on the beach – January

January 14, 2016

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After seemingly interminable rain, hallelujah a bright day dawns – of course chilly and crisp and more than refreshing; but appetising nonetheless. The beach at Pett Level is hidden from the road by the sea wall so the view across the Military Canal to the rising land has no competition. Visually superb from a distance and also excellent at close quarters for those strolling through.

Over the sea wall, a different and equally pleasing landscape is laid out. The tide is coming in as the sun strikes short shadows and highlights the textures of the beach stones . . .

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. . . sandstones of varying size contrast with finer shingle and the smooth islands of dark peat. An ancient forest lies below the water and can be seen occasionally below Cliff End revealing timber with a soft spongy texture as against the also exposed rigidly hard wood used in the old sea defences  The rhythm of the tide has left an elegant and informal wandering edge as though Poseidon has run a finger along the coastline . . .

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4

5

Small waders leave their mark – turnstones and oyster catchers perhaps – searching for delicacies and holding their own among the herring gulls.

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Nothing has been ‘done’ to these pix . . . clouds arrive and the sky to the east wears a dark violet cloak now . . .

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. . . but remains clearer to the west with a freezing wind which meant power walking back to the sheltered lower level and a favourite view across the marsh inhabited by coots and curlews and the odd cormorant – and the sheep of course. Edward Thomas, my father’s favourite poet assisting here on a special day. January 14th 1910

to winchelsea

Out of us all

That make rhymes

Will you choose

Sometimes –

As the winds use

A crack in a wall

Or a drain,

Their joy or their pain

To whistle through –

Choose me,

You English words?

 

I know you:

You are light as dreams,

Tough as oak,

Precious as gold,

As poppies and corn,

Or an old cloak:

Sweet as our birds

To the ear,

As the burnet rose

In the heat

Of Midsummer:

Strange as the races

Of dead and unborn:

Strange and sweet

Equally,

And familiar,

To the eye,

As the dearest faces

That a man knows,

And as lost homes are:

But though older far

Than oldest yew, –

As our hills are, old, –

Worn new

Again and again:

Young as our streams

After rain:

And as dear

As the earth which you prove

That we love.

 

Make me content

With some sweetness

From Wales

Whose nightingales

Have no wings, –

From Wiltshire and Kent

And Herefordshire, –

And the villages there, –

From the names, and the things

No less.

Let me sometimes dance

With you,

Or climb

Or stand perchance

In ecstasy,

Fixed and free

In a rhyme,

As poets do.  Edward Thomas  Words

Saturday morning

December 21, 2015

cafe

Been quite lazy on the blog front but then it’s good to take time out and breath. These two sitting outside Patisseries Orientales in Boulevards des Allies looked relaxed about life too. Saturday morning in Uzès means MARKET and although having been here a few weeks now, it is my first visit. My trustworthy confidante advised that a trip to Friday’s market in San Quentin is more authentic and cheaper – she’s right as always – but under murky skies, the market stalls along the Boulevard and in Place aux Herbes glistened like jewels and it was sort of fun . . .

fleurs

mimosa

. . . fleurs turned into chou-fleur and magnificent frisées.

choux fleurs

Wandering back down Rue Grande Bourgade where solanum continues to flower, I was grateful to this gentleman as he completed the composition – if only there was some sun and therefore some shadows.

rue petite bourgade 2

rue petite bourgade

A vine over an entrance at 32 is most sculptural and well managed – reminds me of a Pekingese fringe. And yes, the tantalising mimosa came home. Just checked and 4 years ago I was here with important beings.

no 32

no 32 close up

mimosa copy

Le soleil est toujours riant,

Depuis qu’il part de l’orient

Pour venir éclairer le monde.

Jusqu’à ce que son char soit descendu dans l’onde

La vapeur des brouillards ne voile point les cieux ;

Tous les matins un vent officieux

En écarte toutes les nues :

Ainsi nos jours ne sont jamais couverts ;

Et, dans le plus fort des hivers,

Nos campagnes sont revêtues

De fleurs et d’arbres toujours verts.

 

Les ruisseaux respectent leurs rives,

Et leurs naïades fugitives

Sans sortir de leur lit natal,

Errent paisiblement et ne sont point captives

Sous une prison de cristal.

Tous nos oiseaux chantent à l’ordinaire,

Leurs gosiers n’étant point glacés ;

Et n’étant pas forcés

De se cacher ou de se taire,

Ils font l’amour en liberté.

L’hiver comme l’été.

 

Enfin, lorsque la nuit a déployé ses voiles,

La lune, au visage changeant,

Paraît sur un trône d’argent,

Et tient cercle avec les étoiles,

Le ciel est toujours clair tant que dure son cours,

Et nous avons des nuits plus belles que vos jours.  Racine

 

The Sun is always laughing,

since he moved from the East

to come light up the world.

Up to what his chariot is down in the wave

of mist steam sailing point heaven;

Every morning an unofficial wind makes all naked:

so our days are never covered.

