Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Xmas Star

I had nothing for this week's ABC Wednesday's Letter X until this shone into view on Saturday evening, an Xmas star. 
Well it must be said I could hardly miss as star standing 25ft high with 19,000 twinkling lights.

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and Winter Solstice 
An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at X here

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Water of Life

For the 900th Anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Abbey of St Werburgh in 1092 in Chester a sculpture was placed in the Cloister Garden of  what is now a cathedral but is where once monks walked and drew their water supply at the centre of the abbey.
The inspiration is the story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria  and a quote from the Gospel of John is inscribed around the outside of the plinth - Jesus said "the water I shall give will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life"
The cathedral cloister passage windows can be seen in the background.
and the garden is as popular place to sit and walk as I imagine it was all those hundred of years ago for the monks. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at W here

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


 Here is Ellis O'Connell's "Capsule for destinies unknown" (2017) and a little girl with a balloon is starting her own journey.  This object was in the grounds of Chester Cathedral as part of their ARK exhibition and O'Connell made a sculpture for the event that she thought was relevant to the idea of shelter and refuge in these uncertain times.  It references the refugee crisis and also the sale of arms to repressive regimes.  So it could be a torpedo or escape pod take your pick.  The start of the apocalypse or the escape from it.  The material is corrugated galvanised steel and polycarbonate sheeting and as she says "humble everyday materials often used to make temporary living spaces".

Or perhaps this object has brought visitors from another dimension for nearby
are two of Lynn Chadwick's steel Beasts. In the foreground, Rising Beast (1989) and Duttan's Beast (1990) named after one of Chadwick's friends.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at the letter U here

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Land Rover Rebellion

Travelling the country lanes of County Wicklow in the second week of our holiday in Ireland we kept spotting groups of old land rovers barreling along in the distance and then we happened on one outside Avondale House, once the home of the Irish politician Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891) land reformer and leader of the Home Rule League.  The house and its 500 acre forest park, full of tree trails and walks, is justifiably a popular attraction.   Why the Land Rover was parked by the house I don't know but from what I can glean a hundred of the Land Rover Series One Club was having an event in the area. These were Land Rovers produced from 1948-53.
Then we came across another one in the town of Arklow.  We thought the rather grand renaissance revival building was the town hall but it turned out to be St Mary's and St Peter's Church.  The Land Rover is parked by the Michael Murphy Monument, a catholic priest and United Irishmen leader.  He was shot and killed here at the Battle of Arklow as he lead an attack on horseback in the 1798 Rebellion (the town of Arklow was British held).  One of the banners taken into battle said "Liberty of Death".  The rebellion was inspired by the American and French Revolutions.
Disappointingly no Land Rover here in Aughrim but there is a memorial which was erected for the bi-centennial of the 1798 Rebellion.
And the added bonus of the An Post van outside the Aughrim Post Office and general store. My favourite design on the An Post's Renault vans was the flying postman with a parcel but unfortunately
the nearest I came to getting a picture was of this one as it overtook us on the road.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at R here 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Bannishead Quarry

There are many remains of the slate quarries around the Coniston area of the Lake District but in this view  nature and industry have colluded to form a watery oasis, with a little help from two schoolboys in the 1950s. This is Bannishead Quarry, sometimes also called Tanearth Quarry, the different names because it lies between the two areas on the fellside.
The sloping area to the right of the waterfall is where once the slate was hauled up from the quarry below, there was no waterfall then.  I hope you can make out the waterfall for the day was drizzly and misty not really the best conditions for my pocket camera. Torver Beck rushes down the mountain to one side of the quarry and those original quarry men took care to block off its natural inclination to run downhill towards this hole in the ground.  The mine was abandoned as the slate ran out and the years passed until our two schoolboys roaming the fells decided to remove the stone slab stopping the beck running into the quarry and with much determination eventually their task was achieved, they stood back to admire their handiwork and see the a small trickle turn into a waterfall.  The story is told here   The quarry filled with water and today it is about 6m (19ft 6ins) deep and although the perimeter is fenced off it still remains a draw for schoolboy adventurers in summer to dive into it.  The water remains at a constant level because of the sandstone layer that lies with the slate.

