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.
It’s hard to believe that I took this photo nearly a year ago – a late December day on the shore of Menai Strait on Anglesey. There’s a view of the Great Orme across the water. Everywhere so still. Not a cloud in the sky. And sunshine warm enough to sit in.
I don’t know who the man on the bench is. He was reading a book quite surrounded by this view. There’s something of an optical illusion about it – the dark cap above the seat back (echoing the nearby black rocks in the water), his foot below the seat, yet the corporeal lack of him in between head and toe, where the sunlight seems to pass unimpeded through the bench slats. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice…
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Over the past three thousand years the Messenian Peloponnese has suffered so many phases of foreign invasion it is hard to know where to start unravelling its history. Best stick with the built remains then. This massive medieval bastion belongs to Koroni Castle, built in the early 1200s CE by the Venetians, and one of a string of Messenian coastal forts controlled by the Republic until 1500.
The Turks invaded next. After summary slaughter in neighbouring Methoni, so spurring Koroni to a quick surrender, they set about strengthening the castle’s eastern defences, which perhaps included this tower. It is hard to track down details. One Greek writer, whose identity I am yet to discover, described Koroni Castle as ‘the architecture of hate.’ He had a point. Venice anyway regained control in 1685, and of course the Turks came back again later, staying until the Revolution of 1821, which finally ousted them.
Koroni’s historic heyday, though, was the thirteenth century. Under the first round of Venetian rule it was referred to as ‘the chief eyes of the Republic’, and as such, was one of the main ports of call for the ships and galleys of Venice’s Levantine trade. Its must-have product was cochineal, much desired by Venetians for the lustrous dye it yielded. So now you know where that gorgeous Venetian red came from – this small corner of the Peloponnese.
Today, you can spend many hours wandering around the castle’s 40 hectare interior. It is then you begin to grasp that before the Venetians occupied Koroni there were invader Franks on site – they of the French-Italian Crusader States. And before them, in the era of the Eastern Roman Empire of Constantinople, there was a Byzantine fort. This had apparently been built atop an ancient acropolis. And long before the Byzantine presence – that is from around 700 BCE and for a few hundred years, the Spartans were in occupation, so muddying the archaeological remains of the very much earlier Bronze Age Mycenaean period (1400-1100 BCE) and the ancient settlement of Assini.
And these are just the barest bones of Koroni’s history.
There are also astonishing present-day aspects. The first that strikes you is that people actually live inside the castle. As you walk up from the towering seaward gateway, you find yourself on an ancient cobbled street, and next there are cottages with pretty gardens, and later we come on an olive grove and a small holding. As ever, there are many cats about. There is also a cemetery which is in current use, several churches, ancient and modern, used and disused, and a monastery that is now only inhabited by nuns. The latter has a tranquil garden and a gift shop and picturesque cottages where the nuns live, and you are free to wander around.
This next and final shot is was taken just outside the monastery entrance, one of the several sacred buildings built cheek by jowl in this part of the castle interior. It is dedicated to Saint Sophia and, dating from the 11th century Byzantine period, overlies the ancient temple precincts of Apollo. At which point you lose all grasp of time, since there is simply too much of it to fathom, and decide that a swift downhill return to a harbour taverna and an enlivening cappuccino is definitely called for.
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Koroni Castle CORONELLI, Vincenzo 1688 Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation Library
It was a gloomy, low-lit winter’s day when we went for a wander around Bridgnorth’s Severn Valley Railway. The reason for this visit is described elsewhere (Connected On And Off The Rails), so I will confine myself to mentioning that it had something to do with rivets and Graham’s model-making enterprise.
All these photos were originally colour shots which did not convert too well to straight black and white due to the aforementioned poor light. So I’ve added the blue-ish haze for interest’s sake. I think it suits the coal-burning, hard iron, cold steel, railway yard feel of steam locomotion.
For more trains and tracks please clickety clack over to Cee’s B & W Thursday.
For once I wasn’t using my Lumix Dramatic Monochrome setting when I took this photo on Wenlock’s Linden Walk back in early June. But I think the manual colour version-turned black & white has come out quite well despite the deep shadow and lots of zoom.
The next photo was taken on a winter’s day using the monochrome setting. It’s the path that runs from the field behind our house and up onto Wenlock Edge. The horizontal line of tree tops marks the top of the Edge. (I like the strange effect of false horizons). When you stand up there the land falls away from you rather hair-raisingly, dropping almost vertically through ancient hanging woodland. In winter, through the bare trees you can just make out the rooftops of Homer village way below.
This is the footpath to Bradley Farm. It lies on the far side of the town away from the Edge. Also a change in seasons here: this was taken in full sun last August just as the wheat was ripening.
Windmill Hill sunset. I think it’s early autumn because the little ponies that are brought in to graze the hill have not yet been moved to their winter quarters.
I take lots of photos of the hill on Down’s Farm. It’s an interesting shape and the spinney on top gives added character. But with distant views I always like some structure in the foreground too, in this case the Windmill Hill bench. I took the next photo with same idea in mind.
The subject here is the cricket club’s shed on the Linden Field. It stands between the lime tree avenue and a line of Wellingtonia or Giant Sequoias. From this angle I think it looks rather mysterious. A Tardis type portal of some kind. It simply pretends to be the place where Wenlock’s cricketers keep the lawn mower.
Please visit Cee for more distant compositions.