Monday, 10 June 2019

This Year's Books - Part One

Hello, thank you for dropping in and thank you for your comments on my last post.  You lot are lovely.  The weather here is cold, wet, dark and gloomy so I think it's time to cosy up and bring you my promised reading post.  If you were here last year you might remember that in 2017 my reading mojo almost completely disappeared so at the beginning of last year I set myself a reading target of twelve books over twelve months and I made myself document my progress here as extra motivation.  By the end of December I had read twenty-three books and made great inroads into my To Be Read pile shelf bookcase.  I have set up a separate page which lists those twenty-three books, partly in case you would like to have a peep but really so that I can look at them myself, especially as more than half of them have now left the building.
This year I decided to keep the target at twelve books but, now that my reading muscles are much fitter, the difference is that those twelve books will all be long ones.  I expect you know the sort of thing I mean, the broad spines which stare at you from the shelf, dominating it with their size and which you put off reading if you are out of condition because the distance seems daunting.  At least, it did to me. However, by the end of last year I felt ready to take on the challenge: twelve books, each one at least 450 pages long, which meant that this year, I have to keep a log of the number of pages in each book as well as its title and author.  So, here is the pile of books I have read so far this year. -

Thirteen already!  However, I am sure that you will have noticed that three of these do not meet the requisite criteria, being much shorter than 450 pages.  During this marathon I realised that sometimes, I need the refreshment of a short book, and as reading fiction is supposed to be a pleasure, I decided to meet that need whenever necessary - as long as I read twelve longer books over the course of the year, the target will still be met.  So with two more of those to read over the next six months, there should be plenty of room for other books, too. 
My heart sank on the day, more than two years ago, when a colleague brought me a bag containing seven long books by Susan Howatch, simply because it's difficult to find room for seven new, thick books in a teeny, tiny house.  "I noticed you were reading one of hers a couple of months ago," she said.  She was so kind and thoughtful that I hadn't the heart to correct her and say that the book she had noticed was actually by Elizabeth Jane Howard!  This is the Starbridge series of novels which explores different attitudes and schools of thought within the Church of England between 1937 and 1968.  Each novel stands alone, although the characters recur throughout the series.  I felt that I ought to read them but after the first one I was hooked and carried on because I really wanted to.  They are serious, and seriously good.  These four are, in order, Glittering Images, Glamorous Powers, Ultimate Prizes and Scandalous Risks.  There are two more which I haven't read yet (and that's not because I can't find them, no, it's really, really not, honestly, although it might be, and I really did need a break from mid-twentieth century Anglicanism) but The Wonder Worker takes the action to London and moves some of the same characters into the 1980s.  I didn't like this one so much, it began well but became a bit too soapy for me and I found the ending unbelievable.
The Lee Child thrillers about Jack Reacher were passed on to me with  recommendation and one of them, Killing Floor, was the first to be published.  Although they are not really my sort of thing and the short sentence structure annoyed me, I found them very difficult to put down.  He's obviously a good writer, but I don't think I'll read any more.
Rosie Thomas' A Simple Life was also passed on to me and frankly, the story itself was overshadowed by the physical book, which was horrible.  It was filthy and stained, the pages felt greasy in my hand and it's leaving my house to be pulped because I should be embarrassed to pass it on to anyone else.  The fact that I couldn't let it go before reading it probably says a lot about me! 
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver is the longest of these books, measuring up at 670 pages, and won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010.  The action takes place in Mexico and the USA between 1930 and 1959 and features Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky and a cameo appearance by Richard Nixon.  I enjoyed it very much.

Asking me to name a favourite book is like asking me to name a favourite child, I can't do it, but I think that All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is my favourite of all these.  When I took it off the shelf I didn't realise that it was largely set in St Malo in 1944, but reading it in the same week as the 75th anniversary of D-Day has given it extra resonance.  I found it a beautiful, spellbinding read and heartily recommend it.  I am also thanking my bookish sister who bought it for me, as well as The Lacuna, and may be surprised that it's taken me so long to get round to them; all I can say is that they were worth the wait.


