Heritage Open Day in Liskeard….September

 

20190914_105822.jpegWe only discovered the Heritage Open Day was happening in Liskeard for two days by chance on the internet. We missed the first day. After parking the car on our walk into town we came to the first of the buildings we visited – a private house called Tregantle. What an eye opener this was. We had passed it many times, without a thought really, other than that it was quite a nice frontage. Stepping inside the owner had taken the trouble to do a tremendous amount of research about its history and its design by the famous Liskeard architect Henry Rice.                                                                                                                        Henry Rice started out as a land surveyor and architect who went on to transform Liskeard. He had a strong social conscience and made frequent sanitary inspections of the densely populated and poverty-stricken courts where the poor lived. His findings were recorded in his ‘Nuisance’ notebooks, which make fascinating, if sometimes gruesome, reading. As a result the corporation made him Inspector of Nuisances. He also brought piped water and sewers to the town.
Born in Kenwyn parish, Rice was a farmer’s son and staunch Methodist who lived the whole of his adult life in Liskeard. Over 100 of his buildings, mostly in the Classical style, survive, including a large number of terraces built along the roads into the town.

20190914_103748.jpgThis is the front room as is. The owner had bought the house  with all the ‘improvements’ you would expect from the early 70’s – artex ceilings, ripped out fireplaces, everywhere painted magnolia etc etc. Over a period of time, and particularly when she had retired from teaching, she gradually transformed the house reinstalling original Victorian fireplaces and reinstating appropriate colour schemes and trying to preserve every detail from the original designs. A true labour of love. I didn’t like to take photos as we were really guests in her house…..20190914_103844.jpgbut this is one of the two staircases….20190914_104543.jpgand this picture shows industrial use right outside the rear of the property. And this is still in use as a glass making premises……The Glassworks address is actually Pavlova Mill. The mill dates back to the 19th century where it was used as a tannery making gloves. There is very little history on Pavlova Mill but it is said to have been named after the Russian Ballerina, Anna Pavlova, one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history! The tannery is said to have made gloves exclusively for the dancer, whether or not this is true, the mill has taken her name. Interesting!20190914_104254.jpgNext stop was the Weslyan Methodist Church which we had often admired from outside. The original chapel burnt down and was financed and rebuilt largely as now within a two year period. They didn’t mess about did they the Victorians? Inside a volunteer showed us around and pointed out the original and rough wooden stool used by John Wesley when he preached in Cornwall.Methodist-Church.jpg The building was designed for 300 worshippers….20190914_110316.jpgand the plaster ceiling is impressive. Henry Rice designed an extension a little later.20190914_110430.jpgAnd the church became a very prominent organisation within Liskeard. Upstairs to one side this enormous hall was used for teaching. Indeed in the Second World War teaching still took place in the church’s cellars! Average congregation these days is about 30.20190914_111335.jpgOn our way past Stuart House a late medieval house where King Charles stayed in the Civil War. F. showed me the garden which I hadn’t’t seen before, but which is very inviting for tea and cake.20190914_113426.jpgThe Mayor’s Parlour  and Civic Chamber were supposed to be open, but weren’t…….20190914_114023.jpgSo off we went to St Martin’s Church unvisited before. It includes some Norman fragments, but is mostly 15th century. The South Chapel dates from 1428, the south chancel aisle from 1430, and additions to the north side from 1477. The tower was repaired in 1675, but was largely rebuilt between 1898 and 1902 at a cost of £6,400 (equivalent to £682,500 in 2018) by John Sampson of Liskeard. And the main point in coming today was to climb the tower.20190914_115430.jpgFirst we both had a go at bell ringing – unsuccessfully. It is much harder to get the knack than I thought.20190914_115458.jpegThen whilst F. had a coffee I climbed the tower. First we went to the bell ringers’ domain where they entertained us to a number of peals. Very interesting.20190914_121354.jpgThen, having been issued with ear plugs, we went up to the bell chamber, whilst the performance continued. Hands over ears were necessary as well as plugs!20190914_122827.jpgPartially deaf now, we ascended more steps to the top where we had the great privilege of seeing Liskeard and its surrounds from a viewpoint normally out of bounds……the day was fine and picture taking conditions good….20190914_123106.jpg20190914_123111.jpg20190914_123134.jpegIt was good to see the uniform nature of the roofs nearly all with Delabole slates. This common pattern of roofing does add immeasurably to the character of any historic town. 20190914_123147.jpg20190914_123248.jpeg20190914_123317.jpeg20190914_123402.jpgTime for one more photo out of one of the niche windows on the way down….20190914_123945.jpegWalking around the outside of the church we saw it from angles unfamiliar to us…..20190914_124715.jpg20190914_124951.jpg………and descended into town past some very nice rows of cottages. A very instructive two or three hours which made us much more appreciative of the buildings and community of Liskeard.20190914_125213.jpg

 

A trip to the opera in Verona – Part 4

20190905_152555.jpg……. all of a sudden here was ‘the bridge with no parapet’. Worth seeing, but a minute later there were about ten people on there having their photos taken…….20190905_152519.jpgLooking at our map we saw we were fairly near the Rialto Bridge and so we headed there with the thought of using our vaporetto tickets some more. 20190905_153824.jpgAfter a quick think we caught a vaporetto going to Murano island, famous of course for its glass…..20190905_154738.jpgWe went under the Rialto….20190905_154551.jpgand were soon on our way up the Grand Canal again….20190905_155444.jpg20190905_155618.jpg20190905_155746.jpg20190905_160401.jpga lovely relaxing ride over the lagoon, and we were there.20190905_164237.jpg20190905_164406.jpgWhat a contrast to Venice. No hoards of people. No clicking cameras. Just a smattering of ordinary people who actually live here. Yes there were a number of glass shops and I am sure Murano does get busy. But not when we were there, thank goodness.20190905_164815.jpg20190905_165650.jpg20190905_165654.jpegThe church’s plain facade and stark isolated bell tower belied the face it presented to the canal…..20190905_170008.jpgand there were some lovely features inside, including the floors…20190905_165110.jpg…and naturally some glass work……20190905_165506.jpgthere were even ordinary shops…..20190905_170706.jpgand rows of ‘ordinary’ houses….20190905_170756.jpgFeeling thirsty just before we were to catch our return boat, and unable to find a local bar or cafe, we popped into a boutique hotel which had just recently opened…. we were on our own.20190905_172614.jpeg20190905_172653.jpgIt was really very pleasant, and the view………20190905_175229.jpgWe returned a slightly different way across the lagoon and this took us past the cemetery on San Michele island… in fact the whole island is only occupied by churches and by long ranks of tombs. Fascinating.20190905_182114.jpg20190905_184647.jpg20190905_184925.jpgWe disembarked at the station where we were a little early, but the evening light was fantastic….20190905_190451.jpg20190905_191150.jpgand rather than join the policeman and his girlfriend at the station bar, we took our drinks outside with a bag of crisps and sat on the steps…..20190905_194203.jpeguntil the turning on of the lights notified us of our train….20190905_194947.jpegBack in Verona, the evening mood walking through the streets for home was delightful….20190906_195353.jpgand in Verona as in Milan we were always seeing stylish new shops……here a quirky display from an optician. For some reason F. told me Verona is famous for its opticians and eye-testing……..20190906_200655.jpgThe next day, our last, we were due to catch a bus to Lake Garda a short distance away, but we were awakened to an enormous storm (lots and lots of thunder and lightning). It lasted all day and led to us staying in and playing a new and enjoyable game, given to us by our daughter, lots and lots of times (Bananagrams). The weather abated for the evening and we had a last stroll around Verona, calling at a locals bar for a last drink or two….20190906_201504.jpg20190906_203211.jpgOn the day of our leaving we popped around the corner to the cake shop we had only just discovered for breakfast, again with lots of locals who nearly always stand….20190907_093227.jpg20190907_093956.jpgand after a last shop at the grocers for a bottle of Limoncello and some olive oil..we made our way to the bus stop by the river, passing a very busy artists school…20190907_111000.jpg20190907_111115.jpgto arrive eventually in plenty of time at the airport – this time Bergamo – which as you can see is quite scenic itself. What a magnificent trip.20190907_150327.jpg

