…Or why there were cows in my front yard last week.
As the days draw longer, I enjoy my evening walk more. On Monday I strolled along the edge of Cymbeline Meadows towards the sunset, to catch sight of the moon, waxing crescent as it rose. I respect the older trees; here long before me, here long after me, their constancy reassures me.
The Old Inn, Mullion, a 16th-century thatched inn on The Lizard, mainland Britain’s most southerly point. Dog-friendly, book-friendly, with a warm welcome, large portions of food and a good selection of drinks – what more could you want on a blustery January day? They have rooms, too, if you can’t tear yourself (or your dogs) away.
One of my favourite buildings, St. Paul’s Cathedral, in one of my favourite places, the City of London. Ground level pictures were taken on 12 July from Paternoster Square, the elevated shots on 24 July from Madison on the rooftop terrace at One New Change. Even in extreme summer heat, some places always keep their cool.
Tuesday evening on the University of Essex campus, at Wivenhoe House, before going in for dinner.
In 1759, Thomas Reynolds was commissioned by Isaac Rebow to build this, now Grade II listed, property. Later, in 1816, Rebow’s descendant, Major-General Francis Slater Rebow commissioned John Constable to paint the house and grounds. That painting became part of the Widener Collection which was donated to the National Gallery of Art, USA, in 1942, where it can still be seen.
In 1964, Wivenhoe House and its surrounding land became the base for the University of Essex. The house itself has developed into a 4-star hotel and, most recently, in 2018, the home of the Edge Hotel School.
I have fond memories of the house and park from childhood. Today, even with the University’s rapid expansion, this tree-filled part of the campus still feels peaceful and is a relaxing place to sit and watch the sun go down – with or without sundowners. Cheers!
On what was then the hottest day of the year, Easter Saturday, I was in Paris. And I was wondering why. There were travel advisories as a result of the heat generated by both the weather and a renewed vigour to the gilets jaunes protests. Their feelings of economic injustice had been fuelled by flash-funding fury following the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris the previous week.
With this in mind, I had chosen to stay at a hotel outside the city and to take a bus into the city centre. I was going to meet friends at Rue Saint Maur for the Atelier des Lumières Van Gogh Starry Night projection, and we had timed tickets for the late afternoon. The bus was stopped twice by police; the driver questioned, the vehicle checked. After an hour’s journey, we came to a halt at Opera.
I was ready to walk, having no intention of using the Metro; which I dislike. What I wanted was a calm route through Paris (I know, right? I also want to win a major cash lottery prize); away from building injury porn, running battles between police and protestors, and tribes of tourists. So I walked through business districts, closed for the Easter weekend, as endless streams of police vehicles drove past.
To the soundtrack of sirens, I then walked via Les Halles, through the Marais and on to Square Maurice Gardette, where I found a cafe in the shade and took a late lunch. I drank a large carafe of mint lemonade and reflected that walking is always the answer, whatever the question. I met my friends and we went to the novel, overcrowded, film show.
Afterwards, we walked on together up through Belleville towards Buttes Chaumont, punctuated by my stopping to take pictures of walls. We sat, as guests, to take in hazy, panoramic views of the city from a private hilltop garden near community vineyards while drinking ice-cold water provided by our bemused (we were strangers to him) host.
After we’d eaten well, and cheaply, at a packed Le P’tit Resto in the 20th to the sound of Da Capo Duo, I was offered a lift back to my hotel. The roads were clear, the drive was smooth. I arrived feeling content at a day well spent as I realised that I’d enjoyed a day in a Paris with its people quite different to any before. And I was no longer wondering why.
On Easter Saturday, walking through Paris, I stopped for an iced drink at a cafe on Square Maurice Gardette. The idea had been to sit in the Square itself, but another day of civil unrest meant that it remained unopened. However, I was heartened to see young children squeeze through the railings and two amorous couples climb over the gates to play boules – it was such a hot, dry and dusty day with little space for respite from the police sirens. I wished them joy of it. In the meantime, Christian was still desperately seeking Lily. I wonder, have they yet been reunited?
Leaving Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and arriving at London Gatwick airport early on Easter Sunday.
Views of Rhodes Old Town, next to the Bastion of St. George, as seen from my bedroom this April Thursday morning.