Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Colder than the Scales on a Mermaid's Tail

The forecast was brilliant sun, with a temperature of 5°C, so we promised Ted we'd take him to the beach for a nice long run the next morning. 

It was tipping with rain when we went to bed. So we didn't expect to wake up to snow all the way over to the Cotswolds.

But the forecast still said sunny all day, and 6°C at Berrow. So we decided we Might Just Risk It. 


Once in Somerset there was a smudge of snow on the Mendips too, though not on nearby Brent Knoll.

It was sheltered winding our way along the sunken footpath between the thickets of thorn and sea buckthorn. 


Ted, who had sulked when we got into the car because he hadn't really understood the beach bit, brightened dramatically and led the way to the shore. There, however, a northerly wind was biting ... and it had put its teeth in. 




We'd arrived bang on high tide. Not only could you could see the sea, it had waves in it. 

There was snow on distant Exmoor ... 


... and on the probably-not-quite-as-distant-as-the-crow-flies Welsh hills ...


... but the freezing cold didn't put Ted off. 


In fact, it didn't put any of us off. We were having a lovely time. 


There was no sign of the wreck of the SS Nornen sticking up through the waves, even though the beach is very flat and the yellow buoys which mark the site looked as if they were close to the shore.


And the sanderlings which had been scurrying along the high tide line departed sharpish when Ted materialised. 


The oystercatchers hung around a little longer, though. 




We could only bear to walk into the wind as far as the first set of groynes.  


Up in the dunes, however, it was much balmier, and the views were gorgeous. 

Over to Steep Holm and the coast of Wales


Up to Brean Down


Over to Brent Knoll ... with a raven overhead


In fact, there were lots of ravens.


Looking down to the Quantocks


It was a mercy to turn our backs to the wind and walk back down the beach.  





Already the dark was seeping up from the ground as we made our way back through the dunes to the churchyard. 


But we were full of light. 

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Alchemy in Curry Rivel

I was bang on time to visit my everso very scary, 94-year-old Aunt in North Curry, in order to collect her Christmas presents for my parents and bring them up to Bristol. That is, until I arrived at the end of her road to find it closed while workmen repaired a broken gas main. Alarmed at the prospect of a nine-mile detour and how late that would make me, I managed to sweet-talk my way through the road block; on our way to the pub for lunch, she climbed out of my car, marched down the lane (tottering only very slightly) and pulled rank by citing her very great age. But there was no way back in; our return journey was to take us through Stathe and Curry Rivel, and along a twisty causeway with deep rhynes on either side.

Upon leaving, again via the scenic route, I decided I might as well use the last hour or so of sunlight to perform an act of alchemy and transmute duty into A Jaunt. So instead of barrelling back through Curry Rivel, I stopped off and visited the Church. 
You wouldn't really mistake St Andrew's for anywhere beyond the Somerset Levels. Like many of the churches around here, it's built of both blue lias stone from the north (Somerton upwards) and golden hamstone from Ham Hill to the south. 


Plus, it's well endowed with hunky punks, which name stems from the attitude of the carved animals, squatting on their hunkers. 

You can see them here below the crenellations. 


I've been watching the TV dramatisation of 'The White Princess' lately, not for its historical accuracy, obvs, but because Son the Elder did a fair bit of extra work on it last summer


So I was interested to see the mother of King Henry VII (and antagonist of the series), Lady Margaret Beaufort's family badge depicting a portcullis on the ornamental frieze above the door. Apparently she owned estates in the area. 


Before I went inside, I wandered around the churchyard in the slanting winter sun. 


There was lots of mistletoe in the trees and I had hankering to pick my own, like I did two Decembers ago in Ilminster churchyard, only it was all way out of my reach. 


There were some already harvested stems in the porch, with a request for donations to the Church in lieu, but I didn't like the idea of reimbursing a Christian institution for so pagan a plant. 


Inside there was lots to explore and marvel at. An unpleasant West window with garish glass was more than compensated for by the remaining windows, many of which incorporated mediaeval glass in the upper lights.




A beautiful window by Victorian stained glass designer and manufacturer Charles Eamer Kempe was half hidden by the organ ... 


... but a trespass into the Sanctuary was rewarded by delicate cobweb visions of etched glass by Laurence Whistler.


I liked the way the tree beyond the 18th century East window gave the impression of being part of the design. The roundel is a piece of 12th century glass from Canterbury Cathedral.  


I also loved the bench ends, some of which date from the 15th century. This one features Tudor roses, presumably to remind parishioners who ruled them. (More of Lady Margaret's influence, perhaps.)


The guide book also tells us that the small cupboard with its original linenfold door in the south wall of the Chancel was probably used to store precious books.

Tombs with 13th century effigies of a knight and children (maybe) of the de Lorti family. Inside the tomb chest the knight rests on are bones thought to be of Lady Sabina de Lorti, née Revel, whose family the village is named for.   


Hard to get a view of the Jennings tomb (Marmaduke d 1625, and son, Robert, d 1630), as it's ringed by railings. On the sides kneel their wives and children, as well as effigies of stillborn infants.
Outside, in the gathering dusk, I noticed a lower tree smothered in mistletoe and happily snapped off a small bunch to take home, getting around the donation conundrum by telling myself I was paying extra for my guide book. 


The journey home along the top of the Polden Hills was moderately arduous but accessorised by a stunning sunset. I couldn't easily stop to take photos, but my friend Jan Lane who is now living just up the road in West Pennard did ... so here is one of hers. 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Not So Smol Pupper Now

Who are all these people?

Doin' me a closer look


Why can't I sit up with them?

Oh well, I can have a snuggle with me mam and dad 

Heckin' tired now
Being a pupper is hard work, frens