Photo taken this week on All Hallows Eve on the path to Croft Ambrey hillfort.
Photo taken this week on All Hallows Eve on the path to Croft Ambrey hillfort.
Our October began bathed in the rosy glow of ancestral landscapes, the farm fields and vistas of four generations of maternal grandfathers, the millstone grit uplands of Derbyshire’s High Peak District. It would have been a hard life on Callow Farm, and especially for the grandmothers who would have managed a never ending round home and farm duties while rearing six or even eight children (the parish records suggest that many more Foxes survived into adulthood than were lost in infancy, but then yeoman farming folk would have been well nourished and well aired by comparison with most town dwellers down the centuries).
By the time we returned home, summer was definitely on the wane in our Shropshire garden although many flowers were still holding their own. Even now, the front garden beside the road is bright with helianthus, sedum, Michaelmas daisies, purple toadflax, small pink roses and the stalwart geranium, Rozanne. And out back in the guerrilla garden there are sunflowers and dyer’s chamomile with its bright yellow daisies. There are also Japanese anemones, hesperantha, zinnias, snapdragons and the shrubby convolvulus still on the go. So kind of the garden to ease us so gently into autumn.
Meanwhile, around the town and farm fields the change of season is more apparent:
And finally a glimpse of the priory ruins and the little tower on the Prior’s House:
Instead of rook and jackdaw call our Sheinton Street soundscape was yesterday invaded by the shriek of black backed gulls. It seemed strange when we’re so far from the nearest sea coast. But then gulls are great opportunists, and these particular ones may have learned to make their living at our nearest land-fill site rather than out at sea. The season of ploughing and sowing also provides fresh, if fleeting, feeding grounds and the gulls arrived in Townsend Meadow like a small snowstorm, though I’m guessing it wasn’t the new sown grain they were after so much as the bugs and worms turned up by the seed drill.
Once seed sowing would have done by hand, a skilled job that involved casting the grain evenly from either hand, tramping up and down the ploughed furrows. A field this size would have been a good day’s work. Now it is drilled in less than an hour.
We were driving over the moors below Stanage Edge and stopped to take in the view. In this first shot to the east it was all lowering skies and rain in the air. And then I turned on the spot through 180 degrees and took this next shot.
It was hard to believe, the Hope Valley as evanescent as a soap bubble, as if the sun was shining only on that place. To the left you can see the cut through the upland – the wild Winnat’s Pass, scene of real and legendary tragedies. On the right is Mam Tor with its scree-scarred face. If you squint you can just make out the ramparts of an Iron Age hillfort on the green plateau top.
Further back along the road above North Lees Hall I had tried to take a photo of Stanage Edge. The light was poor and it was not co-operating. And then there was a moment, and the Edge emerged like the mythic backdrop in some Renaissance painting. It is a shape-shifting place, the Peak District.
Lens-Artists: Change This week Amy asks us to show her change, however it strikes us.
I took these photos a week ago as we were exploring the footpaths around Callow Barn. I have no idea why old Derbyshire stone gate posts often have holes at the top of them. I have considered that they might have once been used as slots for a wooden bar, but then why at the top; what function would it perform? The holes would have taken much effort to drill too. And so in the absence of knowing, I used this one to peep through. Looking up the path to Offerton Moor, and down the path towards the River Derwent, Hathersage and Stanage Edge and Higger Tor.
And just so you can get a gist of the gate posts, here’s a one in the garden of Callow Barn where we were staying. There’s a sturdy iron hinge embedded on the left hand side of it, aligned with the hole, presumably to take a gate, so making my notion of a pole-bearing slot unlikely. Explanations welcome.
Lens-Artists #14 Windows This week Ann-Christine gives us windows as the theme. Please pop over to see her wonderful examples.
And when we’ve trashed this one, there won’t be another (see postscript).
In case you’re wondering where I’ve been for the past week – we’ve been staying in a barn in the Derbyshire High Peak where we woke to views of Higger Tor and Millstone Edge (haloed here) and the wide vistas of Hope Valley. The barn in question was one my maternal ancestors would have known and used, though not in its current luxurious holiday-let manifestation of five bedrooms, three bathrooms, plus central heating, range cooker, vast TV screen and free Wifi.
