Saturday, 25 May 2013

The End of This Blog, Go to the Beginning of the German Blog!

Lydiard Tregoze Church and daffodils.

This blog now stops until late August. 

Please follow:

for my adventures in Braunschweig in Lower Saxony.


Friday, 24 May 2013

A Morning in Avebury with the Sheep, Stones, "The Red Lion," Half a Pint of Cider and a Jacket Potato filled with Strong Cheese and Topped with Bacon!

 Walking alone the ridge of the huge ditch that surrounds the stones.  (left out of sight)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow!  So the saying goes, although the snow did not arrive, even though it was cold enough for some flurries.  It is supposed to be summer, but there is not a lot of evidence of its existence at the moment.  I fly to Germany this Sunday, and it is just as cold and inhospitable there too.

 Sheep, standing stones and us!

Here we are wandering though part of the stone circle, and up towards the ridge to the left of the tree.  The sheep graze the fields here, and it is a good idea to watch where you are stepping.  This prehistoric site hosts thousands of visitors every year, and as we found out later in the walk, some parts of the ridge around the site had been closed off to allow the grass regenerate.   Some paths have been edged and gravelled, thus making them more able to cope with the thousands of feet that tread these paths.

 The Rood Screen inside Avebury church.

The richly decorated rood screen was built by the Victorians, and was used to separate the holy altar clergy from the more secular congregation.  They have been removed in many churches, and unit the chancel and nave into one open space,  making a friendlier gathering for worship.

Sheep may safely sit!

Some kind woodman has carved a seat out of a fallen tree trunk, which is meant only for humans!   Look closly at the reclining sheep, who has jumped up and enjoys a less drafty view of the surrounding countryside.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

In Salisbury enjoying an "Aufwiedersehen" Lunch and Drink with Friends.

A big red lion stands guard at the entrance!

This is the courtyard of "The Red Lion Hotel" in Salisbury, where on Monday I met friends for a lovely "Aufwiedersehen lunch" before I set off on my journey to Braunschweig und Timmerlah on Sunday 26th May.  I have spent this week doing the final bits of washing, buying last minute necessities and packing my suitcase.  This year´s stay of only 12 weeks, (which will fly past)  means I do not have to  take too much stuff, so the suitcase will be lighter to haul onto the train in Trowbridge, and then off again at Southampton airport.

For lunch in the hotel I ordered a coronation chicken jacket potato, with side salad and coleslaw.   It tasted good, even though  the potato was not hot enough to melt the butter.  I should have complained, but it tasted ok, so I carried on drinking my cider, chatting and thoroughly enjoying myself. 

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Half timbered building in Salisbury Market Place.

I don´t have a clue about what this building is called, but with its timber frame and jettied second floor, I would think it was built in the 16th century.  Just a short walk from here I managed to buy a nice pair of cotton trousers for my impending three month trip in Braunschweig.  That is all I can remember about this place, and that it was a cold day!  

This blog will soon morph into the "Timmerlahtimes" version, so watch this space!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Through Stert Farm and Churchyard to Potterne Bluebells Wood.

Out with the Nordic poles in a field somewhere near Stert
It was an interesting walk, and one that I had never discovered before, even though I've lived in Devizes for twelve years.  The fields are luscious green at the moment, and because we have so much rain in the last year,  everything is growing  like "wildfire."  The dandelions and celandine are a wonderful vivid yellow, and the bluebells in Potterne Woods, a soft, hazy shade of blue.  The colours in the sunshine are so very beautiful at this time of year.

In church of St James, Stert.
The kneelers are stacked here on a shelf on the pews, making an interesting and unusual view of the church.  I have never seen then placed like this before in any church.  The church dates from 1232, when it was first mentioned in the annals of Urchfont church, in a village a few miles from Devizes.  In 1835 an infant's school was established at the parents expense, which accommodated nine girls and two boys.  A school for 25 older children was built in 1841.

Bluebells in Potterne Woods.
We headed back to Devizes via Drew's Pond, Pans Lane, Hillworth Park and eventually into the Market Place for lunch in "The Silk Mercer."  A lovely walk with good company and a beer at the end.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Devizes "Festival of Food and Drink."

The Turkish stall selling colourful sweetmeats.

Devizes held its annual "Food and Drink" Festival in the Market Place on Saturday, and fortunately the sun shone, and it was pleasantly warm.  The stalls were a photographer's delight, with their multitude of textures and colours, light and shade.

The Herb Stall.

A number of animals were in their stalls, providing an area for children to watch them being fed and cared for.   One stall with chickens had an incubator, where a newly hatched chick could be seen panting for breath, after its struggle to get out of its egg.   The chick was  to be left in the warmth for up to ten hours, until it had fully recovered from its arrival on planet earth.  Several other eggs were about to hatch, and little beaks could be seen breaking through the egg shells.

