Tag Archives: trees

Wonky wEst Country

We have just returned from four rainy days in Cornwall and Devon from St.Austell on the bottom coast to Lynmouth on the top coast. The Eden Project was our main objective. Of course, these days it has little to do with sustaining life on Mars – it’s a tourist attraction, albeit with a message but, that said, it was still interesting. Whoever thought of naming the car parks after fruit had a brainwave! – you’re not going to forget you parked in Lime Parking Zone, are you?

These pictures were taken in October – it was a fairly dank and dismal day but on the plus side there was not the crush of visitors that they must get at the height of summer. We went for a wander outside first while the rain was still only drizzle. The grounds are full of interest: mock ups of mines

Cornish tin mine

bee hives with glass panels so you can see them hard at work

wacky large scale sculptures

Eden Project sculpture

metallic commemorative leaves

and at this time of year a superb display of colourful gourds all ready for Hallowe’en celebrations.

And then you come to the biomes themselves, nestled into the landscape like giant hexagon sided bubbles. Up close you realise the challenge they would have posed for their creators: they must cope, on the outside, with the onslaught from wind and rain, and, inside, maintain the correct temperature and levels of humidity to sustain the incredible range of plants and vegetation and the bird and insect life within their strange translucent ‘domes’. To create the right curvature, there are a few pentagons in amongst the hexagons and each section has a double skin – all very technical!

The building in the foreground is the temporary ice rink which is set up every autumn

It was our intention to do a bit of cycling in Cornwall and Devon and my son did just that. I chickened out of most of it because, especially near the coast Cornwall and Devon are far too hilly for me!! My son cycled from St.Austell, where we stayed for the first two nights, to the Eden Project, and although the short distance between them would imply that it’s not an arduous ride, the hills tell a different story!! The west Country doesn’t appear to have any flat surfaces or straight walls or level roads! It is wonky!

Supper on our first night was delicious, but then you would expect a bowl of moules mariniere and a sea food platter to come up to scratch on the coast!

We travelled north on day three through Bodmin and Bude, where we stopped for a coffee (and a scone – although we ended up with an almond croissant!) We ventured out into the rain to stretch our legs and walked past a big Adventure centre situated down towards the sea. By this time we were being blown off our feet by the wind and were astounded to see a group of tiny children in crash helmets and wet weather gear, standing under dangling ropes and tyres and looking aghast at what they were being expected to do – yes! assault the assault course!!

En route to Lynmouth, our final stopover, we had lunch at the Pig on the Hill in Westward Ho! (drawn probably by the place names as much as anything!) This was our view out of the window!

But i was fortified by the soup

and we were both fortified by the skinny chips! I wasn’t. however, too keen on the sign they had chosen for the ladies’ toilets!

I know! I know! It was a pig-themed restaurant, but you can take things too far!!

We arrived in Lynton, the ‘upstairs’ part of Lynmouth – and it was all very picturesque. And even hillier than St.Austell. Despite this, we decided to go for a spin on the bikes as far as the beginning of the cliff path – just to blow the cobwebs away. And then we came to our senses, put the bikes away, unloaded the car, had a shower and went out on foot to explore instead.

The lane leading from Lynton onto the cliff walk
The funicular which runs from Lynmouth to Lynton
Beautiful sea views from the cliff path
Cliff path leading to the Valley of the Rocks

That white speck is a goat – we saw a number of them along the cliff path. Difficult to appreciate here but that is quite a vertiginous drop down!
Lynmouth
River Lyn
Lane from Lynton to coastal path
‘ I see no ships ….!’
Even the trees aren’t straight here!
Valley of the Rocks
Interesting rock formations in the Valley of the Rocks

The vertical stone walls – a work of art in themselves
Trees, stone walls and moss – a combination to inspire fairy tales
Time to go in search of dinner

We went in search of dinner – which turned out to necessitate a walk down through about 4 ridiculously steep hairpin bends and across the bridge where the River Lyn crashes thunderously down towards the sea and into the little town of Lynmouth (well, more of a settlement). I could feel the tendons and ligaments in my legs stretching to snapping point and wondered when they were actually going to snap! We gathered momentum just from our body weight and were in danger of going headlong down this 1 in 4 hill like a couple of bowling balls. There were escape routes for cars at regular intervals on the way down in several different languages – so they have clearly had the odd mishap in the past!!

