Extra mural activities.

Extra mural activities.

I'd like to be able to say that we went out this afternoon because the weather was so nice again – but I can't because it was raining most of the afternoon. The weather forecast was for showers and I suppose it was but with only a few minutes between each and the showers were long.

Still our proposed destination was St. Michael and All Angels Church at Copford and it was the inside that we were interested in seeing so the weather could do what it liked – and it did!

This church was described by Pevsner as the most remarkable Norman parish church in Essex. It is interesting architecturally and has a pretty woodland setting but the remarkable Norman wall paintings are the real attraction and that is what we went to see. These paintings were described by Simon Jenkins as amongst the best in England and you can see why.

Just remember that these paintings, together with the building, are Norman and date from around 1130 which makes them nearly 900 years old.

The picture above is of the Apse with the altar just out of the bottom of the picture.

What is unusual in a church is to see a complete set of the signs of the zodiac, all 12 of them, and some of them are shown in the picture above on the underside of the Chancel Arch which leads into the Apse.

This shows Christ as the central figure in the 'Christ in Glory' fresco shown in the first picture above.

It was certainly a worthwhile trip and I intend to go back in better weather and take an exterior picture and to try to get a general view along the nave.

A promenade in the park.

A promenade in the park.

We have had quite a number of warm, sunny days this September and so it was last Sunday when we went to Maldon.

We walked down to the Hythe Quay where the sailing barges moor and east along the promenade which slowly curves round as it progresses eastwards so I stopped to take this view looking back to the quay where you can see the barges with their tall masts moored alongside. The church is St. Mary’s which is one of Maldon’s churches and dates from Saxon times.

We turned off the Promenade before we reached the end and made our way to the riverside path and headed further east towards Northey Island. This view is from the path looking North across the river towards Heybridge Basin.

We reached the road to Northey Island and went down to the water’s edge. The causeway across to the island was still under water and is accessable only at low tide. It was on this causeway where the Battle of Maldon took place in 991 between the Saxons and the Vikings.

We made our way back along the riverside path and went back through the Promenade Park where I took this last photograph. The masts of the sailing barges can still be seen in the distance.

Another lovely warm September day.

A Sunny September Interlude

A Sunny September Interlude

It was such a lovely September afternoon yesterday that we decided to take a trip out to St. Peter’s Chapel at Bradwell-on-Sea which is already featured on the web site.

The sunlight had that magical mellow September feel to it and walking from where we parked the car to the chapel the surrounding landscape, complete with blue sky and clouds, looked wonderful.

St. Peter's Chapel

St. Peter’s Chapel started life 1300 years ago as a Saxon cathedral and sits on the banks of the River Blackwater near the site of an old Roman fort and a lot of the building material was taken from that fort.

The river at this point is about a mile wide and we walked the short way across the salt marsh, which was a bit muddy, to the rivers edge (not a particularly bright thing to do when wearing sandals). There was a large area of the shore covered in broken shells of the Common Cockle through which a small stream ran into the river.

Bradwell-on-Sea

Here is a closer look at the chapel.

St. Peter's Chapel

Later that evening, when we were back home, Amanda spotted this in our garden.

Tawny Owl

Only it’s head is visible but it is a Tawny Owl roosting in one of our trees. An unusual sight at this time of day in bright sunlight. It made a nice end to a nice day.

Going up in the world.

Going up in the world.

Yesterday we went to Purleigh, a small village near Maldon, to visit the church. They were having an ‘open’ day which included the tower so we were able to climb to the top to see the views over the surrounding countryside.

It was obviously popular with a lot of people going up and down and you can see why when you look at the views.

View from Purleigh Church tower

This is a view of part of Purleigh.

View from Purleigh

This is the church seen from the ground and if you look carefully you will see the heads of people looking down.

View of Purleigh Church

For some unknown reason very few churches were built during the reign of Elizabeth I so that Elizabethan churches are rare. After visiting Purleigh we went to Woodham Walter to see the Elizabethan church there.

View of Woodham Walter Church

View of Woodham Walter Church

What you can’t see in the first picture is that the main body of the church appears to have been constructed as two sections.

The stepped gables are a feature of Elizabethan buildings.

Early vandalism

How’s this for early vandalism? Someone has carved their initials into the stonework together with the date – 1668.

A little further down the road is the timber-framed Bell Inn.

The Bell Inn

A nice little trip on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Gallivanting is hard work!

Gallivanting is hard work!

I’m still ploughing through the latest site updates.

Carreg Cennen Castle is on the site now and what a location that was! The sunny weather helped a lot of course but it was certainly worth a visit.

We had to take a detour from Brecon on the way because a lorry had turned over and was blocking the main road just before Llandovery. We tried the nearest side road after having to turning back but after a short while we met a lot of vehicles coming the other way doing what we were trying to do but from the other side of the blockage. As these roads are not wide enough for vehicles to pass except in a few places we gave up on that route and went, with the flow, back to the main road.

We had to go back 8 miles eventually to another side road (not many round here) which went up over higher ground and bypassed the obstruction. The views we had on the detour over high ground were almost worth the delay.

We got there eventally as the photographs testify.

The latest update has just been posted and that is for Brecon and the Brecon Beacons. The next update will be for St. David’s and the Pembrokeshire coast then finally Marlborough and Avebury.

This gallivanting is hard work!

NOTE: For people who’s first langauge is not English ‘Gallivant’ means to travel in search of pleasure.

Talking point.

Talking point.

I have decided to try an experiment. As from this moment anyone may contact me using Skype to talk to me about Great Britain.

My Skype name is ‘www.beenthere-donethat.org.uk’.

I won’t be available all day so you’ll have to wait until such time as I am shown to be online.

We’ll give it a try.

Size does matter

Size does matter

Just before we went away on our last trip I bought a new camera. I wanted something that I could slip into my pocket and use easily and quickly or that Amanda, my wife, could use perhaps when we were travelling along in the car.

I also wanted something good enough to act as a standby in the event that my main camera went wrong. After a lot of research on the Internet I decided on the Casio Exilim shown below.

Casio Exilim z850

It has an amazing number of features packed into that tiny frame including 8 megapixels resolution, ready for action in about 1 second, 3x optical zoom, optical viewfinder, flash, an LCD screen that occupies most of the back of the camera and on top of that it is really easy to use.

The large circle is where the lens extends when switched on and the small rectangle in the centre of the circle is a protective metal shutter that covers the lens when the camera is switched off and automatically opens when the camera is switched on – no lens cap to lose.

Small in size – big on features! An excellent addition to the traveller’s kit.