Viewing Plum Blossom in Japan

On a recent visit to Japan we were lucky enough to be there at the right time to view plum blossom. If like me you had always thought of Japan as being the place to view cherry blossom, think again. Late February to early March is the prime time to view the Japanese plum (ume) trees, sometimes called Japanese apricot.

Close up. Japanese Ume Blossom

Close up. Japanese Ume Blossom

Plum blossom is often mentioned in Japanese poetry as a symbol of Spring. In Haiku they are a Kigo or season word for Spring. Plum blossom is also known as “the flower of peace”.

Painting Plum Blossom

Painting Plum Blossom

One of the most famous places to view plum blossom is Hanegi Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. This is where the Setagaya Ume Matsuri is held. Easy enough to reach from the centre of Tokyo. Situated a five minute walk from Umegaoka station on the Odakyu line. Umegaoka means Plum Hill so the perfectly named place.

Pink Plum Blossom

Pink Plum Blossom

We followed the crowds out of the station and there indeed was plum hill. We were given a program of events and a free cup of green tea.

Setagaya Ume Matsuri

Setagaya Ume Matsuri

 

There were Haiku readings, tea ceremonies, and food stalls with all things plum to eat and drink.

Food Stalls

Food Stalls

One of the most popular forms of plum to eat is umeboshi or pickled plum. The plums are pickled in a coarse salt which makes for quite a sour taste. These are often used as a filling for rice balls or onigiri, quite often found in Bento lunch boxes.

Enjoying the food and drink

Enjoying the food and drink

Plums are also used for flavouring alcohol. Umeshu, plums steeped in schochu make a very pleasant sweet and smooth drink.

Selfie plum blossom photo

Selfie plum blossom photo

All round people were photographing the blossom. Selfie sticks seemed to be popular as did more traditional forms of photography.

Photographing Plum Blossom

Photographing Plum Blossom

We were very lucky as although it was bitterly cold the bright blue sky offset the blossom beautifully.

White plum blossom

White plum blossom

As a place to view plum blossom Hanegi Park was perfect. About 700 trees including the Omoinomama a tree with red and white blossom on the same flower.

Hanegi Park Tokyo

Hanegi Park Tokyo

And what better gift to bring back home but….. Pickled plums!

Pickled Plums

Pickled Plums

Hanegi Park, Daita 4-38-52, Setagaya 155-0033, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan.

Early Plum Blossom

Early Plum Blossom

 

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Bristol Botanic Garden

As a frequent visitor to Bristol to see family I am always looking for somewhere to visit that I haven’t seen before. Why the University of Bristol Botanic Garden had been missed in the past I will never know.

Pond at Bristol Botanic Garden

Pond at Bristol Botanic Garden

It was a day of mixed weather, sunny one minute, pouring down the next. Being February we didn’t expect to spend much time but felt that having a look now, we could visit again during the Summer.

Croci in bloom

Croci in bloom

There was however a field of colour as the Croci were in bloom. We wandered down to the Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden.

Pavilion of Horizons

Pavilion of Horizons

All the plants were displayed by “use”. How to treat different ailments and parts of the body. A good display of different bamboos too. Many of the plants are unique in Britain and it is run in partnership with the Register of Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Herb Garden

Chinese Herb Garden

Because of the time of year many of the trees and shrubs were still being protected from frost.

Protected from frost

Protected from frost

There was clear signage and information throughout. The garden is tended by volunteers who were busily working away getting the gardens ready after the Winter.

Triassic sign

Triassic sign

All of a sudden the sky opened and there was a torrential downpour. A swift exit to the glasshouses and we were not only dry but warm!.

Glasshouse Bristol Botanic Garden

Glasshouse Bristol Botanic Garden

There were several glasshouses, all different climatic zones.

Glasshouse Cacti

Glasshouse Cacti

 

There were Cacti from the Americas in the Warm Temperate Zone. Also a large collection of Pelargoniums.

