Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Grazing the Malverns

The origin of the name Malvern, to describe the range of hills that straddles parts of the borders of Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and a small part of Gloucestershire, is thought to be the Ancient British "moel-bryn" meaning "bare-hill". At the time of their naming this range of hills would have seemed to rise out of densely wooded surrounding countryside and Iron Age people would have seen it as a suitable spot for the defensive earthworks of a hill fort, part of which can be seen in the photograph. The Malvern Hills Conservators who maintain this area find that grazing sheep help to keep down the scrub that would otherwise make the bare hills less so.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Sony DSC-RX100

Monday, 19 February 2018

The feral pigeon

The feral pigeons that we see in the towns and cities of Britain are the domesticated descendants of the rock dove (Columba livia), a wild bird that is still native to the UK. The feral versions carry the same Latin name even though in many (though not all) instances they look quite different from their wild ancestor. Today the truly wild rock doves inhabit a just a few northerly sea cliff locations. However, their descendants are everywhere. This feral pigeon, perched on a sill at the old Borough Flour Mill at Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, perhaps saw the building as an inland cliff.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Olympus OMD E-M10

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Pediments and mistletoe

The pediment, the triangular shape above windows and doors, derives from ancient Greece, is common throughout Britain. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the popularity of the classical styles of Greece and Rome ensured that columns, capitals, balusters, and classical moulding of antique origin proliferated. This facade, in late afternoon sunlight at Ludlow, Shropshire, is quite typical of those years. What is less typical in this photograph is the balls of mistletoe visible in the leafless tree nearby. This is very common throughout the Marches but quite unusual elsewhere.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Olympus OMD E-M10

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Watery willow tree

The semi-abstract reflections that objects make in water has always fascinated me. That's partly because it's not until you have the photograph that you know precisely how the image will look. This shot was taken on the River Avon near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, last December before the willows had lost all their leaves. The swirling patterns that the water imparts to the reflected trees reminds me of some of the brushwork in Van Gogh's later paintings.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Olympus OMD E-M10

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

A wooden font

The fonts of English churches are usually made of stone, sometimes with a lead lining to the bowl. However, in the eighteenth century wood gained a little popularity and the wood carver's art was turned to the embellishment of these baptismal objects. Today's photograph shows a detail of the carved bowl of the wooden font in St Mary Magdalene, near Croome Court in Worcestershire. The church is in the "Gothick" style i.e. a self-conscious eighteenth century re-working of Gothic at a time when the classical style was ascendant. It was built in 1763 and there is no reason to believe that the font doesn't date from that time.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Olympus OMD E-M10

Sunday, 11 February 2018

A new place to live

My silence over the past several months has been due to us moving house, this time to Herefordshire and the area sometimes known as the Marches i.e. the buffer counties adjoining the border with Wales. So, the flatness of the Lincolnshire Fens is behind us and we now live in a an area of small cities (Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester), small towns and villages. The landscape is rolling hills and valleys with higher prominences, mainly pasture but with some arable and a lot of orchards and fruit growing. As ever, my photography will reflect where I live, but will be interspersed with images from farther afield.

Here is a low key start - a field of winter wheat by a wood at Eastnor, Herefordshire.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Sony DSC-RX100

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Churchyard putti

One of the characteristics of Lincolnshire churchyards is the limestone gravestones of the latter part of the eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century. These heavy slabs, once set vertically but now often leaning alarmingly, carry the usual details of the deceased. However, they also feature the decorative carving that was fashionable at the time. This includes swags, cartouches, leaves, paterae and putti in profusion. Putti (singular "putto") are cherubic heads with wings.They are said to represent the omnipresence of God. The pair above are in a Stamford, Lincolnshire, churchyard. The weathering of the stone is slowly wearing away the detail but enough remains to identify the subject.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Sony DSC-RX100

Friday, 4 August 2017

The duck speculum

The speculum is a patch of colour on the secondary flight feathers of many species of duck. Each type of duck has a specific colour and often this is iridescent. It can be a useful clue to bird identification, particularly when birds are immature or in moult. The photograph shows the speculum of Britain's most common duck, the mallard. It is iridescent purple/blue with black and white edges. This species has interbred with domestic ducks and frequently the speculum of the hybrid is a clue to the parentage of one half of the union.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Nikon P900

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Willy Lott's cottage

If there is a more famous cottage in Britain than the one shown in this photograph I can't think of it. The building is Willy Lott's cottage at Flatford Mill near Dedham, Suffolk. Willy Lott (1761-1849) was a tenant farmer who lived there and worked thirty nine acres nearby. It is well-known because it appears in a number of paintings by John Constable (1776-1837) whose father owned Flatford Mill, the building behind me when I took this photograph. Constable's most famous work, "The Haywain" features the cottage.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Olympus OMD E-M10

Monday, 31 July 2017

Timber-framed houses

I once read that the order and symmetry of the exposed woodwork of timber-framed medieval and later houses revealed something about their age. Broadly speaking asymmetrical, seemingly (though not in fact) haphazard wok was usually an indicator of early work - say, the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. The more orderly, symmetrical timbers that were often arranged to form patterns and sometimes include ornamental quatrefoils and such were invariably later, usually dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By that reckoning this photograph taken in Lavenham, Suffolk, shows some reasonably early timber-framing.

photo © T. Boughen     Camera: Olympus OMD E-M10