And in the height of winter,

our campaigns are coated with

flowers and evergreen trees.

Streams meet their shores,

and their fugitive naiades

without leaving their natal bed,

wander peacefully and are point

captive in a prison of Crystal.

All our birds are singing in the ordinary,

their throats being point iced;

And not being forced to hide or shut,

they make love in freedom.

The winter and the summer.

 

Finally, when night has deployed its sails,

the Moon, in the changing face,

appears on a silver throne,

and holds circle with the stars,

the sky is always clear as long as takes its course,

and we have most beautiful nights that your days.

arrangements ou compositions

September 19, 2015

trolley

Say it in English or in French – this post is about the placement of items in an attractive manner – some to tantalise, attract in the hope of a purchase or  just please in the aesthetic sense – whoever arranged these knows instinctively that the viewer will appreciate the effort. But maybe some compositions have been arrived at haphazardly . . .

bar

. . . it’s a quiet morning in Les Halles in Avignon so an opportunity to take in and admire the arrangements and compositions inside and also outside . . . ..

bowls

garlic

onions

baskets

 

bread

bread 2

sausages

olives 2

olives

salads

spices 2

spices

. . . as it’s Tuesday the unoccupied fish tank becomes an installation in its own right and rarely seen.

fish tank

Outside in Place Pie, this figure was for investigation . . .

mannequin rear

. . .  even more eccentric from the front.

mannequin front

heads

silks

Ah, all so eclectic.

doll

My mind is like a clamorous market-place.
   All day in wind, rain, sun, its babel wells;
   Voice answering to voice in tumult swells.
Chaffering and laughing, pushing for a place,
My thoughts haste on, gay, strange, poor, simple, base;
   This one buys dust, and that a bauble sells:
   But none to any scrutiny hints or tells
The haunting secrets hidden in each sad face.
The clamour quietens when the dark draws near;
   Strange looms the earth in twilight of the West,
Lonely with one sweet star serene and clear,
   Dwelling, when all this place is hushed to rest,
   On vacant stall, gold, refuse, worst and best,
Abandoned utterly in haste and fear.  Walter de la Mare.

 

 

martin

Back to see the Agnes Martin again and realised that I want to absorb it all again and again – no photography allowed and anyway the reproductions in books and on line are all poor, which I like; some plants and landscapes too don’t photograph well – they’re above and beyond our manipulations. So spent some time watching the video on the ‘landing’ of level 2 with little people jumping on and off the benches, falling over, crying, being promised things if they behave or threatened if they didn’t, being fed and all the usual activities of young families spending their day sheltering from the rain.

martin1

martin2

Here Agnes is saying:’and the older I get the more I like to paint’.

martin 4

‘To progress in life you must give up the things that you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. the things that are acceptable to your mind’.

in the collection displays, full frontal on the photography and an atmosphere akin to a jamboree – folks engaging in their own way – with work displayed that took my breath away. Read here for lists . . .

crowds1

. . . Rothko and Richter incorporated with eclectic hangings. The Joseph Beuys room is included as part of the journey  . . .

beuys2

beuys1

. . . the strength of his work contrasted today with the watery views outside  . . .

gough building

st pauls

. . . but then into a gallery where Bacon’s powerful colour concentrates the mind. A friend in New York posted  this  recently – similarities? or not? But she always makes me smile – an Essex thing perhaps.

bacon

crowds2

Thought provoking words from Bill Viola and then plenty of time to mull them over in Brindisa watching the rain cascade over Borough Market while tasting a little tapas – good day.

billviola

brindisa

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round. Margaret Atwood

IMG_1170

Just a few fleeting glimpses of up above . . . ‘a glimpse is much harder to pin down’ Howard Hodgkin.

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And, down on the ground, from a few hours in Uzès. Basalt setts inlaid in the stone to give subtle definition – a pleasing aesthetic.

IMG_1172-1

IMG_1174

IMG_1175

Old and new – skills and  craftsmanship  – and atmosphere.

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IMG_1177

The moment when, after many years

of hard work and a long voyage

you stand in the centre of your room,

house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,

knowing at last how you got there,

and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose

their soft arms from around you,

the birds take back their language,

the cliffs fissure and collapse,

the air moves back from you like a wave

and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.

You were a visitor, time after time

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.

We never belonged to you.

You never found us.