Bristol Botanic Garden

Bristol Botanic Garden

Slide the doors into the Sub-Tropical glasshouse and there are Orchids, Ferns, and tea and coffee plants. However by far my favourite glasshouse was the Tropical Zone.

Blue Egyptian Lotus

Blue Egyptian Lotus

There were an amazing selection of plants here including the rosy periwinkle Catharanthus Roseus from which vinblastine and vincristine are extracted, both important drugs in the fight against childhood leukaemia.

Water Reflections

Water Reflections

Loved the way the roof was reflected on the water.

Glasshouse general view

Glasshouse general view

So a pleasant afternoon in very interesting surroundings. All credit to the staff and volunteers.

Bristol Botanic Garden Map

Bristol Botanic Garden Map

Bristol Botanic Gardens have a website at http://www.bris.ac.uk/botanic-garden We found the garden a bit difficult to find, but head for the Downs, our sat nav took us down an adjoining road to start with, there is limited parking on site. There are also toilets. I hope to visit again at another time of year to update this blog, but it really is worth a look at any time of year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bristol Balloon Fiesta

I have always wanted to visit Bristol Balloon Fiesta but days off never seemed to coincide. However this year things were different. A few days off at the right time.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Unfortunately the drive down the M6 and M5 was a nightmare and we were tired when we arrived the day before. The thought of getting up at 4.45am to see the early morning balloon launch wasn’t appealing, and what if it was raining?.

A great morning

A great morning

We shouldn’t have worried. After some overnight rain, the morning dawned bright and clear.

colour everywhere

colour everywhere

Thanks to buying parking in advance we had hardly any distance to walk to where the balloons were taking off.

Here they go

Here they go

Most people had brought rugs to sit on and some very organised people had camping stoves to cook breakfast on.

Blue sky and sunshine

Blue sky and sunshine

There were plenty of catering trucks open for tea and coffee so we were starting to waken up.

Firing up

Firing up

There was plenty of room to get fairly close to the balloons and the noise of burners filled the air.

Ready to go

Ready to go

It seemed as though there were dozens and dozens of balloons all inflating at the same time.

Flying High

Flying High

There were lots of different shapes and sizes of balloon.

lots of shapes and sizes

lots of shapes and sizes

and many famous makes and brands advertised.

Balloon from UP

Balloon from UP

There were also balloons from films.

inflating the balloon

inflating the balloon

It was fascinating to watch

Fascinating to watch

Fascinating to watch

By this time I was wishing I was going up in one. Next thing I know a gentleman with a sling on started speaking to the people next to me. They asked what he had done. When he said he had fallen out of a basket the day before, that made me quite happy to be on solid ground for just now!.

Blue Sky

Blue Sky

It was difficult to decide on a favourite balloon

Every shape and size

Every shape and size

But as far as the crowd was concerned Stuart Balloon was a firm favourite with the children.

Stuart Balloon

Stuart Balloon

 

We had been so very lucky with the weather, we could have travelled all the way from the Lake District and not seen any take off.

Unusual Balloon

Unusual Balloon

Next time we visit we will try and watch the night glow event which takes place in the evening.

Gossard Balloon

Gossard Balloon

What a fantastic event. Well done Bristol for putting on a great show. And happily the drive back up the motorway home was much less eventful! We will be back.

 

 

 

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Save Our Forests Rally Grizedale Forest

On a cold January day they gathered in one of England’s most beautiful places, Grizedale Forest in the English Lake District.

The woods belong to All

Sports people, Mountain bikers, dog walkers, “right-to-roam” supporters and families. All gathered with a common purpose, to stop the government selling off our forests and woodland. Approximately 1,500 all infuriated by the very idea of our forests being for sale.

Crowds gathering at Grizedale Rally

The Government proposal to sell our forests has raised a huge amount of distress with famous names adding their voice to the protest. Lord Bragg, who unfortunately wasn’t present has called the sell off “Political Vandalism”. Eric Robson broadcaster and Chair of Cumbria Tourist Board was there.

