Three Essex Villages, England

[ Photo Blog #47 ]

Just a few of my photographs taken in three beautiful villages in Essex in South East England – to the north and East of London.

Greensted Church, in the small village of Greensted-juxta-Ongar, near Chipping Ongar, is the oldest wooden church in the world, and probably the oldest wooden building in Europe still standing, albeit only in part, since few sections of its original wooden structure remain. The oak walls are often classified as remnants of a palisade church or a kind of early stave church, dated either to the mid-9th or mid-11th century.

Ingatestone is a village in Essex, England, with a population of about 4,500.

Ingatestone Hall is a Grade I listed 16th-century manor house in Essex, some 5 miles (8 km) south west of Chelmsford. It was built by Sir William Petre, and his descendants live in the house to this day.  William Petre bought Ingatestone manor soon after the Dissolution of the Monasteries for some £850 and commissioned the building of the house. Queen Elizabeth I of England spent several nights there on her royal progress of 1561.

The hall represented the exterior of Bleak House in the 2005 television adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel and also appeared in an episode of the TV series Lovejoy. Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s novel Lady Audley’s Secret is set at Ingatestone Hall and was inspired by a stay there.

Orsett is a village and ecclesiastical parish located within Thurrock unitary district in Essex

( Information based on entries in Wikipedia )

OrsettCottage

A timbered and thatched cottage in Orsett

Greensted01

Greensted Church

Greensted02

Greensted Church –  Wooden South Entrance

Ingatestone01

Ingatestone Hall

Ingatestone02

Ingatestone Hall – Clock Tower & Weather Vane

Ingatestone03

Ingatestone Hall

Ingatestone04a

Ingatestone Hall – Roadside slogan – ‘Never Underestimate A Minority’

One evening in July

One evening in July

swift-swallows

High in the sky
crescent wings spread
swallows swoop in the setting sun
sweeping the sky in graceful bursts
of focussed energy

JulyEvening1

squirrels scamper back to hide
in the broad bold arms of the copper beech
massively dominant
heart-fulcrum of this garden’s universe
dark and russet red
against the pure blue of the dying sky

all movement
matching mood
the random respite in the dreamy breeze
the occasional breath of the wind’s touch
and sporadically
 complete stillness

JulyEvening3

greens, so many greens
each tree, shrub, plant
varied in their shades
proving their uniqueness
setting themselves apart
by shape and colour
claiming their own personality

offshoots of dandelion down
breeze-drift ever upwards
losing themselves in the beech’s canopy
awaiting an eventual
descent to earth
and re-birth
to live and breed again

JulyEvening4

a low-key insect hum
a buzz about the borders
and the beds
those ‘I-must-be-about-my-business’ bees
bustling flower to flower
seeking out colour
honey essence
on the move
feasting
surviving

other minutiae fuss and flurry
in their chosen domains
butterflies, beetles,
hoverflies
nature’s drones
engaged with their own agendas

the collared dove cooing on the rooftop
the chirrup, twitter, chatter of
evening’s bedtime birds

the whole garden sings softly to me
showcasing summer’s sustenance
the season’s splendour
acknowledging the diurnal cycle
preparing for the sun’s departure
and the oncoming darkness
bringing languor and tranquility
paving the way for the
life of the night
to commence

banner-pink

 

SIDMOUTH and John Betjeman

[ Photo Blog #43 ]

SIDMOUTH and John Betjeman

 I supplement my photographic gallery post of Sidmouth a week ago with a further collection of photographs of this’ jewel of England’s Jurassic Coast’.  The town was beloved of our 20th Century poet laureate (1972-84), John Betjeman.  He wrote a poem as the sound track to a 1962 television film on the town.  In the poem, called ‘Still Sidmouth’, he says of the town :

‘Gothic or Classic, terrace or hotel,
Here does the backbone of old England dwell.’

On my own recent visit there I made a point of looking for what Betjeman describes in his poem as the ‘bright and outsize Devon  flowers’ in Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens.

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (111)

The Betjeman Plaque in Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth

‘Pause on Peak Hill, look eastward to the town,
Then to the Connaught Gardens wander down
And in the shelter of its tropic bowers,
I see its bright and outsize Devon flowers.’

 Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (112)

As befits the Jungle theme of just one part of these gardens, most plants here originate from the Far East.  There is a fascinating bamboo collection, but what, in particular, caught my eye was this exotic plant which reached up tall into the sky and leant at an angle over the pathway.  So far I have been unable to pin down it’s name.  There is a lot of information about these gardens on the internet and on the plants it contains, but nothing I can find which matches the description of this tall, broad-stemmed creature. It has a myriad of small blue and mauve periwinkle-like flowers encircling the massive central stems, which, at the time I photographed them, were covered in honey bees.

The following four photographs give a better idea of its exotic character . . .

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (114)

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (115)

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (116)

 

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (117)

Below I include 4 more of my photographs of Sidmouth flowers, wild ones this time, which John Betjeman would have seen and loved . . .

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (72)

Seashore Foxglove

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (73)

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (44)

River Sid Daisies

Devon-June2017-Sidmouth (46)

 

bar-curl4

 

My Bird Of Paradise

Balloon Bird1

My Bird Of Paradise

Balloon Bird2

 When I awoke and drew the blinds
One bright and sunny day
A sight awaited my poor eyes
Which filled me with dismay.

When looking out my bedroom window
I’ve never before found
Something which has so puzzled me
It truly did astound

Exotic birds do not frequent
My garden usually
But yesterday I gazed at one
Amazed – excusably.

Was it a bird of ill omen
Sent to cause me worry
I told myself, “I doubt that much,
At least not here in Surrey.”

Perhaps a Bird of Paradise
Had managed to break free
From its New Guinea jungle home
And come to delight me.

Maybe a Rainbow Lorikeet
Toucan or Golden Pheasant
Peacock or a Red Macaw
Sent here as a present.

I was quite mystified you see
Until this afternoon
The gardener came, looked up and said,
“It’s an escaped balloon.”

I was quite mortified to find
I had not recognised
My own discarded birthday gift.
… I’m so demoralised.

Balloon Bird3



 

TIME OUT

 

TIME OUT

Fox2

Time out for Reynard.
He’ll just wait.
Eyeing up those chickens
To seal their fate.

fox4

Time out, but wary,
On the qui vive.
Fodder for his family
Just about to thieve.

Fox3

Time out for him now,
Night’s work done.
Taking a siesta
In the sun.

May05 26th1

Say what you will, but
The urban fox,
Is part of Nature’s spectrum,
Not unorthodox.

 

May05 26th2

Photographs taken in a Surrey garden … WHB: 2015-17

 

 bar-curl4

Dublin, City of a Thousand Welcomes

1Dublin-Georgian Doorway1

Dublin has many such beautiful doorways dating from the Georgian period

2Dublin-Doors

This one photo is from Pinterest – the others are all my own

Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland, is a beautiful city.  It is an absolute delight to wander around the lush green parks and open spaces, especially on a sunny afternoon.  My first visit, many years ago, was in torrential rain.  A lorry driver who generously gave a lift, southwards from the city, to two itinerant hitch-hikers, welcomed us with the comment, “Ireland is beautiful – just needs a bloody great umbrella over it”.  My second and third visits were in delightful sunshine which showed off the city’s exquisite Georgian architecture and its many monuments and statues to great advantage.  I add below a gallery of photographs taken during my last visit in 2010 …

Dublin-Approach from The Sea1

Sea approach to Dublin Harbour

Dublin-Aviva Stadium1

The Aviva Stadium – formerly Landsdowne Road Stadium – venue for major rugby and football matches

Dublin-St Patricks Cathedral1

St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Church Of Ireland.   Founded in 1191, its 43 metres high spire makes it the tallest church in Ireland.

Dublin-Fitzwilliam Square Georgian Houses1

Ivy covered Georgian Terrace houses

Dublin-Bay Windows1

Georgian-style Bay Windows

Dublin-St Stephens Green Shopping Centre1

Front façade of St.Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre

Dublin-O'Donovan Rossa1

Memorial Stone in St.Stephen’s Green Park, to Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa,  (1831-1915) a former Fenian Leader.

