France May 2016 – Fréjus

As well as hanging around at the golf club, we paid a visit to Fréjus. The town was created as a seaside resort by the Romans, but also thrived as a medieval town.

There are various Roman bits and pieces, a couple of nice churches and a cathedral. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

This sundial outside the cathedral was nice, however…

…the cloister was beautiful.

Its wooden ceiling is covered with thousands of fantastic beasts…

…and scenes from daily life…

painted between 1350 and 1360.

If that wasn’t fabulous enough, the cathedral also has a 5thC baptistery.

Wandering around the town, there’s lots of lovely…

…door furniture…

…ranging…

…from the Romans…

…to odd.

Smurf flavoured ice-cream, there has to be wrong, surely?

We were reminded of this mournful dog…

…when we met this one at lunchtime. She begrudged us every mouthful!

France May 2016 – Saint-Philibert de Tournus

On our way down to the South of France the Boy and I broke our journey in Tournus, a lovely town in Burgundy.

The former Benedictine abbey, St Philibert was founded in 875 AD by monks fleeing the Vikings (the Normans of Normandy [given that my maternal grandmother was from Denmark, and my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Norman, there must be a lot of Viking in me]).

The Boy and I were rather taken with these signs…

…there’s someone with a good sense of humour around.

This 13thC mosaic was found during building work in 2005.

I love this little hawk…

…and the moody horse.

This little hawk must be a reference to the mosaic.

The organ is impressive…

…as are the few remaining wall paintings…

but I just adored the roof space. 

France August 2015 – Sancerre

Sancerre…renowned for great wine, delicious cheese…and ruddy, big ice-creams.

I’m not sure what this flower is, but there were a lot about and they were absolutely beautiful…

…as was this shop front.

It was great to see this old house…

…restored to some of it’s former glory.

Outside and inside the church we were menaced by a busker, who followed us round playing the guitar.

This BVM is very kitsch, but very effective. I have a vivid memory of seeing it when i was a child. Seeing it again this summer dropped me back into that memory, a very strange feeling.

My lovely Boys :-).

France August 2015 – St-Père-sous-Vézelay

When we first started visiting Burgundy about 15 years ago this church was in a very poor state.

There’s been a lot of restoration work in the last few years…

…but there’s still a lot to do.

I’m glad it’s happening…

…as it’s such a beautiful church.

Despite there being a car park, tourists park all over the place. I love that this householder has put cones out, but made them look pretty.

Alveston – May 2015

On a beautiful day at the end of May, my folks and I went to visit Alveston (in Warwickshire), where my Ma was brought up, and where one of my uncles still lives.

It’s a pretty little place, and we had lots of happy holidays there when we were children.

We had a lovely wander down to the chancel of the old church…

…it has a beautiful peaceful churchyard.

Back in my uncle’s garden…

…I had huge aquilegia envy. I must ask him for some seeds.

There’s something very special about a garden that’s been tended for a long time.

I feel very close to my late grandmother, Gertie, here.

The house and garden are on the top of a cliff above the river Avon. Beyond the river is Charlecote Park and the village of Hampton Lucy. When I was little, I used to get into Gertie’s bed in the morning for a cuddle, and look over the fields to the church (which goes by the wonderful name of St Peter ad Vincula).

Milan 2015 – Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio

The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio was first built between 379-386. It’s undergone various rebuilds and restorations…

…and the current structure is 12thC.

Even the anti-burgler devices are stylish.

As ever, I was drawn to the stone carvings. This friar…

…a centaur…

…a green man…

…weird creatures…

…weird creatures with big teeth.

This is the ‘devil’s column’. The legend is that the holes were made by the devil when he got stuck by the horns when fighting St Ambrose. It’s said that if you put your ear to it, you can hear the sounds of hell. I did, and I didn’t.

Milan 2015 – Santa Maria delle Grazie

Santa Maria delle Grazie is the home of the Dominican Friars in Milan, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The community’s former refectory is the home to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper.

The interior is absolutely lovely…

with stunning colours…

…a friar here and there…

…and a couple of cherubs.

Sadly, the magnolias had finished flowering in the cloister.

I think a froggy fountain would be a great addition to the quad at Blackfriars in Oxford.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Auxerre

I few year ago we had a lovely day in Auxerre (according to the guidebook you pronounce it ‘Aus-air’. This caused incomprehension in locals. Oh, ‘OX-air they said). I’ve had a yearning to go back every since. Sadly, it was a horrid, grey day, and once it started raining we hightailed back home.

We had a look round the Abbey of Staint-Germain

…which has an amazing organ…

…which looks like it’s about to open fire on the congregation.

The XIth C crypt in the cathedral of St. Étienne houses the remains of the former Romanesque cathedral.

The paintings include is scene of Christ-Horseman…

…the rider ‘Faithful and True’…

…on a white horse (Apoc. 19:11-16).

Despite rushing through the rain, we had time to notice some little details. A wooden carving above a shop…

…the remains of a statue…

…and a very perplexing piece of signage.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Alluy

About ten minutes up the road from Moulins-Englibert is the small hamlet of Alluy. The church has a XIIIth C crypt…

…with amazing wall paintings…

…and baby capitals!

The paintings seemed to have walked off a medieval manuscript.

The paintings were restored in 1979…

…and look very good.

Sadly, I don’t think they hold any services crypt. It’s tiny…

…but I think it would be wonderful to take part in a mass there.

Next time we’re in Burgundy, I’ll make sure we take the Boy.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Mont-Saint-Vincent

After our inadvertent detour we made it to the hilltop town of Mont-Saint-Vincent.

It’s a beautiful, little place…

…and the main attraction is the Cluniac church…

…built in the late 11thC and early 12thC.

…which lost its steeple during the French revolution.

The Cluniac monks left the church in 1506…

…after having a community there for over 500 years.

There were more of my favourite capitals.

It was nice to wander around the village…

…there were lots of lovely little details…

…including door furniture…

…hanging signs…

…chickens…

…and doves.