Monday, July 14

South Leigh Walk - July 2014

Yesterday, the Boy and I went for a walk to South Leigh. The walk is mostly over fields rather than roads.

The church at South Leigh, St James the Great, dates from the 12th century.

I loved these carved stone heads.

I wonder if they are portraits....

or just archetypes.

The faces are very expressive.

There are swallows roosting in the porch.

The great Doom painting, and the other wall paintings date from the 15th century...

...but was heavily restored in Victorian times.

The hell mouth is very impressive.

I loved this little door.

On the way home we spotted this lovely donkey.

Oxfordshire may not have rolling hills and mountains, but it has its own gentle beauty.

Friday, March 28

Saltdean - oh...we do like to be beside the seaside.

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to have a trip down to Saltdean to visit an old friend.

It's famous for this beautiful Lido. A few years ago there was a plan to fill in the pool, and turn the site into flats, but I'm glad to say that it's going to be restored.

It's a beautiful spot, and we enjoyed walking by the sea...

...watching the sunset...

...and the moon.

Friday, February 7

Shropshire 2014

It's it must be Shrophire!

Having had a lovely break there this time two years ago, it was great to join my friends Dr. Bones and Revd. A (not forgetting Boots the Canine-in-Chief) for a few days at Henley Cottage.

It was the location for the BBC television programme, 'The Victorian Farm', and has been left as the film makers left it, i.e. with no electricity or running water (although there is a flush toilet and swanky shower unit in the shed at the bottom of the garden).

The three humans in the party are avid readers, and as paraffin lamps and candles are very hard on the eye we all cheated. Revd. A read by the light of a head torch....

Dr B and I had our trusty eReaders.

'Barbarous pursuits' (thank you Mr. Christopher Stockdale) included buying pheasants in the feather...

...and some wet and muddy walks. This one, up to 'Flounder's Folly' was made even worse by the small JCB that had churned up the path.

It's an interesting little tower....

....and the views are lovely.

We also had a trip to Much Wenlock, which was closed, due to half-day closing on a Wednesday. I'm rather cheered when I find somewhere in the UK (it's usually the outer reaches of Scotland) that still observes half-day closing. Hurrah for the 1911 Shops Act!

The church was open, and we came across this rabbit in vestments.

I wonder if he or she (this being CofE) has a full set to match the liturgical calendar?

It was all far too strenuous, and poor Dr. B retired hurt...

...Boots stole most of the bed.

Wednesday, November 13

Lisbon 2013 - Gulbenkian Museum (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian)

Another rainy day sent me off to the Gulbenkian Museum, which (along with the Gulbenkian Foundation, which funds the arts, social welfare, education and science) is housed in some interesting Modernist buildings.

The buildings are set in a beautifully landscaped park, and softened by lots of plants.

Calouste Gulbenkian was a very interesting man, who made his pile acting as a middleman in oil deals in Iraq post the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th Cent. His shrewd business deals lead to his nickname 'Mr Five Percent' (note to self, must look for a good biography).

His extensive art and textile collection would have probably ended up in the UK, had he not followed the French government to Vichy. The British government declared him an enemy alien and sized his oil revenues. You can't blame him for being a bit miffed.

The collection is absolutely superb. My favourite pieces were the little, Egyptian cat sarcophagus (above) and the collection of Mamluk glass.

Saturday, November 9

Lisbon October 2013 - the Oceanarium

The boy had a conference in Lisbon a couple of weeks ago, so I cam along as 'plus one'. Sadly, the first couple of days weren't exactly sunny.

It was French half-term and the city was rammed with French families, also trying to hide from the rain. On Thursday was all headed for the oceanarium (think aquarium but posher [they feed the sharks by hand]).

It's the only aquarium in Europe with SEA OTTERS! I ruthlessly pushed all the little Jean-Pauls and Claudettes out of the way to have a good commune.

It's an absolutely magical place...

...with some fine merchandise (although no sea otter SOCKS).

RIP Maisie

Last week our Snr Cat Maisie was taken very ill, and we had to have her put down. She was sixteen and a half, and had been with us for fifteen years (the majority of our married life). She was a friendly, homebody who like nothing better than to sit on my lap.

I'm not going to apologise for missing her. Hard is hard, and there's no point playing the 'my hard is harder than your hard' game. 

Thursday, September 26

France 2013(2) - Laon

Rather than just bombing up the motorway back to Calais, we broke our journey in Laon, which was the Carolingian capital of France.

The main part of the town was bombed to bits during WWII...

...but the medieval centre on top of the hill came out mostly unscathed.

The present cathedral dates from 12th and early 13th centuries, and is absolutely stunning.

The stonemasons became so fond of the oxen who carried the stone, that they added them to the tower.

There are also lots of other fun details...

...but the interior is absolutely breathtaking.

The lantern under the tower is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen...

...the stained glass is stunning.

The font dates from the 8th or 9th century...

...and has the  most amazing patterns and heads.

I loved the remains of this painting. Imagine what the cathedral must have looked like when it was all painted.

This panel shows the Visitation, the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother when they are both pregnant. When John senses Jesus presence, he leaps in the womb. I'm also very moved by this story.

I really don't have the words...

...or the pictures... convey how beautiful it is.

What a fantastic name for an eatery!

I'm sure we'll be back.