Monday, 13 June 2011

A little local wandering

One fine day, early on in May I happened to be passing the church in a small village very close to Kirkcudbright called Borgue. Having a little time on my hands, I popped in for a look – it was locked.


Wandering round the back I noticed a spiral staircase leading up to the bell tower and in that spirit of curiosity that can very easily get a fellow in trouble, I went up for a look. The little red door was secured with nothing more than a bolt and directly behind it was another door (I have never seen two doors so close together), which wasn’t locked either.

Up a rather rickety set of ladders you could just about make out the bell in the gloom. You see it far better here because of the camera flash than I did at the time. Prudence prevailed at this point and I didn’t go any further – that floor didn’t look like it was up to supporting even a modestly weighted person like myself and the outside door having swung closed, I suspected it would be quite some time before an old church bell tower 4 miles from my home would be included in the list of places to look for me if I did come a cropper.

It was on the evening of the same day that I was visiting my sister, Edie, who lives only a few miles from the town. She suggested we go for a wee walk to see a folly which is hidden in the Barrhill woods – she knew the way. A pleasant walk in the woods it was too, for it was bluebell time, which is one of the main delights of British woodlands in the spring and there were deer leaping around in the bushes which we frequently saw (they didn’t stand still long enough to get themselves photographed.)

There it is now, The folly known as The Temple.

It was built as a decoration in the grounds of Cally House (now the Cally Palace Hotel) in the late 18th century, and for all it’s main intention was to look like a ruined castle, it was used to house an estate worker.

The windows and doors here might looked as if they’re bricked up but from the inside there is no sign of them ever having existed.

We continued our walk for a while through the woods, under the main road and round about the Cally Palace itself. I’m afraid with this picture you’re only getting half the effect. It’s a bank of wild garlic and smelt wonderful.

Now for all Edie may have known the way there, it turns out that she didn’t know the way back, so there was now a good deal of wondering where we were and backtracking to try and find our way back. We were also very concerned for the fate of two boxes of Tunnocks teacakes which had been left in a visible spot in the kitchen at Edie’s house.

By the time we eventually spotted The Temple again it was getting quite dark and there were bats flying about. Getting to it meant that we were only a short walk from the car. It looks much creepier in the dark as you can imagine – you’ll just have to imagine I’m afraid as we couldn’t get close enough because of a stream set in a fairly deep ravine.

When we did work our way round the stream, and the car came into sight we were somewhat worried to see that the headlights had been left on.

Fortunately the car started and the Tunnocks teacakes were unmolested.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Tunnocks teacakes, they are a popular Scottish nibble. Here’s one I’ve taken a bite out off, so you can judge for yourself what it tastes like. They do of course need to be accompanied by a large mug of tea.

Here is a picture of our local variety of cow, the Belted Galloway. They’re quite distinctive.

Now for all I cannot condone the deliberate interference of road signage, I will make an exception for this particularly inspired act of vandalism.

In a bit of a first for me,I met a fellow blogger (I make an exception of course for Kim Ayres who I knew preblog). Ruthie Redden is a local artist, who, with her mother, another local artist, share a little shop attached to a cottage in the country. Do visit her blog and have a look at her work and the blog for the shop here. Thank you very much for the cup of tea and here’s an endearing wee Moon Hare, made by Ruthie and now resident on my dressing table.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Half timbered and balloons

Now,having had two blogs so far from inside Chester Cathedral, you'll not be too surprised to find Bev and me doing a bit of wandering around outside in Chester. Chester is a feast of half timberedness. This fine example bears the legend, "antiqui colant antiquum dierum", which means "let the ancients worship the ancient of days"and is on the city coat of arms.

This fellow is Mr Alleyne-Johnson. Between his box of electronics, his fiddle and sustantial dollop of talent he was making a fairly impressive noise. You can look him up on youtube if you want.

This is A Celebration of Chester by Stephen Broadbent (the pigeon is temporary)

Chester is famous for it's rows, which are covered walkways on the first floor (second floor for those on the other side of the pond) - effectively, it's a second street level.

A carved dragon

Just visible in the above picture, if you know where to look, is The Old Boot Inn up on the walkway. We popped in there for a wee refreshment. I had a fine pint of Samuel Smiths Ale but it paled into insignificance when compared to the pint of Samuel Smith stout Bev had. I had definately a choice error on my behalf. It was quite superb from the wee taste of it I had.

