A little night music in Florence
Did I enjoy it? What do you think? Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, even if you can’t be in Firenze. Share six words?
Did I enjoy it? What do you think? Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, even if you can’t be in Firenze. Share six words?
St. Mary of the Flower, the Duomo, in Florence, and a cherished dream. Would she disappoint?
I arrived mid-evening, after a long days travel, with legs that needed to be stretched and a bubble of excitement inside. Into the darkening streets, gay voices filling the air and a buzz of purely Italian sociability. Waiting for that moment when, rounding a corner, there she was, shining like a beacon. Beckoning me to come closer, in adoration, and gaze on her transcendent beauty.
Round and round her I walked, gazing up at every aspect of her beauty. Dizzy with the wonder of it all and beaming like a child.
Arms spread wide, my eyes followed her majesty up to the heavens. I did not want my bubble ever to burst. Easing myself away, with many a backward glance, I tried to reassure myself that she was real. Never could I conjure such a figment of imagination.
In the days to come I will be sharing with you some of the history, as well as the beauty, that is Florence. Right now I’m clinging to the Indelible memory of that first night. Thank you, Paula, for such a very apt prompt.
I very often lack focus and tend to meander through my life. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, in Yorkshire, were a case in point. Looking for somewhere to admire snowdrops, I ventured there last week. I wasn’t disappointed. Swathes of them nestled beneath the trees. I captured one or two shots, but I was soon drawn into the magnificence of the water gardens.
It was a gloomy old day and I stopped to read the cheerful sign inside the fishing tabernacles. They are part of the balustrade and cascade into the lake and date back to 1719. Probably designed as a base for fishing excursions, they cleverly concealed the sluices used to drain the canal quickly in time of flooding.
The water gardens must be one of the finest sights in England, and neither I nor the swans allowed ourselves to be depressed by the weather, while the pheasants seemed positively immune. Not well focused though!
It wasn’t long before I was ambling among the ruins of the Abbey, smitten by the hues in the aged stones. Snowdrops there were aplenty but I’m afraid that they played second fiddle.
Fountains Abbey, 3 miles south west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, is one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian monasteries in England. Founded in 1132, it had an active life until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Paula focused on black and white photography in her Traces of the Past on Sunday. It’s not my forte, so I’m compromising. But I would love to draw your attention to her very beautiful Focus in Thursday’s Special.
Stroll along the river bank with me, in the heart of Durham City, and let me take you to an idyllic garden. I intended to visit a new exhibition at Durham Cathedral but, as luck would have it, it was closed that day. I’m a firm believer in serendipity and, as the gentle sunshine warmed my cheeks, I suddenly knew where I wanted to go.
Crook Hall dates from 13th century and is a vision in golden ivy-clad stone. It sits back a little from the footpath and the gently elevated position makes for majestic views over Durham. Crook is a Grade 1 listed Medieval hall with a rich and colourful history. As all such places should, it has a resident ghost, ‘The White Lady’, and has been enjoyed by such luminaries as William Wordsworth and John Ruskin. Today I’m going to focus on the garden rooms, described on the website as each having their own personality.
It’s impossible to ignore the constant presence of the house. It provides a benign backdrop, yet with an almost tangible air of mystery.
Close by the house, a secret garden has been in existence for more than 700 years.
Statuary is an integral part of the gardens. Nymphs and maidens shake out their tresses, demurely lower their eyes, or gaze seductively out. Monks perform solemn duties, urns cast playful shadows and a rather mischievous Puck plays his pan pipes, sheltered beneath a weathered tree.
The golden lady follows me with her eyes, and what of the lady reclining, neglected, on the bare earth? She must have a story to tell. Ornate chairs and benches invite me to linger, admiring the pure white snowdrops. Beyond the lake, fiery witch hazel brands the limpid blue sky.
I drift from ‘room to room’, each leading to the next, yet independent and sufficient in itself. A mighty lion bench, breathing fire, gives me pause.
Through a gate, precisely trimmed hedges in the newest of these still evolving gardens, etched with remnants of winter shadows.
Leaving the house behind, I wander down towards the rusty maze, bereft of leaves this early in the year. Did you glimpse the koala, dangling in the tree? And yet another selfie! One more surprise awaits- a softly slumbering giant!
And then I’m back at the entrance and The Garden Gate Cafe. (open all day, separately from the Hall, but there are Tea Rooms inside the Hall too) The Sparkling Afternoon Tea looked very inviting but my lift had arrived and so I’ll have to disappoint you yet again. No cake! How come you missed this place, Jude? It would have been a natural for the Garden Challenge.
Down at the river bank, this scene awaits, but if you turn and walk back towards the cathedral you might just be able to catch the exhibition, Open Treasure. And if not, Durham Cathedral is always beautiful.
Lots of walks to share this week and I hope you can spare time to visit as many as you can. Especially as I won’t be posting a walk next week. I will, I hope, be skip, hop and jumping (or walking) in Florence. I don’t want to schedule a walk in my absence because it’s too hard to catch up again afterwards. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I hang on to any walks you share till the following week? Details are all on my Jo’s Monday walk page.
Eddy was close in my footsteps last week, but his were even cooler!
There’s nothing nicer than a gentle stroll with Jude. Treat yourself!
Anabel ventured further up the coast from me, in some delightful villages :
Another coastal path for you, but Eunice is over on the other coast :
Two for the price of one from Eunice this week!
