Sunday, 26 February 2012

Looking for the holy Grail - Chalice Gardens Glastonbury

After the mental strain of watching the England/Wales  rugby match yesterday, a quiet relaxing day was called for so a chance to visit the Chalice well and garden in Glastonbury.  It was early in the year enough to be still very quiet but eve now spring is definitely here. The garden was ablaze with the usual early spring flowers, daffodils, crocus and snowdrops.

The garden is a lovely peaceful place especially when almost empty of people. I'm not sure the atmosphere would be quite so calm in higher summer.

 It's not very big but there is a lot packed in, including a "healing pool" which is fed by this waterfall. 

Although you can go into the water here it looks very cold especially in February. The rocks and paving over which the water flows has been stained a deep red from iron oxide deposits.

Moving on up the hill leads one to the drinking fountain.

Archeological evidence suggests that the spring has been in use for 2000+ years and you are invited to drink from the Lion's head. The water has a curious taste but is nowhere near as strongly ( or as unpleasantly)  flavoured as the spring at Bath.

 Further up still is the Chalice Well itself with the famous ornate well cover.

Looking down into the water you can see the reflection of the bars that criss-cross the opening.

Close to the well are some niches with a shelf for candle offerings.

Finally a view of the Tor from the top of the garden.

 Although we hadn't planned to climb the Tor, it seemed a shame not to on such a lovely spring day so we left the gardens and started the climb to join the hordes on the summit.

Hordes being the word. Any calm engendered by the garden was shattered by the sheer noise and clamour of the humanity gathered at the top of the Tor! We didn't stay long before heading back down to the town and home for lunch.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Limestone Pavements and a balancing act

After an abortive trip about a year ago to find Saith Maen it was time to try again. This time equipped with a GPS handset. Last time was an exercise in pure frustration - trying to find specific rocks in a landscape full of them is not an easy task.

This is a beautiful part of South Wales very close to the Dan yr Ogof cave system and the landscape is riddled with swallet holes and deep depressions.

It has a desolate air but nonetheless very peaceful and compelling especially on a day like today when there are no other people around. On a nice summer's day the path gets quite busy but we were off across the moorland..... no path to where we were headed.

 The trek to the rock alignment we were seeking was a bit of a nightmare, across screes made slippery with snow, tussocks, streams, bogs  and boulders. 

Not an easy walk over a couple of miles of this terrain.The mountain top is a badly fractured limestone pavement. Rocks everywhere. Trying to find man made features in this landscape is certainly a challenge and we were grateful for the aid of the GPS. Finally however the GPS locator beeped and we were there. My feet were cold and wet and it was attempting to snow again. I was glad to reach it!

This is the biggest rock. My camera angle is not great but it is balanced on the rock pavement. It could possibly be a natural occurrence but somehow it doesn't look like it.

Thos was taken from the rock itself looking down the hill. There seem to be some clear rock alignments coming together at right angles but it is hard to separate the potentially man made features from the random stones. Again my angles are not good. The alignments are very hard to see.

There were a couple of other features on our list but I was cold, the weather seemed to be closing in again with the blue sky being replaced by ominous black cloud formations. It seemed sensible to head north back to the main path and an easy  route back to the car leaving the moors to the sheep, ravens and kites.

Until the next visit....

Sunday, 12 February 2012

He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum...

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner eating a Christmas Pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum,
And said what a good boy am I.

One of the stories behind this old English nursery rhyme ( and there are a number of variants) is that it conceals a tale of political intrigue and the "plum" is in fact the manor of Mells which was intended as a bribe for the king. Concealed in a pie, the deeds were stolen by the bearer entrusted to deliver the said pie.

So over to Mells it is. This was meant to be a very muddy walk so it seemed to be sensible to chose a day when the ground was frozen. Despite this precaution, plenty of Mells mud seems to have come home with us.

The first part of the walk skirts the quarries and crosses fields - to be honest a bit dull but there were a few things to see.

Now who lives in a house like this?

Yes a quarry - possibly not what "Little Jack Horner" was after inside his pie!

Once we got down to the wooded stream it all got a lot prettier. A few small signs of spring in the clumps of snowdrops and some new nettle growth in the more sheltered areas.

Still looking very wintry. Despite the snow it was fairly warm - around 6 degrees but the snow is hanging around.

Local lore has it that it is waiting for more snow to join it before finally melting. Surprising how often that seems to be true.

And finally a couple of "impossible" sites/sights.

Firstly a water fall with no river! The water comes directly out of the hillside from one of the hidden streams that flow through the Mendips.

And finally a real oddity. The area is full of abandoned quarries but this one is really strange. Indeed so odd that we shared the site with a geological society group who had come to take their own pictures. So what is so interesting?

This is the famous De la Beche unconformity. Missing is some 90 million years.... The lower rock is grey carboniferous  ( Triassic) and the upper yellow layer which sit at a completely different angle is Jurassic inferior oolite limestone. The deposits from the intervening period lasting the 90m years are just simply not there.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Totally Random!

No trips this weekend, yesterday was too busy and today? Well today I have a cold it appears. not only do I feel rotten I think the few remaining brain cells have turned to mush.

I'm feeling very very sorry for myself and anyone with any sense is keeping well away. If anyone is bothering to read this then they may wish to keep away too. I make a horrible invalid... The other half has however just booked the flights to Shetland for later on in the year so today isn't all bad.

So no new photos this week. I've been rooting through the archives and found some pictures from a trip to Sicily a few years back. I think I'm craving warmth and sunshine at the moment.

Sicily is a treasure trove of archaeological remains, the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento is an unforgettable experience with temples dedicated to Concordia, Hera, Zeus, Castor & Pollux and Heracles amongst others. Unfortunately I did a horrible job in labelling them so I'm not sure which is which. Great excuse to go back though one day!  

This I think is Concordia. The state of repair is just amazing. 

Much less sure of this one. Hera?

This one I know is the temple of Apollo, right in the city centre of  Syracuse. Surrounded by the bustle of modern Sicilian life it is an oasis.  

 Finally I have absolutely no idea what this is - other than it is in the Sicily folder. Anyone recognise it?
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