Walking To Montepulciano

It was a circular walk, there and around and back again, but I got carried away with the camera and took far too many photos, so it might seem we were gone for three days instead of just the one. We were staying in Montefollonico – this quiet fortified village, with its small medieval houses, is Sienese in atmosphere, and inhabited by numerous doves and pigeons – and from our terrace we could see the birds come home to roost each day, across the valley from Montepulciano. Read more

Frames of reference

Trees: Irene Kung

I found a book under the Christmas tree, a souvenir of Italy. It’s full of spectacular tree photographs, apparently caught by flashlight; night-time dreaming trees suddenly startled awake. They are by the Swiss photographer Irene Kung –

“In my way of working it is possible to reinstate the tree to what I felt. That is exactly what I do with my work: I remove everything unessential in order to show the tree as it is, as I feel it. It is intuition, it is irrational: rationality can be misleading, sentiment cannot… I return the tree to what I have felt – its essence… A positive and fruit-bearing message in the face of crisis.” Read more

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Season’s Greetings

This year’s card is from a painting by Andrew Walton, inspired by an ancient chalk figure on the Dorset Downs known as the Rowley Round Ring (Roll Around Ring), named for the surveyor John Rowley who, in 1710, first recorded another antique geoglyph, the Long Man of Wilmington.

The significance of this particular design is not fully understood but it recalls similar turf-cut labyrinths called Troy Towns, after the deliberately confusing construction of their walls, perhaps intended to keep unwelcome spirits trapped within.

Each winter, at the full cold moon, a blessed cheese is rolled around the circle by an eminent local cheesemaker in a ritual offering to the gods, celebrating the newborn baby cheeses.

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Andrei Tarkovsky, Cinema Of The Soul

And then I found this short homage by Martin Kessler. It’s a collection of well-chosen clips from some of Tarkovsky’s best films, beautifully woven together with music by Beethoven and Bach, to produce a sampler that just leaves me wanting to see more of these memorable moving images.

Open Culture: Andrei Tarkovsky

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San Galgano

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A couple of days later we discovered another ancient abbey, a counterbalance to the beauty and elegance of Sant’Antimo, the Abbazia di San Galgano stands open to the sky, with all the breathtaking grandeur of a canyon carved out of the rock, its great hulk like a ship run aground. Read more

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Bagno Vignoni

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After visiting San Quirico d’Orcia and Montalcino we headed south looking for Bagno Vignoni, a spa since Roman times, but we got distracted along the way by the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo, a beautiful Benedictine monastery set in a lovely landscape of wooded hills and olive groves. Read more

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A Living Advent Calendar – Peace To The World

A new initiative was started in the borough of Kensington this year by The Rev’d Stephen Fielding of St Mary Abbots church, to engage with the various businesses of the borough. The idea was to create a Living Advent Calendar, where each day, participating businesses in a different location would unveil a window display to create an advent calendar across the parish. Each business would ask an artist to create an artwork for their window which would illustrate the Christmas theme of Peace To The World, and each day at the unveiling of the window, a small celebration would be held to unite businesses, locals and visitors to the area to add to the sense of community. Read more

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A November Garden

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The leaves are now rapidly falling off the cotoneaster, soon to be followed by all its berries. As the leaves fall they get snagged on residual lines of spiders’ silk, and are left suspended in mid air. Read more

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South Downs Sunday

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Sunday dawned cold and sharp, the sun straining through the early morning Ditchling mist. We took a walk around the village, just as the sun broke through, illuminating walls of flint and brick. Read more

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South Downs Saturday

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It was half term. Sue was on holiday from school for a week so we went down south to the South Downs for a weekend. I don’t get a half term break otherwise we might have stayed longer. But it was perfect. Blue skies and a chance to breathe some clear Sussex air. Read more

Frames of reference