Eric Robson prepares to speak at Grizedale

He said that Clauses 17 & 18 of the Public Bodies Reform Bill should be withdrawn. He also said that The Wainwright Society had opposed the proposal.

Save the Forests Rally, Grizedale

Tim Farron who is the Lib Dem President and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale attended (having spent the previous evening sleeping rough at Kendal Castle to raise the plight of the homeless) he felt very strongly about the issue as he and his family enjoyed spending time at Grizedale.

Tim Farron Save our Forests Rally

Tim Farron said “The value the Exchequer would gain from the sale of these forests would be outweighed by the long term environmental, landscape and economic cost”.

Not For Sale

Others who talked at the Rally and opposed it were Lord Clark of Windermere, who is a former chairman of The Forestry Commission, Jack Ellerby from Friends of The Lake District and John Woodcock MP for Barrow.

Save Our Forests

At the end of the Rally the Public Bodies Reform Bill was torn to shreds, literally.

Tearing up the Public Bodies Reform Bill

The message was clear, the forests and woodland are our heritage and are Not For Sale!

For more information see http://www.savelakelandsforests.org.uk

The title of my Blog is “Things that make me Happy” well the sell of obviously doesn’t, however what did was the fantastic turnout of young and old at the rally. Make me even happier and visit YOUR local forest soon.

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Glasgow, Art, Genmai Cha & Chips.

A day to explore Glasgow in between Celtic Connections Events. A miserable wet day so a visit to some of Glasgow’s indoor attractions was planned. First stop House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park.

Interior House for an Art Lover

In 1901 Charles Rennie MacIntosh entered a competition run by a German Design Magazine.

Curtain Detail. House for an Art Lover

The brief was to design A House for an Art Lover “a grand house in a modern style”. Although MacIntosh didn’t see it realised in his lifetime it became reality in 1996.

Quote. Charles Rennie MacIntosh

An audio commentary is available which explains his ideas and work. We started in the dining room.

Dining Room, House for an Art Lover

The familiar high backed chairs and rose motif stencil decorations were typical of his style.

Plan for Dining Room. House for an Art Lover.

His wife Margaret had contributed to many of the decorative effects and we especially liked her gesso panels which ran round the room at ceiling height.

Gesso Panel. House for an Art Lover

As always MacIntosh’s light fittings were spectacular in every room. Hand blown pendant lights in the dining room.

Light fittings. Dining Room

Next we went to the music room which compared to the dining room seemed very light with it’s colourings of green, violet, white and rose.

Music Room. House for an Art Lover

At one end of the room was the most amazing casing for a piano. We had never seen anything quite like it.

Piano. House for an Art Lover

At the other end of the room was a fireplace. Neither dominated the room, which was surprising but both had the wow factor.

Fireplace House for an Art Lover

And again another set of fantastic light fittings.

Light fitting. House for an Art Lover

There is a brilliant shop with some unusual arty gifts and a great cafe, booking advisable. We were lucky to get a table and had a lovely lunch, before enquiring about what we had come for. Booking House for an Art Lover for an event in a couple of years time. It does get booked up quickly as it is available for weddings etc. Anyway watch this space!

Next, as it was still pouring down we had a quick visit to The Burrell Collection.We had been before but it is one of these places where you always see something you didn’t notice before. It houses the collection of Sir William Burrell a shipping magnate who amassed a huge collection of art works in his lifetime.

Burrell Collection

Set in Pollock Country Park, the building and contents are set of by the surrounding countryside. Exhibits set against the view outside.

Burrell Collection

There are many arches which Burrell collected, built into the building.

Arch. Burrell Collection

Art works include works by Rodin, Degas and Chinese and Islamic collections.

The Thinker. Auguste Rodin

By now the skies had brightened and we were getting thirsty so we headed up to the west end to find somewhere for a cup of tea that we had been told about. And not just any cup of tea. We were heading for Tchai-Ovna in Otago Lane.

