I know – another made-up word, and it’s all Becky’s fault down to Becky’s inspiring January Light squares challenge. Anyway, I am justifying this particular piece of word smithery on the grounds that these hydrangea flowers were indeed a product of summer sunlight, and so what we see here on a frosty January morning is a manifestation of residual light as it gently decays. This is my ‘story’ anyway.
This photo was taken at the end of November not long before Ironbridge Power Station was spectacularly demolished. I’ve always been drawn to the epic quality of the cooling towers, though not necessarily always in a comfortable way. I’m ever a sucker for earthenware and the smooth curves of the terracotta brickwork, and the way it caught the light, certainly did appeal. I’ve not yet been back to Dale End Park in Coalbrookdale to see what the Severn Gorge looks like without the towers. I’m thinking a loss of grandeur.
The CGI below envisages a complete small town of 1000 houses plus community infrastructure for this riverside cul de sac, though there is the surprising inclusion of a steam railway. You can see the recently submitted plans HERE and HERE. The cooling towers occupied the area above the far left-hand bridge. The bridge on the far right is the Buildwas Bridge. This is the road to Much Wenlock a few miles away. The road to Telford (a new town with massive ongoing housing development, plus well planned existent infrastructure, schools, shopping centres, station, motorway and industrial complexes) runs along the bottom of the photo. Access to it from the Power Station site is over the narrow Buildwas Bridge (???)
Photo: Harworth Group Ironbridge Power Station Proposed Development Plan
I take photos of this tree line more often than is necessary. It needs lots of zoom (the hill is on the other side of the town) but it’s a view I see when I’m up at the allotment. Or rather it’s a view I see when I’m leaving the allotment, and turn at the last moment to check what the light is doing over in the Callaughton quarter of Much Wenlock. This version was taken on the last day of November. The large tree is probably an ash, its undercarriage laden with ivy. I’m guessing the small tree is a hawthorn, similary clothed. It’s a feature of our trees around Wenlock Edge – their trunks and branches hung in ivy.
Discovering Wildegoose Nursery was one of the high spots of 2019 – a plantsperson’s paradise set in an old walled garden on the edge of Corvedale in Shropshire.
We went there first in high summer, wandered through drifts of verbena, phlox, day lilies, cone flowers, alliums, grasses. The place was alive with butterflies and bee-hum. Buzzards mewed overhead and nearby, harvesters throbbed – the Corvedale farmers cutting their wheat. Far away over the wall, Clee Hill lay in a haze. A dreaming day.
We went again in November, and in its way, the garden was no less beautiful, the plants and grasses settled in muted tones, and the 1830’s glasshouse looking as magnificent as ever, the low light glancing off its 12,000 postcard-sized panes. It just goes to show – there’s treasure to be found on one’s doorstep. We’ll be back there in spring.
For now a pot pourri of summer and autumn views:
The reason we were on bleak and windswept Newborough Beach on the last Sunday of December (being unexpectedly wowed by intrepid kiteboarders) was because we thought we should work up an appetite before lunch. And no ordinary lunch either. Sister Jo had booked it weeks before – at the Marram Grass – a little beach shack eatery that has become a legend not only on the island of Anglesey, but far beyond.
To say the premises are unassuming is an understatement. It truly is a large shed – and that’s how it began. Nine years ago, when two young men – Liam (newly graduated surveyor) and Ellis (self-taught chef) Barrie came to help their parents set up a small caravan park, it was an old potting shed. And from it grew a thriving enterprise whose raison d’etre is to serve freshly made food that highlights local and seasonal produce, much of it home-grown.
They’ve won awards. And so they should. We stepped out of the freezing wind and into an all-round glow. We sat in our cosy booth as the afternoon grew darker, ‘50s tracks on the sound system, low hum of chatter beyond, and a complete unknowing of what we would eat. There was no menu. All depended on what the chef had decided to cook, and so instead of feeling like run-of-the-mill clients, we became guests. And it made me think that there was nothing more blissful on a dreary winter’s afternoon than a long, slow Sunday lunch, impeccably created and presented with love.
The last Sunday of 2019 and a piercing wind is blowing on Anglesey’s Newborough Beach – the sort that knifes through all clothing defences and finds every millimetre of exposed flesh. Brrrr. By lunchtime it is growing dark too, or perhaps day never quite dawned properly. It’s anyway a big change after the entrancing blue of Christmas Day. But we are not put off: Newborough Beach is a favourite winter walk so we trundle through the high dunes to the shore, as ever joining a mass of promenading families and dogs, and face the elements. The wind takes our breath away.
But down above the tide-line there is much activity – lines laid out and out across the sand as paragliding wings are prepared by dive-suited individuals. Much clicking on of harnesses, clapping on of helmets and multi-coloured kite-fluttering. And then they are off, skimming the bay at astonishing speeds, now and then shooting high above the surf – aerial ski-jumping. It is exhilarating to behold – or it is when one can focus through eyes filled with wind-tears. But then that’s one of the things we love about this beach – you just never know what you will see there.
On the other hand I’m rather wondering at the reactions of legendary St. Dwynwen, she whose religious retreat this place was in early Saxon times. Or maybe her spirit is out there embracing it, flying with the wings – engaging in extreme sports, closer to the heavens.
And another Christmas Day snap taken from Penmon Point, Anglesey.
Christmas Day on Anglesey. For once I didn’t mind when he who builds sheds and binds broken books walked straight into my prospective shot. (It’s a common occurrence). Two moments earlier I was wondering if a shot of the backlit rocks would work. Then out stepped Graham. So I caught him instead. He doesn’t know!
Morning in Henllys woods, Beaumaris, a magical place where red squirrels now have a refuge.
Early morning sky over Menai Strait looking towards the mountains of the Welsh mainland from Beaumaris, Anglesey, 27 December 2019.