Wednesday, March 30

Kurt Jackson Private View - Oxford Museum of Natural History, March 2016

Earlier in March I was lucky enough to be a +One at a private view of an exhibition of works by Kurt Jackson at the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

The exhibition is well worth a visit, but for me the real star was the museum building after dark.

It's like a beautiful upside down boat... absolute gem of Gothic Revival architecture.

The museum's design was influenced by the work of John Ruskin.

I fall in love with it again every time I visit.

Thursday, March 24

Graduation - Oxford March 2016

On a lovely bright sunny Saturday, my Dad, the Boy and I graduated as Master of Arts in the beautiful Sheldonian theatre.

The ceremony is all about tradition.

The Oxford MA is a relic of the Middle Ages when students would study for seven years, after which they would be able to teach, and become a full member of the university (and at some colleges walk on the lawns). It therefore predates 'taught' Masters qualifications. Oxford BAs can have the MA conferred on, or after the 21st term after entering the university.

Now that I work at Blackfriars, it's useful for me to have the MA, as there are still various administrative bits and pieces you can only do if you have MA status. However, the day was about more than that. It was a chance to celebrate our achievements, and remember all the people who had gone before us.

Although Dad went to Magdalen, and Adam and I went to St Hugh's, Fr Richard Conrad OP kindly took us through under Blackfriars' wing.

It was lovely that I could graduate with my Dad, who only did it to make me happy (although he did get a good party afterwards).

It was an unexpectedly moving day. A big thank you to all our friends and family who came, and to Sandy who catered a brilliant party at Cornucopia afterwards.

[Photographs by David Hunt]

Sunday, March 6

Downside Abbey - March 2016

I've not long returned from a short retreat at Downside Abbey. The community couldn't have been more kind and welcoming, and there's nothing like a bit of Gothic Revival.

I only went for a couple of days, as I hadn't been sure how I would react to being 'off-line' and bound by the daily offices. As it turned out, I wish I'd had a longer time there.

I'm still processing the experience, but I'm sure it's something I'll do again (if they'll have me).

Sunday, January 17

Canterbury January 2016 - Archbishop Bear

At £75 this chap was far too expensive to buy for Church of England clergy friends (although the lady in the shop said that his vestments are made from off-cuts of 'the real thing')...

...and if you had one you'd need a complete set of vestments for the whole liturgical cycle not just one set wouldn't you?

Canterbury January 2016 - The Cathedral

Saturday found us in Canterbury on a lovely, clear day. The Boy had never been to the cathedral, so we popped in to have a look. You can find lots and lots of amazing snaps online, so here are just a few things that caught my eye.

I've always loved this figure of Christ on the gatehouse to the cathedral precinct.

I'm not sure what these creatures are on one of the cathedral doorways, but I like them.

This candle burns on the spot where St Thomas a Becket's shrine was, until it was destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII., who also 'unsainted' him for good measure.

I was rather taken by the altar front...

...and restored painting.

Intrigued by this weekly service...

...and left wondering how many memorials record death by 'an assassin'?

Friday, November 27

France August 2015 - Sancerre

Sancerre...renowned for great wine, delicious cheese...and ruddy, big ice-creams.

I'm not sure what this flower is, but there were a lot about and they were absolutely beautiful... was this shop front.

It was great to see this old house...

...restored to some of it's former glory.

Outside and inside the church we were menaced by a busker, who followed us round playing the guitar.

This BVM is very kitsch, but very effective. I have a vivid memory of seeing it when i was a child. Seeing it again this summer dropped me back into that memory, a very strange feeling.

My lovely Boys :-).

France August 2015 - Tonnerre

My blogging seems to have grown to a halt of late. I think it's partly down to putting lots of stuff on Facebook, and partly because all my photos are on my elderly MacBook which is now going incredibly slowly. I need to find some way round it. 

Here are some photos from the summer.

We see Tonnerre from a distance when we travel down to Moulins-Engilbert. This August we finally made our way there. This is Hôtel-Dieu Notre-Dame des Fontenilles...this fabulous old hospital building, founded in 1293, is now a museum and art space.

Photos really can't capture the amazing space.

It was a shame about the art exhibition, which was uniformly dire.

On the floor is this lovely eighteenth-century sundial, the elongated figure of eight. It used to be marked out in copper, but that was stolen during the French revolution.

At the back of the main hall, down some steps, is this beautiful entombment of Christ, which dates from 1454.

Tonnerre is also home to the Fosse Dionne, which is a natural deep water source, used from Roman times. It's last incarnation was a public washhouse.

Sadly, when we were there, the water level was quite low.

It was easy to imagine a creature lurking in the depths.

Friday, October 23

France August 2015 - La Cathédrale de Jean Linard

I realised the other day, that what with the onslaught of the beginning of the academic year, I hadn't finished looking my holiday here are some more.

A friend was off to Paris while we were away, and keen to find some 'off the beaten track' things to see. We found Atlas Obscura , a website with all sorts of interesting places.

I decided to have a look for sites close of Moulins and came across La Cathédrale de Jean Linard. It took quite a bit of finding, but it was well worth it.

The artist Jean Linard, bought some woodland in the 1970s, and built a quirky house, that looks like it's been there for ever.

He decorated the house and grounds with ceramic mosaics...

...and sculptures.

It's very hard to describe the place. Many of the pieces are religious in nature, and it is an incredible artwork.

Thursday, September 17

France August 2015 - Château-Chinon

It's a bit of a surprise to find a colourful Niki de Sante Phalle and Jean Tinguely fountain in a quiet country town.

However, Mitterand was the mayor here for 22 years.

It's great fun, and it very good condition.