STANTON DREW 44 – VILLAGE LIFE 11

 

 


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This is a tiny piece of England and, to me, this is simply wonderful.  We are here in Stanton Drew, beside a large and important Stone Age monument – and these are the only entry formalities!  This is what more of Life should be like!!!

The farmer has attached this box to the gate that takes us into the fields where the prehistoric stones stand, and there is a little hole in the top to receive the one pound entry charge – most people probably pay with a pound coin, a coin that is a little over two centimetres in diameter and which neatly fits through that hole.  There is a little keyhole so that the farmer can collect his pounds.  And that’s more or less it!

In a container on the gate there used to be some single page, printed leaflets that very briefly described the prehistoric site, but there were none there on my latest visit.  And a little further on there is a small, green Ministry of Works sign, informing anyone who damages or defaces these standing stones that the full weight of English Law will descend upon them – the penalties may not quite be on a par with those imposed for setting fire to Her Majesty’s dockyards, but they’ll still be pretty damned unpleasant …

After which you pass through gates which prevent livestock getting out of the fields – and you’re in the fields, and the stones stand, lean and lie wonderfully before you.
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Part of one of the stone circles, with a farm, cattle and sheep up on the hill behind – click onto the image to better see these.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1 Further images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .    Each will open in a new window.

Click onto each image to open another version in separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens; Lightroom; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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STANTON DREW 41 – VILLAGE LIFE 8

 

 


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This series of posts – looking again at Stanton Drew – is entitled Village Life, and really I suppose its just that, looking at little scenes and details around the village, trying to give a flavour of its life.  But there’s no getting away from the fact that this village is sitting on the immediate edge of a major stone age site – there are actually standing stones in the pub’s back garden.  I’ve already mentioned this in this post.

Two things get to me here.  Firstly – and delightfully! – although this is certainly an important Stone Age site, spatially at least on a par with the far more well known Stonehenge and Avebury, it is far from all but the most specialist tourist trails.  It does have much meaning for the local Pagan community, something which I respect and identify with very much, but the really lovely thing about these standing stones is that, most often, there are no other visitors at all, so that there is every chance to experience and savour them in peace, quiet and solitude – so different from Stonehenge and Avebury, and truly a wonderful gift.

I’m a geologist, with all that entails about understanding and being at ease with vast periods of time, and I also have a great interest in history, not least ancient history.  And the second thing that gets to me about the Stanton Drew standing stones are the great time periods involved.  The stones were laid out and erected around 4,000 or 5,000 years ago, in Neolithic times.  A line of low hills can be seen in the photo here, and up on those hills is the Iron Age camp of Maes Knoll, which is thought to have been built around 250BC – so the stone circles at Stanton Drew were already two or more thousand years old before that Iron Age encampment – itself remote in age to our eyes – was built.

Later in history, the Anglo-Saxons arrived.  I don’t have an exact date here, but somewhere around 650AD may be right.  And I mention them not only because of my great interest in their history, but also because the name Stanton Drew derives in part from their time – stanton – some sort of settlement or enclosure in the vicinity of the standing stones.  And so to the Christian church, parts of which date from the 13th century, ie some time after 1200AD.  I like Stanton Drew as a place, but the great, visible length of history here considerably adds to it for me.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1Further images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 .    Each will open in a new window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it still further – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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BRISTOL 125 – TOWN AND COUNTRY

 

 

 

The Olympus Tough TG-5 camera  is new to me, the first Olympus (other than, briefly, the mju-ii) that I’ve used since the heady days of the classic OM-1 and OM-2, back in the early 1970s.  Tough cameras are just that – waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and crushproof to various degrees.  My plan is to take this one out in bad weather – torrential rain comes to mind – and to photograph in these conditions.  I’m mad?  Oh yes, devoutly …

I’m primarily drawn to this camera because of its waterproof qualities, but it also shoots raw files, has quite good autofocus, and contains the same image processor as current top of the range Olympus cameras.  Furthermore it has a 25mm-100mm (full frame equivalent) zoom lens, which is a very handy range when longer telephotos are not required.  Its sensor is very small however (1/2.3 in), but it is a small and light camera, very handy to carry when out walking.  And so to some images, taken during a walk around south Bristol on a misty autumn morning – and, who knows, maybe pictures taken on later walks too.

Most of my pictures of Bristol have been from the city’s centre, but now here are some taken far out in the suburbs, where the city blends into (or maybe, intrudes upon) the surrounding countryside – although thousands of new homes are scheduled to be built not far to the left of this picture soon – so this view may no longer be on the city’s edge in the not too far distant future …

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film preset; Whitchurch, south Bristol; 2 Nov 2017.

PLEA FOR FEEDBACK: I’ve been having problems using WordPress’s original post editor, and WP Tech Support now tell me that these problems are due to a bug in Internet Explorer.  Please can you let me know if my posts display any errors or peculiarities from here on in?  Many thanks!  Adrian

 

PEOPLE 297 – PEOPLE FROM MY PAST 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Yesterday, I introduced these People from my Past images, along with a picture from my time as a geologist in the mountains of Oman.  This is another picture from Oman.

Here is our campsite, two tents, the vehicle, and rock – rock everywhere – with the bare mountains all around.  I’m slouching in the shade of the vehicle on a camping stool, quite possibly after a long day’s work – and the photographer is my colleague Don.

It was extremely interesting exploring the interior of a country which was only just opening up to the outside world.  The interior was wild, I remember many apparently ancient sites lying open on the surface, but the going was tough.  The days were hot, I wore two pairs of socks inside stout boots to keep the heat away from my feet, and the vehicle’s bodywork was burning to the touch.  There were no tarmac roads, and indeed very few roads of any size at all; we often found ourselves driving across country, or up into the many deep wadis that radiated out from the mountains’ flanks.

