Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Memorial to Heroic Self-sacrifice

Just around the corner from the Museum of London is one of my favourite places in the city. Situated in Postman's Park is Victorian artist, George Frederick Watts' Memorial to Heroic Self-sacrifice. 

Situated underneath a humble roof are beautifully glazed tiles that tell stories of ordinary people's remarkable bravery. Well worth a diversion to go and see this!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Lost in a Moment

Norwich Cathedral cloister: a wonderful place for quiet reflection; to solve it through walking. There was a stunning play of light and shadow as I stood on the top of the steps and stared, lost in the moment...

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Wenhaston Doom

Towards the end of my perambulation of the county of Suffolk yesterday, I made a point of stopping off at the village of Wenhaston to visit an old friend. Walking into the church of St Peter, there it was before me - the Wenhaston 'Doom'. Although I have been privileged to gaze upon this medieval treasure on many occasions, it never fails to excite me. 

As with so much of our medieval material church culture, this is a miraculous survivor. To think that if it had not rained heavily on one night in the late nineteenth century this would have been burned to ashes on a bonfire! 

Having originally formed the tympanum, occupying the church's chancel arch, it had been decided to remove it as part of a restoration in the 1890s. At the time, it appeared to be a plain whitewashed panel of eleven old planks. As such, it was decided to remove it and the discarded boards were piled up to form a bonfire in the churchyard. However, overnight the rain fell. By the next morning enough of the water-soluble whitewash had been washed away to reveal glimpses of the original painting, thereby sealing its survival.  

Probably painted during the early sixteenth century, this rustic painting depicts scenes from the last judgement, from the jaws of hell to the weighing of souls.  As Miri Rubin has observed, it is significant that in this depiction the souls selected for salvation are a minority. For, say, an early sixteenth rural labourer looking up at the naked, tremulous king and cardinal facing judgement, how satisfying it must have been to know that worldly pride and hierarchy meant nothing in the hereafter. 

The Wenhaston Doom offers us an important glimpse into the lost world of the pre-Reformation English medieval church. It is not a great work of art - far from it! However, it is a scene familiar to medieval congregations in 'ordinary' parish churches and, as such, is representative of thousands of similar examples that were lost during the long process of the Reformation. 

And yet, at its centre, there is an absence. Where the carved figures of the crucified Christ flanked by the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist once stood, there remains a blank. Most likely the figures on the rood (or 'perke' as Suffolk folk would have known it) perished in the flames that so very nearly claimed the whole piece several centuries later. The Reformation played out in humble settings such as this - that is the story at the heart of this survivor. 

A photograph can only convey so much. If you ever have the opportunity, go see it for yourself. Time spent here will reward you well as you feel the weight of the history behind this remarkable insight into late medieval life. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

When darker days give way to light

Softly dappled blues and green
Spring's caress can be seen
Thoughts of warming sunlit walks
Friendly company, fervent talks

Wending, winding, wonder and wander
Enjoying moments, rambles to ponder
Can we wait for spring to arrive?
No, can we have it now please!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Sunday, 18 January 2015

A winter woolly

Quite often, in the winter months, Ragged Ramblers use the opportunity of dark nights and cold days to spruce up the wardrobe.
There's nothing quite like a knitted cardigan with fine diamond patterning and polished wooden buttons.
Here, one of our number is modelling an example knitted by none other than Aunty Gary during his usual extended lunch break.
"You see, it's all in the twist" he explained. " I like to ensure everything is twisted and then it can't go wrong."
"Balls, twisted balls. That way when you knit, it keeps tight and helps you get your needles in and your pearls don't drop."

I must say that I haven't the foggiest what he's on about, but rarely do we ever.

I will endeavour to post more of the Rambler's unique styles here to share with the world.
It is hoped to have an exclusive of the Gunton Dandy's cape, monocle and tweed bowtie.
Speak soon. What.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Yomp Around Heydon Village

Here are some visual snippets taken during a recent yomp around the village of Heydon in north Norfolk...

© Ragged Ramblers 2015

Afterwards, we enjoyed tea and a slice of delicious cake in what I (Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq.) know to be the finest tea shop I have ever had the pleasure to frequent, The Heydon Village Tea Shop


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Shopping In ROYS With Aunty Gary

We have recently been inundated with mail from our public demanding more insights into Ragged Ramblers cult figure, Aunty Gary. Thus, it was too good an opportunity to miss when I happened upon him earlier today in the Magdalen Street area of Norwich and he mentioned that he was about to go shopping in ROYS store - one of Norfolk's unique institutions. 

Having heard Aunty regale us with tales of the wonders of ROYS on many occasions I felt a tingle of anticipation as we made our way into the store. 

Entering, my nostrils were filled with an overwhelming scent of industrial rubber as we wended our way towards the extensive shoe and slipper section. 