For around two centuries the Fox family lived at Callow Farm, tenants of the Eyres, and later of the Dukes of Devonshire who bought the Highlow estate from the Eyres/Archers in the early nineteenth century. The Foxes were also in this particular vicinity (around Highlow and Offerton in Hathersage Outseats) for at least the preceding 500 years, although trying to unravel the multiple generations of Georges and Williams is proving pretty impossible. All the more tantalizing when we know a 19th century list of Derbyshire Charters has a certain William Fox holding a few acres at Offerton in the late 1200s.
The more recent tenant Foxes owned some land too, and so in their way were very minor landlords. This in itself is a puzzle, since from earliest times this whole territory was controlled by abbots and monarchs and thence parcelled out to sundry lords and lordlings who taxed, tithed and generally reaped the rewards of ordinary mortals’ labours.
In High Peak the bulk of those returns included a large annual cut from the proceeds of the lead mined and processed by Derbyshire yeomen farmers like the Foxes – a raw and life-threatening trade carried out when they were not engaged in growing oats, making cheese and butter from their small dairy herds, cutting mill- and grinding stones from the precipitous millstone grit edges or minding their sheep. I have evidence of some of these multiple activities from local newspaper details of October 1892 when my great great grandfather George Brayley Fox sold off the Callow Farm stock before leaving the farm. This also means I know precisely what was in those barns at that particular time.
I have also now witnessed what the Dukes of Devonshire did at Chatsworth with the income from their tenant farmer-lead miners. The extravagant display of the 6th Duke in particular is jaw-dropping. But for all this and more – see upcoming posts.
For now here’s a daylight view from Callow farm fields, looking across the Derwent Valley to Hathersage: Higger Tor on the far right, Stanage Edge along the skyline to the left.
And here is Callow Barn – now cut off from the next door farmhouse, the properties being privately and separately owned and perhaps originally sold off from the Chatsworth Estate in either the 1930s or 1960s, both occasions when the estate’s massive death duties required the sale of extensive property and farmland.
And finally Callow Farmhouse as seen from the public footpath to Leadmill:
P.S. Much of Derbyshire – the uplands and dales – lies within the National Park. I learn this morning from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE is an organisation well worth supporting) that our government wants to bury nuclear waste in our National Parks, wilderness areas that are now used by many hundred thousand citizens for walking and cycling, and whose consistent presence there through much of the year significantly supports local rural economies. The Derbyshire national park in particular positively teems with humanity at weekends, happy families and dogs out for a jaunt and some very fresh air, away from the nearby cities of Manchester, Sheffield and Derby. Words fail.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
Those of you who come here often will know that the Linden Walk is Much Wenlock’s best loved path; mine too as it is only a couple of minutes from the house. It is always beautiful – whether in storm, snow, rain, sunshine, with or without leaves. It is also the enduring gift of the town’s physician, Dr. William Penny Brookes, who with his friends planted it in the 1860s. Thank you. Dr. Brookes. I should remember to say this more often.
This sheep popped over the cattle grid so fast, I didn’t actually see it in action (one second it was on the far side, the next it was among the pink geraniums), but all its friends and relations in the next-door field saw. Goodness, what a commotion they kicked up. How did you do that! Wait for us! BAAAAAAA!
We’d just had lunch in the Apple Store Cafe on the Brockhampton Estate (see previous posts), and were about to head home. But at the last minute I thought I’d like a photo of the parkland with its grazing sheep, although the light wasn’t promising. And that’s when it happened – the great escape – ovine-style.
A couple of other sheep who had been paying attention to how it was done, soon followed their leader. The rest stood at the fence and whinged. BAAAAAAAA!
In the Pink #8 Today Becky is truly ‘in the pink’.
Six Word Saturday While over in St. Albans, Debbie’s climbing high – a three towers challenge. Go for it, Debbie!