Tchai-Ovna Glasgow

Set down a little side street, this is one of Glasgow’s hidden gems. Okay if you are not into bohemian quirky random things this isn’t the place for you. But as two ex art students it is our idea of heaven. Random furnishings, chilled atmosphere and over 80 kinds of teas!.

Teapots Tchai-Ovna

The tea comes in an eclectic range of teapots and drinking utensils depending on what you order. My friend ordered  spiced tea and I ordered Japanese Genmai Tea (popcorn tea). You can even smoke shishas on the veranda and apparently blankets are provided to wrap up in when sitting outside in the evening. Don’t expect fast service, laid back is the order of the day, but if you want a unique experience, this is the place.

After a short walk we arrived at Ashton Lane and nipped into The Wee Pub at the famous Glasgow restaurant The Ubiquitous Chip.

Mural Ubiquitous Chip

If you do get a chance to visit here, make sure you visit the toilets. This way you can have a look at the murals painted by Alasdair Gray.

Alasdair Gray Mural. Ubiquitous Chip

Many of them feature the locals who ate and drank here.

Mural Ubiquitous Chip

We still had to have a bite to eat before the evenings Celtic Connections entertainment so popped into Oran Mor. A converted Church which was formerly the Kelvinside Parish Church.

Oran Mor Glasgow

It is now an Arts Venue, pub and restaurant. Scottish food, loads of different whiskies, and a usually a band playing live music in the corner. If you do get the chance ask if you can see the Alasdair Gray mural, Celestial ceiling which they will be happy to show you if there isn’t a private event going on upstairs.

Well after what seems like rather a lot of eating and drinking it was time to go and dance it all off at the Fruitmarket. A thoroughly enjoyable day.

 

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Celtic Connections 2011 First Weekend.

Street Musicians Glasgow

Just returned from a brilliant long weekend in Glasgow to catch some of the Celtic Connections Festival. What a great way to brighten up a dreary January.

Treacherous Orchestra ABC Glasgow

First concert was Treacherous Orchestra at the ABC. Promising and actively encouraging mayhem and chaos this was one not to be missed. The crowd obviously thought so too as March of the Trailsmen had everyone punching the air and yelling. Bagpipes, fiddles, whistles, flutes and guitars added to the brilliant atmosphere. My favourite was Phit Dae A Dae with drum and base undertones. Looking forward to their first album due out in the Summer.

Next evening it was a change of venue. City Halls with The BBC Scotland Symphony Orchestra, Michael Marra, Alison Brown Quartet and De-Nannan.

We knew Mike Marra from Skeets Bolivar days in our youth in Dundee so were really looking forward to seeing him, however he sang two songs either side of the interval and that was it. Amusing tales with a great rendition of his own “Mother Glasgow” probably most remembered as sung by Hue & Cry.

De-Nannan

De-Nannan followed with a rousing set, accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra who were obviously really enjoying playing with them. Frankie Gavin is the World’s Fastest Fiddle player and was incredible.

Next day we had a Women’s Drumming Workshop booked. Run by Big Groove it was amazing fun. We got a chance to try two different drums each during the workshop and were banging out a reasonable tune by the end of the session. Mind you we had expected  to be physically tired at the end of it but were more mentally tired with all the rhythm counting in our heads!

Big Groove Drumming Workshop

Sunday saw us heading to The Old Fruitmarket to see The Burns Unit. What a brilliant venue. Just as it sounds, an old fruit market with cobbled floors, fairylights and old shop signs.

The Old Fruitmarket Glasgow

First up were Broken Records an Edinburgh Based band.

Broken Records Old Fruitmarket Glasgow

As with most support bands folk were here for the main act and not really expecting much, however they were a great band, Jamie the lead singer was very good and we especially enjoyed ‘Nearly Home”, and “Home” at the end.

Broken Records

 

It was interesting how folk stopped chatting and actually started taking notice of them.

