Tag Archives: York

Fog and Ashes at York Minster


I know I keep showing pictures of York, and particularly the Minster. A bit repetitive maybe? Apologies, but it does repay the revisit. It’s one of those places I can’t leave alone. Well, I did grow up here, the roots go deep.

Minster in Fog1


I left York at 18. The day before I left a new Bishop had been consecrated in the Minster. He had questioned the literal truth of the Virgin Birth and that night a storm raged over the city, lightning struck the South Transept and the roof was engulfed in fire. That morning, as I made to leave I went to have a look at the ruins. Charred wood smouldered a metre thick on the floor. The papers wrote of the Wrath Of God. I turned my back.

Minster in Fog4


These are not images of smoky hellfire and damnation cursing the unfortunate Bishop’s apostasy. Merely a bit of fog early on an October morning. Makes everything look a bit eerie though…


Minster in Fog5


Minster in Fog6


I don’t turn my back anymore. And I love how beautiful the Minster looks. No ashes here. And no idea what happened to the Bishop…

Minster in Fog7



The Minster in all its glory

I grew up in York. Of course as a kid I didn’t see the beauty of the city, especially the Minster. It was just there. I think I only really began to see it when I left. And now, when I go back, I look more closely.

Minster view...

Minster view…


I’m going to do a project of photographing the Minster. Up close, inside and out. This is the first post – views from a little way away. Seeing it through the snickleways of the city.

Grape Lane

Grape Lane


I’ve also been having some fun with an old camera that I’ve converted to infra red. I like a subtle IR effect, not too over the top. You can just about tell from the foliage when it appears in these photos. Whiter than normal.

Medieval cobbles

Medieval cobbles


Chimney Street

Chimney Street


York looks absolutely stunning at the moment, especially early in the morning before everyone crowds the city. And the Minster is its crowning glory. The ancestors would be proud.

Minster at dawn

Minster at dawn



View from Petergate

View from Petergate

(By the way, one of these photos is a cheat, an odd one out. Can you tell which, and why?)

Vive Le Tour in Essex!

They’re coming!

They’re coming!!!

Any second now!!!!!

Yes, it was a long wait… But exciting. And we enjoyed the show. After all, this is the 3rd most watched sporting event in the world and it was passing right by the end of our road. Not bad. Vive le Tour!


The leader!

The leader!

And the day before they’d ridden past my Mum and Dad’s house in York. What are the chances of that? It’s like they were laying it on specially for us. So we had to go bananas!

Are they here yet Dad? Not quite lass, be patient, it’ll be soon…

A French cockerel in Epping

A French cockerel in Epping

Yorkshire looked great. Epping did too. Yellow everywhere, garlic, onions and tricolours livening up the High Street. We love our cliches.

Dad, when will they be here? Soon, soon.

And all of a sudden, they were!

Here they come!

Here they come!

And there they go!

And there they go!

It brought the francophile out in me, plus the Yorkshire & Essex pride. They went past in about 12 seconds, but it was great!

The pic doesn't do justice to their speed...

The pic doesn’t do justice to their speed…


Was that it then, Dad? Aye, indeed. Time for a beer. Well I am a Yorkshireman…

I think this chap got left behind

I think this chap got left behind


Love it, when’s the next celebration?

It's all just a bit of fun!

It’s all just a bit of fun!

(Apologies for the number of exclamation marks in this post. It just had to be that way!)



York is the centre of the WORLD!

Well, it was once… way back in AD 306. Emperor Constantius, busy subduing those troublesome northern Picts, died whilst based at York. The Roman troops proclaimed his son, Constantine, Emperor of the known world! He may have been born in Nis, Serbia, but he became Emperor in York!

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus

Just outside the Minster is a statue of our Yorkshire lad. And quite a statue it is. Captures the imperial confidence, pride and swagger very well.

Clearly he didn't suffer from lack of self-belief...

Clearly he didn’t suffer from lack of self-belief…

Dressed for battle, a warrior, confident of destiny, yes, this boy could swagger alright. Consider what he went on to do: Killed off his rivals in a bloody civil war, forced the Roman Empire to convert fully to Christianity (God appeared to him in a dream before a battle. “In hoc signo vinces” – by this sign you will conquer) so he led his troops into battle with the sign of the cross on their shields. Such self-belief – always easiest for the victor…!

the sword is a cross

the sword is a cross, deliberately…

Vanity! He decided Rome wasn’t good enough and founded a new capital, which of course could only be called…., Constantinople! The statue exudes this arrogant pride. Not just in the imperial look, the aquiline nose, disdainful gaze. Right down to his very fingertips, this man is emperor.

Hubris hands...

Hubris hands…

And is any of this relevant now? Well, yes. This was the man that decided what the whole of the western world should believe – the Nicean Creed, AD 325. He bossed the conclave. Not bad for a Yorkshire lad…

Hands that rule the world.

Hands that rule the world.

