A few years ago we spent a very satisfying three days in Lincoln. Not only is the town bursting with historical buildings and atmosphere, it is a very visitor-friendly place. The cathedral is undoubtedly the star, although the monochrome edition here makes it look rather stark. In real life the stonework has an amber glow. You can see that version in an earlier post: Walking Through Time On Lincoln’s Steep Hill.
It is astonishing to think that this building – begun in 1088, and later suffering fire, earthquake, and many phases of rebuilding, is still standing. Art critic John Ruskin claimed it to be the most precious exemplar of British architecture, and worth two of any of our other cathedrals. I’ll take his word for it. In fact I agree. The extraordinary craftsmanship and feats of engineering, if not their overall purpose, truly impress me. The towers were built in phases from the late 1200s – constructed ever taller and more elaborately. The central, and tallest tower was raised to 271 feet/83 metres in 1311. With spire added it is said to have outdone the Great Pyramid of Giza for tallness, a record it enjoyed until 1549 when the spire blew down.
The cathedral’s presence in the townscape is indubitably breath-taking, but the thing I liked best when we were there was that peregrine falcons have taken to nesting way up on the tower ledges. As you walked around the peaceful precincts you could hear their plaintive calls in the tower tops. These birds normally nest on sheer cliff faces so you have to admire their nouveau urban style – pinnacle of early English Gothic.
Black & White Sunday: Traces of the Past You have till a week on Sunday to post your own traces of the past and link to Paula’s blog here.
When we left Hay-on-Wye on Friday morning we headed west into the hill country above the Wye valley. The lane wound up narrowly from Clyro to Painscastle, the hedgerows bathed in high-definition sunlight. But there were also rafts of ice – here and there, where the road dipped into shadow. It was exciting to see – real ice, even if it was swiftly turning to slush.
We were taking a somewhat round-about route to our immediate destination – the Erwood Art Gallery whose leaflet says it is the biggest privately owned gallery of contemporary art and craft in Wales. It is also in an isolated spot in the woods above the Wye, and to add to its interest is housed in three Victorian railway carriages left over from the days when the train came this way. Into my mind’s eye puffs a doughty steam engine pulling a long tail of carriages. I imagine rattling along the wide river valley, hills and farms and sheep pasture all around. And think: it’s a crying shame this loss of Britain’s most scenic railways – killed in the ‘60s by the wretched Dr. ‘Let them drive cars’ Beeching, he with his most undiscriminating axe that has done so much to promote the slow misery of dying rural communities, and the clogged up byways of our small island.
But enough ranting. It’s too fine a day. When we reach the moorland tops of The Begwns, and before our descent to Erwood, we stop to admire the view. And that’s when I come across the frosted bracken…
Black & White Sunday: texture
It’s hard to believe that I took this photo nearly a year ago – a late December day on the shore of Menai Strait on Anglesey. There’s a view of the Great Orme across the water. Everywhere so still. Not a cloud in the sky. And sunshine warm enough to sit in.
I don’t know who the man on the bench is. He was reading a book quite surrounded by this view. There’s something of an optical illusion about it – the dark cap above the seat back (echoing the nearby black rocks in the water), his foot below the seat, yet the corporeal lack of him in between head and toe, where the sunlight seems to pass unimpeded through the bench slats. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice…
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Cee’s Black & White Challenge: Weather
I kept returning to photograph these grasses at the Iconpainter’s Villas. Every time I was struck by the plumed silhouettes against sea and mountains and sky. Yet it was several days before it occurred to me snap them in monochrome. I’m glad I did. I had Paula in mind when I took this photo too, so a big thanks to her for this week’s challenge ‘shape’ and thus the chance to post it.
Black & White Sunday
I don’t know about you, but the transformation of luscious red strawberries into non-colour is more than a little disturbing. For one thing it’s challenging my atavistic hunter-gatherer impulse to be drawn to a much-loved, ripe and ready fruit. My hand is reaching out to pick even as I am anticipating the sweet juiciness on my tongue and the inevitable dribble down the chin.
But what am I to make of the monochrome fruit? At the moment I’m thinking not only do they NOT entice, but I would also give them quite a wide berth. I’m also thinking I could be onto a whole new weight-loss-fad – ‘The Monochrome Diet’ anyone?
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
P.S. Many thanks to Paula at Lost in Translation for her intriguing ‘After and Before’ photo editing exercise. It throws up all sorts of perceptual conundrums.
I’ve chosen a very literal interpretation of Paula’s theme at Black & White Sunday. First of all I thought you could not get any ‘lower-lying’ than at sea level, at least not without immersion in said sea. And then I thought of Marram grass being laid low in the gale, and how I was attracted by its bowing texture.
And then I thought of the sand beneath our feet:
These photos were taken last Christmas on a beach walk to Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey, North Wales. You can see more about the island HERE.
Black & White Sunday: low-lying
This photo was taken at Penmon Priory on the island of Anglesey. It is a mysterious place, on the shore of the Menai Strait. The stone ruins date from the 12th century, built on the site of St. Seriol’s 6th century hermitage.
The window was in a building beside a dovecote, a much later structure, built by the local lord in 1600, long after the monastic period.
The dovecote’s interior was difficult to snap due to window slots in every quarter, but you get the idea. There are 1,000 nest boxes for pigeons, and both the birds and their eggs were harvested. Originally there would have been a long revolving ladder attached to the central plinth.
And since I know you are curious to see the outside too, here it is seen through entanglements of Old Man’s Beard – the seed heads of wild clematis which adorn Britain’s winter hedgerows and byways:
Black & White Sunday: Through This week Paula has an especially spectacular interpretation of this week’s challenge. Go see!
It’s back to Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey for my response to this week’s prompt from Paula. Darkness and light – the stuff of fiction writing, but also the source of many diversions from the work-in-progress to play with my camera’s monochrome setting. The hazy uplands in the background are the mountains of mainland Wales. The island in question is in reality a long thin promontory heading out to sea from Newborough Beach, and has, since Dark Ages times, been associated with St Dwynwen, Welsh patron saint of lovers. You can read more HERE and HERE.
And now for a more abstract rendition of darkness and light: an early morning view across Menai Strait, taken from the fields above Beaumaris. Here on Anglesey, the sun in winter regularly puts on these mystical lightshows – shining searchlights through banks of low cloud on to the water. This particular shot was taken with quite a lot of zoom and then cropped.
Here is a well worn path of my daily comings and going along the margins of Townsend Meadow. The visible sign: the trail of gardening not writing.
There’s an unofficial gap in the hedge beside the first ash tree, and that’s my way into the allotment. The farmer leaves a swath of uncultivated ground on two sides of the field to soak up rainstorm run-off before it hits the houses at the bottom of the hill. For a couple of years these abandoned areas were simply left to grow, hence the nose-high grasses still standing in winter. But last summer, just before the wheat harvest, the weedy wilderness was mowed. Now the only signs of my passing are muddy boot impressions among the fallen ash leaves – not quite so photogenic.
Black & White Sunday: SIGN Paula says to interpret this prompt any way we like.