Buildwas Abbey near Ironbridge, Shopshire, England.

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This photograph taken by Anthony J Sargeant in 2011 shows an archway in  the ruined 12th century Cistercian Abbey close to Ironbridge in Shropshire.

Although without a roof the basic structure of this magnificent church is intact.

The Cistercian Abbey of St Mary and St Chad was founded in 1135 by Roger de ClintonBishop of Coventry (1129–1148) as a Savignac monastery and was inhabited by a small community of monks from Furness Abbey. The stone from which it was built was quarried in the nearby settlement of Broseley.

The abbey was closed in 1536 by the order of Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

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UK and EU – Rats and Sinking Ships

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In response to the Ex-Prime Minister of Belgian and now EU Parliament negotiator for Brexit talks, Guy Verhofstadt, likening the UK leaving the EU to “rats leaving a sinking ship”. Anthony Sargeant says that there are two interesting points about the comment; (1) the Belgian Europhile seems to think the EU is sinking (which it probably is) and (2) rats are an extremely successful species which thrives around the world (which may well turn out to be how the UK fares in terms of global trade post-Brexit). But as a Belgian you can imagine the dismay at the very thought of the collapse of the EU infrastructure and consequent redundancy of all of those vanity-project buildings in Brussels – what will Belgium do with them? And what will it do as an economy no longer propped up by the income generated by over 50,000 well paid EU civil servants in Brussels, plus ancillary staff. If you think that closure of the Port Talbot Steelworks would be bad for Wales then the collapse of EU would be a disaster for Belgium which is economically challenged, not least by the internal schisms of its society on language and religious grounds (this leads to duplication not just of language in government documentation but also of whole institutions. So in Brussels for example, you have the Universite Libre of Brussels but also the Vrije Universiteit of Brussels and so on down the educational system in towns and Villages across the country.

Dinner on Christmas Day – Thinly sliced Smoked Venison

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Anthony Sargeant cooked this very simple and modest meal for dinner on Christmas Day. The cherrywood smoked venison was cooked surrounded by garlic cloves sous vide at a low temperature and then finished in hot pan in cold-pressed rape-seed oil. After resting the individual venison portion of just 80g was thinly sliced and plated as shown. It was served with the halved garlic cloves, cubes of celeriac, carrots, brussel sprouts, and baked potatoes. The relish at 11 o’clock in the photograph is home-made pickled damsons stoned and in their own syrup. The sauce on and around the venison was manufactured from previously home-made (defrosted) chicken and beef stock with damson vinegar added to sharpen the taste. A surprisingly and charmingly light meal and unlike so many peoples idea of ‘Christmas dinner’ – it left one feeling satisfied but not bloated.