Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Tithing at Bradford on Avon

 A very gentle amble this week along the canal at Bradford on Avon in deference to the weather ( mud  anyone?) and some visitors who are no longer in the first flush of youth!

The only problem with Bradford on Avon is it is popular, very popular  even when everything is closed. In the summer it is truly packed.

Our perambulation started at the old Tithe Barn.
According to English Heritage this is "one of the country’s finest examples of medieval monastic barns – rightly called ‘the cathedrals of the land’"

It was originally built in the first part of the 14th century and was part of a group of farm buildings grouped around a yard. 

 Strictly speaking this isn't a tithe barn at all but the  remains of a grange. Originally owned by  Shaftesbury Abbey it was built to hold the produce from the estate. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 and the grange became became a farm, the barn remaining in use until the mid 1970s.

The interior roof is dramatic but on this occasion the bar was closed to the public.

Passing the barn to reach the canal we came upon a hive of activity. Lots of christmas bikes and some determined groups seemingly heading for the pub.

Many of the narrowboats were occupied and lots bore christmas decorations.

Our walk ended at the aqueduct and a retrace of the steps back  to the car and home for lunch.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Solstice Greetings

The Winter Solstice is at 5.30 am GMT on 22nd December so a few pictures of my seasonal decorations to celebrate the return of the sun.

Happy Solstice Everyone

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Mandrake madness

The mandrakes are waking up. I've given up trying to understand this strange plant and am just going with the flow.

The world's smallest mandrake is living up to his nickname. This is the third year and he is still as tiny as ever! He's now been moved from the kitchen windowsill to see if he is any happier upstairs with the others.

Four of the five planted last year are now up again. They were moved outside for the summer and immediately sulked by becoming dormant.  So back to the windowsill it is.

This is my oldest plant and the first to wake up this year. It has just been transplanted into a piece of old saltglazed sewer pipe to give it sufficient depth for the roots. I'm hoping it might flower for me this year - but probably not.

It was planted centrally but seems to have moved...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Some Cheesy Pictures

Dreadful title and dreadful pun I'm afraid.

Today was a quick dash out for some exercise and fresh air so didn't venture too far. On the itinerary this time was Draycott Sleights, a site of special scientific interest for its flora and fauna and where some scenes for Robin of Sherwood were filmed.

Parking the car in a sea of mud we waded up onto the hill through even more mud. At times the path was almost impassable and we finally gave up and headed straight up on to the grassland which was still very squelchy but not quite as bad as the trackway. Off road vehicles and horse riders make a horrible mess of paths for walkers.

Probably the wrong time of year to visit this area as there are of course few flowers out in December, may return in the summer to see the rare orchids that bloom here.

The views however were magnificent even on a dark gloomy day with rain in the air. The bump on the horizon is Glastonbury Tor.


This is Brent Knoll looming over the levels. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see it ( and Glastonbury Tor of course)  as an island rising out of the original water logged marshland that surrounded it.

Now of course the levels are  criss crossed by rhynes to provide drainage. Nice example here in the picture.

We were above the town of Cheddar ( now the title might make sense!). The reservoir is clear as is the sea in the far distance.  There were some hardy souls sailing - rather them than me today.

 One final picture - looked exactly like half a cherry tomato!  Now just got to try and identify it  - any advance on Scarlet Waxcap?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Palace at Fishbourne

A couple of weeks late but no matter. On our semi regular visits to Chichester take us past the Roman site at Fishbourne but somehow we've never stopped.  Time to change that!

We were there bright and early on a Sunday morning ( no school parties!!) so apart from a couple of other visitors we had the site pretty much to ourselves.

The palace was discovered by chance in  1960 during the digging of a new water main.  One of the finest Roman sites in Britain. There have been a number of phases of development here and some very early mosaic floor. Most of what is currently visible dates from approximately 75CE although it was continually updated and improved.

Surviving plaster gives a tantalising clue to the quality of the decoration and the mosaic floors are some of the best in Britain. Unfortunately the palace was badly damaged by fire in the third century and never really rebuilt, much of the stone being robbed out for reuse.

One of the earliest mosaics - monochrome but an amazing 3D effect nonetheless.

The famous Cupid and Dolphin mosaic. Hidden in the scroll border is a small black bird which has been suggested as representing the "signature" of the maker.

Although there is little evidence of the Palace remaining in use after the fire, there are some later Saxon burials on the site - this one was cut through one of the mosaics.

The palace was surrounded by formal gardens which have been partially recreated to give a feel of how the site looked. Some plants known to have been the contemporary gardens ( from pollen analysis) have been reintroduced. Obviously this is not the best time of year for garden shots!

and finally - some of the finds that didn't make it on to display. The sheer size of this store is incredible and I certainly hope they get a big discount from the maker of Really Useful Boxes!!
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