Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy New Year!


Happy new year!

Sorry if I haven't visited you lately -  we've all picked up a bug which started by plaguing the twins. They then passed it on as their noses dripped over everyone.  You mix 'n' match runny nose, eye infection, ear ache, sinus problem, severe headache, cough, diarrhoea - just try each of them for a day or two - and are we having fun yet??   It's not so very terrible,  but you feel tired and ill all the time. It seems to run for a couple of weeks so we're probably near the end of it by now.

Just before Christmas I travelled up to York with T and young S. to research a travel article. It is one of my favourite cities and I was glad it also suited S, who is now well into teenagerhood.  I'd planned to do a post about it before Christmas but just after we got back, York was flooded. So I'll write the article - and do another post - a little bit later.

Still, I'll share a few images of our time at York Minster, which as far as I can tell, has not been flooded.   We climbed to the top of the tower via a narrow spiral staircase, with wind booming around us in the most dramatic way. There was, as you can see above,  a fine view of the old city lit up by sunshine, spread around us.  I do find huge medieval cathedrals amazing.  S. thought so too, and wanted to spend hours looking around the Minster, including the crypt exhibition of how the tower nearly fell down 50 years ago, And, of course, we could not miss the chance to climb to the top

It's astonishing what skill and dedication it took to create these huge cathedrals. Imagine those who built it, people who lived in thatched mud cottages, and used ox-drawn carts and hand tools, looking around the cathedral with satisfaction sometime between 1361 and 1405 when the choir below was built. Imagine designing, building and erecting that towering stonework beyond...   



Or making and fitting the stained glass...


It's great. And more about York later. 

This bug didn't hit us till Boxing Day, and if I was a bit tired at Christmas itself, it didn't matter since G did all the cooking and K hosted everyone at her place.  On the 29th December, we went to St. Pauls Cathedral to see a vintage fire-engine drive-by. It was commemorating those who died in the huge blitz that devastated the area 75 years ago, but famously left St Pauls standing.  A few old people I've spoken with actually remember this event.  One of our relatives went there the next day because her dad worked nearby and he was checking to see if his office had been destroyed (it had). Another old guy recalls how freezing cold it was, with everything rimed with ice.... 


Now, St. Pauls looks good...



The rebuilding around it includes the old Temple Bar gate (below). This had stood near the cathedral for many years when but when it started causing traffic jams in the 1870s, Henry Meux, a wealthy brewer, took it to his country estate and rebuilt it as an ornament.   There, it mouldered for over 100 years until it was brought back to London and re-erected in 2004.  It is now a pedestrian arch only.


We waited about an hour in the freezing cold to see the fire appliances. They eventually trundled along, bells clanging, brass and bumpers glittering, all staffed by firemen in vintage uniforms.  It was strangely touching to see how small they were. Those who fought the bombs so bravely with such inadequate equipment deserve to be remembered, too.  So thanks to the volunteers who keep these old engines going.





So - two very different cathedrals in one week.   I really like to be reminded about the fortitude and inspiration that caused them to be built in the first place - a good thought for the New Year.  

72 comments:

  1. York is one of my favorite English cities, second only to London.

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  2. Well, I have been the luckiest of souls in that I have not had a single cold or illness of that nature for over two years!! When I get these, I usually get really sick and eat and drink too much to reward myself for the pain. So I will just send you wishes for good health and pardon my not shaking your hand.

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    1. I didn't have colds for ages, and I think it's being in close contact with young kids that brings them on. Still, they're worth it ...

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  3. This was an interesting post, Jenny; inspiring, touching, informative - all at the same time. Thank you very much for that!
    I found the pictures of York Minster very interesting, especially as I didn't really go inside the year before last when we there in the summer and found that they charged 10 pounds admittance.
    Like you, I am most impressed by such works of art, and even more so in the light of the time and circumstances in which they were erected.
    Your mention of the blitz made me think of "Life After Life", a book by Kate Atkinson which talks a lot of that time and the way London people dealt with it. You commented on my review, I think you had not read yet then. Maybe by now you have?
    Hope you'll all be well soon again!

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    1. Yes, I agree that the ten pound charge is offputting, although if you are going to pray or to a service then I believe you can go in free. It is well worth the money to see around it, as it also has a couple of very good exhibitions. Yes, I have now read "Life after Life" and it did grip me all the way through. I love Kate Atkinson's books and she's just won a major prize (forget which one) with her latest, which I have not yet read.

