Posts Tagged ‘ presteigne ’

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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Wassail, wassail

A new year, and this infant blog reaches its first anniversary. Quite soon it will be capable of stumbling forward on its own two tiny feet and one day perhaps breaking into articulate speech. That, however, is in an uncertain future. What we do know for certain is that Spring will return and the sun will be seen again – for Presteigne has held its Wassail, without which the world (Radnorshire, anyway) would remain forever in winter darkness. A good crowd gathered in the town orchard to drink quantities of mulled cider and eat everything possible that can be made from apples.

wassail

wassail

wassail

wassail

Under a clear starry sky and lit by blazing torches, songs (ancient & modern) were sung and the trees’ good health was drunk. All traditions have to start somewhere, so the songs included that antique ditty We Are Wassailing (trad., attr. Mr. Rod Stewart). Then the sun’s continued rising was ensured in a fiery ritual.

wassail

wassail

The Apple Queen lights the Sun

wassail

Spring will come again

A happy New Year to all

Life continues

A lot going on these last few days. First to Stratford to see a really good Antony and Cleopatra, a generous and appropriate birthday present for someone of my advanced years, the play dealing as it does with middle-aged passion. (School parties in the audience could practically be felt resisting the temptation to go ‘yeuchh’). Next up, the (possibly) world-famous ‘Tour de Presteigne’, the world’s only rally dedicated to the electric bike.The culminating fancy-dress parade (five high speed laps of the town) made up in mad inventiveness what it lacked in fashion sense, or indeed any other kind of sense.

Under starter's orders

Then it was off to Sussex to start shooting a couple of gardens for our next book, Great Dixter and Sissinghurst, both looking wonderful as expected and gloriously different from each other.

Finally to the election. I hope – how I hope – that I’m being pessimistic, but the words that spring first to mind are, of course, from the closing lines of Animal Farm – “the creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which

Fire Down Below

house on fire

Central heating

A couple of heat-related matters this week. The first involved waking early on Saturday morning to find a huge column of smoke rising into a clear sky from the derelict house over the road. It was a strange, quiet, unhurried scene – a couple of fire engines and three or four early morning spectators idly watching the firemen go about their business. A perfect fire, really; nobody hurt, a rather ugly house (deserted for years) destroyed, the whole thing giving entirely innocent pleasure to all who saw it.

The second thought inevitably involves the real fire down below, i.e. the one underneath Iceland. I may be behind the times on this, but it seems odd that no-one has yet mentioned Dunkirk. Surely here is the model for the way to repatriate desperate British families marooned in a garlic-smelling ashy mist on the Continent, surrounded by untrustworthy foreigners. Small-boat sailors of Britain, now is your hour! (An update – it looks as if real life has caught up with me, to judge by the latest news)

Finally, I’m pleased to say that The Gardens of Japan is already being reprinted, less than a month after publication. Onward and upward!

R.I.P. Arthur

Presteigne’s favourite cat, and quite possibly (in cat-years, at least) its oldest inhabitant, is no more. Broad Street is in mourning.

Arthur enjoys the snow

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