The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


Leave a comment

Vancouver-A Quick Trip

Had a quickie trip up to Vancouver,  BC. Living in a small town, I ocassionally crave a big city fix.

We set out from our base camp that eve for a long walk and supper. We headed to Gastown. A lovely alpenglow lured us to a vista of the hills over North Van. 

Burrard Inslet hosts a port lined with giant Erector Set dinosaurs. I mean cranes. 

Granville St. For Schwarma before the rowdy night crowds descend. For me, trips up there mean eating interesting food.


The famed steam clock in Gastown. 

Its innards. 

It was bone-chilling cold.  The lack of people wandering the streets, usually packed with tourists, reflected this. 

My brain was fully engaged in details. So much to take in – such as this mosaic floor. 

A tattered hotel sign. 

Lights everywhere. 

I’m not Irish. But I got a kick of the sign. 


Note the giant, puffy down jacket? 

Until the next city-fix-


Leave a comment

Wells Cathedral-Watch the 2nd oldest working clock known.

I miss England.  I really do.

A big post to write, this one was fun to research. Enjoy!

Wells, England is home to a magnificent cathedral. Next to it is the home of the Bishop of Bath and Wells since the 12th century. We arrived too late to take in that home’s tour but enjoyed a walk around the perimeter and its moat which, along with drawbridges, fortified them from angry taxpayers.  My first moat!  The cobbled streets and medieval buildings that line the town center it were wonderful to stroll.

Again, the theme here is aged sights, so new to me.

This west face is famed for the many niches filled with life-sized (or larger) sculptures, including standing and seated figures, half-length angels and narratives in high relief. Once painted in bright colors, flakes of paint that defiantly cling give clues to the original color scheme. Imagine the sight of color added.  Many lower level statues have been destroyed.

img_1846

How can one not stand under such structures and gape? It is in the Gothic Style, unusual as Norman churches from that time were usually built in the Romanesque style. Some think this was the first of the Gothic style built in Europe.

img_1802

Between Glastonbury and Bath, we stopped here for a leg stretcher on the way to the Cotswolds. The countryside was green and lovely.

img_1852

This Anglican church was constructed beginning in 1175 and  continued through 1490. It  replaced an earlier church built on the same site in 708.  The town was situated here for its natural springs which were thought to be medicinal. Remains of a Roman Mausoleum were unearthed on this site in 1980.

Wow.

img_1800

The nave.  See the odd-shaped arches below the crucifix?  The were installed in 1338 after it was noted two supportive piers sunk 4″ and a tower cracked.  This unusual solution used massive arches to brace the piers. Some call them Scissors Arches.  It’s since been stable.

img_1804

Compared to the more delicate structure they do stand out.

img_1814

Note that at one time the Nave’s walls were once brightly painted. Whitewashing happened  during the Reformation to cover up brightly painted walls considered inappropriate. Imagine the sight of those walls glowing as the sun streamed in through upper windows.  The “Great Scrape” happened in 1845, removing lime. Traces of red lead can still be seen.

This font in the cathedral’s south transept is from the original 705 church and is the oldest part left. Destruction from the Reformation knocked off carvings of angels.

img_1821

Memorial plates, set in the stone floor, often had the bronze harvested from them to pay for maintenance and upgrades in tough times, as these demonstrate below.

img_1813

These beautiful Miseriecords were wooden carved ledges that clergy could rest against after hours and hours of singing and recitation.  The brackets are ornate and lovely.  They date from 1330-40.  Of the original 90, 65 survive with most installed in the Quire. The Wikipedia page on this site has much better photos of these seats than I.

img_1828

The Quire is one of the oldest areas of the church and is where services happen now.  Daily services are still conducted and entrance is by donation only.  It takes 4500 pounds per day(!!!!) to maintain this treasure.   Local ladies,using plant-dyed wools, embroidered beautiful hangings of the various bishops’ coats of arms.  I enjoyed examining them. There was also a cat that dashed across our groups’ path. Apparently, the stray  adopted herself to the church some years ago and hasn’t left, and enjoys naps on the cushions.

img_1822

This cathedral is known for its outstanding collection of stained glass, some of it Medieval. The oldest surviving glass dates from the late 13th century. This window is (I think, but I’m not positive) the Jesse Window that survived destruction during the English Civil War due to its height. This was put up in 1340 and is one of 3 in the UK of its kind. It is in an area called the Lady Chapel on the east end.

img_1824

Some windows were smashed to bits. You can see in this up-close shot that this Medieval one was put back together willy-nilly, its original image lost but preserved in the upper part as they did not have ladders.

img_1830

Here is the ceiling of the Lady Chapel which was painted in Victorian times.

img_1831

Some capitals sport stories shared in carvings such as this moment in a collection of many clustered around a giant column. It tells the tale of an old and a young man who get caught stealing grapes. The young is able to run off and the old man is caught.

img_1819

Some capitals have delightfully creative, humorous carvings such as this person pulling a thorn from his foot.

img_1816

These capitals show a form of carving called the “stiff leave” style foliage. Our docent mentioned the masons were all local and the carving happened quite spontaneously, as builders would request the carving when needed.

