Weekend 516.0

(1) Opening to Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman 1989 VHS

(2) Ireland With Emily by Sir John Betjeman

Has it held, the warm June weather?
Draining shallow sea-pools dry,
When we bicycled together
Down the bohreens fuchsia-high.
Till there rose, abrupt and lonely,
A ruined abbey, chancel only,
Lichen-crusted, time-befriended,
Soared the arches, splayed and splendid,
Romanesque against the sky.

Myfanwy by Sir John Betjeman

Kind o’er the kinderbank leans my Myfanwy,
White o’er the playpen the sheen of her dress,
Fresh from the bathroom and soft in the nursery
Soap scented fingers I long to caress.

Were you a prefect and head of your dormit’ry?
Were you a hockey girl, tennis or gym?
Who was your favourite? Who had a crush on you?
Which were the baths where they taught you to swim?

Smooth down the Avenue glitters the bicycle,
Black-stockinged legs under navy blue serge,
Home and Colonial, Star, International,
Balancing bicycle leant on the verge.

Trace me your wheel-tracks, you fortunate bicycle,
Out of the shopping and into the dark,
Back down the avenue, back to the pottingshed,
Back to the house on the fringe of the park.

Golden the light on the locks of Myfanwy,
Golden the light on the book on her knee,
Finger marked pages of Rackham’s Hans Anderson,
Time for the children to come down to tea.

Oh! Fullers angel-cake, Robertson’s marmalade,
Liberty lampshade, come shine on us all,
My! what a spread for the friends of Myfanwy,
Some in the alcove and some in the hall.

Then what sardines in half-lighted passages!
Locking of fingers in long hide-and-seek.
You will protect me, my silken Myfanwy,
Ring leader, tom-boy, and chum to the weak.

Weekend 515.0

Monody on the Death of Aldersgate Street Station by Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984)

Snow falls in the buffet of Aldersgate station,
Soot hangs in the tunnel in clouds of steam.
City of London! before the next desecration
Let your steepled forest of churches be my theme.

Sunday Silence! with every street a dead street,
Alley and courtyard empty and cobbled mews,
Till “ tingle tang “ the bell of St. Mildred’s Bread Street
Summoned the sermon taster to high box pews,

And neighbouring towers and spirelets joined the ringing
With answering echoes from heavy commercial walls
Till all were drowned as the sailing clouds went singing
On the roaring flood of a twelve-voiced peal from Paul’s.

Then would the years fall off and Thames run slowly;
Out into marshy meadow-land flowed the Fleet :
And the walled-in City of London, smelly and holy,
Had a tinkling mass house in every cavernous street.

The bells rang down and St. Michael Paternoster
Would take me into its darkness from College Hill,
Or Christ Church Newgate Street (with St. Leonard Foster)
Would be late for Mattins and ringing insistent still.

Last of the east wall sculpture, a cherub gazes
On broken arches, rosebay, bracken and dock,
Where once I heard the roll of the Prayer Book phrases
And the sumptuous tick of the old west gallery clock.
Snow falls in the buffet of Aldersgate station,
Toiling and doomed from Moorgate Street puffs the train,
For us of the steam and the gas-light, the lost generation,
The new white cliffs of the City are built in vain.

Dover via Canterbury

The White Cliffs of DoverAt Dover Cliffs
Scarce hear the surge that has for ages beat,
Sure many a lonely wanderer has stood;
And whilst the lifted murmur met his ear,
And o’er the distant billows the still eve
Sailed slow, has thought of all his heart must leave

― William Lisle Bowles¹

Take a walk at the White Cliffs of Dover (Map from the National Trust)

Note: My Flickr album is organized sequentially.

Dover as a tourist destination is a little like the Poconos circa 1980 something. It’s heyday has long past and there are placards everywhere promising redevelopment. It doesn’t have the shopping of Brighton or the history and dining of Bristol. It’s a port city you pass through. Who knows though what places like Dover (and the Poconos) will like be post-pandemic as the cost/inconvenience of international travel changes domestic tourism.

As a gateway to the Cliffs of Dover the city is fine (even IF the relationship seemed badly neglected). My first afternoon was spent ambling around the town centre (getting my bearings) and probing the approach to the infamous cliffs. I’m not a typical traveler and don’t depend on guide books or countless hours of research on the internet. My trips are usually centered around an event (e.g. football match) or a place and the rest is just freeform exploration and discovery. The absence of an agenda makes it very easy to whittle the hours away at a coffee shop.

Ambition
The eastern approach to the cliffs via the Athol Terrace/Coast Path was kind-of-maybe-sort-of-closed because of falling rocks (chalk in this case) so I found an alternative route via Castle Hill Road. The site of Dover Castle from any vista is impressive but dominates the horizon as you make the climb up Castle Hill Road. My adventure for the day unfortunately ended at Upper Road due to overambition². On my way back to the hotel I took a picture of St. Martin’s Guesthouse because of its promise of ‘tea and coffee making facilities’ (plus it’s the surname of the pastor at my church).

Miracle of the Feet
It was a fast start on Sunday morning after my feet (and legs) had a couple of hours to rest. My approach to the park (national trust) was via Upper Road. There’s a church on the route that was damaged in WWII and is now preserved as a Grade II listed building. I stopped for a photograph on the top of Connaught Road and a sign post for Burgoyne Fort (for Bear). There was NO sidewalk/trail/path on Upper Road but it was SO early that cars only passed sporadically.

