This rather dark image is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. This is Box Hill Fort, set behind the visitor’s centre and cafe at the top of Box Hill. Last Wednesday I went out chasing butterflies again and I was looking for several species on the chalk hillsides of Box Hill. The fort was a rather stark contrast to the delicate little butterflies I was looking for. I was really struck by the graffiti on this wall. It’s not the usual splurge of spray paint or some unreadable moniker! No, this is polite, Surrey graffiti. It’s even been written using the local chalk from around the hillside, which means no lasting damage! And it rhymes; GO TO THE DOOR FAR FROM HERE, HOPEFULLY YOU’LL FACE YOUR FEAR. There’s actually no visitor entry to the fort these days as it’s now home to bats, which are a protected species in the UK. So, if you fear bats and you’re by the far door at dusk, I suppose you may well face your fear! In the bright sunshine all I found was a holly blue butterfly, which was more delightful than awful. I’m still not certain why the writer thinks that readers would be hopeful of facing their fear. I find it intriguing and perhaps that makes it art. What do you think?
The Old Fort is one of 13 mobilisation centres (known collectively as the London Defence Positions) built in the 1890s to protect London from invasion from continental Europe. The six acre site of the fort was originally purchased by the Ministry of Defence in 1891, and construction began in 1896. Box Hill fort was laid out in the form of an infantry redoubt, typical of the period, but also included magazines for the storage of artillery ammunition. Box Hill fort was designed for the use of the infantry only and the stored ammunition was intended for the use of mobile field artillery, which would be deployed nearby as required. A reform of defence policy by the Secretary of War, Viscount Haldane, in 1905 resulted in all 13 centres being declared redundant, and Box Hill Fort was sold back to the estate trustees in 1908.
I love watching wildlife along the Basingstoke Canal near where I live. Last week I had a delightful encounter with one of the grey wagtails that live alongside the canal. It’s the perfect habitat for them and they thrive here! I always see them on my short outings but this time I was able to get much closer than usual, getting to watch my little friend preening his feathers and singing joyfully. They’re fabulous little birds, full of character with such pretty plumage. The experience brought me so much joy, I decided that he would be the star of my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge!
I spent a lovely afternoon at RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, wandering through the pinetum and woodland areas, chasing butterflies. The woods in the pinetum are full of native bluebells. Their importance as a food source for butterflies and other insects was so evident in the number that we spotted! I found six different butterfly species in and around one small area of bluebells. Brimstone butterflies were by far the most numerous! They delighted us all with a dance of love, as the more vibrant males competed for the attention of the paler females. Pure magic! My featured image, of the male and female dancing together, is my entry for this week’s Fotospeed challenge. I’m including a gallery of all six butterfly species below; comma, large white, brimstone, green-veined white, peacock and speckled wood.
A magical sight waited for us in the woodland yesterday, where a group of us gathered to celebrate a good friend’s birthday. I followed the track dividing the woodland plots and discovered that the bluebells were taking over the rutted track, once used by man and machine, now given back to nature. I’ve added this sighting to The Woodland Trust‘s online survey of bluebell woods, helping to build a national picture of the locations of our native bluebells. Sightings of hybrid and Spanish Bluebells can also be added to the Big Bluebell Watch, to help with conservation management. This is also my entry for the Fotospeed challenge this week. I expect bluebells will be featuring heavily again this week on their twitter feed and I just hope that everyone can feel the magic in my capture.
Something a bit different for Wex Monday this week! These wee little piggies are Gloucester Old Spots, a rare breed pig, that are being raised at The Cotswold Farm Park in Gloucestershire. The farm belongs to Adam Henson who is a co-presenter of BBC’s Countryfile program. He specialises in rare, British breeds of all farm animals. I had such a large album to choose from but just couldn’t get this image of the piglets out of my head! They really were so cute playing together in the field. It’s lovely to visit a free range, ethically managed farm! The park is only a part of Adam Henson’s farm and is a great day out for families and animal lovers. I even managed to bring home dinner from the wonderful farm shop!
After so many warm weeks in the UK, winter has returned it would seem! I have seen some great images of snow in Scotland today and we are expecting a frost tonight in the South. With the change in temperature this image of a snowy owl, from the Cotswold Wildlife Park, seemed appropriate for Wex Mondays! I visited the park on Saturday on my way up to Bourton-on-the-Water. Wonderful place even if I did get totally lost trying to navigate around the exhibits in the walled garden! I never did find the meerkats, which is a good excuse to go back again 😉
My entry for the Fotospeed Challenge is this lighting abstract. One of the many curios that I discovered at the Cotswold Motoring Museum. I’ve been in Bourton-on-the-Water for a girls weekend away with my best friend, Rachel. Yes, that’s right, a GIRLS weekend, we went to a motor museum, and it was fantastic! Our whole trip was brilliant, it’s been ages since we were let loose together 😉
I photographed these Spanish Bluebells in my parents garden on Easter Sunday for my Blue Monday post and entry for Fotospeed’s weekly photo challenge. The Spanish Bluebell is very pretty but as a non-native species has become an increasing threat to the native British Bluebells in our woodlands. I’m hoping to capture some of those beauties soon! One of the ways that the Spanish variety has been spread to woodland areas has been in the ilegal fly-tipping of garden waste. They can be cross-pollinated with the native species creating hybrids that change future generations forever! Please be careful with your garden waste this year. More information can be found at The Woodland Trust.
This Martian War Machine is one of a number of sculptures set around Woking and in Horsell Common, that celebrate the author H.G. Wells who lived in Woking at the time he wrote his famous novel The War Of The Worlds. It has been adapted so many times but in the original it is here, in my home town, that the Martians first land. They proceed to wipe out most of the area around where I live before heading up to London via Kingston and Richmond. I would love to one day see or hear a production that is actually set in its original location! Until then I decided to give the Martian sculpture a menacing and alien looking backdrop using various overlays of smoke and granite. This is my entry for the Fotospeed Challenge using an image photographed over the weekend. The sunshine really gave a boost to the metal workings of the sculpture! I created a few images of the machine, the second that I’m posting here was shot from directly under the sculpture.