The travel bug that is!
Did you go away this Easter?
Grace (who I met through this blog!) lives in Paris and met up with us for a meal one evening in a favourite traditional bistro on the banks of the Seine.
Grace it was wonderful!
She also recommended the Musee Montmartre which was amazingly quiet though just a couple of minutes walk from the crowded steps and packed restaurants around Sacre Coeur. It was warm enough to enjoy coffee outside in what was Renoir's garden.
And sunny enough to create beautiful shadows..
A gem. There is even a vineyard..thank you Grace.
We chanced on a fabulous florist where bouquets the size of a table were going out of the door and whole branches of cherry blossom and fully grown and flowering clematis in pots were on the pavement. They kindly allowed me to take photographs (lots!) and I was astonished to see Iceland poppies for sale as cut flowers for the first time.
It must take a lot of skill to condition these delicate things
There were also refugee families in the Metro - a woman sitting on the ground feeding yoghurt to her baby, a young family carriage-hopping clapping and singing in strange rap/african/eastern european rhythms with hard voices - a young man and woman and a boy who may have been 9 or 10. They may have been parents and child or they may have been siblings. It was hard to tell.
I had buried my purse deep in my backpack, safe from pickpockets on both occasions.
The local street in Montparnasse, tiny parks and gardens and playgrounds, artworks and posters in the Metro - the lesser sights of Paris (or any city) can be fascinating too.
The prize in this competition was to sleep in the Louvre! We were too late to enter..Do you have any special memories of Paris?
More after the Easter break -
..by Les Nympheas in L'Orangerie. (Be there when it opens.)
Here's what Monet said about them..............
..Nerves strained by work would relax in its presence...for he who would live in it, this room would offer a refuge for peaceful meditation.
I was also charmed by this fabulous lightshade in the cafe.
It's about 5 or 6 feet across and so lightweight it moved slightly.
As for the stunning Musee D'Orsay, words fail me so here are 10 photographs!
It was marvellous to see the originals of so many Impressionist paintings familiar to me in reproduction. Do you have an artwork you long to see in the original?
The real thing.
This is the post I was about to publish when I heard of the fire.....
We fitted a lot in - sunrise at Trocadero (yesterday's post), sunset from the roof of our apartment block in Montparnasse (header photo) and Notre Dame at midnight - though not all in the same day, and with rests in the afternoons!
A few days in Paris were a tonic and a thrill.
I am reminded of the atmosphere in York in 1984 when the Minster was badly damaged by fire - there was a palpable hush over the whole city the following morning as people wordlessly acknowledged each other by making eye contact, and the only sound was that of a helicopter circling. The south trancept and the rose window are now fully and beautifully restored.
A grey and grieving day in Paris as one French commentator said, but mercifully there were no fatalities.
..now and then.
Although I trained in Printed Textiles at Glasgow School of Art, in my home I like plain and simple, and pattern only on things which are brought out occasionally..and usually one at a time. William Morris, Arts and Crafts, the Bloomsbury set and Liberty? I love to visit these kinds of interiors but would not want to live in them. (Too much visual stimulus! I would find it exhausting.)
Well, maybe not all, but I do love making plans and having projects. It's another thing which makes me feel alive.
I like the research, the decision making, the anticipation and finally (though they don't always come to fruition) the execution.
I currently have garden plans, fitness plans, travel plans and a wardrobe update plan is slowly taking shape....
Even a plan for the morning or the next hour helps shape my time and my thoughts, and gives me a sense of purpose.
When I go to the city I am doing diligent research to find a substitute for my favourite restaurant which has closed down. Carluccio's was ideal for me when I was travelling. positioned between the bus station and the railway station, on a level, roomy and table service - all helpful when you have luggage, the food was good with regular small changes to the menu to keep it interesting, the staff were always friendly (I wonder if they all found new jobs) and the street was in view so you could watch the world go by. They also sold a good range of italian foods which made great gifts if I was going to stay with someone. And they never made me feel hurried. Perfect in other words!
So far, and several mediocre and one very bad meal later, I have not found a good alternative.
