Tuesday 28 June 2016

The Glory of Greystones

Dublin was enjoying heat wave
Wednesday was an afternoon off. 
I caught the Dart train to Greystones, the end of the line. 

Greystones is a delightful tiny town in County Wicklow, Ireland. It lies on Ireland's east coast, 17 miles south of Dublin. The Wicklow Mountains rise up to protect this area from the West. The town was named after the grey stones which ran between the two beaches on the sea-front. 

Sunday 26 June 2016

Hard of hearing yet warm of heart: A visit to St John Shottesbrooke

A remarkable double tomb runs the entire length of the north transept's wall

One can contrast St Michael Warfield (see the post PowerPoint in the Pulpit) with another church on which we called that day: St John situated in Shottesbrooke Park, now nurtured by the Landmark Trust and the Shottesbrooke estate. St John’s needle-like spire is visible for miles around.

The church is normally kept locked, but there are instructions on the door for obtaining the key. We followed directions that lead us to a row of cottages behind which an elderly, somewhat deaf, member of the estate was hard at work in the vegetable garden.  Speaking up clearly we was soon in possession of the key and access to a lovely church erected in 1337. This is a rare example of church built from scratch in the decorated style.   

Inside light pours in from all points of the compass to show a generous crossing and transept arches. AG Street restored the church in 1852 yet with a respectful hand.  The place was quite silent in the warm May sunshine, on a dusty table there were some sign of services held. We let ourselves out and returned the key to its warden.

Saturday 25 June 2016

PowerPoint in the Pulpit

A number of parish churches one visits have a projector screen erected in the nave or just inside the chancel. This worrying development, for aside from the architectural disorder, it looks naff. 

Doubtless the modern churchgoer is keen on these encumbrances to enjoy PowerPoint presentations, lectures on good works and sing-a-long lyrics.

Last month when out churching with Mike, cycling south of Maidenhead, we entered St Michael in Warfield village through the good offices of someone in the parish.   Simon Jenkins (Thousand Best Churches) has St Michael as having one of the finest chancels in the Thames valley. However I had to ask that the huge projector screen be collapsed to enable me to draw a fine stone screen in the Decorated style immediately behind it.

And poor nave had been cleared of everything that could be moved to allow a constant stream of Mother and Toddler Groups through the week. We did not stay too long as the person who let us in was keen to see us out.

Coming soon: Hard of hearing yet warm of heart
A visit to St John Shottesbrooke

Monday 20 June 2016

5 Torgau to Wittenberg

This was our fifth day by the river and in spite of violent storms the previous evening; we were blessed with fine weather for our final day of cycling, Torgau to Wittenberg.

Having breakfasted in the the Torgau hotel’s enormous ballroom we headed off.

Along the Elbe who knows what you may find. . .

Coffee was taken en route in the courtyard of a small castle in Pretzsch and later a large lunch in Elster only sixteen kilometres from Wittenberg who’s principle claim fame is Martin Luther having used it as his forward operating base in the 16th century. 
Wittenberg Street Life 

This town is another Elbe-side charmer and was to be our extraction point back to Berlin via the train.  
We a passed a lovely evening in the town square with more feasting and reflection, the next morning I rose early to visit a deserted factory close to the centre of town. It was another bewitching place, deserted and silent.

In Wittenberg everything is Luther, museums, post cards and tours from Lutheran churches based in the USA, most of whom where billeted in out hotel, testify to the importance of the man.
Saturday morning walk round the town

The desert factory on the outskirts of Wittenberg
FOOT NOTE Mike, Dave, Ian, respectively a former fishmonger, airline pilot, chauffer and wannabe artist thought it would be nice to cycle up the the Elbe. Or is it down the river Elbe?  These five days are the first part of a project that is planned for the next couple of years, powered by Kalkhoff electric bikes.

Priest, monk, composer.
Martin Luther, 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546, was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Luther He rejected several teachings and practices of the Late Medieval Catholic Church.

He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. 

His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor.

Luther taught that salvation and subsequently eternal life is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin.

His translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, which had a tremendous impact on the church and German culture. 

Sunday 19 June 2016

4 Meissen to Torgau

along our cycle track
Another day of gentle paths, an early lunch of wurst along the way in a small village; the owner of the Gaststatte moved around his establishment in a furtive manner. At any moment I was expecting him to release his family from the basement, to enjoy a moment in the warm sunshine.

We took a rest and a wurst. . . . 

Now the landscape was splashed with chrome yellow, fields of rape. Each field was adding fizz to the different shades of green, like a slice of lemon in a G&T.

Torgau is a delightful medieval town again right by the river. When we arrived the afternoon sun was bathing its reds, creams and ochre buildings and wetting the spires and lead rooftops.

This town was where, at the end of WWII, the Russian and Allied troops met. The place is restored and picture book pretty the castle in the town has a moat with its very own bears that playfully mauled each other when let out after breakfast.
This bridge at Plotha of great delight 
Torgau from our restaurant seat.