DAYS OUT: St Faith of Aquitaine, Wilsthorpe, & St Michael & the Angels, Langtoft

Backlit by the sun.

Another two-church day. Another good day.

St Faiths.

First church of the day was St Faiths of Aquitaine, Wilthorpe. A rather unusual little church, in a tiny little village. Perhaps it’s even just a hamlet?

Rather classical Adams type porch/entrance.
Graffiti on the walls inside the entrance.

If you look carefully, you might spot ‘E C 1774’, above. That’s 250 years ago!

View from the entrance towards the altar.
Lovely light through the windows.,
Modest wooden pulpit.
Altar area.

There are a number of very beautiful organic carved stone corbels:

Like a few churches I’ve been into recently, this one has a room above the entrance. This time, however, I was able to access the space.

Looking down, from atop the stairs.
Looking across from atop the stairs.
Little six-lobed light, upstairs.
View over the church, from above.

A great little church. Like so many, a bit different, with a character all of its own.

Last time St Michael’s was shut.

The second church, St Michael & the Angels, is one I’ve been to before. But on the previous occasion ‘twas shut. Today it was not just open. They had a tea n’ coffee morning on as well!

Lots of plain glass.
Nice roof.
The lone stained glass, is in the vestry.
Nice old chest.
A little niche.
Nice bit of paving.
Looking down the nave.
Weathering and wooden details.

There’s some interesting trickle effect weathering, noticeable on the arches. Less discernible in my snaps, but striking when you’re there, are the sculpted wooden figures at the bases of the supporting roof arches.


Not sure what’s going on up here? A pipe leads into a small boxed off area. Note how the utilitarian is still given decorative aspects, with the various shapes at the bottom.

DAYS OUT: St John the Evangelist, Waterbeach, & St Edmund’s, Downham Market

St John, Waterbeach.

Today was a two-church day. That’s a good day! The first was St John The Evangelist, in Waterbeach. Feast your eyes on my photos. What a lovely church!

What a beautiful porch.
On the floor of the porch.
Good advice! Over the front door.

The three photos this far are just tasters, all from the front porch. When you get inside the church proper? It’s a feast.

Through this door, into the church proper…
More good advice; steady as you go!
So pretty.

Even the quite plain ‘lights’ are fabulous.

Some musical angels…
… are these corbels?
Whatever they are, I like ‘em.
More of these quite modest lights…
… which are really rather lovely.
The writing’s on the wall.

There’s a band of text running around the walls of the church. Filled with Biblical quotes and admonitions.

A general view of the nave.

The pulpit looks what I’d call ‘High Victorian’; i.e. quite fussy and ornate!

An impressive pulpit.
Pretty bling!

Carvings, mosaics, marble pillars… phew!

Wow! Terrific.

The impact of walking towards the altar is very palpably uplifting.

What a pavement.
Gorgeous tiles.
The altar is richness incarnate.
I really love these guys…
… very beautiful.
More richness, in every corner.
More empty stepped niches.

The stepped niches remind me of others I’ve seen, in a few other Anglian churches.

Little details…
… making a big impression.
More saints. Again, very Victorian in vibe.
Truly glorious.
Looking down the church from the high altar end.
More fine flooring.
Weird window.

You sometimes see weirdly abstract stained glass. Often using old or broken fragments in an abstract form, yet still structured within an overall conventional layout (in other words not ‘modernist’ abstraction). Well, there’s one here, pictured above. It’s a bit weird, as some parts are conventionally representative (the coats of arms and emptier areas), whilst most of the more detailed areas are jumbled of stained-glass ‘rubble’.

Rather more conventional.
The font.
Looking altar-wards, over the font.
I like these tall narrow lights.
The main roof.

And so, back out, and off to Ely. In Ely I visited Topping Books. I rather fancy going to their forthcoming author/book talk about the current show at the British museum, about the Roman army, Legion.

Had a cuppa, and browsed numerous books.

And I was massively tempted by the above book, which looks at Picasso’s life and work through his connections with Barcelona. A gorgeous and fascinating book, that nicely reproduces a lot of his earlier work. And the paper ‘wrap’, around the lower half, unfolds to create a print or poster.

St Edmunds, Downham Market.

Later the same day I was forced – the Welney route being closed, due to flooding – to go home via a longer more circuitous route. And it took me through Downham Market. A nice old town. I decided to take at St Edmunds, the rather dour looking ‘church on the hill’.

