Friday, 28 November 2008

St Davids Cathedral

St David is the patron saint of Wales. The cathedral built in his honour (in the city named after him) is spectacular. This is a view of the cathedral, as seen from the adjoining Bishop's Palace.

The Cathedral and the Bishops Palace.

A corbel of a woman's head - a queen by the look of that crown. This is to the left of the main entrance to the cathedral.

Her male partner is to the right of the entrance.

Inside the cathedral is a reliquary, said to contain fragments of the bones of St David and also St Justinian, amongst others.

The quality of the stone carving is wonderful.

The floor tiles are beautiful too. There is a random sampling of tile designs here.

The ceilings change as you move from one area of the cathedral to another. This is painted decoration.
And here is some beautiful carved stone tracery, with a coat of arms at the centre.

A similar ceiling, with a different coat of arms.

A spectacularly carved wood ceiling, with suspended figures. It was very late in the day, and the cathedral was quite dark when I took the photograph, which doesn't show much detail. the carving is very detailed, and like lace in places.

The stone arches are large and imposing. Each has a different pattern carved into the stonework of the arch.

The way out.

The cathedral also has a lovely refectory, where you can buy a light meal, a home made cake, and a good cup of tea or coffee. You can also spend some money in the adjoining gallery, where work made by Pembrokeshire artists is on display.

St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales

St Davids is Britain's smallest city, perched right on the edge of the ocean at the westernmost peninsula of Pembrokeshire. It is a city by virtue of having a spectacular cathedral, which would dominate the whole area if it were not located down in a little valley. Next to the cathedral is an equally splendid but somewhat more ruinous Bishops Palace. I will post pictures of these places separately. Although it is a city, it is quite a small place and feels like a small town or even a large village. The streets in the town centre are small, and ahve character, as most of the hosues are old. This street sign sums the whole place up for me - it is written in the two iofficial languages of Wales - Welsh & English. It is about religion, which is why St Davids exists, and it tells you that it is a city.

Many many visitors come to St Davids each year, and the small town can get very crowded, with places to park cars very hard to find. there are many interesting small gift shops and galleries, and lovely places to eat and drink. I had a fantastic meal in a small restaurant called 'Cwtch' a couple of nights ago, it's right up there in my top 20 places with great food and lovely atmosphere. 'Cwtch' is the Welsh word for a cuddle or a hug, or a 'safe place', or even a small place or hideaway hole to store things safely, like a cupboard under the stairs...

The city is surrouinded by beautiful countryside, and the quality of light in pembriokeshire is such that artists have been flocking to the area for years to capture it in paintings and photgraphs (which is why the town is full of galleries!).

The city is within the boundaries of the Pembriokeshire Coast National Park, andt the PCNP have just built a new visitior centre, called 'Oriel y Parc' (which translates as 'Gallery of the park') on the edge of the city. It has a lovely (if slightly shambolically run) cafe, two galleries filled with artwork form the Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum of Wales, displays, a shop and a tourist information centre. It's also a unique building, as you can see from the picture above. In between Oriel y Parc and the town centre, there is a new sone circle sculpture, seen below. Wales has many stone circles - some built by onknown people in the dim and distant past, soem built more recently as evidence that an Eisteddfod was held in this place. Eisteddfodau are annual festivals of Welsh culture, which are held in a different location each year.

I came across this beautiful door knocker whilst wandering, and saw the characterful ciottage door below in a neighbouring street.

And then I came upon a little mysetery - the mystery of the ladybirds. I saw one or two decorating a wall in a small lane between streets.

And some more adorning a garden gate....

And when I turned the corner into the street at the top of the lane, they were evident on several houses...

And finally, there was this spectacular display, which turned out to be on the home of the artist whose whim it had been to add ladybirds to the neighbourhood. They made me smile, and added a little character to this part of the city.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Roscoff, Brittany, France

Roscoff, on the north coast of Brittany, is a town of great character. It is a busy ferry port for travel between Britain and France - and I wonder how many travellers actually stop and look around the town. Like many ferry ports, I expect many travellers drive off the ferry and immediately travel as fast and as far away as they can.

If they do, they miss one of France's little treasures. Roscoff has many buildings with amazing stone carvings, beautiful gardens, a fabulous seafront and beach, an amazing footbridge, and at least one great restaurant - so good we ate there twice and didn't look to see if there was another! Here's a selection of the 40 or 50 pictures I took while I was there:

There are many old doors with character.

The church tower is lovely, and has an almost Islamic feel. Most Welsh church towers are square or are round steeples ending with a point! The pinkish granite is local stone, and it has a lovely, warm, appearance.

This is a carving to the left of a window on a house on the main street. It looks like a sea monster with a lighthouse in his hand. As lighthouses are a feature of the area but have only been around for the last couple of hundred years, I suspect he is newer than he appears at first sight.

This is the carving to the right of the same window. It is a depiction of a 'Johnny Onions' - many Roscoff men who travelled to Britain in the 1800s, 1900s and to a lesser extent, the 2000s, to sell locally grown onions to customers in the UK, were called Johnny Onions. One still travels to my home town in Wales to sell his onions every year.

Click on the photo to enlarge it - you can see this building is still displaying all the strings of onions, which were added to the front during the annual Roscoff onion festival.

Some boats in the harbour. This is not the original harbour, neither is it the main modern port, it is the second small harbour built for the town, and it is very picturesque.

This was my hotel bedroom wall - what a pleasant surprise!

I ate out in 'Le Surcouf', a wonderful little restaurant. The food was excellent, and the decor was relaxing. The 2 gentlement at the table next to mine ordered the 'seafood platter' (minimum 2 persons, which is why I didn't have it), and they graciously allowed me to take this picture when they were half way through eating it.... Truth be known, I wanted to join them; I love seafood!

These small daisy flowers were growing wild on many walls and in lots of corners. They added to the beauty of Roscoff.

The sundial on the church wall, along with a stone carving.

The church roof interior; the barrel shaped roof with supporting trusses is typical of the churches in this part of France,.

The stair to the pulpit is beautifully and ornately carved wood.

The altar is just stunning.

And so was the sunset....

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Bretons & Hydrangeas

Well, I was always led to believe that Hydrangeas come in pink or blue, and that the colour is determined by the acidity of the soil they grow in.

And then I went to Brittany.... I saw all sorts of different hydrangeas. There were beautiful and unusual colours, lace caps and blowsy round heads of flowers, cone shaped heads of flowers, small flowers, large flowers, and all were beautiful. Here are a selection to admire.

The colours of this one weren't captured by the camera - there were deep greens and reds blending together in this flower.

This was absolutely massive. The leaves were the normal size. Compare the flower head to some of the others, using the leaves as a 'size guide'.

This was such a delicate shade of mauve, fading to blue.

The individual flowers making up the flower head were mostly much smaller and more blue than any others I have seen. And then there was the paler larger flower, right in the middle!

This colour was stunning, deeper blues and greens in real life than the photo shows.

This was more of a cone shape than a sphere, and the bush was much taller and less rounded. Lovely creamy flowers with pink blushes.

This was intense purple with deep pink highlights.

Beautiful ivory cream colour.

From a distance, these looked deep reddish purple. When you got close each flower was deep red bending through to deep greeny blue. And the camera shows them as red!

You can see how the flowers combine red and green on this one.

And blue, purple and green on this one - again the image is lighter than the real thing.

I have never seen so many beautiful Hydrangeas. They have never caught my attention or imagination before this holiday, but the range of shapes and sizes and depth of colour have made me interested in finding out more about Hydrangeas, and trying to acquire a stunning one for my own garden.