Imagine my surprise on seeing Ana’s post! Right on my very own doorstep :
Quite a leap of the imagination from Durham to Buenos Aires, Ana :
Jackie’s having fun down Mexico way- lovely bougainvillea!
I do love Woolly’s perspective on life!
Lady Lee is completely at home in the Philippines :
And Liesbet is pretty good at balancing a budget!
Amy’s back, and she’s chosen to ride, but who can blame her?
I love Yvette’s take on life, but brrrh, those Falls look chilly!
Drake is always irrepressible. Got to love him!
Isn’t it always walking weather? Well mostly, when you’re with Susan :
And Carol has a most appropriate question :
Rounding off with a highly informative walk from Denzil. He’s doing a grand job promoting Belgium :
And Cathy, beavering away in the States, but still found time to walk with me :
Remember- no Monday walk next week! But I’ll try to find you some cake in Florence. Stay safe till the next time!
How about you? Is life treating you well? Say it in six words? Wishing you all a happy weekend.
An old, fisherman’s table
Rusted now and all forlorn
‘Gainst the shimmering
Stealing my title from Gilly this morning, but I know she won’t mind. I’m just sharing a last few soothing Algarve images before I return to the real world. If you’ve never met Gilly, you’re in for a treat. Go and say hello!
If there’s anything that really annoys me it’s leaving home in clear blue skies to drive to the Yorkshire Dales and encounter grey, dampness. But if you’re in search of a waterfall then you can’t really begrudge a little rain. And to visit Hardraw Force you have to pass through a pub, so you might say there are compensations.
I don’t know the village of Hawes at all but it is surrounded by magnificent, sweeping countryside, though visibility was poor on this particular day. 850 feet above sea level, it claims to be England’s highest, and has been home to a market since 1307. Go on a Tuesday if you’re a market fan. The name Hawes means ‘a pass between mountains’, in this case endearingly-named Buttertubs and Fleet Moss.
I’m heading for Hardraw but, on Town Head, a sign for Gayle’s Mill strikes a chord with me. In 2004 it was a finalist on the BBC TV ‘Restoration’ programme. It was but a short diversion to take a look.
Unfortunately this was as close as I could get. Gayle Mill is a working saw mill, and can only be visited by guided tour. Even the craft shop was closed. The Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre, a highly popular venue, is nearby and I gave it a wistful look. I do love a good bit of cheese.
Water flows through the village and is harnessed by the mill, which dates from 1784. In the 1900s it pioneered electricity generation and brought light to the valley. Just then the sky was darkening rapidly and it seemed like a good time to move on.
You could retrace your steps down Gayle Lane, but a pretty little footpath offers an alternative route back to Town Foot. And sheep!
Hardraw Force is clearly signed from the crossroads, so it was best foot forwards into a chilly breeze. I told myself it was holding off the rain.
There’s often a wind off the water, isn’t there? I turned left into the field and trod carefully till I reached the flagstones.
It’s not far till you pass through a gate and the pub is right there, in front of you.
The sign says ‘innkeeper and waterfall provider’. That’s quite a claim, isn’t it? At £2.50 a person, is it a little mercenary? Let’s see if it delivers.
One of the best sounds for me is rushing water. Rounding the corner from the Green Dragon Inn, I can already hear the tumult of the falls. England’s highest single drop waterfall sits in a great bowl of limestone, shale and sandstone.
Incredible to think that the process that produced this landscape began some 340 million years ago. Alternating layers were laid down in the warm seas of those times, and through the rise and fall of the land and some glacial activity the Karst scenery developed. At the back of the waterfall it’s possible to see the individual layers.
Did you wave back? I did! And then I crossed over the bridge and followed the path back along the opposite bank. It was really busy in the Green Dragon Inn, so I didn’t linger, though it did look characterful. I was surprised at how many people had ventured out on such a grey day, and can only surmise that this will be a seriously busy place in summer. But the waterfall will be much diminished.
I just about made it back before the rain hit. The waterfall will be thundering for a few days yet.
Hawes lies along the A684 from Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales. The map on this link will give you a few clues. Time to get the kettle on!
Thanks everybody for kindly accompanying me each week, come hail come shine (but hopefully no snow!). It’s always a pleasure to have you along. I have some more great contributions this week. Please spare a little time to go visit, especially if they’re new to you. Details, as usual, are on my Jo’s Monday walk page. I’d love you to join me with a walk of your own.
Lady Lee is always a few steps ahead of me! Have you been to Dresden?
Jude has a delightful saunter in search of cake this week :
I prefer sunshine, but Shazza’s found something interesting even on a cloudy day :
I don’t think I’d do much walking in Amsterdam. I’d hop a boat, like Woolly :
Jackie and glitz go together, don’t you think?
In pure contrast, I never saw snow look more beautiful! Thanks so much, Drake!
This week we have a Wild Daffodil joining us. Sound like fun? Do go and say hello!
Becky has laid on a lovely sunset for her wander round Olhao, because…
And if you’ve never seen Lisbon before, Paula’s photo is a magnificent place to start :
If you glory in wild and wonderful scenery, you will love this, from Jessica :
And Inese shows us drama in Ireland, rain, shine and rainbow!
That’s it for another week. It’s been a grey one here but I’m sure Spring is on its way. Enjoy your life, won’t you, whatever the weather?