Tag Archives: Architecture

A Month in the Country – J. L. Carr

A damaged survivor of the First World War, Tom Birkin finds refuge in the quiet village church of Oxgodby where he is to spend the summer uncovering a huge medieval wall-painting. Immersed in the peace and beauty of the countryside and the unchanging rhythms of village life he experiences a sense of renewal and belief in the future. Now an old man, Birkin looks back on the idyllic summer of 1920, remembering a vanished place of blissful calm, untouched by change, a precious moment he has carried with him through the disappointments of the years.

It’s been an utter pleasure rereading this splendid short book, heading back to 1920’s Oxgodby and its five hundred year old church painting. Reacquainting myself with the inhabitants, and a way of life lost to time reminded me of Carr’s evocative prose and the beauty of the English countryside.

This is a great story to get lost in – one which demands repeat readings be savoured – it really accentuates the little things in life, those wondrous things that surround us, yet seem hidden in plain sight until viewed in hindsight. There is a comforting sense of isolation here, a total delight to be immersed in.

The plot revolves around the methodical and gradual uncovering of a medieval wall painting and this also extends to the personalities of the  people.  As time moves on there is a slow exposing of both, as well as the social life of the village.  All this is played out in such a relaxed manner that the under the surface busyness is very subtly played out.

Birkin’s love for mechanisms and how the parts slot together are a fitting metaphor for how he sees the community and also in a literal sense of the time. There is a feeling of being on the cusp of changes in his life, in the rhythms of countryside and nature and how the industrial age is really starting to impact the isolated countryside.  It’s pleasurably melancholy and allows readers of any age to feel the loss of what once was. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 05/03/2018 in Fiction


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Pintô Art Museum, Exterior

I love a good museum, especially one that is housed in a lovely building. On a Sunday living up to its name Crissy and I, took advantage of an offer from cousin-in-law (if that is the right term) Jerrold and girlfriend Kim to explore the Pinto Art Museum.

What a find it was! Entering through a small gated archway, I could have been mistaken for thinking I’d ended up in the Mediterranean countries.  The greenery and the whitewashed buildings were a world away from the glass and steel buildings of the everyday.  The addition of a little chapel near the entrance was a nice juxtaposition of historical art, leading as it would, to modern art.

I could find no information about the actual buildings but I think that adds to the aura of the place.  The relaxing atmosphere leaves the adventurer free to explore and stumble upon the pieces as haphazardly as one wishes. I imagine sitting for a time at the mini amphitheatre watching a play in the dusk breeze would be amazing.

With chairs and beds placed around, as well as some statues and sculptures to keep one satiated between galleries this is a truly wonderful place to seek out and appreciate nature as well as art. Read the rest of this entry »


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More Bromley House Library

Whilst touring the library’s several floors, it was wonderful to see plenty of cosy reading nooks and comfy chairs (as well as the day’s papers) which had me in mind of one of the old Gentlemen’s clubs frequented by Sherlock Holmes or Bertie Wooster.

Pottering around we were told that Bromley House has one of only four meridian lines in England and for some reason I straddled it as if I was in two different time zones.  Serious amounts of books will make me do odd things, although in the olden days Nottingham would have been 4 minutes and 33 seconds behind Greenwich.

The history section is one of the most fascinating as the books are classified in the order received, so wandering around the piles I found some amusing shelf mates such as Stalin next to Gandhi and Florence Nightingale sat next to…Lucretia Borgia!  It was also great to see the British Sundial Society Library housed here too, which is certainly something I would love to go back to and discover. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 19/08/2017 in Architecture, History, Travel


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Bromley House Library

After finishing The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, I idly typed into my search engine of choice, ‘secret library Nottingham’ and was surprised by actually finding one. Bromley House Library is smack bang in the centre of town, its unassuming doorway sandwiched between a charity shop and a newsagent.  It was very much like finding the Book Cemetery in Barcelona á la The Shadow of the Wind.

Arriving for my tour – which can be taken every Wednesday at 2:30pm for the excellent price of £2 – this is the scene that first greets the visitor, from there I knew it was going to be a book lovers dream to wander around in.  I later found out that that staircase is only supported at top and bottom so only one person can ascend or descend at a time.

This magnificent old building, built in 1752 has held the library since 1822, the library was in fact established earlier, in 1816 and has now amassed around 40,000 books, including local author (with a truly awesome last name) Alan Sillitoe’s own personal library (not pictured to due to my shaky hands phone camera work that rendered most of my photos a shocking mess) and the oldest book is Dante’s Opera held, dating from 1578.

