Sunday, 23 October 2016

This week I visited Ethiopia!!!

We like to attend our local cinema for 'senior viewings', which includes a large cup of freshly brewed coffee, a small packet of luxury biscuits, and reduced price entry - this week it was the film Dare to be Wild. 
The synopsis of the film is the true story of Mary Reynolds, a young garden designer from Ireland, who became the youngest recipient of the Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal in 2002. 
The film takes in the beauty of the emerald isle, and not only the colourful spectacle of the Chelsea Flower Show, but also her travels in Ethiopia. 
An important element of the film is the use of magical realism, which is shown through Mary's embrace of Celtic mysticism. The essential themes underlying the film are the basis of Mary's goals. She believes that modern man needs to understand the importance and beauty of preserving and encouraging wild nature. The film also encompasses another theme about the renewal of nature for the preservation of man. Here, Mary travels to Ethiopia, in part to encourage a young botanist, Christy, but also to help assist him in achieving his goal. He is determined to help the local people restore their barren land through his ingenious irrigation project.
I should have been travelling in Ethiopia myself at the moment, but as a result of this film, I have had a tantalising glimpse into what I may have missed. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Autumn Glories

Pictures taken at Stourhead, Wiltshire - for more background information see these previous posts on the garden and house 

The middle of October and the trees have yet to reach their full colour potential 
Going to Stourhead makes a delightful day out. You can walk the easy route around the lake or if you are feeling more energetic clamber up and down the steep pathways through the woods. Should you wish to visit the house as well, then an early start is necessary but try to avoid the weekends.  
Enter and admire the classical buildings - this one is based on The Pantheon
with its fine Corinthian columns characterised by acanthus leaves and scrolls
Temples of Flora
and Apollo
The Palladian bridge
View down the lake from inside the Grotto

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

We Enjoyed the Anticipation!!!

Less than 24 hours before we were due to set off on our long journey to the country originally known by another name, Abyssinia - the telephone rang to say our trip to Ethiopia was cancelled due to unrest and disturbances in several of the places that we planned to visit.
So the malaria pills remain untouched in their packets, the Yellow Fever vaccination will be valid for the rest of my life should a further opportunity arise, and the US dollars I purchased have at least gone up in value!!! One must be philosophical about such things, and ultimately our safety is what is most important.
The beautiful people of the Omo Valley must remain hidden from my camera
as must the 11 medieval churches hewn out of solid rock on the high mountain tops at Lalibela
The town of Lalibela is close to the city of Axum, the oldest continuously inhabited place in Africa. Lucy the oldest pre-human hominid was found in Ethiopia.  She is estimated to be over 3 million years old.
In Axum the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, which we planned to visit, houses the biblical Ark of the Covenant. God commanded Moses to put three items into the Ark: a golden pot of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. 
Lorenzo Gilberti, Renaissance sculptor, shows the meeting of the Queen of Sheba with King Solomon on the bronze doors at the Battistero di San Giovanni, Florence. A moment considered to represent the meeting of the eastern and western churches. 
It was from Axum that the Queen of Sheba travelled to meet with King Solomon in Jerusalem. She and King Solomon are said to have had a son, Menelik, who rescued the Ark of the Covenant from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. The temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar ll following a seige in 587 BC. Menelik took the rescued Ark back to his mother's homeland in Abyssinia.
I apologise to all those who answered my quiz on the previous post - I had hoped to find a small gift whilst travelling in Ethiopia. However, I still intend to honour that commitment with something else.
I was impressed that seven of my 'followers' plus Rod Lutes gave the correct country - they were:-
Jenny Woolf
The seven names were all put into a hat 
H drew out the winner

