Weekly Photo Challenge

Spot the theme?

I’m interpreting the Weekly Photo Challenge to suit myself this week.  On Monday’s chilly walk I suggested that I still have a few warm Algarve images to share, and here they are in  Variations on a Theme

Those of you who know me will have spotted that the theme is Tavira.  I’m heading there this weekend and this will be my last post for a while.

I couldn’t leave without one more tribute to Paula.  She works hard and still manages to bring us Thursday’s Special each week.  Two views on the same subject.  What do you think?  Take care, till next time.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – Lisbon

If you came on my Monday walk to Belém, in Lisbon, you will have guessed that this is the Monastery of Jerónimos.  Not hard to see why it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but I hope you will join with me in celebrating its beauty.

My expectations were high, for this was the third time I’d come to Lisbon, hoping to visit the monastery.  They say God works in mysterious ways, and it’s not for us to understand.  I was happy simply to stand in the midst of all this glory.

A church dedicated to Santa Maria de Belém was the forerunner to the monastery.  This stretch of the River Tagus provided a safe harbour and anchorage for shipping back in the 15th century, and the monks of the Order of Christ gave assistance and spiritual guidance to seafarers.  The church was already in a state of disrepair when Vasco da Gama and his men spent the night before their voyage of discovery in 1497, praying.

King Manuel 1 sought a dispensation from the Vatican to construct a monastery on the site, and building began in 1501.  Completion was to take 100 years.  The elaborate style of architecture, involving knots, anchors and all things maritime, came to be known as Manueline, the work originally being funded by the spice trade.  Manuel chose the Order of St. Jerome, known as Hieronymites, to occupy the monastery, tasking them with praying for his eternal soul.  It was to be a final resting place for him and his successors.  The religious order was not dissolved until 1833.

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The first room that you enter is the monk’s dining hall.  Fortunately I can simply share a few azulejos, as Becky presents you with all the details in 500 years old this year.  You will be wowed!  I walk through the cloisters agape.  There is nowhere I can look that doesn’t delight me.  When I’ve almost looked my fill, I mount the stairs to look down on the courtyard.

An incredible moment arises at the top of the stairs.  You step into a chamber arching high above you.  As you perceive the body of Christ on the cross and the stained glass Madonna, you notice people gathered at a stone balustrade.  Stepping forward your eyes light up!  You are looking down into the body of the church.

Back into daylight,  the gargoyles and faces, intricate knots and flowers combine to seduce.

Until finally my mission is accomplished and, with sensory overload, it’s time to leave.  The monastery was secularised and handed over to a charitable institution in 1833.  The many twists and turns since then can be read on the monastery website.

It’s that time of year and the Weekly Photo Challenge suggests that you might want to share your 2017 Favorites.  For me the last post that I wrote is invariably my favourite, but I do have one particular image that sings out to me from this post.  I wonder if you can guess which it is?  It simply remains to wish you all a blessed Christmas, and good health and happiness in the New Year.

Six word Saturday

Let’s have a touch of serenity!

Heaven knows, we need it at this time of year.  Serenity, for me, usually involves water.  The gentle bobbing of boats and whisper of tide, lapping shore.  A frond or two of green, framing sky and sea.  A powder puff of cloud….

Not so serene if you’re down there digging for clams, I suspect

Do any of these say Serene to you?  Let’s give it one last try.

Tavira is lovely, don’t you think?  Perhaps that should have been my six words.  Do go and have some fun with Debbie.  Happy weekend!

Bowled over by Beverley

If you mention The Minster in my part of the world, people automatically think you are talking about York Minster.  I had been told that Beverley Minster could hold its own in the beauty stakes, and set out one day to verify this.  I was already rapt in the intricate details when I learned that the Percy Canopy dates from around 1340, and is regarded as a masterpiece of the decorated Gothic style.

More importantly, the atmosphere in the church was warm and welcoming, and I didn’t feel like an intruder, which so often seems to happen.  I entered through the Highgate Porch and was struck by the vastness of the building and the height of the Nave.

I was immediately captivated by the carvings that adorned the walls of the North Aisle.  In the Middle Ages, Beverley was headquarters of the musicians fraternity in the north of England.  These detailed medieval carvings illustrate the period.

