Monday, 19 March 2018

Sophisticated tastes

We were going to have lunch in the garden centre café. It was heaving with people and had a long queue, and there was little on the menu that appealed. (My grandchildren are never very enamoured with the usual fare on the 'children's menus'.) However, M spotted an ice-cream van and so (on the grounds that life with Gran is meant to be an adventure and slightly naughty things are occasionally allowed), we had an ice-cream for lunch! (Plenty of fruit, veg and protein was consumed at other times during the day, no worries.) There were many products specifically aimed at children but, rather to my astonishment, she chose an Almond Magnum. You can see she enjoyed it and not a drop was wasted! She's a surprisingly neat eater for a small child.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Garden centre delights

Last Saturday, when I was over at my daughter's, I took my youngest granddaughter out for a few hours, to allow her mum a few hours of peace with the poorly older one. As it was raining quite heavily, we went to a local garden centre, a huge place full of many things to entertain and delight a three year old. It had trolleys designed as cars that the child could 'drive', so we had an entertaining time walking up and down the aisles with one of those. Once that palled, we explored the tropical fish section and were both hugely amused by the fancy goldfish. They had such funny faces.  There was aisle after aisle of statues, ornaments and toys for kids, dogs and cats, as well as all the actual plants. M was deeply interested in the stone chips used for mulch on some of the big pots. They came in different colours and varied shapes and she very carefully selected one and then proceeded to carry it round in her fist for the rest of the visit.

Outside in the car park there were a couple of vintage steam vehicles with lots of moving wheels, shiny pistons and a very loud steam whistle! The colourful one in my photo appeared to have been brought from Australia, according to its paintwork.

(Thank you all for the lovely comments yesterday.)

Saturday, 17 March 2018

More snow! and a milestone

More snow! We had another flurry of quite heavy snow late last week. It didn't last long but it came just at the time people were trying to get to work and school one morning and so it proved hugely disruptive all across this region. I was shocked to wake up to this view from my bedroom window, but at the same time very pleased to know that I didn't have to go out at all.  Loving this retirement phase of life  :)

I wasn't going to bother to post this photo but since then (and thankfully after the snow went) I've been at my daughter's, caring for the older of my two granddaughters, who finally and feverishly succumbed to the nasty flu-type bug they've all had. She's getting better now, thankfully, but it's rare that children have a fever for six days running, in my experience. Anyway, I hope that my family will get back to normal now that they have all had and recovered from the virus in turn. So far, I don't appear to have contracted it and I'm hoping I don't, despite several exposures to it. We grandmas rock!

I keep thinking winter must be over and I'll be able to get out and take some more springlike shots. I'm running very short of pictures. But no... we now have a forecast for more snowfall over this weekend. Sigh...

I have just noticed that I have now passed the '3000 blog posts' point. This is number 3005. Who'd have thought, way back in 2009 when I started, that I'd still be blogging some nine years later? Certainly not me. I had no idea that I'd find it such fun and such an absorbing hobby. Many thanks to all my blog friends, especially to all my long-term readers.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Warriors all

Although I took lots of photographs of Anthony Gormley's art installation 'Another Place' on Crosby beach when I first visited last year (see HERE), I could not resist a few more shots this time. The iron men look so different in different lighting conditions and according to the height of the tide. They are also being corroded by the sea as time goes on. Some of them are now tilted at drunken angles, as they have been shifted by the currents.

It was somewhat poignant to have seen China's Terracotta Warriors and the Iron Men in the same visit. They were conceived for very different purposes, over 2000 years apart and at different ends of the earth, and yet perhaps there are invisible threads connecting them.

'Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.'    Carl von Clausewitz

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Seaside shadows

A couple of shadow pattern pictures that I spotted whilst out in the sunshine by Crosby beach, near Liverpool.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Beside the seaside

I stayed once again with some friends near Liverpool, in a house that overlooks Crosby beach. We had a lovely beach walk, in the sunshine, though there was a biting wind. It's a refreshing novelty to have so much sky and light. Living in a valley, I'm used to the horizon being quite high up. You might just be able to see, in my photo, one of Anthony Gormley's Iron Men (see here) as well as the wind turbines out in the Mersey channel.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

62 Falkner Street

Recently on TV (BBC2) there was a wonderful programme called: 'A House through Time', presented by David Olusoga. It traced the history of a house in Liverpool: No 62 (formerly 58) Falkner Street, and the stories of its inhabitants from when it was built in the 1840s right through to the present day. Of course, I went to find the house.

Built as a home for a well-to-do merchant, when Liverpool was a great trading port for the British Empire, the presenter traced its owners and tenants and told their fascinating stories. There was a customs clerk with a taste for fine furniture and a lavish lifestyle, who went bankrupt; a young couple who rose from being servants, through hard work and clever financial deals, to having great wealth. There was a cotton broker who made a fortune from the slave trade, ended up in a debtors' prison and then fled to America, abandoning his family to the workhouse. Then it became a boarding house and there were many tenants, as the house and area (and Liverpool) suffered in the Great Depression. The series uncovered divorce, family violence, honourable people and ne'er-do-wells. The house was almost flattened by a bomb in Liverpool's Blitz during WWII and then almost demolished in the 1970s. Saved by an enterprising group of local activists, the house was converted into a home where creative people lived: a successful playwright and a young, gay restaurateur who died of AIDS/HIV in the 1980s.  Nowadays it is a single dwelling once again, home to a middle-class family, as the area has been cleaned up and gentrified. The research involved was amazing and I found it a most educational and enjoyable programme, a very painless way of learning history.

