The Changing Seasons: And Most Of Them Happened In June

So much weather in June! The header photo rather sums up my feelings of rapid changeability – flowers in the garden one minute, then gone the next.

Here in the UK we’ve sweltered in temperatures above 34C. We’ve had prolonged drought. There have been cold winds. And now this week we’re having a ‘mini-monsoon’, the temperatures dropping so it feels and looks more like October. Yesterday along Wenlock Edge there was even fog, and this morning when I went outside to survey the plant life, it was to find autumnal spans of spiders’ webs glistening with raindrops, and the newly opened sunflower looking as if it wished to go back in its bud. It looked so forlorn staring at the place in the leaden sky where the sun should be.

On top of that, the last of the Teasing Georgia’s roses have been trashed and mashed, the foxgloves that were so stunning are all gone, and the allium seed heads (that look like floral fireworks ) are alive with the tiniest crab spiders, all busy being rather sinister despite being scarcely more than two millimetres across, and just out of their eggs. This first photo makes said arthropod look monster sized. For a better sense of scale look out for the spider on the second allium shot. It’s near the bottom edge, left of the flower stalk.

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But all is not lost in the garden. The late spring flowers may have been washed away, but the spires of verbascum are just opening, the yellow doronicum is doing its best to stand in for the sun, and geranium Rozanne is now on parade until the first frosts. Of course, as things are going, that could be next week. Who knows?

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Changing Seasons (versions 2 and 1)

Through A Glass Darkly ~ Looking Out With Henry James’ Eyes?

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Faithful followers of this blog will know that my home town of Much Wenlock was host to writer Henry James on three occasions. He came as guest of local worthies, the Milnes Gaskells who owned both the Prior’s House (which they called The Abbey) and  Wenlock Priory ruins.

Adjoining the house is a beautiful ruin, part of the walls and windows and bases of the piers of the magnificent church administered by the predecessor of your host, the abbot. These relics are very desultory, but they are still abundant and testify to the great scale and the stately beauty of the abbey. You may lie upon the grass at the base of an ivied fragment and measure the great girth of the great stumps of the central columns, half smothered in soft creepers, and think how strange it is in that in this quiet hollow, in the midst of lonely hills, so exquisite and so elaborate a work of art should have arisen.

Henry James Portraits of Places

I imagine the Priory remains were more romantically ruinous in James’s time, lacking the custodial tidiness of English Heritage, whose property it now is. Those lofty Corsican pines in the background would have been saplings back in his day. All the same, at least once during his visits, the writer must have stood where I was standing when I took this photo – gazing through the old glass panes of The Abbey’s Great Hall, where, in the 1500s, the Prior of Wenlock did his most  lavish entertaining.

Local legend has it that James was working on his novella The Turn of the Screw  during one of his visits.  We know from his accounts in Portraits of  Places that he was struck by the antiquity of the place, and much interested in its ghost and tales of haunting that drove the household staff to spend the night in their homes. and not under The Abbey roof.

There’s more about Henry James and Wenlock in my earlier post When Henry James Came To Wenlock

By now you may be wondering how come I’m looking out of the Prior’s window. The Abbey is still privately owned, now the home of artist Louis de Wet. Last summer we were treated to a private tour by Gabriella de Wet : Going Behind The Scenes in Wenlock Abbey. There are more of Henry James’ descriptions in that post.

And now please head over to Lost in Translation where this week’s theme is windows. As you can see, my interpretation is somewhat oblique. Paula, though, presents us with some very unusual windows.

Black & White Sunday

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The Abbey, Much Wenlock, once the Prior’s Lodging. It boasts a host of windows:

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The Big Digger Driver And The Kindness Of Strangers

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I think I’ve mentioned that here in Much Wenlock we’re in the throes of having a couple of attenuation ponds dug above the town – this in a bid to reduce flood risk.  We are in what the Environment Agency calls a ‘Rapid Response Catchment Area’. This means that if a severe storm hits our part of Wenlock Edge, then we have about twenty minutes warning before a flash flood reaches the town. There are other factors involved too. Flash flooding is more likely if the ground is already sodden from periods of prolonged rainfall. Or if it is frozen hard.

