It was only a month ago that I left my job through redundancy, but this gave me the chance to make the decision to have a couple of months off to rest and recuperate after what has been a very traumatic 3 yrs at work and health wise.
What has surprised me is how very quickly this first month has gone. I have been finding so much to do to fill in my time, such as catching up on some art and craft, and even attending a weekly art group with my friend. I even have had the chance to go to the cinema to see a couple of great films, and have spent some time at home watching some old DVDs listening to music, read poetry, and making occasional visits to places of interest…..basically all the stuff I haven’t been able to do properly and enjoy to the full extent because of my depression and stress holding me back, and even in between times I’m still looking for that new job/career.
Despite all the worry and uncertainty of having to find a new job very soon, I have tried not to let it hold me back from enjoying taking this time out and doing what I actually want to do.
One of the journeys I have been wanting to make for well over 2 yrs now has been to visit the old market town of Worcester. On the couple of occasions I planned and attempted this journey something cropped up or my nerves buckled and I just never got around to it. Last summer I even got as far as getting to the train station, before my being closed in around big crowds affected me enough to warrant rushing back home and hiding away, the heat that particular day didn’t help much either. However this is something I have now learnt to deal with effectively…….the big crowds that is, not the heat, and am happy to say I now have fewer problems around the big crowds of people.
Worcester is one of those places where I have a lot of wonderful childhood memories. The endless hours sat on the river bank with my dad, brother and my late Uncle Len. Fishing rod in hand, bottles of pop, flasks of tea and coffee, loads of different sandwiches, crisps and some of my aunts homemade blackberry and apple pie and cake at the side of us. A real old-fashioned picnic. Sitting there on the warm summer days just watching the world go by…..the swans and ducks fighting over the scraps from our sandwiches that we used to throw out to them, and of course catching loads of fish between us. Those really lazy hazy days of summer.
On occasions that I went to Worcester and didn’t go fishing with the men folk, I used to instead go with my Mom, Aunt and Cousin into the town itself and visit the old street market, wandering up and down the numerous aisles of stalls full of all the locally grown farm fruit and veg, fresh eggs, meat, homemade breads and cakes, puddings and wines. It was a truly wonderful sight…..something one rarely see these days, because of the supermarkets taking over the majority of the business, but back then it all had a special feel to it. After all this we would go to one of the local ice cream parlors and enjoy a delicious homemade ice cream. The perfect end to the perfect day, before making our way back to the bus station to catch one of the old Midland Red buses back to Birmingham.
A lot has changed since all them years ago……some 30 yrs ago in fact. The main part of Worcester is a usual busy shopping complex crammed with estate agents, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs. designer clothes outlets and supermarkets. Certainly not how I remembered this lovely old town in its hey day.
When I got up Wednesday morning and after attending to my normal chores at home I felt the urge to get out with my camera, the sun was shining and in addition to this I also wanted to put my knee to the test and see how well it would stand up to some walking since having to have another steroid injection in it last week, and so the idea of finally getting to visit Worcester appealed to me.
One of the places I wanted to visit there, which I never had the chance to see as a child was the Cathedral. The plan was to walk along the river bank from the bridge and then go up to Worcester Cathedral and back down to the river before finally making my way back to the railway station and home.
I have to say I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met me at the bridge over the river. The devastation caused by the recent snow and thawing then the floods over the last weekend had taken its toll on the town. It was all too apparent how much this town had suffered with the recent bad spell of weather. I walked up to the Worcestershire County Cricket Ground to find it was under several feet of water, so much so that you could just make out the spectator stand over the far side of the pavilion. The river was so badly swollen, the water had come up on to the footpaths and for as far as the eye could see in either direction the tops of trees and benches were visible above the waterline, and on the opposite side of the river it was also apparent how far the river had come up into the walls and doorways of several of the shops, restaurants and businesses.
As I wasn’t able to walk along the path at side of the river bank ……namely because there was no path to walk on, I decided to go directly back across the bridge to the other side where I could see a bevy of fine-looking swans, and the road to the Cathedral. Of course I couldn’t leave Worcester without some photos of the local wildlife, and the swans were very willing to allow me some shots of them, as were the pigeons.
My late Uncle Len taught me many years ago that when around Swans, especially with their young, the parents could be extremely aggressive birds in their behaviour because of protecting their young. This makes a lot of people frightened of these wonderful birds, and it prevents a lot of people from walking among them. They are after all big powerful birds, they hiss a lot, and will make a stand if they feel their young are under threat. He did however teach me something which I have always adhered to when around swans and especially when I want to take some close up photos…….the secret is apparently to bow your head to them when trying to walk among them, talk softly to them, this is showing them respect, and thus keeps them calm. Whether that is true or not I don’t really know, but it works for me every single time. I remember telling someone this a couple of years ago when visiting a pair of swans and their cygnets when on a trip to Foxton Locks, she must of either thought I was being very brave or completely mad!!
After spending a very relaxing hour or so in the sunshine photographing the birds and scenery, I decided to make my way up to Worcester Cathedral, which was situated a little further up the river. Fortunately the Cathedral is situated on much higher ground and overlooks the mighty River Severn and with plenty of high walls in front of the grounds it was well protected from the recent floods.
This magnificent Cathedral is reputed to be the ” most interesting of all Cathedrals in England”, it has a very impressive line of history since it was founded in the year 680 AD, and among those buried there is King John of England in 1216 and Prince Arthur of Wales 1502. The architecture is of Norman and Gothic design, and it is a breathtaking outside as it is inside. And I must say having seen all this on Wednesday I have to agree that it is by far the most interesting I have ever visited.
I was able to walk through the entire length and breadth of the Cathedral as well as see inside the various crypts and private prayer chapels. One of the chapels was dedicated entirely to those who fought and died in service to their country throughout the two world wars. It pays tribute to the many who lost their lives in the service of The Worcestershire Yeomanry (est 1908) and The Worcestershire Regiment (believed to have been est in 1694)
In addition to this I saw among many, the marble coffins of King John of England and Prince Arthur of Wales. The beautiful carvings in the marble and rock throughout the entire Cathedral were something that had to be seen to be believed, as were all the stain glass windows, the massive organ pipes and all the various wood carvings. The Cathedral has a related history that includes Henry VIII and his wives, and various links with the Tudors, Sir Edward Elgar, who himself was born very near to central Worcester, and there is a memorial dedicated to him inside the Cathedral, although when he died in 1934 he was buried next to his wife in Little Malvern.
The Cathedral is considered as having one of the most impressive and finest toned cast rings ever in its 12 bells ( and 3 semitone bells) and it is said the ring is the 5th heaviest ring of 12 bells in the world. It therefor has an impressive peel of 15 bells which were cast in 1928 by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough from the metal of the original cast of 1869.
There is so much history attached to this incredibly beautiful Cathedral, and I lost myself in there for the best part of 2 to 3 hrs. I was fortunate to be able to take so many different photos and take time out to learn about just a tiny portion of its history.
I have included a small handful of my favourite photos in this post, but obviously with the amount of photos I did take there are just too many to include. However, as always please feel free to visit my Facebook page (Sue Westwood) where my photographic work is available for all to see if they so wish.
A truly memorable visit to a wonderful and intriguing piece of British history…….my own personal pilgrimage.
Many thanks for stopping by.