The dissertation is in, the last exam paper written, where have three years disappeared to?
We have just returned our lovely granddaughter back to Oxford having collected her to spend a couple of days with us now her finals are over.
Travelling to our home from Oxford we stopped at our favourite restaurant for lunch.
a brisk walk before supper
The following day we headed off to see the Peregrine Falcons nesting at Symons Yat. The journey took us passed the 17th century Dutch Water Gardens at Westbury Court, a rare and beautiful survival.
Dutch water gardens feature enclosed areas, lines of planting, clipped evergreens, topiary, long water canals and the occasional statue. In the late 18th century formal gardens such as this went out of fashion and were replaced by the natural landscape gardens introduced by Capability Brown.
Next stop the mixed woodlands of the Forest of Dean - one of the surviving ancient English wild forests. A large area of the forest was reserved for royal hunting prior to 1066.
The bluebells have given way to newly unfurling bracken
Take care beautiful granddaughter! - the forest is full of wild boar
Looking down on the Wye Valley towards Wales from Symonds Yat - the River Wye contains brown sediment following a heavy storm which swept across the Welsh mountains a few days ago
In the other direction the River Wye heads off to join the River Severn before entering the Bristol Channel
The cliff face where the Peregrine Falcons are nesting. They have two big fluffy grey chicks. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have two wardens on watch and powerful telescopes that you can look through to see the birds. We saw the chicks and the male Peregrine, so mission accomplished. My little point and shoot camera is not good enough to zoom in on them.
The River Wye flows in a number of huge meandering loops. In the 18th century a boat tour down the Wye was a fashionable alternative to the European Grand Tour. Tourists alighted from their boats below the cliff face where the Peregrines now nest and made their way up the steep climb. Both men and women wore large straw panama hats, the women long skirts, the men waistcoats and stiff collared white shirts. On reaching the top of Yat Rock they would admire the grandeur of the scenery.
On Yat Rock it is possible to see an example of a limestone pavement very rarely found this far south in England. Formed around 350 million years ago during the Carboniferous period, it is hard to conceive that this was once part of the seabed.
On our return journey home we passed Tintern Abbey sitting alongside the River Wye
A romantic ruin, its pointed arches thrusting heavenwards - the subject of countless artists brushes, and poets pens - amongst them Turner, Wordsworth and Tennyson
Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow, a Cistercain Abbey where the monks wore white. They followed an austere way of life, their basic principles being obedience, poverty, chastity, silence, prayer and work.
On 3rd September 1536 Abbot Wyche surrendered Tintern Abbey and all it's estates to King Henry Vlll ending a way of life that had lasted for 400 years. Valuables from the abbey were sent to the Royal Treasury, the lead was stripped from the roof and sold, and the decay of the building began.
A final wander around the quad and chapel of Keble College designed by William Butterfield, a man with a proven track record as an exponent of the Gothic style. Butterfield claimed that he 'had a mission to give dignity to brick'
On its construction in 1870, Keble was not widely admired because of its brickwork - it also broke the Oxbridge tradition by arranging rooms along corridors rather than around staircases. Today, however, it is renowned for being visually striking, the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described the design as 'manly'. It was a completely new High Victorian version of Gothic and could not be accused of copying mediaeval examples.
The chapel shows Butterfield's ability to rework the Gothic into his own formula, especially in the treatment of wall surfaces. The interior is decorated with colourful tiles, mosaics, and stained glass.
The Light of the World by Holman Hunt
This famous painting hangs in the Side Chapel, and is the original painted by the artist and first hung in the Royal Academy in 1854. He started the painting when he was 21 years old, but it was not until he was 29 that he finished it. One of the reasons for this length of time was his desire to perfect the dawn light. He took the picture with him to the Middle East, and found the perfect dawn just outside Bethlehem. When he was 70 he painted a replica which hangs in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.
All our love and best wishes go with you on the next chapter of your life♡