Thursday, October 07, 2010

a gathering



A Hawthorn tree with it's full display of berries. This particular tree is on the top of a cliff where it is very windy and so becomes bent and shaped by the wind. Hawthorn berries are edible but not straight from the tree because of their bitter taste. They need to be made into jellies and the like. Lichen grows freely here which is taken as a sign of good clean air.

The wonderful Sloes growing on the Blackthorn tree . A good harvest of these this year. Best picked when they have a pale bloom, they can be as large as the size of your thumbnail unlike the Whortleberry, which though unrelated, are only the size of your little fingernail or smaller, making them much slower to pick. We managed to pick three and a half pounds of Sloes in forty five minutes which is enough for our needs.

These photos were taken on two separate walks in September on two different local hills. At the moment the Autumn weather is veering between very hot summerlike days, to fog and damp darkness to gales and intense squally storms and showers, all of which can happen in one day - though generally don't.

Reality does seem a lot better out here. There is a peace and vastness of sea to experience and the sight and smell of nature getting on with it all, unbothered about whether we are here or not. Picking berries is good because instead of just being an observer you become an active part of the landscape, involved and concentrating on the picking of Sloes and on not catching your hands on the very sharp thorns of the Blackthorn, which protect the berries and can leave the careless picker with a bloody puncture that will go septic. A scratch you might get away with.


john said...

As you may have noticed I have had a bit of reorganisation of the look of the blog. Everything is still similar but I wanted to get the photos bigger, as they are the main thing really. On my own monitor they are very big indeed, I don't know how they look where you are, hopefully not too ridiculous. It might take further tinkering.

Zoner said...

Lovely country you wander in sir. Fall is upon us here in the central northern US and the colors and smells invite long exploration or just a sit amidst our less mobile but far more advance brethren.

Thank you for taking us on this voyage.


WV; exogist - yeah, I get it.

nobody said...

Well done John, that's briliant, exactly what was needed. All of those pix look brilliant now.

May I say you've been a bit slack and idle John with a long time between posts. Ordinarily I'd say that that reflects poorly upon a fellow, ahem, but in your case we'll overlook it. But never mind that, I shall come to the rescue with some possible inspiration.

What with only just noticing your ancient yew link, I was wandering about that link thinking, 'If only they had some fine photos by John...' Have you any photes of yew trees mate? It'd also be a marvellous opportunity for you to write. Write up your alley, ha ha.

Otherwise mate, by way of Jonathon Dimbleby and this history show of his I've been watching sporadically (er... the name escapes me), I've only just put two and two together and realised that all those Georgian cartoons I always admired were all done by the same fellow - James Gillray. That I should know so little about someone so significant. Dreadful! (What astounds me is that he never gets a mention in Aubrey/Maturin. A blot on O'Brian's escutcheon).

Subsequently I've been catching up but it's a skimpy business. Each of his pictures requires an explanation that is invariably absent. If you were to do a thing on him mate that would be absolutely brilliant. And sure there's the historical thing but he still rings a bell in contemporary terms: ie. the artist skewering venality, corruption etc. Not forgetting Steve Bell of course...

john said...

Cheers Zoner and thanks. It is a beautiful season all across the northern latitudes isn't it? I've seen some photos of Fall in the US and it looks very colourful indeed, you have such wonderful large forests and landscapes. We are still in the early stages with the trees just beginning to change now. I hope all is good with you and yours where you are, a pleasure to walk with you.

john said...

Cheers nobody.
Yes the postings have been slow lately for one reason or another, I'll try to get them done a bit more often.

I still have a couple of photos on the Yew Tree site but they were taken back in 2006/7 with a fairly cheap camera and could really do with being updated. I don't get to see as many of these trees as I would like to as even though a few are quite local they are still tricky to get to without a car. Some of the trees can be seen on the blog here The Plymtree Yew

The Payhembury Yew

The Farway Yew

I'll see if I can hassle up a car from someone, it would be nice to catch up with them. The Payhembury Yew is spectacular and is one of the oldest trees in the country and only about 15 miles away.

Gillray would be an interesting subject nobody, I'll have to pull up a few and have a good look at 'em. Some good possibilities.

After a recent rummage in my boxes of books I have been reading an 1869 copy of Mrs Markhams History of England (with conversations at the end of each chapter) for the use of young people. The language is so snooty and fruity it has been a pleasure to read and given me many laughs, though the sense behind the lineages of the kings and queens remains as obscure and incomprehensible as ever. I'd never heard of Sir Cloudesly Shovel before. If nothing else he had a great name.

nobody said...

