Friday, August 28, 2009

Updated editor issues

Well, unfortunately, I updated the Blogger editor, and have been having image/text problems since. Bear with me; I'll get this sorted out eventually.

More Holy Island

From the mainland, where we camped for the night

Seagulls on the tidal marshland
Tank obstacles. Would the Germans have landed this far
north? Anyhow, we felt very safe camping here. At least
safe from attack by the sea.
Time and tide...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Holy Island

Another half hour and it is driveable

You have been warned

Priory ruins; originally founded by Cuthbert and associates
in 7th century, destroyed by Vikings, reestablished in 11th
or 12th century; Dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539; etc. Now
a national heritage site.
More priory ruins

Statue of Cuthbert

Castle (14th century I think) from priory

View of village and priory from castle

Bamburgh Castle, several miles further down the coast 

Just off the Northumberland coast, south of Scotland, sits The Holy Island, Lindisfarne, where St. Cuthbert was a hermit and headed a priory (sort of a sub-abbey); he was later bishop in Durham (or York?). His missionary work converted most of the north of England.

The Holy Island (that's really what it is called) is particularly cool in that to get to it, other than via boat, you have to wait for low tide. Then you can drive or walk. The road across is actually paved. But you have to plan your crossing, and return, in accordance with the tide tables.

Watching the tide come and go is always interesting, to me anyway. Other than driving a tidal causeway, and walking part of it, other "firsts" today including sampling mead and having a small dish of cockles with lunch. But enough of England, for now. Tomorrow we're in Scotland.

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral from the west

South door knocker...for sanctuary 

Nave; first use of ribbed vaulting

Carved pillars; non-Christian designs?

Window treatment

St. Cuthbert shrine; more of him later

Venerable Bede shrine; England's first historian 

Note the almost Moorish look in this chapel 

South side view

Cloisters, abbey adjoining

Holy roller

Durham is not particularly huge, but definitely first generation English cathedral, noted for the carved pillars (also has entwined arches throughout) and first use of ribbed vaulting. Bede is importantly historically; and Cuthbert for pilgrimage/tourism. Durham is evidently the most holy cathedral in northern Europe. We've seen most of the rest, from Trondheim to Paris, etc., and this is the only one that does not permit photography inside. So the interior pix you see above are stolen off the web. I am still bitter.

Vicki adds:

York, England August 24, 2009

I am going to try to post a little more often-hopefully, once a week for those of you who want to know where we are but don’t have time for Mark’s long version. (Though it doesn’t take long to just look at the pix that he posts.)

We spent a very busy two weeks in France first with Rebecca for 4 days driving out to Carnac and then Rachel was picked up in Paris and the 4 of us spent two days in Rouen. For the week in Paris the girls rented an apartment with their boyfriends and we stayed in the campground. We had 7 days where we were sightseeing or commuting about 16 hours a day. It was fun but exhausting. Rebecca and Jeremy then left for a week in London; Rachel and Will then spent 10 days car touring western France and Provence. Mark and I crossed the Channel and started our 3 months in the UK. We have to stay here 3 months in order to go back to the continent to meet the terms of the Schengen visa laws.

The good thing is that we can slow down. We spent 4 days in Cambridge—only one sightseeing and punting the River Cam. We have a Heritage pass so we are also visiting many of the great homes where we can get in free. Mark is not wild about those but I enjoy them. We have gotten up to York after visiting Sutton Hoo for the Bronze Age ship burial and Sherwood Forest. We need to be in Edinburgh on Friday.

So far we have found England more expensive than France or Germany but not as bad as Norway or Ireland. The pound has gained quite a bit in the last two months so that is not helping. However, since England is small we are spending significantly less on diesel. It is very difficult to free camp here as we have been doing the last 3 months. Many parking areas have barriers at a 6 ft height even for picnic areas and there are not the rest areas along highways like other countries. There are however, farm sites that are listed in our Caravan Club book where they don’t provide showers etc. but only charge $8-14 a night. Most campgrounds are in the $22-30 range. I noticed in York yesterday that a Big Mac is $3.50 but the grocery stores are very good on sales so we just buy whatever. Fruit right now is wonderful and we picked blackberries this morning at our camping spot. I have given up cereal for breakfast and switched to scones and clotted cream—which I could eat 3 meals a day! Write to me. Vicki

Driving Around

Another abbey ruins--I've forgotten the name--they're all over;
before there were towns, there were abbeys 
View from one of our lay-by campsites in northern England 

The White Horse of Sutton Bank; they do these hill-side chalk
drawings (that is, scraping away vegetation and soil to reveal
the chalk underneath) all over the place; some are very, very old 

Another bucolic campsite view; this one had horses in the

But then every now and then you run into something like this 

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey, church and part of abbey

Lay brothers' latrines; the river was diverted to run beneath

How to build an arch 

More of abbey

Church nave 

Lay brothers dorm area 



The gardens are mostly huge water features, artificial lakes,
water courses, etc

Only Americans, we were told, ask why this
is called the Anne Boleyn statue

Fountains Abbey is mentioned prominently and favorably in the 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood film, so, being in the neighborhood, we had to see it.

The Abbey was begun in 1132, a splinter group from York, fell in with the Cistercians in 1135, and went on to become one of England's richest and most powerful abbeys. The Black Death laid it and similar abbeys low, and Henry VIII finished them off with the Dissolution Act in 1539. Fountains Abbey languished, particularly after the royal plundering, until bought by a rich 18th century family that saw it as the perfect "ruin" for its estate garden. It's all National Trust now, being taken care of, another UNESCO World Heritage site.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let's Roll, Dude

Pannini's fresco of Earth, Castle Howard

Castle Howard

Grounds view of Castle Howard

The Hercules fountain

The Temple of the Four Winds. What? Your house doesn't have
a temple of the four winds? 

Model of this ramshackle 17th century house (with later

Brueghel in the bedroom? Vicki and I are still skeptical 

The sculpture hall, mostly 2nd century AD

Music room 

Dome in main building

Grounds; once a formal French garden affair, plowed under
when the late 19th century owners discovered what it cost to

John Jackson painting of the grand hall 

200 years later 

Chapel; every great house has a chapel