A sheep with her lamb.

The calf watches  the visitors pass by.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Thoughts on Seeing the First Cygnets of Summer!

 The lock keeper guides the birds safe away from the lock sluices.

My thoughts on seeing the first cygnets of summer were joyful ones for the birds,  but those of a rather rude nature about the English weather, which has been really terrible.  It stays so cold, that I've put on the heating again, and wear a thick jacket and winter boots when I go out shopping.  I walked the Caen Hill circular on Monday morning, just a quick, three mile walk around the famous flight of locks.  It was so cold in the wind, that I nearly turned back, but decided that a walk would be good for me, even though every bone in my body wanted to return home.   

It was lucky that I continued, because I came across the deserted swans nest, but found the pair out and about with their newly hatched cygnets.   All seven little ones swam merrily near the lock sluice, quite unaware of its dangers.  The lock keeper arrived to encourage them to swim somewhere safer, and eventually they moved away into the middle of the pound.   Sadly a cygnet had been sucked into the sluice earlier that morning, and did not survive, so the lock keeper was keen to keep the birds away from danger.

The parents and  seven of the original eight cygnets.

To the top left of the photo is the lock sluice, where water rushes through to fill the empty lock, and  allow a boat  to come up the flight.   It was here that one cynget was sucked into the sluice by the rush of the water.  I wonder how many of these little creature will survive.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A Happy Couple's Wedding.

The wedding group outside Market Lavington Church

Driving through Devizes town centre on their way to the reception at Bowood House.

I waited in the Market Place to capture this photo of the decorated cars and jeeps.  It was so cold, that I wore my winter jacket and boots again!  It is supposed to be May.

A bridesmaid waves as she goes passed.

The lovely Mrs B, sipping wine.

Guests in the bar, with Mrs B chatting to her father.

We sat enjoying ourselves, when suddenly all the fire alarms went off, and we were evacuated onto the front lawns.  We all stood with our drinks in the cold wind and shivered, until ten minutes later, we were allowed back into the bar and lounge.

The evening disco and supper.

Taking a breather during a tiring, but exciting day.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Out in the Wilds of Bromham with the Dandelions.

Yet another good walk in wild, wet and windy weather.   The best part was the sausage and onion baguette, with half a pint, in the "Oliver Cromwell" at the end of the walk!    We started just outside Bromham village, and crossed the busy road into quiet fields with wonderful views out towards the hillfort named "Oliver's Castle."  Oliver Cromwell, the famous leader of the Roundheads in the 17th century English Civil War, was never here by the way!  I suppose it's just local legend that makes people believe it to be so, and it creates a certain notoriety about the area.   In spite of recent rain, the going was good, not too boggy and damp, although we kept to the field edges where possible.   Rain was in the wind, although once again, we missed the really heavy stuff that was falling on other poor souls' heads!   The photo above shows the gloom, with swiftly moving clouds, but the sky did brighten later, and we had a really good walk of just under five miles.
Walking towards the hills on the field boundary.

A distant "Oliver's Castle" with its windswept trees growing atop the hill.

We often talk among ourselves, about just how lucky we are to live in one of the most interesting counties in England.   Wiltshire contains over half the chalk downland in GB, with its native flora and fauna growing rigorously at the moment.  Abundant dandelions, buttercups and various grasses litter the hedgerows.  It was a lovely, if windy walk, with the usual reward in the pub after five miles!  Cheers!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Walking on a windy "Oliver's Castle" with "Maxi."

The circular, hilltop Stone Age camp at Oliver's Castle.

This prehistoric site atop Roundway Down is called "Oliver's Castle."   Named after Oliver Cromwell, the Commander in Chief of the Puritan "Roundheads" in the English Civil War of 1642  to 1651, there is no evidence that he was ever here!   The "Battle of Roundway Down" was fought on July 13th 1643, with William Waller leading the "Roundhead Parliamentarians," and Lord Wilmot commanding the "Royalist King's Men."  Cromwell's name lives on however, and fortunately for me, there stands at the bottom of the hill a  pub called, "The Oliver Cromwell."     It's nice to think that, maybe he would have enjoyed a quick pint here between clashes with the King's forces, although this is true fiction!   

This stark, windy prominence high up on the down, offers wonderful views out towards Salisbury Plain and the towns of Devizes and Rowde.    A civil war soldier who fought in the battle is reputedly buried in Rowde churchyard, but remains from the conflict are few and far between.   The "Royalists" drove the "Roundhead" cavalry over the edge of the down and into  "Bloody Ditch."  It seems that the site was well cleared after the battle, and only a small amount of gun shot has been found, which is now in Devizes Museum.  I attended a talk in the museum in 2011, in which we all had a chance to handle some of this shot.   It gave us all a great feeling of connection with the battle, and the bloody conflict up on the chalk downland.  

