It’s my brother’s birthday today and I have been wracking my brains over what to get him. Totally failed! The truth is that he’s far too special to me to get him some gimmicky knickknack or whatever. Material possessions become less important to us over the years, unless they’re outrageously expensive things (like camera gear!). Robin never likes us spending lots of money on him anyway! So I decided to dedicate this post to him. These views are more precious to him than just about anything money could buy! This is Viewpoint on Box Hill in Surrey. The view is looking across the village of Brockham where Robin was born, at home, and first met his two older sisters in the early hours of June 15th 1984. We adored him from the moment we met! I still remember the feelings of overwhelming joy we were feeling on our way into school, listening to Billy Joel on the cassette player. This beautiful countryside was our playground growing up. It’s so special to Robin that just over a year ago he took his then girlfriend, Morwenna, up to Viewpoint to propose to her! I’m very much looking forward to her becoming my sister 🙂
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.
Boundaries and borders are made for crossing! Bridges, fords and tunnels are the most common ways of traversing a river. The Stepping Stones on the River Mole at the base of Box Hill are part of a National Trust walking route around the hill, designated an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty in The Surrey Hills. I grew up in the area and we walked around Box Hill many times as children, always delighting in crossing the stones! Rivers have always been natural boundaries within the landscape but the waters around the stones are actually very shallow. Children go barefoot through the waters, often with a net for catching small fish, newts and larvae in the shallows of the river. It’s always made me laugh that during the Second World War authorities actually removed the stones in case of an invasion! They were replaced in 1946 and are still enjoyed by walkers of all ages today.
I had to get past a few of my own limitations to get these photos for you. My mobility is very poor and I usually go out in my electric wheelchair to explore the landscape, nature and local wildlife. Obviously the Stepping Stones aren’t exactly wheelchair accessible! Fortunately they are very close to a carpark just off the main road to Dorking. I’m also fortunate to have a Simon who loves coming out with me and enabling me to do photography projects that would be impossible on my own! He helped me down into the water and then passed my camera and tripod down to me so I could find some good views of the stones. I was in my wellies and didn’t have a problem with my early shots. I really wanted to get views from a number of aspects to show the beauty of the river and the surrounding woodland. There are several things that I learned! 1: If you crouch to adjust your tripod you will get a wet backside. 2: Dogs do not understand the concept of waiting for the stupid photographer to complete a long exposure. 3: Just because you remember the river being shallow enough to cross near the stones doesn’t mean that it’s the same depth either side. 4: Wellies that are full of water are very hard to get off!
Whilst on a family day out at Newlands Corner, a beauty spot with wonderful views, in the Surrey Hills, I went butterfly chasing. I thought I’d spotted a skipper so I tried to weave my way through the brambles and nettles to get a photo. What I saw had me quite perplexed as it clearly had markings that I didn’t recognise for a skipper but was the same shape and size. I managed to get a few photos of several of them flitting among the brambles and wildflowers.
When I got home and onto the computer, I brought up the UK Butterfly and moth identification guides and got to work. It didn’t match any of the skippers, coppers or fritillaries so on the off-chance I went over to moths.
The result was thoroughly unexpected! I’ve never seen one of these little beauties before but it is, indeed, one of our day-flying moths! It’s called a Speckled Yellow, scientific name: Pseudopanthera macularia. I hope you’ll agree that it really is a little gem 🙂
You may have heard about the storm named St Jude, that swept across the South of England today. After the storm had passed I drove to Newlands Corner, part of the Surrey Hills, to photograph the views for this weeks photography challenge and watch the sun go down.
Although the storm took out the power for hundreds of thousands and brought down numerous trees, the outcome wasn’t as devastating as many had predicted.
There are now lots of jokes appearing all over social media regarding the apparent non-event. I always find jokes following natural disasters a bit distasteful.
Let’s not forget that four people died as a result of the storm! My thoughts are with their families and with those who have suffered injury and destruction of property.
Nature can be a devastating force. In the UK we are much more fortunate than those who live in some other heavily populated areas of the world.