Christmas Day in pics

On Christmas Day we had spectacular weather after weeks of cloud and rain and misery. Granted, it was about 7 degrees, but the sun was shining and the wind had stopped and I grabbed my camera and headed out to take some pics. Town was deserted. 

Fortunately the current crop of floods are abating somewhat. On Saturday I had gone walkies and took a look at the water levels around us and things were not looking too good. This is the Severn looking towards the Mythe water works. 

(1500 x 435)

The pano above was taken on Saturday and is looking towards Bredon Hill across the waters from the Avon/Severn confluence.  Fortunately that water is subsiding and hopefully will remain low. As an aside, just think how fertile that soil must be.  Back in Town I headed towards the Abbey because it is always spectacular. Alas, the floods have cut off parts in that area too.  The area where the small white building is is the cricket pitch and the only game that can be there now is water polo. Howzat?

A few steps away is the parking lot for the Abbey and you can get some wonderful shots of it from this area.

The Abbey was unaffected by the 2007 floods, but you can bet that in its almost 900 years of existence it has seen a lot of water surrounding it.  There is a really huge tree in it’s grounds too that is a definite favourite of mine.  It must be really old and who knows how much it has seen.  I believe it is a Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea) and they have a typical lifespan of 150–200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years.

I went into the Abbey and had a quick walk around. The Christmas service was starting at 10.30 till 12.00 but I had a full bladder and no reading glasses so did not stay for it. But while I was there the choir was singing and the organ was making sweet thunderous music. Light was streaming into the east facing windows and it was very special. The pews were filling quite quickly too and on my way back home I saw lots of people heading towards it to attend the service.

Behind the High Altar was a nativity scene and the light was shining on it and it was very apt for a Christmas Day. Unfortunately I cropped the image badly and could not replicate the shot from other positions. 

Leaving the warmth and solidity of that ancient church I headed along the Mill Avon towards town. The deep shadows and bright patches made photography difficult, but there was a peaceful air about this part of the river.

The old mill and Victoria Gardens were under water once again, and the boats moored alongside were riding at pavement level. One boat caught my eye, the name board proclaiming it to be “Thunderchild” and immediately I thought about Jeff Waynes War of the World’s

“Thunderchild”

The Invaders must have seen them
As across the coast they filed
Standing firm between them
There lay Thunder Child.

I would have that piece of music going around inside my head for the rest of the day. In one of the alleys I came across this magnificent gate and that really wrapped up my photography for the day and I turned my bows towards home.

Break had a nice display of vintage toys and I paused for a pic…  Children are really the ones who enjoy the season the most, but alas Christmas has lost the magic and has become a commercialised monstrosity. 

Apart from food Christmas was done and dusted for another year. You can bet that Boxing day will be in its last throes and they will be putting out the Valentines Days goodies, although in South Africa it is more about “Back to School” instead,  and we all know how kids enjoy that too… NOT!

DRW © 2019-2020. Created 26/12/2019.  
Thunder Child lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songwriters: Jeff Wayne / Gary Osbourne.

Requiem Eucharist

In Memory of Olive and David Walker. 

By some quirk of fate I spotted a post about a Requiem Mass to be held at Tewkesbury Abbey on the 3rd of November. I had been wanting to attend a service at the Abbey for quite some time and never really managed to do so until tonight. It is possible that I was supposed to do this as part of the grieving process and that was why I saw the post. At any rate I was there at 4.35pm to participate in the service. 

The Abbey is a different place at night, it is well lit and cloudy with incense smoke but still as beautiful as ever. The image was taken long before everybody had arrived though, it is not that the Abbey was empty, it is just that it has a lot of space. 

I love the sound of those large organs and the soaring voices of the choir. The music on this evening was by Gabriel Faure who completed it in 1887 and is sometimes known as “A Requiem Without a Last Judgement”.  

I was raised an Anglican and somewhere in the dusty mists of my mind is the Communion Service; I had last taken Communion in 1993, and even then I somehow knew most of it by heart. I suspect the service is one of those familiar things that lives in you but which comes forward when the organ bursts into life. 

I was not only remembering my mother at this time, but also my father who passed away on 7 November 1981. They have finally been re-united after so many long years and I am glad that we were at least able to place her ashes where his are interred. 

