I saw Pavarotti once. In Prague. The ground was covered in frost and we slipped and slid down sloping paths. We could not bear being outside for more than a few minutes at a time, and huddled in cafes and ate lots of dumplings and cabbage. A hangar-like sports hall masqueraded as a concert venue and the famous white handkerchief was more visible than the … Continue reading Pavarotti: Son of Modena.
Above me a velvety night sky full of stars. Concentric circles shimmer. I’m in a vortex. Static but giddy. Drowning in light. It is a beauty that knocks me off my feet. For days now, I’ve been standing, head knocked back at a curious angle, neck cricked, staring up at apses and arches, mesmerised by sparkling, spangling bits of coloured glass. The mausoleum is small, … Continue reading Ravenna: Meals and Mosaics.
We almost missed it. Just slightly off the beaten track. Huge and labyrinthine. We searched for the way in, while people on the inside looked for a way out. Once a Carthusian monastery. Now a cemetery. Colonnades. Cloisters. Loggias. Mausoleums and monuments. Marble, mosaic and wrought iron. Wealth and luxury. Art and beauty. Haunting, heart-stopping, jaw-dropping and even a tad horrifying. Our legs gave out … Continue reading The Charterhouse of Bologna.
I have a list as long as my arm of places I’d like to go someday. Bologna was on that list because of Rick Stein. Rick only had a weekend, but we had a week. We walked and walked and fell in love with the city a little bit more each day. Portico after portico. All a little bit different. Colours and textured stone, hiding … Continue reading Reasons To Love Bologna.
We stepped into the courtyard and straight into the heart of a little family business. And it was more heart than business. On a low bench along a wall a young man sat pencilling designs on small rounded tan-coloured gourds. Two young women next to him, carving out his drawings, using nothing more than a nail sharpened to a point. I noticed the plasters wound … Continue reading The Gourd Man.
You know you’re a house-sitter when you see a painting of a dog in one chair, and a girl in the other, and think ‘oh no, how sad’. Mary Cassatt’s girl does look a bit fed up. One of the perks of house-sitting – there’s always someone to share the sofa! Some let you drink your first cuppa quietly. Others perch stylishly on the edge. … Continue reading Couch-Sharing.
The only thing Google came up with when I did a quick search of tourist attractions around Buntingford was Royston Cave. ‘Not interested’, I thought, and resigned myself to three weeks of reading books, sorting out Tokyo photos and playing catch up with blog writing. But after a week of damp, mist, and leaden skies I was going a little stir-crazy and suddenly a visit … Continue reading Royston Cave. One Of The Most Mysterious Places In England.
We recognised Henry Moore’s statues instantly – all those monumental curves and glistening bronzes – but we realised we knew nothing about Moore, the man. We would have been hard pushed to tell you what he looked like. So, our first stop at the Henry Moore Foundation was Hoglands, Moore’s home for half a century. Even today, Hoglands feels like it’s in the middle of … Continue reading Henry Moore And Intelligent Sheep.
Rembrandt and Amsterdam go together hand in glove. The Rijksmuseum has over two million visitors a year, and it’s a safe bet that all of them spend a few seconds in front of ‘The Night Watch’, his seventeenth-century masterpiece. But the painting has a doppelgänger. On the Rembrandtsplein, overlooked by the master himself, all of the twenty-two characters in the painting are cast in bronze, … Continue reading The Night Watch.
‘When they told me were mounting an exhibition of artworks with cheese as the subject I thought there can’t be that many paintings of the yellow stuff’, Oscar, a volunteer at the Stadsmuseum Woerden told me. I thought the same. My interest was piqued. And now, here we both were, he leading and me listening. Everyone knows that cheese and Holland go together. Cheese is … Continue reading I Do Like A Nice Bit Of Cheese…