• Whiteleaved Oak finally expires

    Sad day on Tuesday. I'd been told by someone at one of my recent talks that the celebrated Whiteleaved Oak had finally expired. Sitting on a small mound near the southern end of the Malvern Hills, the adjoining hamlet named after the tree (or its predecessor), the Whiteleaved Oak grew at the conjunction of three counties - Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire - as well as the meeting of several ley lines and had thus become a focal point for many people with a spiritual leaning. This had resulted in the tree hosting celebrations such as weddings, wakes, birthdays and anniversaries as well as gathering all manner of amulets and tokens of good luck, health and happiness (a tree sometimes called a rag tree or in Scotland a cloutie (cloth) tree - somewhat esoteric maybe, but rather beautiful in its own way.

    When I first met the tree back in 1990 I did get a certain sense of something special but inexplicable about the place & that was before so many followers had adopted it.

    How old was it? We can only guess, but 400-500 years wouldn't be out of the way. It will be missed by a host of tree lovers.

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  • New old image for a card

    Just acquired this rather splendid little image off the Internet - entitled 'Waiting to be washed', a flock of sheep, penned in with woven hurdles, wait patiently beneath an old oak tree amusingly displaying a 'Trespassers will be prosecuted' sign. Sadly, no location mentioned. Lantern slide c1900. I think it will make a good addition to the Pearson Bark Card range as people do seem drawn to sheepy cards.

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  • Annual escape to the mountains

    As October comes around once again it's time to don the walking boots and head for the hills - this year a fairly short excursion to Snowdonia, staying in the shadow of Cader Idris. The early signs were not very encouraging - driving rain Friday, driving rain and rivers bursting their banks Saturday, but Sunday dawned fair and as the morning wore on the sun stole out from behind the veil of cloud as we topped the mountain. I took my Scottie Flossie with me this year and she loved the scramble - little legs, but four wheel drive helps.

    Peering off the northern edge of Cader into the clouds sweeping by far below the backlighting sun created a Brocken spectre - something I've only ever witnessed once before. October light on the mountains is often remarkable and Sunday was no exception. Monday morning was pretty good too.

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  • Two new ancient yews for the archive

    Two new images of ancient yews recently added to the historical tree archive:

    The Aldworth Yew in St. Mary's churchyard, Aldworth, Berkshire has been a well documented tree from 1644 through to 1972, but it was badly damaged in a storm in 1976. Much diminished & struggling when viewed in 2008, its girth in this image would have been around 27 feet, but it is now about half of that.

    (information gleaned from Ancient Yew Group website)

    This lantern slide dates to around 1905-10, but who were the two chaps conversing beneath the yew? The gent on the left would appear to be the local vicar, while the 'visitor' dressed in what would appear to be warm, protective clothing for the rigours of early motoring has left his car in the adjoining lane.

    The Lorton Yew by W.H. Youdale (convceniently titled at the bottom of the lantern slide) is another ancient and well known yew in Cumbria. Perhaps a trifle earlier in date - around 1895 - 1900. Again, one wonders who the old chap in the foreground might be. This tree still very much in existance & featured in several books about yews and ancient trees, but is most famous as the yew celebrated in lines from one of Wordsworth's poems, written in 1803 -

    'There is a yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale

    Which to this day stands single, in the midst

    Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore.'

    Both scarce images that I have never seen before.

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  • Up in the mountains & down with the Gothic rocks

    That spell in Spain seems a long time ago already, but thought you might like to enjoy the surroundings of our accommodation - a converted barn on an old farmstead - set atop a tree-clad valley beneath the Sierra Crestellina.

    And yet we still made it down to the coast three times - to a tiny little beach near San Diego where I discovered these truly weird Gothic rock formations. I am no geologist, but assume that all these honeycomb forms have been eroded by water action over millions of years.

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Archie Miles photography

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