It was always the other way round. Margaret Atwood

at lunchtime

June 6, 2015

place de l'eglise

France still closes down at lunchtine 12-2pm. Quite civilised and to be respected. Very pleasant sitting in Place de l’Eglise in Fontvieille – a small town that appeals more and more . . .

rue de lion

. . . wandering around the old streets, intrinsic compositions can be seen, admired and recorded.

lion gargoyle

pelargoniums

olive and stone

echeveria

pot garden

A garden of pots – well tended plants, all thriving and with somewhere to sit and admire them . . .

chairs

. . . and a green roof, which some might say is just ‘les mauvaises herbes’.

green roof

platane murie

Mûrier platane foliage on neatly managed trees shading a small modern square – very inviting – and just close by, in contrast, spreading branches of an ancient plane tree form a ceiling by the quarried stone face of the old town wall.

small square

stone quarry

skate 1

In the château gardens, now the town park, all ages are catered for. The home of Alphonse Daudet, the writer, now a museum dedicated to him and his work  – most notably “Les Lettres de mon Moulin”. Water courses run through the parkland where holm oaks and pines cascade over lauristinius and broom providing a simple vegetation matrix

canal

view to windmill 1

windmill 1

Following one walking route (there are many others to Les Baux, to San Remy and to Eygalieres) around the top of the town, the landmarks are three windmills named after their owners – Tissot-Avon (2 owners), Ramet and Ribet also called St Pierre and also also called Daudet’s mill with sails completely restored.

windmill 2

windmill 3

windmill 3 whole

windmill 3

rather fell for it and the whole area of Les Alpilles.

windmill 3 detail

J’ai dans mon coeur un oiseau bleu,
Une charmante creature,
Si mignonne que sa ceinture
N’a pas l’epaisseur d’un cheveu.

Il lui faut du sang pour pature.
Bien longtemps, je me fis un jeu
De lui donner sa nourriture:
Les petits oiseaux mangent peu.

Mais, sans en rien laisser paraitre,
Dans mon coeur il a fait, le traitre,
Un trou large comme la main.

Et son bec fin comme une lame,
En continuant son chemin,
M’est entre jusqu’au fond de l’ame!….  Alphonse Daudet L’Oiseau Bleu

 

grass sissinghurst

And a return visit – always a pleasure after doing a little work in a garden nearby – and 2 months on. Seeing the shadows on the grass  – just a casual pause before hitting the glamour of the garden rooms. Roses in full bloom – it’s that time of the year after all. My interest here is how the rose works against/with the background and as part of the composition – not many idents for the plantaholics, sorry – so below the soft coppery/pink tones of this rose at the entrance that work so so well with the old brick facade.

rose 1

rosees sissinghurst

sissinghurst roses 2

On the wall that divides the front courtyard and the rose garden – a Clematis – C. montana ‘Marjorie’ and time for a pause to remember a much loved aunt – a lady so confident, elegant and happy with herself and so interested in the younger generation.

clematis montana marjorie

rose garden

From the rose garden,  the eye slides easily to the slim towers. The planting here in this garden room appears to have lost its way a little. Once upon a time at the end of ’60’s and into ’70’s, the theme was simple: roses and shrubs with some underplanting and quite a bit of soil showed – this was fine. But now with the custodianship of the National Trust there appears to be a need to provide a continuous show of anything and everything – a fruit salad look has evolved with any old thing popped in to ‘please the punters’. Big organisations taking the individuality out of their product and, in this situation, not the head gardener or gardeners fault. Happily the planting in the Cottage Garden has  maintained the original clear ethos  – planting with a predominance of  hot colours.

end of spring walk

Within the nuttery, Dionysus stands calm and thoughtful as he has for years – a quiet interface between the Spring Garden (now in quiet post season mode) and the Cottage Garden. A delightful detail was on show low down –  Tulip sprengeri around the peeling trunk of Acer griseum . . .

tulip sprengeri + acer stem cottage garden

. . . . here too a specimen Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ climbing skywards against the cottage walls.

mme alfred carriere rose cottage garden sissinghurst

Overhanging the walls of the Moat Walk are a couple of splendid Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba” . . .

wisreia florinbunda sissinghurst

wisteria floribunda alab sissinghurst

. . . and a single Wisteris venusta with larger fleshier foliage. A more  restrained, intriguing and, therefore, perhaps sought after plant.

wisteria venusta

Near the herb garden, back with the norm – a pair of mauve flowered wisteria standards – old and gnarled and exotic

wisteria sinensis sissinghurst

white garden sissinghurst

And at half past five, just the right time to enter the White Garden – another  Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ clothes a wall. The light starts to fade. A custodian arrives – someone delightful, a Gilbert and Sullivan character and part of the final act – to announce the closing of the garden . . . exit centre stage under a Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ on the tower.

white garden rose sissinghurst

rosa bansiae sissinhurst

All her youth is gone, her beautiful youth outworn,

Daughter of tarn and tor, the moors that were once her home

No longer know her step on the upland tracks forlorn

Where she was wont to roam.

All her hounds are dead, her beautiful hounds are dead,

That paced beside the hoofs of her high and nimble horse,

Or streaked in lean pursuit of the tawny hare that fled

Out of the yellow gorse.

All her lovers have passed, her beautiful lovers have passed,

The young and eager men that fought for her arrogant hand,

And the only voice which endures to mourn for her at the last

Is the voice of the lonely land. Vita Sackville-West Mariana in the North

 

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