Sunday, June 5, 2022

Little Britain

So here we are at the end of another seven days.  It's been a funny old week.  Partygate and the war in Europe rumbles on and the weather has been behaving in that very British manner; I think the technical term is "playing silly buggers."  

In other news, Johnny Depp won his defamation trial, after losing on the very same evidence against The Sun in the UK and is found, celebrating in a pub in Newcastle.  

The Queen has also been enjoying a perfectly splendid week, with bunting everywhere marking her 70 years on the throne, culminating in a two day Bank Holiday on Thursday and Friday.  But more on that later.

We start on English Bridge in Shrewsbury; a masonry arch viaduct crossing the River Severn.  A bridge has been known to have stood on this spot since at least Norman times.  This incarnation was built in 1926, reusing the original masonry of John Gwynn's 1774 version.  Its sister bridge, Welsh Bridge stands on the other side of town.  Impressive as it is, the Norman bridge sounds way more interesting, comprising five arches, a timber causeway, a tower housing a gate and drawbridge.  The bridge also supported several shops and houses.

Anyway, the light filtering through the arches left in the female pedestrian's wake, caught my eye.  So here's a glimpse of the grade II listed version in all her splendour.

Further along, we encounter said bunting.  Platinum Jubilee fever begins.  Incidentally, has anyone actually seen a Platinum Pudding on sale in a supermarket?  


For me, the star of this photo is the wall painted ghost sign with its unusual typography.  

Elsewhere in town, there's a street art tribute to the local wildlife (and I don't mean the beer bellied punters spilling out of the pubs)....

...and a runner measures her miles alongside the flood measuring stick, which has seen some eye popping readings in recent years.

Back in the garden, I have been out and about with my macro extension tubes again (one day I will treat myself to the real deal).  Focusing is always a little bit trial and error with these things; a case of hovering back and forth until you find the sweet spot and then keeping a very steady hand!  If you want a successful outcome, stay off the caffeine would be my top tip.  

Little things up close never cease to fascinate me.  This little pollinator was getting busy with the raspberry flowers.

His counterpart was rudely awakened from his slumber on the leaf of the Gunnera.  For anyone who has been pondering this question, insects quite often like to call it a day, take shelter and a snooze at around 7pm.

This little sawfly was sheltering on the underside of a buttercup.

The ferns are like big green kaleidoscopes, on a seemingly endless growth cycle; unfurling and creating exquisite shapes.  I decided to create low key black and white versions of a few of my favourites, taking in a dandelion seed head along the way.

But come hither...

...join me for a walk around the block to take in the sights and sounds of suburbia marking Jubilee weekend.  My Dad, a lifelong republican, would be chuntering away to himself about "putting them all on an island" and "self sufficiency" if he were around.  Whilst I don't believe any of them are any better than the bloke down the road (unless you're talking about that bloke...the one at number 10), I can appreciate that this is an exciting moment in our history. 

The houses in our neighbourhood have gone all out with the bunting.

This being the one time industrial heartland of the UK, many locals are tradesmen and evidence of home improvements seems to be everywhere (the cost of living crisis hasn't caught on here just yet it seems).  I counted at least 3 skips on our 10 minute walk and some unusual tributes...

...including this one, which appealed to my sense of humour.  Do we think Ma'am would have had that same fixed smile on her face had she walked out onto the balcony of Bucks Palace, only to be confronted with a view of a skip on The Mall?  This photo ended up on Instagram, accompanied by The Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen.  

Despite being a Bank Holiday, the streets on Thursday appeared deserted, so on Friday, after a leisurely start and a spot of sunbathing in the garden, we headed to Arley again (second time in a month).  On the agenda?  A scenic 4 mile circular walk starting in Arley, heading through Eymore Wood and taking in Trimpley Reservoir.  We also thought we might catch a glimpse of the newly painted purple Taw Valley engine, which has been temporarily named Elizabeth II in honour of the woman of the moment.

Purple seemed to be the colour of the day as evidenced by the carpet of rhododendron petals at the entrance to the wood.

The novelty of 21 degrees made me lose my mind and I failed to take a single photo along the route.  However, with yet more bunting and a number of classic cars adorning Arley Station, I made up for it.

There was no escaping Jubilee fever...

...or photographers.

We heard that the train had been delayed and so we enjoyed half a pint of Thatcher's Cider in the sunshine while we waited...and waited for Elizabeth II to show her face.  Ultimately, it was her rear end we were presented with.  I'll never make a train spotter!  

Gareth took my phone and managed to snap the front of the locomotive and her nameplate.

Before we leave behind the Jubilee celebrations, here's one final tribute, spotted in a farmer's field on the journey home.  

We all know Brits can be a pretty strange bunch.  We can't agree on much, as evidenced by Brexit and Boris.  Many Brits who are already being directly and heavily impacted by the cost of living crisis, took to the streets en masse, to wave their Union Jack flags on The Mall in celebration of a family funded by the state.  We are a mass of contradictions.  So, if you think making an effigy of the Queen out of a hay bale is odd, captured "Erotic Elizabeth" in all her glory on the streets of Didcot.  

