Monday, 30 December 2013

Walking the Devizes Bounds Eastwards.

OS map of the medieval "Bounds" of Devizes, marked with green spots on the map.

This is the easterly 3.5 miles of the "Devizes Bounds," with the other 3.5 miles circling the western half of the town.  The walk is our annual traditional "New Year´s Day" walk, making the old boundary of Devizes.  This year´s walk looks in doubt at the moment, as the weather has been so dreadful, that all the tracks will be knee deep in mud and impassable.  The forecast for Wednesday January 1st 2014, is for torrential rain!  Me thinks, we will not be venturing out.

St Mary´s Church viewed from near Jump Farm.

During the English Civil War cannon were placed hereabouts, as Cromwell´s army fired at the soldiers of King Charles 1, who had become trapped in the town and sort refuge in the three medieval churches.  Cannonball holes can still be seen in the stonework of the church towers. 
The squat tower of St John´s church (centre) which bears cannonball holes left by the fighting in 1643, and viewed from the nearby cannon emplacement.

The Crammer, the setting of the "Moonrakers Saga."

I took a short cut whilst walking the "Bounds" and came home via this little pond, where the bird gather to be fed by caring passers by and little children.

The plaque giving the history of the "Moonrakers" story.

Some smugglers hid their contraband beer barrels in this pond, to hide it away from the local police.   The smugglers came back one night to retrieve their booty, and when the police turned up again, the men said the were innocent, and were only trying to rake the reflection of the moon out of the pond.  The police thought they were mad locals, and the police rode off on their horses!    

This saga is repeated in many towns in England, which only goes to show that maybe we are all mad!   People born and breed in Wiltshire are called, "Moonrakers."

Friday, 27 December 2013

Up on "Oliver's Castle."

Up on top of  "Oliver's Castle" in the wind.

Way back in July 1643 the  "Battle of Roundway Down" was fought near this hill top, with many of the cavalry and soldiers being slaughtered as they fell down the a steep escarpment called "Bloody Ditch."   The hill top is the site of an iron-age hillfort, which gave the inhibitants a commanding view of the surrounding landscape, and made it easy to defend from enemies.

The information board gives details of the battle between the army of King Charles l , and that of Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarian forces.   

The King's forces won this particular battle, but Cromwell and Parliament eventually won the civil war.  This led to a nine year Commonwealth in England, when the King was executed and the  monarchy abolished.   Charles ll eventually regained the throne, and then proceeded to execute all those who had fought against his father.

It is a wild spot atop the hill, much used by people flying model planes and walking dogs.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Playing the Handbells in Potterne Church

Linda, Rachel and Jackie studying the music, prepare to play the little bells, that produced the highest sounds. Each player rings four bells, laced together in pairs.  

We played the bells in Potterne Church on Sunday evening, while the congregation assembled for the annual Christmas carol service.  We rang a variety of pieces, ranging from "The Skater's Waltz,"  "Joy to the World" and "Little Drummer Boy," to other more well know Christmas carols such as "We Three Kings."   

Our group consists of ten players, although these photos show only nine.   Doreen was missing, having popped off to chat to friends.  My three bells of A, A#/Bb and C can be seen to the above photo, bottom middle.  

Vicki, Mike and Terry with the large bells that play the lower sounds. 
We play three bells each.

In the foreground stands Celia, Julie and Tony, who play the medium sized bells that produce the middle sounds.  Each player plays three bells.

The photo shows the nave of the 13th century church, with a depiction of the Nativity, lit in orange light, in front of  the high altar.  A row of white cut-out birds sat along the window ledge above the altar, a depiction of hope for peace in the world. 

From left: Rachel, Jackie, Tony, Julie, (Doreen missing) and Celia preparing to play.

The large bells can be seen lying on the table to the right.  We play a chime of three octaves.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Winter Clothes fit for a Hamburg Squirrel.

The latest fashion in winter accessories for a Hamburg squirrel.

I hope you can remember this handknitted squirrel's winter outfit from a previous blog?  Well, as you can see below, Herr/Frau Hamburg Squirrel now wears the outfit in the cold Hamburg winter.

Meggie managed to catch the squirrel (no not really,) and dressed him or her in the new and improved Christmas outfit.   I think the booties fit really well, and she has managed to get the squirrel's ears to protude through the hat.

Last year I made winter socks for a Hamburg thrush, I wonder what my next project will be?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

St Mary´s Church Advent Concert.