I didn't take any photographs of the old slate spoil heaps which the path weaves through
but here it is one in miniature, the cairn marking the pathways at the bottom.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at Q here 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Old Barn

I pass this old barn regularly, it lies a field, banking and stream  away from the main road and as the sun sets the light accentuates the red brickwork and the building take on another character with a glowing abstract pattern.  This effect could only be captured from the road which is busy with traffic and no parking - I have never plotted out my camera approach.  It is too late now.  The high winds of Ex hurricane Ophelia which recently made landfall from the Atlantic has done for it. As I drove past today the front
and side walls have collapsed and the roof is lying inside.
It looks as though the more sturdy slate at the back is still in place which may be why the majority of the Lake District barns are made from this local material and
have stood the test of time. This old cruck barn in the Lickle Valley lies beneath the wonderfully named Hovel Knott and has been here for hundreds of years and is still in use. 
Here is the interior curved cruck or crook frame supporting the roof with contrasting modern plastic containers. The old and new. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at O here


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Meeting of the Waters

One of the places loved in Ireland is here at the Meeting of the Waters  where the Avonmore and Beag Rivers come together and become the Avoca River.  The day was boiling hot and people were picnicking and relaxing by the cooling waters but two families
decided to set out on a mini-adventure.
 and cross to the other side.
I don't know why they took their trainer off and opted to go barefooted over the rocky bottom, ouch, but some managed better than others in navigating both the discomfort and currents
and reached the other side, of course they then had to gingerly return the same way.

The fame of the Meeting of the Waters is because of a poem of friendship and love written by Thomas Moore in the summer of 1807, later put to music. Moore would find the place very different today then when he was inspired by a place of tranquility
Meeting of the Waters, Vale of Avoca, postcard from the Library of Congress
but this old postcard from the 1890s might give a flavour.  It quotes the beginning of the poem/song:
There is not in this wide world and valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet!
Oh the last days of feeling and life must depart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.
I must admit the only Moore poem and song I was familiar with was The Last Rose of Summer but this confluence of the waters with their memorial to Thomas Moore introduced me to another one -
Here sung by ANÚNA, Ireland's National Choir and arranged by the soloist Michael McGlynn accompanied by the RTE National Symphony orchestra and Finnish violinist Linda Lampenius 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at M here 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Irish Lighthouses

The Poolbeg Lighthouse, one of a trio of lighthouses leading into Dublin Harbour, is painted red to indicate starboard.   The lighthouse perches on the end of the 4K long Great South Wall and if one wanted to watch the ships go by from this vantage point I am told it is a 40 minute walk.
As you may be able to see there are few people having made the walk enjoying a beautiful day and taking in the view.
Travelling south Wicklow Lighthouse's portrait is one of a variety of scenes that brighten up the side of  a warehouse on the harbour's North Quay.
Here is the real thing, built in 1884, it sits at the entrance to Wicklow Harbour on the East Pier. The cargo ship (GEC Cosmo) despite appearances it actually reversing out of the harbour after unloading timber.  People who can reverse well always impress me so I enjoyed a sit in the sunshine and watched as it smoothly left the harbour and then turned in the open sea and went on its way. While I was up on the sea wall I discovered the lighthouse had an intriguing secret when I walked around the back
The romantic "Will you Marry Me?" M.  Wouldn't we all like to know the story behind this.  

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at L here

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Once again for this week's ABC Wednesday I am showing a part of Ireland I visited and in particular the megalithic tombs of Knowth in County Meath which were constructed about 5000 years ago. This view is of  "The Great Mound" and two of the smaller mounds of which there are about 18 around the site.
This was our guide to the passage tombs both informative, knowledgeable and wonderfully lyrical she painted a picture of the past.  The large stones you can see are all around the outside and most have designs on them
Of the total number of examples of megalithic art in Western Europe the 200 decorated stones here make up a third.     
This is the entrance stone to the passages of which there is both a western and eastern one.  The Great Mound has lived an interesting life, being built in the Neolithic period and used as passage tomb then evenually abandoned although bronze and iron age settlements proliferated in the valley, eventually used as a hill fort in the 9th century and then later as a monastic grange. The original  passage alignment to the times of the year has been compromised
because in the medieval period soutrains (storage chambers for food) were built into the mound, for a few possible reasons, for use if the hill fort was under siege or to hide food from the Viking raiders or as a larder because the conditions in the tomb were cool and dry.
The white quartz stones that are spread around the tomb and gleamed in the sunlight came from the Wicklow Mountains 60 kilometers south of here. The dark granite cobbles came from the Mountains of Mourne 60k to the north, just one indications of the amount of organisation, knowledge and effort that went into the making of the tombs.
Here we are among the wild flowers on top of The Great Mound and taking in the views of the Boyne valley from which this area of megalithic wonders takes its name, Brú na Bóinne which means Palace of the Boyne and the area is designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Sometimes the area is called the Bend of the Boyne after the river which winds its way through the valley making a dramatic loop or bend at this point.  Wondering how they keep the the sides of the mounds so nicely smooth?
See the man on the top
he was busily mowing one of the satellite mounds while we were there.
There are also standing stones and other structures outside the tombs and
a reconstruction of a Timber Circle which was originally built about 2,500BC on the eastern side of the site.

A virtual tour and an aerial view of Knowth can be seen here

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, sojourning at the letter K here