Monday, April 22, 2019

April Flowers in Bordeaux

Apologies to those of you who have already seen photos of my pyjama pants making their Bordeaux appearance alongside this stunning pink jasmine ( 15 metres! 50 feet! high -- imagine the fragrance!). . .
but I want to assure you that as much as I think about the garden I left at home (hope the apple blossoms are calling the bees and that they stay open for my friend S.). . .
I am finding blooms and greenery aplenty here in Bordeaux. Chestnut trees bloom white and pink all over the city
and in the park nearby, trees dip their leaves toward the water while a carpet blooms under their canopy. . .
We've a few days of cloud and rain ahead, but so far the weather's been delightful.
Viburnum (opulus?)





The houses generally front right up to the sidewalk here, but the residents still manage ways to bring greenery to the street. . . climbing up walls like the Parthenocissus above or drooping from a sturdy frame built above a wall like the wisteria below. . .


More wisteria (Glycine, it's called here) drips ever so romantically from a green wrought-iron bridge in the park where I ran this morning. . . .

So don't worry about me -- apparently, I can find flowers and greenery enough to reconcile me to being away from my own garden through what might be its best months. I am curious to know, though, whether our wisteria will bloom this year or not. . . .

Now tell me, how are your gardens growing? And if you haven't a garden of your own, have you found one or many to admire or to help tend? Or, perhaps, you've found a way to wear a garden, as I seem to be doing with my pyjama pants ;-)

xo,
f






Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques d'Amsterdam via Bordeaux

 Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques!
 I was thinking ahead when I snapped photos of this window in Amsterdam just over a week ago (and in the way of travel, that seems so much more distant now -- were we really just there?) The shop obviously deals in Delft ceramic ware, vases and tableware, but also so many beautiful tiles. (No, we didn't buy any, and if you ask how I resisted I will simply point to my carry-on case and then remind you that I learned many lessons when we downsized three years ago and moved into a thousand-square-foot condo ;-)
Missing the huge family gathering at my sister's today -- and also missing her birthday. She's fifteen years younger than I am, so I've had a good vantage from which to watch her grow from the cutest little kid -- seriously cute! -- to a strong, compassionate, nurturing, clever, entertaining, empathic, hilarious woman who's raised four fabulous kids while juggling a crazy variety of hats (hockey club president, administrator--her paid day job, student --she's constantly taking courses, runner--how many marathons? -- and, in our family for quite a few years now, host to our annual Christmas and Easter family gatherings in the heritage home she and her husband have restored beautifully. I don't even know if she reads this, but I hope she knows how much I love and admire her. Happy Birthday, K! xoxo

And to all the rest of you, May there be Chocolate! and perhaps little ones squealing over a small horde of Cadbury Creme Eggs . . . 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Brussels Postcards

My last post came to you from Haarlem, as we were hurrying out the door to catch a train. If you've been following on Instagram, you already know that train took us to Brussels where we spent a lovely day and a half.
And we're just finishing another lovely day and a half spent in Paris where we'll soon be packing up to head to yet another train station. . . . Trains, the only way to fly! (pace the old Western Airlines commercial).
Given our limited time in each of the cities we've stopped in so far, you'll understand that I haven't much time for blogging, but I thought you might enjoy these photos from Brussels. We have many reasons for hoping we'll get back to Brussels some day, and I'll share more of my impressions of the city later, but for now I've sorted through photo files with a focus on the architectural wealth, particularly of Belle Epoque/Art Nouveau design.

You can see that Pater had to exercise patience when walking with me -- more than once, I had to cross the street to try for a better view of a balcony or a 3rd-storey mosaic.
I don't know anywhere near enough about Art Nouveau/Moderne architecture, but apparently Brussels is known for its examples of the style. This website outlines the economic, social, and political congruence that led to the fin-de-siècle (end of the 19th of course) preference, and it offers more addresses.
If we get back to the city, I'd be sure to have a map and track down some of the buildings more systematically (and with a better idea of what details to look for).
But relying only on my feet and my eyes (and Pater's patience) was not a bad approach for a first, quick visit to the city.
And a very nice way to slow a four-hour train ride (from Amsterdam to Paris) down to three days. . .
Gloriously organic lines in the grillwork, sensuously curving stonework, beautiful floral mosaics. . .
And striking deployment of strong, simple geometrics as well.
I'm afraid that will have to do for now. Breakfast to eat, bag to pack, a train to catch. . . Next stop, though, and we'll be staying put for weeks and weeks. I hope we can chat more then. Meanwhile, I do read your comments, appreciate each one very much,and I'm sorry I can't spare the time to respond to them.
À plus tard. . .

EDITED: I thought I'd published this in the morning, before we caught our train, but checking now that we're settled into our digs in Bordeaux, I see that I saved but didn't post. Time for bed and a book now. Good night ;-)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Postcard from Haarlem. . .

