Saturday, 14 March 2015

Walking in Avebury with a Cold Wind in Our Ears!

A distant Silbury Hill, the little hill almost centre of the photo, with the sun shining on the River Kennet.

I have felt unwell since January, with the wretched virus and cough that has been doing the rounds.  I ventured out last week, not to walk, but to meet my walking group friends at the "Red Lion" in Avebury, for our weekly communal lunch.  The sun shone, but is was sooo cold, and was not easy to relax without wearing layers of clothing and a warm hat.

The River Kennet here is a winterbourne, meaning it only flows with water during the winter months.   It was good to see it so full, as because of increased water extraction, there have been times when the river bed has been dry for several months at a time.  During a recent drought, it remained dry for a couple of years, much to the consternation of the local residents, who felt that too much water was extracted for the large town of nearby Swindon.

Crocuses line each side of the track approaching the large barn and museum at Avebury.

The thatched roofed "Red Lion" at Avebury, our much loved hostlery.

The pub has recently changed hands, but is serving the same menu as the previous manager, who was an excellent "mine host."   His wife and her family owned a local farm, and when she had her baby, he left the pub for father´s duties and to help run the farm.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Out on the Ramparts of Old Sarum

All that remains of the crypt of the cathedral at Old Sarum

Old Sarum was the original site of the city of present day Salisbury.  It occupied a site of continuous settlement right back into neolithic times.  The Romans were here, there was an Anglo Saxon settlement here, and also after the Norman Conquest, a motte and bailey castle was built on the mound.  

The reasons for the town´s removal to the lower ground of the present city are many and varied, and there is much discussion as to why the town upped sticks and moved!  The cathedral was dismantled, quite a mega task for a time of horse and cart transport.  I wonder what really happened.  A better source of water from the River Avon at the new site might explain much of the inhabitants reasoning.

The information board in what was the nave of the cathedral.

I attended a very good talk last Saturday at Devizes Museum, where Alex Langlands from Winchester University talked about Old Sarum.  He has many interesting theories as to why the town moved, all of which seem plausible.  However we shall never really know the true reason.

Part of the rampart around the site, showing an original entrance.

The original site with its Norman castle is extremely well defended, with some of the deepist rampants I have ever seen.  It would have been almost impossible to an alien army to attack the castle and town and its inhabitants.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Pancake Day in Devizes

Poster for the Pancake Races in Hillworth Park

Children wait to run down the track the their frying pans and pancakes.

Pancakes with a variety of sauces being prepared by some nice friendly ladies.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Up on Oliver's Castle and at Mother Anthony's Well

 Oliver's Castle and neolithic hill fort.

I had a very busy Sunday, and did a walk I would not attempt on my own, as I needed a great deal of encouragement to climb up to Oliver's Castle, a landscape feature that proved quite decisive during the Battle of Roundway Down in 1643.   The above photo shows a view from the nature plantation looking towards the promontory, which is a good, windy site on which to fly kites and model aircraft.

 Oliver's Castle

The view from the bottom, which gives some idea of the climb I had to attempt.  I was completely exhausted when I got to the top, and had my mobile phone with me, just in case I needed to call the air ambulance men to come and resuscitate me!

 Pamela on the phone at the foot of the downs. 

Mother Anthony's Well.

This is the spot where water leeches out from the chalk, and is regarded as a sacred site by some believers.  It is the site of pre-historic settlements throughout the ages, and is also the site of a Roman villa.   It is nice to imagine all the people and animals who have stopped here to drink from the spring.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

In Bristol with Members of the Lawrence Art Society of Devizes.

 Art and sculpture by Tree Artists.

The main gallery had a display of paintings and works by people who like trees.  Not only were the finished works on show, but it was possible to see the artist´s sketch books and drafts for the finished works. It was interesting to see how the final painting evolved over time.

 British Wild Life Photography Awards 2014

This gallery showed some of the most beautiful photographs of animals, fish and plant life I have ever seen.  Beside each photo was a short description of how the photo came to be captured, it seems by accident most of the time.   Digital cameras make life easy for a photographer, although a great deal of patience is needed to be in the right place at the right time to capture the best shot.

The Fossil Gallery in Bristol Museum.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Ice on the Canal at Devizes Wharf.

 Ice on the canal at Devizes Wharf.

It was very cold this morning, but the sun seemed higher in the sky, and out of the wind it felt really warm, almost warm enough to sit on a bench and bask in the warmth.  I had that feeling that spring was around the corner, and walked the towpath with a spring in my steps. I hope it last!   The photo shows the old wharf building, now the "Wharf Theatre" to the left near the narrowboats, one of which is the "Kennet and Avon Canal Trust's trip boat, "The Kenavon Venture."     From my viewpoint on the bridge, I'm looking towards Bath.

 A black crow centre, plods over the ice.

 Dog walkers out and about on the towpath.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Rehearsing Vivaldi and Sibelius with Devizes Chamber Choir

 Attempting to sing Vivaldi's "Gloria" with the Devizes Chamber Choir.

We practised the "Qui tollis peccata mundi" on Tuesday evening, a part of the "Gloria" which is difficult to sing, because the notes move in semitones, and we tend to sing them flat!  Our conductor Liz does a wonderful job, trying to get us to sing in tune, but since half the choir were suffering from colds, it was not easy to sing good notes whilst coughing in four parts, soprano, alto, bass and tenor!   Bass coughing produces a really rich resonance!

Enthusiastic Liz.

We rehearse in the hall behind the "Sheep Street Baptist Church," which was, last night, either too hot or too cold!    At first our layers of clothing stay on, then half way through, off come the cardigans and jumpers!   

Apart from the "Gloria" we are working on two other pieces, the "Be Still My Soul" by Sibelius and "Springtime in Fünen" by Carl Nielsen, a rather jolly piece of music describing the island in Denmark where he was born.  Part of the piece is for a children's choir, and some children from a local church will sing with us at the concert on Saturday March 27th at 7.30pm in St John's Church, Devizes.

Studying the music and attempting to sing!

With the basses and tenors in the back row, with the sopranos and altos to the front, we work very hard at producing some good sounds, and it always sounds ok on the night!