There’s A Storm Coming…

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Over the garden fence this afternoon. And yes, after weeks of drought, we’ve had some rain, though the showers have not been as generous as these clouds seem to promise. I watched them roll out across Townsend Meadow towards Wenlock Edge. A cloud serpent, or a Chinese dragon in many shades of grey. There were pigeons flying every which way and some horizontal lightning.

Nothing like a spot of wild weather to stir the spirits.

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In Case The Flood Comes

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Our small and ancient town of Much Wenlock sits in a hollow beneath Wenlock Edge. The Edge itself is an uptilted Silurian seabed, formed some 400 million years ago, and the farm fields around the town rise steeply to the Edge top. In consequence, flash flooding has long been a problem and in recent years (after the 2007 storms when the town centre was badly inundated) our locality has been designated a rapid response flood risk zone, the danger coming mostly from field run-off feeding onto roads and lanes that run into the town.

And so finally in 2017, after much humming and ha-ing, the Local Authority commissioned engineers to excavate two flood attenuation ponds at either end of the town. They are basically reverse reservoirs in that they remain empty with the aim of catching up the worst of any flood should a particularly bad rainstorm hit the Edge.

One of the ponds is at the top of Townsend Meadow, behind our house, and given the upward slope of the field, I found myself much taken with the sight of the big digger and dumper on my horizon  as the work was underway. I think I’m also happy to have the pond above our house, although the Farrell domain did not flood in 2007, and some experts have equivocal views about the utility of attenuation ponds in rapid-run-off situations. Anyway, so far so good. Besides which, the guerrilla garden behind the garden fence is on a small rise and forms something of bund to protect us.

Now for more digger views, far and near:

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Busy with purpose

The Changing Seasons: This Was June

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A Horse Chestnut sun-catcher, as spotted on the old railway line below the Linden Walk. Such a cool and bosky spot on warm summer days, not that we have had very many of those. And we’ve certainly not had ‘flaming June’ except for a couple of windless days when it was warm enough to eat out in the upstairs garden.

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All the same, those few warm days did seem excessively hot to those of us still clinging to our winter underwear and especially to the MacMoo lads in their shaggy coats. They were driven to the shadow-margins of the Cutlins meadow to try and keep cool.

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While out on the Linden Field, human lads stripped off for a spot of football practice.

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In Townsend Meadow behind the house, this year’s crop of field beans is thriving. Early in the spring the plants struggled mightily due to lack of rain, but June’s cycle of showers and intermittent sun and cool temperatures has seen them shoot up and burst into flower. They are a variety of broad bean that produce masses of pea pod sized pods, each packed with several haricot sized beans. In Britain we mostly use them for animal feed and the bulk of the crops are exported to countries like Egypt where they are in great demand for human consumption.

Maybe as a nation, we should be rethinking this. The plants grow well in lacklustre weather, though wind can be problematic. And although the beans are fiddly to pod (I’ve grown my own good crop at the allotment), they are delicious, nutrient rich and only take a minute to steam or boil. The only problem was, this year they were ready all at once, and while I was hoping they would precede the main broad bean crop, the broad beans started cropping early. Upshot: eat the broad beans, freeze the field beans for making refried beans later in the year. But just look at the flowers. Aren’t they extraordinary?

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In the Farrell garden all is getting above itself – especially the cat mint. I don’t know what’s got into it this year. It’s the sort of plant I tend to ignore, nice enough as a wafty foil for more showy plants in summer borders, and that’s about it. But now it seems intent on taking over the upstairs garden, and what with the blue geranium joining in, Graham is having to fight his way through the encroaching undergrowth to reach the shed.

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Meanwhile Rose Teasing Georgia has been and gone. Lovely while she was with us looking in at the kitchen door. She should flower again later in the summer:

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Over the garden fence in the guerrilla garden where all the late summer bloomers are busy putting on stems metres tall, Geranium Anne Thomson is fighting her corner. She’s such a worthwhile garden plant – flowering her socks off all summer:

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And on the downstairs terrace the ruby red Centranthus has been the main June attraction, along with Penelope rose who this year has been growing us huge single stemmed  bouquets, now sadly past their best. She’s a lovely sweet smelling rose – a shrub variety that can be trained to be a climber on shortish walls.

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At the allotment, beans and peas and spuds and beetroot are growing well, tomatoes and salad stuff in the polytunnel, but I’ve not taken many photos apart from ones of the flat-pack cat and the wildflower plots of moon daisies:

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Oh yes, and this evening view of the town as I’m heading home to make supper:

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The Changing Seasons Ju-Lyn and Brian are the hosts. Please pay them a visit.

Townsend Meadow: Views Spare Or Complex

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Ripening barley

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It’s pretty much a truism when it comes to prose, the fewer words the better. This is a hard lesson for most writers to learn: how much to leave in; what to cut. Of course timing is involved too, not only scene setting. To build suspense, a sense of drama, irony, mystery, you can’t rush things. But then too much detail and description can bog things down, or worse, bore.

For most of us, honing the craft of captivating verbal particularity, the sort of writing that transports readers, heart-and-mind, right to the spot takes much practice and perseverance.  And there may come a point when the attempt to conjure with words becomes too darned hard. Well, aren’t we humans, above all, moved by visual stimuli. Just think.  If Word Press blogs were solely prose, how many of us would be here?