A trip to the opera in Verona – Part 3

20190905_092307 copy.jpegAfter a quick cup of coffee next morning we caught the bus to the station and then the Italo train to Venice (all booked at home on Trainline). I still can’t get over the amazing sight that greets you on coming out of the station concourse. You are immediately in the heart of Venice and its canals. Right there. At the start of the Grand Canal. It’s like stepping onto a film set. Incredible.20190905_110519 copy.jpegWe knew that the water taxis – the famous vaporetti – would be nearby. They were right outside.20190905_112445 copy.jpegWe grabbed a day ticket each (12 Euros) and what a bargain that proved to be. It was worth it for the trip into the centre alone. The boat went more or less the whole length of the Grand Canal stopping along the way. What a journey. Click after click went my mobile.20190905_114010 copy.jpeg20190905_114103 copy.jpegAnd what I couldn’t get over was how busy the waterways were. Particularly with goods traffic. Everything from dredgers with their miasmatic loads to DHL boats (imagine) to fruit and veg boats. I really hadn’t appreciated that this was how it would be.20190905_114402 copy.jpg20190905_114509 copy.jpgI understand that gondoliers get around £95,000 a year……..but they still can’t afford to live in Venice itself…….20190905_114723.jpeg

20190905_115715.jpgBut the architecture was something else. We all know the problems of Venice – the stupidly large cruise ships, the conversion of old buildings to hotels, flats, Airbnb, the loss of residents to tourism. According to Bloomberg ‘The city’s population basically peaked in the 1500s, and though it rallied again to near 16th century levels in the 1970s, today there are just one third as many Venetians as 50 years ago.’ Less than 50,000 residents compared to over 20 million visitors each year, of which over half are day trippers (just like us). It’s all a disaster. Basically the place is a museum. But what a museum! 20190905_120128.jpg20190905_120307.jpgAll too soon our journey was over and we disembarked at the Piazza San Marco. 20190905_121030.jpeg20190905_121510.jpgBecause we were here for such a short time we had no intention of actually going inside places (just as in Milan). That would have been pointless to try. Instead we wanted to ‘feel’ Venice. So, we enjoyed the sheer size and splendour of the Doge’s Palace…..20190905_121606.jpgthe Piazza itself (Napoleon called it the drawing room of Europe)……20190905_121825.jpgand of course the Basilica….20190905_122010.jpg20190905_121811.jpgas well as the Renaissance-style clock tower20190905_121920.jpgHowever fairly quickly and decisively we headed off down the nearest street in order to escape the tourists….(sorry, I should say the other tourists)….20190905_122200.jpegThat escape never came. We walked 30,000 steps that day, (according to my app about 12 miles, but say 8 or 9 miles), and we never got rid of other tourists. They were literally everywhere. And not only tourists, but tourists’ shops. Like Blackpool in the 50’s. Well not quite.20190905_123442.jpgBut you could have 200 million visitors a year let alone 20 million, and you still wouldn’t take away the beauty, the specialness of the city…..around every corner, and I do mean every corner, a wonderful view……20190905_123623.jpg20190905_125320.jpgWe were heading for the district of Castello to visit a special bookshop. But we just headed in a general direction, not concerned whether we got lost…..which we did frequently…20190905_125532.jpeg20190905_125536.jpg20190905_130023.jpgand eventually we were there……the Libreria Acqua Alta. In this unique shop, which has been called one of the most beautiful in the world, and is certainly one if not the quirkiest, books are stored and on display in gondolas, canoes, and bathtubs. Books are even turned into furniture and architecture themselves! Books that got ruined by high water, or acqua alta have not been thrown away, but have been used instead to become decorative features, walls or even the steps of a book staircase that gives wonderful views over the canal. It is unbelievable. Especially to a couple of people like ourselves who owned two very nice bookshops. The guy who owns this has turned a problem into an opportunity in a very big way indeed.20190905_131205.jpg20190905_131221.jpgWe sat fascinated by the loop of film which shows the shop actually under water……20190905_131358.jpg20190905_131409_003.jpeg20190905_131747.jpgand as for the full-size gondola in the middle of the shop……Incroyable!ve-lib.jpg20190905_132437.jpgUnless we had seen it we wouldn’t have believed it, but lunch called…..and we resumed our magical footsteps20190905_133120.jpg20190905_150500.jpgand we were so lucky to find what on this day was probably the quietest piazza in the whole of Venice…….we had yet another ‘special’ birthday lunch here at Osteria Boccadero (I was doing so well with this birthday….). 20190905_140630.jpg20190905_140636.jpegIt was really really nice. And my squid ink seafood linguini was delicious…….20190905_141505.jpgSuitably rested and refreshed we only had one more ‘objective’ (good to have objectives) on this day, and that was to see the ‘bridge with no parapet’. This involved a walk along the lagoon side of Venice along a lovely promenade, then cutting back towards the Grand Canal…..20190905_150950.jpg

