River Thames Sunsets

A selection of my photographs, taken on different occasions between 2004 and 2010, of sunsets – looking westwards from the south bank of the River Thames along the four mile stretch of the River in Surrey, England, between Chertsey and Walton-on-Thames . . .

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The Lake District

[ Photo Blog #48 ]

England, Cumbria, The Lake District

Never far from water in the Lake District

My photographs, taken several years ago on what would now be considered to be an old camera

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Ambleside Pierhead on Lake Windermere

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Evening at Ambleside Pierhead on Lake Windermere

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Bridge crossing the River Derwent in Borrowdale

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The Landing Jetty and Coniston Launch at Brantwood on Coniston Water

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On Buttermere

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The ‘Sentinels’ on Buttermere, the Lake District’s most photographed trees.

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The Steam Yacht on Coniston Water

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Derwentwater at Keswick

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Thirlmere

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Skelwith Force

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Autumn colours near Skelwith Bridge, Ambleside

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 )

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A timbered and thatched cottage in Orsett

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Greensted Church

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Greensted Church –  Wooden South Entrance

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Ingatestone Hall

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Ingatestone Hall – Clock Tower & Weather Vane

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Ingatestone Hall

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

Dartmouth, Devon

[ Photo Blog #46 ]

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Map of South Devon, England, showing the River Dart and Dartmouth

Dartmouth is a historic South Devonshire town situated where the beautiful River Dart meets the sea.  It has become a famous tourist destination, but it has a long history, mainly associated with its position as a deep-water port for sailing vessels, giving them easy access to the English Channel.  As far back as the Twelfth Century the port was used as the sailing point for the Crusades of 1147 and 1190.  Since the reign of  Edward II, Dartmouth has been the home of the Royal Navy.  The town was twice surprised and sacked in the 14th and 15th centuries during the Hundred Years’ War.  Following this, the narrow mouth of the estuary was closed every night with a great chain.  To protect the town, Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle were built on opposite banks of the river entrance.  The Britannia Royal Naval College is located on the hill overlooking the town and has been training Officers of the Royal Navy since 1863.

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The River Dart – Looking eastwards from the town

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Dartmouth – The Quay

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The Royal Naval College overlooks the town

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The River Dart Passenger Ferry crossing between Dartmouth and Kingswear on the opposite bank

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Dartmouth Castle at the mouth of the river on the west bank

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The car ferry crossing close to the river mouth

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View towards the river mouth and the English Channel

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Cruise ship anchored in the deep water of the River Dart

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View of Kingswear across the river from Dartmouth, with the ruins of  Bayards Castle in the foreground

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View from the South Embankment towards the mouth of the River Dart

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Cardiff

[ Photo Blog #45 ]

Cardiff Waterfront

CARDIFF is the capital city of WALES.  It has a very long and fascinating history.  Today I just want to give a brief mention to its waterfront, an area which in recent years has been developed into an attractive and intriguing area with many new buildings, shops, galleries, sculptures and visitor attractions.

The harbour at Cardiff Bay is situated on the Southern coast of Wales, UK.  It has one of the greatest tidal ranges in the world (up to 14m).  This meant that at low tide it was inaccessible for up to 14 hours a day.  However, the Cardiff Bay Barrage was completed in 1999, enabling the creation of a a vast freshwater lake (500 acres) and the development of what is now known as Cardiff Waterfront.  Here can be found the Welsh Assembly Government buildings, the Norwegian Church Arts Centre, the Pierhead Building, Techniquest Centre, the Senedd or Welsh Assembly Building, Butetown History and Arts Centre, the 2000 Lightship, the iconic Wales Millennium Centre, al-fresco cafes, restaurants, and public works of art, giving a truly cosmopolitan feel to the City.

It was here, in the Norwegian seamen’s church, that Roald Dahl and his brothers and sisters, of Norwegian descent but  born in Cardiff, were all christened.  This central area of the Cardiff Waterfront is now named Roald Dahl Plass and is the site of many of the city’s greatest events.

The links between Cardiff and Norwegian seamen date back to the coal boom when Scandinavian ships brought timber for pit props and returned home laden with coal. Churches like this with its attractive white clapboard cladding and pointy spire were built to serve the Norwegian sailors who docked here. Today the restored church features an interesting gallery and a friendly café.

The photographs are by me, taken on a visit to the city several years ago . . .

 

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Model of Cardiff Waterfront

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The Norwegian Church

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Commerative photograph of a portrait of Roald Dahl in the Interior of the Norwegian Church

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Commemorative plaque on the naming of Roald Dahl Plass

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The Pierhead Building

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The Wales Millennium Centre

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A bronze of an immigrant couple symbolising the arrival of many to Tiger Bay seeking a better life in Britain.