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  4. Mind boggling is too trite. This all stirs the soul and is a testament to human ingenuity and human endurance.

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    1. Sometimes these places transcend words.

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  5. Happy New Year, Jenny - I hope you have a healthier start to the new year. And I agree - it's astonishing what ordinary people were able to build, without a computer or even machine-cutting-tool in sight.

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  6. What a lovely and touching post today.
    So very special.
    On my my trips to the U.K. I could have spent forever in any church.
    From big to small.
    Many years ago I read "The Pillars Of The Earth" I was amazed.
    Hope you all will be feeling better soon.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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    1. I have not heard of the Pillars of the Earth and I will look it up. I'm really glad you liked this post, Parsnip.

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  7. Lovely photos and great reminders of the achievements of mankind. How brave of you to stand in the cold to watch the fire engines. They look so quaint now, but did such a proud job!

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    1. Just overwhelming. The more I hear about the Blitz the more terrifying it sounds.

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  8. I hope everyone is well soon. Sounds similar to what I had for over a month--awk!
    Beautiful pics. Happy New Year! :)

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    1. Glad you seem to be on the mend now, Rita. It is indeed a miserable bug.

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  9. Families really should not try to be so close when it comes to sharing sickness.

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    1. But you tell that to people of two years old ... !!

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  10. Happy New Year, Jenny! I'm sorry to hear that you've been battling such a nasty illness - it seemingly takes forever to recover from such things. The photo atop the tower is magnificent, and - of course - I'm always in awe of majestic cathedrals. I love that vintage fire-truck!

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    1. And although I didn't put in all the photos, the fire trucks were all a bit different from each other. I found it fascinating.

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  11. York Minster cathedral is a beauty! It reminds me of a book I read recently - Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I appreciate cathedrals much more since I read that novel.

    I hope that you recover 100% from that virus very soon.

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    1. Ah, another person who mentions Pillars of the Earth! (see Parsnip's comment, above) For sure, I must get hold of that book.

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    2. I read it many years ago, too, and can highly recommend it. Afterwards, I felt as if I would now be able to build a cathedral with my own hands, I learned so much from thar book.

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  12. Winter and illnesses seem to go hand in hand. Hope you are all feeling better by now!

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    1. Thank you, mostly better, which is a whole lot nicer than "mostly not better"

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  13. Two very different, but wonderful, cathedrals. Having lived in Salisbury, for twenty fve years before retiring, I learned to appreciate the magificence of its cathedral, and, as a trainee teacher in Lincoln in the early 70s, I was awestruck by its cathedral’s majesty. You don’t have to be religious to find yourself feeling ‘spiritual’ when you step inside.

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    1. I often find that in small country churches too, which may be less magnificent but can also speak.

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  14. Beautiful
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  15. Wow, such interesting places. Your spots are always so entertaining, and your photos bring out so much in every shot. I do hope you're all on the mend! Take good care.

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  16. A blessed and beautiful Happy New Year to you and everyone you love, and good health as well! Every time i see a huge old building, erected before we had the technology and equipment we have now, i have to admire the fortitude and endurance it took to accomplish that.
    Love the old fire-fighting equipment.

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    1. For me it is almost unimaginable. I suppose people lived their whole lives and might never see the cathedrals finished, but what an achievement when they finally were.

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  17. And a very Happy New Year to you, Jenny...I hope 2016 treats you and yours kindly. And I hope the bug has de-bugged itself!

    My apologies, too...I've only today (4th January) discovered a comment you left on my post of 22nd November, 2015. I don't know how I missed it...but I have now responded...on said post. :)

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    1. Thank you Lee! I'm simply terrible at responding to posts although I do my best, so please don't apologise! !

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  18. I'm so sorry you've been I'll. I'm glad you were okay until after Christmas. Lovely photos as always. Happy new year to you, and get well soon!

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    1. Thanks! :) I too am glad that christmas wasn't spoiled by this, for any of us.

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  19. Happy New Year! Sorry to hear you've all been sick. I hope that everyone will be feeling much better soon.

    Wow, such beautiful Cathedrals. I love those stain glass windows.

    I think I would have quite enjoyed seeing the fire engines all drive by. I used to not really care all that much about history, but I'm learning to enjoy it more as I get older and I'm particularly appreciating older architecture. I always seem to get an interesting history lesson from your blog, which I love.

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    1. Thanks, it is nice to know this. I love stained glass windows too. I tried making stained glass once, I was not any good at it but realised what a lot of work it is.

