Wednesday 28 May 2014

Felt, Museum, and Garden.

Here's a bit of felt at last.  

 I've been invited to exhibit at The Gallery at the Wharf in Burscough for their exhibition 'Flower Power' during the summer.

 So I had to be a bit floral. I don't know if this counts as Floral but I think it does.

 I really like the colour combination here.

Talking of colour combinations.. look at this!

 It was growing in a beautiful garden I visited for 'Art in the Garden' a new venue and new hosts for the event which I've blogged about before. I had been invited to apply but when 'Art and Garden'  came to an end last year I had it in my head that I wouldn't be doing anything in Spring 2014 so gave it a miss. 
I visited though and i shall definitely be applying next year!  It was wonderful
Here's another gorgeous bloom from teh amazing garden.

Last Friday evening we were invited to the opening of the newly refurbished Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. 
Here it is with the new entrance,

 Who would want to look at the exhibits with a view through the entrance to this.

 But here is the reason for our involvement..'The Flintoft Map'. Its there on the wall..huge and heavy and cleaner, a contour map of the lakeland Fells made in around 1860. It was 'approved' at the time by no less than William Wordsworth and John Dalton.

My husband restored it. That sounds easy but it necessitated his organising a wall out, a crane and 6 months in a marine engineering workshop while he worked on it. It was originally displayed flat on the floor which was great for people to see the fells and farms and rivers of Lakeland but now its on the wall and a little difficult to see.

The Museum is delightful with lots of quirky exhibits including a stone xylophone.
This is the view from the front.

We drove up there knowing there would be light refreshments so we booked a meal at a restaurant in Grasmere for later. The Jumble Room.

But HOW SAD!!! The 'refreshments' were FAB_U_LOUS. 

It was very hard not to eat my fill. Tiny circles of quiche with onion relish; teeny savoury scones with cream cheese; cucumber with prawns in lovely dressing;  mini blinis with smoked salmon and an array of little sandwiches.

Followed by ..yes... followed by.. chocolate covered strawberries, mini pavlovas, some little square nutty pistachio-ed gorgeousness.

It was so difficult to resist and I didn't do very well. 
And then we had the meal in Grasmere.

Its official. 
I'm a glutton.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Final Venice post.

Around every corner, from the narrowest  alley to the largest square we found little bits of beauty carved in stone.

Over doors, on ledges, and above eye level, there is such a lot to see in Venice.

We had a personal tour guide studied it, as well as his book,

 the map was very small and well written on..but he found all the things we wanted to see. 

I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever even to the extent that I get lost in a hotel let alone outside so its just as well that he is very good at it. 
I followed his heels like a duckling after its mother.
 But of course you have to get lost in Venice don't you?

We did a bit. 
We started out always near the Rialto Market. 
It was very difficult not to buy everything, but shrimps don't travel well in suitcases do they? A very lovely lady we chatted with at the airport when asked by me if she cooked in her holiday apartment, replied disdainfully 'No I do not. I don't come on holiday to cook'.  

 That made me feel better, but how lovely cooking would have been with all this amazing fresh produce on offer.

I didn't buy a mask either. I was very restrained. As we arrived on dry land the first day we were instantly in the presence of masks! All along the little streets and alleys were shops selling decorated masks and blank masks . I almost succumbed but managed not to.
Here is one of the less touristy carnivale shops.

And here on another day and outside another shop , is a happy customer who was eager to pose with his purchase for a photograph incognito.

In out of the way places we found such things as a furniture restorer,

 a boatbuilder?  No, a gondola builder,

and a beautiful sound.

But we always knew we had to find the Rialto Bridge to get 'home'.

'Home for the few days was this very modern apartment which had everything you needed except a place to relax!
Lovely comfortable bed, air conditioning, a safe, and more wardrobe space than you could shake an easyjet baggage allowance at.

 Perfect for our short exploring holiday, but no balcony or outside space, so if you wanted to just 'be' in Venice for a little longer its perhaps not the best choice.

This was the very Venetian view from our 4th floor windows, lots of them, and if we hung out sideways we could see up the steps of the Rialto bridge! 

