Today Over The Garden Fence

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This morning we woke to thickly frosted panes on the cottage roof lights. But what a change after the dank and gloomy days. The frost came with added sunshine. And blue-sky brilliance. And frosted sparkles. And somehow cold weather doesn’t seem half so shivery when it brings wall-to-wall brightness.

This is the Evereste crab apple tree by the back garden fence. The pigeons and blackbirds have been scoffing the tiny apples. At least half the crop has gone already. It helps that the fruits are much smaller this year so the birds can get their beaks round them. And in between times, the apples that remain make fine beaded garlands, which we can see, looking up through the kitchen’s French windows. It truly is a treasure of a tree.

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Back in August and September:

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CFFC: Apple Red Colours

Stiperstones ~ On The Diagonal

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In an earlier post HERE I said the Stiperstones ridge has to be one of Shropshire’s most compellingly strange landscapes. And that its cragginess was wrought by the scything, crushing and cracking action of ice during the last glacial period some 150,000 – 11,000 years ago. Periods of alternating thaw and freeze also made their mark. But now I’m also noticing another striking feature – the way the geology is so determinedly set on the diagonal, the outcrops’ pitch  a piece of ‘set-in-stone’ evidence attesting to recent epic earth forces.

When I say ‘recent’ I am of course wearing my prehistorian’s hat. Also I should make clear that the word ‘last’ as in ‘the last glacial period’ does not mean ‘final’, or that we have seen the end of ice ages. We are currently in an interglacial period, otherwise known as the Holocene. In the past, ice ages have occurred in regular cycles, beginning in the Quaternary about 2.5 million years ago, coinciding with the formation of the Arctic ice sheet. There is no reason to suppose that that this cycle has stopped. Today’s sudden drop in temperature is also giving me pause for thought. Thank goodness for alpaca leg warmers and woolly socks is all I can say (and that’s in the house).

Now for more Stiperstones diagonals:

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Lens-Artists: diagonals  This week Patti sets the challenge and provides an inspiring photo-essay on making the most of diagonal vistas and subjects.

End Of The Day ~ School’s Out

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  William Brookes School pupils walking home across the Linden Field

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The last day of #WalkingSquares, and a big cheer for Becky for getting us out and about. And an even bigger cheer for Becky for getting herself out and about: such a spirited and generous stepping out as she finds her own path through grief. In fact, I’m  really going to miss these squares. Even though my own participation has been sporadic, I enjoyed the IDEA of the daily walk, the mysterious cyber magic of people sharing their wanderings around the globe each day.

Thank you, Becky!

 

Walking Squares #30

A Quick Trip To The Plot

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Yesterday morning we woke to glorious sunshine, this after days of gloom and deluge and nights of rain battering the rooflights. With all the wetness, the lean-to greenhouse against the back door had been leaking and turned itself into a paddling pool, the garden water butts were overflowing and everywhere turned to mud. I had not been up to the allotment for days.

But then came the sunshine, and I needed leeks and herbs for the risotto I’d planned, and also salad stuff to go with it. And then there was the vegetable waste to take up to the compost bins. So I set off, though not before I’d grabbed a stick to avoid an undignified up-ending along the field path. (Done that: got the muddy bum to prove it).

It truly was all slip and slide, though in passing I noticed the winter wheat in Townsend Meadow had grown an inch or two, though there was also an unscheduled stream of water along the field boundary. Climbing through the hedge gap into the allotment also proved problematical. No foothold on the mud bank. I was glad I’d brought the stick.

Allotment plots have a tendency to dreariness in the winter months, but the paths had been mowed and some diligent allotmenteers had worked hard to tidy away the listing bean poles and decaying vegetation. I’m afraid I’m not one of them, nor did I feel inclined to make a start yesterday. Instead, I inspected the winter greens,  pulled up leeks, prised some container-grown parsnips out of their bucket and gathered rocket, lettuce, parsley, fennel and baby spinach from the polytunnel. There were even a few Sungold tomatoes to pick. Now that was a treat. Then I had natter with stalwart gardener Phoebe, who was on her way home for lunch, and then, guess what…

…it started to rain. A blanket of wet mist descended and I headed home, though not before taking the header photo, snapped because somehow the drizzle made everywhere look gauzy. But by the time I reached the garden gate the light had gone and the rain set in. I turned back to scan the field: dusk at lunchtime? I really do not remember a November with so much day-time darkness. Nor a month that has gone so fast: not so much walking as galloping.

