The Changing Seasons ~ March

This first photo sums up our best  March highlight so far – a trip to Ludlow a couple of weeks ago – a day of near summer weather where we sat out at a pavement cafe without coats, and had a delicious pasta and spicy clam lunch; followed a couple of hours later by afternoon tea and cake at the riverside Green Cafe, where we were still outside and coatless. Bliss. Ducks in companionable clumps were sunbathing on the river islands, the River Teme was teeming over the weir, the more active ducks were using it as a duck chute, and people and dogs were lazing about the place, soaking up the sun. The whole day seemed like a dream.

But now we are not dreaming, for if March came in like a lamb, then today it is definitely in lion mode – all biting, icy teeth, and I’m being a weak and feeble woman, and failing to gird myself for an allotment visit. It’s much more pleasant to assemble a gallery of warm-day-out photos. Welcome to Ludlow, South Shropshire’s loveliest market town:

 

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copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

To take part in The Changing Seasons challenge, please visit Max over at Cardinal Guzman. The rules are simple, and you get to see Max’s photo shoots around Oslo.

Foxgloves Over The Garden Fence ~ After And Before

 

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This Sunday at Lost in Translation, Paula asks us to show her a black and white version of a colour original. This summer shot was taken from the back of our house looking towards Wenlock Edge as the sun  was going down.

Just over the garden fence we have a strip of ground that grows itself each year – mostly self-seeded foxgloves, columbine, corn cockle, moon daisies and opium poppies along with some perennial lemon balm, spearmint and oregano. It’s a treat waiting to see what will happen there every summer. Just thinking of this brightens a rather gloomy January day here in Shropshire.

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And now I can’t resist posting some more transformations in and around Much Wenlock. Clearly, some work better than others, but in any event, as Paula says, it helps one to see with fresh eyes:

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Last Year At The Allotment ~ Seasonal Highlights

Now is the time of year when gardeners head for their seed catalogues and start making plans for the growing season ahead. Seed potatoes must be ordered, and preparations made (i.e. brain put in gear so as not to miss appropriate time slots) for crops that must be sown early. It is also a good moment to review which of the last year’s crops grew best, and most importantly, which we most enjoyed eating.

Actually all the produce was delicious. We had loads of Early Onward peas, courgettes and salad greens. Beans thrived – French, borlotti, fava, runners, and Cherokee, as did the globe artichokes, raspberries and Swift sweet corn. In the polytunnel the Black Russian tomatoes, and yellow cherry variety were the most prolific. I also grew some very good pink onions in there, and thus saved them from alium beetle attack which did a lot of damage in the outdoor crop.

There’s still stuff to eat on the plot too – Brussels sprouts, Italian broccoli, Tuscan kale, parsnips, and early purple sprouting to come.

And now as I look at these photos, I sense the horticultural sap rising. Soon it will be time to go out and get growing – all over again. For the gardener’s work is never done. Yippeeeeee!

 copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

Thursday’s Special: 2016 Retrospective   Please visit Paula for her own fine retrospective, and be inspired.

Thinking Pink Over Wenlock Edge: Thursday’s Special

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All right. All right. Call it art theft if you like. I’ve captured one of the Wenlock Edge Sky Painter’s quirkier pieces and am passing it off as my own. But then who could resist stealing that rose petal cloud? We all of us need one now and then. So please, be my guest. Cast off in the blue. Drift and dream. Who knows where it will take you.

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Thursday’s Special  This week Paula asks us to think pink. Please waft over there for more pink thoughts.

Nightfall Over Wenlock Edge

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This photo was taken from the field path in Townsend Meadow behind our house, a scene captured one day last winter when I was late home from the allotment. I often stop at this  point on the path to take photos. The ash tree silhouette always catches my eye, whatever the season, and I love the way the day seems to slip behind the hill as night shuts down on top and shadows creep up to meet it. It’s a bit like a stage set. Or it could be Rip Van Winkle Land.

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Be inspired by things of the night over at Paula’s Thursday’s Special: Nocturnal

 

Textures Of My Ancestral Landscape

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These are some of the landscape textures that my maternal ancestors, the Fox family of Derbyshire’s High Peak would have known well – windswept moors and weathered scarps of millstone grit. They were yeoman farmers and lead miners, and they made a living from this bleak and beautiful country for hundreds of years.

Family legend has it that the Foxes arrived in England with William the Conqueror, but Fox is a name with Germanic origins so they may well have been Saxons, belonging to the conquered rather than to the conquering forces. The earliest records for Foxes in the Hope Valley, and Offerton in particular – where my Foxes farmed until the end of the nineteenth century, are around the thirteenth century, although I and my fellow Fox researchers are yet to establish direct lineage from these times.

