Through Time And Space ~ Black & White Sunday

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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.

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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:

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Black & White Sunday: Through  This week Paula has an especially spectacular interpretation of this week’s challenge. Go see!

Black and White Sunday: Darkness and Light

 

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.

 

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The Trail Of Tish ~ My Path To The Allotment

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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.

On Top On Llanddwyn Island ~ Black & White Sunday

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Here’s another view of, and from Llanddwyn Island, taken on our recent trip to Anglesey. It was snapped on high zoom in high wind and thus has pixilation tendencies, much like the snapper, some might say. So I edited it to exaggerate the silhouette effect. I anyway like the stance of this unknown man on the cliff top. He is so well rooted against the gale; so absorbed by the seascape.

I’ve written more about the island’s story at To the Isle of Dwynwen, Welsh Saint of Lovers.

Now please visit Paula at Lost in Translation. Her rendition of this week’s ‘on top’ theme is stunning.

The Old Quarry At Middleton Top, Derbyshire

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With today’s images I’m having a complete change in mood from yesterday’s full-colour Wenlock Edge vistas. These Middeton Top photos were taken in September during our brief stay in Derbyshire.

As you can see, the light was flat and dull. I thought colour photos probably wouldn’t work, but decided to try out my camera’s monochrome setting. (And yes a tripod might have helped.) The result, to my eye, looks rather like a lugubrious nineteenth century (if not older) engraving – quite a fitting outcome I’m thinking for this old Industrial Age quarry.

Middleton Top is anyway a dramatic spot. The quarry lies beside the old Cromford and High Peak Railway Line now part of the fabulous High Peak Trail. There is also an impressively long and steep inclined plane (1 in 8) and the 1829 steam winding engine that once hauled wagons up the hill is still there within its dark-stone engine house.

I always find quarries very disturbing places, the landscape hacked and blasted. Also the limestone in this part of the world seems to loom oddly – even on dull days. Up on the skyline between the two small trees you can just see a cluster of boulders; they caught my eye for this very reason. I also thought I spotted a raven there, but it flew off before I could organise myself with the binoculars. Instead, I went for maximun zoom on the Lumix and ended up with this ‘charcoal sketch’ effect. Also a bit unsettling. You will have to imagine the raven. Or a Wuthering Heights moment displaced from Yorkshire.P1050680

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And I couldn’t end without including a photo of the steam-winding engine house: an important piece of Britain’s industrial archaeological landscape. The engine is still in working order and has demonstration open days, though sadly no longer powered by steam. There’s a video HERE.

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Black & White Sunday

For The Love Of Steam ~ Trains And Tracks At The Severn Valley Railway

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It was a gloomy, low-lit winter’s day when we went for a wander around Bridgnorth’s Severn Valley Railway. The reason for this visit is described elsewhere (Connected On And Off The Rails), so I will confine myself to mentioning that it had something to do with rivets and Graham’s model-making enterprise.

All these photos were originally colour shots which did not convert too well to straight black and white due to the aforementioned poor light. So I’ve added the blue-ish haze for interest’s sake. I think it suits the coal-burning, hard iron,  cold steel, railway yard feel of steam locomotion.

For more trains and tracks please clickety clack over to Cee’s B & W Thursday.

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Disconnected Sunday: Plane…Sheep…Cloud…And Then…?

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I was attracted by the sheep doing an ovine impression of Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen –  as spotted last week during our short break in the Derbyshire Peak District. Its posing place of choice is Hordron Edge, below Moscar Moor and Stanage Edge. We were walking up here on what he-who-is-usually-the-team-leader suspected would turn out to be a Tish-type wild goose chase. In short we, or rather I was in pursuit of a Bronze Age Stone Circle, otherwise known as the Seven Stones despite the fact that there are apparently eleven stones in the circle, and three more besides nearby.

I should admit straight off that I’m not renowned for my accurate map-reading, and so once we’d passed the sheep, walked for ages in surprisingly hot sunshine for late September, and then found ourselves on a path which kept wending onwards and upwards with absolutely no sign of a megalithic monument anywhere on the sky-line where I was expecting it, even I began to think I’d misread the map, and that we were definitely on a wild goose chase. Worse still, we’d left the lunch picnic in the car, so there wasn’t even the possibility of making the best of a bad job. And it was just the day for a moorland picnic too, not a state of affairs you can rely on in England’s uplands whatever the time of year.

‘We’ll just go to the next bend’ – I said – ‘so we can see over the brow of the hill’. But as always happens in such situations, we never came to the bend’s end. In fact the path began to rise very steeply. Then we noticed that exposed here and there beneath the turf were signs of a stone-paved trackway. Very puzzling in this middle of nowhere, but at least it suggested that we were headed somewhere. (I surmised later that it must be the relic of an old packhorse road up to Stanage Edge whither the locals once went quarrying to make millstones and grind stones).

And so as we pushed on, drawn on by the stone road, and quite unexpectedly Moscar Moor and Stanage lay before us. It is an awe-inspiring landscape, and so it is scarcely surprising that this whole area is rich in prehistoric cairns, circles, and settlement remains.

