Friday 9 June 2023


Across three counties 

From high up on The Ridgeway, in West Berkshire, only 35 minutes from home is Uffington Castle. It is an Iron Age hillfort. 


Standing on its footprint on the landscape you can look out north-west across Berkshire, Gloucestershire into Worcestershire. A patchwork of fields, farms, factories and towns. This infinity view eventually pales into purple haze.


Of course this is just a place to put a castle. Next to it is The White Horse, across the grass, a chalk symbol of how important this area was. And still is. 


The castle borders The Ridgeway, an ancient road that is ideal for the movement of troops and trade. 


Looking down, just below us to the right is Dragon Hill a small apron of white chalk. It was on this ground that is rightly believed that St George fought his dragon. Who is to gain say St George’s joust?


For more on the myths and legends hereabouts follow the link. 

Many thanks to David Nash’s Royal Berkshire History  web site

 © Nash Ford Publishing 2003. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday 3 June 2023


Ginst Point, the end of the known world.

Name: Ginst Point, Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin) ; X/Y co-ords: 232825, 207811 ; Region: Wales ; Country: Wales ; Place type: Other Landform. Source: Ordinance Survey


A stretch of sand, grass and debris that is wide and broad and looks to the estuary of the River Taff and across to Llansteffan Castle and the never to missed holiday homes of Carmarthen Bay.  


Ginst Point the blunt end of a six mile beach.


High sun, a small breeze.


Rosie the dog,

Jacky the wonder dog,

Jacky collects sticks and will steal a sandal.

He will return it later.

Sian and Miss Megan,

And Barney, a merman*,


We walk, sit and get our feet wet,

Again we plonk ourselves down on a midday warm sand.

And on the walk back we found treasure, per usual.



Shrapnel Everywhere

A toilet chain thrown overboard from a passing ship? 





Ginst Point is accessible through Brill Gate (SN 28902 07980) when the Range is not operational. Public access is permitted if the automatic gate is open. Please DO NOT attempt to enter if the gate is closed. Anyone wishing to gain access to the residential tenant farms must contact the Main Gate using the intercom system situated at Brill Gate.






Saturday 27 May 2023


The mid-morning light streams in illuminating the gentle flecks of dust and remarkable wall paintings of St John the Baptist church Inglesham. We can see 
St Christopher as he was portrayed in the 1200’s and make out some of The Ten Commandments above the nave arch.


Box Pews, overseen by an equally grand pulpit, all faded and polished by time. Worship from wonderful Book of Common Prayer (1662) was given and received by all who sat in this wonderful church.


Sit, think, absorb the walls, roof and furniture of this special place now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and loved by many, judging from the visitor’s book by the door.


Miss not the Saxon stone Madonna and Child in the south wall.


All within striking distance of Lechlade and Faringdon.


Peaceful interior 

An excellent more measured story of this church by Churches Conservation Trust is here.

by John Piper who visited Inglesham in 1948

Friday 12 May 2023


A couple of miles south of us is the hamlet of Stoke Purton a few miles further is  Purton village. 


Seeking a new route for a Rosie walk we headed to Stoke Purton and walked along a No Through Road road. The OS map indicated something called a Salts Hole. We came upon it. There was a low gate in a thick hedge secured by a stout combination lock. About a hundred metres beyond stood a Victorian gothic hexagonal building with a stout door, elegant gabled roof.  Around this summerhouse-like building undergrowth, trees and bushes battled for supremacy.


This was Salts Hole, a Victorian spa, written about by Katharine M. Jordan in Seven Wiltshire Wells and their Folklore.


We saw the stone plaque over the door of what was the pump room.



For local people around here used saline water from the spring to cure many ills.


In 1850s its owner drained the area and fenced off the spring. People soon broke the railings anxious for the heating waters, for there was no Boots in Cricklade or Lloyds in Purton at that time.


In her text © Katharine M. Jordan (1998) she tells 

“It is curious, by the way, that the only structural part of the pump-house to have disappeared should be the doors. It is well-known in Wiltshire that they have no doors in Purton: so much so that, should you forget to close the door behind you, the cry goes up: ‘D’you come from Purton?’


I can testify to this having met two lovely local ladies in Purton village churchyard this morning; they corroborated the saying ‘D’you come from Purton?’. However curiously enough they had not heard of the Salts Hole a few miles away. 