 We're packing up and catching a train this morning, so just a few minutes to say hello and send you a few photos. While the temperatures are chilly (especially for what we brought in our carry-on only! Oh, for a pair of gloves and a wool hat!), we've had lovely sunshine here in Haarlem and we've made the most of it to get out and walk and coax our bodies into this time zone.
 It might seem contradictory to my previously declared aim of Slow Travel that we're only spending two days (three nights) here in Haarlem, but in fact, I believe it's quite congruous. We flew into Amsterdam because it was one of the very few options for a direct, non-stop flight from Vancouver (London's wasn't an option right with the Brexit confusion). Then, rather than try to catch a flight to Bordeaux that afternoon, we slowed down by staying put a few nights while we caught up on sleep and adjusted to nine hours' time difference.
 Slow Travel for us means that during those two days here, we don't rush to work through a list of must-sees. I bought tickets for the David Hockney exhibition at the Van Gogh museum several weeks ago, but that was the only Must on our itinerary.
 So on Friday, we took the train from Haarlem into Amsterdam and navigated our pedestrian route of 3+ kilometres from station to museum with the guidance of Google, enjoying the ambiance and the sights along the way.
 Serendipitously had the most wonderful lunch at Rijks restaurant (attached to the RijksMuseum) just at the moment when serious crankiness might have ensued otherwise; enjoyed a splendid exhibition of Hockney's work and had another look at some favourite Van Goghs (we were here back in 2012), and then walked back to the train station. Back home in Haarlem, we settled for take-out Indonesian food and a quiet evening.
 Saturday was market day here in Haarlem, and we almost missed it, the sleep we'd been waiting for having finally arrived sometime in the wee hours and keeping us abed until 11:30 (yes! you read that correctly!). A quick bowl of muesli and some tea, though, and we were out there wending our way through the bikes (I love a bike culture, but whoa! those cyclists can appear dangerous and impatient to a wary and unschooled pedestrian).
 And that's how we keep it slow. . .
 I've posted many more photos on Instagram -- and a video of the toy boat we watched a young boy sail from the dock, held carefully by his father, instead of taking advantage of a 10 Euro tour of the windmill pictured here. Another example of my version of Slow Travel -- on a tour, I'm following someone else's pace, looking at someone's else's direction. Sometimes that enhances a traveler's understanding of a place significantly and is well worth the investment of time, but yesterday, we preferred the freer schedule of ambling. . .
 So bikes and tulips and bricks and windmills
 if you walk
 the streets of Haarlem
 with us. . .
 The clouds you glimpse occasionally in these photos darkened eventually
 and we had some very light hail
 but nothing that marred our experience of this lovely city. . .
I'll close with a nod to my sweet traveling companion -- I posted a Reflecting Window Selfie from the Van Gogh Museum on Instagram the other day, and now I'm thinking I should make this a daily effort. . . Can you spot us, above?

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a train to catch. Reporting to you very soon from . . . well, you'll see. . . 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Missing My Garden Already. . . . But Travel Calls. . .

The apple blossoms tightly furled above the new leaves will bloom very soon, and the mason bees that recently broke out of their cocoons in our little mason been box will no doubt collect pollen from them, fertilizing them along the way so that there will be tiny apples growing by the time we get back home. But we won't get to see the blossoms. Visiting friends and family will enjoy them while we're away, but they won't be part of our spring this year.

That's okay, because we've already been treated to the blooms of. . . brunnera, tulips, snowdrops, daffodils, muscari, winter aconites, corylopsis (winterhazel), and blazing forsythia.

And magnolia stellata.

Ooh, she has put on a glorious show, from the tentative splitting of her furry buds

to the delicate blush as the blooms unfurled
to her stretching and springing outward in a sculpture of layers


and then more sculpture as she fades, ever so beautifully
 and the (potential) future seed pod is revealed. . . .
 This tree's palette stirs me to tenderness -- Benjamin Moore has nothing on its range of whites. . .
 and the tea/coffee tones that ready the petals for their descent to earth are nothing short of luxurious. . .


 But it's easy to miss those rich toffee shades, when these antics are going on, all this bright green popping out of smaller fuzz-cases right, left, and centre. . .



And then there's this. . .

The comic corkscrew effect. . .

 As keen as I am to be somewhere completely different by this time tomorrow, I'm going to miss watching my garden move through this spring, one that will never come again, though others will. But I'm so grateful to Ms. M. Stellata for this year's show. . . .Hope you might enjoy it as well.

Not sure how regularly I'll be posting here, but keep an eye out for postcards from . . . well, you'll see. . . (actually, you'll see much sooner if you're following on Instagram. It's just so much easier to post there.

xo,
f


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