Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

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[45] Digging for Gold

[45] Digging for Gold – A Pictorial Blog about Streets

This will be just pictures – pictures of streets. Some are from England including Cheltenham, Oxford and Cirencester. Some are from France, Croatia or Antwerp. I have randomized them a bit so that you can have fun working out where each one comes from.

Streets remind me of the story of Dick Whittington but also of the song sung by Peter Sarstedt, The Mountains of Mourne. It is sung to a traditional folk tune but the words by Percy French are from around 1900.

Here is the first verse.

Dear Mary this London’s a wonderful sight Oh there’s people here working by day and by night They don’t plant potatoes, nor barley, or wheat But there’s gangs of them digging for gold in the street At least when I asked them that’s what I was told So I just took a hand at this digging for gold But for all that I found there I might as well be Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

Of course I also remember a bit from the second verse.

I believe that in writing a wish you expressed As to how the fine ladies in London are dressed Well if you’ll believe me, when asked to a ball Oh They don’t wear no tops to their dresses at all Oh I’ve seen them myself and you could not in truth Say if they were bound for a ball or a bath Don’t go starting them fashions, now Mary McCree Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

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[49] Working His Purpose out – a Pictorial Blog about Water

[49] Working His Purpose out – a Pictorial Blog about Water

I started with a category covering Landscapes and Buildings and thought of Seascapes – but Water as a topic covers so much more than the sea. There are lakes, rivers, waterfalls and fountains. This blog will have a lot of pictures with nothing in the way of comments. Because it’s pictorial I have adjusted some pictures for contrast and colour balance to improve the artistic impression!

Coastal pictures may come from Bournemouth or Croatia or Antwerp or France. River pictures will be mostly from walking along the Thames Path and lakes and wetland pictures may come from my birdwatching haunts – Slimbridge, the Forest of Dean and Pittville Park.


Lakes and Rivers

Boats and Bridges

Canals, Locks and Weirs


Reflections and Water Surface

Water Drops and Fountains

No apologies for another Biblical quote. As always, only the Authorized Version of King James, from Habakkuk Chapter 2: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” I remember it for the stirring hymn, God is Working His Purpose Out.

God is working his purpose out – as year succeeds to year: God is working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near; nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be, when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.


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[46] The Man who bears the Cross

[46] The Man Who Bears the Cross – a Blog about the City of Antwerp
I am using my categories loosely and there is a lot of overlap between [3] Places and [4] Outside. The Outside category is about landscapes and buildings and will have topics such as Churches, Streets, Buildings and Statues. This one is about a visit to the city of Antwerp concentrating on two of its buildings and several of its statues.


As always, Wikipedia provides some helpful information. Antwerp is the most populous city of Belgium (second to Brussels if you count the extended metropolitan areas.) It is the capital of the Antwerp province in the region of Flanders – the northern Dutch speaking part of the country. Its inhabitants are nicknamed ‘Sinjoren’ referring to the Spanish noblemen (señor) who ruled the city in the Seventeenth Century.

It lies on the river Scheldt and is linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde estuary, the remaining part of what was a more complex delta before management by a number of dams.

The port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe. We visited for just part of one day in late May when our ship docked at the cruise terminal.

There are differing versions of the city’s name. A legend, illustrated by a statue in front of the Town Hall, talks of a giant called Antigoon who lived near the Scheldt. He exacted a toll from passing boatmen. For those who refused he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. He was eventually killed by a young hero called Silvius Brabo, who cut of the giant’s own hand and threw it into the river. Antwerpen is said to come from hand werpen (similar to Old English hand wearpan) meaning ‘throwing the hand.’

Another longstanding theory puts it from the Roman period and the Latin Antverpia from ante verpia meaning ‘before sedimentation.’ The Scheldt used to follow a different track with the city in a curve of the river. Perhaps Antverpia was a small outpost by a river crossing.

Many historians and etymologists now argue that it derives from “An ‘t werf” meaning ‘on the wharf.’ Another possibility is from “Aan ‘t werp” (at the warp.) This “warp” (thrown ground) is a man-made hill or a river deposit, high enough to remain dry at high tide, for the construction of dykes and polders.

Before I start with our city visit here is an example of Belgian hospitality. We just asked for Americano coffee but we each had a little madeleine and a tiny amaretto – and it wasn’t expensive.