As for the three shorter books, I have written about The Wool-Pack and Cradle on the Waves in previous posts so that just leaves The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin, in which the aging mother of Jesus looks back on his life and death and which I read at Easter.  This is an intense and moving novella, only 104 pages long, and I think that reading it may become part of my Easter tradition. 

These books amount to 5,716 pages.  I'm a bit stunned by that so I'm going to write it again: I have read five thousand, seven hundred and sixteen pages so far this year.  And again: 5,716 pages of prose.  I know that some of you read far more quickly than I do but for me, this is a huge total and makes me feel very positive about the whopper which I am building up to later this year.  I am so happy to be reading again.   

See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x


Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Half Term Break

Hello, thank you for dropping in and please excuse my absence.  A few hours after I published my last post the Best Beloved and I loaded up the car and set off on the long drive to The Lizard for a half term Cornish camping holiday. 

I had booked a lovely campsite which I'd found online and it surpassed our expectations.  It was quite small and very well-kept, bordered by hedges and established trees and we were almost deafened by birdsong the whole time we were there.  Here's the view from my dining table on the evening of our arrival.

Cornwall was beautiful, in and out of the sunshine.  The hawthorn trees in the hedges were still bearing their magnificent white blossom, unlike here in Shropshire, and the lanes were lined with frothy white Queen Anne's lace and pink campion.  I really wanted to get out of the car and take photographs but the lanes were too narrow for that to be feasible.  I was almost giddy with delight.  We went to the beach on our first day there, of course we did, even though it was so misty that we couldn't see much and I had to zip my fleece right up to my chin to keep out the wind, and we sat at a picnic bench outside the café and drank hot tea and I ate a hot pasty out of a paper bag while we watched wetsuit-wearing swimmers, surfers and kayakers, hardier than us.  I couldn't have felt happier.

After that day, the weather brightened.  We went to picturesque Cadgwith and ate crab sandwiches at The Cadgwith Cove Inn and we went to Kennack Sands and sat on the beach in glorious sunshine, him napping and me reading.  We went to a pretty tea garden and ate a cream tea - and please don't be shocked, but even though I was in Cornwall I ate it the Devonian way, cream first and jam on top.  In the evenings we sat in our tent and drank wine, chatted to each other, listened to children playing and I read my book.  It was idyllic.

The main purpose of our trip was to visit the churchyard in Crantock.  My dear friend Mary moved back near there in 2011 after living in Shropshire for almost twenty years, and the last time I saw her was during our Cornish holiday in 2016.  That day, she took us to visit the church in Crantock and showed us the grave where her parents and daughter are buried; she told me that she intended her ashes to be interred there too, and showed me how she had worded the inscription on the headstone so that all that would need to be added would be the date of her death, "if anyone's interested," she said.  I told her that I would be interested and that I would visit her.  Just after Christmas I learned that she died last year,  so I felt the need to honour my promise and that's why we took this trip.  The Best Beloved discreetly and thoughtfully made himself scarce while I sat beside the grave and said my goodbyes. 

While I was packing for this trip, I found my missing book!  Typically, it was in a place which I had looked in the previous day, and the day before that, but I was obviously looking with what my friend calls "man eyes"!  So, next time I can definitely share this year's books with you.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Monday, 27 May 2019

So Much To Read

Hello, thank you for calling it, it's lovely to see you here, although I'm a little embarrassed because I have almost nothing to share with you today.  I was planning to show you the books I have read so far this year - you might remember that last year I rediscovered my reading mojo and so set myself a target of twelve long books to read this year.  I have written another page about last year's books, really just for myself, to record the books I read because I was so proud of myself, and because more than half of those books have now left the building, but please feel free to have a peep if you'd like to.

