Where Trees Grow On water

Mzee Lali sq

In my last post I mentioned the exposed Silurian seabed in our local quarry was once located somewhere off East Africa. And Jude at Travel Words said she wished she was somewhere off East Africa – to escape our recent rain-pouring summerless weather. Which then had my mind whizzing back to our years in Kenya, and in particular to a trip to Lamu Island, and a December day spent sailing by the mangrove forest of Manda Strait, drifting and dreaming aboard a traditional dhow.

194

The timber from these curious trees has long been an absolute necessity for the Swahili seafaring people of the East African coast. They built their dhows from mangrove planks and harvested the pole wood (boriti) for house construction, both at home and for export to places as far away as Yemen and Iran. The traditional Swahili merchant’s house was build of coral rag, excavated from old reefs, with the roof raised on boriti poles. The oldest surviving houses in Lamu Town date from the 18th century, but the Swahili City states of the East African seaboard – from  Somalia to Mozambique – date back to the 8-9th centuries – a fusion of Arab and African cultures.

Scan-140802-0011sq

SqLamu

Christmas Day on Shela Beach. Distant baobabs across the strait.

Lens-Artists: on the water This week the challenge is hosted by John at photobyjohnbo.

Tree Square #8 Becky wants to see trees in square format.

Life in Colour: blue is Jude’s colour of choice at Travel Words.

Square Roots

P1040255

Some very wintery views here on the wooded flanks of Windmill Hill. Where the trees stop, the land drops off into the massive, now abandoned Shadwell Quarry. Once freight trains from South Wales came chugging into the vicinity to take on cargoes of Wenlock limestone. It was a highly valued resource – mostly used as a flux in iron smelting, but also burned to make fertilizer or ground to produce lime mortar for building; or simply to build with. It’s hard to imagine this place as a hive of heavy industry, but it was – a stinking, dust-palled quarter too. Now the old railway line that runs below the wood is a peaceful footpath, over-arched with ivy-clung ash, hazel and crab apple trees. It’s a good place for pondering on how things are always changing and that it is only our wilful, wishful, often narrow perception that makes us believe that there ever were times when everything was static and predictable.

sqP1000654

Shadwell Quarry and an impressive slice of the Silurian sea bed, some 400 million years old, and once located somewhere off East Africa.

sq old railway line100_7810

Tree Squares #6

On Windmill Hill

sq100_7820

The old windmill is a much loved landmark, seen from many quarters as you approach Much Wenlock. To reach it you can take the Linden Walk which brings you to the wooded flanks of Shadwell hill. Or you can walk across the Linden Field to the far corner where there is an old iron gate that opens onto the well worn trail up to the windmill. It’s a steepish climb mind you, but at this time of year there’s plenty of reasons to stop and gaze: every few steps a fresh wildflower panorama to take in, the scents of summer grasses and of lady’s bedstraw.

IMG_2167

P1050007

Along the path where the footfalls of Wenlock’s denizens have worn the topsoil to bare rock – wild thyme – a mass of tiny purple flowers, spills over the exposed limestone. There is also pale pink musk mallow, seemingly clinging to the most meagre soil cover. Then by contrast, on either side the path is an exuberant  floriferousness, typical of an unspoiled limestone meadow: a host of flowering grasses whose names, I’m sorry to say, I do not know, purple pyramidal orchids, pale yellow spires of agrimony, golden stars of St. John’s Wort, pink soapwort and pea flower, purple knapweed, yellow vetch and buttercups, pink and white striped bindweed, viper’s bugloss, musk thistles and clovers. One could spend all day up here and not see everything.

IMG_0844

IMG_0882

Tree Square #4 This month Becky wants to see trees (header shot) in square format.

Blissful Linden Green

IMG_0640

Full flushed green and the air beneath filled with lime-flower scent – now is the moment when the Linden Walk is at its billowy, verdant best – the perfect resort for soothing overheated body, mind and spirit. What a treasure our long-ago town physician bequeathed us when he planted this avenue of  lime trees.

I think they must be the broad-leaved variety, Tilia platyphyllos , since they always start flowering in June, whereas the blossom of the Common Lime only gets going in July. But good for old Doctor William Penny Brookes who roused his chums to go tree planting some fifty years ago. Ever since, the trees have thrived on the limestone soil (an intriguing congruency of lime and lime), and in fact a Professor of Lime Trees who visited Much Wenlock some years ago to give them a health check, told us that, with care, they could last us another 150 years.

IMG_0638

IMG_0642

IMG_0645

Tree Square 1# For the month of July, Becky’s square extravaganza features the arboreal. The only ‘rule’ is the header photo must be squared.

Last Chance For Purple

IMG_4169p

For this final week of ‘purple posts’ Jude at Travel Words asks for edible subjects. She didn’t specify whose food though, or at what stage they might be edible. A broad interpretation to follow then, including shots from the allotment yesterday: polytunnel chives, comfrey and field bean flowers.

IMG_0193

IMG_0189

IMG_0197

*

And from last year on the plot: inside a globe artichoke, potato flowers and a sweet pea, none of which are edible, but sound as if they might be.