Our last bad flood was in the summer of 2007 when over fifty homes were affected. Due to the steepness of our catchment, any flood is usually quick to leave, but even so, it can cause a lot of damage.

One of the attenuation ponds, currently nearing completion, is in the top corner of Townsend Meadow behind our house. Earlier in the year, and in preparation for the excavation work, a number of small trees were felled and shredded into heaps around the pond perimeter. Yippee, I thought on discovering them by the path on the long way round to the allotment. More chippings for paths and weed suppression.

I duly went to collect a few bags full, but it was harder work than I expected. For one thing there is quite a haul up the path from the pond, and then once at the top of the hill and into the wood, another haul down the field boundary to the allotment.

Meanwhile, my chippings collecting habit had not gone unnoticed. Late one afternoon in April, and after the working day was over, I was plodding up the path with a full bag when a truck pulled up on the field track that the construction crew were using. It was the digger driver in the photo. A very Welsh digger driver. At first I didn’t quite grasp what he was saying. I thought he’d come to tell me off. But that wasn’t it.

When I explained what I was doing and where I was going with the chippings, he said it would be no problem for him to move the chippings piles to the top of the hill. In fact I think he would have delivered them to the allotment if there had been suitable access. He drove off down the track, and I carried on with my bag, and rather forgot about the digger man.

Sometime later (I was pottering around in my polytunnel) fellow allotmenteer, Dave, came to tell me that he had  been surprisingly hallooed from the neighbouring field by a very Welsh man who was going on about chippings and some woman he’d met on the path. After some thought, Dave had concluded I was the woman in question, and so we went up the field to investigate, and there at the top of the track was a huge pile of wood chips – enough for all my paths, and more to compost over the winter. There was no sign of the digger man. I expect he’d gone home for his tea, but Dave helped me fill my big blue IKEA bags and carry them back to the plot.

So lucky me! Two very kind men in one day. And a nice new path between the polytunnel raised beds, which incidentally were made by a third kind man who lives in my house.

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Black & White Sunday: After and Before    This week Paula asks us to give a colour shot a monochrome edit.

Black & White Sunday: A Spot Of Dog Walking And A Dastardly Outbreak Of Clothes Moths

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Here is a dog who knows just where he’s going, taking the steps down to the old railway line that runs besides the Linden Walk. I caught him by chance in a beam of sunlight. This rather makes him look as if I stuck him on later. I also like the way his master has become a silhouette at the top of the steps.  One my photo-accidents that turned out quite well.

While I’m here I’d like to wish you all a Happy 16th April in whatever capacity you are enjoying or celebrating it. As for me, I’m waging a campaign against moths – cleaning out my closet and putting all my fine wool items into the freezer for a fortnight. It’s just as well the stock of frozen allotment beans and raspberries is now dwindling and I have a spare drawer for assorted Indian shawls. And in case you think this very odd behaviour for an Easter Sunday, my other half tells me that this is the only way to ensure my woollies are moth egg-free without the application of noxious chemicals. Apparently there is quite an outbreak of clothes moths in the UK just now. I’m wondering if this isn’t due to all the buying of cashmere jumpers that people have been indulging in; it’s ideal moth food. Anyway, it does have its uses being married to an entomologist.

Black & White Sunday  Please visit Paula to see her mesmeric stairwell. If you follow her steps down and down, they could well take you to a parallel universe.

Changing Seasons: June On Windmill Hill

With this shot I’m back to what Meg at 12monthsinWarsaw calls my Monet’s Haystack mode – i.e. there just cannot be too many shots of the old windmill near my house. I succumb every single time I’m there with a camera to hand. I snapped it yesterday in celebration of the summer solstice, caught in a quick walk between supper’s first course of dhal and Staffordshire oat cakes, and the strawberry crumble that was to follow.

I was also taken by the midsummer meadow in all its lushness – so many different kinds of grasses that I cannot name, and masses of pyramidal orchids – far more than last year. There were also spotted orchids, meadow sweet, vetch, red and white clovers, ladies bedstraw, and white bladder campion which is most usually seen growing on seaside cliffs. And also the sky above was filled with clouds that looked like dragons.