A trip to the opera in Verona – Part 2

20190903_161708 copy.jpgNext stop was the Roman amphitheatre, not to be confused with the Arena where we would be seeing the opera..built around the end of the first century B.C. its visible remains today include the stage, the orchestra, the auditorium and some galleries on two subsequent levels together with a top corridor.It was being set up for a pop concert on our visit….
20190903_172945 copy.jpgbut the Roman seating was still clearly visible,20190903_162128 copy.jpgand the setting marvellous….20190903_162523 copy.jpeg20190903_162558 copy.jpg20190903_162741 copy.jpg20190903_163009 copy.jpgAlso on site there is a fascinating museum with Roman finds from Verona in an old fourteenth century monastery behind the theatre………….here a floor…20190903_163621 copy.jpeg                           a wall decoration….20190903_163851 copy.jpeg……a funerary Stella which translates “Cippus lays a curse on anyone who dares to dirty or violate  the sepulchre”. Obviously this must have been an issue in Verona!20190903_163913 copy.jpg…..lots of pottery and glassware….absolutely incredible it survives….20190903_164704 copy 2.jpeg20190903_164711 copy.jpg…..a larger than life-size bronze foot from a statue….20190903_165642 copy.jpgand an upper walk…….Verona full then of layers of History which is all wonderful to see……..20190903_172146 copy.jpgNext day we again walked into town passing one of the ubiquitous policemen. wherever we went there were police of varying sorts some with sub machine-guns , all with holstered pistols……..all very different from England.20190904_101130 copy.jpegOur first destination was the Arena itself…of the outside only the Ala, a short section of the outer ring that was the façade of the Arena, has been preserved, shown here in my photo. Under the reign of Theodoric (493-526 AD), the outer ring was partially demolished for the construction of a second set of defensive walls, and until the Renaissance the Arena was used as a stone quarry. The façade features just one architectural style, the Tuscan order, with bossages and limestone blocks from Valpolicella.20190904_114138 copy.jpegOnce inside the scale of the building became clear…..this was after all the third largest arena in Italy…..20190904_112347 copy.jpeg20190904_112501 copy.jpg20190904_112825 copy.jpgExcavations under the structure have brought to light a complex hydraulic system which enabled water to be brought inside the amphitheatre, both for spectacular water games and to clean up the arena after the bloody fights held there. All quite incredible to behold.20190904_113541 copy.jpgOn our way to our next point of interest we popped into one of the many churches. This was St Niccolo, a fine example of Italian seventeenth century architecture…..20190904_114659 copy.jpegWe also explored the church of Sant’Anastasia.20190904_141857-copy.jpegI loved the flooring in particular, all local marble…..20190904_142508-copy.jpegThe hunchbacks of Verona are two figures in the church, which are supporting the two stoups at the base of the first columns of the church’s central nave.20190904_142523_001.jpg20190904_143018-copy.jpg20190904_143710-copy.jpg20190904_143740-copy.jpgNext on our itinerary however was the Torre Dei Lamberti Tower – located in the Piazza della Erbe, the Torre Dei Lamberti is the tallest of several towers in Verona. In 12th century Verona, as was the practice in many Italian cities at the time, noble families demonstrated their power and wealth through constructing tall and elaborate towers. The towers acted as luxurious homes as well as watch towers. Ideally, towers were built to be bigger than the nearest tower. Writing this has brought back memories of San Gimignano where there are many such towers giving it the name ‘The Town of Fine Towers’.

Anyhow as the name suggests, the Lamberti Tower was built by the wealthy Lamberti family. Work was begun on the tower in 1172 and was eventually completed in 1463. Over the years however, modifications have been made including the raising of the height by the Venetians in the 16th century. It is still possible to make out the different sections of the tower based on the building materials used.

20190904_115438 copy.jpgBefore ascending the tower we visited what was called an exhibition of Veronese modern art. I must say it didn’t seem very modern to either of us, but that just shows everywhere is different.20190904_115946 copy.jpegWhat I did like very much was the sensuous painting by Hayez (the Italian equivalent to DeLaCroix) of the personification of “Italy”. She holds the cross in one hand and the volume entitled “History of Italy” in the other, in memory of the martyrdom that took place in the streets of Milan in the days of 1848, when attempts were made unsuccessfully to obtain  independence from the Hapsburg Empire and work towards the unification of Italy…..she is therefore both strong yet vulnerable. 20190904_120335 copy.jpegand these sculptures I admired which were about six or nine inches tall…..20190904_121052 copy.jpegWe then exited into the courtyard where the striping effect of use of brick interlaid with marble was quite clear………..20190904_121306 copy.jpgand we ascended the tower not slowly by its 368 steps but quickly on the elevator! The views were worth our admittedly slender effort…..20190904_122252 copy.jpeg20190904_122350 copy.jpgWhat is absolutely clear looking at these photos is the significance in historic towns of roofing all done in the same local materials….this gives such a sense of unity.20190904_122748 copy.jpegWe came out into the Piazza Della Erbe  for a quick look at the pensive statue of Dante…..it represents another manifestation of the struggle for independence…20190904_123131 copy.jpg20190904_123317 copy.jpeg20190904_123328 copy.jpg………………we just had a fleeting visit then to the Scaliger Tombs – a group of five Gothic funerary monuments in Verona, celebrating the Scaliger family, who ruled in Verona from the 13th to the late 14th century.The tombs are located in a court of the church of Santa Maria Antica, separated from the street by a wall with medieval iron grilles. Built in Gothic style, they are a series of tombs, most of which are in the shape of a small temple and covered by a baldachin. According to the French historian Georges Duby, they are one of the most outstanding examples of Gothic art. The  wrought iron enclosure is decorated with a stair motif, in reference to the Italian meaning of the name of the family, della Scala………..20190904_123900 copy.jpg20190904_124204 copy.jpgLunch beckoned and whilst the restaurants in the Piazza looked lovely……… 20190904_124639 copy.jpgwe found, down a side street, what turned out to be a fantastic local restaurant for my birthday lunch…..20190904_130206 copy.jpg20190904_131042 copy.jpegProsecco, Soave, brilliant food and a relaxing coffee…what more could one ask?20190904_135126 copy.jpgOn our way to the Duomo…20190904_140931 copy.jpegwe saw yet another elevated tomb….it seems the Veronesi are trying to get as close to Heaven as they dare.20190904_141501 copy.jpeg20190904_144632-copy.jpg20190904_144719-copy.jpg20190904_145118-copy.jpgThe Cathedral, which is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, is the central structure of a complex of architectural buildings which include San Giovanni in Fonte, Santa Elena, the Canons’ cloister, the Capitular library, the square in front of the church and the bishop’s residence. During the Roman Empire, in the area of the present day church, there were villas with private thermal baths (balnea) and probably also a few small temples. duomo800.jpgThe first palaeo Christian basilica was built on the area occupied today by the church of Santa Elena. It was consecrated by S. Zeno, bishop of Verona, between 362 380 A.D. but it soon turned out to be too small and a few decades later it was replaced by a larger basilica. Quite a few remains of the mosaic floor of both palaeo Christian basilicas can be seen under the church of Santa Elena and the Canons’ cloister.

The second palaeo christian basilica collapsed, probably during the 7th century A.D., due to a strong fire or maybe an earthquake. Archdeacon Pacifico was in charge of the reconstruction of the church, between the 8th and the 9th century and the Cathedral, known by the name of Santa Maria Matricolare, was built further south, on the area on which it is situated today.