And so to images. These are all views from the field behind our house: the things that catch my eye: light and shadow; blocks of texture; earth colours. In this space, between our garden fence and Wenlock Edge,  it’s usually the sky that creates all the drama.

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The fence at the top of the field in winter

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Over the garden fence

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Summer grasses on the field path

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After the wheat harvest

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Winter hedge-top

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Midsummer sunset

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Lens-Artists: minimalism/maximalism   Sofia at Photographias has set this week’s theme. Please pay her a visit.

Every Little Thing

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Out on the line – an unexpectedly good drying day in February

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This week at Lens-Artists, Amy asks us to show her things that make us smile. So here are some of the happenstance little-big things that, at various times, have caught my eye or otherwise brightened my day:

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A neat little cloud traversing Townsend Meadow

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Finding I’d grown a rather good cauliflower at the allotment

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Spotted in the garden sage bush

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Spring sun-catchers: crab apple flowers…

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…that in autumn become perfect tiny apples

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The Linden Walk in full summer leafiness

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Lens-Artists: Every Little Thing

Light And Shadow Over The Garden Fence

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Late summer and corn cockle seed heads against a Wenlock Edge sunset.

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Townsend Meadow behind the house; the fence surrounding the attenuation pond that protects the town from flash floods. And also our local carrion crow couple being nicely scenic.

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The upstairs garden seat in winter; the ash log sun dial, and the last of the crab apples.

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Autumn dawn, the guerrilla garden in shadow: Michaelmas daisies and helianthus. Townsend Meadow after the barley harvest, but still golden in the early morning sunshine.

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An early summer monochrome foxgloves and purple toadflax in the guerrilla garden.

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And an almost-monochrome. Shadow play on a dust sheet hug out to dry on the washing line.

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Lens-Artists: Light & Shadow  Patti has set the theme this week. Please pay her a visit. She has some stunning photos to show us.

Wenlock Views Near And Far

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The header photo was taken among the ruins of Wenlock Priory, looking towards the trees and roof tops of the Prior’s Lodgings, now a private house, locally known as The Abbey.

This next shot is my well-trodden path to the allotment, along the southerly edge of Townsend Meadow. That’s an ash tree on the skyline – doing a good Ent impression as our Shropshire ash trees tend to do.

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And a nearer view of the ash tree – a sundowner shot complete with rooks flying home to their roost in the Sytche wood.

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And finally a rather strange and blurry photo of the Linden Walk, taken when all the pale and papery sepals had fallen off the lime tree flowers in late summer. I think if you squint, you might just spot someone at the top of the path.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: In the distance

A Spot Of Bird Watching

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In the previous post Chasing the light over Townsend Meadow  my header photo featured my ‘stand-on-bed-while-using-open-rooflight-as-tripod’ school of photography. I now confess to using the same method to spy on my local corvids. I think the pair flitting above the field fence may be carrion crows. It’s hard to tell at this distance, but we do have a couple who come daily to forage in Townsend Meadow. It is part of their territory that includes the Linden Field across the road. Also each year they come with an offspring. They call to each other across the field. I note a strain of lament in it.

But back to spying. If, with my stand-camera-on-open-window method,  I then turn the lens 45 degrees to the right I can then cover activities in the rookery in the wood beside Sytche Lane. The lane borders the field boundary, and the wood borders the lane and is an unkempt sort of place inaccessible to us ordinary Wenlock folk. Both rooks and jackdaws congregate here, and in large numbers. At dusk, and particularly in autumn, they put on breath-taking balletic performances, swooping and swirling for many minutes over the meadow. If you happen to be out there when they start (sometimes my return from the allotment coincides with the opening passes of the corvid air show) it can be exhilaratingly eerie, and especially when a cohort, several dozen strong, whisks by my shoulder. There’s a rush of air. Wheeeeesh. Then gone before you register quite what happened.

You can get a gist of this phenomenon from my short video at the end of the post.

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Related: Rooks Dancing in the New Moon

Life in Colour: black/grey

 

Chasing The Light Over Townsend Meadow

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Those who come here often know that our Shropshire cottage overlooks a field that once marked Much Wenlock’s northerly boundary. It’s all in the name of course – Townsend Meadow. In times past it was pasture for dairy cows. The farm, long gone, was in the corner of the field, and the dairy, where the milk was collected, was a few doors down from our house on Sheinton Street. But in the years since we’ve lived here the field has been used solely for growing arable crops; wheat mostly, but now-and-then oil seed rape, oats, field beans and barley.

Our further view, beyond the field, is of the woods along the summit of Wenlock Edge. You can just make them out in the middle distance of the first photo. This vista and this field and the sky above, are the places where I endlessly discover events and effects. In this sense you could call it a source of rich sustenance; the everyday world that is never commonplace.

When it comes to photography, I belong to the ranks of happy snappers. I have zero technical skills, though somewhat perversely I’m particularly drawn to taking photos in challenging light conditions – to see what will happen, I suppose. The first photo is a good example. It was taken by opening the rooflight window in my office to the horizontal position (which also involved standing on the spare bed) resting my Lumix point-and-shoot camera on the back of said window – that is, on the outside frame nearest me – engaging some zoom, and hoping things are as focused as can be. And there we are.  It is a strange photo. A bit quantum physics-ish. Lost realms and parallel universe kind of stuff.

Here are some rather more obvious low-light Townsend Meadow moments.

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Lens-Artists: Follow Your Bliss Lindy has set the challenge this week.