Christmas Day in pics

On Christmas Day we had spectacular weather after weeks of cloud and rain and misery. Granted, it was about 7 degrees, but the sun was shining and the wind had stopped and I grabbed my camera and headed out to take some pics. Town was deserted. 

Fortunately the current crop of floods are abating somewhat. On Saturday I had gone walkies and took a look at the water levels around us and things were not looking too good. This is the Severn looking towards the Mythe water works. 

(1500 x 435)

The pano above was taken on Saturday and is looking towards Bredon Hill across the waters from the Avon/Severn confluence.  Fortunately that water is subsiding and hopefully will remain low. As an aside, just think how fertile that soil must be.  Back in Town I headed towards the Abbey because it is always spectacular. Alas, the floods have cut off parts in that area too.  The area where the small white building is is the cricket pitch and the only game that can be there now is water polo. Howzat?

A few steps away is the parking lot for the Abbey and you can get some wonderful shots of it from this area.

The Abbey was unaffected by the 2007 floods, but you can bet that in its almost 900 years of existence it has seen a lot of water surrounding it.  There is a really huge tree in it’s grounds too that is a definite favourite of mine.  It must be really old and who knows how much it has seen.  I believe it is a Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea) and they have a typical lifespan of 150–200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years.

I went into the Abbey and had a quick walk around. The Christmas service was starting at 10.30 till 12.00 but I had a full bladder and no reading glasses so did not stay for it. But while I was there the choir was singing and the organ was making sweet thunderous music. Light was streaming into the east facing windows and it was very special. The pews were filling quite quickly too and on my way back home I saw lots of people heading towards it to attend the service.

Behind the High Altar was a nativity scene and the light was shining on it and it was very apt for a Christmas Day. Unfortunately I cropped the image badly and could not replicate the shot from other positions. 

Leaving the warmth and solidity of that ancient church I headed along the Mill Avon towards town. The deep shadows and bright patches made photography difficult, but there was a peaceful air about this part of the river.

The old mill and Victoria Gardens were under water once again, and the boats moored alongside were riding at pavement level. One boat caught my eye, the name board proclaiming it to be “Thunderchild” and immediately I thought about Jeff Waynes War of the World’s

“Thunderchild”

The Invaders must have seen them
As across the coast they filed
Standing firm between them
There lay Thunder Child.

I would have that piece of music going around inside my head for the rest of the day. In one of the alleys I came across this magnificent gate and that really wrapped up my photography for the day and I turned my bows towards home.

Break had a nice display of vintage toys and I paused for a pic…  Children are really the ones who enjoy the season the most, but alas Christmas has lost the magic and has become a commercialised monstrosity. 

Apart from food Christmas was done and dusted for another year. You can bet that Boxing day will be in its last throes and they will be putting out the Valentines Days goodies, although in South Africa it is more about “Back to School” instead,  and we all know how kids enjoy that too… NOT!

DRW © 2019-2020. Created 26/12/2019.  
Thunder Child lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songwriters: Jeff Wayne / Gary Osbourne.

Photo Essay: Return to Florida Cemetery

Florida Cemetery was one of the many that I went to when I was photographing war graves in and around Johannesburg. There is one CWGC grave, one Border War grave, and two private memorials in it. It is also not too far away, and while I was in the area I decided to stop for a quick visit to rephotograph those graves.

It is a pretty cemetery with a mix of headstones and a number of family plots. It is hard to know when it opened, but it was certainly busy in the 1920’s. I photographed two graves that date from 1889 and 1891 respectively, both headstones were of slate and very legible.

Sadly the little office at the gate was vandalised many years ago and when I was there it was being used to stash some of the tools of the guys cutting the grass. 

There are quite a few children’s graves in the cemetery, and the small china statues that are often used on those graves are broken. Some of those small graves are very old, and the mortality rate for young children was very high in the era when this cemetery came into being.

This particular example dates from 1948.

The one thing I did not like seeing was the detritus from people; litter, tins, broken glass, paper etc. Even though the cemetery is fenced it is reasonably easy to climb the fence or just open the gate. The area around it has deteriorated too, and that leads to all sorts of undesirables using the cemetery as a place to do what they do best. 

Florida was also a mining area many years ago, and I am certain that many of the graves here will tie into the mining industry, although there is no real way to extract some sort of data on who is buried here. The odds are that there are graves that are reserved for family members although who knows if they will ever be filled.

And, like so many cemeteries there is a population of birds and small rodents that live in and around it. I think the bird is a “Spotted Thick Knee”, and I encountered them in most of the cemeteries in South Africa that I visited. They are quite aggressive during the breeding season and given the haphazard scrapes that they build I can see why. Unfortunately they are easy prey to marauding cats, and there are quite a few around given that this is a residential area.

And then it was time to go…

Florida will always stick in my mind as it is such a unique cemetery in an area of ever changing demographics. How much longer it will remain relatively intact remains to be seen, things can change very quickly in South Africa, hopefully it will all pass by and leave no impression on this small haven of tranquility. 

Random Images.

Private memorial in a family plot
CWGC grave
Marklew family plot
1902 grave
 
 
1891 grave
 
1889 grave

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 03/04/2017

Photo Essay: The Sunday Blommie

As Winter changed to Spring and then to Summer I cannot help but watch the transformation of the area around me. The large field I go past on the cycle track is a mass of vegetation. The Brook is running low and the vegetation is becoming more thicker as time passes.

One of the oddities I have been watching are two plant species that I had never seen before. The first is associated with Scotland.

I had not noticed that there were Thistles on my route until they started to flower, and they are really very pretty. The dominant spikey plant I had been seeing is known as a Teasle and I was eager to see what they looked like when they flowered, 

Their bushes are over a metre high, with multiple heads that are huge. I was not sure what they would look like when they flowered though, I suspected it would by similar to the thistle; a head of purple flowers. I was wrong, and they turned out to be very different to what I expected.

I expect during this week all the remaining Teasles will start exploding in colour, and hopefully they will not get knocked down by rampaging children with too much time on their hands. 

On my way to the supermarket the other morning I nearly fell off my bike when I saw this huge member of the thistle family.

Known as a “Cardoon” it is also known as an the artichoke thistle. There were only the two flowers in bloom when I first saw it.

I have been keeping an eye on it each time I was in the area  and it is now in the closing stages of blooming by the looks of it, and last night (12/08) I shot this image

The whole area has become an eruption of colour as the seasons have changed, and while I am generally not a flower lover I have been taking photographs of some of the gardens and displays in the town. Frankly I have been very impressed. 

Flowers by the boat load
Flowers by the boat load

I usually post my “Sunday Blommie” pics to my friend in South Africa for her to admire. and what strikes me is I do not recall seeing such floral displays in South Africa because the houses  all tend to have these giant walls with electrified fences on them. This is however just a small selection of what I see as the seasons have changed. And appropriately I have also seen the flower the epitomises the many World War One posts I have been making lately:

The red of the poppy and the purple of the thistle. It tells us a lot about those many brave men who lost their lives fighting with the South African Scottish Regiments 100 years ago.

Postscript:

It is now almost the end of September, Autumn is raging, and the teasles? their time is over until next year.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 24/07/2016