The church was greatly damaged by an earthquake in 1117 A.D. and reconstruction work lasted at least 20 years: the building acquired its current width and the two Romanesque porches.
The inside was completely renovated between the second half of the 15th and the second half of the 16th century with the addition of the side chapels and the semicircular choir screen.The floor is magnificent and composed of local marbles….20190904_145841 copy.jpg20190904_150014 copy.jpg20190904_150124 copy.jpeg20190904_151339 copy.jpg20190904_151544 copy.jpegAt one point I was amazed to find on a shelf some modern scriptural texts bound exquisitely which I examined……works of art in their own right…..20190904_151929 copy.jpegBack home over the bridge of stone to get ready for the opera….20190904_154423 copy.jpegEven arriving at the opera was special…..we were due to see Carmen.20190904_201846 copy.jpgand once inside it was obvious how spectacular the occasion was going to be….20190904_203049 copy.jpg20190904_203055 copy.jpg20190904_215633 copy.jpgThe performance was outstanding with two of the three main singers very strong. The orchestra was on top form and the production itself was all you would expect in so magnificent an arena. As a birthday present – sensational!20190904_235150 copy.jpegCarmen_FotoEnnevi_220618_0020_20180622-blocco-show-2018-1.jpgThe walk home through Verona at night was delightful…….20190905_001732 copy.jpg20190905_001904 copy.jpg

