Horrible horrible drive through driving rain and blinding spray thrown up by vehicles. Rain reduced to just a light drizzle when we got to Avebury (remember the stone circle? I think we stopped there with Hilary on our way back from Cornwall). Well, we stopped there for lunch, but didn't stay long - cold, windy and wet.
Extraordinary swathes of COWSLIPS along the verge of A417 towards Gloucester and M5 - never seen so many in one go in my life. I've read about making cowslip wine, and always wondered as you need BATHTUBS full of flowers, and I've not seen that quantity in one go before.
Arrived in Tewkesbury shortly after 4pm - still raining. The gatehouse is stunning - in many ways. Was pretty much pole-axed by the stairs to get the "first floor" - steep spiral staircase of 44 narrow windy stairs - well lit, glad to say. Once I'd made it to the top, and caught my breath, I found myself in charming living room with old-fashioned furniture, antique portraits, polished dark wood tables... You can see all here|:
The man was a hero - he made a zillion trips up the winding stair from the car with all our stuff (food, clothes, "tech").
Once we had recovered we lit the fire, had a cup of tea, and later went for a little potter round the Abbey itself. The quality of the stone carving in the Abbey is amazing - there's a chantry where the stonework is as thin as wood, and appears to be so light that a breath would blow it away. There are ceiling bosses and arches and pillars and niches where statues used to be, and traces of wall paintings... some fabulous, glorious modern stained glass in rich green and gold. We'll have to go back there.
When we go to bed there are beautifully carved stone angels keeping watch (how DID they escape the vandalism of earlier times?). Here's Uriel, with the book of Revelation
and Raphael, praying for healing (a previous guest worked out who they all are - there are four, Gabriel, reading a long message, and Michael with a shield are also with us.)
I remember singing this song, from "Hansel and Gretel", when I was at school. The London Quartet sing a luscious version of it on their album "Lullabies and Goodbyes" which I frequently listen to;
When at night I go to sleep,
Fourteen angels watch do keep,
Two my head are guarding,
Two my feet are guiding;
Two upon my right hand,
Two upon my left hand.
Two who warmly cover
Two who o'er me hover,
Two to whom 'tis given
To guide my steps to heaven.
Here it is for you to listen to...