Also, by now I could see that my map-reading had been spot on, although the stone circle really took some finding in the heather.

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So I hope you weren’t expecting Stonehenge. Because here it is – the Seven Stones Circle of Hordron Edge, probably dating from around four thousand years ago.

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The tallest stone is the one seen here in the foreground, and is about 1 metre high. It stands on the south west edge of the 16 metre circle, and has been dubbed the Fairy Stone. You can see it on the far right in the middle ground of the next photo. P1050638

Its particular significance is taken to be its relationship to the two conical hill tops, Win Hill on the left and Lose Hill on the right, the top of the stone possibly mirroring the landscape features. Peak District archaeologist John Barnatt has apparently observed that at the traditional start of winter and spring, the times of age-old festivals, the setting sun appears to roll down Win Hill.

Perhaps the placement of stone had something to do with the gathering of sun-power? Or the marking of the seasons in relation to the farming calendar? We can never know. All we can be sure of is that these monuments were important to the people who created them – gathering places for discourse, rituals, trade, or all of these. More recent local folklore has its say too – hence the naming of the Fairy Stone, and tales of strange lights being seen around about it.

And what do these monuments say to me? Well the main thing is that we should never underestimate the capacities of our ancient antecedents. Also that we should never equate current technological whizz-kidery with intellectual superiority. These people  of the past  knew how to make a life in this challenging territory – a life charged with meaning and a deep sense of their place in the landscape. I feel too, we have lost much of our ancestors’ capacity for poetry and metaphor – the exchange between fellow humans that relied almost exclusively on language – the songs sung, the tales unfolded, the riddles set, the nuances of double and treble meanings.

But before I get too carried away with highfalutin notions, we decide that lunch is now too far away for comfort. We retrace our steps down the old stone trackway. It perhaps does date from much more recent medieval times. I’ve been unable to find out anything about it, although there is medieval packhorse road along the top of Stanage Edge.

As I descend the steep hill on a sunny Indian Summer day I wonder what it must have been like to urge pack horses up this route in a blizzard, the wind slicing under your cape, threatening to snatch your bonnet, the biting cold, the darkness. Just imagine…

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copyright  2016 Tish Farrell

Hordron Edge Circle
Bronze Age Stone Circle
East of Ashopton, Derbyshire  OS Map Ref SK21528685
OS Maps – Landranger 110 (Sheffield & Huddersfield), Explorer OL1 (The Peak District – Dark Peak Area)

Spirit of the Past: Black & White Sunday

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I’ve written about the Iron Man of Llanbedrog in other posts. (Personally I think it could be a woman – Boudica perhaps, the last of Britain’s Celtic warrior women). I’ve also posted variously edited versions of this shot before, but not this one exactly. This week at Black & White Sunday, Paula is reprising the popular Traces of the Past challenge, and I thought that although this iron figure is not especially old, everything about it speaks of the ancient Celtic spirit. And of course there are the ‘rocks of ages’ just visible in the distant mountain range of Snowdonia. In many senses, then, Wales is an old, old land, and the traces of the past are everywhere across the landscape.

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You can read more of the Iron Man’s story at Warrior Wind-Singer Of Llyn

The Railway Men 2 ~ Black & White Sunday

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Here’s another portrait from our Victorian day out on the Talyllyn Railway in June. Looking at their website this morning I see they’ve got a very special trip coming up next month – The Halloween Steam and Scream. Oh what a hoot. I think I want to go. It’s my birthday too. There will be a choice of two Steam and Scream trains departing from Tywyn station at 5.15 and 7.15 on several October nights including the 31st. Everyone can dress up as ghouls, goblins and witches; there are prizes for the best carved pumpkin lantern, and you can book a feast at the railway cafe.

Join us for a fun spooky evening train ride along the Talyllyn Railway to the haunted woods at Dolgoch, says the blurb.  Those woods are pretty spooky in broad daylight, but on a dark autumn night in the Welsh hills…Watch out for the Hessian Horseman  and his Celtic brother. Yikes! And double yikes!

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Now please visit Paula at Lost in Translation for more B & W Sunday portraits.

 

@TalyllynRailway

#RheilforddTalyllynRailway

Unexpected: Monochrome Mawddach Sunset

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The most unexpected thing about this shot is that it came out at all in such low light conditions. I do love the Dynamic Monochrome setting on my Lumix. It creates all kinds of unforeseen magic, even with much added zoom.

I suppose the other piece of unexpectedness here is the perversity of shooting a limpidly pastel sunset in monochrome. But I like the way it silhouettes the old railway viaduct across the estuary mouth. In Welsh it is called Pont Abermaw, and in English, Barmouth Bridge. It was constructed mostly from wood during the 1860s, and included a drawbridge section that would open allow tall masted ships to pass through, sadly not a facility much needed these days.  It would be fine sight though, so please add your own sailing ship to this vista.

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Black & White Sunday  This week Paula requests we show her the unexpected. Please drop in there for more creative renditions of the theme.

 

#MagesticMagicalMawddach