Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Just a Country Boy?

Albert Lee
Imagine you're someone who's spent years trying to get a (recognisable) tune out of a guitar.

One day, you go and see this guy. Live. In the flesh.

Do you come out encouraged; filled with new ideas and determined to push the boundaries of what's possible with six strings and a lump of wood?

Or do you just say "What's the use......", and throw the thing in the bin........

Sunday, 22 April 2012

In a Country Churchyard....

I know I've not written anything for a while. Nothing to write about really. After all, if I'm going to be bored writing a post, then there's a fair chance that anyone reading it will be bored as well! But a couple of weeks ago, I was allowed out.....

And this is where I went. St Michael and All Angels church, Berwick, East Sussex. From the outside, quite conventional looking, but the inside is the real attraction......

Christ in Majesty, by Duncan Grant 1942.

We've been planning to visit Berwick church for a while. It's famous for it's murals, painted during the last war by the Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell. Incidentally, Vanessa Bell was the sister of the novelist Virginia Woolf, herself a resident of Rodmell, near Lewes. The Bloomsbury group were based at Charleston Farmhouse, a couple of miles down the road, and have become famous for their bohemian, unconventional lifestyle as well as their art. When you consider that Grant was a conscientious objector (during the first world war); it's difficult to know what the locals in this (predominately rural) area made of them. A quick look around any churchyard reveals many families who sent sons off to the Second World War, only for them never to return. Bearing this in mind, it seems an extraordinarily brave decision by Bishop Bell (no relation), to commission these murals in the first place. 

The Victory of Calvary, by Duncan Grant 1944.

In the original drawings for this mural, Jesus is shown naked, which was probably a step too far for even the most progressive bishop! He's shown here as a more effeminate figure than perhaps we're used to seeing.

The Nativity, by Vanessa Bell 1942.

In the above mural, Joseph was Mr Peter Durrant, a local farm worker, who had lost his left arm in an accident. The children were also local, and seem to be in their school clothes. By the time Vanessa Bell was painting this, her sister (Virginia Woolf) had taken her own life, and her son had been killed in Spain. 

Detail from Christ in Majesty.

In this photo, instead of the usual cherubs or angels, we have all three armed services represented; a reminder of the wartime backdrop to these murals.

Detail from Christ in Majesty.

And this one shows the Reverend George Mitchell, the Rector of Berwick at the time, and in the foreground Bishop Bell, the man responsible for the commissioning.

The last picture is taken looking south from the churchyard; perhaps the view is a clue to why the artists settled here in the first place. 

Apologies for the standard of one or two of the photos. For some reason, it feels a little wrong to take photos in a church, so I was reduced to frantically snapping away when no-one was looking! Not that the church seems to mind, it cheerfully exploits it's Bloomsbury connections. Should you want to know more, there's a terrific website here.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Still Got the Blues.....


I went to the Brighton Centre to see Joe Bonamassa on Friday. Thoroughly enjoyed it, he gives a great show. I'd parked in the car park just off the seafront, behind the Grand Hotel. These days, you have to pay at a machine before going back to your car. So I get to the ticket machine, and discover that there's only one working, so there's a queue. Luckily for me, I'd not hung about once the gig had finished, so there was only ten or twelve people in front of me. Even so, I was there over twenty minutes! And the woman in front of me had some trouble with it, so took ages. By the time I got there, I'd moved into the "over three hours" category (by about two minutes), and it cost me EIGHTEEN POUNDS!!!!!!! Upon leaving the car park, I had to drive past the queue, and by this time it was right down to the seafront!!!!  Mizzkay and I went to see the Moody Blues a few years ago, and it took us an hour to get out of the car park!!! Sometimes England can be a grotty little country.....

Monday, 21 November 2011

Music To Your Ears?

This is the wind turbine at Ringmer, East Sussex, built to supply power to the Glyndebourne Opera House. It's brand new, having been delivered only five or six weeks ago. As you can imagine, it's caused considerable controversy with the planning application and subsequent public enquiry rumbling on for years. Apparently, it's the first industrial scale turbine ever to be built in a National Park. The above picture was taken from three or four miles away, and from this distance it has a strange ghostly appearance. It was also taken with a zoom lens, so this one gives a better idea of the scale:

The turbine is built on a hill overlooking the village of Ringmer (three miles from Lewes), and the next picture is taken from the village.

I'd be the first to admit that it's not as lovely close up. But to my eyes at least, it's better looking than the pylon in the picture! 

And this one's from the site itself. It's 67metres from the base to the tip of the sails; if you can just make out the man in the dark jacket standing near the base, you get some idea of how huge it is! Glyndebourne claim that it will supply 90% of their electricity needs, and they promise to regularly publish the details on their website. It's not actually sited particularly close to the opera house, although presumably they own the land that it's on.

If I lived in Ringmer, I honestly think I could ignore it. I think it actually adds something, although that's more obvious from a couple of miles away. Some people say it will be very noisy, and that would be the only issue for me if I lived there. The sails were rotating slowly when I took these pictures (yesterday), and there wasn't a sound from it, but I have no idea if it's even working yet.

If you'd like to know more:

I'd love to know what you think......

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday #179

I took this last weekend at Sheffield Park, East Sussex. I just liked the way the dark shadow added to the autumn colours. Hope you like it.....

This is a Shadow Shot Sunday post.

Sepia Saturday 97.

This week's Sepia Saturday call features a group of children outside a school in Connemara, Ireland taken in 1890. I've something similar to share with you, so here it is:

There's only one problem. I'm not sure who they are! As it was in my parents collection, I'm assuming that there's some connection with the family. If you look at the middle of the picture, there's a girl with a black mark across her forehead.

I reckon that's my maternal grandmother, but I need some help with identification. So what do you think; is this the same girl?

Second from the right here.
 Still not sure? Try this one.

And on the left here....

If this is my grandmother, then the first picture would have been taken in Ireland as well. If she's six or seven in this photo, then it dates from around 1910.

She had a hard life, certainly to start off with. To the best of my knowledge she had three sisters and a brother, although I've been told that there were ten others, all of whom died in infancy. I know almost nothing about her early life, but the three surviving girls ended up living in Wales around the time my grandmother would have been in her teens. They were shipped off to Wales because of 'the troubles' in Ireland at that time, although I think it's unlikely they had any direct involvement. Their parents stayed in Ireland, the eldest sister (my Great Aunt Biddy) being given the role of mother. I've mentioned Auntie Biddy in a previous post, and to say she was a strong character would be an understatement! Perhaps she had to be; it can't have been easy for any of them.

As far as I know, my grandmother worked as a nurse.

I don't know if she was formerly trained, or whether she worked as an auxiliary. She married a Yorkshireman, but I've no idea how they met. I don't think it was a particularly happy marriage; although I was only seven when my grandfather died, that's certainly the impression I got, even as a young child.

I'd love to know more about her and her parents, but there's nobody left to ask. The Irish side of the family all do that thing where a child is christened with one name, and then spends the rest of it's life answering to another! My grandmother's name was officially Anne, but confusingly she was known to everybody as Nancy or Nance for short! So researching that side would be difficult, but I suspect it's the only way I will ever get to know anything.

And this is how I remember her.

And yes, that is me; laugh all you like, I was only four! 

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
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