Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I'm sitting down in the lobby of the gloriously art deco Metro Palace Hotel in Bournemouth after a very eventful week - no time until now till update this and will load some pictures later.

Here's what's been happening: after seeing Tewkesbury we drove to Glouscester cathedral - a truly beautiful place, and another transitional Norman/Gothic building - v. evident at the transepts where one can actually see the new Gothic vaulting in front of the Norman south aisle. Another Gilbert Scott renovation.

We raced back to Worcester just in time for rehearsal and Evensong - and the afternoon went v. well.

Wednesday night, after dinner we all went out to hear The UK's BEST ABBA COVER BAND EVER! Fun fun fun - and everyone was partying!

On Thursday, I got up early and drove up past Birmingham, through the Derbyshire Dales and the Derwent Valley - v. slow traffic which gave me lots of opportunity to see the views - to Haddon Hall and Chatsworth - a glorious day - Haddon is dreamily romantic and evocative - a 13th C. castle that was basically left untouched by the family for a couple hundred years till it was restored in the 1920's and is truly magical. The long gallery is one of the most serene places - exquisite plasterwork and the color of the oak paneling is indescribable - sort of grayish, beigeish, brown - and v. beautiful.

Then a quick whiz around the corner to Chatsworth and the Glory! haven't been there in 20 years and it's even more impressive now that I know what i'm looking at. spent 2 v. happy hours wandering about the house - and v. happy to see it after last year's disappointment.

A long drive back to Worcester and an intense musical weekend which went v. well. We had a big, happy, noisy last dinner together at Cafe Rouge and then everyone went to pack. up at 6 am to see everyone off on the bus and no one knowing whether their plane would be going.... Got in the car and headed down to Paul and Antony's in Devon - a fast drive down the m5 and all went well till the Tiverton roundabout where the A361 was closed due to a horrific accident. So in the confusion i had to figure out a new way to Paul's and managed to get a flat tire! Luckily they came and rescued me and off we went to their gorgeous cottage in Chittlehampton - a small v. picturesque village in north Devon with a 13th c. church which has a v. nice 19th c. organ . Antony cooked a yummy dinner, we all went to bed early.

up this morning at the crack of dawn and drove to Barnstaple to get the tire fixed - a v. nice town on the west coast, full of nice people.

Then down the A377 and some v. twisty one lane roads to Castle Drogo - mammoth, towering over its hillside, v. impressive. From there a quick dash over to Powderham Castle (used for filming Remains of the Day) for another 13th c. castle added to over the last 6 centuries, brilliantly in the 18th Century, v fun and beautiful.

A quick drive into Exeter and a visit to its Wow of a Cathedral - quite flamboyantly Gothic - beautiful restored, with its original 17th c. organ case. A choir was rehearsing for the big service to celebrate The Feast of Mary so heard some Grieg - v. nice.

Left Exeter, headed east along the coast to Bournemouth - and here I am - at the Metro Palace hotel - there'll be lots of pics and commentary coming along. But internet is a little spotty to find - be patient!


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