This wintery looking hedge is on the lane to Downs Mill, though it was a mild afternoon when I took this photo, more like spring. The hazel catkins along the field path by the house have been thinking much the same, their tassels opening to the late December sun. Out in the garden the Dyer’s Chamomile (grown from seed last summer) is still flowering, as are pink and coral hesperanthus and hardy geraniums. None of them seem to have been bothered by the few mornings’ frost we had earlier in the month.
Otherwise, there have been a couple of gales, lots of murk with fog and too much rain, but also blue-sky days too, and so far little sign of winter as we once knew it. Up at the allotment the Swiss Chard is having yet another flush of juicy leaves and the pot marigolds have started to flower again, their petals adding a zing of colour to green salads. And in the fields all round the winter wheat is zooming up.
The Changing Seasons ~ December
Here we are – midday on Christmas Day in Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Shropshire, walking across some of the oldest landscape on the planet. Such vast antiquity is perhaps an unexpected distinction within a rural English county whose location, even to the citizens of the United Kingdom, is often a total mystery.
But here it is, one of the valleys, locally known as batches, whose streams wheedle their way down from the flanks of the Long Mynd, a 7-mile ridge of Precambrian rock, formed around 570 to 560 million years ago. It is also well travelled geology, having moved 13,000 miles from its origins in the Antarctic circle where its iron-rich sediments (eroded from volcanic mountains) first accumulated on the sea bed. This was closely followed by some tectonic shunt and shift which squeezed the sediments into a U-shape, so tipping them from the horizontal to the vertical. It’s a feature you can glimpse here and there on exposed rock faces. It means too, that in one sense at least, as you pass, you are walking through time.
Time Square #27
Wrought by sea winds over many seasons.
Time Square #21
This photo was taken last December when we spent a few days in the England-Wales border town of Hay-on-Wye. I was standing in the main car park as the landscape lit up. It was very very cold, a prelude to the big snow that happened soon afterwards. Thankfully it waited till we had made it home before it descended. Travelling on rural Hereford and Shropshire byways under two feet of snow would not have been a good experience.
Hay is a tiny town on the banks of the majestic River Wye, but though small it has a world-wide reputation, both for the number of its second hand book shops and now as the home of a famous annual literary festival to which I have yet to take myself. Anyway, here’s a glimpse of the book shop that started it all, a place where one may spend many many hours. It also has a very excellent cafe and a cinema. So much bliss under one roof.
Time Square #14
The old apple tree at the allotment has a litter of lost and decomposing apples all around it. As I took this photo yesterday I tried not to think of all the stuffed baked apples they added up to; the crumbles and tartes tatin missed out on. Just as well, says the waistline. I’ve recently been struggling to make a pair of corduroy trousers, the struggle being in the fitting department. Having adjusted the waistband to a state of snugness that allows only slight room for expansion, I do not need to grow out of them before I’ve worn them. Anyway, I’m sure there’s plenty of wildlife that will be glad of these windfalls, blackbirds and slugs especially.
Time Square #12
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:
And in winter:
Taken this afternoon on the winter wheat:
Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Field Many thanks to Cee for hosting this challenge.
Scenes in old gold: the Priory parkland above, then the Linden Walk and Field and a view of Windmill Hill:
The Cutlins path, sheep and parish church:
And now the townscape as seen from the allotment:
And a touch of green: winter wheat sprouting in Townsend behind the house (you saw it being sown HERE back in October):
And in the garden: Evereste crab apples, Hesperanthus, and Foxgloves (still flowering today):
And on Remembrance Sunday, Much Wenlock marked the centenary of the ending of WW1 with the lighting of a beacon on Windmill Hill, an occasion (on my part anyway) coupled with the fervent wish that here at least was one lesson from history that the ruling elite might learn from, though it’s showing few signs so far.
The Changing Seasons
Photo taken this week on All Hallows Eve on the path to Croft Ambrey hillfort.
Six Word Saturday
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:
The Changing Seasons: October 2018
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.
Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: things people drive