Taking The Broad View ~ Mara Grasslands

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In the rainless months it is the oat grass that gives the Mara plains their golden hue. The small trees with their sculpted looks are desert dates, mulului trees, much browsed by all the local herbivores.

These photos from the Farrells’ old Africa album were taken outside the main Maasai Mara National Park, below the Oloololo Escarpment on territory owned by related Maasai families, locally referred to as a group ranch. Visitors pay a daily fee to group ranch elders. We were lucky to be able to make three trips there while living in Kenya.

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Life in Colour: Gold

Lens-Artists: Going wide

Day’s End Over The Garden Fence

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Summer came back this week, a few days of full-on sun before tomorrow’s promised thunder storm. As you can see, the helianthus in the guerrilla garden are all of a glow, caught here yesterday evening – sun dipping over Wenlock Edge. Even Townsend Meadow, recently doused with herbicide, looked quite good in sundowner light. The story here is that after the barley was harvested in July, much of the fallen grain germinated, turning the field into a grassy sward. This has now been dealt with. Next comes the ploughing and drilling. It is also the season of muck spreading, though thankfully not in the field behind the house. Even so, the odour is wafting about the town, especially pungent when combined with a heat wave. All of which is to say,  beauty presently comes with a bit of a whiff.

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Meanwhile back in the Farrell jungle, all is gold…

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Life in Colour: GOLD

Tiny Red House

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This week at Travel Words Jude wonders if we have any quirky red subjects. So I thought it was time to reprise ‘Great Britain’s smallest house’, a piece of opportunistic infill building in a space between a cottage row, and the gatehouse tower of Conwy Castle in North Wales. This squeezed-in dwelling is said to have been created in the 16th century. Inside are two rooms, sitting room with bench cum coal store and fire-place downstairs, single bed up.

The overall height is just over 3 metres (122”) and 3 metres deep; width 1.8 metres (72”). It was lived in until 1900 when the then occupant, fisherman, Robert Jones, at 1.9 metres tall (75”) had to do much bending and folding in order to inhabit the space.

The house was declared Britain’s smallest in the 1920s though these days I think its claim to fame might well have been overtaken by many London dwellings, likewise made from opportunistic infill structures – garages, corridors and the like. The guide in the photos is wearing a version of traditional Welsh dress from around the 18th century when red capes and gowns (as well as the distinctive high-rise hats) were also apparently very popular with Celtic womankind.

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Life in Colour: red

Chasing Butterflies

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And to start with, a Red Admiral for Jude. This month at Life in Colour she is looking for all things RED. She also tells me they are rather short on butterflies down in Cornwall. Not so in Shropshire.

Yesterday at the allotment all the plots were brimming with butterflies, mostly cabbage whites looking for any unprotected brassica leaves for a spot of egg laying. They’ve even been coming into the polytunnel, attracted by some overgrown Tuscan Kale seedlings that I failed to plant out in the spring. I’ve also found a comma and a gatekeeper in there.

But the biggest draw is the Buddleja on one of the abandoned plots. No wonder it’s called the butterfly bush. Even so, the butterflies are very wary, so you need to sneak up on them if you want a photo:

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And a gatekeeper on a morning glory leaf in my polytunnel:

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On The Reef ~ Tiwi Beach

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In bygone days of Nairobi living we often made the long-haul drive down the old Mombasa Highway to the south Kenya coast. After 300 miles and six and more hours of judder and roar in the Land Rover, humping in out of potholes, getting covered in dust and smothered by truck fumes, being broiled in the queue for the Likoni Ferry, which once boarded you could never feel quite sure of making touch down, to arrive at last on Tiwi Beach felt like stepping into heaven. There were rarely many people there, not even in the Christmas high season, just a couple of beach cottage enclaves, the  local farmers calling round with fruit and vegetables for sale, the Digo fishermen bringing parrot fish and lobsters, and the unbroken soundscape of ocean pounding on reef, fluting notes of the water bottle bird, soft ting-ting of a bicycle bell when the vegetable seller came calling, the breeze in the coconut palms.

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Madagascar Flame Tree and beach cottage

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Life in Colour: greener shades of blue

Tree Square #11

The White Gallery

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This month Jude at Travel Words asks us to find beauty in shades of white and silver.

Here are a few recent finds in and around the garden.

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Flowers from the top: columbine, allium, foxglove, valerian, pyracantha, pulmonaria leaves, lamb’s ears and finally, a most welcome interloper to the guerrilla garden, among the valerian, hesperis and red campion some white campion; who knows how she got there.

Life in Colour: White/Silver

Clouds With Silver Linings?

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I have to say that on the presentation front the cloud gods have truly upped their game this year. Even in the stormy wet and frigid months that were supposed to be spring, but weren’t, we were treated to some magnificent cloudscapes. And lately too, during our present hot spell, we’ve had some stunningly captivating creations. There’s much to be said for cloud watching. In fact I think this huge job spotted over the barley field the other afternoon could well be the Starship Enterprise in disguise.

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Life in Colour: White/Silver

After The Rain Some Garden Magic

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Here on Wenlock Edge it seems as if we’ve gone from winter to summer with not much spring in between. These last ten days have been warm and sun-filled, a great a time for encouraging squash and French bean seeds to sprout and planting out sweet corn. Of course along with heat and sun come worries about watering newly planted crops: the water butts were growing perilously low, and then quite unexpectedly (because it wasn’t intelligibly forecast except by the Norwegian weather site YR Weather) came a couple of nights of gently soaking summer rain. The barley in the field over the fence shot up another six inches and the home borders turned into jungles. Out in the guerrilla garden the invading Queen Anne’s Lace was bowed down with raindrops. I can’t think when I have seen anything quite so pretty. Who needs diamonds.

Life in Colour: white/silver This month at Travel Words Jude asks for white and silver sightings.