The Land Rover was rugged, tough, very basic and an absolutely wonderful vehicle for these conditions.   There is a jerry can visible in the roof rack: we carried most of our water and spare petrol up there above our heads – which in the case of the petrol was distinctly unnerving, but luckily we never turned the vehicle over.   The water was solely for cooking and drinking, washing being a luxury that had to wait until we got back to our base at Sohar, on the coast.

The terrain was mentally as well as physically taxing, since nearly the whole landscape was in shades or brown or maroon, so much so that the rare patches of greenery, near water, were often quite shocking, even strident, to the eye.  Flying home, the endless greens of England were a definite shock too.

Before going to Arabia, we had been trained to give and receive intravenous injections of serum that would counteract snake bites and scorpion stings.  I can’t recall seeing any snakes, but scorpions were common under stones, especially near water.  During our training, the sight of the large, intravenous needle, and then having to stick it either into myself or someone else, to extract a little blood from the vein before injecting the serum, always made me pass out.  I would feel my head getting tighter, and then wake up lying on the floor, looking up at a ring of laughing faces looking down at me.

And so the scenario was all too predictable – Don would be stung or bitten, and collapsed, flat out on the desert floor.  I would rush up with the large needle, push it in – and then there would be two of us flat out on the desert floor …  We were very careful, and this scenario never unfolded – the worst sting I had was from a hornet.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Don took this, and looking at it I would guess he used his OM-1 with a 135mm Zuiko telephoto.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 300 – LOOKING WEST, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 


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Something of a milestone, I suppose, my 300th post from these lush, wet (often very wet!!!) flatlands.  What can I say?  I love the place.  I love the very basic, what-you-see-is-what-you-get simplicity of the place.  There is no advertising hype here, no marketing, no tourism, just a flat landscape, the local farmers, the occasional person walking their dog, the occasional person simply walking, the occasional birdwatcher or photographer, and that’s it.

Many years ago, I recall going into the single shop in Westhay (which has long since closed down) and saying to the shopkeeper “There aren’t many people about this morning”, to which I received the somewhat mournful response “There are never many people about round here”.  Bring it on!  The place is not of course immune from the noise of motor vehicles, but sometimes there are just the sounds of the wind, the birds, the cows, and the soft lapping of water.

And here on Tealham Moor, and on the nearby Tadham Moor too, great big open skies which powerfully remind me of the vast open skies above Africa – actually, more specifically, the skies above Kenya. For me, there are far too many people in England, but that’s not the problem it might be because in the main, and especially so away from tourist areas, most people stay relatively close to their cars.

So, what is pictured here?  Well, flat land, land at or just below sea level, that was underwater in the geologically extremely recent past – I’m talking of only a few hundred years ago – and which will be underwater again in due course, when the coastal defences along the nearby Bristol Channel can no longer totally hold back the sea.  In Roman times, seagoing boats regularly crossed this area, inland to Glastonbury.

As we look at this view, there is slightly higher ground up on the right.  Not long ago, that was an island.  And the dead straight waterway disappearing off towards the horizon on the left is the North Drain – a totally man-made channel vital to the drainage of the area.

The large white birds are Mute Swans, a species whose wings make a beautiful, rhythmic singing sound in flight – birds which I recently portrayed at far closer quarters here and here.

And finally, not far beyond the horizon, along the muddy shores of the Bristol Channel, well, that’s where I come from.  If I have one, that’s my homeland.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to open it still further – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 24 June 2016.

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ARCHIVE 328 – AUTUMN ON THE HILLS

 

 


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Autumnal colours, lit by early morning sunshine, at the Priddy Mineries Reserve, high up on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 15 Nov 2003.

The picture consists of three distinct layers. A band of golden reeds forms a thin strip across the bottom of the frame; and above this a band of slightly greener reeds, with their reflections in the still pool.

Above this, and occupying the rest of the picture, the black silhouettes of the trees stand up in front of a bright, straw coloured background with strong, greener vegetational elements (bracken) running upper left to lower right.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: OM-4 with 300mm Zuiko lens; tripod; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide rated at 64 ISO.

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STANTON DREW 37 – VILLAGE LIFE 4

 

 


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A picture from the edge of Stanton Drew, looking in towards the village from the surrounding fields.  And a picture very immediately depicting two very different ages of Man.

In the foreground, prehistoric standing stonespresumably erected for some ceremonial purpose, four or five thousand years ago.  Whereas in the background, and only 700 or less years old, is the Christian church of St Mary the Virgin.  Its intriguing (but by no means unique) to see Christian structures so close to far more ancient ceremonial sites.

Seeing these prehistoric stones at Stanton Drew positively does me good, just knowing that they are there does me good.  I do not of course have any concept of the rites or religion(s) that were practiced here in those very far off days, but if I find anything spiritual at Stanton Drew – and I do – it is without doubt amongst these very ancient standing stones.

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1 .  Further images are here: 2 3 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it still more.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 155mm; 200 ISO; Lightroom; Stanton Drew; 1 Aug 2013.

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STILL LIFE 158 – BEACH SCENE (MONO)

 

 


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Rocks on the beach.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 186mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset; The Lizard, Cornwall; 19 Oct 2016.
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PEOPLE 294 – FARMER (MONO)

 

 


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Farmer and his sheep, northeast of West Littleton, South Gloucestershire.

Other images from the West Littleton area – the Outlands images – are here: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89,  1011, 12, 13, 14,  15, 16, 17 Each will open in its own window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Fine Art Process preset; 12 Apr 2017.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 299 – MISTY MORNING, ALLERTON MOOR 3

 

 


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Looking into misty light, early in the day.

You can find other images from this dark and mysterious morning here and here.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Allerton Moor;  22 Aug 2017.
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