Thanks mate,

It's mind buggering that there's so few of them left. Are people not planting new ones? Hmm... somehow I suspect it's not that simple...

Oh oh, they're turning the lights on and off here, which is what they do when they want everyone to get out. So I'll click those links next time. Thanks mate.

reem said...

Hi , john , i think you are living in amazing area , you enjoy walking across fields and pick that nice sloes . sitting on that lush ground gives you peace and rest , some trees seem so old ,

i can see autumn through golden plants under the trees .

Everythings there tall us about great nature , the power of nature .

your photos became bigger now , anyway ,big or small ,i like your work so much , after your blog , i am so excited to visit DEVON oneday . all best for you .

su said...

once again thanks for the walk.
and once again the visuals triggered the sense of smell. damp earth, fallen leaves, falling into that space where wet earth leaves me reeling.

p.s. the post to togo is faster than the post here. ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Hi John

For some time I have been following your wonderful photos of land and forest and sea. Today I discovered that you are also painters and musicians!
The guitar music is really beautiful dreamy
The images in the wooden frames have a lot of warmth.
My English is Google English translation. I hope you can understand it.

greetings from Winterthur

Hallo John

Seit einiger Zeit verfolge ich Deine wunderbaren Fotos von Land und Wald und Meer .Heute habe ich entdeckt, dass Du auch noch Maler und Musiker bist!
Die Gitarrenmusik ist wirklich wunderschön verträumt
Die Bilder in den Holzrahmen haben sehr viel warme Ausstrahlung.
Mein Englisch ist Google übersetzungs Englisch. Ich hoffe man kann es verstehen.

liebe Grüsse aus Winterthur (CH)

john said...

Cheers nobody

It is possible that there wasn't that many to start with, though some have been lost in the last few hundred years.

A lot of the ancient yews remain because they are mostly in churchyards, though the ancient trees were here before the churches were built and the sites were sacred before Christianity.

Churches here are often found on small mounds or hills suggesting that the mounds were also sacred sites before Christianity.

Luckily for us the church kept the yew trees as they would have been gone from many places otherwise. They are just thought of as traditional rather than pagan and even spectacular trees go largely unnoticed. The church has actually done a good job in looking after them on the whole.

If you have the time, the most interesting book I have read on the subject is The Sacred Yew by Anand Chetan and Diana Brueton.

For some good photos there is the book Meetings With Remarkable Trees by Thomas Pakenham.

Allen Meredith is the character I would like to know more about.

john said...

Cheers Evat. I am glad that you are enjoying the photos.

If you like these photos you would probably enjoy Devon very much. It is quite a big county which includes Dartmoor, which is a very wild place indeed with lots of good old myths and legends. It is a very green county because we get so much rain a lot of the time, mind you it does rain pretty much everywhere here. I know it rains a lot in Wales, I've never seen rain like it.

Cheers for now.

john said...

Nice one su. I'm glad you are enjoying the photos. Making them bigger has made them a bit easier to experience though I do think they might be a bit too big now. I may tinker again before the next post.

The earth and the woods are really starting to smell lovely at the moment. Autumn light is beautiful too.

Yes nothing in the post here so far, I have no idea how long it will take either way but I can always send another if it doesn't show up. I have a few newer tunes recorded recently so more may be sent.

john said...

Hi Patrick and thank you very much.

The translation seems to work fine, I was using google translate on your posting of the 911 chalk work that you did, very interesting and good to see.

Interesting too that a lot of us seem to be out in the woods looking at mushrooms lately.

Thanks again and cheers for now.

john said...

It looks as if I was wrong about the number of yew trees we have lost here recently. Just rereading the first few pages of The Sacred Yew it says here: "Before the Second World War there were about 1,000 sites with yews aged over 1,000 years in Britain, by the mid-1970s this number had shrunk by about half".

Penny said...

Don't you just love autumn John?
It is my favourite season.
Some people say,why it is when everything is dying.

But it isn't really.

It is the show of the year.
Look what the two previous seasons have resulted in, wonderous.

And I love the sound of the crunching leaves under your feet when you walk through them on the forest floor.

It is just such a marvelous time

john said...

Yes I do love the autumn Penny and everything doesn't really die anyway, it's more of a sleep, as it all comes awake again in the spring, so it is just a part of the circle of the seasons and a pretty part too.

Nice one Penny and cheers for now.