A Little Bit Of Earth Magic While Out Foraging For Leeks And Parsnips

Well one thing was certain, when I waded through the snow to the allotment yesterday afternoon – no-one else would be daft enough to be there. A hundred or so yards from the house, I almost turned back. The snow was coming in over my wellies, and it truly was hard work tramping through the low drifts. My well trodden path along the field edge was no longer familiar. The world was iced blue-white with only a passing buzzard to break the stillness.

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You might wonder what had induced me to go up there at all – with all the garden plots buried under a foot of snow. But I needed parsnips, and I needed leeks, and parsley and Tuscan kale from the polytunnel. And once I was there, I thought I’d better shift some of the snow from the polytunnel roof, since we’d been promised all-day snow on Sunday, which has indeed come to pass.

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It took a while to find and extract the parsnips. The soil wasn’t frozen under the snow-blanket, but was very, very sticky – doing a good impression of stuff stuck in quicksand. But mission accomplished, veggie-wise, I noticed a change in the light and started taking photos instead.

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As I was heading home, I realised I could hear the whoops and cries of happy sledders. You can just make them out on the hillside north-east of the church tower. But for the power-lines (that intrude on most views of Wenlock) it might be a traditional Victorian winter scene.

Which reminds me. While I’m here, I’d like to thank all the local farmers who have been out on their tractors clearing roads and spreading grit. My entranced-by-snow moments are all very well, but some people need to drive places. Multiple gold stars to the farmers then.

copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

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Today It’s Snowing In Wenlock

 

We wake this morning to the kind of quietness that is only made by falling snow. I’m instantly thrilled – aware of the mood shift. Yesterday I felt like vestige-of-road-kill. Now I am fizzing like a firework. How did that happen?

At 8 am the landscape looks like a scene from a post nuclear winter, and as I tell Jo, when I take the header photo, I do not need the monochrome setting.

But by 10 am the sun is out, and the field at the back of the house is all of a sparkle.

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I’ve not yet had breakfast, but I have to go out there. I wrap up in many layers, jump into my wellies. He who is sitting on the sofa reading The Guardian on his laptop, and still wearing his dressing gown, thinks I am nuts. I promise him toast on my return, dash out of the house and head for the Linden Field.

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But even as I cross the playing field to the Linden Walk I know I’ve missed the moment –at least as far as the light is concerned.

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As I pick my way up Windmill Hill, the blizzard begins, although I am briefly distracted from the change in the weather by three woolly dogs – large and small. They too are thrilled by the snow and have to tell me so. Icy muzzles push into my hands. Brrrr. Thanks a lot, dogs.

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They bound away after their people and are soon lost from sight. It is then that I notice the weather is closing in fast. The wind is vicious. Much too cold to linger. IMG_2989

I retreat from the hill the long way round – this to avoid an unseemly slithering, bottom-first.  By now it is hard to see where I’m going. Not only that, I’m turning into the Abominable Snow-Woman. Even the Linden Walk, when I reach it, offers precious little shelter. Goodness! This is the most exciting weather we’ve had in ages.

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But still, enough mucking about in the elements. There’s toast and Greek honey and good hot coffee to be had at home. Besides, any further inclinations to snap snow scenes may be catered for from the comfort of my desk and the window next to it.

Also I’ve remembered that I told Jo the snow wouldn’t last. My mistake. We’ve had several inches in the past few hours. But the best thing is that there is far less traffic out on Sheinton Street, and what there is, is moving so slowly that it is wonderfully quiet. Reminds me that it’s time to put in another request to the Council for a 20 mph speed limit. It’s interesting how a spell of disruptive weather can remind one of what really matters re life and well being.

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Thursday’s Special: sequence

 

The Changing Seasons ~ November

We’ve had frost. Yippee! Some more please, dear weather gods. We gardeners need to have this year’s slug population explosion well and truly blasted, or nipped in the bud, or whatever you need to do to stop the critters chomping and reproducing. And yes, I know they are useful in the compost heap, and I’m sure other slugs love them, but enough is enough. They are roosting everywhere, including in the polytunnel. No vegetable is safe.

Of course more frost will mean an end to the late flowering flowers – the campanula and geranium Rozanne still on the go, the hesperanthus (above) which simply refused to give in to the frost; the Russian rudbeckia that, astonishingly, is currently contemplating the making of fresh, fat russet buds. (It must have been bred in deepest Siberia). The annual pot marigolds are still busy too.

But heavens to Murgatroyd, much as we like to keep seeing them, surely it is time all good plants were asleep in their beds, gathering themselves for next summer’s flowering. In the meantime, though, here are scenes of the garden’s last hurrah – taken today and over the last week.

The Changing Seasons Please visit Max to see his wonderfully atmospheric shots of night-time Oslo.

 

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Frosted Flowers ~ Hesperanthus

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All was glittering in the garden this morning – the first real frost of November. There was bright sunshine too, so I went around the flower beds snapping these fragile Hesperanthus. They have been flowering so bravely, though perhaps  not for much longer. Then I stood in the sun at the top of the garden by the field and did some qi gong. It always feels best done outside, and there’s nothing like a bit of cloud hands waving and dancing with rainbows to spark up the spirits. Happy Friday!

Inside The Old Fort At Pylos ~ Thursday’s Special

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The Ottoman fort at Pylos is monumental, and comprised of an outer defensive wall and a citadel. It was built after the Turkish invasion of 1500, and apart from two brief interludes – one Venetian, one Russian, was held by the Ottoman regime until the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Even at the last lap, Ibrahim Pasha and his Turko-Egyptian army  proved hard to oust, and after an initial surrender of the fort in 1821, it was reoccupied by them in 1825, and hung onto until 1828.

The first photo was taken from the citadel, which during occupation by the French in the 19th century was used as a prison. The church you can see below is the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, and was originally built as a mosque around 1573. Under the brief Venetian rule of 1675 to 1715  and during the Orloff Revolt of 1770 it served as a Christian church, and it is in this capacity that it was restored by the Greek Government between 2011 – 2015.

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Inside the citadel, and the nineteenth century prison cells.

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Looking down on the outer defensive wall and the sea-arch beyond.

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The outer walls on the seaward side. The hillside was heavy with the scent of pine trees, and cyclamen were growing everywhere among the cones and fallen castle debris.

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Inside the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour.

 

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past Please visit Paula to see her fine view of Alnwick Castle.