Zizzi was good yesterday (belated Mother's Day meal with my daughter - best salted caramel ice cream!) but this branch is out of the centre of the city in Ashton Lane in the West End.
If you have any recommendations I'd be glad to hear of them....
So, that plans do you have that are making you feel alive?
And if you haven't got any can you make one?
Even a little one?
Yesterday I mentioned the words from a Lloyd-Webber song and trying to find it on YouTube, I ended up spending an hour or so listenigng to Elaine Paige - what a combination those two were! If you have time for the first four minutes of this it will take your mind off the news...
And I find this combination rather touching... (sorry I couldn't find versions without ads.)
For many years I've felt I had a good balanced approach to the news - I listened once a day max and never before bed. I felt informed but I wasn't getting frustrated, depressed or anxious about any of it. I was staying sane. Well, that's the way it seems to me :-)
Today I find I am having to wean myself off it! The crazier it gets (and it seems to get crazier by the hour) the more I want to hear!
So today I distracted myself with other things -
I did some more of the financial paperwork (that emotional baggage bag trick is working for me.)
I sowed more seeds and watered the New Zealand cosmos
I took note of a Mary Berry recipe for rum and raisin ice cream (will let you know....)
I arranged some daffodils and changed the batteries in the tiny lights in the birch branches.
I caught up with the ironing, did some cooking, listened to music instead of the news, phoned a friend, sent some emails, brought in some logs and exercised for a full hour.
And I am trying to ignore my need to hear the result of the 20th vote today in the House of Commons or whether Donald Trump has remembered yet where his father was born!
In the words of the song maybe I should Let the world turn without me tonight.
I enjoyed this short video about Leonardo da Vinci's drawing materials.
Some hardly changed over 500 years.
Original Leonardo da Vinci drawings!
I found it really thrilling to stand close to and examine carefully the real things!
To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death there are currently 12 exhibitions here in UK each with I think 12 original drawings from the Queens's collection..
(See more here.)
In Scotland the only venue is at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow which rang with the sound of humdreds of children enjoying themselves today (school holidays here). The gallery has always been free, and always been family friendly and (the replica of) Dippy the Diplodocus - see this post - is still drawing the crowds.
Opening all the windows in the morning makes me feel more alive.
If it's cold or wet it may just be for a few moments.
On really hot summer days (we do get them occasionally!) the doors may stay open too.
I love that.
(Taking photographs for the blog makes me feel alive!)
What makes you feel alive in the morning?
Make Friends With iPeople Who Want The Best For You.
I am so lucky in this regard! I am surrounded by people who want the best for me, as I want the best for them.
This chapter in Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life is partly autobiographical. Under headings such as The Old Hometown, My Friend Chris and His Cousin and Teenage Wasteland he lists the many heartbreaking reasons why some people become hopeless, helpless delinquent or even suicidal. He also lists - and this is as hard to hear - the reasons why we can't neccesarily help them until or unless they truly want help (which can be hard to judge). Under Rescuing The Damned he suggests our reasons for wanting to help may not always be virtuous.
How dare I cast aspertions on the motives of those who are trying to help?' he says. But he does dare, and I am glad he does. It's what makes him interesting to read. He challenges a lot of our assumptions!
If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn't recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friendship for yourself?
Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement. You are not morally obliged to help someone who is making the world a worse place.
I wonder if you have enough friends who support you, if maybe you can 'carry' one or two who take a lot more than they can give, but not, if as sometimes happens, they want to pull you down with them. Of course I am considering people who are not at the extremes of hopelessness and despair. As a clinical psychologist Peterson has long experience with those who are.
Have some humility. Use your judgement, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity.
If you want food for thought this book will certainly provide it, and with references from Dostoevsky to The Bible to The Simpsons it can be entertaining too.
What do you think of rule three?
..in the greenhouse.
The New Zealand seeds are an orange cosmos.
When as often happens, I have so many things to do I don't know where to start I sometimes list them all and do just 10 minutes on each. This was my list for today in the garden.
transplant forget me nots
plant out foxgloves
set up the propagator
sow seeds of ox eye daisies
clean up greenhouse
That took an hour by which time I felt I'd made a surprising amount of progress on all fronts and knew what I wanted to concentrate on most. It was really springlike and a chaffinch sang his little heart out all the time I was working.
