This book is a personal, photographic journey through the four seasons in Charnwood Forest, an area of natural beauty in the East Midlands of the UK. It is a collection of the author’s experiences and observations of the plants and wildlife in the forest. The book includes insights into the ever-changing natural environment and the beauty of nature in each season. To complement the author’s thoughts, the book also includes selected extracts of William Wordsworth’s poetry from the 18th and 19th centuries, which still resonate today. The goal of the book is to inspire readers to explore the beauty of nature for themselves, by putting on their walking shoes, picking up their cameras, and visiting the Charnwood Forest. All the locations featured in the book are easily accessible.
In part 1 I focused on looking up at the tree canopy in Swithland Wood. In this section we turn our eyes down to look at the woodland floor. In some ways the woodland floor is more vibrant in winter as it is not shaded by the tree canopy. Although slow, the woodland continues to grow throughout the winter.
Some people say that a managed wood should be kept tidy and fallen trees like this cleared away. However, once a tree is fallen it becomes a vital to host to many other species which are vital to the diversity of the woodland. Here we can see some moss enjoying the winter sunlight.
Fallen and decaying trees are often the best place to look for the fungi which likes to feed on the decaying wood. It is worth noting that fungi can be found all year round and not just in the abundant autumn.
Another species which is easy to ignore is the lichen which can be seen on both fallen and live trees. There are many fascinating textures and shapes if you look closely.
With a fallen tree the bark tends to disappear to reveal the grain of the wood below. Here a broken branch shows more detail of the innards of the tree. This of course is a timeline of the lifetime of the tree. Layer by layer year by year.
It is quite remarkable that trees will grow anywhere that they can find a foothold for their roots. I love this tree at the Druids Mound with its roots draped across the ancient volcanic rock.
Water is vital to the success of any woodland. Swithland Wood is fortunate to have many streams which cross the wood. These can be quite lively after heavy rainfall.
Even in winter the streams sustain plants like this fern. I enjoyed seeing this arrangement of rocks and imagined how someone was inspired by their surroundings. No doubt the rocks will be displaced at some point to take a more natural position in the stream.
I Included this image of the old stone building bathed in the beautiful winter light to remind us that Swithland Wood hasn’t grown naturally. It is the result of good woodland management over hundreds if not thousands of years.
I made my first trip to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire today. It is a large site with around 30,000 trees and oer 350 memorials. Far to much to cover everything in this blog, so I thought I would let you have my personal impressions of the day.
The Armed Forces Memorial which is the centrepiece of the Arboretum. Interesting the site has many non-military and individual memorials as well.
In the centre of the memorial are some very powerful sculturees.
At this time of year meny people visit the many memorials and leave their own tributes.
Here is a powerful reminder of the Christmas Day Truce in World War One where both sides laid down their arms for a day and played a game of football.
The Free Spirits memorial which is a tribute to recognise the unique partnership between human and horse. It reminded me of my Grandfathers role in World War One where he drove horses wagons to supply the front line.
During the Second World War my other Grandfather drove steam Trains which were always a target. After a long days shift he would also volunteer as an air raid lookout.
My father was called up as a Bevin Boy in World War Two when the government realised there was a massive shortage of miners. As health and safety practices were lacking by today’s standards this wasn’t a safe option.
The Polish Memorial was interesting as it told many of the heroic stories.
This was the memorial that affected me the most. This is for all those who were shot for not carrying out their duties. We now know that many of these men will have been suffering from shell shock. Each post represents those who were shot and is labelled with their names and ages.
Look at the date on this. Only four days before the Armistice was signed. The war was over but still the killing went on.
In someways it’s quite surprising that Birmingham has much to commend for beautiful photos. I found this out on a recent trip with my good friend Dave Walters. Our objective was to create some really great architectural images. I’ll leave you to judge the results. The other good thing is that Birmingham is far easier, cheaper and quicker to get to than London which is where many photographers go for their architectural images.
To finish here is traditional Birmingham, the city with more canals than Venice.