A blur of greys, blues and brown

Gary talked me through the form and function of the slipper range, speaking - as he always does - with almost maniacal authority about 'piping' and other such wonders, before finishing with the following statement:
"Not a natural fibre in sight."

And with that, he was off (and with such verve and velocity that the image above is blurred at the edges!). In what seemed an instant we were in the bread section.

Aunty Gary is a discerning shopper and took his time to scrutinise the bread with the greatest of care. I know you'd like to know what his favourite loaf is, but I'm afraid that I can't tell you that for fear that avid fans will come and buy up all the available white sesame bloomers in a misguided act of homage to dear old Aunty. 

Wandering a little, we paused by a packet of vivid yellow 'Shrewsbury Butter Biscuits' as Aunty Gary began to share some of the paradoxes of his unfathomable mind with me... 
"You see, although I am often able to do quite complicated things, the simple tasks are a mystery to me." He then paused and, looking unusually pensive, continued - "I can't scramble eggs. My mother showed me on many occasions how to do it and yet I could never grasp it..."


"Microwave?" thought I, perplexed at the unexpected interjection of a woman's voice projected - it transpires - from a distant aisle.

Re-orientating myself, I realised that this had been spoken by member of the ROYS staff. In no time at all she was engaged in a step-by-step explanation about how to make scrambled eggs in a microwave. Aunty Gary appeared, ostensibly, to comprehend it, but I suspect the well-intentioned advice was actually wasted on him. I ended the dialogue with the following observation:
"You don't get this kind of service in Tescos that's for sure!" And I meant it. 

Next on the agenda was a search for milk. Aunty strode purposefully in the direction of the dairy section, but upon arrival was at a loss as to its whereabouts. I decided to act and, seeing a young staff member, I decided to approach him and enquire about the location of the cow juice...

"Do you know where the crabs used to be?" began the eager young pup, going onto explain that it had been moved (funnily enough, to where the crabs used to be!). He very generously offered to escort us to it, but Aunty Gary intervened explaining that he was well acquainted with the former layout and would be able to navigate our course. 

With Persil tablets and a pint of milk in hand we made our way to the check-outs and Aunty Gary completed his purchase. At this point you may well be thinking that this fascinating voyage of discovery was at an end - but you'd be wrong! You see, in Aunty Gary's world there are always unexpected delights to discover. Thus, with a semi-conspiratorial air he beckoned me to join him as he began to peruse the store's Free Ads board near the store exit. 

"Aunty, this is comedy gold-dust!" I spluttered as I began to read the ads. 

'Box of Buttons £5'
'Burgandy Disable Scotter..."

'Cosy bus route'?
So there you have it. What an absolute privilege it was to gain such an intimate insight into the world of Aunty Gary. I have to confess that my previous experience of ROYS had left me rather traumatised, having got disorientated and found myself wandering - in a Father Ted-esque manner - in the (older) Ladies Underwear section. However, Aunty has opened my eyes to a whole world of wonder. It is a world that, I believe, historians of the future will be baffled by. To have walked amidst the beige and grey clothing; to have breathed in the industrial rubber of the Shoes section; to have stood and marvelled at the snippets of people's lives revealed through their small ads... this is the wonderful minutiae of a world that will soon pass -  a world trapped in aspic. 


Addendum: I do here resolve that before 2015 has passed we will have a Ragged Ramblers expedition to ROYS of Wroxham, and bring you our 'take' on the mysteries of a town like no other. 

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq. ~

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


You see, it's an Antiquarian's right of passage when one becomes a Society Rambler, to have good quality slippers.
Imagine the excitement.
Waking up, breakfasting on English muffins and poached egg, reading the daily Trumpington Bugle and preparing one's attire to stroll up city.
With a pocketful of coinage and delicious expectation, slipper hunting is on.
Gazing through product adorned windows, eyes darting, flitting and searching for the perfect pair.
Leather uppers, rubber soles, tufted cotton, suede, tartan, tweed, printed, brown, cream, white, racing green, red, blue, corduroy, foam, flat, heels, open toed, buckles - Colonel Hampton's (deceased) teeth by Jove, what is a Ragged member to choose.
A pair says a lot about the Antiquarian.

One esteemed member has a number of pairs for specific locations throughout his abode.
One for indoors downstairs, one for upstairs, one for the kitchen, one for outdoor whilst crossing the patio to the shed, one for in the shed. Trouble ensues though, when encountering the stairs. Does one wear the downstairs pair to the upstairs pair or wear the upstairs pair to the downstairs pair. A recent conundrum posed to the Society via handwritten mail, heralded a genius answer - "buy a transition pair Sir!" A pair to go up and down in to arrive at the waiting pair in either location. Gads man there are some brilliant minds in the collective.

There are some miscreant pretenders to be found at the footwear purveyors though. Namely sock slippers! What ever possessed the human race to even conjure such ill- conceived monstrosities. Socks with little lumps of squidgy substances bonded to their soles to pretend to be slippers! No! Stand up for real slippers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my newspaper