Monday 26 August 2019

Campanology and Vestments

Hello Friends!

Today was the Annual Open Day at St Davids Cathedral and I was lucky enough to not be in work so I was able to go, at least for part of it having the best part of my days off usurped by a broken boiler {we won't go there} so, armed with my camera I set off in earnest to pack in as much as I could in the short time I had available to me.

First I visited the Cathedral Library which is the only Cathedral Library in situ in the whole of Wales.  It is a very special place with over 7,000 books dating from the 16th century onwards, the Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth II granting St Davids official City Status, and the atmosphere of such antiquity and accumulation of learning in an ecclesiastic setting has to be experienced first hand. The building itself is older than the oldest book contained therein.  Sadly, photography is not permitted, but it was a good point to begin the morning as a visit to this library always lifts my spirits with a sense of belonging. Of course, the climb up the circular stone staircase is an adventure in itself and it is a good idea to hold on to the ropes on either side!

I moved around the Cathedral, which by now was swarming with visitors from cruise ships which dock in nearby Fishguard Harbour and Pembroke Dock. Unfortunately, this hampered securing good photos, but it is easy enough for me to return. The main object of my day was to see the vestments which had been placed in a special display at the High Altar with the mediaeval encaustic tiled floor. I did my best, fighting elbow to elbow with the crowds, to secure photos of the beautiful, rich embroidered garments.  It was regrettable that, due to my broken boiler, I had to miss what would have been a most excellent talk to accompany the display, given by Archdeacon Dorrien Davies.

I wandered around, managing to avoid temptation at the home made cake stand, and made my way up the hill to Porth y Twr, or what is today the Bell Tower, built in the late thirteenth century as one of the four main gate ways into the Cathedral Close.  In the 1970's I was a campanologist, or bell ringer. The bell I rang was Treble, which I understand is now Bell Two.  I remember well calling out "Look Two, Treble's going; she's gone!" every time we rang a peal that began with Treble.

The main bell ringing chamber with the ropes secured

I then climbed a very steep, spiral, very narrow ancient stone steps all the way up in near darkness, ever upwards and narrowing constantly, until the bell chamber was reached. Reminding me of the steps to Cirith Ungol, it makes the Cathedral Library look like a walk in the park! I did not feel happy enough to stop to take a photo.  Here is the sight that greeted me and the other intrepid climbers as we emerged into the half light.

Here is the bell I used to ring. I believe this is now the Second Bell and is named Saint Caradog

It's hard to think such a thin piece of rope pulls and controls such a huge and heavy bell!

One last view from a higher platform before I followed everyone out and began the tricksy and slow stepping down into the ground floor and daylight once more

I shall leave you with the view from the Tower door. Stunning in any weather.

Until next time

Thursday 15 August 2019

Summer Tomato Soup

Hello Friends!

It's a very busy time of year, the tourists are in town and for those of us who work in the tourist industry it's Go! Go! Go! until the middle of September.  It's so easy to grab a ready meal, a quick snack, or rely on sandwiches as finding time to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and cook delicious food is something that is often a bit of a struggle during the busy summer months, and if I am honest, after a long day on my feet the last thing I want to be doing is standing in the kitchen prepping supper and tomorrow's lunch box.

I had to do a bit of a fridge clearing out a day or two ago, and as ever there were plenty of things nearing or even past their best, so here's what I came up with to avoid wasting a glut of cherry and other small tomatoes.  I have to say it's quite possibly one of the best soups I have ever made.

I found about 300 gr, or about 10 oz, of very ripe tomatoes in the salad drawer in the fridge.  Far too many to eat, and far too ripe to think about keeping any longer, so here's what I did:

I placed a layer of fresh basil in the bottom of a shallow Pyrex casserole, big enough to take the tomatoes in a single layer. I drizzled them very lightly with olive oil, and seasoned with freshly ground salt and black pepper, with a teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar sprinkled over. I roasted them on Gas Mark 7 for about 25 minutes until they had started to caramelise. I removed the basil and cooled the tomatoes before putting in the fridge.  Today, I tipped them into my Ninja goblet, added the juice of a freshly squeezed, large orange and blitzed to a puree.  I warmed it through in a saucepan, seasoned with a little more freshly ground black pepper {to me there are few seasonings more special than freshly ground black pepper} a sprinkling of grated Parmesan, and a sprig of fresh basil to garnish.

Can I say it was utterly, completely, and totally lip smacking? Perfect for a light, summer lunch if you have a glut of tomatoes too, although it only made a small bowlful.  I am sure it could have been diluted to serve two, but then all that delicious oven roasted tomato goodness would also have been diluted, and tomatoes are so good for us.

I always like to play with my food, but this is one recipe I don't think I want to play with, and will definitely be making again, very soon. Fresh tomatoes and herbs only, and I don't think I will even consider adding onions or garlic, or any other tweaks to the seasonings.

Let me know if you try it, and if so, I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Until next time

p.s. I have to say my Ninja food processor is one of the best gadgets I have ever bought, and I have owned mine now for two years and I think I have used it nearly every day since I got it home. It wasn't cheap, but oh, my! how it has proved it's value in the food preparation in my kitchen.

Saturday 3 August 2019

Summer Days

Hello Friends!

What a glorious week of wonderful Summer weather we have had in the west.  It has been hot but not unbearably so, and the days have brought endless sunshine from one end of the day to the next. Tourists have been happy, the annual Sand Church competition went ahead with the tide way out and plenty of good weather for building such creative ideas. I had to work, but found it all on Facebook later that evening.  Fetes, outdoor events, and local festivals have all happened in the best of weather and everyone is smiling and happy, which is what we all like to see.

Blue sky above my cottage!  More than enough for a pair of sailor's trousers, I think we can outfit the fleet!

Please pause with me for a moment, though, for it is not all blue sky and sunshine.  My heart and prayers go out to the parts of England that have suffered most dreadfully. There are some areas that suffered with a heatwave of record breaking proportions, only to have this followed by horrendous thunderstorms, bringing torrential rain which is still bringing life threatening floods and destruction to so many.  I am sad to say that Lyme Park National Trust property is one such place under flood, and some of the significant historic gardens have been destroyed. There are more storms to come.

Speaking of the National Trust, I have been busy polishing my wood furniture with a tin of their finest Furniture Polish. Well, if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me!  Isn't this the most sumptuous colour?

The garden slowly fades into late Summer now, and flowers are fewer and further between.  My favourite Field Poppies are flowering and producing welcome seed heads now.

However, this very morning I picked a small handful of the first blackberries of the season. They were sweet and juicy, for we have had rain and sunshine in good quantities at the optimum times. Later, I found half a dozen more.  Yummy!

Butterflies have been visiting too, and Painted Ladies are in exceptionally high numbers across the country.

A Gatekeeper

Red Admiral 

Large White

Do you recall that lovely patio rose I shared here {scroll down a bit to see it}?  The buds that grew around the main one opened suddenly and all together making this sumptuous display.

My one worry is that this spray is on a sucker. I know the damage suckers can do, but oh! it's just so pretty I have not the heart to cut it off.

I apologise for my intermittent appearances, and the brevity of my words, but I am very busy at work now. The main season is upon us, and for most who live here it's a case of all hands on deck while the holidays run, then it will all calm down again. The weather is on the turn too, which means it will be even busier as people do not want to go to the beach or walk the coast path. 

Until next time