Thursday, February 24, 2011
The spire of St Clement Danes which stands on a little island in the middle of the Strand. The bells of this church ring out the tune of the old nursery rhyme. St Clement's was another victim of the Blitz and all except one of the bells had to be recast. The sole survivor was the Sanctus Bell which was cast in 1588 and it is still ringing out over London 400 years later.
By this time it was 6pm and I'd been walking since 9am with just a short break to have some lunch so I turned up Chancery Lane and made my way back to my hotel in Bloomsbury for a nice refreshing shower and then a leisurely dinner.
Friday, February 18, 2011
This is yet another post about my visit to London last year, I thought I'd better try and get the rest of them done before I go away in a couple of weeks. I use my blog as a record of places I've visited and things I've done so this is for my benefit really while I can still remember it:) It's worth clicking on many of the photographs as you will see much more detail that way.
The area around St Paul's Cathedral is always busy whatever the season or day of the week but if you walk round to the back you will find yourself in the quiet oasis of Paternoster Square. Prior to WW2 a street called Paternoster Row stood here, it was the centre of the London publishing trade and had been since the early eighteenth century. However on the night of December 29th 1940 the whole of this area was devastated during the Blitz and the offices and stores of twenty-seven publishing firms were destroyed and several million books went up in flames. Paternoster Square was part of the post war rebuilding programme and the elegant Corinthian coloumn you can see in the photo above is, I believe, a memorial to the books that were lost.
earlier post shows the dragon that marks the boundary these days.
Friday, February 11, 2011
With apologies to Gertrude Jekyll for borrowing one of her book titles:) I took these photos earlier this week so that I can actually show you some little bits of Spring rather than just talking about it. The strong winds that we've had have brought out many of the early wind pollinated plants and trees. The pussy willow looks beautiful with the sun shining on it and you can see a piece of the bud's protective casing still clinging on here.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
February Filldyke is certainly living up to its reputation this afternoon and looks as though it is going to try even harder over the next couple of days! Still the old saying is
'If February brings no rain
Tis neither good for grass nor grain'.
The painting above is called February Filldyke and is by an artist called Benjamin William Leader (1831-1923). It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1881 to what was,I gather,a less than enthusiastic reception! Personally I like it a lot, it's very atmospheric.
I love this illustration from the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. The Tres Riches Heures is a beautiful medieval Book of Hours part of which is a calendar illustrated with scenes of daily life in the village. In February we see people warming themselves by the fire in the farmhouse, a man chopping wood and another man driving a heavily laden donkey towards the village. The detail is exquisite and the more you look the more you see. Surmounting each monthly picture is a hemisphere containing the chariot of the sun and the appropriate sign of the Zodiac - for February these are Aquarius the Water Carrier and Pisces the Fishes. It really is worth enlarging this and looking at it more closely.
I don't think February is very high on anyone's list of favourite months but it does have some good things to offer, this morning on a wet walk in Eccleshall Woods I saw that the first of the herons is back and inspecting the nesting site, the pussywillow is appearing, the tight little hazel catkins are turning into fluffy lamb's tails and the small, heart-shaped green leaves of the lesser celandine are pushing up through the earth - Spring really is just around the corner.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Today is Imbolc the ancient Celtic festival marking the transition from Winter to Spring. The Celts measured their days from sunset to sunset so Imbolc is already with us if we use their way of measuring time.
The beautiful image above is another example of the work of Angela Jayne Barnett.The poem is one I used last year in a post about snowdrops,it's a lovely poem so to save you straining your eyes trying to read the words on the image here it is:)
One month is past, another is begun,
Since merry bells rung out the dying year,
And buds of rarest green began to peer,
As if impatient for a warmer sun;
And though the distant hills are bleak and dun,
The virgin snowdrop like a lambent fire,
Pierces the cold earth with its green-streaked spire
And in dark woods, the wandering little one
May find a primrose.
Yes, punctual to the time, thou 'rt here again,
As still thou art:—though frost or rain may vary,
And icicles blockade the rockbirds' aery,
Or sluggish snow lie heavy on the plain,
Yet thou, sweet child of hoary January,
Art here to harbinger the haggard train
Of vernal flowers, a duteous missionary.
Nor cold can blight, nor fog thy pureness stain.
Beneath the dripping eaves, or on the slope
Of cottage garden, whether mark'd or no,
Thy meek head bends in undistinguish'd row.
Blessings upon thee, gentle bud of hope !
And Nature bless the spot where thou dost grow—
Young life emerging from thy kindred snow!
It's true as Coleridge says that there are snowdrops to be found in January but really they are the iconic flower of February. They are the harbingers of Spring and their gentle presence assures us that soon the warmth of the sun will soon strengthen and new life will be blossoming forth wherever we look. The weather in February can be cold, wet and frequently snowy too but it's a short month and soon the full beauty of Spring will be with us.