Showing posts with label Kent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kent. Show all posts

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Chagall Stained Glass at All Saints Church, Tudeley






















As I opened the door of the small, unassuming, 12th century Kent country church and stepped out of the bright June sunshine into the quiet peace of the interior, I gasped with pleasure at the sight that met my eyes! It was like stepping into a box of jewels.

Although I had been aware for many years that there was a stained glass window painted by Marc Chagall at All Saints Church in Tudeley, Kent and had meant to visit one day, bizarrely it took a move to Suffolk and a random diversion on our way home after a family wedding, which brought us here. Knowing the lie of the land, we had diverted into the network of country lanes, trying to avoid the traffic jams on the A21, and it was pure serendipity that I spotted the signpost to Tudeley as we flashed past.  

What I hadn't realised was that there was not only one Chagall stained glass window here but 12! The entire church has been re-glazed with his painting and the effect is simply stunning.  The only other building in the world which is completely glazed with Chagall's work is a synagogue in Jerusalem.  

Chagall was commissioned by the parents of Sarah d'Avigdor Goldsmid who sadly drowned off the coast of Sussex when she was only 21 years old.  Her grieving parents, a local family, knowing she loved his work, asked Chagall initially to paint the window above the altar, which symbolises death and resurrection, in 1967.  He was so pleased with this work (the first photo) that he asked if he could paint all the other stained glass windows in the church.  Despite local opposition to replacing the existing Victorian stained glass, permission was eventually granted and he completed the work in 1985.  All the paintings are biblical and follow the theme of creation, the fall and redemption, and the promise that God gives us of restoration and recreation.  

I find some comfort in that thought today in the midst of the turmoil we are currently experiencing here in the UK.  

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The tulips are over now, but it was never just about the tulips

Tulips are among my favourite flowers and I can never resist their bright hopeful colours each Spring.  I remember I had some beautiful red tulips in a vase in my bedroom in North London when my second son was born 30 years ago now.  A home birth, the best and easiest of them all, my mother asleep in the bedroom above me, my 2 year old waking early to greet his new brother, astonished by the arrival of the tiny person he would grow up with, who would always be part of his life. Every year they creep into my home or grow in terracotta pots by the front door, as long as the dog doesn't get to them first!  These are the last tulips this year - I love the contrast with the deep blue hyacinths, perfect for my blue and white birthday jug.

People still come to view the house from time to time, but for the moment we have no offers so no decision can be made.  I can feel myself letting go bit by bit of all we have come to love here in East Anglia, but it is a real limbo we are in now.  Who knows what the right decision will be? 


I spent some time in Kent last week staying with an old friend and it felt so good to be there again, the chance meetings with people I go way back with, whose homes I have visited, whose children grew up with mine, whose history I have shared.  I know in my heart where I want to be, where my home will be.  When the time is right.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Tulips are so beautiful right now

Today is time out from all this madness of putting our house on the market and at the same time reassessing our lives, where we are now and how we want the future to unfold.  This turns out to be better than therapy and there are plenty of opportunities to contemplate the tulips while we try and make some tough decisions.  My jealously guarded pot of tulips has survived the further depredations of the dog, but she continues to show great interest in them!  Her other particular favourite flower to nibble is carnations

I am having serious second thoughts about the chain of events we have triggered.  Who are these strangers who trail through my home, poking about in my closets and demanding to know exactly how much sun we get in the courtyard, and when (it varies depending on the time of year, how high or low the sun is in the sky), then dismissing us for their own spurious and personal reasons as everyone chases their own particular version of the dream, the rural idyll.


Putting so much time and energy into our home recently has only made us love it more, appreciate all the things that work for us here, despite the things that don't.   Every little change we make, every detail we complete, every vision I have had for the house and garden that we are now realising, bonds us to it more.  It is such a jewel of a house, full of colour and love and it fits us perfectly now after the five years we have spent here.  The thought of starting again in another house with all the adjustments that will have to be made does seem increasingly daunting!  And life moves on.  I know things won't be the same again if we do make a move back but at the same time, I do miss my old friends and companions and would love to spend more time with them.




