Saturday, March 26, 2022

Watchful Eyes

One of last weekend's walks was also a recce for an upcoming photo shoot.  Nanny's Rock is an unrestored rock house carved into the local sandstone.  It's a magical place and one of those rare "wild" tourist attractions, in that you can climb inside it, touch it and peer through the numerous empty window remains.  


There are also five "rooms" to explore.  In the centre, is a chimney known as "devil's chimney".  The anti-Christ reference derives from the speculation and suspicion surrounding its former inhabitant, who has been described variously as a herbalist, potion maker and white witch.  With few records to go on, Nanny's Rock is also known as Meg o'Fox Hole - a possible reference to an inhabitant known as Margaret, who died in 1617 - the era of witch hunting.

Incidentally, I have just finished reading The Mercies, referenced in a recent blog.  It's a wonderful read, set in Norway, also at the time of the witch trials.  The subject matter is harrowing but the relationships between the female protagonists is exquisite and sensitively written.


Over time, countless visitors have etched their mark into Nanny's Rock, making for an intricate visual display adorning every inch of the interior sandstone walls.  




Everywhere you stand, there are eyes upon you.

With the boy starting his work experience at the Rock Houses this week, I must point out the sedimentary lines (he's a Geology student) and suggest that we should refrain from carving into sandstone.  Many of these engravings are vintage though, I'm sure...and vintage is OK in my book.

Woody's love remains a mystery, the name now illegible.  


Heading slightly further afield, we passed through a clearing dominated by spectacular beech trees...

and onto Vale Head Farm.  I have blogged about this farm before Winter Peach Photography: Pinky and Perky.  Now, there are some new pigs on the block.  Here is one blissfully happy Gloucester Old Spot saddleback pig.  Courtesy of Instagram, I am reliably informed by artist and green woodworker Harry Samuel, that this happy soul originates from his farm. 

I captured this handsome fellow just before he made his frantic, noisy departure. 

The chickens were basking in the sunlight and cock-a-hoop.


A visit to our other favourite haunt, Enville Hall, resulted in much swan admiring (on my part)...



...and a chance encounter with Jane, the Estate Gardener, who put me on the spot and commissioned a portrait of her beautiful canine companion.  The transaction was verbal and old school (she doesn't have an email address).  I am to print and deliver said portrait next week to her lodgings on the Estate.

Back at home, our daffodils and woodland bulbs are in flower and my favourite, Euphorbia, is throwing its alien shapes.



The bird bath has been teeming with visitors from Blue Tits and Long Tailed Tits....






...to Garden Sparrows...

..to Dunnocks.

The four clumps of frogspawn are growing imperceptibly under watchful amphibian eyes.



Gareth has dug out and dismantled the trampoline - the end of an era.  However, there's now another, exciting space in the garden to develop/headache in waiting.  


On a more frivolous note, the week's charity shop finds include a pair of tan suede trainers.  They're unbranded, but look spookily similar to these Puma ones.

They are extremely comfortable (I'm not going to let the trifling fact that they are a size too big get in the way) and work equally well with a long dress and jeans.  Here they are teamed with my sustainable Kharibu maxi dress teamed with an old cashmere mix cropped jumper.  Apparently the combination of green and blue is having a fashion moment.


Another photo of said shoes with my eBay shopped Replay Jeans and charity shopped white top.  Do I look like a lumberjack?

Every item completing this outfit was charity shopped.  


It comprises silver John Rocha brogues, a snakeskin print H&M pleated skit (pleats are so flattering), the aforementioned white top covered with a a silver grey Italian lambs wool lightweight knit.  In these shoes, folks will definitely see me coming.  (Only Gareth could express concern about upskirting and that others might see more than they bargained for reflected in the shoes' mirrored surface!) 

I will also be seeing more clearly this week, courtesy of my newly purchased pack of 3 pairs of cat's eye reading glasses.  I spend probably a third of my time hunting for keys, glasses, remote controls and my phone.  

The remote control issue has recently been solved with Gareth's charity shop find - a jumbo sized universal remote.

And now, with 6 pairs of reading glasses now knocking around - in various states of repair - I can now scrub reading glasses from that list.  Here I am giving the camera my best 60s espionage look.  

Be seeing you!







Saturday, March 19, 2022

Picture This

This week has been another hectic one; the kind of week that I'm guessing John Lennon had in mind when he said: "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans."  Therefore, in similar style to the last 7 days (and my state of mind) this will be a somewhat disjointed but busy blog post, summarising disparate moments and memories. 

WILDLIFE

We have frogspawn!  Almost a year after creating our pond, we were both ridiculously excited to see that our humble little stretch of water has now truly acquired wildlife status.  I know it's primary school stuff, but I'm going to photograph the three clumps (now four) of frogspawn daily, to chart its progress.  Did you know that these little miracles are also able exert some control over their own rate of development?  Apparently, if conditions aren't favourable, tadpoles can remain in the water in arrested development for up to a year.