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Walking Squares #26 Becky thinks we should not let bad weather stop us from walking; in fact confronting wild weather elements may well do us good.

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Day’s End On Windmill Hill

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Windmill Hill is probably most Wenlockians’ favourite spot for a short walk, though it does involve quite a steep climb, especially if you approach it from the Linden Field.

When I set off here on Friday afternoon it was under glooming skies. But just as I reached the top, the sun broke through the cloud, lighting up the land all around the town. Here are the views:

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Looking west. You can see the allotment polytunnels in the shadows  just right of centre.

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And to the east, Shadwell Quarry, long disused, but the land around slated for some sort of leisure development (dive school plus cabins). The pool is exceedingly deep, and every time I look, the water level seems to have risen. Peregrine falcons have a breeding spot in the least accessible quarter of the quarry face.

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And looking from east to south:

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These two photos show land that was originally part of Wenlock Priory’s considerable possessions; once the monks’ hunting ground in fact. After the Dissolution in 1540 the Priory assets were acquired by Henry VIII’s courtiers and sold on to London gentry, men with entrepreneurial flair who were intent on further developing industrial enterprises already run by the monks and their peasant workforce: coal mining, iron smelting, charcoal production.

These days, as you can see, it is an agricultural estate (some 10,000 acres) presently owned by Lord Forester, whose family have held it since the 17th century. The distant tree line in the photo immediately above is Shirlett Forest, the site of early coal mines, where it is said, (and somewhat hair-raisingly) that the miners reached the coal seams by being lowered down shafts in baskets. As may be imagined, for some this did not end well.

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And finally looking down the hill to the Linden Field:

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Now you can see why it’s a favourite walk. I also discovered on Friday that a brand new bench has arrived there, bequeathed by two well-loved residents. What a very fine gift to us. Two good spots for sitting and dreaming.

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Walking Squares #20

Just About Room For Two

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This seat looks to have been created from driftwood and sea debris, with just enough room for two to huddle. It’s sited on the path through the dunes to Harlech Beach (see previous post). You can just glimpse the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance.

There were also some pretty interesting seats In the garden of Borthwnog Hall (where we were spending a few nights back in October). This next one takes repurposed driftwood to a new level. Perhaps a little spooky? Or made specially for dryads.

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And then there was this more conventional bench in the rock garden. It caught the sun only as it was setting over the mountains above the house:

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And then there was the bench with the Mawddach Estuary view:

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And this was the view, and with plenty of room to perch on the wall:

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Seating for more than one

Walking Squares #19   The header square also for Becky’s November #WalkingSquares

Beach Walking

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This is a walk we did earlier – i.e. back in early October when we staying at Borthwnog Hall on the Mawddach Estuary in Wales. The beaches along this part of the coast from Barmouth to Harlech (where these photos were taken) are stupendous – sandscape heaven with much of the area designated nature reserve.

My only quibble (as a life-long beach-comber and shell gatherer) was the tide had swept the shore so clean, there was hardly a thing to find. So this is my main sighting: the skeleton (test) of a common heart urchin Echinocardium cordatum, also known as a sea potato.

You can see what they look like in real life HERE. When they have all their spines they’re rather hairy entities. They burrow several inches into sandy sea bottoms and both feed themselves with passing particles and avoid getting completely buried with a mobile feeding tube that keeps a clear shaft of water above them.

So there you have it: a heart urchin test. And some rather pleasing red seaweed.

Walking Squares #18  Today Becky is wondering what kinds of things we notice when we’re out walking.

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