February 2017

The second of the darkest months. I usually start to get fed up around November, knowing that light will be leaving us for some time (god knows how they manage in the proper north) and I always feel as though a corner has turned once we hit new year. I forget that the next two months can be the hardest. But we’ve been lucky. Grey and miserable, maybe, and damp, but none of that white stuff. And now we’ve hit February, I know everything will slowly get better. Especially now I’ve spotted these little beauties:


There’s something about them, isn’t there? The photograph was taken at an auction room in Gloucester on the last day of January. It was raining, a little cold, we were trying to kill time and feeling quite sorry for ourselves when, there they were. I got a great shot of a tree-full of white doves, too, but that’s out of focus so they are unlikely to make an appearance unless I start blogging while drunk. Maybe not a bad idea…

I’ve never really spent much time in Gloucester. There were four of us and we wanted to make it a memorable visit.

That’s where I came across this: one of those writing prompts that you so often see online suggesting that it might be something that will inspire you to write your first masterpiece.


I just thought it said more about Gloucester night life than providing literary musings. It did strike me as odd though. Perhaps it should be shown in context:


I mean, why would someone leave it there? It’s not even a pair. And it does seem somehow to have been ‘placed’. I thought about jumping down and moving it onto the paler boards where it would have looked a lot more striking but then I was already quite a way behind my friends. Then, as I stood staring at it, I was suddenly and inexplicably reminded of Theresa May and my day was ruined. Unless she’d stood there, toppled and fallen into the canal, leaving just one sad shoe to remind us of her, I couldn’t think of a way to cheer myself up. So I ran after my friends, said nothing about my new, emerging fetish and followed them into a pub. Political misery was temporarily avoided.

We trudged on to Gloucester cathedral which blew us away. None of us hold any strong religious views but me and my best mate are drawn to churches wherever we are in the world. There’s something about them: the grandeur perhaps or the silence or the atmosphere. I can’t put my finger on it. Gloucester cathedral did not disappoint.


There was building work going on outside and archeologists were taking advantage of the opportunity to sift, photograph and record lots of stuff beneath an area that they would have struggled to get permission to access. I have a secret desire (not so secret now) to get involved with archeology but I can imagine how time consuming it would be. No idea where I picked up the bug; maybe time-team but certainly not from Tony Robinson. I only liked it when the experts told you stuff. I found his prancing about mildly irritating. The price you pay for getting a decent programme on the TV I guess.

Inside was another surprise: the cloisters (famous for their earliest vaulted ceiling and the filming of two Harry Potter films) were jammed with art. All from one guy: Russell Haines. The subject of the pieces was faith. Each picture was a portrait of a different person from all the faiths of the world. The paintings were staggering. I didn’t take any photos but some can be seen on his website Russell Haines¬†and I can’t recommend a visit more highly. We were ready to go back to our cottage and thought we’d take a quick look. We were there for ages. A staggering volume of work and about as moving as you can get. Especially in this time of intolerance and nationalistic fuckery that we’re currently witnessing.

Having been told that a visit to Gloucester isn’t worth the effort, I’m very glad that we made it. See you in March.