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The minster owes its origin to St. John of Beverley, who founded a monastery here in 700AD.  He was bishop of Hexham and then of York before founding Beverley, and his bones still lie beneath a plaque in the nave.  The organ dates from 1767, the beautiful wood carving added in 1880.

I know that Jude would absolutely love it here because she has a thing for misericords, and there are no less than 68.  In medieval times clergy were required to stand when praying.  The Normans tried to make life a little easier by providing a misericord- a shelf on a hinged seat, just enough to perch on.  The name comes from ‘misericordia’, meaning pity, and decorating them with relevant carvings became an artform.

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The High Altar is in regular use for Holy Communion, and behind it there is a beautifully carved altar screen.  Accessed through the Quire, in the south east corner of the church, St. Katherine’s Chapel is a place for quiet contemplation.

Although I was in awe of this lovely building, still I felt comfortable there, and would love to return.  Even the modern art work did not feel out of place.  The Beverley Minster website has a self-guided tour, both useful and informative.

Pedestrian?  I really don’t think so, though the minster did form part of one of my walks.  Join me next Monday?

Windows on my world

If you’ve ever flown in there, you’ll recognise this approach to Pisa airport.  It was my gateway to Florence, a city I’d always wanted to visit.  Once in a while I get a nice shot from a plane window.  The city was so much more than I expected and I went around with jaw dangling.  I wrote about Florence on my return until I could feel my readers dosing off, and simply had to stop.  It all came bubbling back when my lovely friend Gilly posted Santa Maria Novella.

I stayed just around the corner and walked past it numerous times, as did Gilly.  I had read of cloisters and frescoes and knew that I simply had to squeeze a visit in.  The interior entirely belied first impressions, and I wish I could have lingered.

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The shots in the cloisters are understandably faded but maybe you can get an impression of their glory.  I scaled the heights and did everything I conceivably could in the short time I had in Florence.  And still there was more to see.

It’s all there!  Old, new and ever pleasing to the eyes.  Each and every window revealed more splendour.

The camera came home dying of exhaustion but I have never felt more alive.  The old mercado had been similarly reinvigorated, with a top floor full of exciting dining options.  I hardly knew which way to look.

I have to thank both Gilly and Michelle at the Daily Post for giving me this opportunity to look back through some wonderful windows.

Cornered at Stokesay

Stokesay Castle is the best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. It was constructed at the end of the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, the leading wool merchant and one of the richest men in England at that time.

The castle comprises a walled, moated enclosure with an entrance way through a 17th century timber and plaster gatehouse.  It’s a striking sight, and even on a grey day the ochre gatehouse affirms its right to be there.

The gatehouse features elaborate wooden carvings on both exterior and interior doorways, including angels, Adam and Eve and the serpent from the Garden of Eden and dragons.  It had little real defensive value but is undeniably ornamental.

Inside, the courtyard faces a stone hall and solar block, protected by 2 stone towers.  The south tower is an unusual pentagon shape and is 3 storeys high, with impressive views fom the turrets.  The castle has seen drama in its life, including skirmishes with Cavaliers and Roundheads, but never sustained any real damage and has been more affected by the ravages of time.

The hall adjoins the south tower and has a 13th century wood-beamed ceiling. Next to this, a  2 storey solar block with extensive wood paneling, a huge fireplace and intricate wood carving.  This would have been the family’s main living space.

Since 1986 Stokesay Castle has been managed by English Heritage, preserving and opening to the public.  Details of how to get there are on their website.  I’m hoping that you will have observed many an interesting Corner in this post.

I really oughn’t to but I’m also going to link to Paula’s Traces of the Past, just because I think she might like it.  Is that a good enough reason?

The textures of life

Complicated things, people, aren’t we?  How is it that I absolutely adore to be surrounded by nature, knee deep in a field of lavender, as in my last post, yet still light up at the opulence of this ultra modern shopping mall?  The shapes and angles had me mesmerised.

So many textures make up a life.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m no shopper!  I simply popped in to Leeds’ latest shopping venue to find a loo.

Why not join me on the Weekly Photo Challenge?  It’s all about Textures.