Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Back later

Another busy day.  I've managed another poem over on Dust in the Nettles and will be back later with more photos from Lincoln.


Ruskin said of Lincoln Cathedral:  "I have always held . . . that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have."

The stunning West Front of the cathedral.  Building work began here in 1072, when William the Conquerer told Bishop Remigius to build him a Cathedral to keep his castle company.  Unfortunately after 20 years of building, there was a fire which destroyed the roof.  Worse was to come in 1185 when an earthquake split the cathedral from top to bottom.  Fortunately the West Front survived.

Whilst there are traditionally Norman chevron patterns around the doorway, there is a nod to late Anglo Saxon designs.

This shows particularly in the figures in the interlace below.

Anglo-Saxon sculpture around the Cathedral doorways.  Figures inhabiting vine scrolls.

Inside your eyes are raised to the soaring arches.

The black marble font (ordered from a quarry in Belgium at great expense) has Beasties which show the battle between good and evil.  Evil appears to be a dragon, with wings, scales and a belly like a Crocodile!  Good is represented by what could be a wolf-like animal, but it has curly locks on its neck so we will assume it to be a lion.  Not St Mark's lion, however, as that has wings . . .  Some slightly different "baddies" being sorted out on another face.

Below,  one of two superb 'Rose' windows.  The Dean's Window has its original panels, and faces North . . . he was lower down in the pecking order . . .  People believed that it looked north 'to keep out the dark deeds of the Devil.'

Whilst the Bishop had his stunning window facing South . . .  This faces the Dean's Window across the transept, and worshippers believed that it 'looked towards the sun to welcome in God's light and love.'  It was fitted around 1330, and the stone tracery looks like lace - showing the masons' craftsmanship.

The doorway at the right end of the Choir Screen.

The amazing Choir Screen with its intricate carvings (more photos of it in the next post).

A rather weird cross between a person and a beastie, playing a violin . . .  you can just make out traces of the original paint - red, and a little blue around his left elbow.

Possibly a Manticore (to the left) and his partner the other side of the ogee top of the doorway.  

If you look closely, you will see some naughty dragons coming out of hiding in the vine, to scoff the bunches of grapes.  Unfortunately they have been noticed and are being stabbed. . .

Here they are, dead and skinned and hung up for all to see (Imagery was widely understood by the poor people who attended church, but were illiterate.)  You can also see the beautiful rose carvings which were symbols of the Virgin Mary . . .

These were just my favourite carvings in the entire cathedral and I am sure they are Barn Owls.  They represent the dark and ignorance.  Or so says the guide book.  Our guide (for we had a guided tour) also mentioned that one visitor from South Africa had mentioned them eating souls.  That led me to think about Mary Webb's Sin Eaters (in 'Precious Bane').  In the Scriptures, however, the owl is associated with desolation. In the Bible, the Owl was one of the birds which was mentioned as unclean.  

More tomorrow (or when I have time over the weekend).

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Back from my travels

I'm back home now, and can report I made it up this steep hill with just one stop (it goes on out of sight!)  I had a lovely weekend with Tam, who led me astray (I can't remember the last time I was in a pub during the day!)

Just two photos to whet your appetite. I'll be back tomorrow with some more.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Off on my travels

I am away for a long weekend with our eldest daughter in Sheffield.  I'll see you when I get back.  I am hoping the snow will have melted by the time I arrive!

Some Rosebay Willowherb to cheer you up on this grey winter day.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Diet, Histamines and Health

I have been walking regularly this NewYear.  This past week I've included lots of hills, as I am off to our eldest daughter's for a long weekend, and we are planning visiting Lincoln and there is a big hill between the train station and the Cathedral!

Anyway, this was yesterday's shorter walk - just up the hill behind the house to take a photo of the snow on Black Mountain.  I bet it's chilly up there!

As you can see, it was still pretty chilly along our lane.  This was 2.30 p.m. ish.  The frost was lingering and hadn't left the hedgerow . . .

. . . nor from the North-facing fields and hillsides.  Our house is out of sight on the left.  The ivied tree on the left is on the edge of Castle Field (where there used to be an Iron age enclose - now quarried by Next Door, who has a real sense of history - NOT.)  You can just make out a couple of the cairns along the top of the ridge (right hand side).

Frost lingered along every hedgerow and the long line of high ground between the Towy Valley turning at Llandeilo (where it heads for Llandovery) and Bryammon, the far side of the ridge.  There is a walk along the ridge, taking in the 4 cairns which are up there, which I intend to do with a walking friend when I get back from Sheffield.

I even climbed half way up (without stopping) the next bit of steep hill (2 arrows on the map) to take this photo of Dryslwyn castle, which is in line with the gorse blossom. The frost highlights the layout of the Medieval village which once topped it alongside the Castle.

Anyway, with a month to go to my next appointment with the Respiratory Nurse, I have re-visited the notion that my peak flow readings can be choreographed (!) with fluctuations in histamine levels due to food intake.  Unfortunately, it would seem to be the case.  Some foods are naturally high in histamines, others are histamine liberators.  Sadly, chocolate comes under the latter category, and I have had regular bars of chocolate ever since Christmas.  I had persuaded myself that the lingering effects of a recent cold had made my lungs a bit congested, but I think it is linked to poor eating choices.  So I have cut out the choccy bars and guess what, an instant rise in peak flow from 390 to 420, no probs!

I have cut out bacon and sausages and cured meats, I have cut out bread (I'm ok with the wheat part but probably not with the yeast), all nuts, no leftovers, of course NO dairy, because of being dairy-intolerant. I had made my own crumpets this week, but have frozen them for when I have the girls back home, as they have yeast in, so . . .  Which now leads to the question, how do I eat the lactose-free cheese  I have in the fridge, now there's no bread to toast it on?!  I will have to do some cheesy pasta I think, probably for tea tonight, or some Cauliflower cheese.  Everything has to be as fresh as possible, and I try to buy organic fruit and veg where possible.  The high histamine list is limiting though - I know I can't have beer or cider without Consequences - think gut here, as much as lungs - but I am OK with red wine these days.  I have tried to be sulphite-free for years, but it's in SO many things, dried fruits, even crisps, fruit squash, anything that may need preserving.  Don't think that sticky bun is OK because it's NOT from a sulphite point of view and probably has 40 ingredients and so I feel guilty even when I eat one as a rare treat.  When I bake a similar bun at home it might half 4 or 5 ingredients.  What a difference . . .  I always read ingredients on tins and wrappers, but most of the time try and make it all home-made and in the summer months, home grown too.  All my soft fruit is home-grown, all the cooking apples stored and only bought when those run out.

I had several of my home made Cornish Fairings earlier on (ginger biscuits).  Then I read that I should avoid cinnamon, cloves, and various other spices, and then there is curry powder. . .  I LOVE curry.  Well, I can't be good ALL the time can I?

Anyone else out there suffering from histamine problems?  I can recommend The Low Histamine Chef, though I don't think I can toe the line as she does.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Museum III post (last one, I promise!)

A little bit of August seaside sunshine to combat this morning's hard frosts . . .

A fresh post on Ivor Gurney, over on the Edward Thomas blog.

More photos and comments to follow here later.


Now this is what I call a beautiful piece of furniture.  This chest was made and carved with traditional Carmarthenshire designs in 1686.  Lovely.  Below, is the design on one end.

I was taking photos of the Medieval tiles, some of which came from Greyfriars in Carmarthen, which was the home of the Franciscan Friars in Carmarthen, until Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.  Only when I looked at this photo prior to writing this did I notice two Shiela na Gigs flaunting their all in the middle.  Oops!  In Carmarthen too . . .

Self explanatory - see notes below.

The Pygmy Cups are on the left of the middle shelf.

Above, various remains from 100s of 1000s of years ago in the form of bear? jawbone, Mammoth tooth, etc.

From Mesolithic times onwards, remains of polished stone axes (some ritual/ceremonial), mace heads, loom weights, arrow tips and axe heads all found in Carmarthenshire.

Love spoons were made by chaps to give to their girls, as a token of their love.  All I can say is, whoever made this WONDERFUL love spoon with little Harvest mice on it, had great skill, and loved his girl with all his heart.  She must have said yes on receiving this : )  (Little bunny in the centre top row).  The chain links to either side would have been carved from a single length of wood.  Amazing craftsmanship.

This little cottage is Penrhiwbeili farmhouse in its final incarnation, when the steep thatched roof had been replaced with wriggly tin.  I would think inside it was pretty basic - loo up the end of the garden for certain!  The room settings below show it as it was before the contents were donated to the Museum and the rooms laid out as they had been lived in up until the end.  Sorry about the glare, as it is all behind glass.

I hope you have enjoyed these posts and will visit if you are ever in the area.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Museum Post II

Elsewhere inside the Museum now.  The big old kitchen, with plenty of room to sit down and eat and a huge table to work at .  A shame it's so grey with the paintwork, and it would have been nice to have some bowls, jugs, and a tea-service out, but perhaps it's a work in progress, or had a Christmas display which has just been cleared.

Part of the farming section, with various farm tools.

42 looks like a dog collar with 6" nails through it - perhaps it started life as a dog collar, but this was worn by a calf when they wanted to wean it off the cow - needless to say the cow would put up great resistance to being suckled by a calf wearing this!  When we first moved down here, I remember seeing one in an old derelict cottage.

A lovely selection of old butter pats.  These were often carved from Sycamore as it is a wood which could withstand a good scrubbing with soap and hot water.  Kitchen and Dairy tables likewise, often had scrubbable Sycamore tops.

A variety of butter churns in this display.

Milking outside, as it was done in the days before larger herds and milking parlours.  I think the lady is wearing clogs (very practical) and she has a hat on so she can lean into the cow to milk without getting essence-of-cow on her hair . . .  Reminds me of a scene from Tess of the D'Urbervilles, only there they milked in the pasture.

An old Fair scene - one at St Clears, west of here, judging by the writing on the pen to the left.  Perhaps around the time of the First World War, judging by the attire?

A display of very Welsh things - a Harp, a Big Wheel as much spinning was done in the home before factories set up; a Welsh quilt and a Welsh blanket behind the lady in Welsh dress, with her warm woollen shawl.  A tall hat in the background is shown being worn in the Salem print on the wall on the right.

Various pieces from the locality, including truncheons and pistols used by the Police.

Various pieces of military attire.  

The bone in the centre is that of an ostrich, and has been turned into a piece of art by prisoners (I assume) turning it into Scrimshaw.  The other pieces there are all made from bone too.

More tomorrow.