The Changing Seasons: This Was June

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A Horse Chestnut sun-catcher, as spotted on the old railway line below the Linden Walk. Such a cool and bosky spot on warm summer days, not that we have had very many of those. And we’ve certainly not had ‘flaming June’ except for a couple of windless days when it was warm enough to eat out in the upstairs garden.

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All the same, those few warm days did seem excessively hot to those of us still clinging to our winter underwear and especially to the MacMoo lads in their shaggy coats. They were driven to the shadow-margins of the Cutlins meadow to try and keep cool.

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While out on the Linden Field, human lads stripped off for a spot of football practice.

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In Townsend Meadow behind the house, this year’s crop of field beans is thriving. Early in the spring the plants struggled mightily due to lack of rain, but June’s cycle of showers and intermittent sun and cool temperatures has seen them shoot up and burst into flower. They are a variety of broad bean that produce masses of pea pod sized pods, each packed with several haricot sized beans. In Britain we mostly use them for animal feed and the bulk of the crops are exported to countries like Egypt where they are in great demand for human consumption.

Maybe as a nation, we should be rethinking this. The plants grow well in lacklustre weather, though wind can be problematic. And although the beans are fiddly to pod (I’ve grown my own good crop at the allotment), they are delicious, nutrient rich and only take a minute to steam or boil. The only problem was, this year they were ready all at once, and while I was hoping they would precede the main broad bean crop, the broad beans started cropping early. Upshot: eat the broad beans, freeze the field beans for making refried beans later in the year. But just look at the flowers. Aren’t they extraordinary?

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In the Farrell garden all is getting above itself – especially the cat mint. I don’t know what’s got into it this year. It’s the sort of plant I tend to ignore, nice enough as a wafty foil for more showy plants in summer borders, and that’s about it. But now it seems intent on taking over the upstairs garden, and what with the blue geranium joining in, Graham is having to fight his way through the encroaching undergrowth to reach the shed.

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Meanwhile Rose Teasing Georgia has been and gone. Lovely while she was with us looking in at the kitchen door. She should flower again later in the summer:

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Over the garden fence in the guerrilla garden where all the late summer bloomers are busy putting on stems metres tall, Geranium Anne Thomson is fighting her corner. She’s such a worthwhile garden plant – flowering her socks off all summer:

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And on the downstairs terrace the ruby red Centranthus has been the main June attraction, along with Penelope rose who this year has been growing us huge single stemmed  bouquets, now sadly past their best. She’s a lovely sweet smelling rose – a shrub variety that can be trained to be a climber on shortish walls.

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At the allotment, beans and peas and spuds and beetroot are growing well, tomatoes and salad stuff in the polytunnel, but I’ve not taken many photos apart from ones of the flat-pack cat and the wildflower plots of moon daisies:

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Oh yes, and this evening view of the town as I’m heading home to make supper:

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The Changing Seasons Ju-Lyn and Brian are the hosts. Please pay them a visit.

The Changing Seasons: March

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This sundowner view from the allotment tells me something has definitely changed. It was taken from my polytunnel doorway at 6.17 p.m. three days ago. Goodness. Still light after six o’clock! Spring must have sprung.

And yesterday, the last day of the month, it was suddenly tee-shirt-warm, blue skies above and wood pigeons cooing. A shock-reverse after days of chilling winds and passing hail. I watched the buzzards wheeling in wide arcs over Townsend Meadow behind the house, their haunting calls one to one.  Around the place tree buds were swelling, daffodils doing their full-on gold, while over in the Linden Field the school kids were playing football, and the pre-school kids were swinging on the playground swings while their mums nattered together. For all the world it looked like Planet Normal. Who’d’ve thought it.

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But then we should not have been fooled into thinking it is actually spring yet. The weather people did warn us there would be more cool days and frosty nights to come. And true to the prognostications, April has arrived cool and dull. It’s now a case of  cherishing the blossoms however we can: blackthorn, cherry, japonica and pussy willow, celandines, primroses, wild violets and windflower wood anemones, and in Shadwell woods, the just emerging buds of Spanish bluebells. There will be warmer days to come. There will!

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The Changing Seasons: March 2021

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.