Due to Bromley House being a grade II listed building, a lot of original features are still to be seen dotted around the place which makes the feeling of history and the real library reading experience feel more real.  I fell in love with this place as soon as I entered and wandering around the building I saw so much, more of which in an upcoming post.




Posted by on 15/08/2017 in Architecture, Classics, History, Travel


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Days of Reading – Marcel Proust

Books!In these inspiring essays about why we read, Proust explores all the pleasures and trials that we take from books, as well as explaining the beauty of Ruskin and his work, and the joys of losing yourself in literature as a child.

Part of the challenge with Proust is finding plenty of time in which to become intimately involved with his approach to writing.  This is my first reading experience of P. and his style is impressively immersive and made me feel nostalgic for places  and a time I have never experienced.

Plenty of essays ramble on but P. prefers clear concise language whilst being able to digress at will, yet each meandering discovery the reader makes always – eventually – comes back to the original point but makes one feel richer for the detour.

It’s a joy to read, although it is understandable that Proust splits readers due to his technique.  This reader had to change his mindset and learn to soak up the ambience of the prose, rather than feeling I was getting somewhere with plot or idea like I usually would.  In that regard the first few pages were a grind but realising that the author was going to take his time puts the reader either resigns the reader to a long haul or to the appreciation of a slow meditation of life.

The book opens with an essay on John Ruskin’s contribution to the understanding and appreciation of art and architecture, especially inspired by Christianity.  How art in general echoes its greatness (when it is) through the centuries and reaches to us emotionally, each example studied is a communing with antiquity.  It’s a study of us as well as a celebration of what we can achieve through our own creativity.

The essays on childhood memories and in particular of reading books when the mind is still open to the most innocent wonder and imagination is gloriously evocative writing.  Proust appreciates how rereading books brings forth a tangible memory of his formative years, he mirrors the echoing of art down the ages with thoughts, of ideas from our past that define modern life; not to mention timeless characters, books and the universal joy for all seasons and people. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 30/07/2016 in Architecture, Art, Autobiography, Essays, History, Life


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Boston Public Library

After the last post which featured lots of exterior architecture photos, it would be remiss of me not to give you a glimpse inside one of the buildings at the very least and I was saving this particular one for just this occasion.

SAM_2837Standing opposite Trinity Church and the John Hancock Tower, there is always an air of excitement but that is probably me just projecting,  although the street market (which had plenty of foods from around the world) that popped up on one of the many trips past may have helped.  There was also a man serenading the library with opera on at least two instances rather bizarrely.

SAM_2686Just outside the entrance is an inspiring list of artists that whet the appetite for the creative endeavours that await in the library.  A vast collection that impressed me with the size and scope of its book choice (23 million items including maps, manuscripts and musical, including various first folios of Shakespeare as well as original scores from Prokofiev amongst others), I felt like I was being spoilt wandering the corridors and fully appreciating the air conditioning.

SAM_2689Passing through the main entrance and up a grand marble stairway, with its lions, columns and wonderful art work really sets the tone for the experience, the ideas and scholarship brought together is intoxicating as well as cementing the ‘knowledge is power’ quote firmly in mind.  I spent a good fifteen minutes just appreciating this approach to the main reading hall. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 13/07/2016 in Architecture, Boston, Travel


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Boston Architecture

The below photo was taken in true tourist style, with head and camera out of window and plenty of waving to bemused locals who had no idea why I would be happy to be stuck in traffic.  Inadvertently the photo captures the wonderful spread of architecture seen throughout the city, the mixture on offer is a fascinating plethora of styles from new, old and ancient worlds.


Taken in order of when I photographed them, there was quite a spread in the fairly small circle of walking that we did.

It only took a few minutes of walking to discover the John Ruskin inspired Gothic Revival example of architecture shown in Old South Church, completed in 1873.  Admittedly this is not the best shot of its impressive facade but there are plenty more searchable and impressive photos out there.

SAM_2679I was somewhat distracted as diagonally opposite I came across two examples of design stood side by side that epitomise the changes in architecture through the ages in the most jarring of ways…

SAM_2835Named one of the Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States by the American Institute of architects (and is the only building still retained  from the original 1885 list), Trinity Church was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and it is the archetype for the style later known as Richardson Romanesque Revival. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 08/07/2016 in Architecture, Boston, Travel


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