Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seeing the Past

Yesterday I spent my first full day in the English countryside Northwest of London in the direction of Birmingham, lodging in a 17th century inn of the small town of nursery-rhyme fame, Banbury.

The evening before, I had strolled the narrow streets, looking at statues, Gothic churches and peering into pubs. I could feel the hard solid Puritan historical character of the area floating within the moist frigid evening air. Later on within the warmth of a drinking establishment, an enterprising bartender retold tales of the interregnum of Oliver Cromwell and the subsequent restoration in the reign of Enlightenment of Charles II.

I wanted so much to see backwards. Scenes of modern, wealthy industrialized England had invaded everywhere, even here in the villages; that boring sameness which has destroyed regionalism in so much of the West. Not that I was surprised. Like a treasure hunt, I have grown accustomed to seeking out remnants of the past and romanticizing them as if they had intrinsically more worth than life today.

The second and fourth photos show scenes of the "crown jewel" of my pursuit. Tapirgal and I went to Dudley. Perched on a peak surrounded by a small zoo is one of the oldest remaining castles, dating from the 11th century. I climbed its walls, peered through its windows and growled the roar of dragons.


  1. Sounds marvelous and your photos are fantastic! The reflections in the next to last one are awesome! So glad you two are having such a great excursion before moving on again. I do know what you mean about wanting to see backward! I have felt the same way during my travels abroad. Ours is such a young country and the idea of seeing and being in places that were built in the 11th and 12th centuries and many even older, as in Greece, was and is mind boggling!



  2. Looks so familiar. You can still find treasures in rural England.

  3. Seeing the past is sometimes better than what we see in the present. MB

  4. How fortunate you are to have this experience! Your photos are stunning! Enjoy!

  5. How bucolic it looks--and yet...