Dublin-Statue of Wolfe Tone1

Statue in St. Stephen’s Green Park, to Wolfe Tone a leading figure of the Irish Independence Movement

Dublin-Papal Cross-Phoenix Pk1

The Papal Cross in Phoenix Park commemorates the Pope’s visit to Dublin in 1979  

Dublin-Wellington Monument-Phoenix Pk1

The Wellington Testimonial Obelisk in Phoenix Park.  Arthur Wellesley, ‘The Iron Duke’, general and politician, was born in Ireland.

bar-curl4

The Isle of Ghia

ArdminishBay&GighaHotel

GHIA

I have eulogised in previous blogs about the Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland.  Today I include a gallery of photographs which I took, some years ago now, on the southernmost Inner Hebridean island of GHIA.  Ghia has one of the warmest climates in Scotland and is a beautiful destination, with sandy beaches, the renowned Achamore Gardens, good food, history and wildlife, a golf course, quiet roads and friendly people.

One of the main attractions of this small island is the ease with which one can reach it from the mainland.  It lies just four miles from the Kintyre peninsular and the ferry, from Tayinloan, will take just 20 minutes to reach the small landing at Ardminish.  The island’s one hotel is close by and I had a delightful few days based there whilst I explored the island.

The population of Ghia is approximately 160.  The island is just over 6 miles long.  Its single-track main road runs from north to south covering almost the whole length of the island which is nowhere more than two miles across from east to west.  The highest mountain on the island is Creag Bhan in the northern part of the island which is exactly 100 metres in height.

Gigha-Map

Isle of GHIA – marked with the red pointer

Find out more about the island at:  GHIA’s website

PHOTO GALLERY . . .

Ferry@Ardminish02 (2)

20 minute ferry ride from the mainland of Kintyre

ArdminishBay02

Ardminish Bay and the island’s one hotel

BikesForHire

Bikes for hire will take you the length of the island’s one north-to-south road

SouthPierScene

Scene at the island’s south Pier

SouthPierSwans

Many birds on the island’s foreshore

AchamoreHouse

The island’s Manor House and magnificent gardens

Roadside05

Roadside flora

Roadside03

More roadside hydrangeas

NorthIsleSheep03

Sheep roaming the foreshore

EarlyMorningPalm

Shade under the palm tree

RuinsGravestoneRunes

Ancient Runes

RuinsGravestone

… and ancient tombs

ToPapsOfJura02

View of the Paps of Jura looking west from Ghia

banner2b

The APPLEGARTH

gisbropriory0

The APPLEGARTH

When morning
meets my melancholy
I must refocus
dispel my clouds
and reconnect to nature
through her glory

gisbro-applegarth1

The garth gate invites
pledges enchantment
such memories harboured here
once the cloister garden
of my medieval monastery
now still the repository
of the priory’s peace
ancient orchard
now transformed
but still a place
to rejuvenate the soul
to touch
feel and taste
nature’s serenity

gisbro-applegarth3

   The morning mist
lingered low
over the once fallow fields
then no longer virgin earth
but become thick with apple trees
and those
long gone
and autumn dormant now
awaiting its wheat-carpeted
summer season

gisbro-applegarth4

The morning advances
only half-appreciated
until the
the priory arch
proud against the sky
bursts through the mist
into the weak sun’s gaze
the veiled sky
allowing
the gathering sunlight
slowly
to prove its strength
and bring clarity
to a waiting world

gisbro-applegarth2

And The pathway
its ancient course
 piercing its length
into the shrouded distance
remembrancer now
of those Augustinian brothers
traversing
this ancient orchard
who with such care
tended nature’s gifts
now bare of fruit
but never fruitless
no longer cosseted
by priestly presence
and full of nuanced context still

For me …

The Applegarth
my own memory
of this sanctified place
sings of golden corn
bordering that arrowed path
where also was
the winning post
the last gasp
of those long-past
teenage
distance running races
marking my triumphs
measuring my success
against the countless strides
I had wrenched
from my straining body
to accomplish
to lead the race
the end of endeavours
signifying my own
my personal
accomplishment.