Am imposing building.

I had to get the key from the Rectory. The guy there (Vicar? Rev?) was friendly and helpful.

Dark, rainy… rather dour looking!
Is this an umbrella stand?

Once in the main building, this church has unite dark, fusty cosiness to it. Very atmospheric. The stained glass here is terrific.

Another stunning altar.

Another terrifically powerful effect at the altar. Not so much the altar, as the combined effect of everything around it.

A few window, in a corner or wing altar area.

DAYS OUT: Dan’s Birthday

Teresa, me, Jimmy, John, Dan and Amy.

Tonight we went out for a curry, at The Maharajah, on Castle Hill. Teresa loves and misses The Maharajah. We used to go there almost regularly, if not quite frequently.

They’ve redecorated since we were last there. And it’s under new management. So we didn’t see the old guy who always used to welcome and remember us.

Jimmy and Rowan.

Dan and Amy’s younger son, Rowan, works there, as well. Which added a nice familial dimension to proceedings. Rowan and Faz and co looked after us well.

And the food is still very good! We had lamb dhansak, mushroom rice, tarka dhal and a garlic naan. Yummy! Lots of lentils, mind. So it got a bit windy later.

Dear ol’ Dan turned 52, same as me. And very generously treated us all to a birthday dinner that was relaxed, sociable, and delicious. Thanks, Dan!

CRAFT/MODELS: Can I Flog Stuff I’ve Made?

Hasegawa Egg-Plane TBF Avengers.

I bought these two kits at Duxford, over 20 years ago. They’ve been built for a long time too. I ought to dust them off a bit, I guess?

They’re painted and decal’d in a basic way.

The original decals had mostly dried up and cracked. I did manage to use the orig’ star/bar ones. But all the numbers/letters just disintegrated. Leaving me to either leave off the numbers altogether, or kind of bodge them (E16)

The most fun part was..

The most fun I had on these was detailing the cockpit interiors. They were super basic as supplied. All I did, tbh, was add straps to the seats, and paint the interiors. The hardest part of these two builds was masking the framework of the cockpit canopies.

I’m not 100% (or even 50%) sure of this. But I think the one with the red edged star/bar things might be USNM, as in US Navy Marines, the other being either plain Army or Air Force?

Penfold, from Dangermouse!
Dear ol’ Popeye.

The above two ‘shrinks dink’ thinks we’re my first ever foray into a little crafty fun, that Sofi and Ali shared with us once or twice, when we were visiting (and poss looking after?) them.

They’re not brilliantly executed. Being my first attempts. And I also learned that the simpler the overall shape – both mine are prob’ a bit too complex – and the ‘blockier’, the more success you’ll have shrinking them flat.

Both of mine have warped a bit when heating/shrinking. And Popeye’s even cracked a little. But he always was more than a little cracked.

I’m wondering can I flog these things, as part of my effort to de-clutter? Or do I just throw them away? That last seems a tad sad…

HOME/DiY: Tidying & Mending – The Endless Saga, cont.

Ok, let’s address this area (again!).

I had to cancel my dentist appointment this morning, and reschedule it. ‘Cause I’m too broke to pay the quite small/nominal fee an NHS patient is still required to pay.

So I’m back home, doing a few odd-jobs around the house, before going to work, and then out for a birthday curry at The Maharajah, with Dan and Amy Ellis. Dan’s 52 today. How are we going to pay for that? … aargh!

This little bit snapped off, years ago.

So, the first little job is a fix: glue this little bit back on to this chair. I used Titebond (3A?), an American woodworking glue that I really like. I held it in position for ten solid minutes, wiping off excess glue as I waited. Hand-holding this seemed easier than trying to rig up a clamp for such an irregular and small piece.

Holding it in place as the glue starts to set.

I thought about drilling holes and having a reinforcing rod inside the broken joint. But that’s way too much of a faff for me the way I am at present. Which is perpetually utterly exhausted. The discerning eye may note that even with this fix, a wee bobble is still missing, atop this broken ‘finial’ (or whatever it is?).

Ta-dah! Let’s hope it holds?
The more complete one, on t’other side.
And a clean cleared surface.

Clearing messy areas is a constant ongoing process in our home. And probably in most. But in ours it’s a more commonplace and arduous task as there’s ‘too many pigs for the tits’, to misappropriate an Abe’ Lincoln saying.

