Monday, 3 June 2013

Ansty to Coventry and back to Hawkesbury Junction

Posted 12th June
Another glorious sunny day and at last the wind has dropped.  The plan was to visit Coventry and maybe stay overnight, if it was suitable for our elderly dog.
We made our way up to Hawkesbury Junction, where we had a short wait to go through the stop lock.  The moorings were extremely congested and we were glad we had stopped at Ansty, although it had meant forgoing a visit to the Greyhound!  We made the turn in the ‘easy’ direction down to Coventry.  Here is the amazing sculpture on the Coney Lane bridge. (Sorry about your head, swan).
coney lane bridge hawkesbury jct 2
Last time we were this close to Coventry was about 17 years ago when we had a hire boat with the children.  The hire base was in the grotty back streets where there is still a small boatyard and we were advised not to moor overnight anywhere between the junction and Coventry.  What a difference now!  Most of the old factories and industry have gone, replaced by new housing or just razed to the ground and taken over by mother nature for a while.  There were plenty of moorhens about, though their nests had crisp packets woven in rather than green leaves.  This glorious clematis had been planted below a block of flats, along with ornamental ivies.  It looks as though the people in the flats hardly get any view of them at all, but nice for us.
clematis by coventry flats
There has been a big effort to keep the towpath in good condition, and there are examples of artwork of various kinds to be seen.  These fish were alongside a play park.
coventry canal art
And this is part of a large mural on a wall separating a derelict site from the towpath.
mural near coventry 2
There were also many carrier bags hung on the railings at the access points to the towpath, which seem to be for rubbish.  We assume it is a local initiative by residents, some of whom presumably come and take the full bags away!  It does seem to be keeping the area tidier though.
plastic bags in all the pointy railings
Shortly before the basin there is a row of weavers’ cottages knows as ‘Cash’s 100’ though less than 50 were built.  The families lived on the bottom 2 floors, and the top floor, with its large windows, was taken up with the looms.  Now they look just like posh flats.
Cashs 100 cottages coventry
We arrived in the basin and turned before mooring, fighting the wind which was funnelling through the bridge, and tied up opposite the restored warehouses which have these bijou residences included for the local population -
pigeons at coventry basin
We were unfortunately too late to attend the Monday lunchtime organ recital at the cathedral but still had an enjoyable visit.  We had not been before and had no idea what to expect.  We approached through the ruins of the old cathedral, which was largely destroyed in the Blitz. 
bombed old cathedral
There is a statue here by Epstein, Ecce Homo, (Jesus before Pontius Pilate) – the plinth was taller than Debby.
ecce homo jacob epstein coventry cathedral
We walked down to the plaza below, by the entrance to the uni, to get a view of the old and new cathedrals together, through the fountains.  Yes, Debby is standing in the middle of them!  We couldn’t stand far enough away for a good shot of the two cathedrals unfortunately.
fountains 2
At the top of the steps to the new cathedral is another Epstein, St Michael and the Devil, representing the triumph of good over evil.  st Michael vanquishing the devil
To the right you can see the outside of part of the Baptistery window which has to be seen (from the inside) to be believed.  It is the full height of the cathedral, and consists of many panes of the most vivid stained glass we have ever seen.  It was designed by John Piper.  When you walk to the altar and look back, you can see the rest of the windows – much narrower, full height again, but angled so they can only be seen once you have walked past them.  We took photos but they do not show anything like the full glory of the real thing.  Graham Sutherland’s famous tapestry is there behind the altar;
 sutherland tapestry then you turn round and see the windows and the wonderful West Screen.  This is effectively a wall of glass, full height again, with figures of saints and angels etched into it.  Dave took the photo below from outside; the part of the ruins you can see is actually a reflection. Clever, eh?  The etched figure is taller than life size and is just one of many.  The whole place is a work of genius and a visit is a very moving experience. The new cathedral was, and is, focused on the theme of reconciliation (see the photo of Paul with the statue ‘Reconciliation’ in the ruins on Caxton’s blog!, June 10th).
west window new cathedral plus reflection of old
Before we returned to the boat, we had time for a quick visit to the Herbert Art Gallery nearby. Among the interesting and varied exhibits were two ‘works’ by Gavin Turk, which were bought by Charles Saatchi.  They consisted of a car door and the boot of a hatchback, both signed by the artist.  A comment, apparently, on the ownership of objects.
We returned to the boat and were away by 5, as we wanted to get back to the junction for the night.  Tess can’t walk far now and Dave had to carry her over 200 yards to a little park when we first arrived, so staying overnight was not an option.  We ended up having to go several hundred yards past the junction before we found a suitable space to moor.

No comments:

Post a Comment