Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Morning has broken - Boxing Day, central Swindon

Dawn - just before sunrise in central Swindon. In the middle of our busy town, late December - Nature still flourishes, the moon rises, the sun sets and day breaks. These pictures were taken from the back-bedroom window of my little house which backs onto the hill-side Radnor Street Cemetery (also a designated nature reserve). My 'postage stamp' walled back garden faces south so the house is essentially a morning house. At this time of year a lone star shines brightly as the sky gradually lightens to day-break. By ten o'clock the sun has risen over the hill-top, bursts through the trees and radiant sunlight tumbles down the staircase.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Winter Oak - tree of all seasons

This mighty oak is one of my favourite trees, probably the remnant of some ancient woodland and mercifully left standing on a strip green land when a roundabout, a nearby hotel, and head office of a large computer company were constucted. It recalls memories of the rural landscape that once surrounded Swindon - now much eroded. It stands alone as a symbol of the majesty of the natural world that 'civilisation' will never have complete jurisdiction over. Tree of all seasons it will make an appearance on this blog again in the spring when it is surrounded by daffodils.

Christmas Eve at Christ Church

Christ Church has been a landmark in Old Town since 1851. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in his middle-pointed Gothic style. The hill-side site was donated by Ambrose Goddard, Lord of the Manor.

"On Hearing the Full Peal of Ten Bells from Christ Church"
poem by John Betjeman from 'Faith and Doubt'

Your peal of ten ring over this town
Ring on my men or ever ring them down,
This winter chill, let sunset spill cold fire
On villa'd hill and on Sir Gilbert's spire,
So new, so high, so pure, so broached, so tall.
Long run the thunder of the bells through all!

Oh still white headstones on these fields of sound
Hear you the wedding joy bells wheeling round?
On brick built breeding boxes of new souls,
Hear how the pealing through the louvres rolls!
Now birth and death reminding bells ring clear,
Loud under 'planes and over changing gear.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Bleak mid-winter, Radnor Street Cemetery

A mid-winter walk through the cemetery; the freezing fog lifts slightly only to descend again an hour or two later. It is a couple of days before the winter solstice and a few days before Christmas. The people of this ordinarily busy but now bustling town, hurry back with their shopping to the little terraced houses that suround the cemetery. Christmas lights and decorated trees shine a welcome home from the freezing mid-winter evening.

"I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,
Bare winter suddenly was changed to spring
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Mixed with the sound of waters murmuring
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,
But kissed it and then fled, as thou mightest in dream."

From 'The Question' by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)