Church Cats

If you have a cat, you know you don’t own the feline, they own you. Your house is not yours, it belongs to your cat. You are just the caretaker. In England some churches are a cat’s domain.

Unlike in the United States or some other places, many British churches are open or unlocked during the day. This is great for tourists who would like to enter and view the architecture or interior. It is also great for people who want to have a quiet moment to reflect. Propped open doors or constant visitors have enabled some local cats or strays to claim the building as their own. They may like to get out of the rain, enjoy the soft seat cushions on the pews, or even sun themselves where light filters in through the stained glass windows onto the floor.

Locals are so used to seeing particular cats lounging about that they know them by name. They may even be afforded the status of official church cat.

We were told by locals in Corsham that this was Cyril. He was owned by a local florist, but he liked to hang out at the church by day. We met him inside the church. He walked us out and walked right back to the florist shop around closing time.

Some church cats belong to a local and just like to hang out at the church. Others are strays that have shown up at a church and the staff end up adopting them and allow them to stay. The cats presence helps curb the mouse population.

Another cat I encountered inside a church in the Cotswolds. This one followed us outside the church as well. He tailed us around the churchyard.

Southwark Cathedral in London even elevated the status of their church cat by honoring her in stone with a grotesque. The named her Doorkins because she would be waiting by the door to be let into the church every morning before they adopted her.

The grotesque made in honor of Southwark Cathedral’s church cat-Doorkins.
Doorkins is older now. She is less social and sleeps a lot. Here she was in the Harvard chapel in the church. She was on a comfortable chair.
Doorkins enjoying a nap.

In her heyday Doorkins was more sociable. She met the queen when she visited Southwark Cathedral. She would join in church services and choir practices angling for a pet or a scratch behind the ear. Even though she is on in years and is less active, she still enjoyed a little attention.

They sell this book at the Southwark Cathedral store relating Doorkin’s story.
This is Jones of St. Paul’s in Covent Garden in London. Jones is getting on in years as well. He is named after Inigo Jones who designed the church. His sibling, who passed on was Inigo and he was named Jones.

I have been lucky enough to meet some of these cats. The ones I met were people friendly and enjoyed attention. In a country that obviously favors dogs, church cats in England can be considered an icon.

Bampton Area: Downton Abbey

If you are a fan of the British TV show Downton Abbey you are probably aware of what stands in for the big house on the show- Highclere Castle. But do you know where they actually filmed the outside village scenes for the show? The village that stands in for Downton is Bampton. There are also some filming locations in nearby villages.

Bampton

Bampton is a village located in Oxfordshire in England’s beautiful Cotswolds region. There are some filming locations to see that are all in one little area of the village.

St. Mary the Virgin was used for interior and exterior shots.

St. Mary the Virgin’s church in the village was renamed St. Michael’s and All Angels on the show. Both Crawley sister’s weddings were filmed inside the village church.

Inside of the church
Church gate House or the Old Bampton Rectory- Isobel Crawley’s house on Downton Abbey

Bordering the churchyard is a private house that is used for outside shots as Isobel Crawley’s house. It is known as Churchgate House or the Old Bampton Rectory.

This location was used as the exterior for the Cottage Hospital in Downton Abbey.

Adjacent to Churchgate House is the Bampton Library which stands in for The Cottage Hospital on the show in exterior shots. This building is where Dr. Clarkson worked treating villagers. You can buy Downton Abbey related books, postcards, etc. there.

Swinbrook
This photo is from a friend who was with me on the trip. She graciously allowed me to use it. The rest of the photos I took.

Very close to Bampton is the Swan Inn at Swinbrook. It is only two miles away from Burford. The Swan Inn was the exterior filming location of the pub where lady Sybil and Branson stayed while planning to elope.

The interior of one room in the Swan Inn. I don’t know the lady in this photo. There was always someone in this room so it was impossible to take a photo of it without including someone.

The Swan Inn has outstanding meals and desserts. I highly recommend including it as a meal stop. Everyone in our group was with very pleased with their meal and we all ended up ordering sticky toffee pudding or Eton Mess as a dessert.

Shilton
Shill Brook with the hump-back bridge in Shilton

Two miles south of Burford is Shilton. The Old Forge, next to Shill Brook was the public house in Downton Abbey. This is where Bates worked in season 2 for a stint. The 18th century hump-back bridge was also featured.

How to Get There

If traveling by car, the places I mentioned are not that far apart. Just a few miles from one place to the next. If you are comfortable driving in the U.K. this may be the option for you.

If you would rather someone else do the driving I can recommend another option. I did a van tour with 5 other friends through Cotswolds Adventures. You can pick the locations you would like to go or have him pick the spots. The guides are knowledgeable and professional. The owner of the company is fluent in Japanese, so if you are from Japan and a Downton Abbey Fan this may be the best tour for you. There are other guides this tour uses as well. You can view Cotswolds Adventures website here: https://www.cotswoldsadventures.co.uk

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, it may be worth your while to stop in to Bampton and these other surrounding villages. Most tours do not stop at these villages so you won’t be dealing with crowds. They are just some of the many beautiful villages in the Cotwolds region.

Eagles: We Just Want to Play

Do eagles play? Do they try to have fun? I went down early to the Hudson River in New York to watch the young eagles this morning and it appears they do play and enjoy hanging out together.

