Day 13 – Thu 24 Sept

26 09 2009

The final day of my trip.  I woke a little earlier than usual and managed to get into the shower before 9.30, which was when I’d told Val, the landlady of the guest house, that I’d be wanting breakfast.  I’d had a great night’s sleep after a peaceful evening in front of the TV and my laptop and was glad I’d sorted out my bags the night before.  I wasn’t particularly hungry so I just had some melon and a couple of pieces of toast for breakfast, and some coffee.  I met the resident greyhounds, which explained the sudden appearance of some soft toys in the hallway when I’d gone to the toilet the evening before.

After breakfast I finished off my packing and put my bags in the car.  I went to settle up with Val and was horrified to learn that she didn’t accept debit cards.  It really hadn’t occurred to me that she wouldn’t, but as she explained, she only has three rooms so as such a small business, it wasn’t worth her while registering to accept them.  I had some cash on my but was three pounds short.  I asked if there was a nearby cashpoint.  At first she said there was one in the town, but then change her mind and said not to worry about it, that she’d accept what I had on me.  I was mortified, of course.  I apologised profusely and promised to send her a cheque for the remainder when I got home.  I left with a very red face I can tell you.

Winchester Cathedral - just a little bit splendid. Click the photo for a larger version.

Winchester Cathedral - just a little bit splendid. Click the photo for a larger version.

Winchester wasn’t far away and I’d programmed Sean Connery (sat nav) to lead me to a car park in the centre and near the cathedral.  Payed for parking by phone again (all my details carrying through from York to Lincoln to Winchester – just had to enter the card security code each time) and set off.  Another day of glorious sunshine and I was pleased that my last day of freedom was so bright and cheerful looking.

When I got to the cathedral there was a huge queue outside the main door.  I wasn’t sure if I was at the right part to get in and asked one chap who was waiting if that was the queue, but he said he didn’t know anything.  He wasn’t very helpful at all – he was in the queue so what was it that he didn’t know I wonder?  Odd.  So I went to the gift shop and, of course, spent some money.

The magnificent ceiling.  Yes, I did get a little giddy taking this one.

The magnificent ceiling. Yes, I did get a little giddy taking this one.

When I came out of the shop, the queue had gone and I went in.  I could have paid the student rate entrance fee but for the normal price of £6 I could get a pass for a whole year as it would count as a donation (not quite sure how it works out for them, but I did it anyway as they were promoting it).

I spent some time photographing the windows and the architecture before trying to locate The Crypt – the reason for my visit and the place where Antony Gormley’s “Sound II” stands.  I discovered the area closed because of a Holy Communion service that was going on, so I continued my tour of the huge and very ornate cathedral while I waited.  The ceiling is magnificent and there were very many stained glass windows as you can imagine.

The 14th Century West Window - rebuilt in 1660

The 14th Century West Window - rebuilt in 1660

The largest window above the entrance (don’t ask me about points of the compass nor the architectural parts of a church – I will learn about them soon) was very interesting in that it seemed to have no pattern.  I took a better look and could see that it had been made from random pieces of glass which had obviously been decorated as part of larger images.  It was like a messed up jigsaw puzzle.  I later learned that the original window had been made in the 14th century but destroyed in 1642 during the Civil War.  It was reassembled randomly in 1660 when the monarchy was restored.

Ye Olde Graffitye

Ye Olde Graffitye

The light inside was splendid and I was treated to several bursts of strong sunlight which was picked up magnificently by the masonry.  I also noticed that the place was riddled with graffiti.  I didn’t see it straight away because it wasn’t drawn or painted on, but carved into the stone.  Some was the crude scrawlings that we are used to seeing on doors and benches, but some was quite ornate in a Roman serifed font kind of way.  Educated vandals?

A discarded teddy bear in the Childrens Chapel

A discarded teddy bear in the Children's Chapel

There were so many little chapels in the building I lost count.  Many were the size of your average double bedroom, some a little larger, and some were very small, often dedicated to someone whose memorial was within.  I was quite taken with the Children’s Chapel – though it didn’t seem particularly jolly, with skulls on one of the carvings – because the sign outside said that toys etc were welcome and there was a plastic table and chairs inside with a few toys already there.  They seemed very incongruous inside the medieval surroundings, but it was interesting.

I took so many photos at Winchester (and in other places along the trip) that I have realised one ‘Road Trip’ set on Flickr isn’t going to be enough.  There will definitely be a whole set for the cathedral and it’s going to take some time to process all the photos.

Antony Gormleys Sound II - up close and personal

Antony Gormley's Sound II - up close and personal. The Crypt, Winchester Cathedral.