The Applegarth,
a trope
my metaphor
for my life.

gisbro-applegarth5

Photographs by WHB . . . 2016

line060

… And Then There Were Four

londonembankment-19c1

London, Victoria Embankment, late 19th Century … Pen & Wash – WHB – 2014

Late autumn evening
treading wet leaves
on the broad embankment
 beside the dark river;
starry sky
and the pavement spotted
with lights
dark pools between
those balustrade sentries
the eighty year old
yablochkov candles
(the country’s very first

electric street lights)
still throwing the trees’ shadows
across the road
to Victoria’s gardens.

Perhaps memory twists my tale;
mike, dave, wally, ray,
with me five of us,
fresh lads
freshers too
up from the far country
to study
to see the big city
to re-start a life
men now
together
soliciting knowledge
tempting experience.

Interned for a Chelsea month,
then the anticipated incursion,
our first excursion
into the great city
set for new challenges
no plan
just exploration;
for the moment
nothing cerebral
just life in the moment
flâneurs

awaiting a happening
neophytic
greenhorns.

Walking where Victoria walked,
or did she ever really
enjoy her gardens by the river?
thrilling evening
walking that promenade,
drinking the sights
eating the sounds
devouring the smells and tastes
soaking up the river
and the beer,
Victoria’s Embankment Gardens.

We didn’t know it then
nor did any of us suspect
it was to be ray’s swan song
sweet Thames run softly
and be his swan song.

Turned up Villiers Street,
Kipling’s and Evelyn’s street,
tumbled into The Trafalgar,
seedy then,
well, rare student prices,
waitress in black and white
I remember
the white cap with lace
and black band
the tiny white apron
on black dress
alluringly short
wiping her hands
by rubbing them seductively
on her aproned thighs,
“what can I get you lads?”
… ribaldry …
ray “what time do you finish?”
… her answer
no more than a half-smile;

After the spam fritters
and the glorious knickerbockers
and more small pink hands
attentive hands
rubbed clean
on lacy white apron,
ray’s eyes never taken off them
then drinks
nothing heavy.

Ray fell
must have done
from a great height
smitten I would say
to his adam’s apple core,
eyes only for a pretty face
and those lacy edges.

Conversation ricocheted
across the tables
voices spurted out their verbiage
as those yablochkov candles
expended their light,
more raucous than uncouth.

Then the attempt to close
to dispense with customers
we head for the street
ray stays in his seat
“’bye chaps, I’ll see you.”

… But he never did.

Nor we him.
Ever again.

victoria-embankment-flickr

The Thames Embankment is a work of 19th Century civil engineering which reclaimed marshy land next to the River Thames in central London.  It follows the North Bank of the river from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.

The Victoria Embankment Gardens , built also in the latter part of the 19th Century, separate the embankment and the road running alongside from the buildings on the south side of Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and The Strand.

Villiers Street is a short connecting thoroughfare, now mainly pedestrianised, running from the Thames Embankment and Embankment underground Station uphill to the Strand, Charing Cross Mainline Railway Station  and Trafalgar Square.  It contains many restaurants and eating establishments.
The Trafalgar Café, however, can no longer be found there.

31-1113tm-vector2-3463

 

The Sculpture Park

I attach below just a sample of some of the sculptures on view in this delightful hidden setting in England’s Surrey Hills.  In fact, my photographs were taken about ten years ago and since that time there have been considerable changes to both the venue and the artwork on display.  The setting is very atmospheric.  It lies in a steep-sided valley covered in trees and vegetation and dotted with pools, water gardens and water features.  Just wandering around the many pathways there is a delight, with unexpected positioning of sculptures popping  up at every turn of the many rambling paths to surprise and to appreciate.  Many well–known sculptors display their work there, all  in the open air often half-hidden amongst the undergrowth and bracken.  There are something like 800 exhibits scattered throughout this ten acre site amidst the many trees, lakes, and the natural wildlife of the area. In fair or in inclement weather a visit there is a guaranteed delight,

More can be discovered by visiting the park’s website at:

   The Sculpture Park, Churt, Farnham, Surrey

Click on any of the photographs above to view the sculpture in a larger format and to start a slide-show of them all.

banner-green