Photo:  Paul O'Connor

Last night we rounded off the week with an evening with friends at their new house in Stourport-on-Severn, a Georgian town popular with day trippers and the area's self styled leisure capital.  

We enjoyed cocktails in blazing sunshine on the terrace (really), a delicious array of vegetarian and vegan food, music and merriment.  There were cats and dogs adding to our number - including the gorgeous Saffy - our friends' rescue fox hound, who pinned me to the sofa at one point in a bid to show her affection.  For the uninitiated, this is a totally non threatening, but tricky situation to find yourself in.  Fox hounds are persistent and heavy!

The evening was not without drama however, as Saffy did what fox hounds do best and escaped for a while for a little nocturnal exploration of her own.  A very different kind of hunt ensued and fortunately Saffy was discovered in a neighbouring garden - apparently without a care in the world. 

I'll leave you with a pic of my outfit, featuring my often overlooked and groovylicious vintage St Michael maxi skirt, a Leicester born brand sold in Marks & Spencer stores between 1927 and 2000.

Have a fabulous week!


  1. What a wonderful array of photos, Claire! The nature ones with the pollinators hard at work are fantastic, maybe you ought to send a couple to the No Mow May team?
    Those neighbourhood photos with the bunting sum up the UK, a penchant for Poundland and disposable plastic tat. The one with the Queen and the skip is reminiscent of Martin Parr's work!
    Love the Shrewsbury ghost sign and the flood marker - there was one of those on Bargain Hunt and I couldn't believe it only fetched a few quid, I'd love one on our house.
    I'm glad you had a lovely evening with your pals and Saffy was captured!
    I love your St Michael skirt, I'd have that in my wardrobe, too! xxx

    1. Thanks Vix! That's a lovely compliment - I'm terrible with names, but after a quick search, knew immediately the work of Martin Parr. I shall keep my eyes peeled for a flood marker. Our friends would love one of the old owl face (American?) coin operated tourist telescopes. They suspect they'll never find one - they command eye watering prices. I've only worn that skirt on a couple of occasions - I keep forgetting about it. Your recent outfit shot jogged my memory. It was cosy enough to keep out the late night chill. xxx

  2. I think the weather in Belgium has been playing silly buggers too, although the Great British Weather has quite a reputation! I have spent a couple of hours earlier today trying to decide on my holiday wardrobe which involved a lot of head scratching. After all, in two weeks' time, I might be crossing the English Bridge in Shrewsbury, either wearing a sleeveless top and cotton maxi, or a jumper and a pair of trousers. I'll keep a look out for that wonderful wall painted ghost sign, that's for sure.
    Your macro photos are fabulous, as always, and I loved having a look at the Jubilee festivities through your eyes.
    The St Michael's maxi is gorgeous, and like I wouldn't mind having it in my wardrobe.
    Phew, glad to hear Saffy was located in the end! xxx

    1. Thanks Ann. Summer needs to get a move on methinks! I can only imagine the packing dilemma you must find yourself in...although I'm sure the sun will shine for you both! xxx

  3. i thought i had commented days ago.... maybe i was tooo tired......
    next try.
    thank you for your very artsy photo report from the celebrations in your little corner of britain! we did watch 1 or 2.... documentary about the official faff - anglophile that we are - actually lisbeth the cat is named after her majesty ;-D
    we wish we had something similar in drab germany instead of REALLY questionable traditions.
    love your fab outfit, the old cars and the purple steam engine! xxxxx

    1. No problem Beate. I have done that before! Thanks for the lovely comments. There have been some fascinating TV documentaries. My favourite was the Queen in her own words, accompanied by home video footage - shown for the first time publicly. Lisbeth certainly has an air of royalty about her! ;-)

  4. I love that blouse! I love the mix of old and new in your photos, really showing the history that abounds in Britain!

    1. Hello Laura! Thank you - it's a really versatile blouse and cost me just £2.00 from a charity shop! There was definitely that sense of a key moment in history I think, for republicans and royalists alike. I shall pop over later and have a read of your blog, now I know where to find you! :-)

  5. Haha, the skip pictures and blow up doll are hilarious Claire! :) :) :) They perfectly capture the strangeness and contradictions within the UK. Although I do appreciate Queenie and have a soft spot for William, it is said that I have Scottish rebel's blood in me from down the line, which may explain why I find Monarchy hard to stomach at times. Also, my local area didn't seem to go to town as other places did around the country. Maybe that's because many Cornish folk do not consider themselves English (?). Our Duke of Cornwall and future king could smooth things out a by letting desperate key workers live with sensibly priced rent on his Cornish land / estates. He does earn a lot from the county after all. Hmmm, just a thought ...

    Anyhow, as always I greatly enjoyed your post and pictures Claire xXx

    1. Thanks Lulu. Yes, I know the Cornish bid for independence is right around the corner. ;-) I agree with you - that should be something Prince Charles should consider and yet it always amazes me how quite often the most staunch royalists are ordinary folks who could do with a helping hand. Nowt stranger than folk! xxx


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