Posts Tagged ‘ photography ’

The Judge’s Lodging

Rather wonderfully, The World of Interiors have given a full twelve pages of their January issue (out now) to Presteigne’s amazing museum, The Judge’s Lodging. Read, enjoy and visit! A few more pictures below, and a small portfolio of others to be found here

hip bath

Personal hygiene

To the regret of many, one of Herefordshire’s more eccentric landmarks is up for sale on eBay – here it is:

And finally, this month’s new moon seen from Stonewall Hill:

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Dover Beach Revisited

Some of us may still remember a line or two from Matthew Arnold’s poem ‘Dover Beach’, in which he describes the ebbing tide of religious belief. I’ve just returned from three days photographing a vast and now redundant Catholic seminary, where the endless corridors echoed to that famous ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar / Retreating . . .

One of the boys' dormitories

The only other people there besides myself were the caretaker and the odd-job man. The building is on such a huge scale that we had to carry walkie-talkies to communicate with each other. The buildings are mostly neo-Gothic – every Catholic architect of the nineteenth century seems to have worked there, including three generations of the Pugin family. Surprisingly there was also a girls’ wing, with cubicles painted a delicate shade of eau de nil and littered with old sewing machines.

The girls' dormitory

Work and prayer in the shadow of the Cross

In the girls' wing

Most of the buildings are in good order, though the Junior School with its grade one listed chapel and its dormitories has long been empty and vandalised. The pupils’ home-made toboggans lie scattered around the floor.

The derelict Junior School

A junior dormitory

St Aloysius' Chapel

St Aloysius' Chapel

St Aloysius' Chapel

 

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Tyrrhenian Sea

A view with a room

Just back from Calabria, a fleeting visit for which I had no excuse other than to accompany Helena Attlee on her research trip to the Jewish citron harvest. This peculiar event will soon be properly described by Helena in her forthcoming book on the role of the citrus family in Italian culture. Briefly, though, the citron (etrog in Hebrew) takes a central part in the annual Feast of Tabernacles (sukkot); what’s more, each fruit has to be absolutely flawless. We met a citron merchant from Brooklyn who talked us through the business, at the same time giving us a crash course in elementary Judaism. Who knew, for example, that the only commandments that apply to us (non-Jews, I mean) are the seven ‘Noahide’ commandments – six of which were given to Adam before the Fall and the seventh to Noah after the Flood?

citron (citrus medica)

A perfect citron

Harvesting these fruits is a brutal job – the trees are covered in vicious spines and grow low to the ground, so that the pickers have to crawl on all fours and pick the fruit while lying on their backs. All this in the furnace heat of a Calabrian summer. And then each fruit must be washed and checked by the merchant for the slightest imperfection, variation in colour, etc. before being packed in bubble wrap and foam rubber like a piece of glassware.

citron harvest

Looking for the perfect fruit

Citron merchant

The citron merchant

Citron farmer, Calabria

The citron farmer

Checking the citrons

More pictures may be found here. After a brief break for beach time it was north to Amalfi to look at the precipitous and beautiful lemon gardens that hang above the Tyrrhenian Sea. The first picture on this post shows the view from our room, so high above the sea that we could just make out the mountains of Sicily 100 miles distant. Then home – and within 24 hours we were swimming in the rain in Hampstead Ponds. Funny thing, travel.

Amalfi lemons

Amalfi lemons

Amalfi lemons

Amalfi lemons

Great Gardens of Britain

Stourhead

Great Gardens of Britain is out at last and so far to a good reception, judging by the first reviews. We’ve enjoyed seeing the other European editions, too – Germany is currently in the lead for the best foreign title with Gartenlust. Should you happen to be in Devon and anywhere near Totnes tomorrow (Tuesday 12th July), Helena Attlee and I are speaking about this book and related matters at the Ways With Words festival at Dartington Hall (4.00 pm.). And if you can find a moment, we’re always grateful for reviews on Amazon!

Just one other picture with this hasty blog post, but I couldn’t resist it – freshly churned butter in the artist Anne Belgrave‘s ‘Self-Reliant Kitchen’, open as part of the local ‘eco weekend’.

real butter

Of Courts and Courtiers

A spell of feverish activity has at last resulted in my finishing The Gardens of Cornwall. The mad rush at the end was caused by a summons to undertake jury service, a potentially open-ended and unavoidable commitment. About the case itself I can say nothing at all, for obvious reasons, but it was one of the most absorbing weeks I’ve spent for a long time. Having someone’s future in your hands concentrates the mind wonderfully. The drama is intense, however trivial the matter. The faces, the body language – are they lying, are they simply nervous? And then the atmosphere of the court, all heavily grained Victorian woodwork with the hook still to be seen where the judge’s black cap once hung.

