Friday, 16 October 2009


...( see previous)
The rope is tied back, the monk returns, caped, to his place for more prayer and meditation…

On one of the big pillars I see what looks like a very an ‘old’ St Michel statue, with a burning candle, the stones blackened by years of devotive soot.
Suddenly we are approached by an ‘official’ looking lady, she says the church is going to close in a minute, that if we want to stay for prayer, we can, however, if we want to see the rest we have to go now and hurry, still a lot to come!
Along with some other visitors we hurry out into the heat and bright light, we walk down a few steps and arrive in another haven of peace, because alongside the church, on top of the hill is a charming arcaded cloister garden which offers vertiginous views of the bay, and was started in the thirteenth century. Today the garden is planted with herbaceous plants. They would not have been here during the Middle-Ages but they create an unexpectedly soft domestic character to a dramatic place with dramatic views.
We have been warned that there is not much time left… we are so engrossed in what we see that we do not take much attention to it.
The cloister is rectangular, and the one side, there are windows… one almost down to the ground. Apparently, another part was eventually be added and this was to be a doorway… but now, thick safe glass is set in the arches, I can assure you, it is not for the fainthearted or those suffering from fear of height! Even ‘mildly, however the views are stunning, the bay, as far as the eye can see, the tide is out, it is the ‘low season’ that means the sea can be out 12 km!
As I am taking my images, in between the admiring, there is a commotion behind me, a French family, a stout looking mum, a dad and two small children, one in a buggy are in a discussion with the official ladies, the mum is vociferous about the fact that they had to pay so much and were never informed that there was a time-limit, the statement grabs our attention, we were here for the sunset which is still a couple of hours away, there are more rooms, staircases, and vaulted halls that make up the abbey to see.
The official lady seems quite used to this and remains calm, to the frustration of the mum, as we walk out, I approach the lady and tell her our main reason for being there, namely photography, she seems sympathetic and says, go ahead, take your shots, but we move on nevertheless.
We are welcomed in the coolness of what used to be the refectory, two massive fire –places on one wall, a long wall with view on the side of the bay, each blue window a different design. On one of the tables an hour-glass, TEMPUS FUGIT, more true that ever, lol!
Totally surreal!!!

But the tour goes on, we pass through a small anti-chambre, blink at the strong sunlight when we come outside to walk down more stairs and come in the darkness and cool of one of the oldest parts, Romanesque architecture, heavy pillars and a strange pool of water…
Once more the raised voices get louder and resound under the lower vaults; I continue to take shots… no flash… no tripod… ahhemmm, a recipe for disaster, I know!!! Eventually the official ladies come to me apologetically; she tells me something that indeed we did not know prior!
There is a day tour and an evening tour, which is more expensive, she furtively looks around, no… the other bunch have left, still grumbling and reluctant, I remain polite and shrug, she turns and whispers” venez, come with me” we are quickly rushed through a door and arrive by miracle, this place really is a maze, in the anti-chambre then I will come and fetch you and you can join the evening tour and stay as long as you like, she winks and adds… take sunset shots! “
I profusely thank her and say we are more than willing to pay more; she gives a pursed lipped tchutt and disappears, locking the massive door with the huge key, Paul and I look at each other, smiling, wondering, laughing…
We wait, I take a photo of Paul staring out over the bay, we look through the beautiful stain glass windows, see the tide coming in the other island/rock called Tombelaine, towards Avranches.
The key is turned and people stream in, we arrive back in the refectory, transformed into a music-room, red carpet on the floor, a clavecimble in place and a young musician tuning it, we hang around, she starts to play, it is brilliant!
Very beautiful, you get ‘enveloped’ by the sounds…
We decide to continue, we hear other instruments in the distance, we are curious. Via another way, we arrive back in the church, the monks and nuns have left, the familiar scent and smoke of the incense lingers heavily in bands across the high vaulted ceiling, off-setting the rays of incoming sunlight, it is awesome!
Feverishly I take more images, the sun might go… the incense is thinning.
A young cello player plays a hauntingly melancholic melody, the music tumbles and slaloms between the pillars. We wait until it’s finished, applaud and walk out onto the big terrace overlooking the bay, the heat from the flagstones hits us, we sit on the steps, first in silence, then, with a big contented smile, we agree that once more, kindness and politeness have won!
There is a morality here, you, often, will get much further with tolerance and understanding, the people who work there have their orders, they get paid to do their duties, that’s their job… and the lady remained calm and composed which also made a difference.
I do not know if it was written anywhere about the regulations, if it wasn’t… I think it should!
Another hour in the life of a photographer…

(… a suivre… more to follow)
THANX, M, (*_*)
Please do not use this image on websites, blogs or any other media without my explicit permission. © All rights reserved



Bach's Cello Suite No. 6 - Rostropovich plays the Prélude

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