Broken Records

When we got home the first thing we did was check them out on the internet, For us they were the unexpected highlight of the weekend.

The Burns Unit

Next up were The Burns Unit. We had heard great things about them and they didn’t disappoint . An interesting mix with King Cresote, Ex Delgado Emma Pollock and Glasgow rapper MC Soom-T.

The Burns Unit

A Glasgow/Canadian mix of performers, Michael Johnson the keyboard player made sure things moved along at a steady pace.

The Burns Unit

The Burns Unit

So that was our flying visit to Glasgow. This year there are over 1,500 artists playing in 14 venues over 18 days so we just touched the edges of this amazing event, however we are planning next year’s visit already, or maybe a quick trip up again next weekend…….

Music round every corner. Celtic Connections

 

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European Peace Monument Unveiling at Liverpool

Saturday 9th October 2010 would have been John Lennon’s 70th Birthday. Hard to believe I know.

 

John Lennon looks down on The European Peace Monument, Liverpool.

 

When I was a recently graduated Art student in Manchester I will always remember the morning I was woken by a commotion in the kitchen. I went to investigate and found the breaking news that John Lennon had died. My flatmates and I jumped on a train and went straight to Liverpool to share in the sorrow that was echoing around the world.

I had been back to Liverpool many times since then but the memory of that day always lingered. Imagine my surprise then, when I then received an Invitation to the unveiling of The European Peace Monument on what would have been John Lennon’s 70th Birthday. A chance to celebrate with a happier memory.

 

The stage is set. Unveiling of the European Peace Monument

 

We arrived early and got a good position to see the many European Ambassadors, Members of Parliament and other distinguished guests arrive……

 

Christopher Biggins

 

…… including Christopher Biggins!

 

Sun shines on the European Peace Monument

 

The sun came out and gave us a brief glimpse of the Monument to be unveiled. Interestingly this monument was due to be erected in Berlin but luckily Liverpool managed to get it. The Global Peace Initiative has pledged to place a monument in every continent of the world, giving people a place to gather and reflect on the idea and possibility of world peace.

Roger Phillips from BBC Merseyside was the master of Ceremonies. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool spoke first and then there was a performance by The Liverpool Signing Choir. Yes Signing choir. They were amazing and who ever thought of using them was a genius.

 

The Liverpool Signing Choir

 

The Signing choir performed “In my Life” and “Real Love” to an enthusiastic audience including Cynthia and Julian Lennon who seemed to really enjoy it. I hear that The Liverpool Signing Choir would like to perform at the 2012 Olympics, and I hope they get their wish. fantastic!.

Ben Valenty of the Global Peace Initiative and the artist Lauren Voiers spoke next.

 

Lauren Voiers American Art Prodigy

 

Lauren Voiers gave an amazing speech for one so young. She said her influences for the Peace and Harmony Monument were inspired by music including that of John Lennon and the Beatles.

 

Cynthia and Julian Lennon

 

Throughout the event Cynthia and Julian Lennon seemed to be genuinely moved by what was happening and although they were not due to speak they decided to. Cynthia said she thought it was time to celebrate and think about the positive things in John’s life and enjoy that.

 

Julian and Cynthia Lennon

 

Julian said “We come here with our hearts, to honour dad, and pray for peace and say thank you to each and everybody involved in the Celebrations today”.

 

Unveiling the European Peace Monument, Liverpool.

 

And so to the unveiling, slowly the monument emerged

 

Unveiling The Peace Monument

 

White balloons with messages to John floated into the air and the monument was revealed in all it’s glory.

 

Give Peace a Chance

 

Everyone including Julian and Cynthia Lennon joined hands and gave a rousing chorus of “Give Peace a Chance”. A very moving scene.

 

European Peace Monument Liverpool

 

It was an unusually warm October day and after the ceremony we wandered down Matthew Street and the Cavern quarter soaking in the atmosphere. As the crowds had dispersed a bit I went back to take a closer photo of the monument against the blue sky. I thought it would also be nice to share the story of “the white feather” with you too.