When I first arrived, the two babies born this spring were on the playground. I think they wanted to enjoy the swings and other equipment to perch on before the children arrived. Maybe they were wondering what all the hype was about in regards to the equipment.

This one perched for a while on a wooden guard rail on the edge of a road. People walking a dog were startled to see it there. The young eagle was not phased by the large dog. He never moved.

Besides flying around they landed on different trees again. In addition, they many times joined each other in their perching spots. They also spent time chasing each other in the air. Unfortunately the lighting on the shots where they are chasing each other around was not very good, so I am leaving them out.

Them seem to join each other a lot. It looks like they are having a conversation.
Team effort- calling out for their parents to bring food most likely. This tree is closer to the river.

I would conclude they do like to play. What do you think? Regardless, I am enjoying the new spots they choose to perch on near the Hudson River.

Baby Eagles Fledge

By Wednesday this past week, both baby eagles were flying. The one that was still branching last weekend was very clumsy. Now both are more confident.

Sitting on the roof of a pavilion.

Today the weather was not very good for photographing wildlife, however, the baby eagles put on a show. They flew from tree to tree and down to the river and back. I loved the trees the picked to land in. I wish their parents would land in the same ones as they were more visible.

This bird, an Oriole? was not too happy about where this eagle planted himself. I think he was not far from its nest. The bird kept singing and flying around him like a gnat.
Stretching his wings occassionally
Hey I was here first! We can’t both be here.
One parent bringing in a fish. Like last week, they young eagles screeched a lot before a fish was brought up around the same time- 11:00. I was there again from around 8-11 or shortly thereafter.

The parents are still bringing fish up to the nest, but now the baby eagles fly back there when they see one parent returning.

I wish the weather would have been better. It was fun to watch these two nonetheless.

Eagle Branching

Fledging is when a bird takes its first flight from the nest. Young eagles typically stay in the nest approximately 10 to 12 weeks. The stage before that is branching. This is when they go between branches of the tree.

On my last post about the eagles you saw the baby eagles in a nest near the Hudson River in New York with the downy, grayish feathers. Now the young eagle has juvenile feathers.

The two babies with their downy, gray feathers. This one was taken a few months ago.

This nest had two baby eagles. Now I see only one. I no longer have a view from above or on level due to the leaves on the trees. The babies a few months ago were exercising their wings by moving them about.

Here is one of the same young eagles a branch below the nest. At this point it is likely full grown. My they grown fast!

On Saturday I saw the young eagle sitting on one branch below the nest the whole time I was there. He seemed like he was unsure of himself or in a pickle. He moved slowly up back and forth on the branch and screeched a lot. Not sure if he was hungry or needed help.

Juvenile feathers

The next day the young eagle was practicing take-offs and landings on neighboring branches and the nest. He seemed quite clumsy as sticks flew off the nest when he landed there.

The eagle here was practicing take-offs and landings between the branches and the nest. I wonder if this one will have fledged by next weekend.

The parents were hardly seen. I did not see them on Saturday. I was only there about 2 hours. A few months ago I could catch the parents feeding the two babies a few times after 8 in the morning. This time, however, I did not see the parents on Sunday between 8-11 a.m. The young eagle was screeching constantly and at one point sounded hurt or desperate when finally the parents flew up one by one to drop off a small fish. The young eagle ate ravenously. I understand the parents may start to withhold food or tempt the young eagle to fly by holding a fish on a neighboring tree.

The eagle is here eating a fish one of the parents dropped off. The lighting is hard with the shadows cast by the branches.

Where is the other young eagle? Has it already fledged? Could it already be out and about enjoying its new ability to fly? Wouldn’t you like to have that bird’s eye view of the Hudson Valley?

Temple Art

Is it a lion or a dragon? I think it may be a dragon. I looked online and could not find a similar image.

I took this image several years ago when in the Pusan/Busan area of South Korea at one of its lovely Buddhist temples. It was taken on an old Pentax K-1000 as slide film. I recently scanned this image.

Buddhist temples are known for their artwork. Besides statues of Buddha, the temples are like an art museum on the inside and outside. If in Korea or another Asian country, be sure to stop by one. You won’t regret it.

Traditional vs. New

Many cultures have traditional clothing or dress. People may wear it during a cultural event, holiday or other special occasion, or during a dance.

Traditional clothing in Korea is called hanbok. For men it is the top and pants you see this man wearing. It can be a dress for women. Many times special shoes are worn with a hanbok like the man above is wearing.

The above picture was taken several years ago in the Pusan/Busan area outside a McDonalds. I took it with an old Pentax K-1000 as slide film. I recently scanned the slide.

I was standing outside McDonalds when this gentleman came walking up carrying a piece of cardboard. I wasn’t sure why he was carrying the cardboard, but soon found out the purpose. He used it to sit on. He looked tired. I am not sure how far away he hiked from. The man decided to sit next to Ronald McDonald. I thought it was a nice contrast. Someone in traditional clothes next to a comical figure. Serious vs. not so serious. I imagined this man’s wife told him before he left home not to get his nice hanbok dirty, so he took the cardboard with him to sit on. I would have to say this was one of my favorite images that I took in Korea.

I love seeing different traditional dress. Does your culture have traditional clothes you wear for special occasions?