"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday 20 February 2020

Recent Reading

I seem to have read a lot of books, particularly non-fiction, since my last reading update probably due to the fact that the weather has been so awful and its not been worth going out unless you have to! I do hope everyone is safe and well and not affected by the floods.

I was inspired to try this book by someone on Twitter and when I saw it was about smuggling in Dorset I recommended it to my son. It really is a good read and we both enjoyed it. Although this particular kindle version was very poorly edited with parts of the bottom of the previous page constantly repeated at the top of the next!

I bought this book secondhand from Astley Farm Bookshop and if you are interested in churchyards, memorials and gravestones it is a fascinating book and I learnt a lot.

This is another book I was inspired to buy and read from conversations on Twitter. I am going through a phase of being fascinated by pilgrims, pilgrim badges and routes so I really enjoyed this book. It is full of information and photos and a good way to enjoy what you can see on pilgrim routes in parts of the country you may never visit. There is a route in the south west which looks particularly good. The book would also be a good buy if you were keen on walking one of the pilgrim routes.

Another secondhand buy this time from Books Revisited in Coleshill. I enjoyed this as much as the Bill Bryson book and again in parts it is amusing and full of interesing places seen and fascinating people the author met on the route. I very much doubt I will ever walk the whole of Offa's Dyke but I really would like to wander along a few sections of it.

I am still enjoying the Wesley Peterson books.

Visits to churches and some stately homes have made me want to learn more about heraldry because you see so many examples. Both of these books were secondhand buys and are actually meant for children but they form a good basic introduction. I doubt I will ever remember all the techical terms to describe coats of arms and shields or all the rules of heraldry but I am hoping I have learnt enough to enjoy more the heraldry I do see. I have one more book to read on the subject.

Someone mentioned this biography of Gilbert White to me recently. I have a feeling it was Caroline Gill?? but sadly I can't find the comment to be sure. I did say at the time I had the book but hadn't read it mainly because whenever I pick it up I can't make up my mind whether or not to re-read Gilbert White himself first. Anyway I was horrified to realise how many years I had had this book without reading it so rectified the matter! I thoroughly enjoyed it - you learn a lot about Gilbert White and his life and also his many friends with whom he corresponded, many of whom were also naturalists. Highly recommended.

Saturday 15 February 2020

A Wander Around Temple Balsall

Family chauffeuring one afternoon last week meant I had an hour to spare so I drove the few miles to Temple Balsall. I do love this area of Warwickshire - it has a real sense of history and tranquility.

I won't go into the history of the area too much this time as I have written about it so many times in the past but it was once the preceptory or headquarters of the Knights Templar in Warwickshire. When the order was suppressed the lands were transferred to the Knights of St John (the hospitallers).

Unfortunately for me it was school run time (there is a primary school on the site) so rather than visiting the church first I parked some distance away to look for snowdrops in the cemetery.

Snowdrops on the lane grass verge.

The Natural Burial Ground - some of you may recall me visiting the wonderful wild flower meadow here last summer - with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve of Temple Balsall in the background.

Minature Worlds

Snowdrops and crocuses

There is a peaceful area to sit at the far end of the cemetery. From here I could have walked down to the Bread Walk and then up to the church.

But for some reason I decided to move the car to the car park by the primary school. The car park I usually use now has a barrier at the entrance which didn't seem to want to open! So I decided to park in a bigger car park a bit further up the lane which I have never used before.

The walk to the church passed this rather lovely pool.

The Bread Walk with almshouses founded by Lady Katherine Leveson.

The church of St Mary. According to the church guidebook the church was built by the Knights Hospitallers but interestingly the latest Pevsner Warwickshire book suggests that "on historical evidence it has been argued it was built for the Hospitallers around 1320 or later. Stylistically, though, it seems much more likely to belong to the late 13th century and the Templars". Fascinating!

The Templar or Old Hall formed the Preceptory of the Knights Templars. The original timber framed building was built in the 13th century but was restored (like the church) by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 19th century.

I am always fascinated by gargoyles, grotesques and corbel tables as I always wonder how many of the faces were based on real people. Here is a selection.

The churchyard was covered with snowdrops and

a few primroses, aconites and a daffodil in flower.

Another view of the pool as I walked back to the car.

It would have been nice to go this weekend as I understand (unless it has been cancelled!) that Sunday is Snowdrop Sunday but to be honest the weather forecast is not looking good!

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera