Lacock Abbey #england #filmset #harrypotter #prideandprejudice

Lacock Abbey is the country home of Henry Fox Talbot, and so it’s only fitting that it is the backdrop for many films – ranging from Harry Potter to Pride and Prejudice. Why, you may ask? He’s the inventor of photographic negatives – modern photography – without which there’d be no films. By the way, if you’re in Reading have a look for the house where the first commercial photofinisher shop was located. (It’s near the Sally Ann and not in the best part of town.)

The Abbey is a National Trust property to the south of Chippenham and well worth the visit if you’re in the area. I wouldn’t necessarily drive out from London just to see it as a tourist, but if you’re puttering around the Bath, Chippenham or Bristol, it’s worth a look. You have to pay to visit the Abbey itself or the Talbot museum, but last time I visited the parking was free and you could wander around the village.


The Talbot’s house, and Elizabeth’s
Another view of the gardens
The church
The town. The Red lion is the brick pub in the distance and in several films. Certainly looks different today.
Curious inhabitants (for sale)
Friendly cats (This is the internet after all)



One of our favorite stops when visiting the UK is Avebury. It’s a world heritage sight and well worth the visit.

IMGP2500 The inner ring. We take a picture of our family at one of the inner stones every year. The stone doesn’t age. We do.


This interior, from a reconstruction at the Museum of Wales (not Avebury) shows how the builders lived.

The Kennet Long Barrow is a worthwhile walk from the centre of the village. This picture shows the kinds of people you run into. Serious and … not so serious.

Blue Skipper from the meadow near Kennet Long Barrow
Offerings left inside the Kennet Long Barrow

IMGP0064DSC_0857 A view from Kennet Long Barrow showing Silbury hill.

Some Good Things We Can’t Have in the USA

I was looking at happy snaps from last year and remembered things that are common in the UK and rare to non-extant in the USA. Little things, things I miss.
Real Bacon. I can find this if I look, very hard, for it. Here it comes from Ireland. I did’t take a picture of bangers, but they’re good too.

On demand water heating at the point of use. In the USA storage tanks the standard, although you can, for a steep price, get instant on water heating for your whole house. This relatively inexpensive and efficient shower unit, forget it.


Kettles. Cold to boiling in a minute. Not for us.  I can find ‘old speckled hen’ at specialty shops.


Serious power at the sockets and switching sockets. Darn you Edison and your DC mania! We have 110V, with limited exceptions. We actually get 220 to the house and then split it.

On the other hand we do have guns. Oh, and knives. And poison ivy growing outside of a patch in Kew Garden.

North Bovey.

Another travel post.

North Bovey is a small village in the Dartmoor national park. We hired a cottage there as a base of operations last summer. There’s a fancy high-class pub, the Ring of Bells, rated by Egon Ronay, but fortunately regular places are easy to reach either by walking or driving. (Since the roads are mostly one lane, even the A-roads, walking is a good idea). It is a fairly easy drive to the nearby town of  Mortenhampstead (M’hampstead on the street signs) where there are groceries (a co-op) and various diversions. The roads are tiny, even by English standards, so if you hire a car (and to be honest there’s no other way to get there), you do not want a big one.


The view from our bedroom.


M’hampstead from the footpath. It’s about a 2Km walk, and well worth it.DSC_0843
This goat skull, bolted to a tree and hidden from view, greets visitors.DSC_0847


I really like Italy. It’s a disorganized, old, and new place – but one with great food and wine. Just be aware that the trains and buses don’t always run on Sundays. If you can learn a little Italian, then you can get around without too many problems.

These pictures are from Gaeta. I skipped out one afternoon from a scientific meeting to clear my head head and get some fresh air.

This looks like an oil tank, but is a Roman tomb.

Since I didn’t have a map, I took a picture from one of the signs.


Lizette Woodworth Reese

The east is yellow as a daffodil.
Three steeples—three stark swarthy arms—are thrust
Up from the town. The gnarlèd poplars thrill
Down the long street in some keen salty gust—
Straight from the sea and all the sailing ships—
Turn white, black, white again, with noises sweet
And swift. Back to the night the last star slips.
High up the air is motionless, a sheet
Of light. The east grows yellower apace,
And trembles: then, once more, and suddenly,
The salt wind blows, and in that moment’s space
Flame roofs, and poplar-tops, and steeples three;
From out the mist that wraps the river-ways,
The little boats, like torches, start ablaze.

The sunrise from the tooth of time
(c) 2008 Robert W Harrison

How to pretend you know how to draw.

These sketches make it look like I’m one heck of an artist, don’t they?
Ha! There’s a very good reason I write books. These were done using a bamboo pad and photographs (albeit ones I took). The images are from the UK, on various trips, and other than Jess (the dog) are what you find on footpaths.jess2horsecows2welsh_cat1

I drew on top of the originals, in a separate layer. Neat.

By the way, beware of the cows.

Swamp Critters

From a trip to the Lafitte wilderness, just south of New Orleans. Well worth braving the mosquitos.

Sunday Photo

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It looks like you’re at the edge of the world when you’re at the top of Mt. Snowdon. Even when the weather is good.

A Riddle, an Enigma

Old English riddle


My dress is silent when I tread the ground
Or stay at home or stir upon the waters.
Sometimes my trappings and the lofty air
Raise me above the dwelling-place of men,
And then the power of clouds carries me far
Above the people; and my ornaments
Loudly resound, send forth a melody
And clearly sing, when I am not in touch
With earth or water, but a flying spirit.

Backcountry Mists.
Henry Coe State Park,

Photograph (c) 2010 R. Harrison

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