A set of very worn stairs lead up to the Chapter House, started in the late 13th century and completed in about 1310.

img_1833

I could not take a photo of its entirety. Here’s one I’ve snagged from Wikipedia. Photo Credit:  User Diliff on WikiCommons. I can’t get the dang exact link text to copy and paste.

Isn’t it gorgeous!  There are 51 niches for clergy members to conduct the business of the church.

wells_cathedral_chapter_house_somerset_uk_-_diliff

It’s octagonal structure has a stunning ribbed vault supported on a single, central column of stone and marble.

img_1834

Blurry. But note the foliage was carved in a different style than on the capitals in the main building? The leaves are not “stiff.”

img_1835

More carvings top the capitals. I can’t help but wonder if the artists weren’t having a jest at the people who entered this chamber? The faces were quite silly.

img_1837

img_1839

Now for a real treat.  The Wells clock from 1390 is considered the second oldest original working clock in the world and the oldest with its original dials.  And we heard it.

Another I-can’t-believe-I’m-seeing-such-a-thing-moment happened for me.

There’s an hour, minute and month hand. Jousting knights gallop around the turret on each quarter-hour.  The figure above and to the right strikes bells on each quarter-hour with his heels and with a hammer on the hour, steadfastly for over 600 years.

My recording is not so great. There are better on YouTube you could look that up if you like.

img_1841

Such a beautiful piece of art!

img_1842

If you’re visiting this area, I can’t recommend it enough. We joined a free tour that was outstanding.  I’d take it again. And again.


Leave a comment

A Glorious Walk Through the Ceiriog Valley – Wales

Our Air BNB hosts in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog were well supplied with local walking maps and books. Needing a leg stretcher, we set off from the comfy home and walked a circuit along the bottom of the valley.

img_2042

One source I found calls this circuit walk, over 8 miles in total, “one of the most neglected and yet one of the most beautiful areas for walking in Wales, if not in Britain. This walk, based on the village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, makes a circuit of one of the hills around the village. It can be divided into three parts and is something of a sandwich, in that the start and finish are very easy and most beautiful, while the middle section is the most strenuous albeit with the widest views. There are lovely woods, old drove roads and the added attraction of absolute peace and quiet.”

img_2038

Looking back towards town from a high point of the walk:

img_2020

It was completely quiet. Not another soul we saw aside from a local woman who stopped and chatted with us when we walked past her home.

Sheep.  The bleats of sheet were our soul company. Skittish, they skirted around and avoided us.

img_2046 img_2037

The walk takes one through low, creek bottoms, woods and along pretty roads lined with knarled trees.

It was stunning. Everything I saw was beautiful. And I still head back there from time-to-time in my mind.

img_2027

We got lost. But we walked on, looking for signs and fence step overs, switching to a lovely drovers’ stone paved road. That made our way uphill to the single-lane road high above town where wound our way back down just drinking in the views.

img_2026

The wee town of Tregeiriog below:

img_2035

We had lovely weather. I started out overdressed, as usual. What looked like rain clouds at the start never emptied.

img_2028

Lowering light changes the shadows and quality of the light, something fun to watch.

img_2047 img_2031

And just because, a photo of a farm I snapped the day earlier, farther down the valley:

img_2069

What a day. What a glorious walk. How I miss those open fields, lines of hedges and trees, wide open views of rolling hills.

img_2055


4 Comments

Wales: Over the Hill to Llangollen

Peter has roots in Wales. His father grew up there and he spent time there as a child.  We took a side trip to Northeast Wales and stayed in the tiny village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, a stones throw from Llangollen where his grandmother lived.

Below, the valley, it was stunning – let’s leave it at that.

img_2040

We stayed in a sweet couple’s historic home (three cheers for Air BnB).

On our first day we drove (he drove, I gawked and hung on and begged to stop and photograph each sheep and each vista) through more quaint villages that skirt the Ceiriog Valley.

It’s not everyday you see a stout working horse commuting:

img_1969

Or a farmer moving sheep around:

img_2014

This area is know for a landscape suited to grazing and people having a strong sense of Welsh identity. I had the good fortune of walking past two men, sitting in chairs outside a cafe in Llangollen, speaking in Welsh.

Over one lane wide roads we went:

img_2012

This area was a notable crossroads of sorts for sheep drovers. Sheep seem to still be the main livestock.

img_2009

img_1974img_1971

Climbing up an impossible steep grade you exit the valley and drop down to the River Dee to the town of Llangollen. Seeing the home of his grandmother was such a treat as was the streets he ran about as a boy.

Once into Llangollen we poked around the narrow side streets (which I found more interesting than the main drag) and found the fish and chips spot Pete’s sister recommended. Man it was good!

Peruse the town’s website for a wonderful aerial photo and some history.

img_2001

Note the 1838 est. date on this bakery’s sign:

img_1996

Entertaining details abound:

img_1994

The river is a pretty vantage point to look back at the town.

img_1997

Pardon the blurry zoom of this iPhone photo.  The remains of the Castell Dinas Bran sits on a hill above town.

img_1989

We’re cat people. And this big, solid Tom took advantage of our attention. Peter’s sister informed me it is a notorious love-sponge.

img_1982

After a trip through town we headed back to the little village and had an outstanding supper.

img_2067

The next day, a helluva hike. More on that next.