Saturday, January 21, 2023


For a typically weather obsessed Brit, I think I can safely say that January appears to have traded places with one of the zodiac's water signs.  There has been a lot of wet stuff about.  Being, as we are, located in the West Midlands regions of the UK and just a hop, skip and a jump from the Welsh border, our regions riverside towns such as Bewdley and Ironbridge, are often severely impacted by rain washing down off the Welsh hills which serves to compound any localised flooding.

It was 11 months ago, when the River Severn last flooded and breached its barriers, as recorded here in my little poetic offering.  Winter Peach Photography: Storms

This time, the barriers held...just.  This was the scene as we approached the town of Bewdley - on foot, as the road in was closed.  The dog in the foreground was perplexed by all of the interest in his home town.  He had his orange ball and all was well in his world.

In town, the community's unease was palpable.

Preparing for worst case scenario, the Environment Agency was in town, raising the flood barriers to their maximum height.

I wasn't wholly surprised to run into local drone photographers Simon and Joanna (our first time meeting in the flesh, although we all pretty much instantly recognised each other).  Simon captured the swollen River Severn and the awesome power of nature in dramatic fashion from above.  You can view it here.

Not so longer this kind of event was labelled a "once in a generation" occurrence.  We don't hear that phrase any more.

Arley, just a few miles down river, had also been affected.  We spoke to a man who had, for the majority of his life, only recalled two such severe floods decades apart in the 1940s and 1960s.  We visited both towns two days running.  Here's the little bridge at Arley on day 1.

And the same bridge from the other side on day 2, completely submerged.

Bewdley on day 2 was much the same...

...the water pumps working overtime.

Mercifully, the flood waters did not breach the barriers, leaving the Environment Agency somewhat red faced after their minute by minute predictions failed to come to fruition.  Many frustrated residents had adopted their emergency plans and either evacuated or moved household contents to upper floors.  Still a relief for all, I'm sure.

Our wonderings also took us to a never-before-visited Nature Reserve.  After dropping our car off for its MOT, we walked back via Fens Pool Nature Reserve, situated in the Pensnett area of the West Midlands.  Once forming part of Pensnett Chase, a medieval hunting ground for the Barons of Dudley, it gradually became industrialised and was used for coal mining, clay extraction and a one time brickworks.  

In addition, part of the Earl of Dudley's private railways ran across the area.  By the 1960s, the area had served its purpose; the colliery waste ground reverting to grassland and the clay pits flooded and turned into ponds.  

Opened as a nature reserve in the early 1990s, it now forms the largest area of open water in Dudley Metropolitan Borough.

Heading onto the Stourbridge canal (opened in 1779), we were greeted by familiar towpath scenes - urban artwork/graffiti...

....Brockmoor Foundary, semi obscured by nature...

...a solitary hunting heron...

....urban alleyways....

...and remnants of our industrial heritage and world renowned glass making (the Red House Glass Cone, just beyond the lock keeper's cottage).

Another day, another adventure.  Except this wasn't just any day, but Gareth's 50th Birthday.  Every year I endure 5 days of Gareth celebrating his "toy boy" status, so forgive me if I am now seem to be labouring the fact that he has notched up half a century.  Gareth doesn't do social media (and I rarely use it other than for business), so it's always interesting and enlightening to say the least to see who actually remembers and sends something tangible like a birthday card, or picks up the phone these days don't you think?  This particularly thoughtful card dropped through the letter box from Vix and Jon.  It's a keeper.

We headed out to Attingham Park, the Shropshire National Trust property beloved by fellow bloggers Vix and Ann.  

The sky was blue and the sun was shining upon arrival.  I was layered up like the Michelin Man and felt nothing as a result.  In fact, you could have rolled me down a bank and into the river and I would most likely have floated along the river quite contentedly.

The house was closed so we headed to the Carriage House Cafe for a lunch of honeyed swede soup and cauliflower and cumin fritters (for once I photographed my food - the fritters were delicious!) 

Refuelled, we headed out to the 18th century estate kitchen garden.  This couple were angled towards the sun, dosing up on vitamin D.

Inside, I was drawn to the wild garden, a haven for wildlife.