I'm looking forward to the gardening season again.
My scones turned out like biscuits and my biscuits turned out like scones! Only just edible.
With a disastrous attempt at pastry too not so long ago I am losing confidence fast. I used to be pretty good at baking! Do you think that you can just - for no obvious reason - lose the knack?
I may just give up. .
I need a Plan B.
I forgot to be enchanted the other day! Imagine that. (Enchantment is my word for 2019.)
As I stood next to the Golden Gates in the Botanic Gardens my mind was on the controversy over the cost of the restoration, the fact that it was too dark to get a good photograph, and how some of the gilding was (already?) coming off. Questions over the ethics of how Duncan made his money lurked uncharitably in the back of my mind. It was only after I got home that I began to think of the story of their making and about the incongruity of the setting as rather a romantic idea.
They were commissioned by merchant, philanthropist and art collector James Duncan, who unusually for the time the guidebook tells me, opened his art collection to the public. The wrought iron gates were made in Berlin and exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, as were some of his large art collection which included work by Caravaggio, Corot, Boudin, Rousseau, Renoir and the Impressionists.
I wonder what gave him the idea. The place is quite remote, the landscape dramatic and somewhat bleak in an Arthur Rackham kind of a way. (Duncan also had a house in London.) The telephone had just been patented, the phonograph invented and electric street lighting was being installed in London. The Bicycle Touring Club was established in England. It was the time of Ruskin and Ibsen, Zola, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens,
Apart from the obvious status of golden gates in the wild wood I wonder if there was also a touch of fantasy, whimsy and romance about the decision to have them made and installed. Benmore House itself has something of the fairy tale about it with turrets and pinnacles..
Next time I visit I will look with a less jaundiced view! I was after all supposed to be out to enjoy myself...
Have you tried a final rinse in cold water when you wash your hair?
That really makes me feel alive!
I am so touched and encouraged by your kind comments yesterday I think I'll take aim for ten years!
These Golden Gates are at Benmore Botanic Gardens where we managed a short walk today between heavy showers and cold gusts of wind. They were exhibited at the Paris exhibition of 1878. It must have been a magical experience to drive through the forest and the wild landscape in a horse and carriage and arrive via this entrance to Benmore House.
The ninth anniversary of Live Simply Simply Live.
Looking back I see I have only remembered it twice before! (Here and here.)
How remiss of me.
I had lots of ideas for an anniversary post, but came down to this - a focus on the Simply Live part of the title. I am asking myself some questions....
When do I feel most alive?
What makes me feel fully alive?
When did I last feel like this? -
And I am drinking a toast tonight to everyone who reads this blog and makes it one of the favourite things in my life.
To you with love. x
..at your comments on yesterday's post! (Especially Lotta's.)
However I had an idea...
I made my own version with things I already had.
I could have used a much bigger bag (this is the duvet ready to go to the laundry) but since I plan to just write things on bits of paper I decided the small version would do.
I am dealing with money matters right now.
It makes me anxious.
What is the emotional baggage that is keeping me back?
It's the fact that my Dad became bankrupt when I was about 12 years old.
I am going to write that fact on a piece of paper, put in the bag, hang it on a hook and see what it's like to do the necessary financial business without it!
What will you put in your bag? (No need to go into full confessional mode here if you don't want to - though feel free...)
.. flowers for cutting..
Even tiny pickings are lovely. I had to creep into corners to find these little gems.
The dainty blossom from prunus 'Kojo-no-mai 'doesn't provide much for picking but if the weather is poor and I feel I am not seeing much of it's short lived blossoms I sometimes pick a tiny bit to put in a jar on the bedside table.
The bold and handsome foliage of viburnum 'Davidii' is uselful all year - the pink buds are followed by white flowers then blue berries and a spray looks very fine in a jar on its own.
I have daffodils for quite a long time. Topolino and Tete A Tete, then February Gold, then Jenny, then Thalia (still to come) with some others I don't know the names of which were here when I came.
A simple pleasure.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)