About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Nash Point Lighthouse and St Donat's

On, then, from the loveliness of Llancarfan, past St Athan where my father was stationed after the war,  to the coast, hoping it would stop drizzling. Or at least I was. The dogs didn't care; Son the Younger had a sensible weather-proof coat with him; mine proved not to be in the boot of my car after all, but back at home.
We parked by the cafe at Nash Point, where a buoy with a bell heaves and subsides, heaves and subsides.

Exmoor was just visible across the Bristol Channel. 

The lighthouse station consists of two towers, the low (west) and high (east), which were both completed in 1832. 

The west tower saw service till the early 1920s.

The east tower became fully automated in 1998.

We were off amid soft rain and lark song ...

... soon to encounter a series of extremely dog-unfriendly stiles that blighted our route. 

Young puppers like Lucy can be carried over the ones she can't jump or squeeze through. 

For more señor dogs like Ted, who begin to resemble part of the landscape as they age, they are a Trial and an Indignity. Moreover, I couldn't have hoisted him over without help, and this would make this route impossible to walk alone. 

There was some bright fuzzy fungus, though ... 

... and some black mustard which is actually yellow and looked well against the unremitting grey of the sea. 

Red soldier beetles on hogweed

We left the coast just past the bottom of St Donat's College, skirting it as far as the road and then entering the grounds and walking down to the eponymous church ... 

... which is overlooked by the castle, which once belonged to William Randolph Hearst and was Much Visited by Famous People. (It's now an international Sixth Form College.) 

Fourteenth century churchyard cross

The thing I liked best inside the church was the Norman font, which is somehow very pleasing to the eye. 

And the thickness of the walls - I loved that too.

We were heading back towards Nash Point now, through more woods ... 

... over more uncompromising stiles ... 

... along field paths ... 

... and more bloody stiles ... 

... and another bloody church, thought everyone but me. 

Holy Trinity Church at Marcross dates from the 12th century. The saddleback roof to its tower reminds me of churches in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. 

It's really plain inside, rather like a Methodist chapel.

There's lots of Norman detailing, though. Including this huge font. Blimey. 

South doorway

Chancel arch

Detail of 13th century tomb

And anyhow, God must have been Watching all that church-hopping because the rain stopped. In fact, it was threatening to sun. 

We crossed Cwm Marcross and climbed the gully. Another high stone stile had us clambering over a broken fence instead, though it was way too close to the cliff edge for comfort. 

It was a lovely if tussocky stroll for just over a mile along the cliff tops to Cwm Nash, and then about turn to walk back to the car park. 

The layered rock and limestone pavements reminded me strongly of Kilve, which isn't surprising given it is just the other side of the Channel (and up a bit) from here. 

Poets are always instructed to show, not tell. I'll let the rest of the photos do that.

Our drive home was extended by two hours following a fatal car crash on the M4, a quarter of a mile ahead of our car, and it made me thankful for my beautiful day and any to come.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

St Cadoc's Church, Llancarfan

I can't say I've wanted to see the mediaeval wall paintings in Llancarfan Church for aaaaaages because they were only discovered in 2008, when a thin line of red paint was discovered under more than twenty coats of limewash. 

I heard about them in 2012, which is quite long ago enough, when I went to hear the lovely Michael Wood speak at Bristol University. And on Wednesday, I finally got a chance to go there. Hooray!

Apparently, the name Llancarfan derives from Nantcarfan, the valley or stream of the stags. Here's the stream ...  

... and here's a stag. 

And here's a scratch sundial.

Even before the uncovering of the paintings, St Cadog's Church would have been worth visiting for all its other mediaeval survivals, but they do rather steal the show. 

Here's a few of the highlights ... like the magnificent St George on his 'orse, vanquishing a depleted but still impressive dragon.

Death, dressed in a shroud, wrapped around by a worm and with a toad clinging to his chest, leads the Gallant in the Dance of Death.

Rather than the more usual sinners-being-sucked-down-into-Hell, here the Seven Deadlies emanate from the sinner's body rather like heads of the Hydra. Except you can't see much of him, apart from his bent knees.

Lust reminds me - in design, if not execution - of the similar warning in the nave of St Winifred's in Branscombe, which is on the cover of my first collection, Communion.
I love how both sets of lovers are oblivious to their diabolical tormentors.
Here's a detail of Gluttony ... 

... and of the Acts of Mercy.

The south aisle

I especially like the glimpses you get of the paintings as you wander around the church ...

... and in juxtaposition with other parts of the decoration like this stone carving.

In fact, there's a fair bit of stone and wood carving but information about it is harder to come by than it is about the paintings.

Fourteenth century capital 

This fragment of a shaft of a pillar cross is the only surviving part of the late 9th/early 10th century Celtic church.

The fifteenth century Perpencidular screen and cradle roof of the Raglan chapel

The parish chest

The 12th century stoop
The also-recently-rediscovered-and-restored-canopied reredos screen

Apparently, Llancarfan once had a chancel window that was a masterpiece of stained glass, but during the Civil Wars, a local man called Whitton Bush destroyed it while shouting 'Down with the whore of Babylon!'

Rather less contentious glass here now.