Petrified

The petrified oaks of Mundon on the Dengie Peninsular are not actually fossilised, but are dead. They are thought to have died as a result of salt water breaching the water table.

The oaks exist in strange shapes, some almost look half human. Can you see an eye, nose and beard?

Some look like they are twisted and screaming. They have been linked to witches ….

Indeed, the puritanical Witchfinder-General, Matthew Hopkins resided in Essex. He sought out those practising ‘the dark arts.’ Nineteen were convicted and hung. Four died in prison.

Others think that the oaks may have once been part of an ancient woodland. These oaks began life around 1100 when Henry I was crowned King of England.

They are certainly intriguing.

Probably best viewed on a day shrouded in fog from the North Sea, to capture that eerie feeling!

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High Summer

Another heatwave and 6 days of high temperatures and an opportunity to capture an unnatural evening glow in the still heat.

Sweltering Summer days are sometimes referred to as the ‘dog days of Summer.’ This comes from the Roman phrase ‘dies caniculares.’ It was noted by the Romans, that the star Sirius (also called the Dog Star) began to rise in the sky before the sun towards the end of July. The star was so bright that they believed it gave extra heat to the sun and was responsible for the hot days of Summer.

The rising hot air and moisture provide perfect conditions for thunder and lightning. At 30,000 degrees celsius, lightning is five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

A single thundercloud is more powerful than any nuclear power plant on earth. It has been calculated at approximately 1 billion volts.

Isn’t nature amazing?

Heatwave

The intense heat appears to give an eerie golden glow in the evening.

Barley field.
Tall grasses illuminated by the evening sun.
Gold.
Wild flowers.
Cobwebs elegantly draped over a nettle.
Backlit wildflowers.
Blinding sun.
Fading sun.

Ancient woodland

The term ‘ancient woodland’ in itself conjures up something magical and mystical. It describes an area of woodland that has been in existence since the 1600’s. It has developed naturally with unique ecosystems and the woodland has not been disturbed by mankind. Sadly, these special places only account for 2.4% of the UK.

All the leaves on the trees were out in full – brand new, perfect leaves in that fresh shade of almost luminous green. They always look at their peak in May, before the colour slightly fades and the leaves get their lived-in appearance and become tatty looking as the Summer goes on.

The light was perfect, weaving its way through small patches and lighting up the ground where the leaves had not yet formed a complete canopy. It provided that beautiful dappled appearance, great for photography.

Ferns growing tall.
Red Campion
New leaves.
Light reaching a solitary blade of grass on the woodland floor.

A host of golden daffodils

I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth.

Spring has sprung

Daffodils.

The soft pink and white flowers of Helleborus Emma swaying in the wind.

In the 14th Century, the term ‘springing time’ was used instead of the old English ‘Lent’ or ‘Lenten’. This was referring to plants springing from the ground. It then became ‘spring-time’ and by the 16th Century was shortened to ‘spring.’

Red and bold.

Persephone was the Greek goddess of spring. She spent winters as Queen of the Underworld but returned in spring to preside over rebirth.

Late Winter Colour

The sun was shining this weekend, so it was time to get out into the great outdoors and see what was growing.

Witch hazel.
Dogwood
Pink flowers.
Witch hazel.
Sunlight on a plant.
Snowdrops.

Sissinghurst Revisited

A bit of colour and sunshine to lift the spirits in the depths of Winter, some photographs from earlier in the year.

A bee foraging.
Plants in the shade.

Green flowers – Ixia viridifloria. Introduced by Vita Sackville-West to Sissinghurst, from South Africa.

Burg Eltz

This is the Eltz Forest in Southern Germany. Nothing special I hear you say, just a bit of woodland. But wait a minute …
Take a 25 minute walk down through the Mosel valley.
You won’t be disappointed with the view.
Burg Eltz, possibly one of the most beautiful fairytale castles I have ever seen. The Eltz family have been in residence there for 33 generations since the 12th Century. It is one of few remaining castles of the Rhineland-Palatinate state. The rest were destroyed in The Thirty Years’ War – one of the most destructive wars of the 17th Century resulting in 8 million deaths.
It perches precariously over the Elzbach River, with its towers and turrets. A real medieval castle. Built and extended over hundreds of years.
There are lots of interesting exterior features.
Hidden behind the shutters, is a world even more fascinating. Yet unfortunately, no visitor is permitted to photograph the interior. But if you look at this link and click on the photos, you will have a better idea and can see that the interior is equally as impressive as the exterior. https://burg-eltz.de/en/eltz-castle-the-attractions/castle-tour.html
It is said to rival Neuschwanstein Castle, which is found at the end of Germany’s ‘Romantic Road.’ I will have to find out for myself another time I visit Germany!
We had a tour in German, but they do English speaking tours too.

Autumn’s end

The first meteorological day of Winter is on December 1st. Some pictures to celebrate the end of the season.

A sycamore in golden light.
Delicate seed heads swaying in a light breeze.
Sunlight reflecting through leaves