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14 April 2006 @ 12:00 pm
Anglesey Abbey and Hunstanton: Heading North  
On the long Easter Bank Holiday weekend, I sought respite from the city in Norfolk. Going there, I took the scenic route via Anglesey Abbey outside Cambridge, then on to Ely to admire the cathedral and finally a nice, long walk along the sunny beach in Hunstanton.

Place: Anglesey Abbey and Ely, Cambridgeshire, and Hunstanton, Norfolk
Date: April 14, 2006
Weather: Cloudy but clearing up toward evening.

Anglesey Abbey is a Jacobean National Trust property set in formal and informal gardens. As one could expect there is a lot of "garden furniture" in the form of statues and temples. This male bust is one of the first things the visitor sees when coming from the entry kiosk.

The walk into the garden is flanked by stone pillars.

Hellebore I
In the informal woodland garden the hellebores were still flowering. Most of them were of this lovely pink form with spots.

Hellebore II
The closest flower has matured to the point of being greenish. If the flower was fertilised, it will soon develop seeds. The pinker flowers in the background are younger.

In the more formal garden the view of a temple sheltering an oversized urn is flanked by a male and a female statue. The beech hedges do a fine job of leading the eye toward the focal point. There is nothing subtle about the symmetrical design.

In the rounded room created by the beech hedges on the other side of the folly, Art personified is one of several Classical sculptures. As an artist I find it somewhat surprising that she carries a painter's palette in one hand and the elegantly curved tool of a clay sculptor in the other. Maybe mixed media isn't as modern as we like to think

The large urn in its temple looks just as good from behind. I love how the glaze in the roof tiles picks up the green of the copper lid on the urn.

The female statue flanking the entrance is all the more romantic when shown against the flowering bush in the background.

The grass in the orchard was scattered with lesser celandine, Ranunculus ficaria. Here and there a pale blue chionodoxa was peeking through.

Daffodil Walk
The wide range of formal and informal styles is part of what makes the gardens at Anglesey so rewarding to explore. Here a mown path through a long, daffodil-studded lawn and flanked by saplings leads the eye to statues hidden under the dark canopy of evergreen shrubs. The three statues gleam ghostly in the shade, making you want to walk there to find out what they show. There is a pleasure in being led onward to new discoveries. It's that sense of wonder that many great gardens share.

Daffodil Statues
Completely informal, on the other hand, is this arrangement of statues on a lawn with more flowering daffodils.

The contrast to this formal layout of white and blue hyacinths couldn't be more striking. The scent in this secluded garden room was almost overpowering.

The flat countryside around Ely makes for great views of the cathedral from afar. This is from the A142 as it approaches the town from the south-east.

Cathedral Tower
I tried to frame the cathedral tower between old stones to show the texture and sense of history of the place.

Cathedral Tower
The tower is very imposing seen from below. It must have been all the more imposing when it was built and hardly any buildings reached more than 2-3 stories.

Inside the lanternin gives both light and colour to the otherwise mostly Protestantly stark interior.

The rounded arches resonate on a more personal level than the pointed arches of gothic churches. It feels as if the church is about the people and the here and now, rather than some dim, unknowable afterlife. It feels more democratic and down-to-earth. I find that appealing.

Forgotten Candle
The Bank Holiday Friday of the Easter weekend is a big day for Christians so several services were held through the day. Among the hubbub, a candle and an open cabinet were forgotten in a side chapel. By chance I was able to take a photo of the light playing on the stone and the glinting gold vessel. I was hoping to convey the sense of mystery in spiritual pursuits, regardless of religion.

On a much grander scale, this is the river Great Ouse north of Ely. It runs above the level of the surrounding land. Quite how that works with the laws of physics, I don't know but it's the reason that only the rooftops are visible on the farm buildings to the left of the river.

Gull II
My next, and final break before I reached my destination, was Hunstanton. It's a popular pleasure beach on the Wash, the deep bay between Skegness and King's Lynn. The weather was perfect for a walk along the beach.

A closer look at the pole that marks the end of the groyne shows a gull is perching on it.

But most of the birds I saw on the beach were turnstones, Arenaria interpres.

Two Birds
Two turnstones on the beach. They dart about very quickly near the water's edge, poking their beaks in the sand and the seaweed every so often. The legs really are this orange.

The most popular part of the beach has mostly sand but as I walked on toward the cliffs, there were more and more rocks and stones mixed in with the sand.

Two Birds
Two turnstones on a concrete groyne, attending to their personal hygiene.

The shadows were lengthening and the light was turning warmer. I still had to walk all the way back to the car and then drive on to my B&B in Sheringham so I decided to not go any further than this.

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