The hilltop view towards a distant Devizes.

We arrived by car at the site, as it is difficult to walk up here from Devizes.  Those with young legs and a strong will can climb it easily via the "Ridgeway,"  but we were with "Maxi" the dachshund, whose little legs are about 6 inches long and her tummy sometimes rubs on the gravel paths.  She much prefers the easy journey up to the hill, and the grassy slopes on which to walk.   With her ears flapping in the wind, she enjoyed the gentle stroll around the hilltop, while we battled to hold onto our jackets in the gusty wind and impending rain.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

May Bank Holiday Celebrations in Devizes.

The Carousel horses gallop around in circles!
It seemed as if the whole population of Devizes had turned out for the May Bank Holiday Monday celebrations in the Market Place.  The warm sunshine helped, because it was the first really warm weekend we have had since last autumn.  The winter here was very cold, and spring failed to arrive until late last week.

Many old vehicles, sports cars and lorries arrived outside the Corn Exchange and were displayed for all to seen.   Complete with bonnets up, it was possible to look inside at the super clean engines, and sparkly plugs and fuel lines.    All highly polished with shiny crome fittings and fresh coats of paint, they all looked very splendid in the bright sunshine.

It was possible to climb onto this traction engine, and have a quick lesson on operating the monster.  The day was a great success, with many charity stalls in the Market Place, and many more in the Corn Exchange selling a variety of bits and pieces.  It was a  lovely day.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Devizes Chamber Choir

Devizes Chamber Choir`s sopranos.

These two small photos are from our concert last Saturday evening.  The concert was a great success, in spite of our awful rehearsal earlier that afternoon.  I´m standing four from the left, behind the tall lady.

Pamela, our leader take a bow with her flowers.

Pamela is a lovely leader, and encourages us to sing well.  I´m now packing for my three months in Germany this year, when I will sing once again with "Chorverein Concordia Brunsviga."  I hope we sing some Bach, Schubert and Brahms, all in correctly pronounced German.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Two Bath Exhibitions for the Price of One!

The facade of the "Holburne Museum"

The building was designed by Charles Harcourt Masters and built in Bath stone in 1795-6 to be the "Sydney Hotel," a social gathering place rather than a residential hotel.   During its life it has undergone several changes, and from 1913-16, it was converted into the present home of the Holburne Museum.  A glass and steel extension in a contemporary style has been added to the rear of the museum recently.   The building stands in Sydney Gardens,  near the home of Jane Austen who lived in Bath in the early 19th century.  The hotel and gardens are mentioned in her diaries.    

The museum holds permanent exhibitions of paintings, drawings, pottery and sculpture, as well as staging special displays.    We visited "Painted Pomp" on Wednesday, an exhibition of paintings from the time of William Shakespeare.  Apart from the paintings of noble men in their finery, and ladies in their splendid dresses, collars and pearls, there was a display of Flemish handmade lace and gentlemens' undershirts, all delicately embroidered in black designs on white lawn, and with beautiful lace collars.  These must have taken months to make and cost a fortune.  

They were also two modern costumes on display from the "Globe Theatre."   A video showed the sequence of dressing both a man and a woman.  Starting from the simplest garments next to the skin, and ones that could be washed easily, we watched the underskirts, shirts, doublets, hose, leggings and bodices added layer by layer, until each person was finally laced into their fabulous finery.  Royalty and the gentry needed hours to get dressed, and with a team of servants doing all the hard work.  An exhibition well worth seeing.

The "Octagon" Art Gallery.

This building was originally the "Octagon Chapel, and stands in Milsom Street.  It was built in 1766, and is a Grade 1 listed building.   William Herschel, the astromoner was the organist here in 1767.  It was once the home of the Royal Photographic Society, and is now used to stage various exhibitions of photography.  

We saw a collection of photographs by Norman Parkinson, the well know fashion photographer.   Mostly in black and white, and dating from the 1930's it showed many of his photos for "Vogue" magazine and other publications.  The models were beautiful, all so slim and immaculately dressed, and posed in simple but striking positions.  Several of the photos were taken in Bath.   Jean Shrimpton appeared in several photos and also Celia Hammond, two models that I remember from my younger days.  Another lovely exhibition.

The ceiling of the Octagon.

Standing on the floor, I pointed my camera directly above me and under the very centre of the octagon in the roof.  The ceiling and walls are decorated in white stucco, with delicate patterns of floral wreaths and rosettes.  All were so very beautiful, and what workmanship!