Dads And Lads At The Severn Valley Railway

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This week Cee wants to see tender moments. Here are some that caught my eye on a couple of visits to Shropshire’s Severn Valley Railway.

They make me wonder too: young dads sharing their passion for steam trains; little lads not quite big enough to be sure. Which is also touching.

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And quite another take on the topic…

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A case of sore feet and

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a tender behind… (I know, it’s an old joke)

*tender = coal wagon

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Tender Moments

Wenlock Views Near And Far

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The header photo was taken among the ruins of Wenlock Priory, looking towards the trees and roof tops of the Prior’s Lodgings, now a private house, locally known as The Abbey.

This next shot is my well-trodden path to the allotment, along the southerly edge of Townsend Meadow. That’s an ash tree on the skyline – doing a good Ent impression as our Shropshire ash trees tend to do.

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And a nearer view of the ash tree – a sundowner shot complete with rooks flying home to their roost in the Sytche wood.

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And finally a rather strange and blurry photo of the Linden Walk, taken when all the pale and papery sepals had fallen off the lime tree flowers in late summer. I think if you squint, you might just spot someone at the top of the path.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: In the distance

Wind-Lines Past And Current

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These photos were taken during our blustery stay on Anglesey, North Wales, back in early January. The hawthorn tree in the farm hedge has been sculpted and stunted by the prevailing sea gales over decades. In its dormant state it is now so rigid a structure that the winter blasts have little apparent effect. By contrast, the grasses were bowing flat in the bed outside the converted chapel where we were staying. One knew how they felt.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lines

Rocks, boulders, Stiperstones

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Shropshire’s mysterious Stiperstones featured in a recent Square Odds post. Here are more shots in monochrome, plus a few facts for geology lovers.

The grey-white rock of the ridge is quartzose sandstone known as the Stiperstones Quartzite Formation, created some 480 million years ago in the Ordovician era.

The tors and the rubble-like surroundings we see today are the work of more recent events in the last Ice Age (c. 115,000 – c. 11,700 years ago).  During this time, the eastern edge of the Welsh ice sheet was nudged up against the Stiperstones, not covering it,  but causing the quartzite to fracture during periods of intense freezing followed by thawing.

The highest point (Manstone Rocks) is 536 metres (1,759 ft) above sea level, making it the county’s second tallest hill after Brown Clee.  The ridge extends some 8 kilometres (5 miles), the summit crowned with a series of six distinctive outcrops.

For geology buffs there is a detailed overview of Shropshire’s 700 million year geological history by Peter Toghill HERE.

This next photo: men on Manstone Rock, the highest point on the Stiperstones…

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: rocks, boulders, stones

The Bridge At Aberffraw

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This seventeenth century packhorse bridge in the Anglesey village of Aberffraw is quite a landmark and much photographed (on sunny summer days). You can see why it catches the photographer’s eye, but on a bleak and windy January day, I’m thinking it’s the local jackdaw that adds a certain something to the scene.

There was also a jackdaw ‘fly-by’ when I visited the village church, another of Anglesey’s ancient places of worship, St Beuno’s. As with ‘the little church in the sea’ in the previous post, parts of it date from the 12th century.

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It was by no means the earliest church in Aberffraw. That was built some five centuries earlier by St. Beuno himself, though no traces of his work remain. As with many early Christian places of worship it was probably a simple thatched and timber-framed structure that would leave few signs of itself. But in their time, both these churches probably served as royal chapels to the Princes (and Princesses) of Gwynedd who in the early Middle Ages held court close by. Their palace likewise left little trace of its existence, having been dismantled and its parts dispersed after England’s King Edward I invaded Wales (1277-1282). Although I did read that it was discovered belatedly that the village council houses had been probably been built over the site. The way things change!

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: birds

In Matching Stripes?

Grevy's zebra

Day’s end and a gathering of Grevy’s zebra, the largest and most northerly race of zebra-kind. It was a chance encounter. For two hours Kevin, our Chagga guide had been driving us along the dirt tracks of the Lewa Downs reserve. It was new territory to us; our first trip to northern Kenya from our then home-town of Nairobi. The landscapes were breath-taking, sweeping rangelands, pale grasses, beetling gorges, the distant gauzy backdrop of the Matthews Range.

Earlier we had stopped to follow a Greater Kudu family on foot. They were moving in single file up a steep bush trail. We lingered under a thorn tree and in the late day light, watched as they melted one by one into dappled cover. Then it was back to the truck and more trail bashing, the only sign of wildlife, massive piles of elephant dung on the track, and some torn up thorn trees where the herd had passed.

We scanned the bush country all round for a glimpse of them, but they were gone, or at least we could not see them, which is not the same thing. Elephants are invisibility specialists. No matter. As I said, the country was magnificent, the light like liquid amber, and the air filled with the soothing scent of acacia blossom. Lemony with tones of jasmine. As ever, out in the bush, all felt like a dream.

And by now, too, the sun had dropped behind the mountains, the light fading fast. We headed back to camp, and it was then, as we rounded a bend on the trail, we met the zebra. There was only just enough light left to take their photo, but they obligingly stood perfectly still.

And just in case you’re wondering what the difference is between Grevy’s and the plains zebras, here’s another sundowner scene, this time from the Maasai Mara far to the south:

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These are Common or Burchell’s Zebra, smaller than the Grevy’s. Their all-over, widely spaced stripes are thicker; ears pointed to Grevy’s endearingly round. Their social habits are different too, the plains’ zebra living in family groups with much grooming between members while their cousins appear to move in less structured gatherings.

But what about the stripes, you may ask: is every zebra’s livery unique?

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It is hard to be sure from the Grevy’s portrait, though I’m thinking it’s highly likely. But when it comes to the plains’ cousins, I have told the tale before of how once in Zambia, on a New Year’s Day game drive, a rather tipsy guide waxed lyrical about the very particular patterns on each zebra’s ‘butticles’, and how it was by such means that zebra offspring recognised their respective mamas. I don’t know about the last bit, but these two photos from Nairobi National Park certainly prove a point, final blurry butticle shot aside: the stripes truly do not match.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Matching Things