There were narrow streets in the central old part of the city, probably only so empty because we were early on a Monday morning. In the background of the picture above you can see the Cathedral, the main attraction. We did have to wait for it to open so we went elsewhere to begin our sightseeing. We will come back to the cathedral.

The Steen

Known in Dutch as Het Steen, (‘the Stone’ or ‘the Stone Castle,’) this is a medieval fortress, the oldest building in Antwerp. It was originally known as Antwerpen Burcht (Antwerp Fortress) but it became “‘s Heeren Steen” (‘the King’s castle’) in the early Sixteenth Century after extensive rebuilding by Charles V, and later just Het Steen.

It controlled access to the river Scheldt and was used as a prison from 1303 to 1827. In the Nineteenth Century most of the fortress was demolished when the quays were straightened to prevent the river silting up. The remaining building was heavily modified and became a maritime museum. More recently the museum has moved and the building is no longer open for public access but we could walk round it and see various statues and plaques.

There is a rather unusual statue at the entrance depicting the giant known as Lange Wapper and two ordinary men. He is not the same giant mentioned above but is a character in several stories about Antwerp from Flemish medieval folklore.

Just by this statue a ramp takes you through an arch round the back to another arch. In the picture above you can see a crucifix overlooking a view of the Scheldt and a coat of arms on the wall ahead. Both of these are shown in more detail below.

The arms are those of the Margraviate of Antwerpen, Mechelen and Turnhout (an earlier version of the province of Antwerp) with the eagle of the Holy Roman Empire over the arms of the city. The city arms now are just the castle with two hands. The motto Fortunata Antverpia was only used in the Sixteenth Century. The lord and lady as supporters also date to the Sixteenth Century. The modern arms have male and female savages.

Shown above is a view of the castle from the city side.

The Cathedral

The cathedral with its tower and gold clock-faces dominated the city and I will start with some external views.

The front entrance (above) is impressive but so is the side door!

As the notice proclaims it is the Cathedral of Our Lady, ‘Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal,’ and it took 170 years to build. It was designed to be the largest Gothic church in Belgium but was never fully completed. Instead of having two towers of equal height its south tower is far from complete. The architect Pieter Appelmans will be mentioned later.

Inside we find an impressive nave with a magnificent ceiling.

The carved choir stalls were equally impressive but very reminiscent of similar carvings in many English cathedrals.

The carved pulpit and many of the other statues and decorations came originally from other churches.

It was full of baroque art including pieces by Rubens.

The stained glass windows were difficult to photograph.

I suppose I was thinking of how the cathedral differed from those I had seen in England. The art was different and the windows were not quite the same. But the organ could have been British and the crypt was not unusual.

I was surprised at these memorial stones. We do have them in churches and cathedrals in England but the lettering fades over the centuries. I have never seen them before like this with white stone set into the black monuments. They were in Latin and said much less (perhaps because this technique only works with large letters,) but they had survived for three or four hundred years.


I start with three statues of people you have already met.

Here is the one with Silvius Brabo and the severed hand. It’s actually a large fountain – a very unusual fountain without a visible reservoir of water. The water just disappears under the fountain.

Next tucked into a corner outside the cathedral, a monument to its architect and some of his master craftsmen.

I have to admit that there were some statues of people I had never heard of but I had to include this son of the city.

Two more statues on buildings that, like the large fountain, showed the green patina of copper. They also had something in common with their subject matter.

I have three more from buildings before I come to one of my favourites.

I loved this child snuggling in bed with a canine family member. The statue was given to the city by the people of China.

Moving away from the city centre to the area by the Steen and the river there were a few more statues starting with an anchor outside the Steen.

I don’t remember Minerva as the goddess of automobiles from my classical education.

Jan Fabre, who lives and works in Antwerp is described by Wikipedia as ‘a Belgian artist, playwright, stage director, choreographer and designer.’ He is responsible for this statue in Antwerp Cathedral called ‘the Man who Bears the Cross.

I won’t attempt to explain its deeper significance but is a life-like statue of a man balancing a cross.

There will be another blog from our very short cruise.