A trip to the opera in Verona – Part 1

20190901_154650 copy.jpegFor my 70th Birthday I was treated to a trip to Verona to see the opera in the Roman arena ( a lifetime’s ambition). The flight from Bristol was great with unusually clear views over England and France and Italy. Landing at Milan Malpensa airport, we then caught the train to Milan. The station at Milan was incredibly large, imposing and typical of Fascist Brutalist architecture. I have since found out it is in fact the largest station  in Europe.20190902_102834 copy.jpegIt’s always nice to get your first cup of coffee and pastry when in Italy…here in one of the many station cafes…20190902_101952 copy.jpgGetting to our hotel/apartment Residenza delle Città we found it to be immediately full of Italian style….20190901_204250 copy.jpgRDC_Social_Lobby_04.f8f13c6ddc1a9cbab724bb6abd5ef197.jpgand the apartment itself was terrific.tzoo.hd.85800.3586.450427.ResidenzaDelleCitta.jpgI had done a lot of research on where to eat. However, around the corner we ignored all that research and found a lovely pizza place that looked like a regular neighbourhood hang-out rather than any chain pizza restaurant. And so it proved. Not a single tourist in there, English or otherwise. It was just what we wanted. One of the two brothers who own it looked after us and a good time was had by all. The pizzas were fantastic.20190901_221226 copy.jpeg20190901_213340 copy.jpgNext day we went first of course to the Duomo famously the largest church in Italy. Knowing we had only a few hours in Milan we made no attempt to go inside, but we looked at it from every angle, and enjoyed the sumptuous carving….20190902_114026 copy.jpeg20190902_112040 copy.jpegin stone……20190902_113415 copy.jpegand bronze….interestingly the doors are nineteenth and twentieth century not the work of medieval craftsmen as I first thought.20190902_113633 copy.jpegThere was much to admire.20190902_113554 copy.jpgAfter a quick walk around Piazza del Duomo…20190902_111919-copy.jpg20190902_110910 copy.jpegwe passed up one of the streets full of stylish shops….20190902_123656.jpg……..here a bookshop ( which we can never resist of course)….20190902_111715 copy.jpgto come quickly to la Galleria Vittorio Emanuele  which was second on our list of must-sees, and an absolutely stunning example of a posh shopping arcade, full of Versace, Prada and other famous Italian and international designers.20190902_111513 copy.jpeg111247580-milan-italy-april-13-inside-shopping-mall-galleria-vittorio-emanueke-ii-on-april-13-2-018-in-milan.jpg20190902_103429 copy.jpgBut all the shops in downtown Milan are sensational, not just in the arcade. How about this for an alternative to the Aga?20190902_105524 copy.jpgOur stroll through the city revealed a superb range of classy buildings….20190902_104957.jpeg and even gateways to splendid private houses…20190902_100455-copy.jpegWe lunched in the Piazza Del Duomo….20190902_125005.jpghaving passed on the stairwell what looked like a very old olive tree but was in fact a bronze sculpture……..a- ma-zing….20190902_124313.jpgWe then wound our way slowly down cobbled streets with a mix of old and new trams (very reminiscent of Lisbon)…..20190902_110215 copy.jpgto a favourite Milanese public garden – the Parco Sempione – a large placid green area, nice after the bustle of town,  running from the Castello Sforzesco to Arco della Pace. After our peaceful interlude in the park…..20190902_121107.jpgwe had a good look around the castle, the core of it dating back to 1358-1368  during the Visconti’s period who used the Castle as his residence while he stayed in Milan, but mostly used it as a military base. Later, it was mainly Francesco Sforza who, as ruler of Milan in 1450, gave particular impetus to the reconstruction of the building  which had been seriously damaged between 1447 and 1450. He quickly rebuilt the castle, this time with a 230 ft tall central tower – the Torre del Filarete (now a symbol of Milan itself), flanked with large round towers. His successors further improved and embellished the castle. 20190902_120611.jpg20190902_120307.jpg20190902_120138.jpg20190902_115811.jpgThe inside of the castle is now home to several museums which we noted as worth our attention on a longer visit (let’s hope it’s soon!). 20190902_120324.jpegWe had covered a lot of ground and after another quick coffee made our way to our train, and here a word about the Italo trains. We went on two during our time in Italy, and I think we were in ‘Smart’ class both times, the lowest of four classes. To us it smacked of style and comfort with leather seats, foot rests, individual waste containers etc etc. If only Italo would take over our national railways!stazione-termini-italo-2.jpg20190902_170129.jpgThe area between Milan and Verona is famous for a number of significant wines including Prosecco, Valpolicello and more….so, vineyard after vineyard was glimpsed from the train windows…..20190902_174628.jpgalso the odd lake, and always the mountains in the background – the Apennines, the backbone of Italy, 870 miles long and surging up to 9000 feet at their highest…20190902_173743.jpegThe railway infrastructure was quite impressive too…here a signal box…what was most impressive however was the smoothness and speed of the journey – at one point we were doing 247k an hour (153mph). Fantastic.20190902_163829.jpegOur flat in Verona was booked through Airbnb and was very pleasant. But its big plus was that it was outside the tourist centre and in a residential district. So the people we bumped into were Italian. Whilst this meant a reasonable walk to get into the centre, it was absolutely fine. We were in no hurry anyway.20190902_191915 copy.jpeg20190902_191942 copy.jpegOn our first night we wandered over the Porta Nuovo into town, and relaxed with an outdoor meal at one of the hundreds of cafes and restaurants…20190902_203108 copy.jpegF. had the most boring salad ever, my spicy aubergine bake was very tasty. The bottle of local wine went down a treat..20190902_205649 copy.jpgAlong the street of our restaurant were some excavations revealing what? I never did find out!20190902_215756 copy.jpgThe atmosphere at night in Verona is great….it’s a pleasure to walk around.20190902_215838 copy.jpgand lively……20190902_220420 copy.jpg20190902_220426 copy.jpg20190902_220717 copy.jpegThe next morning – our first – we ambled along our narrow little street to the river…20190903_100358 copy.jpgThis is the river Adige, second longest in Italy, rising in Switzerland…..and there are beautiful walks and promenades along it….20190903_113506.jpeg20190903_113523 copy.jpgAs this is Italy there are quite a lot of bikes…..20190903_114354 copy.jpgafter walking into town we reached what is regarded as the centre of Verona – Piazza Bra, huge and full of restaurants, cafes, bars, shops……..20190903_115318-copy.jpegand of course the Roman amphitheatre  built in the first century, and where we were due to go to the Opera the next day. In fact it is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there and is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. In ancient times, the arena’s capacity was nearly 30,000 people. The stage for concerts and opera performances decreases the available places to a maximum nowadays of 15,000. It will be used as the closing ceremony for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. (Must watch if we’re still around!). 20190903_115112 copy.jpgLuckily, as the weather was hot, there is a beautiful little garden in the midst of Piazza Bra which we availed ourselves of to consult our map.20190903_120408 copy.jpegHaving bought a Verona card which was 25 Euros each for two days ( a bargain as it turned out ), and which allows entry to all sorts of places as well as bus travel etc, we then made our way through one of the ancient arches, this one fifteenth century……20190903_123127 copy.jpegand along some nice arcades……20190903_123252_004 copy.jpegto the Castelvecchio fortress which took the name “Castelvecchio” (meaning “old castle” of course in Italian) just after the construction of the Castel San Pietro in 1393, which is located nearby.
The castle, an imposing complex marked by seven brick towers, was completed in 1356 as a defensive structure aimed to control the access to the city from the river Adige and it was converted into a museum or in fact a series of museums in the 1920s.
From 1958 to 1964, the museum was completely renovated and updated after a design by famous Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. Scarpa’s project, which harmoniously combined contemporary building materials, such as bare concrete and steel, with the castle’s medieval architecture, is still widely considered among the best examples of the conversion of a historic building into a modern museum.20190903_125242 copy.jpg20190903_125454 copy.jpegThe building is a large square compound made mainly out of red bricks and is an impressive example of Gothic architecture. One of the most noteworthy features of the castle is its imposing M-shaped merlons which run along the walls of the bridge and the castle itself. There are seven towers in the castle along with a maschio or a super elevated keep. Inside are four main buildings. Castelvecchio is surrounded by a ditch that is now dry. When the castle was first built, the moat was filled with water from the nearby Adige. 20190903_125647 copy.jpg“It is believed that the castle was built on the location of an earlier Roman fortress. The castle and nearby bridge were built by Lord Cangrande II della Scala, who in 1350 married Elizabeth, the daughter of Louis IV of Bavaria and the Countess of Hainualt, Margaret II. The castle was constructed as a deterrent to attack by powerful neighbors like the Sforzas and Gonzagas and the city state of Venice.                                                        The construction of the castle started in 1354 and Cangrande died in 1359, before it was completed. The fortified bridge over the Adige was designed to let the castle’s inhabitants escape north to Tyrol in case of a rebellion or a coup d’etat.                                                 During the time of Venetian rule in the area slits were added to the structure to allow defence by cannons. The fortress was badly damaged during the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon himself stayed in the castle many times when he visited Verona. Under the later rule of the Austrians the castle was used as barracks and was later restored in 1923.”20190903_131029-copy.jpgThe art galleries and museums were full of surprises and well worth an extended visit…20190903_130423 copy.jpgOne thing that particularly caught our eye on the walls were these artists’ preparatory drawings and underpainting – absolutely fascinating – and fourteenth century.20190903_131552 copy.jpg20190903_131556 copy.jpgand this – almost like a cartoon book – thirty Bible stories painted on wood, again fourteenth century.20190903_131754 copy.jpegThese pics give some idea of the sumptuousness of medieval wall decoration….pretty spectacular you have to agree.20190903_131945_007 copy.jpeg20190903_133153 copy.jpg20190903_133340 copy.jpegAnd here a view of the Skaliger or Castelvecchio Bridge – a fortified bridge that was built over the River Adige. The bridge featured segmental arches and when it was originally constructed it had the world’s largest span at 48.7 meters.The bridge was built as we noted around 1354 by Lord Cangrande II in order to facilitate escape from his fortress. A reflection of the times! The construction was solid and the bridge remained intact until the end of the 18th century when French troops destroyed the left bank tower. In 1945, during World War II, the bridge along with Ponte Pietra was totally destroyed by the Germans. Reconstruction began in 1949 and was completed two years later on all but the left tower. The bridge was built using red bricks for the upper part, quite common with the landmarks in the city during the Scaliger era. The lower portion of the bridge was fashioned out of white marble. Legend has it that the designer of the bridge, Guglielmo Bevilacqua arrived at the inauguration ceremony riding a horse, ready to flee in case it came crumbling down. When the bridge was seen to be a success Bevilacqua was reportedly presented with a sword belonging to Saint Martin by Cangrande.20190903_133710 copy.jpgOne of the highlights of our visit was the walk around the walls and battlements…..20190903_133832 copy.jpg20190903_133914 copy.jpgand I thought a very unusual and perhaps typically Italian stylish touch was to find a little garden perched on the battlements themselves. Terrific.20190903_134304 copy.jpg20190903_134315 copy.jpgAt the end of the high-level walk we came across a statue of Cangrande II Della Scala himself, immortalised in stone like the archetypal cavalier. Scarpa the architect decided to place this particular sculpture on a concrete plinth seven metres high, creating an  niche that allowed the work to be seen from multiple angles…….20190903_133951-copy.jpgOur little tour finished, just beside our bus stop was The Arco dei Gavi  an ancient structure built by the gens Gavia, a noble Roman family who had their hometown in Verona, at the beginning of the Via Postumia, the Roman road leading into the city. During the Middle Ages it was used as a gate in the walls.20190903_135524_001 copy.jpegOur free bus was very pleasant and free of tourists….20190903_141618 copy.jpgWe got off in an area where we quickly disposed of a double ice cream each and headed past a group of rather nice buildings….20190903_142117 copy.jpg20190903_142212 copy.jpgand along a promenade…..20190903_142217 copy.jpg20190903_142658 copy.jpgto the funicular which we took up to the viewpoint…910A4130_1-1030x687.jpgwhere we stayed a while enjoying the amazing vistas……20190903_145141 copy.jpeg20190903_145500 copy.jpeg20190903_145721 copy.jpegIt had all been thirsty work, so we stopped off at a hilltop cafe again with the incredible views and sank a large beer and orange juice…..20190903_154824 copy.jpg

