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Tony Grist

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What We Did Last Wednesday [Sep. 1st, 2008|09:08 am]
Tony Grist
Recently we've taken to avoiding motorways when we go off on holiday.  Instead we give ourselves plenty of time and plot a scenic route. Having a SatNav makes this easier- at least in theory. In practice you're liable to run up against road closures and elaborate diversionary systems (as we did on the approach to Nantwich) that the satellite, from its lordly position in the sky, can't recognise. But never mind, it's all good fun and gives one something to chunner about. 

We were going to Stratford, but instead of taking the M6, we tootled almost to North Wales- a long way out of the direct line- before turning left and heading South. This meant a two hour journey took us most of the day but- also- that we got to travel by roads we'd never been on before and see new things.

We stopped briefly at Boscobel- famous as the place where the future Charles II hid in an oak tree after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. There's a ruined convent there- Whiteladies- an Augustinian house, more properly the Priory of St Leonard at Breford.  You go down a narrow windy lane, park up, walk through a belt of woodland- and there it is- all by itself in a field. It's not spectacular as monastic ruins go,  just one of those places where - as Eliot said-  "prayer has been valid". A young couple had got there ahead of me and were making out in what I'm guessing was the chapter house. I had to angle some of my shots quite carefully so as not to get them in frame.

There are three ways of dealing with the spirit of a place:  (A) You respect it  (B) you consciously defy it and (C) you blithely ignore it. (A) is best, (B) I'm happy with- after all, why should ghosts have things all their own way? But (C) is just crass.

We skirted Birmingham. Getting across the city can be a nightmare, but the suburban route the SatNav picked out was largely uncongested. We had thought of visiting Kenilworth House in the afternoon, but all our dawdling and diverting had made us late and we didn't arrive there until closing time, so we admired its silhouette against the sky and decided to return in the morning.

We were booked into the Regent Hotel in Leamington. Leamington is a Regency spa town and the Regent is the gloriously grand town-centre hotel. Only it's not gloriously grand anymore, it's a Travel Lodge.  There's a splendid stained glass window on the main staircase, commemorating the visits of the young Queen Victoria and (on another occasion) Emperor Napoleon III. 

I love Regency buildings. For a decade or two, around 1800, everything that went up- including the jerry-built stuff- was harmoniously proportioned and beautiful to behold.  The towns that were created then- Bath, Leamington, Buxton, Brighton, Bloomsbury- are (or were) jewels. And then the fashion changed...


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Comments:
[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-09-01 02:40 pm (UTC)
Your pictures are wonderful, as always! I, too, love the "unbeaten path" when traveling around. There is little road traffic, more person-to-person contacts and as you pointed out, great scenery.
While I'm here I need to ask you are my entries showing up in your LJ, like yours do in mine? I have had a couple of questions from other LJ friends....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-01 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I find the journey is often more interesting than the goal.

Yes, I'm seeing your entries on my friends page. Does there seem to be a problem?
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-09-01 11:23 pm (UTC)
Yes a couple of people asked me why I havent been posting for the last couple of weeks. Needless to say, I have, even tho not daily. I guess I will just re-enter them on my F-List (after deleting them first). That ought to fix it, I hope.
Yes, the joy is in the journey for me, too.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-09-01 02:44 pm (UTC)
Changed or not, your views are lovely! I guess I love *old*.

"chunner " is a new word to me! I think I like it... is it like babble or something?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-01 03:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

Yes, chunner means something between babble and grumble.
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From: nostoi
2008-09-01 05:14 pm (UTC)
Indifference is the worst possible reaction to anything I think.

I love the perfection of Regency architecture, and near-perfect symmetry in architecture is quite spellbinding too.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-01 09:16 pm (UTC)
If I had lots and lots of money I would buy myself a town house in Bloomsbury...
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From: nostoi
2008-09-02 06:10 pm (UTC)
Alan was saying exactly the same thing the other day when we were there. It is rather delightful, just the spot for a place in town :D
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-03 08:24 am (UTC)
Bloomsbury is beautiful- but, of course, only the fabulously rich can afford to live there.
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From: nostoi
2008-09-03 11:04 am (UTC)
We just pretended :)
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-09-02 12:32 am (UTC)
Nice pics, as ever. *wants to flop down in the grass by the yarrow in pic #1*

You're right about Regency architecture; even the poor quality buildings looked so damned good. They understood all the stuff about balance and harmony that got thrown out piecemeal in the years following.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-02 08:58 am (UTC)
Thanks.

I grew up in an age when Victorian architecture was still widely scorned- and I've never been able to work up much enthusiasm for it. I look at the average Victorian town hall or church and words like, "grandiose", "overbearing", "insincere" and "bogus" come to mind.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-09-02 05:02 pm (UTC)
I've seen a few good Victorian buildings --- mostly a certain type of house --- but that's in the American west, where the full lunacy of Victorian exuberance didn't ever quite reach. But having seen the Victorian monstrosities in England, ye gods, I can understand your feelings!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-03 08:28 am (UTC)
The Victorians never created a style of their own- just took existing styles and pastiched them- unless you count their engineering works- their bridges, tunnels, railway sheds and the like- which can be fabulous.
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