Harvesting fruit, creating memories

The most delicious fruit

The most delicious fruit

When I was a kid I once spent a summer in France. I remember sitting in a cherry tree gorging on the cherries until I could eat no more. And picking deep purple figs that were deliciously sweet and squashy. The fruit of the south.  Quite different where I grew up in Yorkshire. The fruit is of the north, but just as delicious. And now is the time to indulge.

Ripe plums

Ripe plums

Last weekend was harvest. The whole family in the garden to get in the fruit before it fouls. A good moment, productive, memorable, everyone working together.

Umpteen barrow loads of apples

Umpteen barrow loads of apples

Enough plums to feed an army

Enough plums to feed an army

Good experience for the kids

Good experience for the kids

Soon he'll reach higher than me.

Soon he’ll reach higher than me.

Even Mrs P is in on the action

Even Mrs P is in on the action

Picking and storing the apples, stoning and freezing the plums. Enough fruit to get through the winter and into the spring. We’ve harvested the fruit and we’ve also harvested the experience. These are family activities that will linger long in the memory.

Pack it away carefully...

Pack it away carefully…

We do actually have a cherry tree in the garden. Been there for 35 years, and I’ve never got a single cherry off it – the birds eat them before they ripen. So my cherry memories will remain in France. Apples and plums belong to England.

(If you like food blogs check out: http://stowell.wordpress.com)

I saw an angel in the garden

If you look very carefully, in the background, hiding amongst the grasses, you can see an angel, hovering in the garden at my parents’s house.

A guardian angel

Why would an angel live in the garden at my parents’ house? Because she was invited to, of course, out of generosity and charity when a helping hand was needed. And now she lives in gentle repose, watching quietly. Is this not what gardens are for?

A place for relaxation and togetherness. Occasionally we still whack the tennis/cricket ball about, but more so we chat and spend time together.

The garden has become more magical with time. Strange mystical creatures flutter here and there.


My daughter adds her own personal belongings, echoing the loved toys of kids that have gone before. Tibby here, now very clearly a dog, was called Ollie 30 years ago, when he was an elephant. Poignant repetition.

Ollie and Tibby, kids then and now. Such thoughts keep us warm.

holding hands

And amongst it all is the angel, watching and smiling over us.

A garden Guardian, fleeting and beautiful

2011 – a personal review

This blog is one year old, so I thought I would do a quick review of the last 12 months, in 12 pictures. If you want to read the blog page that lies behind the picture, just click on the caption and it will take you there. Magic!

Dec/Jan, Venice in the cold:

Feb: Blackberry photos of BMW dream machines

Mar: Sailing off Mersea Island

Apr: Spring has sprung

May: Bluebell woods

Jun: The Royal Wedding

Jul: Cars!

 Aug: memories of York

Sep: kids gossiping on holiday in Italy



Oct: Italy’s sexy statues



Nov: New York, New York!

Dec: London night scenes

I never realised how beautiful York was…

Youth is wasted on the kids, that’s for sure. You simply don’t see, the focus in elsewhere – on the self obviously, and you miss so much. I think that every time I go back to visit my parents in my home town. York. It’s so beautiful, and when I grew up I was blind to it.


Minster at dusk

Perhaps you just need to be older to appreciate the beauty around you. Or maybe you need to move away. At any rate, whenever I get the chance I love to photograph my home town.

The centre of York looks truly beautiful, especially if you get up early and get the shots before the hordes descend. And the Minster is at the heart. As a kid I used to go here every Xmas Eve for the service on nine lessons and carols. Maybe I did sense some of the beauty of the place even then. I didn’t realise it, but a germ of appreciation was there.

the oldest window

the tower

So now, when I go to visit my parents, I make the effort to get up early. See if I can grab a shot that captures something of the home town. Perhaps I re-live my younger days a bit. At any rate, I look, and I marvel. If only I had had the patience to look more closely as a child…


Early morning, no-one around...

Sharing time together, telling stories.

hands that have held each other for over 40 years

Last weekend I visited my Mum and Dad back in York, and my Uncle was there too. A long planned weekend, a chance to tell some of the old stories and record them for the family files. Do we all reach that stage when it suddenly seems important to capture these stories and save them for future generations?


Good stories they are too. A wealth of happy times, full of laughter, excitement and quite a bit of travel. The dining table has heard them all before, and probably will again. But where else should you tell family stories apart from round the family dining table!


Mum doesn’t really contribute too much now. Several strokes mean she finds it hard to join in. But she is present, and if she doesn’t listen, she does at least hear. And that makes her part of the stories too.

Uncle in full flow

An uncle is always good for a riveting story, all the more riveting when tongues are loosened by fine wine (Gigondas, Domaine du Cayron, awesome!)

Listening and hearing

That arm doesn’t work, the legs have given up, and the wheelchair is a bitch, but Mum’s still present and we hope she hears the stories too.

And occasionally an awakening and some shared laughter by all. A ray of sunshine.

Still time for laughter