IMG_8609

IMG_9049

IMG_8317

Life in Colour: Purple

Adopting The Horizontal In The African Bush

horizontal Scan-130519-0002

Ostrich and the Ngong Hills

*

Over at Travel Words Jude is running a photo challenge to help us develop our compositional skills. April’s topic is ‘lines’ and each week Jude asks us to consider them in particular ways. This week it is horizontal lines. Here’s what she says:

“This week’s assignment – Look for horizontal lines. In a photograph, horizontal lines in particular need to be completely level across the frame, because your viewer’s eye will perceive even a slightly skewed horizontal line as uncomfortable to look at or just incorrect.”

For obvious reasons I haven’t been out and about finding likely vistas, but as I’ve been rummaging through my old Kenya photos, I’ve noticed that things horizontal feature quite a lot. I don’t actually recall if I was registering this at the time of taking the photos, since apart from the Elmenteita view, the others were happenstance shots.  Anyway, I thought I’d post them for interest’s sake.

Scan-130603-0004

Impala and rooftops of park rangers’ quarters, Nairobi National Park

*

Lake Elmenteita at dawn

Flamingos at dawn on Lake Elmenteita

*

Horizontal Scan-130716-0011 (3)

Hippos going with the flow in Lake Naivasha

*

Travel Words: Photo Challenge April Lines #1  Please visit Jude to see her examples of horizontal framing. Lots of pointers and ideas.

Reflections From The Edge

P1060987

Twilight over Wenlock Edge and in my office roof-light; captured by opening the window to the horizontal and placing my little digital camera on the back of the frame. Click and there you have it – the Edge between two sky-worlds; cat’s-eye watchers looking on?

 

Lens-Artists: Reflections Thanks to Miriam at The Showers of Blessings for this week’s theme.

 

Windmill Hill From Many Angles

P1050007 resized

‘A good photograph is knowing where to stand ‘   Ansel Adams

This week Patti at Lens-Artists wants us to think about changing our perspective as we compose our shots. She prefaces her post with this very helpful quote from the great Ansel Adams. It’s certainly a tip worth chalking up in VERY BIG letters on the memory blackboard.

Of course there can be other options –  lying down for instance, which is what I was doing to take the header photo. Then there’s the matter of choosing the time of day, which will then affect where you stand (or lie). Different seasons may well provide new angles. And also the setting of your chosen subject. So with these notions in mind I thought I’d post a gathering of my Windmill Hill photos, taken over the last few years.

Of itself, the windmill is a rather underwhelming subject, and I have ended up taking masses of very flat looking photos. I have discovered that it helps to get beneath it somewhat, whether lying down or finding a good spot further down the hill. I’ve also found that late afternoon light can produce a bit more interest – even mystery. This next photo is my Wenlock version of Daphne Du Maurier’s thriller tale Don’t Look Now. Who is that swiftly retreating little figure in the gloaming?

P1030046resized

*

Here’s one of the more ‘obvious’ shots. The cloudscape and perhaps also the sun/shadow on the stonework add the main interest:

P1040246

Another thought is that even when you’ve fixed on a particular subject, it’s always good to scout around it, to see what else might catch your eye/have some bearing on the composition. E.g. one of the important things about Windmill Hill, besides the windmill, is the fact its hill is an ancient limestone meadow – a rare escapee from the effects of industrial agriculture. So come early summer I’m often lying down, in the next photo among the pyramid orchids, soapwort, white clover and yellow ladies bedstraw. There’s an added benefit too – the close quarters inhalation of bedstraw fragrance. Aaaah! No wonder it was used in mattresses for women brought to bed during childbirth.

IMG_2154

IMG_2167

*

And in late summer my eye is on the knapweed and the great array seeding grasses:

IMG_2113

P1010975

Midsummer sundown

*

And then there are the autumn shots. A few years ago a bunch of small horses used to be brought in at summer’s end to graze the meadow. Then sadly their owner could no longer keep them and they had to be sold. For the past two years the Windmill Trust has had the hill mown and harrowed instead. This new approach has created a massive increase in orchids:

P1010942

P1010943

100_7835

100_7821

*

Winter:

P1040237

P1030665

P1040019

*

And then there are the views from Windmill Hill:

P1000684resizede

P1020259

Bunking off games? The William Brookes School is at the foot of the hill.

*

Windmill Hill can be a very sociable place. It’s a favourite spot for Wenlock’s dog walkers. There are other gatherings too: windmill open days, summer orchid counting; and in the next photo we are gathered during a solar eclipse when the world turned very still and cold and ethereal:

P1000747

P1000782

Last but not least, here are some long-distance views from Townsend Meadow behind our house. The final photo also shows the oil seed rape in full bloom and a corner of the William Brookes School:

100_6749

P1050568

Lens-Artists: Change Your Perspective

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Background Patterns ~ Lily Between Leaves

P1080229

Month by month Jude at Travel Words is challenging us to join her in a mission to improve her and our photography. February’s topic has been about ‘patterns’, and the final assignment (I’m on the last lap here) has been to use pattern as a background for a more substantial subject. She says it isn’t easy, and she’s right! Anyway, here’s my best shot at it, though I’m thinking my background is too much in my foreground. Further pondering required.

Background Patterns