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!

Lisbon 2013 – Gulbenkian Museum (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian)

Another rainy day sent me off to the Gulbenkian Museum, which (along with the Gulbenkian Foundation, which funds the arts, social welfare, education and science) is housed in some interesting Modernist buildings.

The buildings are set in a beautifully landscaped park, and softened by lots of plants.

Calouste Gulbenkian was a very interesting man, who made his pile acting as a middleman in oil deals in Iraq post the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th Cent. His shrewd business deals lead to his nickname ‘Mr Five Percent’ (note to self, must look for a good biography).

His extensive art and textile collection would have probably ended up in the UK, had he not followed the French government to Vichy. The British government declared him an enemy alien and sized his oil revenues. You can’t blame him for being a bit miffed.

The collection is absolutely superb. My favourite pieces were the little, Egyptian cat sarcophagus (above) and the collection of Mamluk glass.

We’re all Doomed! A Visit to South Leigh Church

Why is it that we neglect the treasures on our doorstep? South Leigh is only three miles away and until this afternoon, I’d never been to the church.

This lovely Arts and Crafts inspired tower clock was installed in 1905.

This is the reason I visited – the amazing wall paintings. Now,before one gets too excited, one has to bear in mind that the paintings were HEAVILY restored in 1872 by Burlison and Grylls. But they can give you a fair idea of what churches looked like before those Puritan, iconoclast vandals got their hammers and whitewash on them!

Here is St Michael weighing souls with the Virgin interceding.

I was rather taken by these devils. Do you think the one that has the ‘stick’ in its mouth is playing fetch?

The Last Judgement – Doom – extends over the chancel arch onto the nave walls.

Painters always seem to have a more lively and colourful view of Hell than of the Celestial City. I guess they felt that they really had to hammer the point home.

Look at that red maw – that’s where YOU’RE going if you scrump any more apples!

See – Heaven looks really dull doesn’t it? And it looks like only red heads will get in!

These are lovely little birds…coming to a Victorian bathroom tile near you…

I ADORE Mary’s little canopy.

I’m glad that St Clement has one too, or he’d be jealous I’m sure!

This is the only unrestored painting, of The Seven Deadly Sins. In this state I think it has an abstract beauty.

As well as the paintings, there is this rather nice altar.

And the pulpit where John Wesley preached his first sermon, in 1725 – I wonder what he’d have thought of the restored paintings?