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  20. Happy New Year! Prayers for Get Well and a Healthy 2016. Sorry to read you've all been under the weather.

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    1. Thank you! With all the good wishes coming this way we will all be totally better soon!

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  21. Very Happy Newish Year to you all. I hope you're all feeling a lot better soon. You can rely on the little ones to share their bugs most generously.

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    1. They share everything, including their well sucked crusts of bread....

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  22. I'm in love with London! The last time we visited it we stayed just in the corner of Saint Paul's Cathedral.
    Happy New Year dear Jenny!
    Olympia

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    1. Thank you Olympia! That's a lovely place to stay, it must have been lovely to wake up and see the cathedral the minute you looked out of the window or stepped out of the door!

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  23. Like you, I'm just staggered at how these cathedrals were built. Considering the very basic materials and equipment that existed in those days, it's a wonder they managed to build anything more ambitious than simple houses. How on earth did they create those vaulted arches or latticed ceilings? Mind you, in 2016 we're still struggling to put up houses that are energy-efficient and soundly built....

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    1. With all our technology I don't think we can produce the equivalent - guess it is the difference between machine and hand made. There are the most amazing carvings in the Chapter Room, you hardly notice them at first and then realise that concealed among the carving are many little figures and faces.

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  24. A super post.
    Cathedrals make poor churches in my mind but are fantastic buildings to walk through. The sheer size of some take some beating especially when the folks around may have lived in 'black houses' made from stone and turf and shared with the animals. How fortunate to get to the top!
    The firemen throughout the country deserve admiration especially when surrounded by fire and bombs dropping all around. The fact that water ofter ceased did nothing to make their life easy.
    The view from the top of St P is marvellous!

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    1. I have been in Southwark cathedral when it is full - a few times, they seem to be good at getting congregations there, or maybe I have just been lucky. And there is an atmosphere which does draw you in, to be in a huge building full of people. (masses of tourists snapping photos don't count. )

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  25. I'm so glad you are all nearly over your lurgies. We were similarly afflicted. I too love the medieval Cathedrals and living in Salisbury so often wonder how many people have looked up to this huge, beautiful building and been comforted.
    Wishing you and your family a very happy 2016

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    1. Thank you Jane. Salisbury has always had a rather special place for me as it is the first cathedral I really looked around, as a teenager. Before that, they were just features in the landscape.

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  26. I love the majesty of a cathedral.Like you I imagine all that went into building them. I grew up near Worcester and the cathedral there has always been a favourite. The vintage fire appliances would have made an interesting sight, and its lovely to remember the bravery of those who manned them...x

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    1. I do not believe I have ever been to Worcester Cathedral and so that is one for my list. It is in such a beautiful part of the countryside too.

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  27. This might be one of my favorite of all your posts, apart from the part about your being sick. Kids and colds -- the gift that keeps on giving. But the cathedrals are magnificent. I've always especially wanted to see York. And I have seen documentaries about the St. Paul's wardens and volunteers who helped guard the cathedral during the Blitz. What a wonderful celebration and grand thing to honor.

    Happy New Year, my friend! I look forward to more travels with Jenny in 2016!

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    1. Thank you so much Jeanie, and for your nice email. I hope you get to see York Minster one day.

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  28. That cathedral is breathtaking. Talking about the men who built these, I think that at least in France, peasants were made to help built them (they had to) without being paid – I don’t know if it was the same in England. My holidays were also spent in bed, from Dec 22 through last Sunday with acute bronchitis, so no Christmas or New Year. At least we have been listening to Christmas music till today since today, Jan 7, is Eastern Orthodox Christmas. As for New Year I’ll bake some goodies for Chinese New Year which is still up coming! I spent Christmas in London in 1953, and that was only 8 years after the end of the war, so there were still buildings that were down – many houses were still down in Normandie as well. The family I was staying with took me to St Paul then – I thought it was huge. Have a great 2016!

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  29. How interesting. I veguely remember the area round St Pauls being a bit of a building site, but mostly I remember a shopping precinct built right next to it called Juxon House which would have been OK in a new town but was totally wrong for this historic location, a very dull place where the wind whistled through the buildings. So I am really glad that they've brought back the arch as this used to be such a historic area and it is at least one old building there again.Also, they've put up nice monuments and sculpture in the square, and the architecture is so much better. So much of the Continent suffered from bombing too of course. Ugh. I am so sorry that you were ill over Christmas and hope you are fully recovered now.

