A Very Big Climb Up To Peveril Castle But Beautiful Views If You Reach The Top

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The header photo shows only the topmost portion of the path to the Castle of the High Peak. There were times as I hauled myself up there when I thought expiration – as in breathing  my last gasp – was a likely outcome. I had to sit down on every available seat (and thankfully there were several). There were also places along the way that were rather too vertiginous for my liking. On top of this we had been warned by the girl on the reception desk that that castle keep was closed for restoration works – so, you might think, why on earth were we bothering?

Frankly, if the keep had been open to visitors, I don’t think I would have made it up the spiral staircase to the main door. I like to think I’m fairly fit too, but I don’t seem be fit on the vertical. Phew and double phew.

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But then once you’re up there and can breathe again…

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What views of Derbyshire’s Hope Valley:

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The earliest fortification on the site, i.e. the extensive stone curtain wall, was already in existence in 1086 when it was recorded in the Domesday  Book. It was one of the earliest Norman fortresses in England, and held by William Peveril, a follower and so a beneficiary of William the Conqueror when it came to receiving territorial rewards. The castle served as an important administrative centre for extracting taxes from the local Saxon Pecsaetan people of the Hope Valley. At this time Forest Law was also strictly enforced, meaning people were brought before the Forest Court at the castle and fined for deemed infractions of the king’s royal  hunting forest that extended over much of the High Peak district. As time went on, and more and more forest was excised for settlement, farming and pasture, the fines for encroachment were seen more as rental payments than as penalties.

But back to the Peverils. Things did not go so well in the next generation. Son of Peveril was accused of plundering and treachery by the soon to be crowned Henry II.  On ascending the thrown Henry confiscated the castle and kept it for the particular purpose of overseeing the Forest of the High Peak, his personal royal hunting grounds. This was in 1154. He visited the castle three times in the next ten years. When he was not there, the place was apparently manned by one porter and two watchmen.

This all changed during the 1173-4 uprising when Henry’s three sons, Henry Young King, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland, along with their mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, rebelled against Henry’s rule – a family argument of epic proportions. Peveril then became a garrison housing 20 knights who roved between the High Peak and Bolsover Castle some miles away. After the uprising in 1176, Henry built the impressive keep at a cost of £184. You can see from the photos above it was originally handsomely finished with dressed stone, an attractive proposition for later stone robbers.

Further improvements were made during the 13th century to cater for royal visits. And a very nice model shows us how things would have looked back then: stables, chapel, workshops, kitchens, bakery, a great hall for entertaining, new high-status apartments – an upscale self-sufficient community in other words, the whole perched atop a beetling limestone eminence and visible for miles around.

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The private chambers that backed onto the curtain wall came with their own garderobes or loos. The one in the photo coming up next would have had a wooden seat with a central hole, and waste would have dropped down into the Peak Cavern Gorge beyond the castle wall. The garderobe was also traditionally the place where noble personages kept their clothing, the whiffy draughts therein checking moth predation. Which also reminds me that Voltaire opined that the legendary bad temper of Edward 1, aka Longshanks and prolific builder of Welsh castles, was down to chronic constipation induced by the cold sea wind gusting up Caernarvon Castle’s royal garderobe. I always thought Voltaire might have a point.

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As time went on, the castle ceased to be of particular strategic importance. In 1374 King John ordered the lead stripped from the roofs for re-use at Pontefract Castle. And although local courts were still held there until 1600, by 1609 it was described as ruinous and serving no use. Thereafter its destiny lay in inspiring Sir Walter Scott’s novel Peveril of the Peak and providing a romantically rugged upland landmark for the first major flushes of tourists to Derbyshire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Oh yes, and  for inducing near asphyxia in people not good at hill climbs.

Lens-Artists: Big can be beautiful too

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

A Path For All Seasons ~ Wenlock’s Linden Walk

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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.

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Lens-Artists: path

Before And After ~ Just Look What Became Of The Quince Blossom

Back in May I posted photos of the allotment quince tree in its final flowering and pondered on the fruit to come, the delicate scent of it when ripe and ready for the making of quince jelly and quince ‘cheese’ – the dulce de membrillo of Spain’s Iberian peninsula that is eaten with Manchego cheese. I have never made either, but this year may well be the year, that’s if I speak nicely to Phoebe, Ian and Siegfried who have taken over the care of the allotment’s small orchard where the quince tree (Cydonia oblonga) is growing.

