#thursdaysspecial

Focus on Fountain’s Abbey

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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.

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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.

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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.

A full history can be found here.  Today the Abbey and Water Gardens are successfully managed by the National Trust and they have some delightfully focused snowdrops on their site.

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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.

The Church of São Francisco

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Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, has a reputation for restoring her many churches.  In the years I have been visiting I have marvelled at some of the changes wrought.  Still it is a thrill to turn a corner and find another, ripe for renovation.  If you look closely at the gallery below, you will see what I mean.  Exposed bare plaster scars the walls and alcoves.

Previously I had only been into the gardens, the church being always locked.  Just occasionally the gardens would be padlocked too, and I’d feel a sense of deprivation.  A quiet bench, the overgrown trees dappling patterns onto ruined walls, somehow they provide a warm and soothing space.

Still, it was a revelation to venture inside this church.  First appearances can be deceptive.  A curtain veiled the entrance to a side chapel.  Stepping through a little cautiously, I was utterly unprepared for the figures that greeted me there.

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The Church of São Francisco has met with it’s share of disasters.  Since construction in 1272 it has suffered 2 earthquakes (in 1722 and 1755), a landslide in 1843 and a fire in 1881.  Perhaps it’s time it had a little luck.  Should you find yourself in Tavira and the church happens to be open, please deposit a few coins in the collection box.  It may help speed the recovery.

This might not be what Paula had in mind for Traces of the Past this week, but it’s an opportunity to share with you Thursday’s Special.

 

A walking retrospective

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You probably think you’re seeing double!  This is the opening photo for my most recent walk, Boxing Day Blues.  It’s hard to select favourites but my criteria is often that a photo takes you back to a moment in time. For me this was a clear, bright, quite unparalleled December day.

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Would you believe that this one was taken in August, but how could I leave out such a winning smile? Gargrave in the rain was one of the most joyful moments of my past year.  A wedding anniversary weekend!

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By contrast, Autumn this year was a riot of colour, and I can still feel that warm November sun on my back as I stood in the churchyard, surveying the magnificent ruins of Flamboyant Autumn at Easby Abbey.

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October was a time of great sadness for me.  I never could have guessed that, as I looked up at this church in Alternative Ayamonte, my Dad had only hours to live.  I was abroad in my beautiful Algarve, but my heart really wasn’t in it.

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How could it only have been a couple of weeks before that I was so joyfully walking the Water of Leith, excited to meet for the first time with my lovely friend Jude?  A landmark event!

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Can’t help but share a moment of north eastern pride with the celebrated Tall Ships Regatta at Blyth in August.  How proud Dad would have been of the Polish ships taking part.  He was always a patriot.

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Which transports me back to July, when I met a lady with a fabulous smile in the City of Birmingham.  It was my first time in the city and I loved it. Thanks, Gilly!  I know I made a friend for life.

It was a water lily Summer.  They were everywhere!  I visited many beautiful gardens, such as Newby Hall, in June.  Funny how so many of you were more interested in the cake than the flowers!

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I spent two wonderful weeks in Poland to coincide with the May Bank Holiday.  My cousin Adam is a baker but always manages a few days off that weekend for his birthday.  It was Dad’s favourite time to go, and I was so happy that I got to spend this precious time with him.  Naughtily though, I did manage to escape, into the arms of another friend for life- Meeting Meg!

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In that early part of the year I was leading a charmed life.  My visit to Poland was sandwiched with trips to the Algarve and many walking excursions. A day at Mertola in the Alentejo was particularly memorable.

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April, always the time for lambs, I threw one little chap into total panic as I held a gate open for him. Lambkins and Bikes– a winning combination?

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I was delighted to have my lovely daughter home for Easter, in March.  The highlight of that weekend was the Butterfly Trail in nearby Preston Park. They are incredible creatures, and almost as exotic as my daughter.

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February in the Algarve is synonymous with Amendoeira– Almond Blossom.  And, of course, Carnival, but that’s an entirely different story.

IMG_2245 And so we find ourselves in January, and Saltburn in Winter.  It’s a lovely seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast, a place I like to stroll at any time of year.

What a year of highs and lows it’s been.  I have Paula to thank for leading me back through the months. Thursday’s Special this week is Retrospective.  Don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ascending

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Ascending through grey

Slicing sad, foreboding clouds.

Miracle of flight

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I’m struggling a bit with blogging at the minute.  All the zap seems to have gone out of me.  It’s natural enough, I suppose.  I hate these grey skies and Dad’s loss has left an emptiness.  The day I left Faro was one of the longest in my life.  The sky itself felt full of sorrow, and I both wanted, but dreaded, to be home again.  But down on the Praia life went on.  A battle with the elements that held me captive for a few sweet moments.

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If there’s one thing you can rely on it’s that Thursday’s Special, and that Paula will do her best to make it so.  Thanks, lovely lady.