Sunday 29 July 2012


Koblenz derives its name from the Latin for confluence. It sits strategically at the meeting of the Rhine and the Moselle rivers.
The statue above is of Wilhelm 1, but is a very significant symbol of reunification for the German people. 
Known as German Corner, it is possible to see the confluence of the two rivers. The Moselle is the blue one. The edge of the statue of Wilhelm 1 is just visible on the left hand side.
A cable car took us up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress
via wikipedia
No time to visit the fortress, instead we wandered amongst some beautiful, delicately coloured herbaceous borders.
Koblenz suffered considerable damage during the war, but most of the buildings have been rebuilt in their original style.
Basilica of St. Kastor
The Romanesque church of St. Kastor was built between 817 and 836 by Hetto, the Archbishop of Trier with the support of Emperor Louis the Pious.
Charlemagne had 18 children over the course of his life with eight of his ten known wives or concubines. Nonetheless, he only had four legitimate grandsons, the four sons of his fourth son Louis. When it came to dividing up his empire only three of the four grandsons were still alive. Despite having so many children, the claimants to his inheritance were few. The three grandsons shared out his empire amongst themselves in this church.
In 1499 these two star vaults were erected in the nave and above the altar replacing the Romanesque roof.
The exquisitely ornamented early baroque sandstone pulpit dates from 1625. The wooded vessel is formed by four sides of a hexagon; on its sides are free standing figures of the Good Shepard and four of the Early Fathers of the Church.
St. Kastor's was damaged by a British air raid in 1944, and in 1945 the outer walls were damaged by artillery. The stone material including the vault remained largely intact. In 1948 enough money was raised for its reconstruction and a 25 year renovation began.

Friday 27 July 2012

XXXXXX - cross stitch

♥woolf♥ has invited me to join her XXXXXX stitch challenge this weekend. I am posting early as I am just leaving to visit my childhood home in Derbyshire 
I treasure my mother's cross stitch tablecloth which she embroidered many years ago. She died far too early, and this is a lovely excuse for me to get the cloth out, feel it and just remember her. 

We are attending the family wedding of my mother's granddaughter. A granddaughter that she did not know who was born after she had died, so a poignant moment amongst the happiness.
As I raise my glass of champagne at the wedding my mother will be close in my thoughts.

Wednesday 25 July 2012


In the garden, the heady scent of the Lilium regale, evokes a favourite painting of mine - Carnation, lily, lily, rose by John Singer Sargent. Painted in 1887 he exhibited it at the Royal Academy. The painting was immediately purchased by the Tate Gallery where it can still be viewed, and was his first major success. He painted the picture on site, here in the Cotswolds. The garden was in the small town of Broadway and shows two young girls lighting lanterns on a summers evening.
Lilies were one of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood's flower of choice used in many of their paintings. They symbolise purity, and were also extensively used by the great Renaissance painters too. I have mentioned the meaning of white lilies before and how they are used as the emblem of the Virgin; the white petals standing for purity and the golden stamens symbolising resurrection.
Some other arrivals in the July garden
I do not recall flowers on our Sage plant before! 
The striking flowers and buds of the Crocosmia lucifer
A favourite of ours, the Dierama - Angel's fishing rods. They are hard to photograph as they keep delicately swinging to and fro on their fine stems. We have another clump in a salmon pink colour.
painting courtesy wikipedia

Monday 23 July 2012

Aachen - Charlemagne's domain

The medieval city of Aachen lies just over the border from Belgium into Germany. It was famous in the time of the Celts due to the hot springs which were transformed into thermal baths when the Romans arrived.
It came to further prominence when Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor, made it the capital of his empire. It is also the International Equestrian Centre of Germany, we all know how very successful the German team are at dressage and jumping from seeing them at the Olympic Games. Another claim to fame is a special type of cake which looks like a biscuit known as Aachener Printen, made with honey and sold in many specialist shops.
One of the two remaining city gates
All of the German towns and cities we visited had lots of very impressive sculptures. This one is called the Circulation of Money. It shows beggars, bankers, moneylenders, a father teaching thriftiness - a topical subject for today. The water whirls around the pool where it then disappears down a hole in the centre.
Charlemagne's signature
These bronze buttons are all over the pavements in the town. When Charlemagne visited the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine elites were amused by his rough barbarian dress and the stencil he used to sign his name.
Aachen Cathedral, church of Charlemagne, coronation church, pilgrimage church, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
The cathedral's present appearance has evolved over 1200 years. Around the year 800, the octagon with the cupola, the core building of the Palace Chapel was completed. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the gothic choir was erected. The Hungarian Chapel and the Portico were added in the 18th century.
Charlemagne's core building - the octagon. The first post-classical cupola to be constructed north of the Alps. The upper stories are decorated with classical pillars. 
The Barbarossa chandelier (c 1165) symbolises the New Jerusalem. Gifted from Emperor Frederick 1 Barbarossa and his wife Beatrix.
Beautiful mosaic work throughout the octagon, predominately using gold, blue and green.
Apart from the shrine of Charlemagne, the most important treasure in the church is this shrine of the Virgin Mary. A reliquary containing four significant relics which are all linked to biblical narratives: the apparel of the Virgin Mary, the so-called swaddling clothes, the loincloth of Christ, and the decapitation cloth of John the Baptist. Since 1239 the relics have been kept inside this shrine. They are taken out every 7 years, the next Aachen pilgrimage being in June 2014.
The Hungarian Chapel (Ungarische Kapelle) is for the use of Hungarian pilgrims and was endowed by King Louis 1 of Hungary and Poland; an inscription dates its consecration to 1367. However, today's baroque chapel dates back to 1767.
Statue of Charlemagne who apparently was very tall with red hair. His great success in battle was founded on the fact that he invented the stirrup. In battle his men were not knocked off their horses when they were attacked with a lance.

Friday 20 July 2012

St. Paulin - Trier

via wikipedia
Baroque is not my favourite architectural style, but St. Paulin on the outskirts of the Roman city of Trier, Germany won me over.
The church succeeds with it's elaborate, glorious, gold metalwork, and wonderful ceiling paintings. The whole place simply sparkles and shines, shown off by a brilliant white backdrop which enhances the colours and details.
A glorious ceiling view as you enter the church, painted by Christoph Thomas Scheffler, portraying scenes from the life of St. Paulinus and depictions of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion.
The organ by  Romanus Benedict Nollet  sitting over the
arcaded entrance.
Glorious gold gates to the altar. Most of the internal elements were the work of Johann Balthasar Neumann, a significant Baroque architect responsible for several impressive buildings.
Looking through the golden gates to the altar.  
It is at moments like these when I think that I should 
get myself a better camera with a telephoto lens!!
Unexpectedly amongst all of the white and gold plaster work, four plaster urns and green foliage. However, the introduction of the soft green leaves had the effect of enhancing the whole scheme.
Even the light fittings reveal incredible detail