Too much stuff, and not enough storage. So it becomes a perpetual juggling act. Very tiring! But in those brief moments of clean orderliness it’s very nice. I’m having a wee tea break now. But battle will soon be re-joined, in the neighbouring bedside/modelmaking zone.

This lot needs clearing. Well, most of it.
Not quite there yet, but a lot better.

Well, I think that’s me done for today, in this corner. I still have plenty to do elsewhere around the bedroom. Never mind in all the other parts of the home.

MUSiC: Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts Music…

I’ve got a few Vince Guaraldi Peanuts recordings. The best, so far, is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I also have It’s The Great Pumpkin. The latter has some good moments, but isn’t as good a listen as the Xmas album.

A terrific album.
Interesting, but not as compelling.

As I think I discuss elsewhere on ye ol’ blog, this Pumpkin release is more ‘bitty’; lots of little repetitive snippets…

Maybe these’ll be similar? But these two Lost Cues discs still look promising. Shame they aren’t available as a single set/disc.

ART/MUSiC: Jason Galea’s Album Covers

One of my favourites.

I love the eclectic range of KG&TLW’s music. And, appropriately enough, their cover art is similarly broad ranging. Most if not all of it is the work of one Jason Galea. And I love his work.

Me want’um groovy green T-shirt!
Old Locomotive, The Murlocs, 2017

Galea does stuff for other folk, not just King Gizzard. Altho’ a lot (most?) of it does appear to be within the Gizz-verse.

Love the primitive model-making vibe here.

From slick, to simple, from psychedelic to stark, Galea’s work is very wide-ranging. And yet it all partakes of something with a core character, just as the music the Gizz-ers (and affiliates) makes also does.

Find a whole heap of Galea’s album cover work on his website, here.

MUSiC: Closing Time, 50 Years On…

Hot damn, what an amazing debut record!

I thought I’d revisit it, having recently bought 50th Anniversary posters, and also re-listened to it, in the car, for the first time in quite a while.

I did a series of long reviews of all my favourite Tom Waits albums, and posted them on Amazon, years ago. It was stuff like that – and the ‘helpful’ vote reactions of other Amazon shoppers – that lead to them inviting me to participate in the Vine program.

Rather annoyingly they then deleted ALL my reviews – (over a thousand!*) and booted me off Vine, later on. With no proper explanation! And I’m not sure I had any backup copies.

* With over a million helpful votes!

So this might be the time and place to kind of recapitulate that stuff, to some degree?

Only this time I’ll feel free to be even more digressive/discursive. For example, looking into some of the production team and sidemen who helped make this sublime work of musical art.

John Seiter, Drums & Backing Vocals.

Spanky-era Seiter.

Drummer John Seiter not only plays his primary instrument superbly, and with pitch perfect sensitivity to the material, on Closing Time. He also adds excellent – and highly unusual, in that they’re almost unique in the Waits canon – backing vocals, on (?) and (?).

Seiter’s claim to fame isn’t his Waits connection, but his roles as drummer for Spanky & Our Gang (196?-6?), and, more briefly, The Turtles. His brother Jimmi Seiter was also a drummer and percussionist, with a long and successful association with The Byrds, in the ‘70s…

Bill Plummer, double-bass

Bill and his bull fiddle.

As Jerry Yester recalled, Tom was insistent on having an upright bassist. Drummer John Seiter brought in Bill Plummer. Bill had a very varied career: he once played (in an unrecorded jam, I believe) with Miles, is on The Stones’ Exile On Main Street, and also played sitar, studying the latter with Ravi Shankar, no less!

Bull in sitar mode.
Bill’s ‘69 sitar album, on jazz label, Impulse!

Read more here about this intriguing album.

Jerry Yester, Production & String Arrangements

Jerry with his then wife, Judy.

Jerry Yester had been a fixture on the ‘60s coffee-house folk scene, a member of The Modern Folk Quartet, and replaced Zal Yanofsky in sixties folk-pop sensations, The Lovin’ Spoonful.

His recollections of working on this album with Tom are priceless, as they include having the very young as yet unsigned artist visit his home, to play through his material and discuss the potential upcoming album.

If I recall correctly he talked about how his wife, who’d usually ignore such goings on – her husband obviously doing stuff like this all the time – felt compelled, in this instance, to discover the source of the beautiful sounds wafting through their home.

