The Changing Seasons ~ August 2020 And The Polar Plunge

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I’m not sure what it is, but we’ve got it: a skyful of arctic air dropped upon us. This edited photo of Townsend Meadow, taken on the way home from the allotment, rather sums things up for me, the polar plunge not the least of it. The rest has been covered in Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s blog post, Covid: what have we learned?

So August, but not as we know it: cool, windy and very, very wet; the sun coming briefly now and then, temperatures well below the expected. Even before last week’s Storm Francis, the wheat in the field was hanging its head in dreariness. Last night, though, they harvested it, two great combines working with headlights full-on. It was an eerie sight, the beams of light swinging across the darkening field. Heaven knows what they will do with the grain. It will need a lot of drying out.

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The garden at the cottage has had a good mauling, but parts are bravely holding up, and between showers, there is still much insect activity there. On Saturday morning we even had a totally-blue-sky spell. The light was sharp, and I snapped some good bee photos among the helianthus. I also noticed the amazing crop of tiny apples on the Evereste crab apple tree; they’re more obvious now they’re starting to ripen, the blush growing deeper day by day: perfect tiny fruit less than an inch across; a good winter store for the blackbirds.

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Meanwhile up at the allotment, the plots all have taken on straggly early autumn looks: lots of fruit on the apple and damson trees, and lots of tomatoes in my polytunnel. And lots of weeds sprouting in all my beds. But I was pleased to see my climbing beans – runners, butter, French, Cherokee and borlotti – have been making the most of all the rain and were not blown off their sticks by Storm Francis. The beetroots, leeks, squashes and cabbages area also doing well. So: despite the weird weather and even weirder times, there is a very great deal to be grateful for.

 

The Changing Seasons: August 2020

Please visit Su and see what she’s been up to on the very creative art and cooking fronts. Cloud-light scones, anyone?

Ta-Dah! You’ve Seen The Flowers: Here Come The Tubers

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Blue Danube the Sequel: A Subterranean Perspective?

Yesterday I teased a few of you with a cropped shot of a very purple potato flower (what is it, I asked) and ended up teasing myself.

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Later, when I went up to allotment I could not resist having a little underground furtle, though I think you’re supposed to wait till the flowers are finished. On the other hand there’s always blight to think of, and we’ve been having some very odd potentially blight-inducing weather, so it’s good to know how the crop is faring. On the whole I decided they could wait a bit longer. But the next door row of Stemster are definitely ready. I haven’t grown them before. What a pretty pink! They make the Blue Danube look rather gnarly.

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Square Perspective #29

Ladybird And Marguerite

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A guerrilla garden perspective.

It’s all rather wild over the back garden fence. Bouts of heavy rain have flattened and mashed some of the plants. But then others are thrusting to the fore as the guerrilla garden* enters its yellow phase. The marguerites aka dyers’ chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria ) are putting on a good show and attracting all sorts of bugs: longhorn beetles and hover flies as well as ladybirds, though if the final photo is a harlequin ladybird (?Pete?) we could probably do without it.

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* The guerrilla garden is a strip of unofficial planting along our back garden border with the neighbouring field.

 

Square Perspective #15

Old And New In Dubai

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Here is the dhow harbour on Dubai Creek as seen from a water taxi. The photo itself is old, so I expect this vista may well have even higher high rises these days. The whole place was a building-site in the late ‘90s.

Dubai is of course the trading-tourist-business hub of the Middle East, if not the planet.  Given its position on the Persian Gulf, it is likely that its  trading past goes way back to prehistoric times. (Much still remains to be discovered beneath the desert sands that invaded the peninsula from the second millennium BCE).

There is little of great antiquity in the city now, although the dhows are of course successors of the fleets that traded down the African coast and across the Indian Ocean for the last two thousand years. The oldest surviving building is the Al Fahidi Fort  built in 1787. It now houses a fabulous small museum; or rather, the museum was created by excavating underneath the fort courtyard and was easy to miss when we were there. And if ever you are in Dubai – it should not be missed.

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Throughout the 19th century it seems the Creek-side settlement was little more than a village with fishermen, pearl divers, passing Bedouin and Indian and Persian traders. But by the end of the century the ruler of Dubai, was having a grand house built for him: the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House is also a museum, its fabric, including the fine (air conditioning) wind towers immaculately restored.

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And then of course there are the covered souks (gold, spices, perfume), although these are now probably quite out-done by the plethora of shop-till-you-drop designer shopping malls.

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And then there is the Jumeirah Beach hotel (modest version) and the arish , a traditional summer house, complete with hessian wind tower as seen inside the Al Fahidi Fort:

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And now an old-new, yet almost timeless scene:

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Lens-Artists: Old & New Please visit Amy who set us this week’s challenge. As always she has some striking photographs to show us.

Zebra ~ One On Top Of Another?

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It’s rainy, grey and cold here in Wenlock this morning. But the weather people tell us this is only a temporary set-back and spring should resume tomorrow. In the meantime it seems a good excuse to return to the old Africa album for some equatorial warmth, although it has to be said East Africa can be extremely chilly too. (Not a lot of people know this).  Anyway here’s a snap taken on an unchilly day in Nairobi’s National Park,  city construction work and wildebeest in the background.

So: not so much a zebra crossing as a zebra pile-up.

Happy weekend one and all, however it comes.

 

Six Word Saturday

Square Tops #18

Beautiful Damascus streets, filmed over the days of Eid

Some heartening scenes from today’s Syria. Eva Bartlett is one of the few Western journalists who has made repeated visits to Syria over the past few years. Her reports are based on her first-hand experiences and her conversations and interviews with Syrian people.

In Gaza

As charming as these scenes are, I’ve had many tell me over the years, including recently, that holidays are tainted with massive sadness for those martyred and maimed by terrorists and in the fight against terrorism and to restore peace to Syria.

