Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tuesday Intros: The Enchanted April

April is not so enchanting here today, we have had heavy downfalls of hail which have lowered the already cold temperature even further. Escapist literature needed! This is my favourite novel about escaping rain-sodden spring in Blighty.

Here is the first page for Diane who hosts Tuesday Intros, where we post the opening lines of a book that we've read.

I love this book, it's a fairy story for grownups really! I've bought hardback copies of it as presents for various friends and rather wish that I'd treated myself at the same time. This is the cover of one of the hardback editions.
And interior illustration.

If you are in need of some sunshine and happy endings then you might enjoy this book just as much as I do!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Private View, Bath Society of Artists.

On Friday evening we went to the private view at the Victoria Gallery where Himself has a couple of paintings on display. His, 'Enter, Stage Left' is the red painting centred below.
It's interesting to see work out of the workroom. It's one of his larger paintings, but the scale is seen quite differently when set against the artwork of others.

It's always a lively evening and a bit of a squash at the private view. Kaffe Fassat, the fabric designer, gave the opening speech but I was at the back of the room and although I could hear what he was saying I didn't catch a glimpse of him.
It's a good occasion for bumping into friends, having a catch-up and seeing where their work has been hung. The little black painting top left, below,  'Out of the Picture' is another piece by Himself.

Our friend, Steve Jacobson, has a couple of paintings on display. Top left below is his,
'No Show Without Punch.'

I love the work of this year's featured artist,
her very ethereal graphite studies
and the large and powerful resulting paintings.
This beautiful painting by David Inshaw, the current president, has been bought by the gallery.
I took a photo of David next to his painting - it's a bit lopsided, but, hey, that's what happens when people make me laugh! 
I'm going back to take a proper look around when the gallery is not so crowded.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Happy Birthday

Flags were flying from church tops and flag poles as we drove on our weekly shopping trip. What was the occasion? Oh, of course, Queen Elizabeth is ninety years old today.
A steady pair of hands for all these years.
Wishing her a very  Happy Birthday.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Book club

On Saturday it was our book group meeting. We discussed, 'Wish You Were Here' and, believe me, be glad that you were not!
The opening line is,
THERE IS NO END to madness, Jack thinks, once it takes hold. 

Jack continues to be just as miserable all the way through the book. It provoked a very lively discussion, quite the opposite of the book itself, but it left me sorely in need of reading something joyful, not least because our recent book group choices have dealt with dementia, madness and death!
I AM NOT RECOMMENDING IT for Diane's Tuesday Intros!
Instead I'm offering a fictional book club that's set in California's Sacramento Valley.
It's described in The Times newspaper as, 'stylish, homely and deeply comforting.'
Ah, that's more like it!

I enjoyed this book, it's full of warmth and gentle humour, qualities that seem increasingly hard to find in recent novels. Suggestions for any similar books gratefully received!

Saturday, 16 April 2016


I've been jaunting around London in lovely spring weather, I like the city best as this time of year and in the autumn when the plane tree leaves are dropping. I've no more need to lug a heavy portfolio around the place now that I'm retired, I can just enjoy myself and potter round my favourite places before spending time with our elder daughter when she has finished work.
My favourite gallery is the National Portrait
This young lady had been looking at me from newspaper and magazine advertisements for a while. Hard to resist that expression, those eyebrows and her whip-thin waist!
So I bought my ticket
and had a look at a selection of portraits of Russian writers, actors, poets and composers from the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. It was fascinating, beautiful paintings and informative text; Chekhov painted in Nice where he was staying for his health, Morozov in Paris with a Matisse painting that he had bought as his backdrop.
And a stunning Repin with it's sad story of Mussorgsky.
There are always small temporary pleasures to be found in the gallery such as this little exhibition of items relating to Charlotte Bronte. On display was a pair of her shoes, the tiniest cloth shoes you could imagine, looking more suitable for a child and totally impractical for walking on Yorkshire moorland!
Room 16 is small and square and contained a gathering of unclothed portraits from across the centuries. A bit of a hotchpotch, I thought, although the Nell Gwyn painting is a stunner - small wonder she grabbed a royal!
I met my daughter at the end of the day and we went to the tapas bar in the courtyard of Somerset House where people were sitting at tables enjoying the fine weather. In the evening we went to see 'Sunset Boulevard' with Glen Close. (I'll refrain from giving my opinion in case I offend any Andrew Lloyd Webber fans!) 
The following day I visited another favourite place. I've blogged the beautiful covered courtyard of the British Museum on previous occasions. This week it was crammed with folk, huge groups of school children and students, the latter more interested in their phones than in the objects around them. It was noisy! I escaped upstairs to the print room and to peace and quiet, just the environment to enjoy Francis Towne's watercolours.

My local city of Bath has two independent bookshops. One of the joys of London is that it is full of  of places to see and buy books of all descriptions.

I subscribe to the fortnightly LRB magazine so it's nice to pop into their bookshop just across the road from the museum and look at what they have on display. Just a couple of doors down is the beautiful Enitharmon Press.
I caught the train home feeling pretty exhausted. London life is stimulating, but these days I like it in small batches!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Visible Monday, cross-body bag.

I'm going to London this week and giving some thought to what to wear. I like to have my hands free for traveling about, up and down on the tube, on and off buses. I've treated myself to a new cross-body bag from Osprey in patterned suede. It's light and comfortable and also, hopefully, of no interest to pickpockets. I like to think that I'm fairly street savvy as I worked around London for years, lugging my portfolio. The only city where I have been very successfully pick-pocketed is Florence. They lifted my bank card and spent to the limit at an up-market men's shop. No wonder the men in Florence were so well dressed!
This design of the bag couldn't be simpler, just a large zipped envelope with an adjustable strap which can be removed to create a clutch. We'll see how it performs once I've crammed it with stuff!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Tuesday intro, The Children Act.

It's the day to join Diane for her Tuesday Intros where she hosts introductions to books that we have read.
I've just finished reading this troubling  novel  by Ian McEwan. I've had problems with some of his other books, the ones with dazzling beginnings and, to my mind, endings that seem unresolved. I was especially put out by the ending of 'Atonement' - talk about an unreliable narrator! I felt it was a cop-out.
No problems with this book, it held me from beginning to end and left me thinking about it after I had put it down. The central character is a woman and I think that McEwan has captured her perfectly.
Just look at the simplicity and clarity of the writing and how it captures the character of Fiona, who is a High Court judge from the very first page. 
Interestingly, I've had a hardback edition of this book on my bookshelves for quite a while but never got round to reading it. I chose the paperback from the mobile library. It makes me realise how much I'm influenced by the design of the cover. The hardback dust jacket simply didn't attract me. What do you think of it? What is that squiggly little figure meant to convey?