 

 

 

Please visit Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons for more on this challenge.

copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

Over The Garden Fence At Sunset Yesterday

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After tropical days in Wenlock we now have rain and more rain. There were showers between downpours for most of yesterday, and only at the last lap, as it was about to set, did the sun coming bursting hotly through the clouds. I caught its last beams here before it disappeared behind Wenlock Edge.

With all the sudden rain the wheat in the field behind our house is growing before our very eyes. So is our wildflower garden along the fence below it. Seen here are Moon Daisies (also known as Oxeye Daisy, Dog Daisy and Moonpenny). I love that last name. And keeping company with the daisies is one stately white foxglove, with a spray of cow parsley or Queen Anne’s Lace in the background.

According to Richard Mabey’s Flora Britannica  cow parsley (a member of the carrot family) has a whole lexicon of country names – some obvious, others not so. So here we go with a few more: Fairy Lace,  Spanish Lace, Mother die, Step-mother, Badman’s oatmeal, Blackman’s tobacco, Kecksie, and Rabbit meat.

And as for the foxglove, it was also known as Fairy Gloves and Fairy Bells. It has long been used as a herbal remedy that at times proved more killing than curing. And of course until recent times a compound version of  the toxin found in foxglove leaves was the drug of choice for various heart conditions.

It is anyway one of my favourite plants. I like the way it grows itself around the garden and crops up in a variety of subtle shades from white to purple, although it perhaps looks a little sinister, looming here in the failing light across Townsend Meadow.

 

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Posted for:

Mundane Monday #63 at Jithin’s PhoTraBlogger

February: Windmill Hill Twilight

There are two Changing Seasons challenges over at  Cardinal Guzman’s.  It’s a monthly challenge and if you want to join in you can find the rules below.

For my February photo I’ve chosen this recent shot of Windmill Hill. I caught it – in this single shot – just as the sun was going down. The landscape is still wintery, but the strange light suggests the possibility of spring. Also the windmill seems more impressive than it usually does in broad daylight. It’s good to see its mysterious side; we actually know very little about how it looked and functioned in this, its 17th century phase, only that it was probably struck by lightning.

Our local archaeologist also thinks it may be standing on or near the site of an ancient trackway, although recent trial excavations have yielded no evidence to support this. But never mind. I anyway like the glimpse (far right) of the swiftly departing small figure in blue. It rather reminds me of Daphne du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now. And yes I know that was set in Venice, but the residual horror is enough to resonate here in Shropshire and so evoke the February chills.

You can see January’s Changing Seasons HERE. In this series I am featuring Windmill Hill and the nearby Linden Field where the world’s first modern Olympian Games were held from the 1850s onwards. The Much Wenlock Games inspired the present day Olympic Movement, a fact that is now recognized. That’s a big claim to fame for our very small town, and I think it’s worth bragging about at every opportunity. Windmill Hill provided a natural auditorium back in Victorian times. Spectators and competitors came from all over Britain, and from the 1860s they could arrive by train, the station conveniently sited beside the Linden Field where most of the events took place.

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Please visit the Cardinal to see his and others’ changing seasons. And then join in, if not this month, then next.

Here are the Cardinal’s Rules:

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

 

My Wenlock World In Black & White

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This week Cee has given us ‘carte blanche’ to post black and white images of our choice. So I thought I’d show you my everyday world, but with just a touch of ‘noir’.

Welcome, then, to Much Wenlock

where all looks tranquil. Or does it?

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

Go here to see Cee’s and other bloggers’ b & w favourites

A bench for circular conversations and well-rounded arguments?

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Here’s my bench for Jude’s Bench Series #38. This month she is asking us to find ones made of metal, and this is my favourite town seat. It surrounds a Wellingtonia on Much Wenlock’s Church Green and, apart from its circularity, it is perhaps not the most exciting of constructions. But it is in the perfect setting. And it has so many pleasing views and all through the year too. Things to watch out for include the annual Christmas Fayre and the Wenlock Poetry Festival…

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Visitors to the annual Wenlock Poetry Festival adding their poems to the Church Green’s Poetree. The next festival is April 2016. Click on the link for more details.