Related: Rhinos: strong but oh so vulnerable
We’re in border country here – between the Shropshire Hills and Wales and I’m standing inside a Bronze Age stone circle, Mitchell’s Fold, looking in a northerly direction. And if the circle is a little raggedy after three millennia, then its location is surely still impressive.
Here is the southerly view towards Corndon Hill on whose flanks are the remains of several prehistoric burial cairns. To the right are the hazy Welsh uplands.
This westerly view towards Wales shows more of the Bronze Age circle. Several of the stones have been laid flat or damaged, and this apparently happened long ago. Perhaps when the land through the circle was being worked. You can see here the rig and furrow outlines of medieval fields. I think the climate must have been milder back then or they grew very tough crops.
Now looking east, the furthermost ridge is one of Shropshire’s most mysterious and curiously named hillscapes: the Stiperstones with its lunar Manstone and Devil’s Chair outcrops. This ridge is formed from quartzite laid down some 480 million years ago.
All these places loom darkly in local legends and folklore. I’ve told the story before of Mitchell, the wicked witch for whom Mitchell’s Fold is named. You can read about her grim deeds and sticky end in an earlier post: Witch Catching in the Shropshire Wilds which also comes with snow-scene photos courtesy of he who no longer uses his camera.
English allotments are too often rackety sorts of places, and ours on Southfield Road is far from beautiful. The accumulations of tat on some neglected plots go back decades – broken glass, old bricks, shreds of plastic, rusting tools. Bit by bit they are being tidied up, the detritus carted off to the tip, aka the local recycling and waste disposal centre, this being done by one or two good souls who have more than enough to do on their own plots. But despite the overall unloveliness of the place, it does provide some interesting visual moments. The top photo was taken last spring – damson blossom and barbed wire with distant ash tree.
And here are some more views taken on my camera’s monochrome setting. A touch surreal I’m thinking:
In 2000 we arrived out of eight years in Africa and into Kent, settling for several years on the banks of the River Medway in the ancient town of Rochester. Centuries as a port town and close proximity to the historic Chatham Docks and several Napoleonic forts ensured the place had plenty of old inns, including the Eagle Tavern. On Sundays, from midday to late afternoon there was live jazz in the bar, and performances from jazzworld’s rising stars. The musicians used the venue to warm up for their night-time gigs in nearby London. They charged nothing, though we usually bought their latest CDs.
Back in those days he who binds books returned briefly to his camera to take a series of black and white jazz portraits. This first shot of Renato D’Aiello is one of my favourites. And here’s another: an impromptu audience looking in; also a back-to-front gig list:
Much like Cee’s current ‘black and white’ challenge, this blog is blowing all hot and cold this week – from Kenya’s tropics in the past two posts to a Shropshire winter in this one. These photos are from LAST winter I hasten to add. And much as I had the most enormous fun out in the snow with my camera, I do not need a repeat performance yet. (Please and thank you in advance, Weather Gods). Anyway, here are some sunshiney snow-scenes from my favourite places around Much Wenlock: Windmill Hill, the old railway line, and the Linden Walk.
Those of you who come here often (thank you faithful readers) will know that our cottage garden overlooks a field called Townsend Meadow. Ironically, few of today’s Wenlock residents probably know this unless they have looked at the old tithe map. Doubtless our good neighbour Trevor knows because he has lived his whole life here, and his father before him. The manorial landlord and his agent probably know it too. Anyway, as to origins, the name says all. The field’s present fence-line along the Sytche Brook (which gathers in the run-off from nearby Wenlock Edge) once marked the northerly limit of Much Wenlock.
Of course the town has sprawled beyond it since, but not very far. The presence of two great limestone quarries with their regular programmes of blasting and accompanying dust storms well into the 20th century, probably discouraged development, though did not deter the erection of the Lady Forester Memorial Hospital opened in 1903, now a care home, or in 1953 the building of the Much Wenlock Modern School (now the William Brooks School), the latter proving in 1981 to be well in the flight path of exploding debris from neighbouring Shadwell Quarry when three pupils were injured during a blast. Now the quarries are abandoned and silent, and out on Townsend Meadow it is usually pretty quiet too, apart from the calls of rooks, jackdaws and buzzards. Now and then the farmer arrives with another dose of agri-chemicals.
This field has been our view for twelve years now. We never tire of it, and especially the play of light and cloud movement along the false horizon to the west. I never stop taking photographs of it either – usually on my way to or from the allotment. So here are some of my monochrome images, taken with my Lumix point-and-shoot digital camera on its monochrome setting. i.e. they are not edits of colour images, and some are taken in low light conditions which accounts for the grainy look.
First comes summer and a view that makes me wonder if we should have been calling for ghost busters:
And in winter:
Taken this afternoon on the winter wheat:
Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Field Many thanks to Cee for hosting this challenge.
Cee’s current black and white challenge is store fronts and building signs, so I thought I’d give you a quick tour of Much Wenlock’s High Street and Square, starting with the Museum (once the Market Hall) and opposite The Guildhall built in 1540, and still a market place several days a week. Most of these images were shot in monochrome.
The town grew up around the early medieval priory, first catering for the many pilgrims, and then with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, growing into a thriving manufacturing and mercantile centre. Most of the oldest buildings along the town’s main streets would have been shops, workshops and inns rather than private houses. There were blacksmiths, nailers, needlemakers, clay tobacco pipe makers, brick makers, cloth and leather workers. There was also a thriving in trade in cattle, horses and agricultural produce. The grant for the first weekly market was issued by Henry III in 1224. We can thus be pretty sure that an awful lot of shopping has been done since then.
Cee’s Black & White Challenge Store Fronts and Building Signs
Lumix Dynamic Monochrome
These dandelion ‘clocks’ are putting on their own firework display. If I had my gardener’s head on, the sight of so much imminent seed shedding would cause me much frustration. Fury even. I have spent hours, days and weeks of my life trying to keep my allotment plots and paths free of them. I have even tried seeing their good side: cropping them for their young salad leaves, making dandelion tea, roasting their roots to make coffee (very good for the liver). I also know their long tap roots release nutrients locked deep in the soil. And sometimes a field full of dandelions can look, well, beautiful.
Which brings me to the image above. I clearly had my photographer’s head on when I snapped it, and with the camera in dynamic monochrome setting. And then I edited it a little, and so emerged these magical structures. And there we have the top and bottom of it. Once we stop fighting the natural world, we can see how very wonderful it is. Or at least some of us can. This does not appear to apply to the corporate strains of our species.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
It’s snowing again today, but hopefully without conviction: just enough to dust the field behind the house, and coat the roofs of the garden sheds. Otherwise, despite the winteryness, there are more signs of spring everywhere – winter pansies in full fettle in Wenlock gardens, allium leaves pushing up through the soil, buds on the flowering currant, more hellebores emerging, snowdrops and catkins in the hedgerows.
The December snow days were very beautiful, but best remembered now in photos. Some of the following shots were taken in monochrome, and some I’ve converted. The header is a conversion, and it’s only in this format that you can see that the sun is melting the snow from the branches in a mini snowstorm. It isn’t dust on the lens. The photos were taken in and around the Linden Field and I’m posting them in response to Cee’s Thursday black and white challenge: out doors – walks and roads. Follow the link below to join in.