There were centuries of prosperity when various family members lived in large stone farmhouses, made ‘good’ marriages, and owned land and lead mining concessions, but by the early twentieth century there was only one member of my Fox line left in the area, and he was living modestly in Eyam. The family farm of Callow where he was born, and by then owned by the Duke of Devonshire had been relinquished with a farm sale in 1892.   High rents were besetting many Derbyshire farmers at this time. The Mr Fox mentioned in the sale advertisement is my great great grandfather, George Brayley Fox:

 

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent

Saturday 29 October 1892

Callow Farm Sale

Important Sale of 23 cows, heifers, steers and calves, two horses and foal, 30 sheep, hays stack, three wheat stacks, seven oat stacks, farm implements etc.

Mr Hattersley has been honoured with instructions from Mr Fox who is give up the Farm, to sell by Auction on Wednesday, Nov 3, 1892, the very superior LIVE and DEAD FARM STOCK, as briefly enumerated below:

Black Mare, believed to be in foal, excellent worker;

Valuable Brown Horse, six years old, with splendid action, believed to be sound, and quiet in all work;

Roan foal by Bedford;

One Cow in calf for December 25th, four in-calf cows for April, two barren cows in milk, four very choice heifers in calf for April, two barren heifer stirks, five strong bullock stirks, five spring-reared calves, 11 superior stock ewes, six fat sheep, one two-shear ram, 12 strong lambs, two very fine ducks, one fine drake.

Samuelson’s 2-horse combined mower and reaper, nearly new with additional shafts; wood tippler, horse rake, Cooke’s wood plough, set of wood harrows, nearly new; set of three harrows, swingtrees, fallow drag on wheels, stone roller, with shafts, horse turnip hoe, sheep troughs, joiner’s bench and tools, quarry tools, hay rakes and forks, 2 1-horse carts, winnowing machine, wheel chopper, with rising mouth, in excellent condition; corn chest, cart gears, stone cheese press, lever ditto, cheese rack and boards, nearly new; vats, garths etc, cheese pan, two brewing tubs, two oak chests, and a portion of furniture.

One stack of very prime new hay, three stacks of wheat, five stacks of white oats, two ditto of black oats and a quantity of table and other turnips.

Sale to commence 12 noon.

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Every item here tells of great intimacy with the land. Just to read this notice gives me a painful sense of roots yanked up. I feel the touch and then the loss of the fine ducks, the strong lambs, the black mare in foal, the oats and the stone cheese press; even the turnips and the quarrying tools. But I would like to think, too, that somewhere in my bones are still traces of that High Peak millstone grit, the hardiness and courage that it took to carve a living from these uplands, and in my lungs the sharp, clean air of the moors of Longshaw where earlier generations of my family, so it is said, grazed four hundred sheep on their own run, and also owned the shepherd’s byre, that dating from 1399 was later sold and expanded into a handsome house for the Duke of Rutland’s agent, and is now the well known inn, Fox House, just outside Sheffield. Somewhere within this sturdy stone carapace is the earlier shepherd’s dwelling of quite another texture.

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copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

 

This week at Black & White Sunday, Paula has given us the theme of ‘texture’. She also included a quotation by novelist British Paul Scott, which is very much responsible for my take on the challenge:

“The past becomes a texture, an ambience to our present”

P.S. Paul Scott served in the Intelligence Corps of the British Army in India during the World War Two. He wrote the phenomenal Raj Quartet, set in India during these years, and which was made into a very excellent TV serial back in the 1980s. The TV version is available on DVD, and with its all star actors is well worth watching. But read the books too.

The Earth ~ Where Would We Be Without It?

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View of the Shropshire-Welsh borderland, a landscape shaped by farming communities since at least the Bronze Age some four thousand years ago

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“I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for awhile, and gone my way

and forgotten it. But that was a pearl

of great price, the one field that had

the treasure in it…”

Excerpt from the  The Bright Field  by R S Thomas

 

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Admiration Maasai-style

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This shot of one of Graham’s fellow travellers was captured long ago in Tanzania when he was on an African overland trip. I find the gentle, almost reverential way in which the young Maasai moran is holding  the girl’s hair very touching. There is some irony too. Usually when a Maasai warrior turns up anywhere, it is he who is the focus of everyone’s admiration. It goes with the territory: the glowing red shuka and the fine beads. He even expects it.

 
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The Abstracted Writer ~ That Would Be Me

Thinking that just maybe it’s never too late to be a ‘poster girl’, and especially if some serious photo-editing is involved, I thought I’d give myself the Warhol treatment for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge. It’s perhaps also a metaphor for the state of me – spreading myself in too many directions at once.

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