Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Summer days

High summer in Gloucestershire. We drive over the Cotswolds through lanes of flickering shade and blond wheat fields shimmering in the heat haze, to two of my favourite villages: the wonderfully named Eastleach Turville and Eastleach Martin - separated by the River Leach.

Across the ancient clapper bridge spanned by giant slabs of limestone. Water mint in the clear shallow water. Meadowsweet and rosebay willowherb. The river lined with willows.

From the next bridge up, a trout holds itself in the current to catch food coming downstream. A family of moorhens on a tiny island. The parents try to shoo their chicks into the water to practise their swimming skills. A huge gathering of rooks riding the thermals rise higher and higher into the blue, wheeling, scattering and reforming as they work their way effortlessly up the vortex of air like particles of dust.

From over the meadow the church of Eastleach Martin looks intact from the medieval past.

Inside fragments of medieval glass and quizzical faces that look down on us. 

100 yards away across the river there's another church - its rival - the church of Eastleach Turville, equally old, equally peaceful. Swifts zoom round the ancient tower emitting tiny high pitched screams. They look like small fighter planes engaged in some complex aerobatic display. The sky is blue. Apart from the joyful carnival of the birds the silence of high summer at midday.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Website updated

The website updated with news of the new book. Men being thrown off battlements, heroic looking crusaders whacking unfortunate Muslims. To look at you'd think this is a Christian victory, rather than the crusaders' last stand in the Holy Land at the siege of Acre 1291. It's of course a completely unhistorical piece of nineteenth century French romanticism. The book will offer something more factual, but hopefully as gripping in its own way...

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

The guns of Constantinople

I spent a couple of hours in the company of my web designer the other day looking again at pictures of the remarkable painted monastery of Moldovita in Romania. They form the header for my website, which is having an overhaul, and this blog. They're remarkable for their warm, vibrant colours. Five hundred years old they still glow, though they've suffered from some wear - and the occasional graffiti.

This one appeared on the cover of my first book fourteen years ago and I have a deep fondness for it.

Here's the whole church:

 I've never been but I'd love to see them.