Visit of David and Jennifer……August 2019

20190824_155954 copy.jpegVisitors gives us the chance to do something different. When you have been in a place  three years, you tend to the obvious. The always welcome appearance of David and Jennifer took us first ten-pin bowling. None of us the best but enjoyed by all.20190824_161640 copy.jpeg20190824_161724 copy.jpegOn another day we went to Falmouth. First a splendid birthday lunch at The Royal Duchy Hotel where we were then able to leave our car for the afternoon’s trip. Then into town.the-royal-duchy-hotel-01.jpgAlways a great place to visit, apart from its seaside connotations Falmouth has some nice streets…20190825_145441 copy.jpgand some brilliant houses and buildings – often the historic homes of sea captains.20190825_145451 copy.jpg20190825_145929 copy.jpeg20190825_150042 copy.jpeg20190825_151150 copy.jpeg20190825_151248 copy.jpeg20190825_182327 copy.jpgBeing a Bank Holiday, the shopping streets and harbour were full of people and atmosphere.20190825_150554-copy.jpegWe however had decided to take the ferry across to St Mawes which is always a really enjoyable trip with plenty to see…..20190825_154746 copy.jpg20190825_155351 copy.jpg20190825_160011 copy.jpg at both ends…..20190825_160138-copy.jpegAfter a little paddle…….20190825_161757-copy.jpg……….it was good to see David and Jennifer were still enjoying themselves. We then walked along the ‘promenade’ through town to the castle.20190825_162402 copy.jpgOn the way this time I noticed a very quirky little gunnel or alleyway (don’t know what they call them in these parts……where we used to live in York it was ‘snickleways’}. Anyhow very picturesque.20190825_162741 copy.jpeg        Not a single house in St Mawes I wouldn’t give my right arm for……20190825_163615 copy.jpegThe castle, looking across to its sister in Falmouth, was impressive as always….20190825_164211 copy.jpeg20190825_164240 copy.jpegBut we decided it was all thirsty work and called to Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton  for an ice cream and cup of Earl Grey….very nice.member_b_122.jpg

But 20190825_172600 copy.jpg20190825_170309 copy.jpgAll in all a lovely two or three days. And when they had disappeared back to London it was still Bank Holiday and one of those days when, in going to Looe to collect our daily paper, we found the sea busy as well as the beach…there are’nt many days like that!20190826_131644 copy.jpegWe also enjoyed the Lambretta parade through town…….maybe 50 or 60 of them.20190826_132454 copy.jpg

Reading matters…….

1867145.jpgRescued this ‘Shooting In The Dark’ from ‘unread books’ section, and found it was set in York which is where we used to live once upon a time. It’s Crime Noir North of England, and good for that. Location is so important to me even in crime novels, and John Baker ensures you know you’re in York. It got good reviews in The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent and from Val McDermid, so I had high hopes and I was not disappointed. I must explore what else John Baker has written. The first third in particular read like a hard-core New York novel with humour, and then it settled into its plot the main protagonists being Sam Turner, an world-weary private tec and two vulnerable sisters one of whom was blind. This gave an entirely different slant to things. Basically they were being stalked by someone who wanted revenge for a childhood disaster. I really liked the fact that the characters were sympathetic and nearly all of the time I appreciated the minor characters being highly intelligent (much philosophising, particularly on existentialism). Recommend? Definitely……

‘Skios’ is a Faber publication, so it’s got to be good right?….my favourite publisher bar none. Here’s their blurb……..13732574.jpg

“On the sunlit Greek island of Skios, the Fred Toppler Foundation’s annual lecture is to be given by Dr Norman Wilfred, the world-famous authority on the scientific organisation of science. He turns out to be surprisingly young and charming – not at all the intimidating figure they had been expecting. The Foundation’s guests are soon eating out of his hand. So, even sooner, is Nikki, the attractive and efficient organiser.

Meanwhile, in a remote villa at the other end of the island, Nikki’s old school-friend Georgie waits for the notorious chancer she has rashly agreed to go on holiday with, and who has only too characteristically failed to turn up. Trapped in the villa with her, by an unfortunate chain of misadventure, is a balding old gent called Dr Norman Wilfred, who has lost his whereabouts, his luggage, his temper and increasingly all normal sense of reality – everything he possesses apart from the flyblown text of a well-travelled lecture on the scientific organisation of science …”

At heart this is a case of mistaken identity, deliberate in the case of one of the protagonists and not so with the other. It is an old-fashioned farce. And if you like farce, you will like this. It is extremely funny throughout and, as Michael Frayn is a writer of well-received stage farces, very well written. To go on writing such idiosyncratic stuff at his tender age (born in 1933) is quite remarkable. Incredible holiday reading………particularly if you’re jetting off to Greece.

I finished my marathon reading of the 6 Palliser novels with ‘The Prime Minister’ and ‘The Duke’s Children’. Bit like reading War and Peace twice or thrice. Anyhow, highly enjoyable and quite the equal of The Chronicles of Barsetshire……

30086155115.jpgTrollope himself considered ‘Can You Forgive Her?’, ‘Phineas Finn’, ‘Phineas Redux’ and ‘The Prime Minister’ to be the four novels that constitute the Palliser series. In his autobiography he wrote…….”To carry out my scheme I have had to spread my picture over so wide a canvas that I cannot expect that any lover of such art should trouble himself to look at it as a whole. Who will read Can You Forgive Her?, Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux, and The Prime Minister consecutively, in order that they may understand the characters of the Duke of Omnium, of Plantagenet Palliser, and of Lady Glencora? Who will ever know that they should be so read?”. Self-deprecating as usual, he thought that his reputation would soon wither, and that in no time at all he would be forgotten.

However, notable fans of Trollope, according to Wikipedia,  have included Alec Guinness, who never travelled without a Trollope novel; the former British Prime Ministers Harold Macmillan, Earl of Stockton and Sir John Major; the first Canadian Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald; the economist John Kenneth Galbraith; the merchant banker Siegmund Warburg who said that “reading Anthony Trollope surpassed a university education.”; the English judge Lord Denning; the American novelists Sue Grafton, Dominick Dunne and Timothy Hallinan; the poet Edward Fitzgerald; the artist Edward Gorey, who kept a complete set of his books; the American author Robert Caro; the playwright David Mamet and the soap opera writer Harding Lemay. So I am in excellent company.

As I have said before to read Trollope is to gain an amazing insight into upper-class, and upper middle-class, Victorian society. But not just that. Trollope expounds in significant detail on the politics of the time, the role of the Church, the concept of the gentleman and gentlemanly behaviour, the role of money and debt at a macro and micro level, the standing of women, and so much else besides.  If you accept that you are in an entirely different world you will be drawn along and you will want to know what happens next to his well-drawn characters. I must say that I personally found his anti-Jew reading somewhat obnoxious, and I am startled to find so far no reference to this by the critics. That besides, what will I do now I have read all of his major work? Read them again? Quite possibly!