 We had some lovely food at such places as Do Spade, lively and friendly and very tasty,

Lovely panna cotta..mmmm.

And this place, at which we were very fortunate to get a seat without reservation, seated beside a Danish couple within shouting distance of  our age, from whom 'mmmmm' sounds were heard throughout each course. I joined in the mmm chorus when our food came. 

It was delicious and even worth the cover charge, which is always added in Venice. 

And of course, one night we had pizza. 

 What could be nicer after fabulous meal than a walk home through these lamplit streets?

Good night Venice.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Venice 2

 Are you ready for another day in Venice? 
We'll start on The Grand Canal never failed to impress, with traffic in all directions. We took the Vaparetto (water bus) to the Academy of Art.

 Despite the feeling (and probably some notices about it) that photography was not allowed, there were people walking around with cameras slung around their necks with foot long lenses snapping everything. I eventually plucked up the courage to sneak out my teeny little ixus and got a couple of shots by way of memento. Rather blurry but I think they give an impression of what an amazing gallery this is. I loved the first room best with Ancient altarpieces glowing from all walls.

After being bowled over by Bellini we passed through the exhibition of Saraceni and came upon a room with transferred frescoes by Tiepolo. I loved the way they were displayed as if  in their original setting around the top of the room.
Naturally I got chapter and verse about why they were a bit creased, a bit this and a bit that ..I am married to a restorer after all who has done his fair share of wallpainting transferring!

 More altarpiece splendour behind glass hence the reflections.

 The ceilings were absolutely spectacular as well.

After all that we went for cicchetti.(Thank you Liz for the tip) 
 Now, if you haven't been to Venice you might not know that this is a little piece of crusty bread with a delightfully tasty topping. Sometimes  fish, or meat, or cheese, and they often have roasted vegetables or capers, truffles, olives, and some had fresh green peppercorns. 

You can ask for a selection but in most cases they are eaten standing up. No chairs which is a bit hard on the feet after walking all morning, but the prosecco revives wonderfully!

More walking after lunch. We came to the Gesuiti Church which houses Tiepolo and Titian but we hadn't time to look as we were on our way to the The Peggy Guggenheim Collection. 
(what's another Titian after all?!!!)

Arrival at the Guggenheim was pleasant except that they had no change and I had to use my card for the sake of 1 euro. Shame on them . Surely when its so expensive they can give change? 

The garden was lovely, an oasis of calm and trees and dappled light,  with sculpture by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth , Anthony Caro and many more. 

There are hundreds of pictures of it HERE

Inside, the works were all modern. It was odd to see works some of which were made at the same time I was at College.
 I liked these blue glass pieces against the Grand Canal.

 By Egidio Constantini after sketches by Picasso.

 An unsettling Magritte.

 A wall with a Braque, Picasso and Duchamp all in a row. Wonderful to see them together.


 I took this for all those textile friends who wrap and dye and rust.

Oh and horribly the famous Robing of the Bride by Max Ernst. 
I've always found that painting really creepy and seen it many many times in books, but here it was in the flesh. I didn't take a picture but if you want to look its HERE

I enjoyed the contrast between the Ancient Art in the Academy and the modern in the Guggenheim. 
It did make me wonder about skill and craftsmanship and what counts as Art in general.....

Anyway here's a bit of modern vernacular installation Art. 
Dozens of padlocks with lovers name engraved, scratched, written locked on the bridge .
I wish I'd taken one with me. 

But we had a nice American tourist who asked use to photograph him and his wife, and then insisted on doing the same for us.
So instead of our own padlock we have a photo . I think after almost 37 years of marriage we don't need to worry about locks!
(I'm on a lower step..not really quite that short!)

Oh and then a welcome relief. A good sit down and gelati (gelato?) at Nicos. Oh it was amazing. We chose a selection of ice creams and he said 'What flavour'. Well I just thought of three of my favourite flavours and asked and they had them. Peach, pistachio and vanilla. I've never had peach ice cream before but I shall endeavour to have it again!

More to come.

Saturday 17 May 2014

Venice Journal (Part one of I don't know how many!)

