Monday Magic ~ Today In My Wenlock Garden

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Good heavens! This morning we woke to frost. The windscreens of the cars parked across the road were definitely glinting whitely. But there was bright sunshine too, lighting up the last of the leaves on the lime trees. They looked like great golden flares.

And since the temperature was much keener today than yesterday, sun notwithstanding, my cooking thoughts turned to making Greek lentil soup. While it was it was cooking I went out in the garden to snap whatever was blooming.

Extraordinary, isn’t it. We’ve had vicious gales, heavy rain and yet on the 30th day of October we still have sweet peas on the back fence. There are also masses of buds on the Morning Glories, though when they do open, it’s a half-hearted show of the decidedly shivery. I’m  not sure why they waited till October to get going.

The real stars are geranium Rozanne, now in its second or third flowering, and the little border of coral and shell pink Hesperantha; pull off the lilies’ spent stems and more burst forth.

So welcome to my autumn garden and all that’s still flourishing there. Frost, what frost?

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Copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

Some People Don’t Like Spanish Bluebells

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Naturally I would have to say that nothing compares with the hazy woodland swathes of British bluebells; their slender spires gently nodding; the subtle fragrance that not quite like any other scent.

By contrast, the garden-escaping Spanish sort are much more upright and chunky, more like a skinny hyacinth. They have blue pollen too, or so the Woodland Trust site tells me. And it also says they are a big MENACE. People hate them in their gardens and so dig them up and dump them round the countryside, where they have relations with our native species, so changing them forever.

Without doubt, losing our native species would be a great a shame, but I still have time for the Spanish cousins that pop up around our garden. Admittedly I used to try to dig them up and compost them – until I learned that it was a pretty impossible task to excavate every part of them.

Now when they flower, I pick them. They make excellent house flowers, their bells opening wider and the blue fading over the days. They smell nice too. I’m thinking that cutting them off at the roots might also put a stop to fraternisation, and ultimately weaken the plant. In the meantime, I have the pleasure of them indoors.

Picking the native species is of course very much forbidden. But those of you who live in the UK will soon have the pleasure of spotting them in a wood near you. Reports have it that they will be flowering early this year.

 

Six Word Saturday Now pop over to Debbie’s for more SWS posts.

Frosted Apples ~ Thursdays Special

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This first photo was taken in December before the blackbirds had begun to feast on the stash of windfall apples out in the field. My last post featured a shot of how the apples look now. Yesterday when I was passing by, there was a whole flock of blackbirds pecking away – at least four and twenty. I’ve never seen so many all once that weren’t in a pie or singing song of sixpence! They didn’t stay to have their photos taken.

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Paula’s prompt this week is seasonal. Please take a look at her inspiring photography:

Thursday’s Special: Wintry

Meet T’owd Man ~ AKA The Old Man Of Wirksworth

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He is said to be 800 years old, or thereabouts, this mythic little figure of a lead miner with his pick and kibble (basket). He is presently to be found embedded in the wall inside St. Mary’s Church in the Derbyshire Peak District town of Wirksworth. But this was not his original home. He once lived in the nearby village of Bonsall, where he was found during the restoration of the 13th century  parish church of St. James. This was in 1863, and it was then that T’owd Man found his way (along with other pieces of interesting medieval stone work) into the garden of one Churchwarden Coates.

This highhanded commandeering of the local lead miners’ talisman did not please the general populace, who wanted him restored to sacred territory. Somehow in the argy bargy he ended up being firmly mortared into the wall of St. Mary’s Church in Wirksworth instead – where he has remained ever since for his own good and general safekeeping. He has also become the town’s ‘unofficial’ symbol, so you can pay him a visit, AND get the tee shirt.

But this story of general displacement is making me wonder. What  if T’owd Man is a good deal older than is currently thought.  I’m assuming his 13th century date was given him because he was found in a church of 13th century origins. But to my eye he could easily be a Saxon carving. What if the medieval builders of the Bonsall church had also recycled him?  (There are in fact many examples of Saxon carving within St. Mary’s, all re-deployed from an earlier church. See my post Expressions of Power  ~ Secular and Spiritual? for more of the background history).

Lead mining was a key industry in the area from at least Roman times. There is also documentary evidence of its importance in Saxon Wirksworth. In 835 the township was ruled by Abbess Cynewaru, and in a missive of that time she states that she was every year sending a gift of lead valued at 300 shillings to Christ Church, Canterbury. Much later in the Domesday Book of 1086 the entry for Wirksworth includes 3 lead works.

Wirksworth was in fact the centre for the trade. It was a hard and dangerous business. The miners were also a maverick lot. Many were yeoman farmers who combined hill farming with lead working, and some grew extremely rich on the trade, although many died from explosions in the mines, and the general toxicity of working with lead.

