On a Sunday morning in November I stood on the Magere Brug in Amsterdam, surrounded by the under-tens, waiting for the Sint to roll up on his steamboat. The weather was throwing everything at us: showers, the occasional icy blast and an even more occasional burst of sunshine. The Sint probably wished he’d stayed in Spain, where he spends most of his year, but needs … Continue reading It’s Christmas!
Shelley likened them to ‘moths of which a coffin might have been the chrysalis’. Travelling down the Grand Canal on a vaporetto is wonderful, but the gondola is the ‘crème de la crème‘ of the water craft. To simply sit in one of those beautiful hand-crafted vessels is to feel like royalty. In the sixteenth century there were ten thousand gondolas in Venice. Today the … Continue reading The Gondola.
Memories are made of this. It was all very Brief Encounter. Clouds of steam on a quaint platform. A whistle. A chug of the wheels and a prolonged hiss, as train 31806 came to a halt. I should have been wearing gloves and a hat. I was transported back to a time when travel was slow, genteel and convivial; shared flasks of hot tea, pork pies … Continue reading The Age Of Steam.
Toiling up and down coastal cliffs from White Nothe to Durdle Door was breath-taking in more ways than one. But it was a piece of cake compared to what came next. Spectacular views come at a price – at least for us – up and down, up and down, ‘and when they were only half-way up they were neither up nor down’. I felt like … Continue reading More Summer On The South West Coast.
We spent the British summer (grim, grey and shower after shower) in Weymouth, looking after the gorgeous Harley and Tully, and Batman the cat. (I cannot think of Batman without that soundtrack running through my head). The dogs were gorgeous cocker spaniels; so pretty with ruffled ears like flowing locks. Tully, small and nimble, golden like soft brown sugar. Harley, always with a lopsided cheeky … Continue reading Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside.
It’s well known that the English are eccentric. ‘Only mad dogs and English men…’ and all that. Nothing expresses this national characteristic more than the passion for folly building. Aristocrats with more money than sense set up turreted towers, sham castles and ornamental gateways on hill-tops, in gardens, and in the middle of nowhere, for no better reason than that they could. These places are … Continue reading Foibles and Follies.
Only one day in Paris! What to do? We went to our favourite museum – Musée d’Orsay – and I became spellbound by the face of a woman who lived 95 years ago. What do I see when I look in your pale, oval face? Hair neatly parted, scraped back in a bun. Deftness. Quietude. A certain passivity. You don’t look like you’d be the … Continue reading Madame Cezanne.
The padlocked wrought-iron gates barred our way. In the inner courtyard, a flock of twenty-something pigeons took flight as one, filling the silence with a flutter of wings, and the emptiness with a scratch of charcoal grey. In the eastern cemetery a skinny fox sauntered amongst the tombstones, turning to look back at us, tongue lolling from the corner of his mouth, before he disappeared … Continue reading Highgate Cemetery. Fairyland With An Edge.
‘Well done. The kids will be delighted’, she said as she turned to face us, trowel poised mid-air, ‘We were a bit short-handed this year, we didn’t have time to put out the explanations.’ It was the music notes that gave it away – although, I admit, not to me, but to Jim. Those, and the big fat moustache. The trowel plunged downwards again and … Continue reading ‘Excuse Me, Is That Elgar?’
We’d been waiting for April 1st. Not for the blossom but to be able to buy our Grutto pass – a discount coupon booklet which would unlock the world of Tokyo’s museums and art galleries. Our first venture was to the small Amuse museum – a museum/shop complex – the whole of Tokyo is like a Russian doll – in a small building near Senso-Ji. … Continue reading Bodo. Gone But Not Forgotten.