I hope they do another series about another house somewhere. If you get chance to watch the series, do. I'm sure it will be repeated sometime.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Liverpool doors

There is often something appealing about doors (and windows) and I like taking photos of them. Maybe it's wondering what lies inside or the fact that, although they all serve the same purpose, there are so many different designs. Even among those ostensibly similar, each one is unique. There are some grand old houses in Liverpool with grand old doors on them. Here are a few.

The door above belongs to The Hardmans' House, a property now owned by the National Trust. It is a Georgian house that was the home and studio of a 1950s society photographer. I'd have liked to visit but it was closed for the winter and anyway, as it's so small, one has to book ahead. 

For some reason, I'm particularly fond of yellow doors. I was going to paint my front door yellow at one time - until my mother told me the colour attracts flies and that put me off that idea!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Art in the Cathedral

Like most of our cathedrals, Liverpool holds some interesting art and sculpture and continues to invest in modern pieces. I very much liked the installation above. It honours former Bishop of Liverpool (and professional cricketer), David Sheppard (whom I mentioned yesterday), and bears the text from Jeremiah 29:7: 'Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you... and pray to the Lord on its behalf.' I've included the full description below, with apologies to those reading on phones! (Incidentally, the former Dean, Justin Welby, is now our Archbishop of Canterbury.)

The towering west 'Benedicite' window is stained glass designed by Carl Edwards. It has underneath it a pink neon sign that reads: 'I Felt You And I Knew You Loved Me.' That is a work called 'For You', by the artist Tracey Emin, first displayed in 2008 when Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture and now a permanent installation. 

On the exterior, above the West Door, is 'The Welcoming Christ', a huge bronze by Dame Elisabeth Frink, installed in 1993 and one of her last completed works.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Liverpool Cathedral

In complete contrast to the bright, light, Roman Catholic cathedral, Liverpool's Anglican cathedral is a huge, solid, sandstone edifice, the largest religious building in Britain. It was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott (grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott, the man behind many famous structures in London such as the Albert Memorial) and constructed between 1904 and 1978, progress made slow because of the impact of two World Wars on supplies and manpower and the heavy bombing of Liverpool in WWII, which damaged what had been built.

Inside it is dark, majestic and cavernous, with soaring windows, arches and pillars and a gothic influence. It is by no means my favourite cathedral in style but it has the capacity to inspire awe. David Sheppard, who was its Bishop from 1975 to 1997, worked tirelessly, along with the RC Archbishop, Derek Worlock, on issues of poverty and social reform and made a huge and lasting difference to the city of Liverpool. The two cathedrals stand tall on the skyline, at opposite ends of the (aptly named) Hope Street, almost giving the feel of guarding the city.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Modern stained glass

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral holds some wonderful stained glass, designed by the celebrated artists John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens (who also worked together on glass for Coventry Cathedral). The central circular lantern above the altar is particularly breathtaking, designed in three colours: red, blue and yellow, to represent the Trinity.

There are many panels of stained glass between the side chapels and within them too.

Traditional or modern, stained glass always appeals to me. The light patterns made when the sun shines through are sublime. Not much of that on the day I visited though. It was snowing, on and off, outside!

There are also some stained glass (or resin) panels outside the cathedral, lending some colour to the predominantly white concrete and Portland stone building.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Liverpool's modernist Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, is affectionately known as 'Paddy's Wigwam' as it looks very much like a great 'tent of meeting'. It was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd and constructed in the mid 1960s. The idea for a great cathedral to serve the large Irish Catholic population of Liverpool had been conceived in Victorian times and various plans were drawn up, some work even started, but each time finance became problematic and the plans were shelved. A design by Sir Edwin Lutyens for a huge building was terminated with only the crypt built, and this modern design sits on top of that crypt. This building itself has suffered from severe structural problems, so much so that the architect was sued. Nevertheless, to look at, if not to maintain, it is pretty awesome both without and within. 

The circular design has the great altar in the centre, under a baldachin like a crown, and there are small side chapels all around the perimeter, each different and boasting some beautiful modern art, stained glass and textiles. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Treasures of China

Here are some more of the artefacts that particularly caught my eye, displayed in the Terracotta Warrior exhibition. The figure above was (as far as I could see) the only depiction of a woman in the whole exhibition.  She and the figure of an infantryman below are from another tomb site, that of a general from the Han Dynasty (China's second Imperial dynasty, 206 BC to 220 AD ). They're about 12 inches high, not life-sized like the Qin figures, but they are exquisite.

The stunning jade disc, below, is also from the Han Dynasty. Its circular shape represents heaven and it is decorated with dragons. Discs like these adorned the coffins of high-ranking individuals, allowing the spirit of the deceased to travel in and out. 

Finally, a beautiful Qin bronze goose (life-sized) from the First Emperor's burial site. It is one of 46 birds discovered alongside 15 terracotta musicians in a pit, thought to represent an imperial garden for the enjoyment of the Emperor in the afterlife.

The Exhibition continues at the World Museum in Liverpool until 28 October 2018 and tickets are on sale online. Well worth a visit, if you can make it. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Terracotta Army

These are some of the other Terracotta Warriors from the burial site of China's First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. They were handmade by craftsmen, from thick coils of clay, with sculptural detailing added by hand. The life-sized figures were then fired in huge kilns, before being painted. (The paint pigment has mostly weathered away, only traces remain.) Each figure is unique in their facial features and styling. They represent different ranks: infantrymen, archers, generals, cavalrymen, charioteers. They were arranged in military formation in the tomb and originally held real bronze weapons.