I am writing this in the train, as we hurtle back to Derby from St Pancras so you’ll understand if the style has a certain lurchy, snoopy tendency to it.
Having recently been to Florence we have been hoping to plan a trip to Pompeii some time, and were most excited to learn about the plans for the Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition, which is on until September at the British Museum. John and I are going in June all being well but I was lucky enough – having already planned one of my fairly regular little jaunts down to London – to be able to attend a private viewing of the exhibition this morning with our daughter Ruth whose official invitation most generously included me!
What a treat! The exhibition is beautifully mounted, with hundreds of wonderful relics never before seen in this country or even possibly ever outside Italy. I went round it twice, once during the private viewing and then again, with an audio visual thingy afterwards.
So many things struck me, it’s hard to know what to begin with, but perhaps it is the human element. You feel you are almost intruding on the lives of people going about their daily chores and pleasures one moment and and in the next destroyed by the erupting Vesuvius.
Their ghastly tragedy is our great fortune, because, thanks to the ferocity and nature of the eruption so much was preserved for us to view now, over two thousand years later.
An interesting fact which i had not appreciated is that the two cities were affected in very different ways, and at different times, although equally devastating. Pompeii was covered by several feet of ash and afterwards was revisited by people returning to rescue items and presumably by looters and many centuries later was much easier for archeologists to explore.. Herculaneum was buried much deeper, and hit by a hotter wall burning gas which meant that everything was instantly carbonised, and preserved, but was harder to retrieve.
Another very striking thing I found was how civilised their society was; this is before Christ, when one suspects that in this country people were lagging behind more than somewhat. There was widespread if not mass literacy, slaves were frequently given their freedom, woman had (more or less) equal rights although they were not allowed to vote, trades flourished, houses were and elegant sophisticated and well furnished – apart from their toilet arrangements: apparenty these were normally situated in the kitchen so that human and catering waste could be dealt with simultaneously. They loved their gardens, feasting and entertaining; they had boundary disputes between neighbours, and so on… It all felt quite incredibly ‘normal’.
Which of course makes the tragedy that befell them all the more heart rending. Ironically, in one of the scenes depicting a banquet there is a notice imploring the guests to eat and drink as much as they could , because ‘tomorrow we die’. Little did they know.
Due to a health issue one of our soon to arrive guests has had to cancel so Tom’s Barn is available for a sneaky Autumn break.Bank holiday week is available and what better than to spend in the lovely surrounding countryside village of Parwich. If previous years are to go by the weather should still […]
Ever since we moved here we have wanted a dog, the farm just calls out for one. We have lots of guests that bring their dogs and each time we said we need to get on of our own. Well here she is Sunshine Honeybeam otherwise known as Izzy. She is a wired haired Vizsla […]
It has been really hot here as it has in most parts of the country. We are getting ready for Open Gardens next Sunday, 25 June 2017. The rose above the stone barn has prolific blooms that we are hoping will still be there at the end of the week. Lots of hot air balloons […]