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