The east door of St Mary´s Church on a dark night in December. 

Fortunately I live near beside this church, so I had a very short walk on Wednesday evening to join my friends in the choir to sing in our Advent concert.  The concert began with Palestrina´s Matin Responsory, a lovely work written in the 16th century.  A cantor sang words on a single note, and the choir then joined in with more decorative notation.  We sounded wonderful in the spacious acoustic of the church.  

We sang several solos pieces for choir only, and the audience was able to join in when we sang several  well known Advent music.   Devizes has three huge medieval churches, two of which are used for the main services.  St Mary´s is redundant, although one service a week is held here to keep the building in use.  

After the concert, the audience enjoys wine and mince pies.
The church was full, even though our event coincided with the Mayor´s annual carol service being held in the Corn Exchange.

Plans are afoot to change the church into an arts centre for the use of local choirs and arts groups.  Lovely plans for a small extension with a kitchen and other necessary facilities were recently produced, which were turned down at a recent planning meeting!  Such a shame, as the building will now stand unused for six days a week.  The church authorities hope to challenge the planners` decision, so that this space will no longer go to waste.

The Victorian organ is still in good working order.

We sang works with piano and organ accompaniment, and during the evening our conductor and accompanist played two solo pieces on the piano.  One was a "Choral Prelude" by my friend JS Bach, and the other, "Sleigh Ride," by Leroy Anderson, a really jolly piece to end the concert.   We all had a wonderful evening.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

"Winter Warmers" for a Hamburg Squirrel.

Hand knitted warm, winter clothes especially for a Hamburg squirrel.

I have a good friend who lives in Hamburg where the winter can be very cold.  She has a balcony on which she feeds the birds, and also the occasional red squirrel who happens to drop in to nibble some nuts.   I took pity on this poor creature, and knitted him/her a scarf, hat, mittens and booties, to keep him warm in the snowy winter.  

This Christmas present was posted to him last week.  I have assumed he is a boy, and knitted the outfit in blue.  How do you tell a male squirrel from a female?   Are they smaller?

However, our next problem is to catch the squirrel, so that he can wear his new clothes!  Does anyone have any ideas!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas Candle Time Again.

My  candles are out on the windowsill again, 
Christmas must be around the corner.

This photo was taken with the camera´s "star filter," a little device that turns points of light into starts.   When friends drive past my flat, they know I´m at home, and give me a wave as they drive by.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Devizes Lantern Parade

 Devizes Town Band prepares to lead the parade around the town.

The band arrived at the head of the lantern parade to accompany the children and families  to the Canal Wharf to see Santa Claus, and the back to the Market Place for a firework display.  This annual parade is always wonderful, with the beautiful lanterns being constructed in special workshops throughout the autumn.

The huge elephant lantern tucked in behind the band on its walk around the town.

The Mayor of Devizes and his wife help lead the way.

The parade heads towards "Wadworths" at Brewery Corner.

This photo was taken with the "star filter" on my new camera, that turns points of light into twinkling stars.  I´m really pleased with my new gadget.

The crowds in the Market Place, waiting for the firework display to start.

The square was filled with stalls selling Christmas goodies, food and mulled wine.  Earlier Santa Claus had switched on the Christmas lights, (hidden behind the balloons centre.)  The whole colourful occasion is always on of great fun for all concerned.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill

The entrance to the barrow behind the tallest stone.

I love this place, and would like to stand on top of the barrow in a raging thunderstorm, with the lighting flashing around me, a be terrified into an understanding into the  mystic beliefs of ancient man!  It would be interesting to know how he made sense of the world around him.  Many years ago I read "The Inheritors," a book by William Golding, in which he told a story of a group of stone age people.   He surmised  about their way of talking, their attitudes to the weather, to the everyday objects around them, and to themselves and their relationships.  I book worth reading, and which contains some interesting  oxymorons!

Silbury Hill, the bump on the horizon between the entrance stones.

These photos were taken on my new camera, with the edit set to "dramarice landscape," ot something like that.  I like the effect, but too many photos on the same setting will become rather boring.

Inside the 104 meter long barrow, with its separate burial chambers.

The chamber contained 46 burials in several chambers, and is one of the longest barrow in Britain.  The bones of the men, women and children are now housed in museums around Wiltshire.  

Silhouetted figures wandering on top of the barrow.

More detailed information can be read in the link below:

West Kennet Long Barrow

Silbury Hill viewed from the walk from the barrow.