Highs and Lows, Sunshine and Snows

A summer solstice series of contrasts as we make our way around the sun 🙂

All four images were taken in one and the same orchard, the only difference is the relation of the Earth to the Sun!

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Spring in the South

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Orchards and groves: close relatives, worked, or working, trees, they occur throughout Europe as both rich habitats and heritage features in the landscape.

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I am paraphrasing Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University here – a man far more knowledgable than I on the misunderstood and threatened resources that are orchards and groves. (Orchards and Groves: Their History, Ecology, Culture and Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology and Ecology, Vol. 7, 2008, published by Wildtrack Publishing).

I do know how to appreciate them, though, and was privileged to be able to visit the almond, citrus and olive groves of southern Spain’s Andalusia at the beginning of March – a pre-season dose of spring for this traditional orchard fan(atic) from north of the Alps!

In fact, with elements of spring, summer and autumn all happening at once, it was a real feast for the senses!

Some almonds in blossom, some already fruiting, depending on location and elevation.

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Citrus, ripe for the picking and on your doorstep, literally…

Magnificent, majestic symbols of the heritage of which they form part: olive trees,

many still resplendent with olives as the harvest season draws to a close.

The feast for the senses continues at Malaga’s main food market: olives, almonds and so much more, by the bucket load!

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With many elements of local distinctiveness on offer too!

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The Return of the Light: A Gallery

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Imbolc 2017

“Lichtmess”, or Candlemas as it is known in English, is the Christianised name for an age-old European festival celebrating the return of the light in the northern hemisphere, its roots going back to the Celtic festival of Imbolc celebrated on the evening of 1st February.

As of February, the increasing hours of daylight start to become more noticeable and the day’s work again begins and ends in daylight.

In the country calendar “Lichtmess” or Candlemas also marked the end of the annual employment contract for farmhands and maidservants: traditionally presented with a farewell gift of a new pair of shoes from their farmer employer, come Candlemas on 2nd February, farmhands were free to seek new masters for the next year.

Neither farmhand nor in need of a new master, Imbolc always lightens my spirits, just knowing that the light is back. Be it with candlemaking or a ritual “back to the light” hike or bike tour, it is cause for a personal celebration:

 

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The Big Freeze

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What to do when the Big Freeze sets in?

Go with the freeze and make ice decorations!

Great for using up the remnants of festive decorations and Mini-Kraut‘s autumnal nature displays:

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  1. Place your strings in the moulds first.
  2. Weigh them down with your bits & bobs.
  3. Fill with water and leave outdoors overnight.
  4. Hang them up in the garden the next day where they will keep for as long the temperature stays below zero! (Remember to clear up the strings and bits once the thaw sets in!)

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Picnic with Pop-Up Shop

We trialled our orchard pop-up shop this weekend by luring a group of willing volunteers with

the promise of blossoms and English cream teas

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and unveiled the pop-up shop on site – all products gratis for the trial version.

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All the volunteers had to do was enjoy their

individual cream teas in crates,

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pick and choose at the pop-up shop

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 and fill in their questionnaires…

The result of their feedback:

Pick & Picnic Days

in the orchard

are to become a regular feature at seasonal intervals!

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