Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Well Dressing

This week is our village Well Dressing and above is the well dressed by the local Guides. They chose to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's book 'Alice in Wonderland'. The characters are based on the original illustrations by John Tenniel.

The main well dressing commemorates the granting of Magna Carta at Runnymede on June 15th 1215 where it was sealed - not signed - by King John and witnessed by twenty five barons. Magna Carta or The Great Charter was drawn up after a rebellion by the barons because the king had demanded heavy taxes to finance his unsuccesful wars in France. It enshrined the rights, privileges and liberties of the nobles and clergy and limited the power of the Crown.

Magna Carta was written in medieval Latin on parchment made from dried sheepskin and the words were often abbreviated to save space on the parchment. Many copies were made and sent out to bishops and sheriffs all over England. Only four of these copies survive, two in the British Library, one in Lincoln and one in Salisbury. I've seen the one in Salisbury Cathedral and it's much smaller than I'd imagined. It's an iconic document and inspired the American Declaration of Independence of 1775 and the 1948 UN Charter for Human Rights. Only three of the original clauses in Magna Carta are still law. One defends the freedom and rights of the English church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, and the third paved the way for trial by jury by stating that no man could be arrested, imprisoned or have their possessions taken away except by “the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land”

This is the seal of King John who was the younger brother of Richard the Lionheart. John succeeded to the throne of England after Richard's death in 1199. John is also of course the villain, along with the Sheriff of Nottingham, in all the stories of Robin Hood. So there we are - that's the end of today's history lesson:)

Friday, July 03, 2015

Madrid Again

On Sunday morning we took the train back from Granada to Madrid arriving early in the afternoon. The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking and relaxing. Our flight home was late on Monday afternoon so we checked out of our hotel early but we were able to leave our luggage there until mid afternoon when a taxi would collect us and take us to the airport. We decided to walk up to Retiro Park again and spend some time exploring the areas we hadn't yet seen. The photograph of the Royal Palace was taken at 7.50am on our way to get breakfast.

Chocolate and churros for the last time:) Just as well with all those calories!

This is the Puerta del Sol - the very heart of Madrid. The Puerta del Sol means Gate of the Sun and it was where one of the gates in the city wall that surrounded Madrid in the 15th century stood. The statue of King Charles III and the Tio Pepe sign are famous landmarks. Charles III reigned from 1759 to 1788 and was generally a good egg who tried to do his best for his country.

I love this bronze statue of the Bear and the Madrone Tree which have been the symbols of the city of Madrid since the 13th century.

The sculptured shapes of these trees really appeals to me in this setting though I wouldn't want them in my garden. They need a lot of space around them to be seen at their best.

This is the formal part of the Retiro with lots of colourful bedding plants and specimen trees. The building in the centre right at the far end is the Prado Museum.The park covers about 320 acres and in the 17th century when a royal palace stood on the site only the Royal Family were allowed to use it.It was opened to the public in the 18th century.

The boating lake is popular with both tourists and local people. The enormous Alfonso XII monument dates from 1922.

Retiro is filled with statues, monuments and many lovely fountains both large and small.

This is the Crystal Palace which stands by another lake in the Park. It was built in 1887 and was originally used to house exotic plants but these days it houses temporary exhibition.

Aren't these trees fabulous? I wish I knew what they are.

We walked all round the lake enjoying the autumn colours and the ducks, there were turtles sunning themselves as well. On the far side there was this little grotto and waterfall.

If you walk further round you can look out through the grotto and across the lake.

As we walked back through the Paseo del Prado we saw these figures in period costume leaning over the balconies gossiping and watching the crowds go by. Rather fun:)

Back in the Plaza de San Miguel we had a late lunch at our favourite little eating place - The Secret Garden. We discovered it on our first day in Madrid, the food is excellent and it's right next to the Mercado San Miguel handy for last minute purchases of chocolates:) We really enjoyed our visit to Spain and I would love to go back again one day especially to Andalucia.