Complete source for Jordan’s text:


I have ordered a copy of Folklore of Ancient Wiltshire, 1990

by Katharine M. Jordan and eagerly await more discoveries hereabouts.

Wednesday 3 May 2023


Built by the Knights Templars - All Saints Down Ampney

Almost asleep, in spite of being so close to the A419 Cirencester to Swindon superhighway, is Down Ampney Village. It is best known as the birthplace of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. 


During WWII Down Ampney was home to the Royal Airforce 1944 until 1947. From here the 3rd Parachute Brigade were dropped in Normandy. And forces who flew from here were active in Arnhem and the Rhine Crossing. 

The same squadrons flew the wounded, tended by RAF nurses, home. The busy road, a straight line from the tarmac to where the wounded were taken became known as ‘hospital road’ by all stationed there. Now it is a lovely walk between to large fields of sheep and bears right to am RAF Memorial.


And close by is All Saints Church with its striking C14 spire. In this treasure ladened church, built by the Templers is a memorial window to the men and women of the Royal Air Force who took part in operations originating from RAF Down Ampney during WWII. A commemorative service is held each year.

More on RAF Down Ampney here

Friday 21 April 2023


It had momentarily stopped raining in West Wales. Sian and I were casting around for a jaunting destination. We decided on Garn Fawr where John Piper’s Cottage is still to be found. 


About 10 minutes west out of Fishguard, Garn Fawr nestles into a high outcrop of hard volcanic rock, an iron age hill fort, which perilously looks out to see. We walked down paths bordered by high stone walls. Bracken and thorn spills across these tracks, evidence of sheep. Boulder stone with lichen of whites, greens and blues.


On the landward side there is slightly less wind, only slightly. Across to the East stone walls, winding roads, fields quartered by hedgerows. And landscape punctured by farms and the hard white outline of the Harmony Chapel immediately below us. In the far distance are the Preseli Mountains.


Writer Richard Ingrams recalls his visit to see John and Myfanwy Piper:


I was lucky enough to pay a visit to Garn Fawr, driving with the Pipers from Cardiff on a clear cold day and reaching the cottage at noon. It is a tiny single-storey building made of stone whitewashed with a pinkish tinge and roofed with slurry, a mixture of slate and cement. There is only one real room which acts as sitting and dining-room and the right half is roofed over with a platform, reached by a step-ladder, on the Pipers sleep. A kitchen and bathroom have been added to the rear. There is no electricity and no telephone. As dusk fall, Piper busies himself trimming and lighting calor gas and tilly lamps.


From Piper’s Places: John Piper in England and Wales by Richard Ingrams & John Piper   Chatto and Windus   1983



The walk:

Friday 31 March 2023


Running until August 13 folks, the National Gallery’s After Impressionism: Inventing modern art. 

This is a thought-provoking journey showing the struggle between realism and abandonment of naturalism in painting and what Katie did next.

Headlined by Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh this is chance to see ninety seven paintings many of which have been coaxed from private collections for our grateful gaze.


Paul Cezanne’s (1839 - 1906) still life paintings and his landscapes play ducks and drakes with volume and perspective. Van Gogh’s frantic brushwork, rhythmic patterning (?verb)  and the way he crops his work is an eye opener. Edgar Degas (1834–1917) was breaking the rules on composition and a painting’s edge with his dizzying studies.

Paul Cezanne 'Mont Sainte-Victoire'  1902‒6

Gauguin takes us East, and the show’s description of his work could not resist references to 'colonialism', his 'relationships' to those whom he painted and cohabited; a lest-we-forget piece of wokery if ever there was.


Lots of new names: Paul Sérusier (1864 - 1927) - his Le Talisman, Paysage au Bois d'Amour is early abstraction as is Lady of Fashion by Eduard Vuillard’s colour-field approach.


The concept of painter as commentator (which today seems to the only way a painter should be) is introduced in Jan Toorop’s 1858–1928 The Eve of the Strike. A palette and composition ladened with political undertones. 

The eve of the strike (Dark clouds) Jan Toorop

Surprises: A riot of colour by Edvard Munch in his 1915 painting Cabbage Field. A scream of colour no less (sorry). 


Representational Mondrian? Excuse me? Yes, there are two landscape studies next to his more familiar approach in Composition NXVI.


Thrills and mysteries to enjoy and think about, demanding two if not three visits. If three then you have amortised the cost of an NG annual membership. Get and go.

André Derain, ‘La Danse’