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Female Beastie Bench – Cardiff Bay, Sculpted bench in brick  ‘My Beautiful City of Cardiff’

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The 2000 Lightship, a Christian centre funded by Associated British Ports and Cardiff council – now re-sited

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Stained glass Portholes on the Lightship

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Sidmouth, Devon #3

To round off my visits to Sidmouth on the Jurassic Coast of South Devon,  I add just a few more of my photographs taken there last month . . .

 

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Railway poster from the early 20th Century

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The annual Folk Festival takes place in the early part of August. Ad hoc groups of musicians can be found throughout the town and seafront – just enjoying themselves

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. . . and throughout the rest of the year too.

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‘The Sidmouth Fiddler’ – reminder of the Folk Festival in Connaught Gardens

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Splendid croquet courts along the sea front – often used for National and International competitions.

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‘When Evening Shadows Fall’ … an elongated cameraman!

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… To the top of Jacob’s Ladder

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Views from the top of Jacob’s Ladder

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The River Sid runs through the centre of the town

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Sharing the Glow

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Sunset over Loch Earn, Scotland – Photograph  © . . .  WHB 

 

Sharing the Glow

 

I remember that evening –
The sun sinking low,
When you stood beside me
Sharing the glow.

We bathed in that splendour –
That golden sunset,
Drenched in that promise
I’ll never forget.

I held your hand tightly,
Placed a kiss on your lips
In youth, in the gloaming,
The lie was eclipsed.

For then we were young,
Life had not bitten hard.
Our futures seemed certain
But we let down our guard.

I left with a pledge,
But never returned;
Dissolved into dreams
Your derision I earned.

But now we are older,
Life has taken its toll.
Is it too much to ask,
Can I recapture your soul?

Now that same sun is sinking
Setting fire to the sea;
Can this Phoenix bring hope
To you and to me?

Let me hold your hand now,
Place a kiss on your lips,
For bliss in old age
Does all else eclipse.

 

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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.

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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.’

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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 . . .

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

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Seashore Foxglove

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River Sid Daisies

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‘Inversnaid’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

(Poem No.41 of my favourite short poems)

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‘The Mountain Stream’ … WHB – Pen & Wash – 2000

While in his twenties, Hopkins’s trained as a Jesuit priest, gave up writing poetry at one stage, but returned to it later in his life.  His poems are highly rhythmical and often ‘difficult’ on first reading .   In his poem ‘INVERSNAID’ he looks in wonder at a stream in the Highlands of Scotland near the small Scottish village of that name on the ‘bonnie’ banks of Loch Lomond, where a waterfall plunges down the hillside into a dark pool.

In his poetry, Hopkins developed a number of ground-breaking techniques, including ‘sprung rhythm’, where stresses are counted rather than syllables in a line. His use of language is robust, energetic and, at often experimental.  Like most of his poems, ‘Inversnaid’ is composed using a variety of poetic constructions – alliteration, assonance, repetition, personification, compound words, dialect and archaic words, effects that bring considerable force and energy to his poetry.  Dylan Thomas had a similar feel for language and for the construction of compound words.


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This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Gerard Manley Hopkins …  (1881)

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The Leper Stone

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In a cleft in the scarp slope of the Cleveland Hills, surrounded on three sides by steep tree-clad hills, now part of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, lie a small number of houses. Now highly desirable properties, two miles from the nearby market town where I grew up. It is said that this secluded spot was, in medieval times, inhabited by a small community of lepers. In past times leprosy was thought to be both highly infectious and incurable. Lepers were required to remain within the confines of their village and never to come into direct contact with other human beings. Well meaning townsfolk would, from time to time, leave food beside a stone set up to mark the limit beyond which all lepers were never to venture. Such a ‘Leper Stone’ still stands at this spot as do several similar stones in other parts of the British Isles.  Whilst there is some dispute over the truth of this story, there does appear to have been a leper colony here in medieval times and certainly such places and such stones can be found in other parts of the country.  My verse below attempts to convey something of the desolate, bleak, despairing nature of existence for those who in past times were afflicted with this dreaded wasting disease. 


The LEPER STONE

I live
a lazar
isolated
shut off from life
from the world’s reality
in that ancient Chernobyl
as a hermit monk
an eremite

my path
not of my choosing
but chosen for me
by disease
by circumstance
life’s throw of the dice
or perhaps it was death’s
for my existence is
a living death
my isolation
whilst I wither
unknown
untouchable
confined
in this cleft in the hills
one carucate of land
one oxgang
to roam
to till
to survive

let no one in
lest I corrupt all
contamination’s child
my daily burden
to see what morsels
of discarded waste
have been left for me
on the leper stone
pig swill yesterday
nothing today
tomorrow
I may not be here tomorrow

my family
similarly afflicted
now passed on
released from
their sentence
myself
inheriting
their misfortune
their bleak history
their misbegotten future


Two further photographs – as the stone was approximately  60 and 40 years ago
(Courtesy of British Historical records websites)

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