 

White Feather

 

 

The story of the white feather

 

As we headed for home away from the monument, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a little old lady clutching a single red rose heading towards the monument, who knows whether it was in memory of John or whether she hoped for peace, it was a humbling sight. Happy 70th Birthday John Lennon and thank you for letting me share it.

 

John Lennon Plaque

In memory of Cynthia Lennon. 10th Sept 1939 – 1st April 2015. “An artist in her own right” RIP.

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80 Years Young

A family celebration for mum’s 80th Birthday.

The Birthday Girl.

We met mum off the train at Manchester and went back to The MacDonald Hotel which is situated just beside the station. Having stayed there before we requested rooms facing the front, which have a great view over Manchester. It used to be the old BT building and has massive rooms with lots of space for everyone to spread out.

Hotel room.

Just time to drop bags and off to see her newest grandchildren in Didsbury. Then back to the hotel to meet my brother and wife who had arrived from London. We hadn’t booked a meal so headed down to Deansgate and despite being a Friday night we managed to get a table at Las Iguanas which suited the vegetarians in the party too.

Las Iguanas restaurant.

Next morning we went down for breakfast in the hotel and just as we were finishing, newly graduated grandson Ken arrived having driven up from Bristol. It was pouring down so we slowly left the hotel and headed for the shops. Arndale centre being indoors was first port of call. There was an event called “Hazard” going on and mum got into a long conversation about it. She had to smile at people and then they would put a pin in a map to show where it happened apparently. We did catch the “flash mob” later.

Hazard flash mob Manchester

After leading mother astray in the shops the sun had come out and Manchester brother and his family had arrived so we headed off to meet them by the big wheel.

Manchester

It seemed like a good idea to go up on the wheel so after a quick deliberation we were off.

Manchester big wheel

The last time I had been on a wheel with mum was in Edinburgh at Christmas a few years ago. A rickety old thing which I had hated, but thought this might be ok.

Mum on the wheel

My brothers spent the time pointing things out to each other and seemed that they enjoyed the experience.

Brothers

I hated it and clung on to my nephew’s T shirt as I was scared the doors would open and he would fall out!

Let me down!

Don’t get me wrong, the view from the top was great but it was windy! You can put me on top of a mountain and I’m as happy as anything because I am on my own two feet, but suspend me in the air and it’s another thing.

View from the top

I wished I had done what my sister-in-law was doing and stayed with the baby in the pram.

Safe below

After going around more times than necessary, we finally reached the ground.

Proud grandma

After a final cuddle with her newest grandchild for mother, and a final chat with his godson for my son, we parted ways.

Son and godson

The “older” members of the family headed back to the hotel for a rest, after being told exactly how to get back. A little bird tells me though that they may have got lost!. The rest of us did a bit more shopping as a trip to town can’t be wasted when you don’t live near shops.

Back at the hotel the others had been sleeping, but managed to rouse themselves in time for Birthday cake and champagne.

Cutting the cake

A friend had very kindly made a beautiful cake for the occasion. Unfortunately my planning slipped and I had forgotten to bring a knife, so yes, that is a spoon handle being used.

Mother, son and me.

A lengthy photo shoot then ensued as we don’t often all get a chance to get together.

Mother and Daughter in law.

And every combination of family was photographed!

Champagne in hand

It was amazing how many combinations of photos there could be, perhaps we should have just set the timer and all jumped into one.

Mother, daughter and grandson.

However, on it went, nearly there if you are getting bored.

Mother, son in law, grandson.

We had booked a meal in The Great Kathmandu in Didsbury for the birthday celebration. So off we set in two taxis. Had a great meal, but no one thought to take any photos there. Too busy enjoying the food probably. It had expanded into the premises next door since the last time we had been there and was packed out.

