Fill my lungs with ocean’s air,
Fresh rolling foam
And scent of seaweed.
Feel the warmth on my skin,
Soft grains beneath my feet
And hint of seaspray.
Feed my being with peace,
Healing rays shine down
On restless waves.
I have some catching up to do! I’ve been away for a week or so and Sunday strolls in Pembrokeshire have been on hold but this exploration of Lamphey Palace was just before I left. Not so far to venture this time as the village of Lamphey is only about 10 minutes away and I pass through it frequently on my way into Pembroke.
Yet another ruined edifice left by the prominent Norman noblemen in this area the palace originated in the 13th century and was enlarged twice until the mid- 14th century, lastly by Henry de Gower, Bishop of St. David’s. The palace became the countryside retreat for the high-ranking clergy and bishops of St. David’s Cathedral, approximately 30 miles away. As with so many ecclesiastical buildings it eventually surrendered to Henry VIII in 1546. After being held by the earls of Essex for 100 years it fell into the hands of Cromwell and was occupied by his Roundheads where it was used to provide Pembroke with supplies.
Today it is almost hidden along a narrow driveway leading to the neighbouring Lamphey Court Hotel. The lane slopes down towards a pair of abandoned stone gateposts in an outside wall and it’s quite a surprise to find the tall palms growing just inside! Cared for by Cadw (the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage) it was manned by a lone receptionist on the afternoon I visited and other than one couple and two family groups I had the place virtually to myself. It was never crowded as each party arrived and left separately and in between I was alone – plenty of time to roam undisturbed with my camera and clock up 70+ shots!
The building is still an impressive one, with walls, chimneys, doorways and staircases well-preserved. In its day it also boasted an orchard and fishpond as well as the Great Hall, western hall, gatehouse and beautiful Yew tree growing against the outer wall. I can’t imagine that the grounds are ever overrun with visitors – but there are enough hidden doorways and arches to hide most of those who venture inside. Many of the upper rooms and staircases are accessible and there is a wealth of detail to be found for those who like to explore. It was easy to find ledges to perch on and enjoy the peace and serenity of a late September afternoon. Although the sunlight was hazy it was warm and the trees were beginning to glow with a hint of autumn colours.
After an initial walk round I sat outside with a coffee, provided by the lone receptionist from a machine behind the counter, and read up from the information leaflet before taking another look around. Later, as the sun started to fade, the hollow window arches took on a gloomier feel and it seemed time to leave, but I think I might go back when the trees are bare and there’s a frost on the ground – or perhaps even some snow?
One thing I love about my Welsh house is my Welsh garden. I can grow things here that would never survive in the harsh, Siberian, east coast winds. Each Spring I’ve been able to plant something new, some brought from Norfolk, which go on to thrive, and others I’ve bought locally. The pleasure in returning after a break of nearly two years has been to see how much they have grown and flourished. The agapanthus, in particular, is my pride and joy!
More often than not, while the weather has been so fine, I’ve ended my day sitting in the garden, just gazing at the beauty of the plants. They are big and bold and this evening, as the seagulls wheeled against a blue sky, this was my little patch of heaven!
Last summer I realised a long held wish to visit the island of Iona. I’m not sure when exactly, or where, the seed of that wish germinated, only that I felt it was a missing link having visited the Isle of Lindisfarne and Caldy Island. I needed to complete my trio of religious islands.
It was a complicated journey, although I suppose nowhere near as complicated as it was for the original pilgrims, and one I made alone, even though I was surrounded by people on the journey and on the island.
Hidden deep within the abbey, protected by the cloisters, I found this amazing sculpture. Even here I was not alone, with people wandering inside the cloisters and the sound of voices coming through the open windows from inside the abbey buildings.
Looking along the cloisters. There was a serenity about this enclosed space that helped to put everything in the outside world in perspective.