Categories
architecture buildings Church architecture memorials outdoor sculpture remembrance sculpture townscapes

Salisbury – a cathedral city

We hadn’t visited the city of Salisbury for many years so as we traveled down to Hampshire for a mid-week break we decided to drop off there on our way. We wondered if any memories were stirred up.

We wandered through the city following tourist signs which directed us to the cathedral. As we passed through the streets we tried to see if we remembered anywhere but it all seemed such a long time ago.

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We found the ancient stone gateway which led us to the Cathedral Close, a peaceful open grassed area where couples sat talking and individuals sat with a book or newspaper. A group of youngsters played a game of cricket appreciating all the freedom the space gave them.

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We wandered around the Close to gain views of the vast building and discovered the occasional piece of sculpture.

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The Cathedral in Salisbury is well known for two main features, the Magna Carta and its wonderfully preserved cloisters. When we walked around the four sides of the square Cloisters memories began to stir. We remembered this part of the building clearly.

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There were small reminders around the Cloisters about the importance of the Magna Carta. We loved this piece of calligraphy on the floor. “Responsibilty, Society, Change, Freedom, Justice, Liberty”. We found the historically important document itself carefully protected from the light and visitors’ fingers deep within the Cathedral building.

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The document itself was displayed in the Chapter House where a new display showed replicas of King John’s seal and a piece of vellum on a stretcher. When we saw the Magna Carta we were in total awe at being so close to possibly the most important document ever written. Our hearts skipped a beat! It was incredible to think that this document was written in 1215 and it was still in perfect condition.

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We loved this quotation from Franklin Roosevelt!

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The Chapter House which housed the Magna Carta was beautiful in its own right especially its vaulted ceiling. A Peppa Pig helium balloon had floated to the ceiling and added  a splash of colour, bright cerise pink! Jude was pleased to find a kneeler dedicated to St Jude!

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Wandering around the Cathedral we found many interesting artifacts  illustrating many centuries, including the world’s oldest surviving mechanical clock created in 1386 and a memorial plaque from the Burma Campaign.

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A much more recent and very eye-catching piece was this font designed by William Pye. It reflected the stained glass windows and produced a gentle sound of running water.

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The huge stone pillars in the nave were decorated with fabric hangings once again reflecting the thinking behind the Magna Carta. They said so much and also added great beauty and colour.

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Art work hung from the roof of the side aisle depicting the colours and falling leaves of autumn. They were fascinating and intensely beautiful, moving in the slightest breeze.

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Salisbury was so full of interest I will continue in part two.

 

Categories
architecture buildings canals light light quality photography reflections

A Canalside Walk in the City Centre

A canalside walk in the city centre! It just has to be Birmingham. You may remember a recent post about the new library in the great city of Birmingham. To those of us who live in the centre of the UK and not in the South and who know the city well, then it is obvious that Birmingham should be the Capital of England and not London. Being in the middle of the country it could represent the whole nation properly without the dreadful North-south divide that having the capital in the south has created.

The first photo is a self portrait and also sets the scene. The following batch illustrates the quality of light available for me to use that day. All the photos were taken on my Galaxy Phone’s camera – great little camera to use on the streets when you don’t want to be noticed. People remain at ease if you have a phone in your hand rather than a camera.

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The new library proved what a vibrant, forward thinking city Birmingham is. This post will feature a part of the city’s past that has been brought back to life. Its canals. Here small business thrive, cafes and bars are full of life and people just wander looking contented.

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We soon discovered that there is such an array of buildings of all shapes, sizes, functions and ages to be viewed from the canal towpath.

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It was hard to imagine as we walked the towpaths that this thin strip of water was a hub of transport a few centuries ago, the equivalent of the clogged M6 motorway we had traveled on to get to it. This little tug barge was one of the few signs of the canal’s previous importance.

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Our usual coffee break was taken within the comfort of one the National Convention Centre cafes. One of our favourite concert venues, the Symphony Hall is integrated with this building. There are some wonderful features here both inside and out.

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As we progressed around our canal-side ramble we got occasional glimpses of the New Library. Can you spot it in the picture below?

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No canal wandering can be complete though without a few reflections to enjoy, and not forgetting a nice old curvy bridge!

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I keep trying to get a good picture of shadows created by benches and am never very pleased with the results. The one below I was actually quite pleased with. I then finish off with a pic of patterns found beneath our feet and my favourite photo of the day, the glass globe against a filigree of delicate branches.

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Categories
architecture buildings gardens photography townscapes

The New Birmingham Library

It has been many months since I last wrote about architecture so I very much hope you enjoy this one. Firstly a few letterbox taster shots.

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On Sunday Jude and I plus our two children, Jamie and Jodie, and their respective “other halves”, Sammi and Rob, met up to visit an amazing new building in Birmingham, the new library. We have been watching it under construction for several years as it developed upwards from the place where we used to park the cars when we went to the Symphony Hall. We were full of anticipation as we walked the short distance from the car park. When you have such high expectations of any visit you are fully aware of the likelihood of disappointment. But we were not to be disappointed in the slightest – the library looked amazing from the first glimpse between buildings until we finished exploring outside and in.

The design features based on circles hugged the outside walls and caught the light beautifully. The interplay of shape and light felt so powerful. Our eyes just would not stay still. The reflections that painted the glass a deep blue stood out against the watery blue of the January sky.

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The smoothness of the huge sheets of glass at the bottom of the building reflected the surrounding buildings in such clarity.

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For such a modern building it sits so happily with its neighbours whatever their ages. This is a sign of quality design. I just love old and new architecture sitting side by side like old friends, looking contented and comfortable.

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So far we had only looked at the side of the library so we were looking forward to turning the corner.

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We found a revolving door to afford us entrance to explore inside. We were greeted by the warm aroma of coffee beans being ground and water seeping through them. We had to take a seat and give it a taste.

Inside is just as satisfying, everything perfectly designed and sitting comfortably. Everywhere we looked people, mainly students, were studying or browsing the book shelves. Many stared at computer monitors which lined the inside of the windows.

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Many of the interior fittings and features are based around circles, such as the lighting fittings and the light tubes. The interior lift to the very top few storeys was a cylinder shape which ran in a long circular tube of glass.

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On several levels there was access to the outside onto terraces. These were full of seating built into raised metal planters, featuring interesting plantings and even nest  boxes on poles. Here you can gain different views of the building itself and see its structure in detail.

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Part way around our tour of the top floor we found this little sculpture in one of the terrace gardens.

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From here you also gain close up views of the building itself and get the chance to study the structure itself.

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On one level we finished exploring the terraces and went back in a different entrance to discover a room dedicated to the works of one William Shakespeare. A room from the original Birmingham Library had been dismantled and re-assembled in the new building. The intricate detailing included the book shelves, the wooden wall panels and engravings on the door. The books lined the shelves which were full to capacity.

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The views over the city were stunning! Not everyone seemed happy getting close enough to the edge to appreciate this though!

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Well done to Birmingham! A building to be proud of! We will soon be back.

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