Saturday, November 19, 2022

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 me to sit down at my pc (the irony!)

The reality of National Hiking Day was a gloomy day with a notable dip in temperature and a bracing wind; quite a shock to the system after the weekend's balmy temperatures.  As such, on the day itself, I managed only to walk to our local primary school to donate an outdoor family portrait voucher to the Christmas Fayre prize fund.  I know, I know, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. Nonetheless, I still need to allow myself a period of adjustment and to dig out the hats and gloves and on this day, I wasn't feeling it.  

Still, rewinding a little to the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday, I popped to a local church (Amblecote's Holy Trinity Church of England), to photograph the impressive display of poppies - made from recyclable plastic bottles - adorning the exterior walls.

Every year we remember, but will we ever learn?

We also managed a couple of decent walks, the first commencing from Enville Hall.  There really is something magical about this place.  Every photo I have ever taken here seems to have a particular quality that has little to do with any skill on my part.

This is Temple Lake in the afternoon sun.

Heading up and over the hills, known locally as The Sheepwalks (for obvious reasons when you follow their well-trodden path), we stopped to take in the views, although I was rather taken with this tree.  You can read more about the Enville Estate in this previous blog post. Winter Peach Photography: Seeing Stars

On Remembrance Sunday, after some traffic disruption and a tour of the back streets of Dudley, we met up with Vix and Jon for their first ever visit to the Black Country Living Museum.

Thirties Street

You can read a more in-depth report of the day here in Vix's blog - Vintage Vixen: A Bostin' Day Out, Bab! (  Gareth and I have been numerous times but enjoyed seeing it afresh through someone else's eyes.  

The BCLM has always been the most atmospheric of places, appearing in numerous TV and Film Productions (most notably Peaky Blinders, Stephen Poliakoff's Dancing on the Edge and the recent Sky production The Colour Room), although the new visitor centre and appearance of Wolverhampton's Elephant & Castle pub is reflecting the passage of time and heralding real change in the near future.  

The new pub was recreated as opposed to being translocated and as such, the brickwork had a distinctly new appearance.  Likewise, the interior was shiny and new and completely odourless.  Whilst I'm not advocating the reintroduction of smoking in pubs, smoking in pubs was notable by its absence.  

The new old pub, focus very much being on the tiled frontage

As photogenic as the village is, I trained my camera on the details.  Soldiers were very much in evidence...but we also spotted this lovely little tribute outside the chapel.  The chapel window looked beautiful, as viewed from the Apothecary garden, reflecting the sun and showcasing the gorgeous sunshine yellow foliage of an as yet unidentified plant.

Reclamation, shop displays and miners' lamps caught my eye.  This gent belongs in my garden!

The resident chain maker, canalside poster, more reclamation and a little window shopping through the motorcycle shop window.  Toilets might not be for everyone, but I can appreciate a bit of porcelain.

I shoehorned my way into a corner to capture the glow reflected in his goggles, so this one's deserving of a large format repeat.

It was a stroke of luck that we were able to visit in November in sunshine and we ticked all of the requisite boxes for a BCLM visit, including the legendary Hobbs' fish and chips and a sneaky beer at the Bottle & Glass pub.  A truly lovely day!

Another day, another walk.  This time, over Kinver Edge, another favourite.  This time, the sun decided not to accompany us as we made our way through the woodland before taking a path winding back up to the edge.  Instead, the late Autumn foliage illuminated the gloom.

Shhh!  Listen to the silence!

Dampness pervades....

Up on the Edge, we headed to the best vantage point.  This has to be amongst the most photographed houses in the Midlands.  I always try and challenge myself to capture it differently; this time scrambling down a steep slope to shoot through the rosehips.

Heading back down to the car park, here's the first glimpse of the National Trust Rock Houses, framed by the trees.

We also squeezed in another walk with our friends Neil and Laura in the atmospheric Hurcott Wood, although I failed to take a single photo until the journey home, when the moody sky and sunlight were going head to head for control of the skies!

As is so often the case these days, darkness prevailed.

In other news, I've been taking baby steps towards organising a new elopement wedding shoot, giving life to another idea I've been mulling over.  I'm cribbing the title from the Dua Lipa album Future Nostalgia.  Fingers crossed I can assemble another wonderful team of suppliers.

Always keen to try something new, I've also been experimenting with "freelensing" a technique where the lens is detached from the camera and just held loosely in place.  It really plays with focal planes and I think produces dreamlike results.  These are my first attempts in the garden, in dying light, so not the best conditions.  

Talking of dreams, I often fail to remember mine, but when I do, they are usually pretty detailed and often quite bizarre.  Usually, I can somehow trace their roots to something I've read, seen or heard, but I can't for the life of me explain my intense and lengthy conversations with Peter Hook (the bass player from the band New Order), whilst walking around quite a picturesque market town - vividly recalled but unknown to me.  It's not up there with the most bizarre dreams I've had (Gareth's dream that I was having an affair with Danny DeVito probably tops that list), but it was unusual.  Who or what has consumed your recent dreams?