Here's the first batch of photos, taken on day 3, 4 and 5 (there was no discernible difference between day 1 and 3).

Day 3

Day 4 (a new clump appeared overnight, bottom left and slightly smaller)

Day 5

SPRING FLOWERS

Crocuses in the garden.

Daffodils on the Enville Estate.



GIFT OF THE GAB

Thursday marked St Patrick's Day and given that it was nearly the weekend, we embraced the occasion, listening to the Pogues and drinking Guinness - once the sun was over the yardarm.   I dug out some old photos taken on our 90s road trip around Ireland.  Amongst the under-exposed, poorly composed photos, I found this one.  

You'll have to take my word for it, but these are Gareth's legs.  Before you jump to conclusions, no he hadn't imbibed Irish moonshine or poitin (anglicised as porteen or portheen).  He was in fact kissing the Blarney Stone.  We joined millions of pilgrims climbing the steps of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone (someone holds your legs to ensure you don't fall to your death through the gap) and have bestowed upon us the "gift of the gab" or eloquence.  Coincidentally Gareth had also found some old Irish currency and a Guinness pin badge on the same day whilst searching for a box to pack an order.

TWO CLAIRES, COFFEE AND CAKE

A cheeky Friday afternoon diversion with my Mom at Enville's small, but perfectly formed coffee shop, Archie's Attic.  A couple of years ago, I photographed the coffee shop's bunting, blowing in the breeze.  Claire, the business owner, was thrilled with the photo and left a lovely comment.  On Friday I finally got round to visiting Archie's Attic, purchasing Rooibos Tea for me and carrot cake and superfruit tea for Mom.  I was greeted warmly by the staff inside and immediately asked "Are you Winter Peach?" by a smiley lady who introduced herself as Claire.  Fame at last!  

LA LUNA

The moon has played its part beautifully this week.  Earlier in the week, we seized a couple of hours and took a walk down to "the cut" (Black Country speak for canal).  After a few experimental shots (I do love to view the world through water)... 

Reflected crow in flight (image flipped)

...we headed back via a narrow footpath flanked by fields.  In one of the fields is a beautiful pylon.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Pylons (along with wind turbines) are amongst the few bits of manmade infrastructure that I find very pleasing to the eye.

I loved the juxtaposition of Earth's natural satellite seemingly triangulated within this imposing metal structure.  

Last night's moon - in its Waxing Gibbous phase (92.85% illuminated) was a stunner with its orange glow which is apparent when it is hanging low in the sky and viewed through much more of the Earth's atmosphere.


THE STARS

What is the moon without stars?  Here I have a couple of stars of the magnolia world.  First up (on a morning visit to Ashwood to discuss work experience for the sprog), this impressive Magnolia Stellata with its fragrant, star-like blooms.  For £220.00 I think I would want shooting stars!

Also, this stunning specimen, spotted on the return leg of an afternoon walk along the River Severn.




FADED GRANDEUR, RIVERSIDE AND A HERITAGE RAILWAY

Boarded up windows and peeling paintwork in Bewdley.



More dishevelled beauty; wonderful light play at a quirky and crumbly old workshop (the very best kind) on the banks of the River Severn.  We have walked past this place on countless occasions but on this day, the doors were thrown open, affording us a glimpse inside.  Just out of shot to the left, was a wall mounted cabinet containing at least half a dozen ceramic Lurpak Butter toast racks.  The occupant must need lots of tea and buttered toast to go about his business.


The floods have wreaked havoc along the River Severn, as evidenced by this barbed wire fence, now concealed by a coat of debris swept along by the current. 


Dowles Bridge, built for the Tenbury and Bewdley line in 1864 and dismantled 101 years later.




Will it one day be resurrected I wonder?

A train departing Bewdley Station on the Severn Valley Railway!



TO READ


Thanks to Polyester Princess for recommending The Moonflower Vine.  Jenny Packham's Memoir, How to Make a Dress, has been on my list for a while.  I'm a big fan of her brother, Chris, and can't wait to dive into Jenny's world for a true insight into the fashion industry.

SECOND HAND FINDS


Just when I thought the week would be fruitless in terms of bargain buys, I spotted this Devon Pottery vase for less than £3.00 in a very brief dash-and-grab style charity shop visit.  

Tonight, a date with Villanelle (Killing Eve) and maybe I'll crack open a red from last week's ill gotten gains!

See you soon! 




And I Would Walk 500 Miles

Don't be misled by the title of this post - it's a nod to National Hiking Day, which fell on Thursday 17th November and has inspired...