So, I wrote a post about the books I have read so far and gathered them together to photograph them...except that I can't find one of them.  I know that I saw it in an unexpected place one day last week but I can't remember which unexpected place that was.  I have searched several unexpected places over the last couple of days but to no avail.  As I really can't bear to talk about my progress without showing you a photo of the rather satisfying pile, and I really can't bear to show you an incomplete pile, I'm afraid I can't do it.  Sorry, but it will have to wait until the book turns up (which I really do hope will be soon).  In the meantime, here is a photo of a little canvas which my eleven year-old nephew painted for me and gave to me at Christmas.  I just love it.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Thursday, 23 May 2019

King Cole Zig Zag Socks

Hello, thank you for popping in, you are very welcome here.  This post is going to be all about socks.  I know that some people will consider that to be a very dull subject for a blog post but I beg to differ because handknitted socks make me very excited indeed!  I was once told that after you have worn a pair of handknitted socks, made to fit your feet, you can never go back and I am inclined to agree; it's mostly in the fit, the way they actually hug your feet, but it's also the warmth, that 75% wool (in my case) keeps my feet toasty warm in the coldest weather.  The comfort in a good pair of socks is not to be dismissed.  I'm really not very rock 'n' roll, am I?

So, this year I have knitted three pairs of socks using King Cole Zig Zag yarn, which is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon, and I thought you might like to see them.  I bought the first ball myself to knit a pair of socks for The Mathematician, something to remind her how much her mum loves her while she is away.  She asked for a pair with a ruffle at the top which she could pull out over the top of her ankle boots rather than a cuff and I was delighted to fulfil that wish because knitting the cuff is my least favourite bit of the venture!  So, I knitted eight rows of single rib before moving straight on to the heel flap, which I always knit in eye of the partridge stitch.  (Sorry, I've just realised that this may be a foreign language to some of you, please don't give up here!)  Once the sock was finished I went back and picked up stitches around the cast on edge to knit the ruffle.  Here are the finished socks.

The Mathematician was delighted with them (I think, she may have been pretending but if so, she's a bloomin' good actress), which made me very happy indeed.  However, I was a bit disappointed with the yarn.  You see, I got this far and then found that the yarn had run out and a new piece had been joined with a knot (harrumph!  Who wants an uncomfortable knot rubbing against their foot?) and the new piece did not continue the colour pattern, it had just been joined randomly! 

Horror of horrors!  I really can't cope if the socks don't match so I had to cut the yarn and wind off 11g before reaching the point where the colours would match and I could start knitting again.  11g  out of a 100g ball!  It was very annoying.  Also annoying is the name of this shade: Heathers.  I mean, have you ever seen heather in these colours? 

I chose it because I really liked the turquoise, the orange and the magenta together but as I knitted through it the royal blue and yellow appeared and I really didn't like that yellow with the other colours, in fact I couldn't see that it had any place at all in this sock.  However, as I said, The Mathematician was delighted with them and that's the important thing.  (I've just had a look and I think this shade has been discontinued now, although I only bought this yarn four months ago.)

The next pair I knitted was with a shade called Oak, although I must admit that I can't find the ball band so that might not be right, but if it's not Oak it's Birch, and either way, I couldn't see it at all.  Can you?  When I looked at this ball of yarn I saw a shingle beach on a grey day: grey, white and blue evoked the sea, the sky and the pebbles, the black was the seaweed left on the beach when the tide receded and the beige was the sand. 

I was really looking forward to seeing how these knitted up, especially because they were for me!  Some kind and thoughtful friends bought the yarn for me for my birthday with strict instructions to knit some socks for myself.  Would you like to see how they turned out?

Not like the beach at all.  I was expecting narrow stripes rather than great big blocks of colour.  No, not a beach but certainly not a tree.  Harrumph!

