Catching up, Cotswolds and Cathedrals

I’ve been catching up with friends over the past few days.  It has been lovely to meet an old colleague from my theatre days in her home town of Cheltenham, to spend some time together driving through the Cotswold villages and on to Cirencester and Malmesbury and to finally have a chance to visit the splendidly revamped Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Yesterday we headed – via a hasty glimpse of Gloucester Cathedral – to meet more friends in Hereford who had come over from Wales to see Mappa Mundi, explore Hereford Cathedral and have a mooch about the city. We loved Hereford Cathedral with its shrines to St Thomas of Hereford and St Ethelbert (and the recent art commissions are very well chosen) but thought the Mappa Mundi and the chained library displays were disappointing. We hadn’t intended to stay for evensong but were very glad we did when we heard the fine singing of Tallis and Grieg from the Cathedral’s choir.

Reposing Welsh Style

image

Our final talking ‘repose’ day on this otherwise silent 5 week retreat saw most of us aiming for Olympic gold in the chattering event. We headed for a place with a population of more than sheep and made a triumphal entry to Llangollen.

It is strange how informal conversation makes such a difference to your ‘head space’ after the silence and intensity of the past three weeks. Interesting, too, to compare experiences with other retreat participants now that we’ve passed the half-way stage.We know the most difficult section lies in the next week, so a bit of relaxation and mutual support goes a long way.

I’m really loving this bit of Wales – in all weathers. Even the torrential rain a couple of days ago wasn’t enough to stop me getting out into the hills for some rather brisk walking and meditation. It’s the availability of all that wonderful outside space that stops the ‘cabin fever’.

A very positive and revealing experience, so far, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of the next fortnight. The photo above is the view from my retreat room. Not bad to wake up to that each morning!