The gardener travels hopefully, always looking ahead. It is the only way to go. But then there are also always ‘the now’ activities, the planning, preparing, nurturing, harvesting, recycling, whichever is appropriate at any given point in the cycle of things.
Knowledge gained from past endeavours – the successes, failures and ‘could-do-betters’ – also informs the way forward. There can be neuroses too prodding you along – is now the right time to sow for the best mid-summer crop? Will this variety or that one provide the best tasting produce/be easier to grow/need staking or otherwise managing? Is it warm enough/too wet/too cold to plant the seed potatoes? What can I do this year to fend off pea moth/allium beetle/slugs/pigeons/carrot fly? What measures can be taken in case of drought/flood/heat wave? What else can be grown to extend the cropping season? What will best dry/freeze/be otherwise preserved over the winter? Shouldn’t I be making more compost/collecting more leaves/maintaining a cycle of green manure growing/weeding? What would the bees, bugs and butterflies like?
So much to think about for the coming year. And while I’m busy doing that, here are some ‘back-to-the-future’ successes from last summer that are spurring me onwards. Remembrance of things to come…
Lens-Artists: Future This week Ann-Christine gives us ‘the future’ as her very thoughtful challenge. Please call in to see her evocative double-exposure images. You’ll be glad you did.
The sun is just up over the Al Hajar mountains on the Dubai-Oman border. And the air is crisp and cool. The ineffable mystery of empty sandscape.
Lens-Artists: Leading Lines This week Tina sets the theme.
It’s back to the old Africa album for some rooftop views of Shela village on the East African island of Lamu. The photos are accruing vintage status, taken with a non-digital camera (Olympus trip) many Christmases ago when home for us meant Nairobi.
Many of you will have seen them before. We were staying in the grandly named ‘penthouse suite’ of the long gone Island Hotel, four floors up in the palm thatched rafters. The ‘penthouse’ status meant much empty space, basic cold water shower and loo, a too-narrow-for-two Lamu bed, a couple of locally made chairs, and best of all, windows on three walls. I have never had so many good views all at once. There was a breeze too off the nearby Manda Strait – always a blessing in the sticky hot season.
And of course this open-to-the-elements facility also came with a soundtrack – radios, family chatter, clattering saucepans, babies crying, cockerels crowing, cats yowling and donkeys hee-hawing. And if at night sleep happened at all, then all too soon there came the dawn call to prayer, the sonorous tones of Allahu Akbar – all of village life welling in our roof space like sea-sounds in a shell. It was utterly mesmerising. Perhaps we dreamt it.
Taking a Lamu dhow into Stone Town. Another kind of window.
A brief introduction to the Swahili culture of the East African seaboard The Swahili
The original post about our long-ago Christmas trip Lamu Dreaming
copyright 2020 Tish Farrell
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:
Feel your senses throb to the drummers’ beat, take a donkey ride, guess the name of the little pony, buy your Christmas trees, have nip of gin, or a nibble on a spicy Jamaican pastry, wander about on the Church Green and up and down the town’s main streets, shuffle round the two big crafts tents and buy your last minute special gifts, greet your neighbours, stock up on mistletoe to attract festive kisses, spot a meerkat (!!!?) No wonder Much Wenlock’s annual Christmas fair is the town’s most popular event.
Lens-Artists: Abstract Patti’s set the challenge this week. Please go and view her abstract creations.
Some forecasters are telling us to look out, bad weather is on the way, and especially come UK election day on the 12th December. I’m hoping they’ll be wrong. Meanwhile, and in response to Tina’s cold theme @Lens-Artists, here are views around Wenlock taken in early December two years ago. It had its scenic moments, but caught us out too. We’ve grown rather used to mild, wet winters. The header photo was taken in a bit of blizzard, as was the next photo on the Linden Walk.
But there were ‘Christmas Card’ vistas too – and especially out in the Wenlock Priory parkland:
And all was very quiet around the town:
And along the old railway line:
It’s always best to wait when an elephant decides to cross your path. This particular elephant crossing episode happened in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The photo was taken in July, southern Africa’s winter. The bush country was tinder dry and the skies overcast, and the nights chilly. We were living in Zambia at the time and had driven down for a couple of weeks meandering. Zimbabwe is a very fine country for a spot of meandering.
This photo was a piece of pure happenstance. I’d just walked out of the post office somewhere in down-town Harare. These security guards were waiting to start the 6 o’ clock night shift. I was invited to take their picture. A treasured shot.
We’re in Lusaka, Zambia for this dotty photo. One of the institutions that the colonial British left behind in the African territories they invaded is the annual agricultural show. These days it is a big family day out for Zambians and but oddly also includes (mostly for members of the European and Asian communities) a dog show. Here we see entrants in the terrier class waiting for the all important judging moment. I seem to remember it was the Manchester terrier (far right) that got the first prize rosette.
Kids doing what kids do everywhere – hanging out in hopes something interesting might happen.
A patient zebu bull waiting for his moment in the judging ring.
Woodside shopping centre, Lusaka. Parking boys waiting for their guarding fee from the car owner. All over the continent, where millions of young people are unemployed, this is how some lads make a living.
Waiting to make a sale: Kamwala furniture market, Lusaka. We bought most of our big household items, beds, chairs etc, from roadside craftsmen. They made good stuff, a lot of it from recycled shipping crates, or by simply repurposing reeds and timber from the highway verges. I miss this way of life. It’s how we should be living: local produce, locally sold by the people who made it, and no need to drive to the out-of-town shopping mall; and none of it shrink-wrapped in sheaves of plastic.
We’re in Nairobi now, at the Ngong Racecourse. These are members of the Kenya Police Anti-Stock Theft Unit who operate in the arid northern district. This was supposed to be a race, but the camels couldn’t summon the enthusiasm – either to start or to finish. So here we are waiting for them to pass the finish post.
The Ngong Races are another hangover from colonial times, wherein the institution of ‘Race Week’ was laid on over the Christmas period to provide white settlers with the excuse to come to town, get totally blotto and so escape the lonely toil on their isolated farms. These days the races are popular with Nairobians from all walks of life, though a glimpse of the members’ enclosure and of the memsahibs in their big hats might make you think you’d landed at an English county race meeting.
Waiting for the next race.
Race Day is also very much a family event, so there is lots to keep the children amused: face painting, donkey rides, ice creams and Mr. Magik doing tricks.
Lens-Artists: Waiting Amy set this week’s challenge. Go and see how she has interpreted ‘waiting’.
Well, the name alone is enough to set the nerves jangling. Stiperstones. There’s more than a hint of menace here, and local Shropshire folk will tell you exactly what that menace is. They will say that when the mist settles on this ridge of strange and craggy outcrops, that the devil has come, returned to his quartzite throne to preside over a gathering of witches and evil spirits.
These photos were all taken on a summer’s day, though it’s hard to believe looking at them here. For more about that particular visit and more about the Stiperstones go here.
Lens-Artists: creepy Ann-Christine has set the challenge this week. She has posted some marvellously creepy images. Please take a look.