Eventually I got to the Crypt.  I went down the stairs and saw the Gormley statue in the distance, behind an iron gate.  On the other side were some people and a guide.  I hadn’t wanted to go on a tour but was told it was the only way I could get the other side of the gate, and therefore close to the statue, so I changed my mind.  I wasn’t really listening to what the guide was saying and I think I might have been irritating her a little, but the other people didn’t seem to mind at all and most of them took a few photos along the way.  Just not as many as I did.  It was very dark and I did struggle to get photos in the time allowed – she did have to ask me to keep up with the group at one point.

We had to keep to the mats on the ground as the medieval floor could get damaged.  She explained that the Crypt sometimes floods and I kind of wished it had been, just for the reflections.  I’ll keep an eye on the Winchester weather this winter and maybe go there again when it’s flooded.

We toured right around the Crypt and the light again was fabulous – particularly bright in contrast to the gloom of the underground passages.  Some old statues and wall carvings were stored there because, as the cathedral is a Grade I listed building, nothing can be got rid of.  One statue was made from stone from the Isle of Wight.  I think the guide was a little irritable anyway because one woman asked a lot of questions (it was obvious she had done a lot of reading around the subjects discussed) and I don’t think the guide knew all the answers.  No need to be tetchy about it though.  When we came back out she asked “did you get all your photos?” – maybe I imagined the reproach in her voice.

When the gates were locked again I stopped to take a few more photos of the statue before climbing back up the stairs to the main cathedral.  I was happy.  I’d got what I’d come for, and I left.

Sound II, given to Winchester Cathedral in 1986 by Antony Gormley, before he won the Turner Prize

Sound II, given to Winchester Cathedral in 1986 by Antony Gormley, before he won the Turner Prize

I had a little time before my parking ran out so had a little wander through the shops and sat for a coffee and some blueberry swirl cheesecake in Starbucks.  Again, BTOpenzone failed me and my iPhone.  Then it was back on the road for the final journey to Portsmouth and then the island.

Miles travelled – 46, (total mileage – 1,526)

I can’t believe I did it.  When I made the plans it seemed like too much, although I was determined to give it a go.  I thought I would be far more tired than I ever was (and I did get quite tired a few times, but nowhere near what I anticipated) and I expected to get rained on and to be cold a lot of the time.  As it was the weather was mostly brilliant sunshine, with only a few overcast spells, and temperatures remained warm but not too warm (I’m not a fan of the summer but this was ideal).  I spent time catching up with old friends, and quality time with newer friends who I don’t see often enough, or for long enough normally.  I have come home feeling energised.

I was overwhelmed by the welcomes and hospitality I received everywhere I went and would like publicly to thank Fiona & Nick; Eira & Sean; Brenda; Jane; Victoria & Craig; Fil & Simon; and Keith for putting me up and feeding me.  Thanks also to Nik & Shay and Mandy for very welcome refreshment breaks on my longest day; and to Pippa & David; Urth; Zöe & Madeleine; Anne & Mauro; Alison & Jon; Steve; Huw; Shirley; Jason; Ozzie & Janine; Sharon; Fi & James; and Andy for their company at various stops along the way, and to Stephen for his company at the start of the trip and for lending me the money to make it possible.  Thank you all for being part of my road trip – it was an absolute blast and did me the power of good.

I have been asked to keep going with this blog.  I can’t promise particularly regular posts, nor frequent ones, but I will try to post something when there is anything of note to report – such as days out taking photos, and perhaps some research expeditions.  Don’t hold your breath, but feel free to prod me if I lapse.

And thank you all for reading this far.  All 1,526 miles of it!

What a trip!  Thanks to everyone who was part of it.

What a trip! Thanks to everyone who was part of it.




One response

29 01 2010

Well, that sounded like an amazing trip! I’m so happy for you that you managed it all and had such a good time. You certainly deserved it after everything that happened! I really like the way you kinda go off subject a little and say sort of ‘side notes’ about what you’re going to do, then you go back to describing what happened, it makes it more interesting and personal. It was like reading a story at times! And there were a couple of times where I laughed quite loud 🙂 I wish I could have joined you at some point! I must must MUST come and see you on the IOW and it would be really nice if we could meet up next time we’re both in London! It probably sounds quite selfish, but I think there’s a lot you could teach me (you already have taught me quite a bit!) especially different ways of looking at things. I hope one day I can teach you something in return. I’m going to have a Blah Blah Blog break for now, but will definitely be reading your more recent posts 🙂 Thank You for writing it! xx

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