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The Cloisters

 

I was particularly keen to get to New York in time to go to the Cloisters in Fort Tyron Park before we returned the car at the Airport and flew out.  This is best visited by car.  Wendy was very dubious about my enthusiasm but was soon converted, proclaiming the Cloisters one of the best things she had seen during the whole trip.  The Cloisters overlook the Hudson River and incorporate medieval cloisters from five French abbeys together with gardens incorporating plants mentioned in medieval manuscripts.  They are the gift of John D Rockefeller Jr who also purchased a major collection of medieval art and artefacts that are housed there.  The Cloisters provide an amazingly peaceful atmosphere, when there are not too many visitors, complimented occasionally by softly played Gregorian Chants.

They immediately bring home the attraction of medieval Christianity and a monastic lifestyle.  It is easy to see how intelligent people in the Middle Ages would find this attractive in a time when all informed people still believed that this Earth was the centre of the universe and all creation was intended by its creator to culminate in humankind, formed in His image.  

From this it is a small step to believing in that one is saved from the consequences of falling short of God’s intended design and hopes for us, one’s sins, by the sacrifice of His human son on our behalf.  In consequence there was no higher calling than to spend one’s life in praise of the creator for His beneficence; through one’s every living act.   

 

This cosmology may seem silly to day; when we know we are certainly not at the centre of, or the central object of, creation.  We now understand that each of us is but one possible arrangement of cells following a structure evolved from our ancestors, in that way similar to all the other animals and living things on the planet; that life probably accidentally infected the earth 3 to 4 billion years ago and it is probable that many other galactic objects are similarly infected; that the earth is an insignificant planet that orbits the sun and our galaxy in an unimaginably vast universe; and that humans have existed in our present form for an infinitesimally brief flash of time, much less than a thousandth of one galactic orbit. One galactic orbit takes approximately 250,000,000 terrestrial years; our galaxy, just one of trillions, has already turned at least 50 times and is expected to go on turning for a lot longer.  

 

Nevertheless there are few places more beautiful; or containing objects as beautiful; or as culturally significant to Europeans; as the Cloisters.

 

 

East Coast Photo Gallery

This is an edited gallery of my photographs from the trip - click on the image:   

 

 Liberty

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Travel

Southern France

Touring in the South of France

September 2014

 

Lyon

Off the plane we are welcomed by a warm Autumn day in the south of France.  Fragrant and green.

Lyon is the first step on our short stay in Southern France, touring in leisurely hops by car, down the Rhône valley from Lyon to Avignon and then to Aix and Nice with various stops along the way.

Months earlier I’d booked a car from Lyon Airport to be dropped off at Nice Airport.  I’d tried booking town centre to town centre but there was nothing available.

This meant I got to drive an unfamiliar car, with no gearstick or ignition switch and various other novel idiosyncrasies, ‘straight off the plane’.  But I managed to work it out and we got to see the countryside between the airport and the city and quite a bit of the outer suburbs at our own pace.  Fortunately we had ‘Madam Butterfly’ with us (more of her later) else we could never have reached our hotel through the maze of one way streets.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

My car owning philosophies

 

 

I have owned well over a dozen cars and driven a lot more, in numerous countries. 

It seems to me that there are a limited number of reasons to own a car:

  1. As a tool of business where time is critical and tools of trade need to be carried about in a dedicated vehicle.
  2. Convenient, fast, comfortable, transport particularly to difficult to get to places not easily accessible by public transport or cabs or in unpleasant weather conditions, when cabs may be hard to get.
  3. Like clothes, a car can help define you to others and perhaps to yourself, as an extension of your personality.
  4. A car can make a statement about one's success in life.
  5. A car can be a work of art, something re-created as an aesthetic project.
  6. A car is essential equipment in the sport of driving.
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Opinions and Philosophy

World Population – again and again

 

 

David Attenborough hit the headlines yet again in 15 May 2009 with an opinion piece in New Scientist. This is a quotation:

 

‘He has become a patron of the Optimum Population Trust, a think tank on population growth and environment with a scary website showing the global population as it grows. "For the past 20 years I've never had any doubt that the source of the Earth's ills is overpopulation. I can't go on saying this sort of thing and then fail to put my head above the parapet."

 

There are nearly three times as many people on the planet as when Attenborough started making television programmes in the 1950s - a fact that has convinced him that if we don't find a solution to our population problems, nature will:
"Other horrible factors will come along and fix it, like mass starvation."

 

Bob Hawke said something similar on the program Elders with Andrew Denton:

 

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