A birthday weekend……

20190809_180259_003 copy.jpegKatherine and Aiisha came hot-foot from Spain to share a birthday weekend. My 70th. On our way to our first ‘adventure’ – ice  skating at the Pavilions in Plymouth, we passed Charles Church, bombed out during the war but given almost a sculptural quality with the background of the Drake Shopping Centre. It almost seems planned to set the old church off….perhaps it was. Skating was good. The next day we chose to have lunch at the Duchy Garden Centre so that Katherine could look at some plants for her new garden in Edinburgh. Aiisha and I decamped for a short while to the new children area which was very nice indeed…….20190810_130928 copy.jpgand we loved the wheeled gypsy hut, where Aiisha showed off her versatility with her Dad’s instrument of choice…20190810_131147 copy.jpg                Lunch over we set off for Carlyon Bay where Katherine had bought tickets for a show by the Knee-High Theatre Company called The Dancing Frog. After a lacklustre start it developed into a really really fun show. I haven’t enjoyed myself as much for a long time, and I really must write them a review. Pleasure and laughs were had by all and I did think the puppetry was amazing. Ten out of ten. The audience of all ages were captivated.20190810_154028 copy.jpeg20190810_154028 2 copy.jpeg20190810_154807 copy.jpegWe then couldn’t’t resist the beach where the tail end of a storm was apparent. Luckily the weather held off for us.20190810_162034 copy.jpeg20190810_161453 copy.jpeg20190810_161810 copy.jpegThe biggest ‘adventure’ perhaps came the next day when we visited the nearby and well-named Adrenalin Quarry. Neither F. nor I were participants, but we certainly enjoyed watching. Katherine and Aiisha proved fearless in attempting first The Giant Swing…… 20190811_113306 copy.jpg20190811_113411 copy.jpgAQ copy.png  Apparently the first drop from what seemed an enormous height was ‘scary’ but thereafter things got a little better. Aiisha was heard to say in the gentler parts ‘I want to do it again’ at which those watching burst into laughter…they were absolutely stupefied that one so young had attempted this in the first place!z copy.jpgzz copy.jpgNext was the zip wire which went from the heights at one end of the quarry to the other. Not quite the longest or most terrifying in the world, but certainly up there. Rather them than me. Who knew such things were within 15 minutes drive of us?xx copy.jpgy copy.jpg55 copy.jpgtt copy.jpgWe then celebrated all that bravery with snacks in the nearby American Diner which was actually enjoyed by all of us.20190811_125612 copy.jpgWhilst Katherine did some work the next day, Frances, Aiisha and I drove to Looe to play the arcades as it was a bit inclement. We all had a great time playing the twopenny dip where you roll coins to displace other coins (and prizes). 20190811_160617 copy.jpgAiisha’s top said it all. Lucky. We won an enormous haul of sweets, of which you can see a part……20190811_162451 copy.jpgWe crossed the river on the little ferry for a change, and thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the seaside.20190811_165110 copy.jpg20190811_165236 copy.jpgAdventures were now coming thick and fast. A riding lesson got us up early the next day. After kitting out…….20190812_095620 copy.jpg              ……..Aiisha showed much aplomb in dealing with her horse – and with the lady instructor who was to say the least formidable. All the adults looking on were quaking in their shoes. However the lesson was indoor and out, and went down very well with our intrepid rider.20190812_100122 copy.jpegA fine day was then promised so we went on one of our favourite walks the circular route from Lerryn (our favourite Cornish village) to St Winnow. After stocking up at the terrific local stores we set off along the for now dryish river…20190812_114353 copy.jpgcrossing the medieval bridge…..20190812_114406 copy.jpgand crossing and re-crossing the stepping stones.20190812_114930 copy.jpgAll the cottages are without exception lovely and, unusually it seems to us, nearly all lived in as opposed to used or owned by holidaymakers. That accounts for the hugely lively village life.20190812_115229 copy.jpgOur first objective was a particular bench with a view, and this is where we had our pasties and cakes from the shop. One of the best lunches ever!20190812_122848 copy.jpg20190812_124241-copy.jpg20190812_123845 copy.jpgWe then aimed for St Winnow’s and along the way Aiisha picked up and fashioned her own walking stick which not only proved useful but also was a great prop for her impressions of “an old lady walking”. Very good.20190812_135107 copy.jpgThe church was bedecked for a wedding and whilst this was all very pretty, it had meant the closure of the ice cream stall. Not as disappointing as it might have been as we were all ftb. 20190812_135456 copy.jpgPulling up from the hamlet (just a farm and a cottage and a church (plus usually an ice cream stall!), we soon had good views.20190812_140929 copy.jpgThere were several kinds of trees with plenteous nuts (perhaps betokening a hard winter?).20190812_144929 copy.jpgAnd pretty garden fronts as we descended once more to Lerryn.20190812_154423 copy.jpgThe tide was now in. All in all a special day and a very long seven and a half miles for young feet…all done without a grumble!20190812_154654 copy.jpgOur last full day together was my birthday and we had lunch at the Godolphin Arms now turned into a somewhat boutique hotel. Sensational views from the car park…20190813_132054 copy.jpegand the restaurant where we eat well.20190813_133620 copy.jpegWe planned to look at the beautiful gardens on St Michael’s Mount but on the way to the ferry (the tide was in) we were waylaid. 20190813_151348 copy.jpegMarazion itself is quite captivating…….20190813_151519 copy.jpgSix ferries were in continuous use (it was Bank Holiday after all), so we didn’t wait too long.20190813_152505 copy.jpeg20190813_153138 copy.jpg20190813_153244 copy.jpegOn reaching the island we found the gardens were closed, but this enabled us to climb up to the castle itself, looking for the Giant’s Heart on the way up……20190813_161223 copy.jpg                    and making use of the odd canon for a resting point…..20190813_161802 copy.jpg20190813_161857 copy.jpgInside we did a rapid tour and completed a successful quiz, and enjoyed the special atmosphere of this amazing place. We also were able to see some of the gardens!20190813_163209 copy.jpg20190813_163711 copy.jpeg20190813_163841 copy.jpg                   The queues for the ferries to get back to the mainland were long to say the least, but we made our own amusements. 20190813_170641 copy.jpg

A lovely few days was completed when we dropped Katherine and Aiisha off for a night’s camping with friends. We escaped to a night of central heating and TV viewing at home! Don’t know who had the best bargain……….

Reading matters……

26662 copy.jpgAlways a pleasure to read a Folio Society edition, and Phineas Redux the fourth in the series of six Palliser or ‘Parliamentary’ novels is by common acclaim one of the best of Trollope’s extensive writings. He certainly appears at the top of his powers, whether in his descriptions of riding to hounds (one of his own favourite things) or his semi-satirical take-offs of some of the great issues of the day particularly the Disestablishment of the Church in Ireland and the Reform of the political system. He also appears a prophet before his time in his sub-plots involving the possible introduction of decimalisation and the positioning and powers of the monarch in a constitutional crisis. Having said all of this, Trollope as usual develops all these themes around the life and loves of his main character, and Romance plays an equal part to Politics. His characters are very strongly drawn and in a novel of some 700 pages we get to know them well! A large part of the second half of the book concerns the court case where Phineas is accused of attempted murder, and Trollope revels in his taking to pieces of the legal system as it existed. So, not only is Phineas Redux a page-turner, it is a detailed and extensive commentary on the constitutional, political and social life of Victoria England and in that equal to the efforts of Dickens. Only two more novels to go. Far more demanding of time and concentration than War and Peace!

