Saturday, 13 June 2015
Affreca's grey abbey: perspective
I spent this morning becoming progressively more irritable and despondent as I went round the city centre trying to find things I need for my forthcoming holiday. I lost a lens from my sunglasses on the hard floor of Dunne's. I don't seem to have that beach body that apparently I should have been working on for some months. Sunscreen is too expensive. I realised I haven't got my travel insurance yet. It wasn't even slightly enjoyable.
So after lunch I drove down the peninsula to Greyabbey to try to reclaim my good mood. I wandered round the graveyard and the abbey for a couple of hours, sat in the sun, took a few photographs and tried to imagine what it would have been like here in the twelfth century when the Lady Affreca founded her monastery here. I based most of my imaginings on the novel "The Pillars of the Earth", so they may have been over-dramatic but perhaps not so far from the truth.
You really do have to look upwards here to escape the beautifully trimmed lawns, gravel surfaces and explanatory plaques. When you do, you're left with weathered stone and weeds. You have to ignore the over-concreted repairs of the nineteenth century to see the bones of the original buildings and envision the monks at work in the glorious gothic abbey.
The light was beautiful and the daisies and celandines shone out like parables against the old stones. It was quiet and peaceful. It wasn't hard to put all the stuff of the day back into its proper perspective.