Trafford Centre Manchester

After not quite as large a breakfast as the previous morning, as we were still full from the night before, we had to check out of the hotel. The lift had been out of action and it was a scrum getting up and down in the only working one. Mum had had several long conversations with the repair men throughout the weekend and was getting quite pally with them. We left the hotel and decided to go to The Trafford centre as we could park easily. Mum was buying lunch as three members of the family had just had birthdays.

Hello Uncle

Guess what? No one was hungry, well apart from my son who I had noticed was having an exceptionally small breakfast, which as it turned out was because we were going for lunch, oh dear.

Costa Trafford Centre.

Everyone had a nice chat over coffee, while I ran up and down the marble staircase chasing my nephew, however diversion tactics came into play when he noticed the “marble lady”.

Lively nephew

I think the fact she was minus some toes was the fascination factor.

Time for a rest

Then it was time for the family to leave for London, so we said our farewells.

Brothers. Got to love them!

My son went to stay with his uncle and cousins for a night.

Brother and son

And the birthday girl headed home with us (via Ikea, her request) to the Lake District for a holiday. The official birthday is this Thursday 22nd July. Happy 80th Birthday Mum x

Ps. Hope sister in law left this at the hotel!

A little light reading

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Coventry Cathedral

Decided to stop off at Coventry Cathedral on our way back from London as it was somewhere I have always wanted to see

St.Michael subduing the Devil

St. Michael subduing the Devil

The first thing you see is the bronze statue of St. Michael subduing the Devil by Sir Jacob Epstein.

Bronze by Sir Jacob Epstein

We didn’t have time to go inside the Cathedral, that will have to wait till another visit but enjoyed the sculptures outside. I was immediately drawn to one in particular and had a pleasant surprise when we reached it.

Reconcilliation by Josefina De Vasconcellos

The sculpture was by Josefina De Vasconcellos a name known well to us as she had a little studio at the bottom of the Slack in Ambleside for many years and was a well known figure around the village.

Reconcilliation

An identical statue stands in the Peace Garden in Hiroshima and both were commissioned and gifted by Sir Richard Branson.

Old and new Coventry Cathedral

I loved the way the old Cathedral was reflected in the window of the new Cathedral.

On the night of 14th November 1940 the city of Coventry was devastated by a bomb dropped by the luftwaffe. The Cathedral burned with the city having been hit by several incendiary bombs.

Sir Basil Spence

The decision to rebuild the Cathedral was taken the morning after.

In Memory

The Cathedral became an inspiration to many fine artists of the post war era including, Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Jacob Epstein and Elisabeth Frink.

Ecce Homo

Ecce Homo by Epstein is a very striking sculpture completed by him in 1935, it shows Christ before Pontius Pilate and was donated to the Cathedral by his wife.

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Enigma, and Snow.

On a recent trip to London we needed somewhere to take a break en route and noticed that Bletchley Park wasn’t too far out of our way. We had always been interested in what went on there during the war so decided to pay a visit.

Colossus 2 National Museum of Computing Bletchley

What we didn’t realise was that Bletchley is also the home of the National Museum of Computing. It became obvious fairly quickly that this was a visit which could take a whole day and we only had an hour so we asked advice as to what we should see. An obvious choice was the Enigma machine used for code breaking during the war.

War time hut

We had a good look round the exhibition centre then dashed up to see the Computer Museum for a swift look round but really didn’t have time to do it justice. Everything was set in lovely grounds and there was a Winston Churchill Museum and a little cinema. We will be back!

Travelled on to visit family in London and had an enjoyable time, including a belated Christmas celebration due to the heavy snow at Christmas and illness delaying things.

Cheers! A belated family Christmas.

While we were there the Winter Olympics were taking place and we had a visit to the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead.

Hemel Hempstead Snow Centre

The Snow Centre has the largest indoor lesson slope in the UK with two tow ropes and there were certainly plenty of folk taking advantage of the facilities.

Learning to Snowboard

Wev were quite content just to watch the fun while drinking a coffee rather than participating, maybe next time!

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