When I was very young, less than 7, we had a jig-saw and we all sat around the table as a family and completed it together. There was green water, there were boats and poles and men in striped sweaters and arched windows with blinds.. it was Venice.

50-odd years later..last week... I got to visit the jigsaw puzzle picture. It did not disappoint.
How can I begin to describe the impact it had on me? Its as different and magical as anywhere I've been, but then, I'm not that well traveled.

Let the photos commence!
Its been a tough job whittling them down to these 'few'

From the airport we took a bus to the Vaporetto stop, and immediately the magic of Venice was upon us as the water bus took us a few stops along the Grand Canal to our stop at the Rialto Market where we were met by our apartment manager.

 After checking into our apartment we went to the nearest square and joined in with what seemed to be a Saturday special of fried seafood and wine .

 Strolling through the streets we saw lots of dogs of all shapes and sizes. I liked this scene as two passed each other.

 Then a sit down and our first  prosecco.

 In the evening we strolled some more in pursuit of yet more food. 

 Here's the food I had...potato gnocchi with crab and asparagus. 

 Very delicious. In Osteria Al Ponte. Lovely atmosphere. Lovely food. Great welcome.

Now I, being a Catholic, and always going to Sunday Mass when on Holiday, took the opportunity to go to mass at St Marks. The queue to get in snaked its away around the square. We were a bit late so running up to the guard on the entrance I just said 'mass?" and was told 'Side entrance'.  

Well..I can honestly say I have never had so much trouble concentrating on the actual service. The surroundings are amazing. Mosaic everywhere. Although having said that I did find it a very spiritual experience despite only having found the English text after it was over.

 After mass there was plenty of time to have look round and if you don't count the collection it was free!

Every detail of the building is amazing. The marble floors are intricate and beautiful.

 Other parts of the floor...not so good! My husband said 'the lion of St Mark on the mats looks like a teddy bear.' I have to agree. I did spot it whilst going up for communion .

 Outside, the buildings in the square are just as spectacular and if you look up you don't see the hundreds and hundreds of tourists.(.I know, we were two of them.)

 The cafes in the piazza are by all accounts very expensive and we looked on as the 'wealthy' sat drinking and listening to the jolly little orchestra.

 and waiters flew around whisking trays above their heads.

 Little chubby lions stood guard, patiently enduring children and some adults leaping on their backs for photographs, 

while other creatures, flatter creatures conversed on the walls.

St Theodore looked on from above with his crocodile.

From there we strolled along towards the Castello and Arsenale area.
It was quieter away from St Marks and we enjoyed just mooching about through almost empty Sunday streets along the canals.

 I can't guarantee that all these pictures were taken on that walk and in that really was all a blaze of 'scenes' to me.

 Who would have thought that a window box full of succulents could be so decorative?

We suddenly came upon a park in the centre of which was a monument to Garibaldi rising out of a small pond.

I don't speak Italian but I have a feeling that this poster suggest it may be a bad idea to dispose of turtles in the pond as they grow to enormous sizes.

Just look at the range of greens on these doors.

  Lines of washing were strung across some of the canals in this quiet area,

 More shades of green.

I just love the colours in this picture.

Even the doorbells are different.

Throughout our trip we travelled through little winding streets and passed hundreds of shops.
Hundreds of shops selling glass, masks, hand marbled paper, pens, bags, of course, anything a city usually has to offer and lots more.

The glove shop. Nothing else just gloves.

A cheese shop.

A dress shop

 A carnival costume shop

 Marzipan goldfish anyone?

 Pig shaped salami anyone?

 Not forgetting one of many huge-pizza shops.

On Sunday evening we dined at La Madonna I didn't enjoy my meal as much as the night before but the dessert was fab-u-lous. Zabaiglione ice cream! They had only a little as it had been for a special occasion and it was amazing. 
These three came in and played all around and then we realised they were the same three who played every morning in the street outside our apartment! Same tunes every day.

So I think it might be a good time to finish this part of the Venice trip and have part two later! I'm sure no-one will want to read much more. If you have done, thanks for reading this far.

st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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