Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Out and About

Ummm, well, after all good intentions of my writing more regularly I've been somewhat remiss in actually walking the walk rather than talking the talk!

But I have been out and about quite a lot recently, and that's what life's all about, right? We even went to Bruges on a coach trip which was......how shall I put it, an experience..... never to be repeated again.  I'm just not cut out for the regimentation of them it seems. Bruges itself was lovely though with wonderfully quirky features around every corner;

strange smelling waterways;

 where herons swooped and feasted on unfortunate eels;

 gothic skylines;

and architecture to die for.

As was Ghent with it's crumbling facades;

and imaginatively dressed shop windows;

A bit closer to home back in good old blighty, we've been making good use of our National Trust membership which we took out earlier in the year. My favourite by far was our trip to lovely Ightham Mote;

a glorious moated medieval manor house, described by British Historian, David Starkey as 'one of the most beautiful and interesting of English country Houses,' which I have to agree with.  It even came with it's own Grade I listed dog kennel which was made for a St Bernard's called Dido in 1890.  She was apparently so large that they used a washing up bowl  to put her food in,

My only real criticism of the place was the attempt by it's last owner, an American called Charles Henry Robinson, to modernise his private apartments there by painting over beautifully carved wooden panels  in hideous pastel shades of mostly grey paint.  He came from Portland, Maine and was apparently trying to recreate their style.....as you do.  In fairness he channelled a lot of money into the restoration of the place as a whole and later bequeathed it to the trust so I guess he wasn't all bad!

Bruges, Ghent, and Ightham Mote was quickly followed by a mini break in Devon - to lovely Chagford no less, where I spied two people who's blog's I greatly admire but was suddenly too shy to introduce myself to for fear of being thought of as some kind of demented stalker!  A break in our journey there led to us discovering this beautiful scenery at Budley Salterton;

which hugged the coastline of a gorgeous and almost deserted beach to the right of the photo.  Don't be fooled by that balmy blue sky either as our trip was a real mixed bag weather-wise.  One day of fog and rain on Dartmoor;

followed by another wonderful bright and sunny day where I climbed halfway up Brent Tor;

in order to try capture the stunning views along the ridge to the Church, only to give up half way because for some inexplicable reason I got spooked.  I was on my own, without a soul in sight surrounded by glorious countryside but was suddenly overcome with a sense of foreboding, which isn't I hasten to add, something that usually happens to me.  No idea why and of course I'm now kicking myself for being such a wuss and not getting the moneyshot, but hey ho, maybe another time! It's a good excuse as any to go back, right?

That just about brings me bang up to date.  Time maybe for one final photo before I bore everyone to tears, this time of some spinning I did yesterday, on day three of the 'Tour de Fleece' which is held over on Ravelry. Every year, without fail, Mr OM watches the Tour de France, which I confess doesn't interest me at all, so it seems a great way of occupying my time whilst he's glued to the TV.  The idea is to spin every day of the TdeF so this was yesterday's offerings;


spun using lots of left over fibres, a plied with previously spun single colour yarn and a fine lurex thread to add a bit of 'bling.'  I'm not sure how my hands are going to fair spinning every day for three weeks or so as I've had Rheumatoid Arthritis for more years than I care to remember and have the added 'delight' of tenosynovitis in one hand which can make things seem a little heavy going at times, but I'm certainly enjoying the challenge so far!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

From Russia with Love

I'd never heard of Elena Polenova.  So when Mr OM suggested we go visit the Watts gallery just outside of Guildford I can't claim to have been particularly excited.

I grew up visiting the Watts gallery and the nearby Memorial chapel.  I discovered it as a teenager and it was the very first place I drove to when I passed my driving test at 18.  Thankfully it's quite local to me otherwise that first solo drive might have been a little more daunting than it actually was!

 Back then it seemed an utterly magical place.  A gallery of..... how shall I put it, faded gentility..... attached to Limnerslease, the home of the Victorian painter, George Frederick Watts. To visit was like stepping back in time; I loved the cobwebs and the dust, and the buckets of water dotted around the creaky parquet floor to catch raindrops which fell through the leaking roof.  The then curator, Richard Jefferies was an ever present fixture and looked as though he'd just stepped out of one of the many portraits lining the wall, and from his animated conversation it was obvious he was having something of a love affair with the place also.  A year or two back I discovered some video's on YouTube which give you a little taste of the man himself, though sadly it doesn't do justice to his terrific enthusiasm which I found so infectious back then;

It was obvious, even to me with my love of it's wonderful atmosphere that the gallery's 'shabbiness' couldn't be sustained long term....damp is no friend of any kind of artwork..... so it was with some trepidation that I 'kind of, sort of' welcomed the news that funding had been found to restore it a few years ago. Eleven million pounds of funding to be precise.  That was back in 2008. Roll forward to 2011 and the restoration was complete.  But I somehow couldn't bring myself to go back.  By this time Richard Jefferies had gone and everything I loved about the place with it.  Or so I thought....

Yesterday was the first time I have visited since the restoration and I'm so glad that I finally plucked up the courage to revisit. Yes the cobwebs, the dust and the buckets have disappeared, along with Mr Jefferies who I suspect I had (and still have) something of a crush on, but it retains just enough of it's long remembered charm to feel like I was visiting an old friend.