I always feel the need to note that these street scenes of tranquility would be impossible without the sacrifices of the Syrian army and allies, and that until the liberation last year of eastern Ghouta, and Yarmouk and surrounding areas, these streets were being constantly targeted by terrorist mortars and missiles, amounting to *at least* 10,000 civilians murdered in Damascus area alone, although I’ve heard higher estimates.

Related articles:

US-Backed Terrorism in Syria: A First-Hand Account of the Use of Mortars Against Civilians (September 2014)

University Hospital, Damascus: Meeting Victims of Western-backed Mortar and Rocket Terrorism (February 2015)

Terrorists’ Attack on Damascus Restaurant and Homes:…

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Columbine Clouds ~ The Wednesday Garden

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As may have been gathered by those who come here often, a lot of cloud watching goes on at Number 31. Hours can drift by as we monitor movements above Wenlock Edge, the visual effects further enhanced by the false horizon created by the rising slope of Townsend Meadow. But then, with the full-on blooming of the columbines over the fence, I had the notion of cloud watching from a new perspective, one that involved some activity on my part.

It turned out to be a tad challenging on the knees, but I was pleased to have this bugs’-eye view of the flowers, and also to spot a tiny spider sheltering under the columbine canopy.

So many ways to avoid writing the magnum opus.

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April’s Changing Seasons: Leaves, Lambs And A New MacMoo

 

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We’ve had three seasons this April – spring, summer and winter, some frost, lots of cold wind, a week of barbeque weather, more wind (thank you Storm Hannah), but no April showers, or at least only a couple of days’ worth. And now spring is back and we have leaves – lots and lots in their best, shiniest, juiciest green. In the last ten days the Linden Walk has turned from this:

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…to this:

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Also this week we have a new Highland bull calf in the Cutlins meadow. This morning as we were lingering on the path watching him, an elderly Wenlockian passing with her West Highland terrier informed us that the proud mother is a Welsh champion. We agreed she certainly has a fine set of horns, but she doesn’t strike us as the sort of cow who would be much impressed by awards. While we were there she was anyway much engaged with a tree stump trying to relieve a very tenacious itch. Meanwhile young MacMoo was attempting to muscle in on the scene.

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The magpie in the last shot looks to have found a handy source of nesting material.

And now a general Wenlock April round up.

 

The Changing Seasons

Pop over to Su’s for more changing seasons.

Topi In Oat Grass

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After yesterday’s view of Mrs MacMoo’s lackadaisical look on the Cutlins, I’ve shifted continents for a different kind of ‘herbivore in hay’ shot. The topi is a large African antelope, much like a Coke’s Hartebeest, but with a darker chestnut coat and fetching plum coloured flushes on its haunches. It is also much given to posing on ant hills, a habit which endears it to wildlife snappers.

Males form temporary territories and in the rutting season they joust with rivals by dropping to their knees and locking horns. Groups of females then move in to mate with the males who hold the most central (and thus safest) territories within the herd’s grazing ground. It seems likely, then, that the male topi’s ‘king of the castle’ act is as much about ‘don’t I look big on this hillock’ as keeping an eye out for predatory lions, hyenas and wild dogs.

The photos were taken on the plains of a Maasai group-owned ranch outside the Maasai Mara National Park.

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Spiky Squares Join Becky here for this year’s March Squares challenge.

Pursuing The Light In Wenlock Priory

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On Saturday the weather gods handed down sunshine and stillness, and so after lunch I spent an hour wandering round our local ruins, trying to catch the best of the light. We take them for granted, of course, these ruins. They are practically on our doorstep, a few minutes walk past the Linden Field and down the Cutlins where the sheep are presently grazing. Even before you get there you can glimpse the ragged elevations of the 13th century priory church through the Corsican pines, the old sandstone with its strange quality of luminosity, no matter the weather.

The ornate Norman arches you can see in the header photo date from c1145 (I’m standing in what was once the cloister to take the photo) and this is the entrance to the Chapter House, the monks’ meeting room. The building to the immediate right, is now a private house, long known as The Abbey, but once containing the monks’ infirmary and dormitory. You can also glimpse the rooftops of the later and very grand Prior’s Lodgings beyond it (late 1400s). (You can see more about them at Going behind the scenes at Wenlock Abbey.)

The less imposing doorway to the left of the archways leads to the library. This is not the original entrance but was added after the Dissolution when the priory remains were used as farm buildings. Above it soars the remains of the south transept, once part of one of the most imposing monastic edifices in all Europe. It’s hard to imagine the full scale of it now. Not only did Henry VIII’s dissolving crew do a good job in 1540, but the good citizens of Wenlock were quick to repurpose all that well cut stone. Most of the oldest houses in the town doubtless have some monastic stonework in them somewhere.

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This view from St. Michael’s Chapel (the Prior’s private place of worship) shows the southern edge of the church nave. The church originally extended to the far wall just in front of the trees (107 metres/350 feet). The stone stumps are the remains of gigantic columns, a matching arcade to the north side (out of shot). The remains to the right of the columns belong to the south transept. See next photo.

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St. Michael’s Chapel right, south transept centre, north transept left. And still it is hard to grasp the original scale of the place. The roof of the nave would have risen way above the south transept, the church forty years in the building.

But now I’ve lingered too long. The shadows are gathering. My presence here feels like intrusion. Time to head home.

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copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

 

More about the priory’s history in an earlier post HERE. And for an account of Henry James’ visit to The Abbey see When Henry James Came to Wenlock.

 

Lens-Artists: Doorways  This week Tina gives us doors and doorways as the Lens-Artists’ theme. Please pop over to see her ever impressive work, and don’t forget to visit the other Lens-Artists.