Thursday, January 26, 2017

Backyard Bits-n-Bobs

In America, of course, we say bits-n-pieces.  But don't you just LOVE the British bits-n-bobs!


Thanks to our Dutch friend, Janny, we've already had two fun outings this new year not far from home, one weekend after the other.

First, we drove to pick Janny up to go see the Leather Museum (De Looierij) in Dongen, 30 km. from home.  It's a museum about the history of tanning and the leather-making process, dating from the 1890's.  Dongen happened to be the home of a profitable leather industry in the Netherlands, back in the day.

Too bad we didn't know we could take photos until our visit was almost over.
But here are a few pics I snapped at the end, most of which are of the times, 
not of the leather-making process.  Oh well.

HOWEVER...not to be disappointed...a block or so away was this church with its half-ruins.
This is the Oudekerk (Old Church) from the 15th century.
Originally Roman Catholic, it was "confiscated" by the Reformed Protestants in 1648.

During a storm in 1928, the roof of the nave caved in and has remained a ruin since then.
I don't know if they still hold church services there but they do have a Facebook page!
Can you imagine getting married in those ruins on a sunny, gorgeous day?

We ate lunch there in Dongen where Astrid and I had our favorites:
latte macchiatos and uitsmijters!

The three vanes on the right are the ones we saw that day.
The bottom-right is apropos, of a leather tanner.
And the bear is from the home of someone whose last name is Bear (in English).
Thanks to Janny for scouting out my first bear vane ever!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

That was the weekend of January 14th, the day my brother, Nelson, turned 75 (since we're talking about bits-n-bobs)!

During that weekend, Janny told us about a vacated swimming pool in Oosterhout, 29 km from home, not far from where we were in Dongen.  Without even thinking about it, we went to see it the following weekend (which happens to be last Saturday).

Like I said, it's a vacated swimming pool, but did I mention...with 18,000+ art tiles!
Who thinks up these things?!

All I could think about was how my little camera could pick up details from 1200 mm away.
But first, I wanted to see the forest before zeroing in on the trees.

Some of the sections had multiple tiles in their themes.

Some were grids of only 9 tiles, following a theme.
"We are all angels with one wing.  We have each other to embrace in order to fly."
(How wonderful is that!)

This was one of my favorites of the multiple tiles.  :)

Then, from individual tiles, here, there and everywhere, I picked out my own themes.
This one for me is everything Dutch.

There were body parts lying around.  HA.

And animals, birds, insects and fishy things.

Some things actually reminded me of some of you who frequent here...
like Ruth's sumac in Michigan, and Robin's cactus in Arizona.

We're everywhere, aren't we.

But did I expect this?????????  NO!
And that reminds me of the Dutch response to Trump on YouTube, for those who haven't seen it yet:

It hit me after seeing this that one of the reasons why I fell in love with Astrid is
because of her humor, not connecting that it's DUTCH humor.  OMG.  It's true.

But back to the swimming many bits-n-bobs.

And when I went down to the "water's edge," I was able to see the 3-D effect on some of the tiles.
Not all were ceramic tiles.  Most were paper.  But what an effect.

THANK YOU to Janny who gave us the shout-out to these two outings in January.
What a great visual start to this new year!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

England 2016: Farleigh Hungerford Castle

And now, finally, I'm at the end of our September 2016 trip to England!  Some things just take time, you know.  And all good things must come to an end, except in our memories.

"In a beautiful valley of the river Frome, on the border between Wiltshire and Somerset and only nine miles from Bath, stands the remains of Farleigh Hungerford Castle."

And so it was that Lisl drove me the 9 miles from her home to visit an English castle.
The drive itself was worth the trip, along with the cream tea (with scones) we ate along the way.

Sir Thomas Hungerford, first Speaker of the House of Commons,
 fortified the manor house between 1370-1380.
His family then lived there for 200 years.

Two towers and curtain walls, plus the chapel and crypt, remain.

As we entered the castle gate, we immediately discovered a wedding photo-shoot happening.
So we took a quick walk-about, playing Peeping Toms both in and out of wee drizzles.

Then off we went to the museum to get the lay of the land.
The areal view (bottom-left) gives the gist of the space we walked.

From the museum we walked first to the 17th century crypt below the Chapel of St. Anne.
It contains the lead coffins of 6 adults and 2 children, 4 with faces molded onto them.
"This is probably the best collection of 16th-17th century anthropomorphic coffins in the country."

