• 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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  • Andalucian refreshment

    Since I last left a post on here I've been totally tied up with all matters relating to "ASH" & getting the word out there that this book is now very much here and ready to go. I officially published on 19th September & as I write almost 400 copies have already gone out. A good start!

    The first two weeks of September might not have been the very best time to have chosen for a holiday, but then it was booked many months back and both Jan and I were more than ready for a break. So two weeks of total relaxation deep in the mountains above the white mountain town of Casares in Andalucia was just the ticket. Surrounded by dense forest of cork oak, Portugese oak and Aleppo pines, with the towering twin peaks of Sierra Crestellina dominating the skyline, the gentle breezes wafting herb-rich aromas and the only noises the tinkle of goat bells and the clucks of chickens.

    Obviously I was going to photograph a few trees along the way, but other things too! Studying the cork oaks at close quarters is quite remarkable. It is the only tree that can survive having all its bark stripped off like this every 9-12 years, but the trees do look very strange. Unfortunately we were a little past the period when the bark is cut as I'd love to see it all happening (some good footage on Internet though). The Aleppo pines are incredibly bright yellow-green and many of the older ones absolutely choked with cones along every bough. Probably some of the most characterful trees we found were the old carobs - one superb ancient tree at the Roman baths of Banos de la Hedionda.

    One night after a most singular day of thunder storms we walked to the top of the valley and looked out towards Sierra Bermeja as the sun went down and amazing clouds flowed in along the valleys and washed over the forest (actually the biggest in Europe). We stayed for almost an hour until the sun had disappeared, the view constantly changing.

    But it wasn't all trees - we travelled to various places & the neighbouring town of Gaucin threw up a beautiful suprise - Urban Crochet - a group of 34 women who have been creating amazing street art since 2015.

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Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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