We definitely felt as if we’d earned our supper that night! Even so we got a taxi home!

Ephemeral Paintbox Colours

Photographers talk a lot about ‘the golden hour’ – those precious moments at sun up or sun down when the light is at its most attractive and everything you shoot seems to be bathed in a golden glow.
Well, we don’t get a lot of snow round here so recently when we had an unexpected overnight snowfall of around nine  whole  inches I had to venture out with my camera to record the scene.
I donned my wellies and gloves and  left my cosy, warm house.
 The images I captured were more  ‘snow glow’ than ‘golden glow’ but what a sky!  I started out at around 3.30 pm,  just before sunset, with the daylight reflecting back up off the snow.

I wasn’t alone! The snow attracted a lot of people out for a walk that day and dogs revel in it as much as humans!

The light on the horizon gradually changed from an orange glow

to the most fantastic band of deep blue, crowned by another band of deep pink.




– so beautiful – and unusual, and a tiny bit surreal.
Eventually the sun sank behind the hills and this magical light faded.

By 4.30  the ephemeral  ‘snow glow’ had gone.

I am a Tree Hugger – but if I could be a tree…….

It’s starting to feel like Spring and what better way to celebrate than getting out into the fresh air to hug some trees! Nature has a way of persuading us to leave the comfort of a warm sofa and brave the elements – the first sighting of Spring lambs, for example – aahhh!! ,

and the promise of some stunning country views and the trees – there they are again – they just seem to weather anything winter throws at them.
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roots1  stream2
After Spring comes Summer, for some of us a chance to sit under a shady tree and do a spot of fishing,
   
     

while others prefer to  sit outside  and contemplate the trees in the far distance, or silhouetted against a glorious sunset.

 
 
 
 
treeline


Photography makes you more observant – it’s a fact! You start to see everything in a new light (no pun intended!) – new angles, interesting juxtapositions, the way shadows fall, including your own! and how colours  interact.   Old hands tell you to look carefully, but not just in front of you. No! Look up!  Look down!  Look around! And this is never more important than when you are photographing a tree. Some have exposed roots at your feet, then there’s the lacework of leaves swaying overhead. Some are laden with nuts and some have nests tucked away in the upper branches. I always feel I should be able to identify more trees. Can you identify a tree from its bark? or its shape in the distance?
   
Ah, but what if I were a tree? Autumn would be the season I would enjoy most. Bedecked in that stunning autumn foliage  – it must be like getting ready to go to the ball – and to choose from that palette of  bronzes, gingers, rusts, corals, ochres and russets. I don’t understand those evergreens – they just refuse to get dressed up !

  
leaves
Trees are there for us all – human or not – kids climb them, big cats use them as pantries, small cats stalk along their branches to hunt birds (as if!),  people sit under their shady branches,  lovers etch their initials in the bark, they provide us humans with food, timber to build a house, firewood to keep us warm – and for the animal kingdom it’s much the same – cover, habitat, stores to see them through hibernation.  Quite apart from all that, trees are beautiful to look at at:  whether it’s a solitary oak spreading its branches in the middle of a field or a whole forest, dense and mysterious and a bit scary. Dense forests have been the setting for fairy tales and stories with speaking trees, trees with magic powers, trees that walk and scare us to death! Very often you can look at part of a tree and see in it someone or something – and some are just so old and gnarled they seem to have their life story written into the bark for us to read.
What do you see here?



dragon
 
And so to Winter. Trees make an excellent subject to photograph in winter – the images you capture can be really atmospheric – bare branches, stark against the winter sky. Even a fallen tree has a beauty to it – the way it is slowly but inescapably being reclaimed by lichen, forest ferns and fungus and decomposing back into the soil that once nurtured it.


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There is such a variety of trees.  Gardeners say there is a tree to suit any garden, whatever climate it is subject to and whatever size it is – so no excuse! we could all have one!
 
And if I were a tree?  Maybe an oak but I can’t really be a tree so I’ll do the next best thing and plant one.