Castles and their own wee chapels!  I have grown to love them.
It was originally the parish church of St. Leonard, later made the castle chapel (St. Anne's Chapel).
Look at those medieval wall paintings...the font and the pulpit!
It's still used for local weddings?

The burial tombs are off to the side of the nave,
including Sirs Thomas and Edward Hungerford with their wives.
Notice the coats of arms on the walls.

I was particularly drawn to the ornate flat-topped tombs.
Lisl says the right-center tomb depicts the entire family, with children.

Back outside, we walked the outer courtyards with the remains of 2 towers.
The SW tallest tower, called the Lady Tower, is reputed to be where Hungerford 
imprisoned his wife, Lady Elizabeth, in the 1530's.
If these walls could talk!

Yes, I really was there (thanks to Lisl).

As we left the historic site, the sun, which had played with us all day, came out.

Just one of England's castles, of course, but in Lisl's own backyard

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Possibly a bit antithetically, these are the weathervanes we found that day.
Even Lisl is now on the lookout for me, she says.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

England 2016: Wells Cathedral and Bishop's Palace

You thought I had finished the England trip from last September, didn't you!  HA!

Well, I did finish the Cornwall part of the trip and the Bristol walk the weekend before, but I still have two big posts from after Cornwall when Lisl and I went off on our own, while Astrid was off with "big brother" Chris.

This is the big post on Wells, so strap on your seat belt and enjoy the ride.

Wells is only 31 km from Bath, where Lisl and Michael live, so Lisl drove us there.
It is said to be England's smallest city.
So how did it end up with such a huge cathedral????

Entrance into the Wells Cathedral, built between 1176-1490, is from the cloisters.
(That alone already made my day!)

And then you enter the nave with the immediate view of the "scissor arches."
They may look modern but they're "a medieval solution (1338-48) to sinking tower foundations."

Can you imagine "working" there!

I don't even know where to begin!
But since we started paying attention to the details right away, let's start with these carvings.
How is it, I wonder, that these carvings ended up in this cathedral!
Surely someone knows (probably even Lisl).
Did you know that the salamander (top-left) represents Eternal Life?
And did you see the guy with the toothache?

I suppose you can memorize, after awhile, where everything is situated.
The tombs, especially, and the chantry (top-left).
The stone pulpit is center-left.

I am always drawn to the side chapels off the nave.

But it's the quire that grabs me every time.
Was that because I sang in my church choir growing up and into my married years?

Can you imagine sitting (let alone singing) in such a "choir loft?!"
The embroideries are so delicate no flash photography is allowed.

From the quire you enter the...I'm not sure what?  (!)
But it appears to be where the clergy sit?

You know me by now:  impressions, impressions, impressions.

And more impressions.

Oh, and don't forget the clock, installed c. 1390.
It's one of the oldest medieval clock faces in the world.

Every quarter hour you can watch jousting knights go round in tournament.

Not in this order but at one point we went to the Chapter House, completed in 1306.
It's where the clergy met to conduct their cathedral business and is still used on formal occasions.

Man alive!  What an entrance.

It's an octagonal chamber "full of nothing" but incredible architecture.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

We purchased tickets for the adjacent Bishop's Palace, so off we went to take in the second part of our tour.

It actually has the feel of a castle, if you want to know the truth!
But it's been the home of the Bishops of the Diocese of Bath and Wells for 800 years.

We had walked around the moat earlier in the morning, to get the lay of the land.
You can see how close the cathedral is.

Once you cross the moat and through the gatehouse, you enter the massive lawn in front of the chapel.

The ruined arches of the Great Hall invite you inside.
Everything is manicured to perfection.

And before you get to the boundary wall, the area feels spacious.

The bishop's palace and house inside the walls did feel like a castle to me,
maybe even a monastery...

especially with views of the cathedral in the background.

We went inside, of course...

where I had the feeling of something akin to the cathedral's quire.
Can't you see all the bishops having a chinwag here!  (No singing allowed, I'm sure.)

I'm not sure which was the palace and which the house but you get the idea.

Can't forget the green men, of course.

And one of those other important details...

our lunch and tea at two different spots in the day.

How's that for doing it up right...for such an awe-inspiring place on God's earth!