And so onto Elena Polenova, sister to the perhaps more famous artist, Vasily Polenova.  Again I've found a little video over on YouTube which gives you more of an idea of the artist than I ever could by writing about her here;

I won't lie and say I was a fan of everything I saw of her work yesterday.  Some of it was a little hit and miss to my mind, or perhaps I'm one of those much berated and ridiculed people who 'knows what I like when I see it'....but ohhh, some of those watercolours she painted to illustrate various Russian fairytales.  They were an absolute glorious riot of colour and I feel privileged to have been able to see them close up, on this, the first tour of her work in the UK.  Painted on small scraps of paper which overlaid patterned borders painted separately then used to frame her work, they literally drew you into the fantasy she was illustrating regardless of your background knowledge of the tale depicted.

 Above - Visiting Father Frost 1889

Above - The War of the Mushrooms 1886-1889

How lovely is that tiny mushroom border painted here?

I could ramble on...and on....and on....but I'm guessing this is probably a good place to stop for today. I will, at some stage be blogging about the Watts Chapel however....just down the road from the gallery and something of an arts and crafts legacy left by Watt's equally talented wife, Mary and described by Lucinda Lambton (a sometimes UK broadcaster on architectural subject matters) thus;

'It's no exaggeration to say that the Watts Cemetery Chapel is one of the most beautiful, one of the most extraordinary, marvellous and magical buildings in the whole of the British Isles.'

So there!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Snippets of Verse

Every so often, I come across a snippet of verse or certain lyrics in a song which strike a chord with me.  I've never really read much poetry so it's not something I deliberately search out, but maybe that's also why certain things have such impact on me when I do stumble across them? Who knows?

The other day I came across these lines, which I've since discovered are part of Tennyson's poem Ulysses;

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.

Hopefully the untravell'd world won't turn out to be a graveyard, as in the photograph I took here just outside Stirling in Scotland. At least not just yet!

Poetry, is of course, often subjective and lends itself to different interpretation, so I'm loathe to suggest I have any expertise on the matter, but to me this (admittedly very small part of a longer poem) kind of alludes to the fact that our past experiences in life shape us but aren't the sum total of who we are because there are yet more experiences and adventures to be had.  It reminded me of a song who's lyrics also had something of a profound effect on me when I first heard them.  This time from Roy Harper's The Same Old Rock;

All along the ancient wastes the thin reflections spin
That gather up the times and tides at once we love within;
That builds the edges round the shrouds that cloud the setting sun
And carry us to other days and other days to one.

For as long as I can remember, way back into my childhood, I've been attracted to things that resonate with the past.  Ancient landscapes, the ruins of castles, abbeys and monastery's, hillforts.....anything really that links back to those who have gone before, so I consider myself very lucky to live in the British Isle, which has so much of this kind of stuff on offer.

Over the last few years I've made it something of a mission to go photograph as much of these kinds of things as I'm able  (without becoming utterly obsessive!), so in all likelihood a lot of photos of this ilk will crop up on my blog with regular....I was going to say monotony,...... but that's not really the word I'm looking for! Suffice to say they'll be lots of photos of old stuff cropping up all over the place, a lot of which I'll have dabbled around in photoshop with.

Photos such as this for example, which is part of the ruins of Netley Abbey just outside of Southampton;

or this, part of the ancient landscape of North Wales;

I do seem to like my teals and blue effects don't I? Trying for something with a little more colour though again sticking with a grunge effect, this is the fifteenth century Tu Hwnt i'r Bont in Wales, now a tea room owned by the National Trust

Or what about these, the beautiful burnt out ruins of Nymans;

The legacy of the past in places such as these still impacts on us in the modern world and I suspect will continue to do so long into the future. Maybe this was what old Tennyson was alluding to? For me, despite their often troubled past they are sources of, to quote yet another song, this time by Van Morrison, Haunts of Ancient Peace.  I'm looking forward to discovering more as the year progresses.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Starting Over

First post of a brand new year.  It feels like a bit of a blank canvas to be honest, though I've blogged before.  Last time around it seemed too specific somehow.....mostly about wool related activities.....which was good, but obviously not the sum total of who I am, nor reflective of the variety of interests I enjoy.  Some people are good at making their blogs relate to specific things only, but not me.  I prefer an eclectic mix of whatever I'm into at any given time.  Hence this new blog, which I intend to make a complete mishmash of anything and everything that takes my fancy......much more me somehow.

Mr Ogham Moon and I went for a wander to the ruins of Waverley Abbey yesterday morning.  It's local to us and perfectly situated on the banks of the River Wey.  A thick hoar frost covered the ground and the river was actually frozen over,

magical and something of a rarity these days in this part of southern England.

As we crunched along the tow path an eerie mist started to envelop the fields which I managed to take photos of - one of which I've used in the header of this, my new blog. I was so engrossed watching the mist unfurl and swirl around the field that I completely missed what Mr OM thinks was a black mink, skidding and sliding around on the ice behind me, which would, of course, have been a wonder to behold and something I wish I'd managed to capture on film.

Many moons ago, a friend of mine, who's an avid fisherman and not a person known to exaggerate, decided to do a spot of night fishing along the riverbank by the abbey.  It was a full moon, with  fields adorned with wisps of mist, much as they are in my photos here.

All of a sudden, a hooded figured loomed out of the mist and began to glide towards where he was sat, at which point he promptly dropped his fishing rod and ran back to the car, only returning in the morning to collect his things.  This is a great big burly builder chap we're talking about here too! He's never gone back.

Walking the route yesterday in daylight, I can well understand how the mists and the moon might play on the mind though until such time as I see one, I'll remain a little skeptical about hooded ghosts!

The cows don't seem too bothered about such stuff anyway.....