Tuesday 2 June 2020

Early Morning by the Sea

I grew up near to the sea and always love to be near it ,whatever its moods. 
 Covid 19 Lockdown has meant that we haven`t seen the sea, some eight miles away, for over three months. 

Health risks mean that we cannot travel around and mix with others while the Lockdown Easings come into effect. A compromise was reached. 

We got up very early and were down on the coast by 6.30am.

The light of late dawn changed the sky as we watched.

Sunlight reflected white on chalk cliffs near Swanage, across Poole Bay.  Tall white buildings, tiny and far away to the east in Bournemouth, shone with reflected light. 

The Isle of Wight and the Needles looked near enough to touch. 

Dawn cloud shadows over Hurst Spit and the Island beyond. 

Sand martins swooped into nest holes in the sand and gravel cliffs. Tall grasses made cover for other nesting birds

Small pebbles crunched beneath our feet.

That rushing sound of pebbles, washed up and down the slope by waves and undertows.
The sound of my childhood beaches to the east, on the Solent shores.

A sea swimmer made progress along the shore.

A last view of the Island.We climbed wooden steps and walked beside thrift covered cliff tops. 
Time to go home on quiet roads, before the rest of the world woke up. 

Monday 11 May 2020

From a Cornish Clifftop

          For me, this Wednesday will mark nine weeks of The Solitude. 
There is a longing to be Elsewhere. To see the sea again, to watch green hedges sweeping over Welsh hills. To follow clouds and the light changing on mountains. 

Some photos of another time, another place. The cliffs between Looe and Talland Bay. Spring 2018.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Golden Gorse

A few weeks ago, on a sunny spring afternoon, we could see the yellow-gold of gorse shining through gaps in the boundary hedge. We climbed over the gate and set off for a short walk around a nearby valley. 

A few New Forest ponies, looking well after early spring grass, grazed by the deserted road. 

There were signs of tree buds bursting, up on the Beacon Hill. 

A heathland pool, replenished by rain. 
Everywhere, the coconut scent of gorse. 

Around the corner....

..... we followed a narrow sandy path towards the valley bottom. 

Ponies grazed in the wet mire.

            With the country in Lockdown, the sky seemed bluer and the air cleaner.

I stopped to watch and listen.
           No noise of traffic. Just ponies pulling grass and munching. Just a stonechat, chit-chatting somewhere in the gorse nearby. 

   Up a twisting sandy track , I climbed into the woodland edge towards home.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

A Walk Through Winter Trees

At the end of the storms, everywhere was wet. Just days before, we had been told that those with health vulnerabilities and those of a certain age should prepare to self isolate. We needed to get out, to think and find some peace. 

There were signs of spring. Patches of celandines grew in wild corners of the garden. 

We walked for an hour or so in the woods on the Beacon Hill. 

Felled by the winter wet and rotted through, this old 'woodpecker tree ' had been a landmark in the lane. 

Its bark, studded with woodpecker holes, and its crumbling interior, waited now for insects and birds to feed. 

A wet lane and leafless trees, but still the bright moss shone on beech bark.

        In the valley, soaked bracken, gorse and distant trees stretched towards the coast.

        Holly, the understory of tall beech and oak, had been eaten to the browsing line by Forest ponies and deer. 

A "tunnel of green gloom" from the lane to the bright edge of the hill. 

From the hill fort`s flat topped grass, miles of heath  crossed into the misty distance. 

Time to turn round, past pools and down the wooded slopes. A winter wood on the edge of spring. 

Wednesday 29 April 2020

In Days of Winter Storms

I took a long break from posting on this blog. Life became busy and full of time with friends, family, groups in our community, of feeling useful and being a part of things, of learning new hobbies and activities that I enjoyed.

Throughout recent years, I have still walked and taken photographs, but I learned to paint again ( after a fashion). There was little time left in a busy week.

Here we are now, many weeks into the Coronavirus Pandemic. For all of us, life has changed utterly. Thousands have been gravely ill. Death tolls rise and fall but each number is someone lost. Someone who was loved. A time of grief, unprecedented change, of an unknown future.

If we stay well, here in our Social Isolation of weeks that may stretch into many months, I shall post some photographs from these days, from our corner of this Locked Down world. Sometimes I may look back for photographs of freedom. When we had freedom to drive, to visit and to walk in other places. There is some consolation, knowing that these places we love are still there and that one day, maybe, we will have a chance to return.

The winter storms that came this year were harsh, cruel and wild. Flooding here was nothing compared to other parts of Britain, but we watched the changing skies and counted through the days and howling nights.

Evening sun on bracken and silver birch.

Clouds darkened and changed......

Winter sunsets painted the sky...

...and still the storm anvils came.

The land was steeped in water. Ditches , streams and rivers overflowed.

Inside, we waited for spring . Little knowing what would come in the wake of winter.

Sunday 27 May 2018

May at Cranborne Manor Gardens

When I last visited Cranborne Manor, in 2016, it was a warm June day and the roses were at their finest (see earlier post). We had walked along mown paths, through long, grassy meadows where the wild flowers had mostly finished and had hoped to return one day, to see them in bloom.

May is the best time for wild flowers here, so we made the journey again through narrow Dorset lanes awash with cow parsley ( Queen Anne`s Lace), red campion , comfrey, wood avens and hawthorn blossom . Woods were in young leaf of so many vivid greens and hawthorn blossomed pale cream in the hedgerows.

At Cranborne, the Manor Gardens were quite different without their roses. There was a sense of waiting for the main event, yet the wild flower meadows beyond were blooming in profusion.

A Giant`s Chair sculpture in a hay meadow full of flowers.

 Wild flower meadows in afternoon sun.

A little weir, a pond and the clear stream that runs through them. I sat on the bank in cool grass, under a weeping willow, and watched moorhen chicks swimming and a pair of grey wagtails catching insects by the running water. 

Wild flower meadows of buttercup, yellow rattle, red clover, germander speedwell, vetch and salad burnet. Cow parsley fringed the steam. 

In the peaceful walled garden behind the Manor, a colour palette of pale mauves, white, silver and shades of green softened the wide borders. 

We found a long, formal garden between high walls, where herbaceous perennials were spaced with room to grow into their summer finery. A garden to return to when the wall-climbing roses flower again.