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Bristol , United Kingdom
My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, will be published early in 2022 by Indigo Dreams. I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy. https://theleapingword.com

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Kennet & Avon Floating Market Summer 2017 (and wonderful wonderful Bradford-on-Avon ♪ ♫)

Having visited Bradford-on-Avon on Thursday night for Words and Ears (a splendid night of poetry), we were back again on Saturday morning for the Kennet & Avon Floating Market. 

We arrived timelily, the plan being to pick up some copies of Dru Marland's wonderful new book of illustrated poetry, Drawn Chorusand some of our friends Chris and Jinny's wonderful leatherwork. (I had my hopes set on a leather-covered notebook to write poems in.)

Dru was doing a brisk trade in books and cards and prints. 

As for Chris and Jinny - well, I couldn't see them for punters, some of whom had been queuing for an hour; in fact, a couple of customers had come over specially from Germany.  

All I could see was the garden of their narrowboat. 

I couldn't face joining the scrum for something so precious, though Cathy, my companion, was lucky and secured a beautiful pair of earrings once the feeding frenzy had died down a little. 

I decided it was probably better to commission a cover. (I'm good at biding my time as long as there is time to bide.) 

NB Eve flying the European flag

Cathy isn't all that familiar with Bradford-on-Avon, so after we'd had lunch in the pub, and caught up with our friends, the singer-songwriter Lou Bell and potter Jan Lane, we went for a wander around town. 

First stop, the massive plane tree by the River Avon ...
... and then the excellent bookshop Ex Libris, whose poetry section is in a shed at the end of the garden. 

I decided we should probably visit some of the more conventional tourist spots, so we headed for the wonderful Saxon Church of St Laurence. On the way, we diverted into the parish church of Holy Trinity. 

For some reason I hadn't been in there before - I think at least a couple of times it had been closed. 

There were a few details I was taken with ... 

... this pre-Reformation reredos in the north wall which has somehow survived ... 

... this cheery little chap on a 17th century tomb ...

... this fragment of a mediaeval wall painting showing the Virgin Mary being taught by her mother, Anne ... 

... this Flemish roundel in a stained glass window showing Christ breaking bread with two apostles and a dog with a human face, a common depiction then but still a bit disquieting.

I was also impressed, in a horrified sort of way, to see that the church had no less than five priests in the plague years of 1348-49. 

But there were other things I really disliked, notably the Victorian pillars wound round with ribbons, the fact there wasn't a guide book, and the dispiritingly corporate feel the place has acquired. 

Much more to my taste is the 'lost' Saxon Church of St Laurence, one of the most atmospheric churches I've ever been in, even after repeated visits. I love it. 

It is at least 1100 and possibly 1300 years old, and is one of the few buildings I know, the worn step of which isn't painted brilliant yellow. Hooray!

Oh and the play of light and shadow is just beautiful. 

It was good to catch up with the angels. 

New since my previous visit was the addition of two pieces of stone above the altar, which is made up of pieces of Saxon stonework found near by, and the fragment of a cross: namely, a ring of stone carved in 2012 by John Maine, which has been set above a piece of 150 million year old fossilised tree.  

The effect is stunning.

Coffin at Church of St Laurence

Coffin at Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn

Time for one more place - it had to be the Tithe Barn, didn't it? No apologies for yet more photos of a building I visit regularly

Marks of apotropaios on the stonework around the doors

Up on the tow path, the same band of troubadours was performing who played at Chris and Jinny's wedding last September, but it was time for us to be making tracks home. The Floating Market will be back, however - in Newbury from 26th to 28th August, and again in Bradford-on-Avon in time for all your Christmas Shopping needs. 

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