All the miners’ activities were subject to a system of rigorous rules and regulations overseen by the Barmaster of the Barmote Court. This court was held in Wirksworth for at least 7 centuries, and had its origins in Saxon Burg Moots (moot is Saxon for gathering or assembly). The last version of the court or Moot Hall still survives. It was built just out of the town centre in 1814 to replace a grander Moot Hall that stood in the Market Place. It seems the noisy behaviour of the miners, and the congestion they caused in the town centre, led to the earlier building being demolished.

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Wirksworth is a fine town for a visit. Its many surviving seventeenth and eighteenth century houses attest to the general prosperity of the place over many decades.  When the lead ran out in the 19th century, limestone quarrying replaced it. Rivers were harnessed to power cotton mills, and so the industrial age kicked in. And if this smacks too much of ‘dark satanic mills’, don’t you believe it. The town sits in glorious countryside, in the heart of England, in fact at ‘its very navel’ as one-time resident D.H. Lawrence put it. Here, then, are some more views from England’s very green and pleasant navel:

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copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

Thursday’s Special ~ Traces of the Past Check in here to see what Paula and other bloggers have posted.

Moving Pictures ~ Wales Through The Windscreen

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Nowhere does brooding gloom like Wales on a wet winter’s day. This happenstance shot was taken on New Year’s Eve as we were motoring home from Anglesey. I’d propped my camera briefly on the car dashboard as we’d headed through the mountain pass to Capel Curig. Then randomly pressed the shutter and so caught the cyclist.

This week at Lost in Translation Paula asks us to show her ‘unfocused’. She kindly says she doesn’t mind ‘happy accidents’, so here is mine.

Be-eautiful Borlotti

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Well I simply couldn’t miss taking part in Yvette’s inaugural Friday food challenge over at Powerhouse Blog. So here you have them, my favourite beans, caught at the allotment in a sunset glow. Not that they need external aids to enhance their beanificent beauty. Not for nothing do the Italians call them: Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco –  Fire Tongue.

I love everything about them. I love growing them. I love the way their pods change colour through the summer – from green to deep claret. Then, as picking time draws near, the leaves turn yellow, and start to fall, revealing hanging rows of glowing pods.

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But the best bit is shelling them. You never know what colour they will turn out – pea green, cream with pink speckles or claret with creamy streaks. Every bean is different.

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I usually freeze them freshly podded, or you can dry them. Freezing means they are quick to cook, and you don’t need to do the overnight soaking necessary for dried beans. They are highly nutritious, mineral and fibre-rich, and can be used in soups, or to make baked beans. I use them mostly in re-fried bean dishes. This simply involves mashing up a batch of cooked beans with fried onion, garlic, and a few chopped tomatoes, then adding seasoning, chopped parsley or coriander, plus spices of choice (I use chilli and cumin), turning all into a shallow, heatproof dish, topping with cheese, and putting under the grill for 10 or 15 minutes. We eat this by itself with a salad, or as a side dish with just about anything savoury. A poached egg on top would also be good.

You can find out how to grow borlotti beans HERE. Then pop over to Yvette’s for more vegetable offerings:

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copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

Changing Seasons ~ July’s The Time For Lady’s Bedstraw Up On Windmill Hill

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So far July in the UK has featured several seasons. We’ve had April showers, autumnal gloom, wintery downpours, mutterings about frost that just never happens around here in July, and now a heat wave of unprecedented temperatures outside the tropics. Yet three evenings ago when  I took this photo, it felt like October. There was a wild windiness about the place, and lowering skies, and that pang of melancholy that tells you summer is done.

But then as I lay in the grass to frame the shot all I could smell was the mignonette fragrance of Lady’s Bedstraw. Delicate. Hypnotic; gathering in waves across the hilltop. I can well understand why these golden flower drifts were once harvested to dry and fill mattresses. Their scent says essence of high summer. And so it proved. The next morning Octoberal tendencies had evaporated and we woke to wall to wall blue, and the overwhelming hotness, beneath whose onslaught we are currently sweltering. All this climatic chopping and changing of course suits us English. We’ve never had so much weather to talk about all at once.

This photo, by the way, was taken in low evening light conditions using the  ‘Impressive Art’ setting on my Lumix. I’d rather dismissed this setting, not liking the results of shots taken in broad daylight. But in low light the images acquire an other-worldly look – perhaps slightly sinister. I only added a touch of ‘contrast’ and  ‘highlight’ editing.

 

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Please visit the Cardinal for more about this challenge. There are two versions: use one or both. The latest version 2 features a single image/creation that sums up the month for you in some way. Version 1 is a gallery of several photos – all to be freshly shot.

 

#ChangingSeasons