The second ball of yarn which my friends bought for me was riotously colourful and just looking at it made me smile.  I knit socks from the top down so these began with muted shades of green, brown and grey before a lovely dark pink appeared.  I was reminded of an autumnal hedgerow with leaves changing colour and shiny berries.  However, the next stripe was bright orange and white and the one after that was slap-you-in-the-face green.  Then I was back to the hedgerow before another bright orange and white and, just for good measure, purple.  Now, I love purple, and I could see it in the context of my autumnal hedgerow; I could even see it with the orange and white and slap-you-in-the-face green, so I suppose it is the linking colour, but this does feel like a confusion of two completely different palettes.  It's completely bonkers but very jolly.  However, yet again the name seems to have nothing to do with the colours: this is Emberglow (although some websites list it as Ember Glow, which annoys me).  Really??  I have looked quite hard and I just can't conjure either the glowing coals of a campfire or a gas fire which looks like a real fire. 

I really ought to say some positive things about this yarn: the socks it has become are warm and fit well and I have washed them in the washing machine on a delicates programme at 40 degrees Celsius.  I usually hand wash my woollen socks but these seem absolutely unaffected by their automatic ordeal - phew!  It's not their fault that the people at King Cole gave them silly names and seem to have an understanding of colour which I don't share, and I really do like handknitted socks which fit my feet and keep them comfy and cosy, especially ones whose jollity makes me smile.

Now, you may be thinking that this is not the right time of year for me to be thinking about woollen socks - the temperature has warmed up, vests and boots have been discarded with abandon and short sleeves have been donned.  However, I have a little camping trip coming up soon and not only are these socks super comfy inside my walking boots, they are also absolutely essential at night when the temperature drops.  I never go camping without them because being cold makes me miserable and nobody wants a miserable camping partner, do they?
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Monday, 13 May 2019

Pimm's and Patchwork

Hello, thank you for dropping in.  Are you enjoying sunshine?  We are, and after last week's cool temperatures, rain and thunderstorm we are revelling in it.  The Best Beloved and I spent several hours working in the garden on Sunday while the butterflies fluttered about and a buzzard was mobbed by crows overhead.  It was all quite blissful.
On Saturday I went to an event at a local church with some friends and I have been reflecting on it ever since.  I hadn't intended to share it with you here, but it seems to have become quite important in my head.  It was an event for Christian women, a day of relaxation, pampering and creativity and I went with a group of friends, none of us in the best of health at the moment.  We arrived to a breakfast of pastries and fruit,  there was a salad bar for lunch and before we left, Pimm's and ice cream ("because it's summer", they said).  Hot drinks and homemade cake were available all day.  It was definitely a day full of treats.  The day was topped and tailed with short acts of worship, there was a terrific speaker and there were workshops: one friend did some Gentle Pilates, another had her nails painted, one watched a demonstration of Indian cookery and I did some patchwork.   If you just wanted to sit and chat with friends, or do your knitting on a sofa, that was fine.  The tables were dressed with tablecloths and jam jars containing bluebells and cow parsley and bunting was strung across the room. 
I have been reflecting on what made this day so special - the event has run twice a year for the last five years and about seventy women of all ages attend each one.  I think that it's because it is a day for women to put aside our responsibilities and concerns and enjoy being in the moment, catching  up with friends, indulging ourselves with delicious food and creative activities without feeling guilty.  The organising team went to so much trouble to make us feel cared for, decorating the room, bringing in rugs and cushions and even sending us home with goodie bags.  Crucial to this, I think, is that the event is free, it is a gift given to all of us and it is brimming with generosity; donations are welcomed and in fact encouraged, to cover the cost of the food, and there is a small charge for some of the workshops, although most are free, but I am sure that the response to the gift is generous.  Best of all is that it is such a positive day, there was so much encouragement for each other - as I was leaving, a young woman who I hadn't met before and whose name I still don't know came to find me and thanked me for encouraging her with her sewing.  Never mind me encouraging her, that act of thanks encouraged me hugely, learning that my small words had made a difference to her. My friends and I went home feeling that our souls had been soothed.
There are lessons for me in this.  (And I think there are lessons for other churches in this.)
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Sunday, 5 May 2019

More about Anglesey

Hello, thank you for popping in.  I do really love the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend, it's lovely to be free of the forthcoming Monday pressures.  The Best Beloved was away last night so this morning I took myself off to the café in the park for breakfast and sat outside in the sunshine with my book, birdsong and two pots of Earl Grey tea.  Absolute bliss, and I think I had the best of the day as the sky is grey now.

