Friday, October 29, 2010

Day Trip to Buckland Abbey and Lydford

Steve and I were able to make a half-day trip with Laura-Jane and their car.....with Laura-Jane perfectly maneuvering the hectic city traffic and dodging animals on the country roads. We went to Buckland Abbey, which became a private estate....once owned by Francis Drake. Here are some of the photos from this trip!

Above: Buckland Abbey.

Above: View of the side of Buckland Abbey....with sheep sculptures. Why sculptures? I have no idea. There certainly were enough real ones all over the place!

Above: When converted into a private residence, the church building wasn't really changed....just used as a building design....fitting staircases around transept arches!

The stairs were works of art in and of themselves!

Everywhere there were elegant new additions to the otherwise ancient the flower arrangements and the late 20th century etched glass.

This stained glass sun dial was also "new" but blended into the elegant interior perfectly.

Many of the ceilings and floors were centuries old. This plaster ceiling was new....but based on historic designs. Buckland Abbey still has bees producing honey!

There were plenty of antiques.....from jugs to armor to kitchen implements and handmade furniture.

Believe it or not, this is the barn!

Inside was a gigantic cider press.

On top was a great weather vane.

It is not where the farm animals, like these sheep, live.

Yet, where ever the animals live, they're greatly loved. This is one of several plaques with the NAMES OF THE CHICKENS living at Buckland Abbey!

To get to the Abbey and continue on to Lydford, we had both sheep and these ponies on the road!

In Lydford's there is an ancient parish church, St. Petrock's....still very much in use....and with a glorious churchyard full of fantastic epitaphs (including a most famous one for a clock maker) and angel carvings on the late 18th c. grave stones. Yes, I made some rubbings on fabric.....before.....

....ending the day in a 16th pub called "The Castle Inn". It was GREAT!

Day trip from Plymouth to Exeter, UK

Steve and I went by train from Plymouth for a day in the nearby city of Exeter. It was a fabulous trip to see an incredible cathedral, the grounds of the castle, the ruins of a Roman wall, and the art center. I collected dozens of epitaphs and snapped scores of images for future artwork and inspiration. Inside the cathedral was an incredible exhibit called "Good Grief", embroidery by Jacqui Frost. Below are the photos from this day trip with captions.

(Above: Exeter Cathedral, exterior. Flying buttresses.)

Above: Interior of Exeter Cathedral.

Above: Choir area of Exeter Cathedral

Above: One of the famous aspects of the cathedral....the longest, continuous

Above: Interior details at Exeter Cathedral.....just love the patina of peeling paint...and the mix of ornamentation added over dozens of decades!

Every nook held a treasure.

Every wall included many interesting pieces....including this still operating clock which dates to the 15th c.

But....look carefully at the picture of the clock. This door is there....complete with a hole for the church cat. Supposedly, the origin of the "Hickory Dickory Dock" nursery rhyme started with this door and a long line of cats who kept the mice from eating the ropes that make the clock tick!

I love all the areas of these ancient structures, especially the places set aside to remember the war dead....complete with weathered flags.

The gigantic low notes from the organ come from these pipes.

Of course, I'm always on the lookout for interesting graves, solemn last words, and unique ways of remembering loved ones. There was plenty to inspire at Exeter. Royalty was certainly given very regal tombs covered in colorful paint and gilding!

Above: One of the best ever epitaphs on a beautiful grave marker inside the Exeter Cathedral.

Above: Another great tomb...complete with a carved skull!

The doorways were even gorgeous....

....especially the locks that are still used! I'd love to see the key!

Exeter must have an incredibly gifted and active guild for the creation and maintenance of the church textiles. There were great needlepointed kneelers everywhere....

...and in the "children's area" they included a sign to help preserve these textiles!

I only snapped this one photo of the many stained glass windows....but sure it cute!

The gardens around the now private castle were picturesque.

Nearby was one of the oldest gatehouses.....

...with a plague to the last women prosecuted for witchcraft in England.

We also visited the small parish church of St. David's.....

....and its great churchyard, of course!

