After three days of the Trinity examiners’ conference, I was fortunate enough to be invited to stay at Romsey – a town halfway between Salisbury and Winchester – the location of several novels such as Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and Edward Rutherfurd’s Sarum. We visited the abbey here. Not regarded as a cathedral but eminently large enough to serve as a cathedral, the abbey is full of a sense of history – one of those places that has a spiritual feel to it, whatever your own belief system might be. From early saxon times (over 1000years ago), and seeing through several sets of invaders – Vikings, Normans etc. – the abbey was used as a Benedictine nunnery for much of its early life. The alterations and additions of later people can be quite clearly seen in the Abbey, which is also the burial place of Louis, Lord Mountbatten – who was shot in Ireland a few years ago. In the photos below as well the one beside this, you can see the inside and outside views of the abbey, several chapels inside the abbey and some of the architecture inside the abbey. This is a church with history and real sense of spirituality!
On Sunday morning, we did what only fools and Englishmen would do – we went for a walk in the New Forest on a cold winter morning. The New Forest were Royal Hunting ground in former centuries. It covers quite a large part of southern England. Ironically the same animals that were “mercilessly” hunted many years ago now have right of way in the New Forest. So cars have to stop for animals crossing the road and apparently some of the horses can take quite some time to do this. Not a lot of animal activity on a cold winter morning however. Most of them have more sense! We did see some horses and one squirrel – who was too quick for my camera – I suggest it was running for more hibernation time!
So we walked along a stone path, through beautiful winter- coloured moors and then between trees, which looked much more sinister, until we came to a lake – not unlike the lake where the sword of King Arthur was held up out of the water. You could see the mist floating around the surface of the water and there were a bevy of ducks swimming. How cold they must have been! There was an occasional house in the forest, with no doubt lots of use of the surrounding wood to keep the home fires burning in the cool of winter.
Don’t get me wrong here! It was a beautiful day in the New Forest. Clear blue skies, but it was rather cool for somebody from such a temperate climate as NZ. I took pictures of the ice pools and the tree colouring – with its faint tinge of red-brown at times was simply beautiful I am sure that in summer, the forest leaves with their susurration in the breeze would whisper of the secrets that they have seen.
On the way home we saw Florence Nightingale’s house – which is now the main school building at a school near Romsey. I loved the chimneys here and the fire escape which was leading nowhere – they are pulling it down
Also on the way back to Romsey I was able to take a photo of the Abbey poking its head above the rest of the town – which is set in a small basin between higher ground which surrounds it.
This was an absolutely delightful weekend, away from the rush of an overseas trip. I was well looked after and fed extravagantly well! It was almost with some regret that I set out again for London – though also with some degree of excitement, as I had a dinner engagement with Emily my daughter…..Japanese restaurant, Italian Gelateria and a violin recital given by a Greek violinist.