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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Trip to St.Mary's Church, Fairford

We organised a visit to St.Mary's Church in Fairford to have a look at the windows in the church, and learn more about them from an extremely well informed and interesting guide.
The majority of us met at The Bull, and had lunch, and then went to look at the church.
The windows date back to the early 1500s, and no other parish church in the land has retained a complete set of medieval glass, and they're just down the road from us. They have been used to both express and teach by pictures the Christian faith for over 500 years; initially when the parishioners were illiterate, it must have been tremendous to have these windows as a backdrop to teaching the stories of the Bible.
We started with Eve, in the left hand light, seen here in an act of disobedience taking the fruit:
 and on the right hand panel above the Burning Bush is depicted.
The second window depicts the Virgin Mary:
 Below in greater detail you might be able to see a couple kissing, they are Mary's parents, Joachim and St Anne

 The second light from the left depicts St Anne with Mary as a baby in her arms, but not easy to see here.
 This is still window 2 where Mary presents herself at the Temple, and the 4th light in the window depicts the Betrothal of Mary and Joseph
 The Great West Window at the rear of the church is magnificent, I photographed parts of it which I found so impressive such as the contrast between this part depicting Satan breathing fire, seen in the bottom right:
 and bottom left, the white robed, saved ascending the golden staircase where St Peter in a red robe stands on the second step holding in his right hand the key key to the kingdom.
 Below is a light in Window 6, where Christ rescues Adam and Eve from hell and proclaims the good news to imprisoned souls (The Harrowing of Hell)
 There was an impenitent soul behind red hot bars, unfortunately not photographed.
Here in Window 25 below, we see the wicked priests with little lights above them in the clerestory windows revealing visions of exuberant horror.
And in Window 26 we have accursed rulers, with on the left a head in his hand, and on the right, Herod murdering an innocent babe.
 And here are some of the group of around 24:
Looking up at the windows, binoculars are really useful, you can also use a zoom on a camera and look at the resulting image.
 And finally looking at the magnificent Great West Window.
 And then to tea and cakes in the lovely community centre. I would really recommend a visit with a guided tour, it makes all the difference.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Lynne Derry's Talk on The Great Bustard

May's talk  by Lynne Derry on the Great Bustard was fascinating and informative. Lynne has worked with them for the last 9 years, and gave us the benefit of her extensive knowledge about Great Bustards, much of it gained from working with them. Lynne showed us some lovely photographs of the Great Bustards, but from a projected image, they're not that easy to photograph.
here's the photograph at the start of the talk:
 Bustards are the heaviest flying birds, they tend to land in fields away from people, and are the size of roe deer, the male being much heavier and larger than the female, 40lbs to her 12 lbs. They can rise vertically when they fly. When trying to attract a mate, the males fill their throats with air as seen below:
Great Bustards were hunted to extinction in this country in the mid 1800s, although they exist in many other parts of the world, so when there was an attempt to reintroduce them to Salisbury plain in 1999, it was a matter of trying to find ones in places with a similar climate to ours so they would survive. Amazingly enough, as recently as 2007, Mike Prior, designed a flag for Wiltshire with a Great Bustard at its centre. More on the flag
In order to rear chicks, those looking after them have to wear dehumanization suits so the chicks don't become attached to humans. They are omnivores and exist in droves. The best time to visit the sites where they live is in March and April, to find out more look at the Great Bustard Group's website
 Lynne brought some back copies of their magazine, I photographed the cover of this one with a beautiful photo of a Great Bustard on the front.
Also Wiltshire Life magazine recently had a photograph of one in front of Stonehenge:
Maybe we should plan a visit next April?