They had a characterful floor too.

Near the Cathedral is this statue of an elephant. It is called Janya and was made by a lady called Annette Yarrow. It was presented to the city by Chester Zoo.

This is the Eastgate clock,it sits above the Eastgate curiously. It is said to be the second most photographed clock in the country after clock on the clock tower at the Houses of Parliment in London (not Big Ben as Wikipedia try to tell us - which is a bell - silly wiki!)

Of course it's going to appear frequently photographed if people insist on putting it on their blogs twice.

St George sticking it to that poor old dragon again - who's responsible for dusting these things by the way.

Towards the end of the afternoon we were accosted by a nutter in a harlequin costume. He did insist on tying us a balloon animal each. This is a tiger. The other one was an equally convincing and unphotographed penguin. We were meant to take it home and tippex it's tummy (honest - you can't make this stuff up)

We finished our afternoon with a cuppa in this cafe. Oh look we've left the tiger behind in the entrance.

 We left the penguin there too after failing to give them to a small child ( I think the father was about to call the police)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

More modern glass from Chester

If they've got their creation window tucked away in the dining room, you might imagine that in the main body of the kirk, Chester cathedral would have something worth looking at too. The 3 windows you see below are the Westminster windows - paid for by the Duke of Westminster - which were installed in 1992 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the founding of the cathedral.

The windows that originally occupied this slot were damaged during the war. Some elements of the original windows have been salvaged and incorporated into the  design of the new windows.

You would wonder that it was possible, I mean it's hardly small, but I almost missed this window on the way out. It was made by W T Carter Shapland in 1961.

St Werburgh is the patron saint of this  cathedral, which is why she is holding a church (in the same way St Ninian can be seen holding a church in a sculpture just outside Whithorn). She was originally buried in Hanbury in Staffordshire in 699 but was dug up and brought here years later. Her original shrine was destroyed and her body scattered in the reign of Henry VIII, but another shrine has since been built - it should appear in a later blog. Keep an eye on St Oswald too, to whom the church was also dedicated in 975 - he's due to make another blog appearance soon (or at least part of him)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Punting on the Cam is jolly fun they say

For people of a certain age and musical inclination, the title of this blog may ring a bell or two. On the Tuesday, I may well have been without a garden party invitation but I was in Cambridge and perfectly placed to find out if punting was indeed jolly fun. Don't for a minute think that I wandered down to the river Cam and hired a punt and did it myself - I had my camera with me, my mobile phone wouldn't work after being wet and a return bus ticket to Haverhill which I'm sure would suffer badly from a dip in the water. There are several companies offering punt trips on the Cam, with a practiced person, usually a student earning a few drinking vouchers, who is unlikely to tip you over the side and offering an excellent running commentary of the sights to be seen, so for a very modest sum I found myself comfortably seated at the back of a punt.

This is the back of Trinity Hall College which was founded in 1350 to replace lawers killed by the black death. This building of their's is the Jerwood library which is very recent, being built in 1999, and certainly more attractive than most of the other modern buildings along the river.

Clare College

This bridge is the mathematical bridge. There is a local legend that says that the bridge was designed by Sir Issac Newton and was held up by pure science without the assistance of pins or nail. Good story but quite untrue, when it was built by James Essex (designed by William Etheridge) in 1749, Issac Newton had been dead for 22 years. It was also quite securely pinned together. Being made of wood, it doesn't last forever - this is the third version of the bridge built in 1904.

This is the Bridge of Sighs - named after it's namesake in Venice. It actually bears virtually no resemblance to the Venice Bridge of Sighs other than the fact it is enclosed - this would appear to be enough though. You could call it a neo-gothic covered walkway with traceried openings but, if Queen Victoria described it as "so pretty and picturesque", then that is good enough for me.

I think this is the back of  St. John's college.

This is definately St. John's college. the hole in the wall is for catching swans. The fellows of this college are legally allowed to eat unmarked mute swans - the only people to be allowed to do so outside the royal family.

This is the Wren library which I visited just before my wee spin on the river. They have a small display out of illuminated books and early printing, as well as some examples of correspondance from Newton, Faraday and several other prominant people. But for me it was a delight to see A.A.Milne's handwritten manuscript for Winnie the Pooh.

It was jolly fun.