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[47] Stare Slave Djedovino

[47] Stare Slave Djedovino – a Pictorial Blog about Istria

The Croatian National Anthem, Lijepa Naša Domovino starts:

Lijepa naša domovino; Oj junačka zemljo mila;

Stare slave djedovino; Da bi vazda sretna bila! …

The English translation is:

Our beautiful homeland; O so fearless and gracious;

Our fathers’ ancient glory; May you be blessed forever …

This is one of three blogs about Croatia. It will be mostly pictures and it’s really about some time we spent there in May. Most pictures are from an area of a few square miles around our hotel including the town of Rovinj [Rovigno] and the Golden Cape Forest Park to the South. Some come from the wider area of Istria [Istra]; the towns of Pula [Pola], Koper [Capodistria] (in Slovenia) and Trieste (in Italy) and the island of Brijuni [Brioni].

It’s an area with a complicated history and towns there all have Italian names. You can see more about the area in [39] Croatia and [18] Croatian Wildlife, which has an introduction to the Forest Park and many pictures of the animal life.


I start with some views of Rovinj. All will include some sea. The picture above was taken from Katarina Island.

The Sea

Views of the sea everywhere were beautiful.


The sky wasn’t always pure blue everywhere. Sometimes there were pretty white clouds.


I will start with one of the main streets of Rovinj not far from the original city.

Within the old city streets are narrow and sometimes steep. The steeper ones may use steps.

This tree-lined avenue is at Rovinj.

Trieste has this magnificent square shown from several directions.


I have to start with the magnificent state of Saint Euphemia at the top of the tower of the church that tops the hill over Rovinj. She is mounted so that she can change direction with the prevailing winds.

Next is the fountain in central Rovinj and the Dolphin by the port area.

Near to the market is this memorial.

We move to Pula for a statue of Tito and one of several old anchors. (Tito was among a group of other Croatian heroes but he is the only one with such wide fame in the UK.)

From Koper part of another fountain and a lady representing the spirit of Istria.

The statues at Miramar Castle were more in the classic Roman tradition. I will let you work out which of these two is a man and which is a woman.

In Trieste we find another fountain.

In the square at Trieste were two statues acting as military monuments, each with three figures round the sides. Somehow the sculptors could only bring themselves to use two out of three for soldiers.

My last two statues are from the island of Brijuni. (It’s not my fault if most of the statues seem to be naked women.)


I managed to find some examples of transport but almost all the relevant transport was on the water – ships and boats of various sizes.

There were some small fishing boats.

Rovinj even had a small boatyard doing repairs.

Mostly, they were pleasure boats.

I have far too many pictures for just three blogs on Croatia so I will end with some Textures and Walls from the hotel area and some pictures of water.

Don’t forget the other two – [39] Croatia and [18] Croatian Wildlife.


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[48] Here am I

Here am I – A Picture Blog about Statues

This will be a pictorial blog concentrating on some of the statues I see often so I will order it geographically rather than chronologically.

Cheltenham Statues

Of course I have to start with my home town. Cheltenham has several statues but I will start with four prominent statues all close to its centre.

Edward VII

Albert Edward, known affectionately as Bertie by his family, was Prince of Wales waiting to become King for a long time. When Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901 after forty years of mourning for her beloved husband Albert, Bertie chose to be called King Edward rather than Albert, because he said he didn’t want to “undervalue the name of Albert” and “diminish the status of his father with whom, among royalty, the name Albert should stand alone.”

The statue in Montpellier is a very sentimental statue, showing Edward VII holding a child by the hand. It was made in 1914 by Ambrose Neal and stands on a granite plinth.


Gustav Holst

The well-known composer is one of few notable celebrities who were born in Cheltenham and you can still visit his house here and see his piano.


This relatively recent statue in Montpellier Gardens shows him with the baton in his left hand, his frequent practice because of the neuritis in his right arm. He stands on a plinth and each face of the plinth has a sculpture of a Roman god representing one of the planets in his famous orchestral suite, The Planets.


Here are Jupiter and Neptune.


 jupiter     neptune

Edward Wilson


Edward Adrian Wilson was another son of Cheltenham. He was one of the Antarctic explorers who died with Scott – as shown in the plaque below. His statue is on the Promenade with the Municipal Buildings in the background.


The statue of was modelled by Scott’s widow Kathleen, who we will meet again later.

War Memorials


I am not really counting this as a statue but just a little way from the main War Memorial at the centre of the Municipal Buildings in the Promenade is another war memorial statue.


It is placed to balance the statue of Wilson at the other end of the gardens with the main war memorial in the middle. This one dates from the South African War of 1899-1902, known more familiarly as the Boer War.


