Saturday, 15 June 2013

Wonderful Winchester and a Green Woodpecker Comes Visiting

So M left at 5am on a 120 mile bike ride with his friend Tall Paul this morning. The alarm went off at 4.30 and surprisingly I did not get up to see him off (if my moth box had been out last night I would have been up like a shot). They do it every year and personally I think it's just an elaborate way to justify the cream tea stop half way round.

L and I were therefore left to our own devices so we went to the Camera Shop in Winchester to ask about taking photos of moths. Fair play to the bloke in the shop, he didn't even slightly raise an eyebrow, just calmly took my Lumix (which I had taken along), switched the setting to P and flicked a couple of switches and hey presto! Perfect macros photos. I mean, the camera was practically touching the object, it could not have got any closer to it, and still the image looked crisp and sharp.  I felt a teeny weeny bit foolish.

This is proof that a bad workman does blame his tools (reference my earlier comment about my camera being crap at taking close ups). Anyway, I was probably suffering from a blond moment, but the guy in the shop was kind enough not to voice what he was undoubtedly thinking (at least until after we had left).

So. Good news. No New Camera Is Required (which is just as well after new wellies and the moth box this week). I'm planning to put the moth box out tonight (clear forecast here) so will hopefully wow you all with my new macro-taking pics tomorrow.

I've lived in and around Winchester for half my life but have very few photos of it, so having the camera with us today was a perfect opportunity to take some (L was thrilled, snatched the car keys and bolted for the book shop where he immersed himself in the Asterix Shelf). 

Winchester is a very beautiful and ancient city. It was Alfred's Capital of Wessex in the ninth century, before that it was a Roman garrison town and there are still sections of Roman Wall visible, particularly along the river walk. St Catherine's Hill above the city is an ancient Iron Age Hillfort which dominates the surrounding land, and in the hills around it there are prehistoric trackways leading down into the City. Several years ago these ancient route ways were at the heart of fierce eco demonstrations when the Twyford Motorway Cutting was put through some of them- there is a stone memorial naming and shaming Maggie Thatcher and her ministers for this up on the hillside.

The City boasts a beautiful Normal Cathedral where the graves of several of England's earliest Kings (Cnut etc) can be seen (their bones are in elaborate carved golden and midnight blue caskets atop the choir stalls). 
There are numerous medieval buildings dotted around the City, several of which house shops and restaurants (WH Smiths is one of note- go upstairs to see the original medieval plaster walls and paintwork as well as timber framing and archeological finds). 
Winchester College (uber posh and tres expensive boys school that attracts pupils from around the world and propels them into Oxbridge) is in the Medieval sector just outside the ancient City Walls (Kingsgate, to be precise). It's down the lane from Wolvesey Palace, home to the Bishops of Winchester. Jane Austin breathed her last in one of the houses along College Street, next door in fact to the rather magnificent Wells Bookshop, which is a lovely independent bookshop, the place where the Hampshire Chronicle was printed in the 18th Century and also where, many moons ago, I used to work while I was a student in the City (studying Anglo Saxon History- could you find a more perfect place to do it?).
Winchester Castle (at the top of town besides the Law Courts) boasts King Arthur's Round Table (made in the 13th C). 

There's a flower festival on in the Cathedral Green at the moment...

William The Conqueror's Normal Cathedral, which replaced Alfred's Saxon one, the footings of which can still be seen in the earth next to it. At the start of the last century the Cathedral was sinking and in real danger, a diver called William Walker worked in water of up to 6m depths to shore it up and is largely credited with saving this incredible building. There's a chained library of deeply ancient books upstairs and also the hand-illustrated Winchester Bible (definitely worth seeing)

Local legend has it that a monk wanders through this blocked up doorway....

An elegant way of holding everything together....

Love the Morris Van in this pic!

Pilgrim's Hall Circa 1290.
It has an ancient hammer-beam roof, thought to be the oldest surviving such roof in England

The beautiful and much-photographed 16th C Cheyney Court near the Cathedral

Priory Gate into the Cathedral Close

Medieval Glass in The Church of St Swithun Upon Kinsgate

St Swithun Upon Kingsgate Medival Church in set into the Kingsgate below

P&G Wells, The Best Bookshop In The World!