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  30. Oh how I would have loved to have seen the fire engines. If my grandad was still alive I would have taken him along as he was one of the men you have spoken with in the past and went to St Pauls after his fire duty to see the damage on his way to his day job. His voice is being used in the Museum of London about St Pauls "and there it was, hope". Hope all are better in your home and wishing you a happy and healthy 2016 x

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    1. Thank you so much!
      How wonderful and interesting about your grandad. I will listen to him next time I go to the Museum of London, one of my favourite museums.

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  31. It was so much fun to see your photos. I think that, even after visiting several more cathedrals in 2015, York Minster is still my favorite. We climbed to the top one spring when it was snowing. Amazing views! And nothing beats their Evensong service. I enjoyed your post. Thank you!

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    1. Must have been quite incredible in the snow! Was it very windy too? The wind took our breath away...

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  32. So sorry to hear how sick you have all been - how awful for you. I hope you are all well again now. I so enjoyed seeing your photos of York Minster and St Pauls. I like how you imagine the building of these great cathedrals. Have you ever read the book "Sarum"? it is fiction based on fact and gives a sweeping overview of life in Salisbury from cavemen days onwards. The part that stands out is where the fictional characters were living in the time when Salisbury Cathedral was being built. It gave great insights into what it was like for the workers who built these amazing structures. Like you I like to imagine all these things when visiting these grand places. Being from Australia and not having much architectural history, my mind is constantly being blown and boggled when I am lucky enough to get to the UK and Europe. You are very lucky to have these wonderful places right on your doorstep!

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  33. Beautiful pictures and great post even with a runny nose! Get well soon and have a wonderful 2016!

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  34. Thanks for your comment, Wendy. No, I've never read "Sarum" although I did hear about it many years ago and thought it sounded interesting. I often look at old buildings and imagine what it was like when they were built, it hardly seems possible that their world was every bit as real as ours, because it always seems so strange and unfamiliar!

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  35. Jenny
    Wishing you a very healthy, happy new year!
    All those buildings are gorgeous!
    have a good new week.

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    1. Thank you Tomoko! And the same good wishes to you for 2016!

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  36. this post gave me gooseflesh, not sure if it its the majesty and the years that the amazing cathedral went up or the bombed bit of London, or the tiny fire engines that could!! Wonderful post as always, Thank you and I do wish the best for you in the new year!

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    1. Thank you so much, and I wish you a great year too!

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  37. Richard used to work at Wren House on Carter Lane, just across from St. Paul's, he spent a lot of time there. (Of course, the whole area has changed greatly and it is busier than ever!!)
    Also, Richard has been to York and loved it. I hope to get there one day too!
    By the way, we have a Smithsonian magazine from April of 2010 and there is an article in it by YOU!! (Yes, we sometimes keep magazines for that long, but ONLY if there are good articles in them!!)

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    1. Oh, yes, Kay, I can imagine how Richard will have been specially interested in seeing this - he will indeed see many changes. And thanks for mentioning the piece in Smithsonian in 2010 - was this something I wrote about Lewis Carroll? Wow! imagining it sitting in your house for that time! :)

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  38. Wonderful post! I've never been to York Minster and it looks incredible, I'll really have to make a plan to visit.

    I hope you're all feeling much better now and hope you have a wonderful 2016.

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  39. Dear Jenny - Not only the outside appearance of York Minster but also its inside is so beautiful and magnificent. St. Paul is another beauty. My grandchild Y would be happy to see such vintage fire engines, if only he can brave the cold at night. (He goes to bed at 7.)

    Have you recovered from the cold entirely? When we are given cold by little children, we tend to have stronger symptoms, don’t you think? To make viruses less active, I turn on an air cleaner and humidifier as well as a heater. Cold and flu viruses are weak in the hot and humid environment.

    Wish you a healthy, happy year 2016.

    Yoko

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  40. I think Y might have been rather excited by the engines, but maybe he would have needed to stay in a nearby hotel in time to be rushed to bed by 7! Actually neither of us have completely recovered. We keep thinking we are better and then when we go out in the cold or exert ourselves too much, the symptoms begin again. However, they're not so strong now. I may borrow a dehumidifier from my daughter, as I know she has one. It is well worth a try.

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  41. Happy New Year to you, too! :-) I hope you've all got over that nasty bug. York is on my must-visit list. In fact, The North as such is on that list. Ideally on my bike! :-) Now, there's an idea...

    Greetings from London.

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