Without going far from this central area we also have my next two statues, which Cheltonians will recognize.



The statue of Neptune is really a fountain, also by the Municipal Buildings, but I managed to find it on a day when the water was turned off. It was built in 1892-3. Designed by borough engineer Joseph Hall, it is based on Rome’s Trevi Fountain. It was carved from Portland stone by local company R. L. Boulton & Sons.



I have only ever seen the word ’caryatids’ used in the book Doctor Zhivago where Chapter 13 is called: ‘Opposite the House of Caryatids.’ Having read the book when I came to Cheltenham I knew what these statues were. Montpellier has a street full of them – more or less between the statues of Edward VII and Holst.


Eagle Star

When it went up in 1968 the Eagle Star building was the tallest in Cheltenham. It remains an almost universally hated eyesore when the town is seen from a distance. Eagle Star insurance disappeared when it became part of Zurich Financial Services in 1984 and the main offices transferred to nearby Bishops Cleeve. The tower continued to be used as offices but now it is being converted to luxury flats.

The tower used to have an impressive gold statue outside, which has now been removed. I managed to find it tucked round the back, almost out of sight.


Other Cheltenham Statues


Now in the Imperial Gardens in Montpellier, this statue of William IV is fairly insignificant. I don’t think William was one of our most significant monarchs.


I found this one by accident. I don’t know who it is. It’s by the entrance to a recent development of houses called Regency Mews. It could just be someone exercising with a medicine ball or it could be an allegorical representation of someone holding the World in his hands. I have now found, again by accident, that the sculptor is Giles Penny and it’s called ‘Man with Ball.’


I nearly forgot this one. He is one of a pair outside a house not far from where I live.

The Minotaur


Not far away from the four central statues listed above but very different, is this statue, The Minotaur and the Hare, which is well known to all Cheltonians. It was initially part of a temporary exhibition of the work of Gloucestershire based artist Sophie Ryder at the Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery (now known somewhat enigmatically as The Wilson in honour of Cheltenham born Edward Wilson, as seen above,) and it was created in 1995. The overwhelming public response to the exhibition fuelled the campaign to retain one of Sophie Ryder’s sculptures and the Hare and Minotaur was acquired by public subscription in 1998.

This engraved flagstone lies nearby. Sophie Ryder’s work focuses on mythical creatures and hybrids, often hares combined with human features.



For two more statues that I see almost every week we move away from Cheltenham to the Wetland and Wildfowl Trust (WWT) headquarters at Slimbridge, a few miles down the M5 from Cheltenham.


We need to catch up with some family history and I will start, rather convolutedly, with Edith Agnes Kathleen Bruce. Born in 1878 her early friends included Auguste Rodin and she became a sculptress. In 1908 she married Captain Robert Falcon Scott and gave birth to Peter Scott. Her husband died in Antarctica in 1912 – hence the tenuous link to Edward Wilson above, whose sculpture was one of her works. She also did a famous one of her late husband, which is located at Christchurch in New Zealand. (The location is associated with his Antarctic expedition.)

Their son, Peter Scott was famous for many things. He won an Olympic medal for sailing and I remember his appearances in wildlife programmes on early television. He always seemed to be in search of different species of ducks, many of which he portrayed in water colour paintings. He was a founder member of the WWF and in 1946 he founded the WWT. It started at Slimbridge and at first was known just as the Severn Wildfowl Trust. It now has several sites over the UK but Slimbridge remains its headquarters. It’s a place I visit often and it is no surprise to find his statue there positioned very prominently.



The other statue that I always see at Slimbridge is tucked away almost out of sight on the way to the Zeiss Hide. Wikipedia refers to it as if it is still at Oundle School.


It’s another work by Kathleen who at the time taught at Oundle (the school that Peter Scott went to.)

Called ‘Here am I, Send me,’ it represents a young boy volunteering to fight for his country.


Perhaps the title comes from Isaiah 6:8

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Then I said “Here am I. Send me!”


[Of course Kathleen Bruce became Kathleen Scott. She later remarried and became Kathleen Young. Her husband was made a Lord and she became Baroness Kennet.]


This last statue is another war memorial. I presume it relates to Old Boys from Oundle.

modified1418    modified3945

As I took the pictures above of Wilson and the War Memorials behind me all the trees were clothed in knitted poppies. Here is one of them.


It’s a sort of statue and a fitting end to a blog that will be issued on 11 November.