517kyouWPXL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBecause we are in the middle of selling our home and hope to move to the North West, I have bought second-hand copies of two excellent books ‘The Treasures of Lancashire’ and ‘The Treasures of Cheshire’. These are very detailed portrayals of51ckmYLGwkL._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg the two counties in terms of the countryside and towns, which are described succinctly and well, and the treasures therein, with emphasis on the churches, public buildings and houses to be found. I must say that I took great pleasure in reading these minutely and I discovered so much new about areas I know well enough. Not only have the two books strengthened how much I am looking forward to moving, they have directed my attention to considering alternative locations for our new home. These books weren’t available new any more and I only paid between £3 and £4 each. A real bargain.

A1vSQ2LZa1L copy.jpgFor some light relief, as both the Trollope and the guides were demanding of concentration, I have been re-reading ‘Engel’s England’. His book is not a gazetteer, he explains, “nor a guidebook, nor a compendium of England’s best anything”. It is, rather, he claims, a celebration of “the most beautiful and fascinating country on Earth”, though even the determinedly upbeat Engel cannot avoid an Anglo tone of loss and melancholy. “By way of subtext,” he notes in passing, “I visited all 41 (Anglican) cathedrals and lit a candle to my late son in each.” But that in no way gets in the way of his genuine desire to see what makes the different counties tick, and to find the quirky or humorous things that will both amuse us and inform at the same time. This he does in spades and very funny he is more often than not. He is warm, human, funny and cutting at times. The sort of man who would be interesting to talk to in the local pub, knows a lot, plenty to say, empathetic and probably very willing to stand you a pint or two. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip around England in his company (as I did the first time).

 

Our first visit to Tresco….

tresco a (Custom).jpg   A last-minute decision to take advantage of the Locals offer (£25 each return)  to visit the Scillies again on a day trip meant an early start. The alarm was set for 5.45am and that proved just right. In arriving at Penzance we joined the small queue to pick up our tickets – the staff were incredibly helpful and efficient………20190716_080540 copy.jpgand in no time at all we were wandering along the harbour to board the Scillonian. 20190716_081614 copy.jpgThese are the mini containers which hold passengers’ luggage, but also anything and everything that the Scillies need that they don’t have or grow themselves.20190716_081145 copy.jpgSeeing Penzance like this early in the morning makes you wonder why you don’t get up early more often.20190716_081556 copy.jpegAnyhow we were soon settled in for the 2 hours 45 minutes journey with a coffee and lovely fresh warm pastry each and the Times crossword, sudoku, word wheel etc which are our daily attempt to activate our brains for the strenuous days of retirement.20190716_082625 copy.jpg The sea was placid, the day hot and sunny as we exited the harbour.20190716_092256 copy.jpegEverything secured nice and firmly….20190716_092319 copy.jpgIt’s always interesting to see places from a different angle…here Mousehole.20190716_093308 copy.jpgAnd it’s a joy to arrive in the scattered isles of the Scillies……20190716_120404 copy.jpegbefore berthing in St Mary’s……where we hopped off rather sharpish to ensure we made the inter-island ferry to Tresco our destination for the day.20190716_122623 copy.jpg5139361_b9c7efa9.jpgYou see all kinds of craft, and nearing Tresco……20190716_122949 copy.jpeg……….the incredible white-sanded beaches gleamed in the sun, and all of them were, as they often are apparently, practically deserted. Paradise!20190716_124731 copy.jpgPentle_1.jpgOn our walk to the Abbey and Gardens there were flowers galore growing wild..here one of my particular favourites Agapanthus…20190716_125107 copy.jpgand everything was super-sized…20190716_125646 copy.jpgAll this before we got to the Gardens….20190716_125656 copy.jpgBefore visiting the Gardens themselves we had a light lunch in their cafe sitting in the beflowered courtyard soaking up the sun. After that we were ready. Now if you don’t like pictures of flowers, plants, settings like the Garden of Eden look away now…….20190716_132506 copy.jpg20190716_132604 copy.jpgand there was wildlife too…here a magnificent Golden Pheasant…I don’t think you should be feeding them bananas but still. I also saw a red squirrel, apparently introduced on the island by Judy Dench’s husband of all people……20190716_132642 copy.jpegThe shapes against the blue sky were pretty special and the feeling you were in some tropical paradise, rather like the Eden project but all outside in real-life as it were, never left you.20190716_134021 copy.jpg20190716_133116 copy.jpg20190716_134651 copy.jpg20190716_133150 copy.jpeg20190716_133412 copy.jpg20190716_135247 copy.jpg20190716_133447 copy.jpgAnd it wasn’t just plants and flowers that were special, there was a huge range of modern sculpture something I would normally take with a pinch of salt but here somehow all very appropriate…..20190716_142039 copy.jpgThis particular sculpture of a balancing box lies below the Abbey house itself where the Dorrien-Smiths who own Tresco (yes it is a private island) live……20190716_134104 copy.jpgeven the well was turned into a piece of sculpture…..20190716_134345 copy.jpg20190716_134440 copy.jpg20190716_134725 copy.jpg20190716_135415 copy.jpegThe Shell House (1994), a pretty shell grotto designed and made by Lucy Dorrien-Smith, has a shell-themed tile floor, and individual initialled tiles commemorating members of the family can be seen amongst the shells on its internal walls. But the craftsmanship was incredible. The finest shell house I have seen, and I have seen a few.20190716_140010 copy.jpeg20190716_140022 copy.jpeg20190716_140126 copy.jpeg20190716_140236 copy.jpg20190716_143546 copy.jpg20190716_140429 copy.jpegTowards the end of our stroll around the gardens we happened upon a fruit and vegetable area which was patently not part of the main run of things. Our assumption was that this was maintained (in tip-top condition) for the Abbey owners themselves.20190716_140919 copy.jpgIt also contained cutting beds, again probably for the owners vases.20190716_141228 copy.jpgWe had the ferry to catch at 3.30pm to link up with the Scillonian, so we reluctantly left the gardens. On our way to New Grimsby a mile away we passed huge swathes of Agapanthus..20190716_142027 copy.jpgthe outside of the house itself….20190716_142445 copy.jpgand finally had beautiful vistas opening up of the sea……20190716_143824 copy.jpgI noted in the outskirts of the hamlet that they had even named a square after me (very nice of them)20190716_144332 copy.jpgand passing the beautiful cottages in their verdant setting we made our way….20190716_150912 copy.jpeg ……to the Flying Boat Bar and Bistro with its enviable views….where we just had time for a quick if very expensive pint no doubt delivered by the Scillonian and then ferried to the island….The_Flying_Boat_View_3.jpg

I end with a poem for Stephen Booth, who passed away in 2013. Stephen was a regular visitor to Tresco for fifty years and the poem was written by his brother, Ted Booth.

Tresco

What island is this

Prospero’s cell perhaps

there the grey beard goes

and isn’t that pretty gardener

Miranda in disguise

or are we all Crusoes

shipwrecked on the beach

waiting for man Friday

and a ready cooked pie

or is this Treasure Island

with Jim and Captain Flint

making for the village store

where X marks the spot

and untold treasures wait

or is it a mad hatter’s

golf course with untold buggies

criss crossing the greens

or has a bit of Barbados

broken loose and floated

its palm trees

across the Gulf Stream

and into our garden.

 

Ted Booth

December 2013