Tuesday, 24 November 2009

ABC Wednesday - S

A Sand Glass, Sand Clock or Sand Timer. Called many things but at this size it is definitely not an egg timer. It stood in a refectory. Is it the length of time you have to eat a meal, or the length of time between meals? Or, because it is in what was a monastery, has it a deeper meaning, a meditation on the passing of time and lives. It is very plain and functional but its surroundings are not -
the Mont Saint-Michel which stands between sea and land in northern France. It is like an elaborate Sandcastle. At the moment there is a quite ugly concrete causeway between it and the land, with a very large car park along the sides of it. I have managed to miss them on this photo, but to see it with any perspective you would have to include them. Things are about to change. The silting up of the estuary and the causeway has meant that eventually the Mont would become part of the land, but this is not going to happen. A project is in hand to reverse this, the causeway will be demolished and a bridge put in its place. The impression of how it will, potentially, look in 2020 is rather wonderful see here The car park will be moved 2 kilometre away and a tram or their own legs will bring visitors to this UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
Lets go in the main door, and up the medieval street, the Grande Rue, and then up lots and lots of steps
to the Abbey itself. Up more steps until we reach the top

where there are beautiful views across the flat and shining sands. But this man is not looking there and is dazzled
by the sparkling gilding on the spire, topped with the winged Saint Michael the Archangel, protector of the Church Militant. I actually took it because of the amazing bubbly clouds that had appeared behind it.

The abbey of Mont St Michel dates back to the eighth century but over its long history new building have been piled on top of each other, mixing styles of Romanesque and Gothic. In past times it was also called 'the Mount in Peril from the Sea'

which is what this sign also warns of, dangerous bathing in stormy weather, although the french peril is a much more evocative word. It also tells us in the top right hand corner that 'the sea is not a dustbin', unfortunately a lot of people in the world do not appear to know this. Minor rant over, and lets go down to Saussaye Beach

on the 'Emerald Coast' Britanny, which has beautiful creamy soft sand with the occasional pieces of seaweed, and on the
rocks behind some sedum, a water storing leaf succulent plant, thriving in the salty air. Moving inland, what is that sssss noise I can hear
it must be a snake. This little adder was basking in the sun and coiled up when it saw me, unfortunately I did not see it. I happened to glance down a a couple of steps away from standing on it. Whoa. By the time I'd managed to get my camera out, realise it was set to macro, alter it and click, this shy creature with stunning colouring was slithering away to hide in the scrub.

All these pictures were from my September holiday in France. I am dreaming of those blue skies because we have had two weeks of almost continual rain. A fast moving subtropical jet stream moving over the ocean has brought lots of wet weather directly to Cumbria, still if there is a break in the clouds, and I get my camera out, I may have W sorted.

Slip over to the ABC Wednesday meme to experience more interpretations of the letter S


Sylvia K said...

What a fantastic post, Joy! I'm familiar with Mont Saint-Michel, but not with all the details! One place I've always wanted to visit! Terrific photos and history! Thanks!

Enjoy the rest of your week!


Life with Kaishon said...

Oh, what a wonderful entry! I love your pictures. I love your sand! And your spires! So pretty. What a nice post!

moongipsies said...

so jealous !!

Have always wanted to go to Mont Saint-Michel ,... great photos.

jabblog said...

Excellent and informative post. Hope you're not completely drowned in Cumbria!

Tumblewords: said...

It's scary to think how many years it's been since I saw that sensational spot! Excellent narrative and photos! Thank you!

Roger Owen Green said...

The sand glass, which I've always heard referred to as an hour glass, reminds me of the opening of the soap opera Days of Our Lives.

And "stormy weather" reminds me of the old song.

Swell post.

Jay said...

Wow - I'm almost more impressed by the adder than the Mont itself! Good thing you didn't tread on him, but well done for grabbing a shot! I have heard that February and September are the most dangerous months for adders - February they're waking up and searching for a mate so can be more aggressive, and September because they're sleepy.

The Mont St Michel looks gorgeous. I'm so glad it's being restored to a certain isolation. Bussing people in is the way to go!

Kate Yates said...

Dear Joy,
I love your photo of the hourglass in the monastery and wondered if I could use it to illustrate an activity all about clocks. I couldn't find an email address so hope this finds you!
Kind regards,

Joy said...

Hi Kate
I'm replying here and hope you check back. As you are on Google+ it won't let me message you without signing up. Curses. Thank you for your kind words and you are welcome to use the photo as creative commons. I hope the picture gives some indication of size, because the hourglass was huge. Clocks are fascinating aren't they. If you want to contact me I am - joyce(dot)ellen(at)btinternet.com