Thursday, June 18

Eynsham Folk Festival

One of the many things I like about living in Eynsham, is that people get off their backsides and organise things.

Last weekend was the 2nd Eynsham Folk Festival, organised by, amongst other people, our friend Larry Poole (Larry is such a happy chap, that 'Happy as Larry' really means something round here).

On Sunday, five morris sides, and some clog dancers descended on the village.

These chaps are Bampton Traditional Morris, one of the three Bampton morris sides: Bampton Morris, Traditional Bampton Moris and Bampton Traditional Morris.

Bampton is quite a small place, and morris dancing is taken seriously there, leading to family feuds about steps (allegedly).

These ladies are from Mason's Apron (so named because they used to pactice at the Mason's Arms in Headington Quarry). Clog dancing started in the mill towns in the 19th C, and is apparently the parent of tap dancing. It seems strange to find it in the Cotswolds until you realise that most morris sides exclude women (don't want the crops to fail do we?).

Beer is common denominator though.

This is the fantastic Armaleggan, an unashamedly non-traditional Border morris side from Cumnor (look wimmen!)

"See little girl, you too can dance with the morris...and have a big stick, not a silly hanky".

I was rather taken with these customised boots.

Eynsham Morris order their beer by watering can, not pint.

Thursday, June 11

Alveston - May 2015

On a beautiful day at the end of May, my folks and I went to visit Alveston (in Warwickshire), where my Ma was brought up, and where one of my uncles still lives.

It's a pretty little place, and we had lots of happy holidays there when we were children.

We had a lovely wander down to the chancel of the old church... has a beautiful peaceful churchyard.

Back in my uncle's garden...

...I had huge aquilegia envy. I must ask him for some seeds.

There's something very special about a garden that's been tended for a long time.

I feel very close to my late grandmother, Gertie, here.

The house and garden are on the top of a cliff above the river Avon. Beyond the river is Charlecote Park and the village of Hampton Lucy. When I was little, I used to get into Gertie's bed in the morning for a cuddle, and look over the fields to the church (which goes by the wonderful name of St Peter ad Vincula).

Wednesday, May 6

Milan 2015 - Out and About

OK - this isn't Milan. This is Adam in the pod transport at Heathrow. He's happy because I'm excited.

I wonder if these are culinary herbs?

I do like looking up and seeing little details...a nice balcony...

...snarling beasts...

...a dancing bishop... interesting looking cafe...

...a great t-shirt...

...a decoration on a block of flats, which would have caused Howard Roark to go bonkers.

We also came across a massive apple...

...a snooty lion...

...a nearly invisible gift shop...

...and a HUGE sewing machine.

Milan 2015 - Castello Sforzesco

Despite the Serbian barman telling us that the castle was "nothing special, you need to go to Serbia"...

...we popped up to the Castello Sforzeco...

...built in the 15thC for Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, who according to Machiavelli:

"With the right policies and great courage, Sforza, a commoner, became Duke of Milan and, having won power with enormous effort, held on to it easily enough".

Here is his coat of arms, which pretty much shows you what to expect...

...if you were dragged through the gateway...

...into the outer courtyard.

Now the moat is home to a gang of feral cats.

Saturday, May 2

Milan 2015 - The Duomo

Milan cathedral...

...has a very strict dress code...

...and a beautiful floor.

At the moment it's home to an exhibition by the sculptor Tony Cragg

This is St Bartholomew who was flayed alive. A number of people were taking selfies in front of him...each to their own I guess.

Up on the roof we were able to see this lady...

...this beast and his pal.

The boy fits in quite well!

The stone work is absolutely lovely... delicate...

...and clearly takes a lot of upkeep.

I found these steps rather scary.

The majority of the exhibition was up on the cathedral terraces.

Watching them being installed must be quite something!

It really is quite magical up there.