I'd like to show you some more of our trip to Anglesey.  It's a small island but there are so many different kinds of places to explore and we visited three of these places for the first time, even though we have been to the island many times.

1.  Moelfre

There is a little place by the beach at Moelfre which makes and sells ice cream.  I chose liquorice and I know that will divide opinion but I love liquorice and I've never seen liquorice ice cream before, so it had to be done.  I can report that it was everything I hoped it would be...and that it made my tongue go numb!  We sat beside each other on a bench which overlooked the sea while we ate our ice creams before going for a little wander on the shingle.  I found a stone with a hole in it for my friend, who collects them, and I'm sure you won't be surprised that I picked up a few shells as well. 

2.  Parys Mountain

Copper was first mined here in the Bronze Age but the Great Lode was discovered in the 1760s and in the 1780s the mine was the largest in the world, causing the area to become known as Copper Kingdom. It's an extraordinary landscape and you can walk all around it.  I found the colours mindblowing in the sunshine, I'm sure there's inspiration here for a yarny project.

3.  St Eugrad's Church

There is a thirteenth century stone carving of the Crucifixion in this church which I was keen to see.  The building stands in an isolated spot about half a mile outside the village of Marianglas.  We drove down the lane and into the woodland, enchanted by the bluebells and wild garlic, before parking the car and ascending the slope to the churchyard.  It felt quite magical, almost like something out of a fairytale, and I came back down to earth with a bump when I discovered that the church door was locked.  We wandered around the churchyard instead, which is oval and surrounded by trees.  It was a very pleasant place to be, listening to the birdsong and reading the headstones.  Although I was disappointed, I wasn't, if that makes any sense, because of that magical feeling.  It's a special place.  Next time I go to Anglesey I intend to contact the vicar in advance and ask if the church can be unlocked so that I can see inside (he's already offered to do that for me but I didn't like to disturb him during the week after Easter when I know that many clergy have a quiet time after the busyness of Holy Week and Easter) .

4.  Cemlyn

In the 1930s the local landowner, Captain Vivian Hewitt, built a dam and a weir to drain the saltmarshes here and form a lagoon which is divided from the sea by a shingle ridge (you can see the ridge on the right of my second photo).  In the lagoon there is an island which, with the ridge, is home to the only nesting colony of Sandwich terns in Wales - there are Arctic and common terns here, too.  Captain Hewitt was a keen ornithologist and you know how they say, "Build it and they'll come,"?  Well, he built it and they came.  He also built a substantial brick wall around his garden to provide shelter from the wind so that he could plant trees, again to encourage the birds (you can see the wall in my fourth photo).  I like the sound of Captain Hewitt.  It's still a very windy spot and while the Best Beloved walked the length of the ridge, and reported back that it's hard going on the legs, I sat in the shelter of some rocks and watched the sky, the sea, endlessly fascinating as the light changed, and the birds.  Those terns are VERY noisy so although my photos look quite serene, my ears were bombarded!  The area of the ridge where the birds nest is roped off from April until the end of the summer, so please don't worry that they were disturbed by the humans who had come to see them.  

5.  Trwyn Du (Black Point)

If you read my last post, this is the beach we drove to from Penmon Priory.  I have a very happy memory of a family picnic held here on a gloriously sunny day in 1998; there were fifteen of us, aged 3 months to 88 years, four generations.  It is the south-eastern tip of Anglesey and that island you can see is now called Puffin Island but it's Welsh name is Ynys Seiriol, Seiriol's Island, because it is where St Seiriol retired to towards the end of his life (there are monastic ruins there, too).  The lighthouse stands to warn shipping traffic that treacherous rocks lie beneath the waves and tolls a bell every thirty seconds.  I am delighted to report that The Pilot House Café sells the most delicious mint choc chip ice cream I have ever eaten, with generous shards of real dark chocolate.  So, if you can spare another eighteen seconds, here is a little film of soothing waves lapping onto the beach and, towards the end, the sonorous bell of the lighthouse (I've had a bit of trouble with this so please let me know if it doesn't work and I'll replace it with a still photograph).