The art center was amazing and the exhibition on view was first rate!

Plymouth, UK

Plymouth was wonderful!

For the past four years I've had a running joke with my elder son Mathias. He dances with Birmingham Royal Ballet, the touring royal company in England. Every year the company performs at least once, for a whole week, in Plymouth. I've asked for a "real" Plymouth rock every year. Mathias always said, "But, Mom, Plymouth Rock is in Massachusetts!" To this I've replied, "But, I want a REAL Plymouth rock....from the original Plymouth!" Well, every year Mathias "forgot". So....this year I went to get my own.

Steve booked us into the wonderful Crescent House Bed and Breakfast, right off the Grand Parade that makes up the coastline around the Plymouth harbor. (The price was excellent; the service was perfect; the full English breakfast was more than a person should eat....but we did it anyway!) we went in search of Plymouth rocks....along the Grand Parade....

....down a flight of concrete stairs.... the ROCKS!

Steve took these photos of me....

.....collecting my rocks!

Aren't they beautiful! I used my micron permanent ink pen and wrote "Plymouth Rock" on two of them as gifts for Mathias and Laura-Jane for their stellar performances that week. this is silly....but I'm not the only one with insane ideas about Plymouth! Steve was super excited that we got to go inside and climb to the top of the old Eddystone lighthouse. This structure is actually known as Smeaton's Tower and was originally built on the rocky site (9 miles off the shoreline) from 1756-59. It was renown for its advanced structural design and was used until 1877 at which time it was, stone by stone, dismantled and rebuilt on the grounds of the Plymouth Hoe....where a small admission is now charged to go inside.

So we went....with Steve singing the sea shanty song called "Keeper of the Eddystone Light"...which he knows (memorized) from the 1960 recording by The Brothers Four. Yes....he knows all the words and can sing the melody in the correct key!

Up the stairs we climbed while Steve sung: "My father was the keeper of the Eddystone light, And he slept with a mermaid one fine night".....

....(continual singing)....."Out of this union there came three, A porpoise and a porgy and the other was me!"

Up even more stairs to the lantern.....with continued singing: Yo ho ho, the wind blows free!

Finally at the top....."Oh, for the life on the rolling sea!" Steve has found all the words on line....including a link to the music and a ring-tone download.....but I just provided the link to one site above!

From the top, we could see our own shadows on the green grass below.

We enjoyed to view back to the area where I found my Plymouth rocks....

...and a view to the city monuments and downtown....

...and to the citadel and the harbor beyond.

We continued in the direction of the harbor....past the Mayflower steps.....

....over the water of a lock.....

....with its gigantic lock the Plymouth Aquarium, the best in all of England.

There were jellyfish, baby manta rays, seahorses....

....unique lobsters, sea anemones, camouflaged flounders and sole fish....

...and two octopi that were incredible.

There were mammoth sized tanks fill of colorful fish.

There was also a shark tank....with a walkway underneath....

...and a great viewing area complete with a sunken airplane...

...and we got to see two divers who weren't actually supposed to be in the tank that day....but one of the young marine biologists had dropped his cell phone inside the day before!

In town, we visited St. Andrew's Church where I collected epitaphs and snapped photos of angel images and cemetery sculptures.

The path from the church to one of its exterior building was beautiful......

....just like the Elizabethan Garden in the historic Barbicon district.

We went to the ruins of another church that sat in the middle of a big traffic roundabout.

The juxtaposition of old and new architecture was terrific.

I even did some shopping in Plymouth....something I almost never do. How could I resist a t-shirt from a place called Funky Poppies, a shop dedicated to artistic creations using buttons!

We also took a guided tour with a tasting at the Plymouth Gin distillery! the main reason for coming to Plymouth really wasn't sight-seeing at all....but it is against the theater rules, copyright issues, and the BRB's (Birmingham Royal Ballet) policies to snap photos of the ballet. Let's just say.......the triple bill and Romeo and Juliet were breathtaking. Mathias danced gloriously as Mercutio, sword fighting until a second and a half minute, over the top emoking death scene. Yes, I cried! It was wonderful!