Friday, August 26, 2011

On to Wales!

After Mayday in Padstow we headed up to Wales to spend a couple of days with Anne Lister, a singer, storyteller, and writer who we met several years ago when she was touring in New England. She and her husband, actor Steve Purbrick, live in Pontypool. Anne connected us with the Llantrisant Folk Club the last time we were in the UK, back in 2005, and we were finally able to schedule a concert there.

We also spent some time hunting standing stones and other ancient monuments. We had seen the Harold Stones before,

but not St. Anne's Well.

A couple of the sites had informational placards illustrated by area school children. Fairies figure pretty heavily in the lore surroundng St. Anne's Well.

This remnant of a stone circle was on top of a hill overlooking the Severn.

The views to get there were spectacular!

On another afternoon we watched birds flying over the River Wye,

hiked past King Arthur's Caves

...found some Welsh bluebells,

...and had dinner at a 14th century pub.
The cable strung across the river is for pulling the ferry across. It's the same technology that has been used at this crossing for 600 years or more.

Thatching has been used for a long time, too!

On to Bath

On our way to London to catch our flight to Kosovo we stopped in the city of Bath to visit the Roman baths there. These were the largest baths in the Roman empire. Since the water is supplied by a natural hot spring, it kept the cost of operation low.

The baths were originally roofed over with a masonry arched roof. When it fell into disrepair and collapsed in the fifth or sixth century, it buried the baths so deep that the ruins weren't discovered until the 19th century, when artifacts were discovered while digging for sewers.

This picture is taken from the oldest intact Roman colonnade in the world - these stones have been in place for 2000 years.

We also went into the Cathedral. This building was heavily damaged in WWII, so all the windows are from the last sixty years.

The ceiling is amazing!

Julia asked if there were any greenman images in the church and was told that there were not. However here is a photo of one of the two that she found carved on the ends of pews.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mayday in Padstow

Unite and unite, oh let us all unite
For summer is a'coming today
And whither we are going, we all will unite
In the merry month of May.

Here we are heading into the square in Padstow for the famous Mayday celebration. Mayday was on May 2 this year because you can't have an ancient celebration like this on Sunday!!

Here's a closer view of the Maypole.

The entire town was bedecked with greenery and the participants with flowers. This is a celebration which involves many, many citizens of the town. There are parades all day with hundreds of accordians and drums.

Oh, where are the young men that now here should dance
For summer is a'coming today
Well some there are in England and some are in France
In the merry month of May

Oh, where are the maidens that now here should sing
For summer is a'coming today
They're all out in the meadows a flower gathering
In the merry month of May

The young men of Padstow they might if the would
For summer is a'coming today
They might have built a ship and gilded it with gold
In the merry month of May

The pares are led by a teaser: one for the Red 'Obby 'Oss and one for the Blue 'Obby 'Oss. Here is the Blue Teaser:
...and here is the Red 'Oss. The 'Osses dance through the streets all day to the Padstow Mayday song. Every now and then the 'Oss dies and the song changes:

Oh where is Saint George, oh where is he oh
He's down in his longboat upon the salt sea oh
Up flies the kite, down falls the lark-o
And  Ursula Birdwood, she had an old ewe
And she died in her park-o

Padstow ex-pats come home every year to be part of the event. This is Chris Brinn, who lives in Maine and has only ever missed two Maydays in Padstow!

If you don't have proper attire for the parades there are a number of fine shops in town.