I hope you can understand some of the reasons why I love spending time on Anglesey.  I can barely wait for my next visit! 

See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Penmon Priory

Hello, thank you for calling in and thank you for your comments on my last post.  I am very happy indeed to have discovered that some of you are ABBA fans too, especially with Eurovision on the horizon (I am already planning my menu).

After Easter, the Best Beloved and I went off to Anglesey for a little glamping break.  The last three months have been a bit of a struggle for me so this was supposed to be a restorative treat and I am happy to say that it was exactly that.  We arrived on Tuesday in 24 degree heat and sat on the little terrace outside our camping pod drinking chilled wine and eating bread, smoked salmon and little salady bits and pieces as the sun set over the field; then we lit a fire and stayed outside until the cockchafer beetles began their invasion attempt.  Have you ever had a close encounter with a cockchafer beetle?  You might know them as May bugs and that is the point - they are supposed to emerge in May, not on 23rd April!  They are huuuuuuuge, well, about 5cm long, and you know they are near because they buzz very loudly.  They fly towards the light but they are a bit clumsy and when one landed on me I yelped and demanded that the Best Beloved remove it, which he did, to the other side of the field.  Then a second one appeared inside the pod and had to be kindly but firmly evicted with the aid of a glass and a postcard before I locked the door very firmly, closed the curtains and turned on the fairy lights.  This was my second cockchafer encounter in the last seventeen years and I still haven't really recovered from the first so I don't wish to have any more, thank you very much!

The following morning the weather was still warm enough for us to sit outside on the terrace as we drank tea, ate croissants and planned the day.  I was keen to visit Penmon Priory, a place we hadn't visited before, so off we went.  I had done my research and knew that there were a ruined priory, a medieval fishpond, a dovecote and a holy well to be found there and if you've been reading here for a while, you'll know that that's just my kind of outing.

St Seiriol (St Cyril in English) is said to have come to Penmon in the sixth century and, finding a spring of clear water pouring out of the cliff, settled there as a hermit.  However, his brothers, who were both Welsh kings, didn't think that a little hermitage was good enough for such a high-born man and so they came and had built for him a wooden church and a monastery was established there.  The spring water became known for its healing powers and a well was built around it.  Four hundred years later, the Vikings attacked Anglesey and in 971 AD the church was looted and burnt down (pillage and plunder!). 

In the twelfth century a new church was erected a short distance away from the well, this time built of stone.  This church was a "clas", run by an autonomous religious community, and in about 1220 AD this clas was reorganised as an Augustinian order of canons, which meant that new buildings were added to the site: a refectory and dormitory, a place for the canons to eat and sleep.  This large block was built opposite the church, the space inbetween becoming the canons' cloister, and another building, the Prior's House, was probably built to link them, forming the third side of the rectangle.  (There is a more modern Prior's House there now which is not open to the public.)  Can you picture this?  This photo might help, taken from the fourth side of the cloister where there are now about twenty steps to take you up to visit the church - there would have been a range of buildings here too, but that's long gone.  It's quite a small complex and, I think, really quite charming.

The Priory did not survive the Dissolution of the Monasteries and was abandoned in about 1537.  Eventually, the land and buildings passed into the possession of a leading local family, the Bulkeleys of Beaumaris, who enclosed the land as a deer park and allowed the church to fall into ruin.  They also built a magnificent dovecote which enabled them to breed pigeons for food.  In the 1850s the church was repaired and the chancel rebuilt as it became the parish church.