Thursday, 6 October 2016


Sunrise on our hilltop
When I was at school the country that we are travelling to was known by another name
Over 80 languages are spoken
It has a unique cultural heritage with spectacular mountain scenery,
and traces its Christian origins back to the 1st century AD 
This country has over 9,000 churches and monasteries 
Some of their religious buildings are totally unique - there are no other churches like them anywhere else in the world
Their calendar is completely different to ours
via wiki
A significant moment
We, personally, have not met anyone else who has visited this country
Lots of clues here - if you are a 'follower' and guess the country correctly there will be a small gift. Please name one country only per comment, but if you change your mind, come back, have another go, but still name one country only. I am switching on 'Comments Moderation' to give everyone an equal chance. Should there be several correct answers I will have a draw to establish the winner.
Good luck - back towards the end of the month 

Monday, 3 October 2016

An October Day in the Cotswolds

I awoke exhausted after a bizzare dream, it was such a relief to finally get up, look out of the window, and discover golden autumn sunlight brightening up our trees 
It beckoned us out for a walk in contrast to the previous day which had been grey, dreary, and wet
Luscious berries hung in bountiful clusters along the hedgerows - a feast for the birds during the coming winter months
Quince jelly anyone?
The craft of thatching often runs in families and many use their own distinctive straw roof finial - sometimes a fox, cat, bird or peacock, but I particularly like these boxing hares 
Church candlelabra

Monday, 26 September 2016

"To The Manor Reborn"

May be you saw the Avebury Manor restoration programme on the BBC presented by Penelope Keith and Paul Martin - the title in this post is a reference to Penelope Keith's appearance in the 1970s sitcome "To the Manor Born".
Avebury Manor began life as a small medieval Benedictine priory sited within the famous Neolithic stone circle, but was converted into a manor house during the middle of the c16th. 
When the National Trust acquired the house it was in a bad state of neglect and very few of the original contents remained in situ. The NT curators had been wondering how to tackle the interiors when they were approached by the BBC who came up with the idea of doing a restoration programme.
I didn't watch the programme and had ambivalent feelings about the idea of recreating the interiors. However, it did involved the expertise of many skilled craftspeople including furniture makers, artists, together with carpet and fabric designers The traditional Chinese wallpaper was inspired by surviving antique examples, and handpainted by Chinese craftspeople from Fromental in Jiangsu province. Having now visited the manor I realise that it does cater to all ages and gives a very relaxed family outing. There are no off limits, you can sit on the chairs, open the draws, read the books, or try on the tudor clothes - only the handpainted wallpaper is out of bounds - mainly the interior has been given an authentic appearance but there are some witty touches too. 

If you look carefully at the Chinese wallpaper a reference to Avebury itself can be found showing the manor, the stones, and in the center Sir Adam Williamson who inherited the manor in 1789. He was a well travelled man taking part in the capture of both Louisberg and Quebec from the French. He went to Jamaica where he became the Governor General.
I could happily have taken this seat home - it would sit comfortably in either a traditional or a contemporary setting
The 1930s Art Deco style shown in this room reflects the period when the house was owned by Alexander Keiller. His private income came from his family's former business, the Keillers of Dundee marmalade and confectionary company

The kitchen reflects the early c20th - Britain was on the brink of war, the Suffragette movement was in full swing and the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage   
The Tudor Parlour with its newly handmade replica oak furniture represents the wealth of the owners at that time, William and Mary Dunch. From modest beginnings William became an important and influential man who was close to Queen Elizabeth I
Late afternoon sunbeams played through the large stone mullion windows
The final room represents Queen Anne's Chamber - the replica bed is a copy of the State Bed which can be seen in Dyrham Park. 
It is not known whether or not Queen Anne actually stayed at Avebury - the only evidence is heresay by a servant saying that "our Queen Anne dined here"
Poor Queen Anne was plagued by ill health throughout her life, and from her thirties she grew increasingly lame and obese. She had 18 children from 17 pregnancies in 17 years (1684-1700). Despite all of these pregnancies when she died at the age of 49 years in 1714 she had no surviving children and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart.
Arriving home, flocks of migrating birds flying in 'V' formation passed overhead at the start of their long journey south to new feeding grounds,
and the sun slipped away for another day