I finally made it to the visitor centre and my first vista of the White Cliffs of Dover! I had NO idea HOW big the park was so my decision to “call it quits” the day before was just lucky. On Saturday night, whilst subjecting my feet to a recovery regimen that was some Mr. Miyagi style stuff, studied a map of the park. The walk to the lighthouse is about 50 minutes, BUT I stopped to explore every nook and cranny SO it was well north of that number. My return trip included a descent into Fan Bay (feets of strength™) before climbing down to sea level to explore the ribs of a wreck on Langdon Beach.

I left the park via the aforementioned eastern approach (the one with the signs about falling chalk). This route gives you a nice birds eye view of the port and takes you under the A2. I’m not a very good writer because this post omits the absolute majesty of this amazing space but if you’ve ever wanted to live in a Turner painting visit the White Cliffs of Dover. I think English skies are so beautiful because all that chalk acts like a filter when it’s picked up by the breeze.

IMPORTANT: There are few times when my feet and legs have been so tired/sore so IF you plan on traversing from sea level to lighthouse to bays and holes (the latter is inappropriate) wear something more durable than Vans (and bring sunscreen).

¹Sonnet: At Dover Cliffs, July 20th 1787 by William Lisle Bowles (poetry.com)
²Overamition in my case is a combination of NO food, a very early start, and poor footwear

Weekend 467.0

(1) A quote from Brick: A Social History by Carolyne Haynes:

“Bricks do not stand alone, they work best with a sticky material to bind them together. So, wound into this story of bricks is an exploration of the use of lime. If bricks are mostly ignored, lime is rarely mentioned at all. Even the literature about it is thin on the ground, and yet arguably it is right up there as one of the most important chemicals in our history. Still widely used today, lime was the material that allowed us to build our houses, fortifications, churches and other structures for hundreds of years. Without lime it would have been very much harder to make brick walls strong. There are alternatives. We could have stuck them together using clay, but lime is long lasting, versatile, relatively easy to use and surprisingly strong. It’s an unsung hero that played a huge part in our history and I think it is time that we took a bit more notice of it.”

“The stones for these early churches were rarely freshly quarried out. With Roman ruins near to many monastic settlements there was generally a rich source of materials to plunder. Scavenging building materials from these ruined settlements was easy. The builders were able to bring in dressed stone, window and door surrounds that were already carved and ready to be fitted into the new buildings.”

“The first monastic settlement there had been built using timber, but as the abbey grew in importance so did the buildings. In the tenth century, the church [St Albans Abbey] was reconstructed using stone and bricks. With a dearth of available new stone in the area, the Roman ruins of Verulamium became the adopted ‘quarry’. Probably in part because of the lack of stone, the Romans here had used bricks extensively and as these were still in good condition they were used alongside the stone.”

(2) Poems on the Underground: Note by Leanne O’Sullivan

Weekend 456.0

“It is a difficult and rare virtue to mean what we say, to love without dissimulation, to think no evil, to bear no grudge, to be free from selfishness, to be innocent and straight-forward.” — Lead, Kindly, Light

(1) The art of imitation – 19th century Islamic revivalism (The British Museum)

(2) A poem by Robert Frost:

TO THE THAWING WIND
“Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.”

Weekend 445.0 (Terminus)

(1) A quote from Absolutely On Music by Haruki Murakami:

“In that sense, Seiji Ozawa is simultaneously an unschooled ‘child of nature’ and a fountain of deep, practical wisdom; a man who must have what he wants immediately and who can be infinitely patient; a man with bright confidence in the people around him who lives in a deep fog of solitude.”

(1a) A quote from Score: A Film Music Documentary:

“One of the responsibilities we have as film composers, is we’re the last people on earth who on a daily basis commission orchestral music. Without us, the orchestras might just disappear, and I think that will create a rift in, you know, human culture. I think it will be such a loss to humanity.” —Hans Zimmer

(2) I was in Southampton last weekend (for Saints versus Wolves) and need to keep plussing my original post on The Gateway to the World.

(2a) Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

(3) A quote from Remembering Walt:

“On the Park’s opening day, I was walking down Main Street with a cup of coffee in each hand, when I ran into Walt Disney. He stopped me and I thought I was going to be fired, but he just wanted to know where he could get a cup of coffee.” —Scotty Cribbes

(3a) A quote from Designing Disney:

“When we design any area of a Disney park, we transform a space into a story place. Every element must work together to create an identity that supports the story of the place—structures, entrances and exits, walkways, landscaping, water elements, and modes of transportation. Every element must in its form and color engage the guests’ imagination and appeal to their imagination.”

(4) “Like church, the organ will invite the tears…”

(5) Another quote from Designing Disney:

“Like music, color is one of the great joys of life, mysterious and wonderful.

(6) A quote from the Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton:

“To immerse ourselves in Japanese aesthetics and to nurture a sympathy for its atmosphere may help to prepare us for the day when, in a museum of ceramics, we encounter traditional tea bowls, for example, by the artist Hon’ami Koetsu. We won’t believe, as we might have done without the legacy of 600 years of reflection on the appeals of wabi, that such pieces are puzzling blobs of unformed matter. We will have learnt to appreciate a beauty that we were not born seeing. And, in the process, we will puncture the simplistic notion, heavily promoted by purveyors of plastic mansions, that what a person currently finds beautiful should be taken as the limit of all that he or she can ever love.”