Yester also recalls how, at the end of the session for the album-closing (and titular) instrumental, Closing Time, there was a prolonged silence. ‘Nobody wanted the moment to end’, he enthuses, citing this as ‘the most magical’ musical session he’d ever been part of.

Despite this, Yester and Tom were pulling in differing directions. Yester’s background and expertise lead him to move things in a folksier direction, whereas Tom’s whole boho-beatnik jazzer schtick was already beginning to take shape.

This looks very interesting.

Read more here about the Farewell Aldebaran album.

Ed Caraeff, Photographer


Photographer Ed Caraeff took the photos that one sees front and back. The front cover photo is a real beauty. Totally capturing the beatnik bar/nightfly vibe. The back cover one is from a series shot – possibly just after a Troubadour performance (according to some sources) – in what looks like a photography studio setting.

A snippet from the contact-sheet that yielded the back cover image of Waits.

Cal Schenkel, album cover design


Cal Schenkel’s most famous association is with Frank Zappa. Waits and Zappa were both on Herb Cohen’s Bizarre/Straight label. And in his early years Waits would sometimes open shows for Zappa, et al. Talk about trial by fire!

Cal’s work with Zappa…
…rather different from the Closing Time cover.

Cal’s website can be found here.

MUSiC: If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot, 1970

My CD.

Well, thanks to words of praise for Gord’, from my Canadian relatives, I finally got around to actually checking him out, a bit. This here ‘breakthrough’ album, from 1970, is where I’ve started.

He’s clearly a very talented singer, guitarist and songwriter. But he doesn’t immediately hit my aesthetic bullseye. My initial fears that he’d prove to be bland MOR have been mostly assuaged. But not expunged 100%.

That says, this is a fine collection of folksy country-tinged American – or Canadian, rather (mind, he’d relocated to L.A!) – ballad singer style music. Mostly acoustic. Only two tracks have drums; Poor Little Allison, and Baby, It’s Alright. Interestingly these might also be the two most dates sounded tracks, sounding very ‘60s.

The original wordless LP cover.

The pop/MOR vibe, notable in the two just mentioned numbers (Baby, It’s Alright reminds me a bit of John Sebastian*), is also manifest throughout, partly in Lightfoot’s vocal style, which is a richly smooth baritone/tenor, and notably in the string arrangements. Which are copious, though fortunately not overly syrupy.

I like it right from the get go; track one Minstrel of the Dawn immediately clicking with me. And next up is a Kris Kristofferson number, Me And Bobby McGee. Very ol’ timey and countrified. And terrific. Likewise, track three, Approaching Lavender is great, as well.

So, a very strong start. But the first number to really connect with me is track four, the melancholy slow waltz of Saturday Clothes. A lovely song. A keynote throughout the entire vibe is a gentle melancholy; totally up my boulevard!

Tracks seven and eight – Sit Down Young Stranger, the original title of the album, and If You Could Read My Mind, which became both his biggest hit to date, and the new name for the album – are clearly the two ‘flagship’ numbers.

Cobwebs And Dust, track five, and album closer The Pony Man, track eleven, are both almost nursery-rhyme like, both musically, and even lyrically. Of the two I find The Pony Man the more affecting.

In back of the ol’ LP.

Lyrically speaking, Sit Down Young Stranger reached me more than many of the others: ‘I had a million daydreams, to keep me satisfied. And will you gather daydreams or will you gather wealth? How can you find your fortune when you cannot find yourself?’ Beautiful!

The album ends strongly. Your Love’s Return, track ten, a strong contender for being one of my favourites, along with Saturday Clothes, Sit Down, Read My Mind, and the enchanting closer, The Pony Man.

On second listening I’m inclined to raise this from four to four and a half stars… very good! I expect I’ll be checking out more of his stuff, now that in know I like him more than I anticipated.

* Interestingly enough, John Sebastian is on the album, adding his harmonica to The Pony Man.

MUSiC/CRAFTS: Tama Drum Factory

A great watch.

As someone who wants to make my own drums, and is indeed already in the process of doing so (in various ways), this was an utterly fascinating watch.

Obviously Tama, a terrific Japanese drum maker, have the whole kit caboodle, tools and machine wise. But one can still learn an awful lot from watching this, which one might still apply or otherwise benefit from, even at mine own ‘umble ‘cottage industry level.