Love-In-A-Mist ~ The Allotment Constellation

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Nigella damascena is a wonderfully self-seeding annual that has been grown in English gardens since Elizabethan times. It is much loved for its sky-blue flowers (sometimes also white or pink) and its delicate ferny leaves. And of course, once the flowering is done, there are the strikingly odd sputnik seed capsules to admire.  Though seen here in monochrome (with a hint blue), the flowers already have a distinctly alien look. I took this photo last night at the allotment. I have several self-seeded clumps around the vegetable plots, and they are just beginning to flower. It’s always good to mix things up like this, the flowers not only attracting the pollinators for the fruit and vegetables, but also, in the case of French marigolds, diverting crop pests. And talking of crops, or ones in the making, here’s a rather fine pea flower:

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge ~ flowers of any kind

From The Side-lines ~ Digging Not Flooding

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Our cottage is rather short, the upstairs rooms being contained mostly by open roof space rather than walls. Also, the house itself is set in the side of a steep bank between Townsend Meadow and the main road, which means the best views  (our only good ones) are from the bedroom roof-lights. These windows all face west and overlook the field towards Wenlock Edge and the big sky above.

Much time can pass at these windows, studying cloud movements or the wheeling of rooks and jackdaws.  Sometimes the odd soul (with or without companionable dog) walks by on the field path just beyond our garden gate, and sometimes on Monday mornings, the town’s entire ‘walk for health’ mob, several dozen strong with high-vis vested leaders and bringers-up of rear, trails by. Now and then, too, the farmer can also be spotted, driving his latest substance-spraying rig back and forth across the crop (this week it was a top-dressing of fertiliser for the wheat which – after the rain – is already shooting up like multiples of Jack’s beanstalk). So given this general lack of activity out back, the appearance of a big digger and very large dump truck on the near horizon was an exciting event.

The work in progress (over the brow of the hill and out of sight in the field’s top corner) is the excavation of an attenuation pond. (There is another larger one to the south of the town). They are basically reservoir basins, but without water – designed to stem the impact of any flash flood off  Wenlock Edge. The town sits in a bowl between the Edge and several hills, and has been designated a rapid response flood zone. This sounds alarming, and indeed could well be, but the conditions for flash flooding are very particular: i.e. if a severe storm hits our catchment after prolonged periods of rain when the ground is sodden, or in winter after hard frost. Water that cannot drain into the land flows into adjacent roads which then act like rivers, speedily conducting the run-off into the town centre. This can all happen in the space of 20 minutes.

As far as we know, and despite its shortness and low-lying position, our house has no history of being flooded. In the last big flood of 2007 the water seemed to flow around us. I watched the rain pour off the garden terraces behind the house, flow by the kitchen door in a fast running stream before emptying on to the main road where it doubtless contributed to the flooding of properties downstream of us.

It was unnerving to see, and later we heard that at least 50 houses in the centre of town had their cellars and ground floors deluged. That evening, coming home from work across the Edge, Graham had to abandon the car on the far side of town and take an upland ‘cross-country’ route home.

How well the ponds will serve us is yet to be demonstrated. After 12 years without a flood, it is easy to imagine that it won’t happen again, though last month The Man from the Environment Agency did come specially to town to tell us we must remain vigilant. As many round the world know to their cost, climate change is responsible for an increase in extreme weather events and, in the most extreme scenario, our ponds will only slow the flow, not stop it. There are probably further measures that could be taken: urging (enforcing would be better) landowners to plant more trees, create more flood plains  round water courses, stop selling their land for large housing developments whose roofs and access roads accelerate run-off.

For now, though, all thanks are due to the workforce who toiled, excavating and landscaping the ponds, which may one day save our most vulnerable residents the distress of having to spend a year and more drying out a flooded home. In the meantime, I keep watching the sky over Wenlock Edge. At times when the rain closes in, day after day without let up, it’s easy to wonder: is this flooding rain?

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copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

 

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: from the side

Strange Cloud Over The Edge And Other Isolated ‘Objects’

The Allotment Power Line. I take many photos of this particular pole:

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Ash Tree in Townsend Meadow and sun setting over Wenlock Edge:

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A mysterious item found on my way to the allotment. It might just be a dinosaur egg about to hatch. It has anyway disappeared since I took this photo:

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My summer path to the allotment – a throng of Queen Anne’s Lace:

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Isolated Objects

Sun And Ice In Black And White

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Much like Cee’s current ‘black and white’ challenge, this blog is  blowing all hot and cold this week – from Kenya’s tropics in the past two posts to a Shropshire winter in this one. These photos are from LAST winter I hasten to add. And much as I had the most enormous fun out in the snow with my camera, I do not need a repeat performance yet. (Please and thank you in advance, Weather Gods). Anyway, here are some sunshiney snow-scenes from my favourite places around Much Wenlock: Windmill Hill, the old railway line, and the Linden Walk.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Hot or Cold

A Little Bit Of Fieldwork ~ Over The Garden Fence

Those of you who come here often (thank you faithful readers) will know that our cottage garden overlooks a field called Townsend Meadow. Ironically, few of today’s Wenlock residents probably know this unless they have looked at the old tithe map.  Doubtless our good neighbour Trevor knows because he has lived his whole life here, and his father before him. The manorial landlord and his agent probably know it too. Anyway, as to origins, the name says all. The field’s present fence-line along the Sytche Brook (which gathers in the run-off from nearby Wenlock Edge) once marked the northerly limit of Much Wenlock.

Of course the town has sprawled beyond it since, but not very far. The presence of two great limestone quarries with their regular programmes of blasting and accompanying dust storms well into the 20th century, probably discouraged development, though did not deter the erection of the Lady Forester Memorial Hospital opened in 1903, now a care home, or in 1953 the building of the Much Wenlock Modern School (now the William Brooks School), the latter proving in 1981 to be well in the flight path of exploding debris from neighbouring Shadwell Quarry when three pupils were injured during a blast. Now the quarries are abandoned and silent, and out on Townsend Meadow it is usually pretty quiet too, apart from the calls of rooks, jackdaws and buzzards. Now and then the farmer arrives with another dose of agri-chemicals.

This field has been our view for twelve years now. We never tire of it, and especially the play of light and cloud movement along the false horizon to the west. I never stop taking photographs of it either – usually on my way to or from the allotment. So here are some of my monochrome images, taken with my Lumix point-and-shoot digital camera on its monochrome setting. i.e. they are not edits of colour images, and some are taken in low light conditions which accounts for the grainy look.

First comes summer and a view that makes me wonder if we should have been calling for ghost busters:

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And in winter:

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Taken this afternoon on the winter wheat:

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Field  Many thanks to Cee for hosting this challenge.

Lincoln Cathedral ~ Black & White Sunday

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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.

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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.