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.... Garden Sparrows... 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!


  1. Nanny's Rock looks splendid. Those creepy faces etched in the rock are reminiscent of The Scream!
    I love your photos of the farm, that handsome dog, the happy pig and that tangle of chickens on the barbed wire fencing. Your birdbath photos are equally captivating.
    I wonder what you'll do with that cleared space in your garden?
    I read The Mercies on a beach in Rhodes last year, a wonderful read it was, too!
    Fabulous outfits, I wore my Kharibou dress today. The indigo look great with the emerald green. The trainers were a fab find and will see you through till sandal weather. You don't look at all like a lumberjacket in your jeans and the pleated skirt and metallic brogue combo is a winner. Loving the glasses, too!
    I could do with one of those giant remotes! xxx

    1. Thank you Vicky! Definitely a take on The Scream! There is much head scratching going on at the moment regarding the newly cleared area. A few ideas are being bandied around. We do have a number of granite sets and cobbles to utilise so we have a few options. We haven’t lost the remote since! xxx

  2. What a fascinating place! I might very well check out the rock houses the Nanny's Rock's creepy faces myself in June, as Kinver Edge is only an hour or so from the cottage we're staying in. What a great place for your son to do his work experience!
    That pig looks like a happy soul indeed, and I'm loving Jane's canine companion. Your flower and birdbath visitors photos are absolutely gorgeous, and those tan suede trainers were a great find. I don't like white soles on trainers, and non-white-sole ones like yours are hard to find. Green and blue worn together has long been a favourite of mine. As for the giant remote, we could definitely do with one here at Dove Cottage! xxx

    1. Thank you Ann. Kinver is definitely worth a trip if you can make it. Arley (Severn Valley) and Enville are all close by too, so you have plenty of options! That remote control is impossible to lose, even for someone like me! xxx

  3. love all your 2.hand outfits!!
    very chic and of cause sustainable.
    the rock house is fascinating! and yes - don´t scratch into the sandstone.... its a huge problem around here with endless streams of tourists.
    beautiful photos of birds - especially the swan - and the frog and the cute dog. and you´r looking fabulous with cats eye glasses!

    1. Thank you Beate! I'm surprised they don't have any signs requesting visitors to refrain from carving the sandstone, but maybe they think it would be like a red rag to a bull! xxx

  4. What an interesting place to visit!

    I love the portrait of the dog and the garden bird shots are fantastic :)

    1. Hello Nikki, Thanks for stopping by! Kinver Edge is a lovely place to explore. This part of the world is often overlooked or just passed through on the way to another destination, but we have much to offer. They say never to work with children or animals, but I obviously got lucky! ;-)

  5. Hello Claire, what an enchanting, witchy place Nanny's Rock is! Your lad is lucky to have such interesting work experience.

    You have beautifully captured the itchy piggy and the gardener's dog - she'll be so thrilled when she gets her old school post. Gorgeous bird bath pictures too. Birds having baths always make me laugh.

    Do you remember when 'remotes' used to be attached to t' tele with a thick cable??? You look absolutely lovely in blue and green, and you are triumphantly pulling off the 60s espionage look :) xXX

    1. Hi Lulu, Thank you! Yes he is very lucky to be at a National Trust property...and so far, so good. Jane was very happy with her photo and is talking about commissioning more - when Polo, the pooch, is "less nippy." I'm so old, I remember physically getting up off my backside and changing the channel on the TV! :-D xxx


West Midlands Wanderer

The West Midlands area has been buzzing.  For once, it's not Peaky Blinders we have to thank for our popularity, but the Commonwealth Ga...