Wish I'd had time to read this and find out what in particular it was that Boris was boasting about...

Surely only as a last resort when they have been particularly naughty?

Winchester College properties stretch all the way down the right side of College Street in the pic below. Wolvesey Palace circa 1100 (home to the Bishops of Winchester, including Henry of Blois who was much involved in the shenanigans between Steven and Matilda during their Civil War in the 12th century) is at the end of the street on the left. The river is beyond that and the water meadows where Keat's walked and discovered inspiration for his "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" poem is around the right at the bottom of College Street.

Jane Austin breathed her last in the scaffolded building below...

Back from Winch it wasn't long before the town faded and the wild things returned. I'm so used to the GSW's that it was a real surprise to see the Green Woodpecker. I grabbed the camera (which fortunately wasn't still set to macro or I would have been cursing it!) and took some pics before he flew away. Obviously some interesting grubs were to be had...

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend, and if you're in the UK that you are surviving the gale that is currently raging outside. It's the sort of weather that could blow people off their bikes.....


  1. You certainly live in a very nice part of the country CT. I've been through Winchester but not sure I've actually explored it.

    What an absolute treat to have the Green Woodpecker visit, if you've got lots of ants it may well vist again. Great close pics of it.

    I enjoyed your moth trap post yesterday but didn't get time to comment. The Poplar Hawk Moth was a gem, talk about beginners luck :-) Glad you sorted out the camera macro setting :-)

    1. It's a funny thing but you don't always notice how lovely a place is when you see it all the time. Taking the photos with a blog post in mind opened my eyes to it in some ways.
      Loved the Green WP too- he is around, just never seen him so still and on the ground before.
      The moths blew me away, I'm really pleased I got the box. CT x

  2. Lovely woodpecker! Never had one in the garden but have seen one flying around nearby. No chance of a picture though. I love that picture of the wooden verticals with the brick infill - gorgeous.

    1. Same here re the GW. Never had him sit still long enough for a pic- I was clicking away like mad to make the most of it!
      I love the brickwork pic too- Winchester is full of higgledy-piggledy buildings like that. A really beautiful place.

  3. Why didn't I read your post earlier before attempting to take close ups of flowers in the garden. I wasn't aware of the macro view of our Lumix either! I will be using it in future too! I liked your pictures of Winchester I hadn't been there for years until October when I met up with my brother and sister for lunch. I didn't have time to do much exploring apart from a quick look in the shops!
    Sarah x

    1. Twiddle it round to "P" then press the "AF/AF/MF" button and select "macro zoom" - it will let you get way closer than any of the other functions. Winch is def worth a longer visit- lots of very pretty buildings and the museum by the cathedral green has some really interesting stuff in it (there are some nice clothes shops to...) x

  4. I haven't been to Winchester for ages to I enjoyed your photos of it. I studied some Anglo-Saxon, too, so loved all the history. It's a lovely place to have so close and wander around.

    1. It was really nice to have the camera with us and take a record of it. It is a beautiful place with so much accessible history. Romsey (our nearest market town) also has an Anglo-Saxon connection: Alfred's daughter was Abbess there and her plait of red hair is on display inside the Abbey.

  5. Found your post on Winchester really interesting - sadly have never been but it looks a wonderful place to visit - so much history :)

    So glad you sorted out the best setting for moths on your camera.

    Loved the Green Woodpecker - in all the years we've lived here have only ever seen one - anting on the lawn.

    1. It makes such a difference being able to take a decent record of the moths, and does them justice too. I am completely hooked, as you told me I would be! CT x

  6. Lovely post about Winchester. The Green Woodpeckers are very keen on ants, how lucky to get it on camera. We are overun with ants so it's a real shame we dont have more here.

    1. I think they are shy folks like the GSWs. Normally the slightest hint of a person and they are off. These shots worked because I took them from an upstairs window and he was too busy eating to notice me!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x