From one court to another. There’s been a royal visit to David and Sara Bamford’s carpet workshop here in Presteigne. I found myself on the royal press rota and being firmly briefed by the (glamorous and charming) Clarence House press officer as to what I might and might not do. It’s tricky, trying to photograph people and yet keep moving backwards in front of them, so that it’s as if you don’t exist and they are moving freely through an empty room. A strange illusion of total freedom for the royal couple, who are at all times surrounded by staff anxiously counting down the seconds until the next stage of the occasion.

Meeting and greeting

A pat on the back for Phil

The Cornish book finished on a definite high with a wonderful last day, an early morning at the open-air Minack Theatre, with low sun striking across the waves beating at the cliffs below the amphitheatre. More Cornish pictures to be seen here.

The Minack Theatre, Cornwall

The Minack Theatre

The ancient chestnut trees at Dartington Hall

With that out of the way I’m free to concentrate on the imminent publication of our latest book, Great Gardens of Britain, due out on the 15th of July. We’ll be holding a small event locally to celebrate, about which more information later. Helena Attlee and I are also speaking about the book at the Ways With Words Festival at Dartington Hall near Totnes. That will be at 4.00pm on the 12th of July (all information on their website, www.wayswithwords.co.uk). I hope we’ll also get a chance to tell some stories about the weird and wonderful things that have happened to us while working together on our books. Incidentally, there are a couple of good reviews of the book out now, one by David Wheeler in the current (July) issue of Gardens Illustrated and the other by Claire Masset in the July issue of The English Garden.

The present order is the disorder of the future - Saint-Just. Little Sparta, Scotland

Somebody got married last week

Yup, Presteigne has celebrated in style, with bunting, balloons and sandwiches. The high street was impressively packed, and a lot of people had worked hard to feed the five thousand (or thereabouts). A van was selling plastic tat which neatly divided the hordes of children into two camps, tiara’ed pink princesses or riotous small boys with machine guns – gender stereotyping, anyone? A good time had by all, I think.

More party pictures can be seen on Facebook here

In other news, the M5 is becoming far too familiar as I beat a path down it to continue work on my Cornish gardens book. I do find myself in some incredibly beautiful places at the far end of it, though, so I’m not complaining unduly. Some pictures below, with more to be found here

Magnolia petals and primroses

Bluebells at Glendurgan

A champion magnolia at Trewidden

The perfectly composed view at Trelissick

A new feature (Oslo) and other matters

A new feature in the April issue of The World of Interiors on Oslo’s extraordinary City Hall, or RĂ„dhus, filled with murals and frescoes as dazzling as anything to be found in a medieval council chamber in Tuscany. Also an article and a mildly scabrous book review in the first issue (out now) of the excellent Marine Quarterly, a new journal covering all matters seafaring.

mural in Oslo City Hall

German invaders attempt to destroy the state of Norway

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying shooting at The Judge’s Lodging here in Presteigne for a magazine feature. The sepulchral gloom of the servants’ quarters, lit only by the occasional flare of gas, presented some interesting technical problems.

victorian kitchen

The kitchen at the Judge's Lodging

candles

handmade candles in the pantry

As a break from the darkness and the smell of gas I followed a friend’s suggestion to explore a local valley unknown to me, where a ruined cottage stood surrounded by snowdrops at the foot of the still bare woods.

snowdrops

The long awaited sun is fetching us all outside at last, blinking but grateful.

Tony Bird, Presteigne antique dealer, and Sally

A quick trip to Oxford to go to the local launch of James Attlee’s new book Nocturne: a Journey in Search of Moonlight, timed to coincide with the appearance of Saturday’s ‘super moon’. Helena and I waited expectantly on the cold hills above the White Horse at Uffington, but a cloudbank rolled in and nothing could be seen. Then as we drove towards Oxford the huge and impossibly apricot-coloured disc hung over the city like the star over Bethlehem.

Many thanks to all those who’ve kindly responded to my fundraising effort for the disaster in Japan. Your prints will be sent out later this week – I shall be in touch where necessary regarding payment, addresses etc. It’s not too late to order – click here to find out about it.

And finally I believe an explanation has now been found for the shortage of wildlife in our rivers here – see below

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