Til' next time!


  1. Hello Claire, looks like you had a fab day with Vix & Jon :) The museum looks incredibly interesting. Oh, aren't those Elephant & Castle tiles wonderful! I used to have a friend that lived in an old pub that was completely tiled out, inside & out, with the most handsome green tiles. I think the mystery yellow flowered plant against the glinting window is Forsythia. Those autumn trees are very beautiful and so very well photographed.

    'Freelensing' - well everyday is a school day! It really introduces some dreamy colours doesn't it. Talking of dreams, many years ago, I had dreams of very deep and comforting talks with Neil Young. We'd always have a smoke and a cup of tea and he offered some great advice :) xXx

    1. Hello Lulu! Great to hear from you! Loved those green tiles. Forsythia of course! I'm hopeless at remembering the names of plants.
      Your Neil Young dream sounds a little similar to my Peter Hook dream. I can't for the life of me remember what we talked about, but I did seem to get something out of it. Very odd though as neither he nor his band have been on my radar recently. xxx

  2. No hiking for us either this weekend, as it has been cold, damp and generally miserable so far. Like you, I need a period of adjustment. I'm typing this with the heating on, yet wearing a camisole, long-sleeved t-shirt, jumper and cardigan!
    The poppy display is amazing, and as always, I loved tagging along on your walks. I'm not surprised the Enville Estate is such a favourite, as it looks absolutely enchanting, particularly through your camera lens.
    After reading both your and Vix's account of your day out to the BCLM, it has gone on our never-ending list of places to visit, and hopefully we can finally make it to Kinver Edge next year as well. Stunning photos of both the BCLM details (the chainmaker at work is a masterpiece) and Kinver Edge!
    I'd never heard of "freelensing" but your experiments do have a dreamlike quality indeed.
    As for dreams, if I do remember them when I wake up, they are gone within an hour, however vivid they were. I do have recurrent dreams, which I recognize while I'm dreaming. The only dream I remember is one from many many years ago. I dreamed that we were given a warning that there would be a big change ahead for humankind as from midnight. It was really scary, until the change turned out to be that we could now all fly! xxx

    1. I'm typing my reply to you in similar circumstances (minus the camisole).
      You would love Enville I think - it's only a mile up the road from Kinver too!
      Your dream must have been terrifying at the time! Dreams are weird. Most of the time I have no recollection of them. It seems to be all or nothing with me. Recently, I've had a few nightmares as in waking in a cold sweat, so this one made a pleasant change. xxx

  3. it is wonderful to accompany you on your walks via your fabulous photos!!
    love your eye for quirky details!
    as for ability to learn of the mankind - i fear its almost non existent - only a very few of us can learn their lessons in only a few cases.......
    @dreams: i forget them in nano seconds after awakening - guess its for the better.
    stay warn! (here -6°C the second night)

    1. Thank you Beate. Glad you enjoy them. I fear you're right about mankind. Now there's talk about colonising the moon and maybe Mars. Let's see what else we can ruin!
      It's cold and wet here today, but we've yet to have a hard frost. You stay cosy too! xxx

  4. Didn't we have a fantastic day and we were so lucky with the weather! That stone head definitely deserves to be liberated from the builders' yard. I'd love to know where it originated from. We'll have to go back in 20 years time and see if the Elephant and Castle has developed an aged patina - I do hope so!
    Some glorious photos of your walks. I saw Amblecote's poppy display on Midlands Today, it's inspired. Lovely of you to donate a portrait to the local school's fund raiser, too.
    I can see why the most photographed house in Kinver is so popular and its proper black over Bill's mother's, isn't it?
    I love the dreamy effect of the freelensing but your dreams sound very strange. xxx

    1. We certainly did! How awful is this relentless rain? Black over all of us at the moment, not just Bill's mother!
      That dream was particularly odd, given that I hadn't listened to New Order or even seen or heard mention of them for some time. xxx

  5. Such a lovely post, full of good times with good friends. Gosh, your pictures are just beautiful - you are an artist. I like the detached lens pics - very eerie. My dreams often repeat themes - I'm often lost or out of control.

    1. Thank you so much Sheila!
      I suspect stress can have a major influence on our dreams. x

  6. I'd love to visit that recreated pub! You got some really lovely photos, and I do think some skill on your part was involved haha. The glow in the goggles was a really great shot!

    The dreams I remember seem to divide into the categories of fairly typical embarrassment/ anxiety dreams and really intense beautiful or terrifying imaginary settings! The latter are obviously my preferred one and often inspire my writing!


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