Old buildings, loved – and not.

 

Twenty five years ago we were contemplating buying this one. But we couldn’t really justify it and it turned out the owner had no interest in selling anyway. Now it is far too late. Someone clearly did love it once (you can just see the hand stencilled trefoils below  the roof and round the windows – unusual decoration for a modest locaterie) Nothing has been done to preserve it, though a few years back the vegetation (jungle) was cleared from the front and I got excited thinking maybe it would be rescued…I make a point of walking past it several times a year but I fear the structure doesn’t have much longer.  And it is by no means alone round this area. There are several abandoned farm buildings, casualties of the rural exodus, which even now nobody seems to want. Such a pity.

This building, though, is in great shape – literally!  It is part of what was a medieval Guild Hall in Suffolk. It apparently became a Free Grammar School in 1577 and has now morphed into a holiday cottage where we stayed for a peaceful week in September. I spent several days trying to fathom out the original architecture – very confusing and I’m sure I failed but the exposed wood is very exciting – lots of detail, carefully preserved. One of my daughters is in Canada for a year, so I’ll make sure I send her pictures of the timber framed houses we saw all over Suffolk – it seems so weird to me to be in a country where you just can’t see any!

 

 

May’d it into June

These terrible headings are getting to be a very bad habit…. enough, enough!

The last few weeks are receding fast. They did involve more music and more cathedrals – French ones this time, Rouen and Lyon:

Fabulous, despite all the construction work going on in Rouen.

But don’t let the current (building site) views from BRASSERIE PAUL put you off – even in France you could travel some distance to find a casual restaurant this good. It’s just outside the cathedral and I really recommend it.

Mixed feelings about the above rather sad photos though. When we arrived at the house we found trees down and branches snapped all over the place. The ancient oak on the left WAS an absolutely perfect shape…. and the mixed foliage on the right is typical of the weird arrangements that had been created. The house is on the northern edge of the Auvergne and there had been a freak weather event just after we left in October – 20 cm of snow overnight. The trees were still in leaf and could not take the weight…. So we spent most of our time sawing and chopping!

The lizard was fun though. I lifted a pillow and found it motionless. I took a photo because it is so hard to get close to a live one. Then I called for the Chief Corpse Remover (we do usually find something in the house) who picked it up – at which point it leapt into the air….only hibernating! Not sure who was the more shocked.

And how about that frog for camouflage?

February (can’t resist ing-ing)

Yes, I know, it’s the middle of March. Keep up, SpinningStreak.

 

But I’ve been busy. Fighting freezing conditions in the way I know best…

Walking over icy Sussex Downs with my lovely sister-in-law – all about the frozen dew ponds and shivering sheep:

 

Hiding away for a week in a cottage in Rye. Entertaining family members from over 90 to under one month!

 

Visiting Tenterden, Hastings Old Town, Tunbridge Wells…

 

Listening to tales of a childhood in the early 1930s and really really wishing I had recorded it…

The weather was frankly grim. The following week, of course, was almost summer – though vanished again now.

IMG_5785Three year old granddaughter’s current favourite place to visit – ‘Pirate’ park in Reigate.

Working, reading, working, knitting, working, spinning – well, no change there.

Some Serious Planning is also going on backstage – but enough – I think I might have just about caught up!

The bird that never flew

The tree that never grew

The bell that never rang

The fish that never swam….

The four miracles of Saint Mungo, represented on Glasgow city’s coat of arms and commemorated in stained glass in the Cathedral.

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The outside of the cathedral did not look too promising – but what a feast inside. A magnificent medieval building, on the site of Saint Mungo’s shrine. His tomb is in the crypt, which is mid 13th century and just as atmospheric as the one in Canterbury – a really special place.

As you may have guessed, I seem to be having trouble leaving Scotland behind. That trip was over a month ago now – but it still surfaces in my thoughts every day. In a very good way.

 

Mosaic Monday: Floral Skye!


This is a bit of a test. I had decided to skip any post with June flowers in it because the serious photographer/gardeners are out there doing their stuff with spectacular results – stunning rose shots in particular – and I thought people might have had enough. But then I stumbled across this:


Normandy Life

and wondered if my little wild shots might count? The light was not great – bit of a mist – but I was impressed by the acid rhododendrons growing crazily all over the place, often on a background of equally violent yellow! Not colours I often put together in my spinning, but you never know… I do like that rather menacing gorse in the bottom picture. There were also a few orchids – and bluebells still flowering in June (pretty much finished here on the south coast by the end of April). I have been back several days now, but am still haunted by that trip to Skye – a great experience and fabulous views, but still somewhat intimidating. Maybe that’s how one SHOULD respond to Highland and Island scenery though!

To return to Normandy Life – do check out today’s Mosaic. It is on the theme of the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, known as Sissi. I found it particularly interesting as we seemed to follow this tragic woman all over Vienna a few months ago – there was a detailed exhibition in the Hofburg while we were there.

Circles, squares, lines, ripples… 

I have been trying to reduce the size of that link (!) but have decided to leave it in, as it turns out to be another mosaic anyway!

Meandering back

With a chance to avoid the motorways this time. The route bleue (N7) and the wine territories have a much greater appeal. It does take a lot longer – but we wandered through dozens of timeless hamlets and past some extraordinary buildings tucked away in la France Profonde. (And yes, the sat. nav. can’t always cope and I did get us just a little bit lost…)
An overnight stay in Chateaudun (a town with medieval buildings that we are always keen to revisit, although we sometimes feel we should explore more adventurously) and an early morning visit to the chateau – perfect, we were the only people in the whole place, apart from a young woman energetically hoovering the ancient stone floor of the Sainte Chapelle – what a job!

I think this is the most northerly of the Loire castles (so the first you get to driving down from Paris) and it seems to be less well known to tourists. Definitely worth a trip though. There is an interesting connection to Joan of Arc. The buildings are from the 12th to the 16th century – and too close up for me to get in a single shot!

There are tapestries and furniture:

Architectural details, linenfold and  – always my favourite – FIREPLACES!

But, as usual, what really caught my eye was the play of light, angles and exciting intersections:

This one gave me a shock – no idea I had taken it, but it is my ghostly shadow sneaking its way in!

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