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.

One thing leading to another on Windmill Hill: everything is connected

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We’re barely into September and already autumn is here in Shropshire. It must be so, because the little horses are back on Windmill Hill. They will spend the next few months grazing off the dying summer grasses and wild flowers. They look very windswept, but the punk-mane-effect is mainly down to thickets of cleavers (goose grass) seeds in their top knots.

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Looking across the hill there’s hardly a sign of the June-July flowering – all those buttery clouds of Lady’s Bedstraw quite gone. Not a trace of the orchids either. Only the dark and brittle seed heads of knapweed that always strike a note of dreariness. The weather doesn’t help either. For weeks it has been rain between showers.

Nor was I encouraged by the BBC radio science programme I heard yesterday. I caught it in the midst of recompiling a glut of runner beans into chutney (beans at least like rain). The guest climate experts were soon informing us that the El Nino effect they promised us all in 2014 did not come to much. In fact, they opined, (and they sounded quite definite about it too) we still have it very much to look forward to – the worst El Nino effect hitherto experienced, they said. For some reason the Pacific Ocean keeps heating up. And this means disrupted weather patterns worldwide, and for Europe, an even wetter winter than usual.

MORE RAIN? I wish we in Shropshire could email some of it to those lands whose dramatically changing climates mean that they now receive little or none. Mongolia is one place suffering massive desertification. Likewise, the countries of Africa’s Sahel that border the Sahara. In both regions, and many others besides, human actions, poverty and climate shift combine in a vicious downward spiral that results in increasing degradation of land and water sources. This, apart from war, is one of the main drivers of human migration. It’s all connected, despite what the climate change naysayers may wish to believe.

All of which is to tell myself to count my blessings.  I am free to wander where I like without fear of being terrorized by extremists. I have all the food I need and more. I enjoy every comfort. I have the luxury to meander along Shropshire byways, talking to little horses, musing on the meaning life, the universe and everything, while across the globe desperate others risk all to find somewhere they can live a decent life with their families. Some people, we hear, do not want to share their land with refugees. It is assumed that they will be nothing but a drain on resources. Yet who knows what gifts in talent and skills these homeless souls might be bringing us? Also, not sharing may cost us more than we could ever imagine. In some societies the truest measure of civilisation is the gift of hospitality. Perhaps we need to think about this with a little more application. At least, I know I do.

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copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

Connected

Inside Much Wenlock’s Council Chamber: can the past cost too much?

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This is not the sort of chap you expect to find at a town council meeting (lion or devil, I’m not sure which) but then Much Wenlock’s council chamber is no ordinary place. It was built in 1577 as an extension on the 1540 civil courtroom. The two chambers on the upper floor of the Guildhall thus became the judicial and administrative centre for the 70 square miles that had once been ruled by the Prior of Wenlock. Underneath was the town lock-up, and an open space for a corn market.  Behind is the churchyard, and next door, Holy Trinity parish church. The hub of the town then.

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But perhaps the most surprising thing about the council chamber is that it is still in use today, although anyone sitting through a council meeting may well be left with distinctly unfavourable impressions of the past, and physically too: the seating is a torture on both knees and nether regions. I guess it was designed to keep everyone awake.

I’m afraid these upcoming interior shots look a bit woolly because of the spotlighting. On the other hand, they perhaps convey some sense of the antique residue that pervades the place.

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The panelling around the walls is 17th century, and was bought from elsewhere and installed in Victorian times by the town’s doctor and benefactor, William Penny Brookes, he who invented the modern Olympic Games (a fact I may have mentioned a few times.). The mayoral and officers’ chairs are especially awe-striking, and the said august personages truly do need to have on all their robes , wigs and paraphernalia if not to get lost inside them. These days this usually only happens on Mayor Making Day, once every four years.

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Here’s a closer view of the panelling behind the officers’ chairs. (There’s another scary entity up in the top right hand corner). Then coming up is the panel above the fireplace. Something to do with the Garden of Eden perhaps:

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And now for a glimpse of the Church Green, along with the grave of William Penny Brookes. The blue painted surround is comprised of Olympian victors’ garlands. The Green is the venue for all the town’s fairs.

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This next shot is taken from the Green. It’s hard to capture both the Guildhall and the church at one go:

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Of course the question that has doubtless surfaced in many of your minds is does the antiquated setting of the council chamber affect the quality of the thinking that goes on in there, and likewise the kind of decisions arrived at?

A few years ago I would have said that it certainly did. Some of the councillors back then had served for fifty years. These days, though, we have some very hardworking representatives. They are not paid either, since the once impressive Borough of Wenlock with its two members of parliament is no more, and the current town council has no more status than a parish council. But paid or not, our councillors still have some pretty big headaches to wrestle with, one of them being the continued upkeep of the Guildhall, including the roof over their own chamber.

It is perhaps a good example of the past becoming a public burden. Doubtless it is an amazing relic, and full of history, but it is no longer functional in modern terms. For one thing, there is no access for anyone with disabilities, or for the elderly who simply might have difficulty mounting the handrail-less stairs. As a listed building, the cost of installing some kind of lift would be astronomical, even if it were actually feasible. This situation immediately excludes quite a segment of the town from the democratic process. The uncomfortable seats probably do for the rest.

As to who foots the bill for running costs, then it is ultimately us, the council tax payers of Much Wenlock. If we did not pay to keep it going,  it’s hard to know what anyone else would do with such a building. So here we have it – listed, listing, leaking energy, and generally not fit for purpose.

Attempts to raise some revenue by charging a  modest fee to visit the old court room and council  chamber did not work. Few people wanted to pay to go in. Now the court room is a small museum and art gallery, and entrance is free.

All of which leaves us with an impossible, but fascinating building, and one that probably no one in Wenlock would wish to be without. It gives the town its identity, and so maybe, at the end of the day, it’s only right that its citizens continue to support it, whatever way they can. At least the old corn market is still well used, and much for the purpose it was originally intended.

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copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

 

This week at Thursday’s Special, Paula is inviting us to post traces of the past. Please visit her blog to find out what she and others have come up with.