At least this morning we have bright sunshine, although even before I looked out of the window I could tell from the clarity of light there would be frost too. There is. Indoors, I keep peering at my tomato seedlings and thinking, ‘why did I start you off so soon?’ They say they don’t know either. Ah well, when it comes to gardening, as with much else, all one can do is travel hopefully. Meanwhile, fingers crossed, we’ve seen the back of these wintry scenes. You can click on an image to also see these in carousel format.
Sheep posing in Much Wenlock’s former Priory parkland
Thursday’s Special: Pick A Word in March Ovine is only one of Paula’s word prompts this month. Pop over to her place to see the rest and be inspired. You have a week to post your own interpretations.
Yesterday the wind was whistling into Shropshire through the Cheshire Gap, and despite the apparent stillness and bright sunshine in this photograph, it was one big icy blast up on Windmill Hill. I did not stay long. But in the shelter of the woods, lower down the hill, I did stop to catch these mossy tree roots:
And then among the fallen leaves I found this very strange fungus:
This week at Thursday’s Special Paula has given us five word prompts to choose from. My choice for these photos is protuberant. Pop over to Paula’s to join in.
This view across the Gulf of Messinia to the Mani peninsula was taken from one of the bastions of Koroni Castle in the Messinian Peloponnese. This part of Greece has a coastline dominated by several of these great Venetian strongholds begun in the 12th century and expanded through several centuries of repeated Venetian-Ottoman conflict.
You can find more of the castle’s history HERE
As you can see, our visit coincided with the sudden arrival of autumn, which perhaps adds to the overbearing broodingness of the place. But when I looked at the photos later I was intrigued by the accidental ‘tromp l’oeil’ effect in the header shot – that apparently displaced, more brightly lit view through the arched aperture. It’s a trick of the geography – a spit of land jutting out into the sea way below the castle.
The town of Koroni had its trading heyday in the 13th century. You can see here how it hugs up against the battlement for the full width of the photo, up to and beyond the church in the top right corner. Within the castle there is the town cemetery, several churches, a convent and a number of cottages with gardens and small holdings where people still live. It is a fascinating place, the past somehow still marching on with the present.
One of the cottages inside the castle.
Inside the convent garden and the convent entrance (below).
This sheep was having a lot to say for herself as she crossed the Priory parkland. Not a call of distress, more of a bad-mood grumble. Perhaps she was fed up with the snow covering her grass.
Meanwhile on the far side of the field her fellows seemed to have found something more to their liking.
And now here’s a better view of the old parkland behind Wenlock Priory – once the domain of jolly, hunting monks, and believe me, hunting was among the least of their reputed bad habits.
Thursday’s Special In the first challenge of 2018, Paula is definitely giving our little grey cells a post-Christmas shake-up. Algid was a new word for me. So here it is: cold and chilly. Now please visit Paula for the other options and some very fine photos.
This week Paula asks us to post our best photo from 2017. I wasn’t sure where to start, but decided to reprise the cricket which, the first time around, Ark kindly identified as a Katydid or bush cricket. It is certainly my most surprising shot of the year – both for its clarity and the fact the cricket appears to have been watching me while I organised myself with the camera. I also like the curving grasses and the bands of light and shade, and the way the cricket appears to be super-illuminated. But best of all, it reminds me of Kalamata, and the mesmerizing views of the Taygetos and the Mani across the Gulf of Messinia for I find myself still badly smitten with the Peloponnese. Ah, well. Maybe next year…
Solstice – the longest night – a time for drawing in; earth quietness; immanence; a conjuring of new possibility.
This photo was taken a few Decembers ago – the view from the island of Anglesey looking across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia on mainland Wales, terrain of antique tales of shape-shifting princes and magicians, their black deeds and bloody conflicts.
We wake this morning to the kind of quietness that is only made by falling snow. I’m instantly thrilled – aware of the mood shift. Yesterday I felt like vestige-of-road-kill. Now I am fizzing like a firework. How did that happen?
At 8 am the landscape looks like a scene from a post nuclear winter, and as I tell Jo, when I take the header photo, I do not need the monochrome setting.
But by 10 am the sun is out, and the field at the back of the house is all of a sparkle.
I’ve not yet had breakfast, but I have to go out there. I wrap up in many layers, jump into my wellies. He who is sitting on the sofa reading The Guardian on his laptop, and still wearing his dressing gown, thinks I am nuts. I promise him toast on my return, dash out of the house and head for the Linden Field.
But even as I cross the playing field to the Linden Walk I know I’ve missed the moment –at least as far as the light is concerned.
As I pick my way up Windmill Hill, the blizzard begins, although I am briefly distracted from the change in the weather by three woolly dogs – large and small. They too are thrilled by the snow and have to tell me so. Icy muzzles push into my hands. Brrrr. Thanks a lot, dogs.
I retreat from the hill the long way round – this to avoid an unseemly slithering, bottom-first. By now it is hard to see where I’m going. Not only that, I’m turning into the Abominable Snow-Woman. Even the Linden Walk, when I reach it, offers precious little shelter. Goodness! This is the most exciting weather we’ve had in ages.
But still, enough mucking about in the elements. There’s toast and Greek honey and good hot coffee to be had at home. Besides, any further inclinations to snap snow scenes may be catered for from the comfort of my desk and the window next to it.
Also I’ve remembered that I told Jo the snow wouldn’t last. My mistake. We’ve had several inches in the past few hours. But the best thing is that there is far less traffic out on Sheinton Street, and what there is, is moving so slowly that it is wonderfully quiet. Reminds me that it’s time to put in another request to the Council for a 20 mph speed limit. It’s interesting how a spell of disruptive weather can remind one of what really matters re life and well being.
We’ve just returned for a two-day trip to Hay-on-Wye, the second hand book capital of Great Britain, if not the universe. This ancient, tiny town stands on the banks of the mighty River Wye, on the Welsh side of the Wales-England border and, astonishingly for so small a settlement, has 23 book shops. Some are small and specialist – catering for poetry enthusiasts, natural historians and sleuthers of good murder mysteries; others are labyrinthine emporia, the size of college libraries – where all topics are covered. Many sell new books too and also, since the advent of the famous annual Hay Literary Festival, have upped their game from being the fusty, dusty places I remember from years ago, and transformed themselves into smart bookish resorts where you can curl up in a big leather armchair and spend the whole day reading. Richard Booth’s Bookshop even has its own cinema and very popular cafe. Treats all round then.
This photo was taken through the window of Mostly Maps and I think it covers all Paula’s word prompts for her December pick a word. Here we have the portrayal of a young woman by a non-human mannequin. She has the most sagacious looks too, clad in the re-worked remains of old ordnance survey maps. There are more remains reflected behind her – the dark silhouette of Hay Castle ruins. And then, here and there, are small stellar bursts from street and Christmas lights. Tarrah!
Now please visit Paula to see her and other bloggers’ cunning interpretations:
P.S. There will doubtless be more about Hay and our meanderings along the Wye in upcoming posts