an old walled garden on the edge of Corvedale in Shropshire.
We went there first in high summer, wandered through drifts of verbena, phlox, day lilies, cone flowers, alliums, grasses. The place was alive with butterflies and bee-hum. Buzzards mewed overhead and nearby, harvesters throbbed – the Corvedale farmers cutting their wheat. Far away over the wall, Clee Hill lay in a haze. A dreaming day.
We went again in November, and in its way, the garden was no less beautiful, the plants and grasses settled in muted tones, and the 1830’s glasshouse looking as magnificent as ever, the low light glancing off its 12,000 postcard-sized panes. It just goes to show – there’s treasure to be found on one’s doorstep. We’ll be back there in spring.
For now a pot pourri of summer and autumn views:
Lens-Artists: special spot shots
January Light #8
The reason we were on bleak and windswept Newborough Beach on the last Sunday of December (being unexpectedly wowed by intrepid kiteboarders) was because we thought we should work up an appetite before lunch. And no ordinary lunch either. Sister Jo had booked it weeks before – at the Marram Grass – a little beach shack eatery that has become a legend not only on the island of Anglesey, but far beyond.
To say the premises are unassuming is an understatement. It truly is a large shed – and that’s how it began. Nine years ago, when two young men – Liam (newly graduated surveyor) and Ellis (self-taught chef) Barrie came to help their parents set up a small caravan park, it was an old potting shed. And from it grew a thriving enterprise whose raison d’etre is to serve freshly made food that highlights local and seasonal produce, much of it home-grown.
They’ve won awards. And so they should. We stepped out of the freezing wind and into an all-round glow. We sat in our cosy booth as the afternoon grew darker, ‘50s tracks on the sound system, low hum of chatter beyond, and a complete unknowing of what we would eat. There was no menu. All depended on what the chef had decided to cook, and so instead of feeling like run-of-the-mill clients, we became guests. And it made me think that there was nothing more blissful on a dreary winter’s afternoon than a long, slow Sunday lunch, impeccably created and presented with love.
January Light #7
The last Sunday of 2019 and a piercing wind is blowing on Anglesey’s Newborough Beach – the sort that knifes through all clothing defences and finds every millimetre of exposed flesh. Brrrr. By lunchtime it is growing dark too, or perhaps day never quite dawned properly. It’s anyway a big change after the entrancing blue of Christmas Day. But we are not put off: Newborough Beach is a favourite winter walk so we trundle through the high dunes to the shore, as ever joining a mass of promenading families and dogs, and face the elements. The wind takes our breath away.
But down above the tide-line there is much activity – lines laid out and out across the sand as paragliding wings are prepared by dive-suited individuals. Much clicking on of harnesses, clapping on of helmets and multi-coloured kite-fluttering. And then they are off, skimming the bay at astonishing speeds, now and then shooting high above the surf – aerial ski-jumping. It is exhilarating to behold – or it is when one can focus through eyes filled with wind-tears. But then that’s one of the things we love about this beach – you just never know what you will see there.
On the other hand I’m rather wondering at the reactions of legendary St. Dwynwen, she whose religious retreat this place was in early Saxon times. Or maybe her spirit is out there embracing it, flying with the wings – engaging in extreme sports, closer to the heavens.
January Light #6
And another Christmas Day snap taken from Penmon Point, Anglesey.
January Light #5
Christmas Day on Anglesey. For once I didn’t mind when he who builds sheds and binds broken books walked straight into my prospective shot. (It’s a common occurrence). Two moments earlier I was wondering if a shot of the backlit rocks would work. Then out stepped Graham. So I caught him instead. He doesn’t know!
January Squares #4
Six Word Saturday
Morning in Henllys woods, Beaumaris, a magical place where red squirrels now have a refuge.
January Light #3
Early morning sky over Menai Strait looking towards the mountains of the Welsh mainland from Beaumaris, Anglesey, 27 December 2019.
January Light #2
On Christmas Day we went to Penmon Point in Anglesey, North Wales – fair weather and good winter light on the lighthouse.
Happy New Year Everyone
January Light #1 This month Becky says ‘let there be light’, however we choose to conjure it so long as it’s squared. Please pay her a visit. Better still, join in. We cannot have too much light in 2020: lots of issues requiring full-beam illumination.
Feel your senses throb to the drummers’ beat, take a donkey ride, guess the name of the little pony, buy your Christmas trees, have nip of gin, or a nibble on a spicy Jamaican pastry, wander about on the Church Green and up and down the town’s main streets, shuffle round the two big crafts tents and buy your last minute special gifts, greet your neighbours, stock up on mistletoe to attract festive kisses, spot a meerkat (!!!?) No wonder Much Wenlock’s annual Christmas fair is the town’s most popular event.
Lens-Artists: On display
The quotation in the title is ascribed to one Irene Peter, but strangely I cannot find a thing about her on the web, only the tagline ‘famous American writer’ heading a short list of other pithy observations. A quick search on-line brings up no lists of books or articles. Nothing on amazon.com. I am therefore puzzled; confused even. Does she not exist? Has whoever it is been blanked from the interweb for expressing common sense?
So: now I’m thinking who cares who said it. The message is what counts. In fact this could well be the aphorism for our times. Every day the mass media attempts to shape our thinking on important (in some cases life-threatening) matters. We have think tanks, government spokespersons, celebrities, politicians, bots telling us in unexamined sound bites and headlines what to think. We are forever being herded into one corral or another in a bid to secure our consent for either one position or another.
Keeping us divided in opposing camps is part of the strategy. Firstly, shouting at each other to defend our positions consumes a lot of energy, even if that shouting only takes place in our heads; there may even be some entertainment value, elements of atavistic tribalism satisfied. The shouting also cements our respective positions, making a change of mind less likely.
And once a large enough body of consensus has amassed around a particular issue, then anyone brave enough to question it needs to be ready for reputation-smearing and all round media pillorying. And so by these means we are distracted from scrutinizing the actual issues, rational discourse is effectively outlawed and we thus fail to discover who precisely benefits from the lines being sold to us in the world-wide hypermarket that we now inhabit.
Time to be sceptical then. Time to unpick the assumptions that we’ve taken for facts, and the opinions we’ve accepted as evidence. Time to face the confusion – even though, first and foremost, it means standing our own views and convictions on their heads. You never know, if we all did this some actual world-wide wisdom might surface.
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell