Thursday 28 April 2022

Signing off for a few days as so busy

Forgive my absence (in advance) as I am going absolutely flat out with the preparation for the Fair but have 3 very long days of it so I shan't be able to write anything or check in.  Think 12 1/2 hour days out of the house.  Wishing everyone a lovely weekend. See you next week, which will also be very busy with 4 necessary meetings for me.

Wednesday 27 April 2022

The amazing font at Castle Frome church, Herefordshire


This church was easy to find - I just left Ledbury on the Bromyard road, and then found the turning for it.  A quiet spot and once there was a nearby wooden motte and bailey castle on the high ground east of the church  and which was also the site of a Roman Camp (evidenced by the Hellebore still growing here - a plant always found at Roman sites because it was used as a purgitive.)  Bishop's Frome and Canon Frome villages got their names from being administered by the Canons of Llantony Abbey until the dissolution of the monasteries.  In the Domesday Book, Castle Frome was Brismerfrum. (Many thanks to the little potted history of Castle Frome which I bought in the church for 50p.)

My photographs cannot even begin to match this superb one from the cover of Malcolm Thurlby's book "The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture".  

The church is very simple in layout and the font is at the back - you get a view of the nave and chancel here.

Two Eagles representing St John, and below, an amazing survival, the rough sculpture for it.

The vast font is supported by three figures in ribbed (quilted?) clothing.  Two are now sadly missing their heads.  The remaining one reminded me of a tortoise and its shell!  This is a similar design to that used in Wurtemberg, Germany.

A close-up of the face with the curly hair and beard and slightly bulging eyes, similar to designs at Kilpeck.

The Ox of St. Luke.

The Angel of St Matthew.

What I missed taking a photograph of is the baptism of Christ with a large footed John the Baptist and the widening ripples of a big pool of water.  It was rather dark in there though.  Must do my homework before I go to the next church.  I missed some interesting bits in the church at Ledbury too.  Slapped wrist!

This tomb is of the Unett family, and dates to 1656.  They were related by marriage through Elizabeth Clodeshalle (subsequently Deveraux) whose family had been granted the lordship of Castle Frome by Gilbert de Lacy in 1341. You can just see traces of the original paintwork.

This was the only wall memorial.  Also to members of the Unett family.

This church had a very comforting atmosphere.  I sat down for a while to think of what was happening in reality in my life right now, and my eyes filled with tears. Worry rather than self-pity.

This week I booked Keith in at the GP's again and we discussed the way forward - with worryingly-long waiting lists to see Consultants, we have decided on an initial private appointment with a Neurologist to try and get a proper assessment (although I think use it or lose it is to blame to some degree).  I realize we are very fortunate to be in a position to do this but it is only because we have a small nest egg from selling our last home, otherwise we would be at the bottom of the queue.  So, we shall see.

I have a very busy weekend ahead with a 3 day Fair - first day setting up but we can't leave until 7 p.m. when they lock the doors.  Then 6.30 Saturday and we can't start packing up until 5 on the Sunday.  Fortunately Tam is doing it with me as Keith hasn't the stamina right now.  I will be worrying about him at home all the time I am away, in case he should have a fall.  Friday night's meal will be courtesy of the Chippy  . . .  Worried about the Fair on all sorts of levels but I am sure it will work out OK, and we shall be wearing masks as so many people from across the country go there to buy and sell.

On a positive note, I have cleared the area where a veg bed of sorts was - the wooden edging was surrounded by about 20 years of ivy growth in a continuous loop and took some clearing.  I have gone back to the edge of the hedge now but still need to clear behind the stump, which will have a Clematis planted by it to grow over.  I have a couple in pots which haven't thrived so will put them in later.

The gardener came yesterday to cut the lawn.  I asked him to cut down the flowering cherry tree because it had obviously got long past its best - about half a dozen bits of bloom.  Being on a dry bank with its roots in rubble has done it no favours.  The Pieris will have more room now.  I was expecting the lawn to be done in an hour especially as he has a petrol mower.  It all went quiet out there and I found him cutting all the borders (ok they needed it) with edging shears.  At the end of 3 hours (!) he said that the quickest bit was cutting the lawn.  Well, yes, that was what I had wanted him to do.  The rest I could manage in my own time.  I'm afraid I will have to do it all myself in future as his fitness levels are lower than mine and it took him 3 hours to dig over quite a small area last time! 

Have a good weekend all.

Friday 22 April 2022

Now, THAT'S what I CALL a view!


Our neighbour has some diseased fir trees and is also having solar panels installed, so the tree surgeons have been called in.  This is the view now the biggest tree has been taken down. (Last bits being sorted now, as I can still hear the chain saw in action.)   This is looking in the direction of the hills between Llandod and Newbridge.  We are thrilled to bits.

View of said tree through filthy bedroom window (next door are window cleaners, so we need to cross their palms with silver!)

Half way through.  It's taken them all day.  Glad we weren't paying!

Today I am grateful for:

This wonderful view.

Another new rose planted (a birthday one from Tam, Belle de Crecy) 

Speaking to two of our three children on the phone.

Sorting out my broadband/phone bill and negotiating a much cheaper package

Not having to cook at teatime as Keith had a late Optician's appt, so we had take-out fish and chips.

Wednesday 20 April 2022

A stroll round Ledbury - and Titian's "The Last Supper"


As I was on my own, I stopped in Ledbury for a stroll around (and the purchase of a bottle each of excellent Dunkerton's cider and perry).  Here is the amazing Market House, dating from 1668. 

Looking up cobbled Church Lane towards the church of St Michael and All Saints.

Above and below - this house has been moved a couple of times, but it's good that its vernacular architecture was appreciated and saved.

The old Grammar School, now a local Heritage Centre.

Display cabinet contents inside the Grammar School.

The Parish church of St Michael and all Angels, Ledbury. Pevsner thought very highly of it, writing that it was the "premier parish church in Herefordshire."  Unusually, the bell tower stands entirely separately from the church. It dates from 1230, although the spire wasn't added until 1733. You could go in it, but the thought of climbing steps inside discouraged me!  The core of the church is 12th C, but it was extended and "refinished" in the12th and 16th C.

The memorial of the 3rd Baron Biddulph of Ledbury.  The Biddulphs were a banking family and very much associated with Ledbury.  They have an entire end of one aisle given over to their memorials and protected by railings.

Medieval carvings which were somehow saved. 

Glorious stained glass, but the sun wasn't behind it, sadly.

One of the fragments of the much earlier church. At first look I thought it was a Green Man, but note there is a baby dragon or beastie or angel? curled around his shoulders. Unless that is luscious foliage? Suggestions on an postcard please.

Not sure who this was meant to be but skilfully sculptured.

One of the two fonts. An earlier (17th C) font was found beneath this smashed to bits but then restored.  I will find it on my next visit.

I am, I must confess, not really a follower of modern stained glass.  There is some in Hereford Cathedral where they were spot on, but this did nothing for me.  In fact, it reminded me of illustrations in one of my Victorian horse books where they show the muscles of the horse! 

Finally, what the church has become very famed for in recent years, when their dark and discoloured painting of The Last Supper, was tested and examined and researched, and a signature by Titian was found and it was attributed to his workshop.  It had been gifted to the church in 1909.  The link will take you to a BBC piece about it.  You may have seen the programme on tv where they covered the investigation.  Keith is very keen to see it, so I will have to work out how I can drive close enough - well, I know that I can, but it's which route to take.  

I am currently reading Elly Griffith's The Midnight Hour, having just finished Ann Cleeves' The Long call, set in North Devon.  I am also currently trying to stay awake having been down since 5 a.m.!

Keith's blood tests all came back normal, including the thyroid levels one.  He is still fatigued but managed a longer walk yesterday without it knocking him for 6, AND he has regained much of the weight he had lost, which is encouraging.  We're now waiting for appointments for another MRI scan and a more urgent (2 yr waiting list apparently) appointment with the Neurology dept.

Enjoy the sunshine all.

Tuesday 19 April 2022


 Yesterday was the first Malvern I had been able to go to for months - the winter really doesn't encourage visits there!  No fun driving all that way in the pitch dark.  It takes an hour and 40 minutes from here.  Keith stayed at home as he was definitely not up to walking all that way - I clocked up 25,000 steps by the end of the day - that's nearly 10 miles!

I didn't buy much, didn't see any of the Carmarthen contingency, but there were a few dealers there we're friends with, not that I got time to chat to them all as some were busy with customers.  Although the car parks were soon full, it didn't seem that busy in the Fleamarket - mainly because there were so many stalls to divide people up.

Above and below - an interesting repurposing of old boxes (painted in oils, I overheard the stallholder tell someone) but at £200 a pop, I don't know how many he sold!  Nicely executed though.

A good sculpture of a bull - bet that was heavy to carry.

Behind it was this gorgeous Victorian garden seat.  I didn't dare ask the price.

At the end I took a stroll through the Avon Hall. I'd been wearing my mask most of the day, unless I was where they had put the vans a long way apart so the aisles were very wide and not very populated by customers.  Mask on to go in here though.  I got Keith some of his favourite dark chocolate coated preserved ginger in here.  I also brought him a Sothebys Arms and Armour catalogue for information.  You can never have too much knowledge.

Finally, the interesting stall we always go to.  You never know what they will have on here.  I will leave you to browse.

The mandatory view from the Upton turning as I was leaving.  Ledbury post to follow, and also the best font EVER at Castle Frome.