Rhosneigr

We went to the beach at Rhosneigr, the only place we have found where you can take a wheelchair down to the sand. It was wild and windswept, with masses of surfers in the waves:-

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Menai Bridge

Menai Bridge is always a pleasure, quite apart from the Farmer’s Market and Evan’s Bros., the hardware shop.

I went to admire Telford’s great suspension bridge, which celebrated the bicentenary of its design last year (it opened in 1825):-

I passed Grosvenor Garage:-

Last week, we admired the corrugated iron boat shed down on the Straits:-

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Anglesey Farmer’s Market

On the way to the local dump (Anglesey takes rubbish disposal very seriously), I saw signs to the local farmers’ market, which happens monthly in Menai Bridge. It used to be held in the grounds of the local school, but has now moved to the warehouse on Prince’s Pier, down by the Straits:-

It has all our favourite food suppliers. Small pork pies from Liam and Ellis Barrie at the Marram Grass:-

Larger pork pies from Tredici in Beaumaris:-

Smoked back bacon from the Smokehouse in the north of the island.

And the most magnificent Scotch eggs:-

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Crûg Farm (2)

I should have given more information about Crûg Farm, but had assumed, maybe wrongly, that everyone in the world of gardening and horticulture knows about it.

It’s a villa-cum-smallholding in the northern foothills of Snowdonia, close to Caernarvon, which Bleddyn Wynn-Jones bought in 1974, the year before he married. He got interested in plants and attended classes at the University of Bangor botanical garden. In 1991, they established it as a nursery.

They are now world-class, internationally well-known plantspeople (assuming that’s the non-gender specific version of plantsmen), deeply knowledgeable collectors of the rarest of plants, collected on expeditions to the remotest parts of the world. Always a treat to visit, but especially today when we had a comprehensive tour.

Here are some pictures of the sales area:-

And a view of the hills from the garden:-

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Crûg Farm (1)

Our annual trip to Crûg and the mysteries of the plant kingdom, gathered on expeditions to the Himalayas, Szechuan, northern Vietnam, Hokkaido and Taiwan, transforming an old Welsh garden and its croquet lawn into an unexpected botanical universe:-

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The Estuary

We walked down to the sea this morning along the side of the estuary – it was high tide with distant bright, scudding light illuminating the low hills and fields on the other side of the Straits:-

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Kerry Downes (2)

In looking up information about Kerry Downes, I was intrigued to find a photograph he had taken of Anthony Blunt, who was Director of the Courtauld Institute when Downes was both an undergraduate and postgraduate (it was Blunt who inspired his interest in Borromini). I assume it was taken on one of the Courtauld’s Summer Schools and shows a) the languid side of Blunt’s nature and b) that Downes was a good photographer:-

http://www.artandarchitecture.org.uk/images/full/240.html

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Kerry Downes (1)

I was sad to hear from Edward Chaney, his pupil at Reading, of the death of Kerry Downes (Chaney co-edited his festschrift with John Bold). I followed in Downes’s footsteps in the archive at Castle Howard, where he had done detailed research for his great monograph on the work of Nicholas Hawksmoor, based on the Ph.D thesis he had done under Margaret Whinney at the Courtauld Institute in the mid-1950s. It was published by Desmond Zwemmer in 1959 and set new standards for scholarship in an English architectural monograph. Ten years later, he published a much shorter, but also admirable, distillation of his views of Hawksmoor for the Thames & Hudson World of Art series, a book which introduced many people, me included, to the glories of the English Baroque.

Later, he was to publish a monograph on and, also, a biography of Vanbrugh as well, but I always felt that he was more psychologically in sympathy with Hawksmoor as the underdog in the relationship between the two great architects – the hard-working, hyper conscientious and deeply scholarly, but cautious Hawksmoor, not Vanbrugh, the flash and socially more ambitious showman.

I scarcely knew Downes, who may have felt (rightly) that I was trespassing on his patch. I am sad that he has died too soon, I assume, to be included in the SAHGB oral history project (he was a Past President of the SAHGB) as he knew both Anthony Blunt and Rudolf Wittkower during his time as a student at the Courtauld. Maybe he has left a memoir. I hope so.

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