After three solid months of wall-to-wall summer with broiling temperatures and barely a spot of rain, we have skipped a good month or two and landed in autumn. It’s all very disconcerting. Fields are shorn of their grain crops, the stubble cut, bailed, stacked and now being hauled past the house in juggernaut consignments. The muck-spreaders are in action too, top-dressing the hard-baked land for the next crop. Dubious odours waft about the place – some of them human.
Our Midlands water and sewage company do a good trade in what they euphemistically call bio-solids. It has a low-grade, lingering pungency, but having recently watched a BBC documentary on the Secret Life of Landfill (a brief horror clip HERE on YouTube), I’m glad something useful is being done with the stuff. Animal waste also has to be recycled and one morning this week we had four tractors, grisly muck-spreading tanks in tow, thundering in convoy up and down Sheinton Street – to and from somewhere for and with some very potent slurry.
More scenically, early on Saturday evening as we were driving over to friends in neighbouring Staffordshire, we saw two tractors ploughing the red sandstone soil in tandem, a flock of seagulls swirling after them.
I keep wanting to yell, hang on! It’s still summer. Except the sudden 10 degree drop in temperature has me scurrying to the winter vest drawer. But still, out in the back garden it at least looks like summer, so to make up for talk of weird weather and bad smells, here is my August garden gallery. Somewhat perversely, the Morning Glory that has been twining up our small apple tree all summer, has waited for the cool weather to arrive before deciding to flower. A welcome sight, if surprising in the gloomier light. Likewise the Mediterranean-loving zinnias, which have stepped up a gear to full throttle blooming, and continue to be a favourite bee haunt.
The Changing Seasons Please visit host Su for some fine NZ vistas
Lens-Artists #8 Colourful And please visit Tina and the other Lens-Artists. for some ‘colourful’ photography. I hope Tina won’t mind my doubling up here.
Humans love to see the patterns in things. This habit can nurture an aesthetic sensibility and inspire much creativity on the one hand, and it can lead to all manner of misunderstandings and fallacies on the other. Which of us hasn’t at least pondered on the ‘meaning’ of a series of pure coincidences, or passingly ‘seen’ a pattern of events that ‘proves’ a conspiracy theory is not a conspiracy theory.
Given the negative propensities of patterning, and the power these may exert on the human mind, it might be as well to take note that this is currently being practised upon us by much of what is reported by the mass media, and the manner in which important issues are presented to us.
There is, to my mind, a constant drip-feeding in relation to particular topics (to name a few: Middle East, Russia, nuclear weapons, climate change, Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit); a seemingly endless repeating pattern of half-truths, proclamations of absolute guilt without evidence, scape-goating, focusing continuously on the irrelevant, divisive reporting, unproven circumstances presented as fact, and, in the name of that weasel word ‘balance’, equal weight given to the opinions of people who know what they are talking about, and the notions of those who do not believe in evidence/have their own minority axe to grind/are (verging on the) delusional. And the whole lot mashed up into an ‘entertaining’ package of easily digested sound and picture bites, whose patterning then is constantly rehashed/given oxygen by mass spoutings on social media.
It is all very disturbing, and when I think about it, I feel like a pawn in someone else’s nasty game, and that makes me angry. And so I distract myself with things in my little world, though I must say I did have Mark Rothko’s Dark Brown, Grey and Orange vaguely in mind when I took that second photo of the rape seed field beneath a stormy sky – his drive to express the human condition; to move beyond apparent abstraction – while I was visualizing an abstraction of the actual, but also brooding somewhat on the human condition.
But now for some lightish relief from gloomy ruminations: more earth patterns from around Much Wenlock, including some of the abnormally early, done-and-dusted grain harvest. Another kind of pattern?
Lens Artists This week Ann-Christine asks for patterns.
Social commentary from a perspective of moral secularism
Photos, places and my experiences
all things library and life.. from a librarian
Ambling through the present and past with thoughts about the future
To See a World in a Grain of Sand...
Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures
depictions by the rule of thirds; descriptions mostly freestyle words
A photo journal of my interests from one extreme to the other.
relax, center, and stretch your photographic skills. Namaste.