Monday, 17 August 2015

Our Cherished Albums

After a days antiquarian perambulations, we Ragged Ramblers like to thumb through some of our favourite Long Playing stereo records and relax of an evening, transported to a better place by the exquisite music. Here are some of our most cherished albums:

'Dorothy Sings Squires' is a delightful musical journey incorporating electric spoon percussion and yodelling, punctuated by some subtle dub beats. Marvellous!

 'Where Will I Shelter My Sheep?' is a unique blend of traditions, bringing the gutteral rasps of a Norfolk sheep botherer, Murdo Fluckett, together with the ethereal chorus of an oriental Geisha duo. The result = Marvellous! 

'The Galileans' need little introduction really. Since bursting onto the East Anglian Holiday Camp circuit during the late 1950s the Galileans have consistently confounded audiences seeking quality entertainment. Who can forget their triumphant performances in East Norfolk in the summer of 1971 that were captured in the legendary cassette known as, 'The Hemsby Sessions'? Marvellous! 

Friday, 7 August 2015

A Perambulation of Cahors Cathedral

Here is the west front of the cathedral in Cahors in the south of France

Stepping within, my attention was seized by the medieval wall painting high up  on the interior west walls. 

Looking towards the east, I took this photo with the water in the font offering offering reflections. 

Cahors Cathedral has two huge domes, one of which is pictured here. Personally, I like the fact that it is an imperfect circle. 

The east end of the cathedral presented an impressive display of stained glass. 

Whereas most of the side chapels where a bit too buffed up for my liking, I admired the shabby grandeur of this one. 

Finally, back outside, there were some outstanding corbels to admire...

The Master Mason who carved this one really knew what he was about! 

It was fantastic to ramble a while through southern France, but I have to say, I did miss a good pot of tea. Now I'm back I will endeavour to brew up some more delectations to share with you here. 


Sunday, 3 May 2015

St Clement, Burnham Overy

Having visited St Clement's at Burnham Overy on the north Norfolk coast on a number of occasions I was excited to be back. Entering the graveyard I paused to look at the church elevated on its hillock. Fringed against a lovely blue sky interspersed with roaming clouds, it looked like a permanent part of the landscape. However, as we know, churches - like everything else - are subject to change. So, in Norman times it would have been a cruciform church with transepts. The substantial squat tower dates from that period. 

Walking up the path I was pleased to note an early 18thC gravestone memorialising Isaac Overman in the most rustic of lettering. I had to wonder if it was a palimpset; possibly previously part of a medieval mensa (altar slab)?

Walking into the church my eyes fell upon this - presumably 15thC - St Christopher. 

The chancel is a wonderful space, full of golden sunlight and atmosphere. On the right is the narrowest of aisles. 

Stepping over some cherubic angels my graffiti radar went off as I noticed a lovely dedication etched into the glass.

From where I stood I could hear fragments of a conversation taking place between my travel companions, Mr Many Coats and Aunty Gary, followed by sniggers and guffaws.

Curious, I ambled back into the nave and looked up at the object of their amusement - a lascivious, leering lion and its privvy part. This is, we assume, what is meant by a Lion Rampant!

Stepping back into the sunlight I enjoyed a slow walk around the church and looking up, noticed the fossilised gable with the steep pitch characteristic of a thatched roof of the long demolished Norman transept. 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Bells of Blue

Oh what a wonderful wander we had among the bells of blue at Stratton Strawless today. This open woods event is very dear to Ragged Ramblers' hearts, it traditionally being the curtain raiser to the Ramblers summer season. 

Oh what slabs of cake we consumed, so moist of crumb and delectable! What tea we sipped to slake our thirst. I bought a rubber pig and an old ink well with a lid resolutely rusted into place. I also acquired this small tome...

It's 'Norwich: a sketch book' by E.V. Cole. However, the owner has added this pleasing little ink drawing of Pull's Ferry - a lovely personal touch. There are also some little pencil studies in the marginalia...

For me, the only thing that soured the day slightly was the appallingly inappropriate behaviour of my solicitor, Tony Spunk. I won't sully your day by describing his antics and utterances. Instead, I shall dwell upon those bells so blue...

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Gadzooks, it's Queen Victoria!

With great expectation, Mr. Many Coats and I cantered into St John the Baptist Church, Stiffkey. At first, we thought we were alone. However, we soon noticed a small figure sitting at the front of the church with their back to us. Hesitantly, we made our way to the chancel and when we turned to look at the person sitting there we were... we were - AMAZED!

There, before us, sat Queen Victoria herself! 

Although we were a little tentative at first, she was actually very approachable and allowed us to photograph her without complaint. We seized upon the opportunity, realising as we did that only this visual evidence would persuade the sceptics that this was really happening.

Queen Victoria talked amiably as she made her way down the nave aisle and, pausing by the font, began to take in the scent of the flowers placed upon it. I was astonished at how short she was - I mean, really tiny!

Having enjoyed the heavenly scent of the blossom she slowly made her way to the porch entrance. All seemed to be going well until Mr. Many Coats - who had been eating boiled eggs all morning - let out a rasping fart from just behind her. If the sound had offended her ears, the stench that followed it was beyond a mere breach of Royal ettiquette. The fact that this was emitted at her head height can only have compounded matters!

"Ever so sorry marm. Just a small tummy shame" said Mr. Many Coats. 

However, the deed was done and it was time for us to leave...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sir Munchmellow Cubely-Blunder

One of our esteemed members has been kind enough to share this mid-seventeenth portrait of his relative, Sir Munchmellow Cubely-Blunder, with us here on the Ragged Ramblers blog. In his days at Cambridge Munchmellow earned the nickname of 'Thud & Blunder!' in recognition of his huge losses at the cubes (dice) and for his tendency to suddenly collapse with a thud when asked to do anything that required logical thought. What a fine gentleman! Huzzah!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

St Nicholas, Castle Hedingham, Essex

At the weekend a small party of Ragged Ramblers visited Castle Hedingham. For one of us this had a special meaning as it was the village where they spent part of their childhood. Here are some photographs we took on the day. 

What a sight! This is a fascinating church in a wonderful setting. Much of the fabric of this church dates from the early 12th century. That 'wheel window' is certainly eye-catching! 

Phantasmagorical figure above the porch entrance.

We noted this curious creature forged in metal on the south door. Is it meant to be a boar - one of the symbols of the early patrons of this church, the de Vere family? According to some this door was once covered by the flayed skin of an executed criminal, but we remain sceptical about this.  

A Norman cushion-stoup which, curiously, features the carving of a cat that is upside down. This made us speculate as to whether this was re-used. 

This crudely carved figure is set into the south wall of the Lady Chapel and looks, stylistically, to be Norman. 

Nice view of the Norman apse, illuminated by the wheel-window, above. 

The heavily restored 15th century rood screen features a fantastic array of carved faces and creatures. 

Beautiful late Norman capitals.

Lion with lolling tongue, carved under the misericords (literal translation = 'mercy seat')

Fragment of a wall painting.

An accomplished 15th century hand inscribed this graffito into the surround of stairwell door in the west tower.

These appear to be masons' marks carved into the quoins of the buttresses. 

Rabbit Archaeology

Earlier today I returned to the site of the Roman town, Venta Icenorum, at Caister St Edmund near Norwich. My particular interest was in some Roman middens (rubbish dump) which rabbits continue to inadvertenly excavate. Although it's a little late in the season, and the nettles are growing rapidly, I did manage to get my hands on a range of material. Here are some photos:

Oyster shell - a staple of the Roman diet

Bone with evidence of tooling marks

Roman pottery - rim of a vessel

Roman pottery - fragment of base of a vessel