The memorial service for my friend was held last week in the lovely old village church in Kent where my youngest son was christened and where my mother used to join me for the annual candlelit carol service.  The church was full of old friends and familiar faces and of course everyone wanted to catch up with us and then I was so sure we were doing the right thing.  But my sons have all left home now and my mother is no longer alive so should I really disrupt our lives to chase a dream, a time that has vanished into thin air. Perhaps the answer is to make sure I spend more time there in future and keep up with my old friends but hold onto what we are building here?

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Who ate the tulips?


I can always count on the dog to be on her worst behaviour when the stakes are high!  And the stakes are high right now. We have exhausted ourselves this past week, bringing the house and garden to near perfection in time for the photographer and I was so pleased with my matching pots of carefully nurtured tulip bulbs by the French doors in the courtyard garden, and looking forward to seeing them burst into glorious flower. 

They have been growing in the courtyard for weeks and the dog has totally ignored them up to now, but yesterday, sensing change and tension in the air, she totally vandalised one of the pots, ate the tulip heads and some of the bulbs, discarding the leaves: debris and compost strewn everywhere.  She was very apologetic and chastened after a serious ticking off and confinement to the kitchen for a couple of hours, where she can do no harm.



We are putting our lovely house on the market after 5 years and much indecision.  This is a beautiful house and we love the village, the surrounding countryside and coast, but it's not my home.  I have no roots here, no real reason for being in this place, especially now the boat is in the Baltic for the foreseeable future and the sailing was a big reason for moving up here.


We have been debating this issue for quite some time and failed to find a resolution, but things have crystallised now, following the sudden death of an old friend in Kent and the subsequent fallout, and I realised that most of the people who really mean something to me, who are part of my history and my family's history live in Kent and that I need to let go of what we have here and go where my heart is, where I have some good friends, people I can really share with.   Meeting new people, making new friends is healthy, but I need my old friends too, the ones I spent so many years forging bonds with, sharing dramas, school runs and stroppy teenagers.  People whose children I have known since they were tiny and who know mine.


So the house goes on the market next week and my remaining tulip pot has been moved to a more secure spot to be jealously guarded from the attentions of my naughty Labrador!



Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Nostalgia

"Footfalls echo in the memory 
Down the passage we did not take 
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden
My words echo thus
In your mind"

Burnt Norton - T S Eliot

We drove past my old home the other day, on a brief visit to Kent, and stopped for a moment in the road outside.  A house I once lived in, a home that once was mine, a garden I once loved, an orchard where children played and a life that fitted me like a glove; a door that once was open to me, now closed for ever.


It is a strange thing, to so utterly possess a house, to sweep through the white five bar gate and park my car in the drive outside, put my key in the latch and go inside, to find my life laid out there, my possessions just as I left them, my pets waiting for me, my family coming and going, to wander outside, sit and have a cup of coffee making plans for my day, answer the telephone, put a wash on, go for a walk.  Ordinary, everyday things. And then one day it's finished.  Someone else has the keys.  I am a trespasser now and my life has moved elsewhere.

Drive on by, it's not my home anymore.  It exists only in my mind.






Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Autumn Blues (again)

I make no apology for re-posting this piece - it is one of my favourite blog posts and one I feel proud to have written.  Another time, another place, another life but still the essence of an English Autumn for me.  I miss my orchard so much it hurts!




"Leaves and fallen apples litter the grass in the orchard now. It has an air of faint neglect and spentness, the hammock stashed away, no more time for lazy afternoons. The bonfire has burnt itself out and the charred remains smoulder gently in the light breeze. A lazy wasp investigates the fallen fruit as I wander through the trees, wondering when I will find the time to cook the apples to a fragrant pulp and mix them with the blackberries that grow so abundantly in the hedgerows as I walk through the quiet lanes.

Jars of plum jam are stored in kitchen cupboards or have been given to friends and family. Pears have been pickled with cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries and peppercorns and glow palely as they marinate in their spicy vinegar, waiting to be opened when winter bites. Logs are stacked in the woodshed and the year begins to unravel slowly towards it's busy end".