So that's the history of this special place.  The Best Beloved and I set off along the lanes and soon arrived at the car park where we happily paid the £3 fee as the site itself is free to visit.  The sun was shining and the temperature was a pleasant 19 degrees.  First we looked inside the ruined refectory, which would have had three storeys: cellars, a dining room above and a dormitory on the top floor.  The monks used to eat in silence while one of them read aloud from a window seat.  "Go on then, read to me," the Best Beloved said.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," I said and he laughed.  Standing in front of the wall is a 12th century gravestone, as tall as I am, which had been used as a lintel over the doorway.  I placed my hand flat upon it for a few moments to imagine the echoes from centuries past. 

Then we climbed the stairs to the old cloister and sat on a bench, looking at the view.  It was a very pleasant spot.  (That large domed structure is the roof of the dovecote.)

Then we went inside the church and found ourselves in the chancel, which looked quite ordinary.  I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. 

Then the Best Beloved, who had wandered off with his camera, called me.  He had gone through the door and was standing at the entrance to the south transept, clicking away.  The sight just about took my breath away, it was so beautiful.

The rebuilding of the church has incorporated the arcading, which dates from 1170.  There is a stained glass window, made in the 19th century but including fragments of glass from the 15th, which depicts St Christopher, the Christ Child and St Seiriol himself.  It is the only image I found of St Seiriol in the church.  Standing in the transept is a large stone cross which dates from the 10th century, one of two which probably stood at the entrance to the old monastery which was destroyed by the Vikings.  This cross is missing one of its arms as it was removed to be used as a lintel for one of the windows in the refectory!

Leaving the south transept, we entered the nave of the old church, where stands the other 10th century stone cross, which stood in the deer park until 1977, and a font which may well be the base of a third cross of a similar age.  There is also a very small font dating from 1150 which was used until the big one was installed.  I really don't know how you could dunk a baby in it!  (I did wonder if it were a piscina rather than a font but then I remembered that I saw a very similar font in a Norman church last year.)  I sat there by myself for a while, it was so very quiet and peaceful. 

When we left the church we decided to head down to the beach and look at the well on our way back - the Best Beloved was very keen to have an ice cream and after all, we were on holiday, and the holiday rule is that you have an ice cream every day!  There is a £3 toll to drive down the road to Penmon Point but if you have paid to use the car park, you don't have to pay again.  We went to the beach and ate our ice cream in the car because the temperature had dropped to 11 degrees!  We did get out and have a little wander, which I'll show you next time, but soon it started to rain.  We got back in the car, drove back to the Priory and parked up, by which time it was raining consistently, but we are a bit daft when we are on holiday and a pilgrim like me is not to be deterred from finding a holy well by a bit of rain!  First we ran inside the dovecote - WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"It's like something out of Game of Thrones!" said the Best Beloved.  The pillar in the middle was a ladder which enable the pigeon keeper to climb up to the birds.  There are spaces here for 930 pairs of pigeons and the squabs would be killed at four weeks old, so plenty of meat for the Bulkeleys.

I'm sorry, it was really difficult to photograph but I wanted to give you a sense of its scale.

Then we found the footpath leading to the well, which took us around the fish pond which had been built for the monks.  Fortunately, some overhanging trees provided a bit of shelter from the rain, which was becoming heavier.  Apparently, lots of people miss out this bit of the site but really, it's worth the few minutes' walk, even in the rain!  The water in the well is still crystal clear.  The little brick "house" built over it dates from 1710 but the rest of the stonework is much, much older.  The Best Beloved must love me because he stood in the rain to take these photos and he really isn't very bothered about holy wells at all.

We strode back to the car as quickly as we could and fell into it.  I was soaking wet but happy because Penmon Priory is a very lovely place to visit, even in the rain.  Of course, we could have avoided getting wet by visiting the dovecote and the well before going to the beach, and that would have been very sensible, but then we wouldn't have walked on the beach, and I can't ever regret a walk on the beach, especially when there is a delicious ice cream and a lighthouse.

See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x