Once the prayers had been read we were able to take communion at the Altar rail. I have been in so many of these cathedrals and abbeys that the altar rail does not hold that sense of awe as it did when I was confirmed way back in 1974 or 1975? (I must look it up). The ceremony in these churches follows and age old ritual and coming from South Africa I could easily follow it as it was literally the same service. Once Communion was taken the opportunity was given for members of the congregation to light a candle in memory of those who had passed on. I had lit one before the service started but had also lit one on the 6th of last month. 

And then we were finished and the procession filed out and so did the congregation. I felt better having done this, and I would like to attend another service at the Abbey when I can, I have not found religion, its just that I am still working through closure, its just part of the process. 

DRW © 2019. Created 03/11/2019

Armour in the Abbey

The “Armour” referred to in this post is not of the tracked vehicle type, but rather it is about men with swords, helmets and armour, (not too be confused with the Knights who say Ni!). This is the first time I have heard of the event but it is possible that it was held on previous years but I never went to it. At any rate, more information may be had at http://www.tewkesburymedievaltown.uk/tewkesbury-armour-in-the-abbey/index.htm.

I went on the first day of the event (Sunday) but it is also open tomorrow on the bank holiday and I expect it will be much busier then. Every year Tewkesbury holds a Medieval Festival so I have seen some of this stuff before, but it is always nice to go out and see the people who really put so much into events like this. Unfortunately there was not much to see, but it was interesting nevertheless.  The event was held in the Abbey Garden, and entrance was through the original Medieval Gate.  

The image above dates from 2015 and it was one of the rare instances of being able to photograph the gate without stacks of cars parked in front of it. I did visit the interior of the building some time in 2018 but did not post the images of it. The weather was not as sunny on this day, it was overcast and not too warm either. 

Inside the area were a few tents set up and a small roped off arena and lots of people in shining armour. There was also a canon….  I had seen this beauty at the festival in 2017, and the gun is called “Belle” and was being operated by “the Kynges Ordynaunce”.

Apparently the wheels of the carriage are the really the hardest to manufacture and not the gun (which was made in Holland). 

I looked around a bit more, hoping for some definitive shots that could convey what some of the items looked like. It is however quite strange to see the mingling of re-enactors in costume talking to people in 2019 civvies, or to spot a knight making a call on his cellphone.  There were period tents set up around a roped off space and this was where some of the action was going to happen.

(1500 x 573)

I believe this was the King’s tent, but I didn’t ask just in case he roped me in on his side. I am strictly neutral in these matters and don’t take sides. This year will see the 548th Anniversary of the Battle of Tewkesbury which will be celebrated on Monday (while we are all at work!)

There was also a very impressive horse having a snack to one side. He was also here to be made used to the loud bangs that the canon would make; very important if he is to be used in a makeshift battle.

Off to one side was another roped off arena where they were having a demonstration on the famous Longbow that the English archers were so effective with.

I believe a well trained archer could fire off 7 arrows a minute, whereas a combatant armed with a primitive firearm could take as long as a minute to reload his muzzle loading weapon. 

I am sure the combatants that had to wear the armour were glad that it was not a terribly hot day, or that the sun was warming the metal hot enough to fry eggs off.

The canon was trundled across to where the archers were and set up. One of the red coated gun crew then explained a bit about the weapon and the advantages and disadvantages of the early canon. This particular weapon is a muzzle loader, and the well drilled team soon had it ready to fire. I do have video of the gun firing and will upload it to my Youtube channel at some point. 

It is quite loud though and there were a few spooked children walking around with their hands over their ears.  

Then it was back to the other roped off area where there was a melee between two armoured men. 

The dude in blue won that one.

And then there was a four way melee, one of the occupants being “The King” (accompanied by shouts of “The YORK”). This one was quite quite hectic and the King bore the brunt of the attacks. 

It was all in good fun though, but was evidently hard work as the combatants were drenched by the time all was done and dusted. 

It was time for me to make tracks as I didn’t have much more to see. The more interesting events would be happening tomorrow much to my dismay. The Medieval Festival for 2019 happens on the 13th and 14 of July, and that could be worth attending. Until then here are some random images. Special thanks must go to those who took the time and effort to put on this small glimpse into the past.

DRW © 2019. Created 05/05/2019