Just look at these beautiful seed heads.

Jobs for January.

We found a particularly warm and sunny corner of the garden.  Look at the nails, screws, holes and rawl plugs in this wall.  It's lived a life!

I asked Gareth to give me a 50th Birthday pose.  Just to demonstrate that his punk spirit is still alive and kicking, this was his choice.  More Johnny Cash than "blue steel pose."  In reality, I'm not sure how "punk" you can get in the grounds of an 18th century manor house.

Weaving back along the still swollen river, I grabbed a couple of pleasing vista shots...

...and tried in vain to photograph a falcon in a tree.  The beady eyed bird, despite being safely perched on a branch 15 feet up in the air, still refused to allow me to get anywhere near it, flying from tree to tree until eventually I gave up.

The dying light was exquisite, but with little warning, dark clouds gathered and the sun retreated behind a veil of white cloud.

Soon, it was raining steadily and so we retreated to the safety and relative warmth of the second hand book shop, where I picked up a couple of page turners....

....before exiting through the stables and back out into the courtyard.

Inspired by the lantern glow, we lit a candle that night, trying to add a little of that 18th century rich living vibe to our humble abode.  The smoke was courtesy of an incense stick, in case you're wondering.

Hope you're all keeping warm and dry.  If the winter gloom is getting you down, feast your eyes on these little snowdrops poking through.  Spring is coming.


  1. I can imagine people's unease being palpable in those towns and villages liable to flooding. It must be beyond devastating if your home is flooded, I can't even bear to think of it, and I'm thankful we're not near any rivers and that there aren't any hills the rains can wash down off.
    I loved tagging along on your walk in Fens Pool Nature Reserve, which sounds a bit like our ex-clay pit ones.
    Most of all, I loved seeing Attingham Park in Winter. Mind you, on our visit last June, we too retreated to the second-hand bookshop to escape the rain!
    Loving Gareth's 50th birthday pose, the atmospheric photo of the stables and that stunner of a photo of the burning candle. xxx

    1. Thanks Ann. There's a huge sigh of relief over the flood water subsiding.
      Attingham is always beautiful and offers up something different on each visit.
      We used candles a lot over Christmas and the good ones take a surprisingly long time to burn down. xxx

  2. so sorry to hear that the rivers at yours did try to get out of their beds! thank goodness the barriers held! i know when all the snow here is tawing people will look worried at the river elbe......
    but you made very athmospheric photos - of the high waters and of the estate. especially love the stables.
    do exist any other things to produce smoke then incense sticks?? ;-D

    1. There rarely seems to be any weather stability. Hope the thaw doesn't cause any problems in your area.
      Thanks Beate. I loved the green painted walls in that stable block.
      Some incense sticks are better than others. ;-D xxx

  3. We get flooding and landslides in my part of the world now! As always, gorgeous photos! Swooning over all these amazing vistas...Happy Birthday to Gareth (I also have a toyboy, my husband being 3 years younger than me!), love the pose.

    1. Crazy! Landslides are very scary.
      It's find when you're the one with the toyboy. Not so sure I'm happy being the cougar for 5 days every year! ;-D

  4. Hello our Michellin man ;) What a relief the river didn't breach. It must be terrifying for the people in those houses. Oh Claire, your picture of the foundry with trees in front is especially exquisite! Gareth's 50th pose did make me laugh. What attitude! Hope he had a goodun' :) xXx

    1. Hello! I think they must dread this time of's definitely becoming an annual event.
      Glad you liked the foundry photo Lulu. I thought it made a beautiful subject.
      Birthday Boy (no longer Toy Boy) says thanks! xxx

  5. "I'm not sure how "punk" you can get in the grounds of an 18th century manor house", that made me spill my tea, hahaha! Brilliant capture, tough. Sid would have been proud!
    It's high time we revisited Attingham, I like it best in the Winter.
    I can't imagine how scary it must be to live so close to the river and constantly be on high alert, you'd never want to leave the house, would you?
    I had such a laugh making those cards for you two and Tony! xxx

    1. Thanks Vix. :-D
      I agree with you about visiting in Winter. You appreciate the rewards of the cafe and book shop all the more.
      The card was fab! xxx


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