The other day I noticed that the tree is now fruiting magnificently, doubtless a response to our heatwave, its native lands being a good deal warmer than the UK – i.e. Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. Although, according to what I have read, it is an amenable plant and will do well in cooler climates. It is drought tolerant too, so another candidate for nurturing here in the UK with our increasingly hot and rainless summers. I think I would grow it for the beauty of its blossom alone. The fruit is a bonus, even if one only wants to look at it. But no picking it yet, no matter how fat and golden it looks. That pleasure must wait till autumn’s end, after the first frosts.

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In the Pink #14

Sheep Smarts ~ Cattle Grid No Object

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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!

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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!

Yesterday In The Garden ~ Kind Of Pink With Added Blue

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I love the way these Blue Lace Flowers have leaned in among the plumes of Hydrangea paniculata. It was not planned. In fact I did not know what to expect of the seedlings grown from the free packet of seed that came with a gardening magazine back in March. The water colour image on the packet verged on the surreaI and I was certain I had never seen anything like it in real life.

Didiscus caerulea also known as Trachymene coerulea  was apparently introduced to Britain from Western Australia in 1828 so I can’t excuse my ignorance of its existence by thinking it a ‘new’ plant. Anyway, it is well worth growing – a half hardy annual, delicately scented, good for cutting, long flowering and around two feet tall. The leaves turn a lovely shade of tangerine as they age.

An all round good-looker then, and although dead-heading encourages new flowers, I haven’t persuaded myself to do it so far. When the petals fall the flower turns into a star burst, which then curls up into a little fist of seeds. I’m wondering if it will sow itself, though imagine the seeds would not survive an English winter. But I might try collecting some and drying them for next spring’s sowing.

That the flowers also attract hoverflies is of course an added bonus.

 

In the Pink #3

An Excitement Of Daffodils At Bodnant Garden

Even glimpsed from afar, it was an extraordinary sight – a yellow prairie against a Welsh hillscape. Euphoria was instantaneous. Whether old or young, there was nothing for it but head for the daffodils!

 

Patti at Lens-Artists asks us to show her action. Please visit the Lens-Artists to see their inspirational photos and take part in their challenges. And it’s also ‘In the Pink’ day 2 over at Becky’s.

For the story behind the creation of Bodnant Garden see earlier post  Marvellous Magnolias

Lens-Artists #9: Action

In the Pink #2 Today Becky’s gone batty.

Sticking To Earth Patterns

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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?

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Lens Artists This week Ann-Christine asks for patterns.

Softly Captured ~ The Uncommon Beauty Of A Common Blue

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When you suddenly spot one, it’s as if the summer sky has dropped a small fluttering piece of itself.  It takes a second or two to register what you have seen, and by then it has gone. For Polyommatus icarus, the Common Blue butterfly is not only small – around one inch across – it is also skittish.  I did not attempt a closer shot for fear of spooking it. And then I thought that I didn’t really want a close-up; they have their limitations. Better, I thought, to share the Common Blue much as a I saw it (soft focus and all) on the flowers of creeping thistle beside field path.

Lens-Artists photo challenge: soft

You can find out more about the lovely quartet of bloggers who host this photo challenge HERE. Like me, you’re probably already following one or more of them.

Going Mazy-Eyed In A Sea Of Grasses ~ Thursday’s Special

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I took this photo last night as I was coming home from the allotment. The sun was setting over the rapeseed field and illuminating the grasses along the headland. This is a broad strip of land on the town side of Townsend Meadow, left uncultivated as a defence against flash floods. The variety of grasses that grow here is bewildering, and I’m sorry to say I have never tried to learn which is which. They are very beautiful though in the evening light.

Grasses (Gramineae) are among the most successful plants on the planet and, excluding the polar zones, cover 40% of the earth’s surface. They of course include cereal crops, rice, bamboos, and pasture grasses and so are of immense importance to humanity. Grass is also an elephant’s food of choice, making up a substantial part of its 300-400 lb daily vegetable intake. I mention that fact here because our headland grasses have so benefitted from the agrichemical feeding of the rape plants uphill from them that they are now doing a pretty good impression of elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) also known as Napier Grass. This particular grass featured in he-who-builds-sheds’ doctoral research on grass smut in the Kenya highlands, and so is a species close to our hearts, and we both know how to identify it.

Coming up is another grass I know: wild oats. The sun was reflecting off its spikelets, which was all rather mesmerizing.

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Thursday’s Special: Lost in details  This week Paula has given us an intriguing challenge and photo to match. I’m interpreting it here both in words and images Who me?