Friday 30 November 2012

Important Thinking Happening

Lady Traveller is busy working on her annual Advent offering, so no proper post today.  But tomorrow, being the 1st December, will feature the first 'door' in Hints to Lady Traveller's Adventstravaganza.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Lady Traveller & Limerick

That's AND Limerick, not in Limerick.  Last weekend I was in Oxford, visiting Lady Traveller's Little Sister.  We went for a walk through Christchurch Meadows (one of my top hints for anyone visiting Oxford) and LTLS took this photo of me, with Christchurch and a few dozen tourists behind.

Then we went to the Ashmolean to see the special birthday-celebration exhibition in honour of Edward Lear.  We were invited to compose Limericks, so we did:

There was a young lady of Stroud,
Who walked about under a cloud.
Her manner was doom-y,
Her countenance gloomy,
That miserable lady of Stroud.

You can see why I became a Lady Traveller and not a Lady Artist, nor yet a Lady Limerick-writer.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Overseen AND heard: Alabama Shakes

Overseen and heard in London: November 2012.

All of the band were amazing (and charming and adorable), but this lady was on FIRE.

Listen here, for instant pick me up:

Monday 26 November 2012


About, oh, twenty years ago I got the idea that it would be rather lovely to plant paperwhite narcissi in time for Christmas.  And it would have been, except I never ever managed to do it.  Over the years, planting paperwhites became a symbol of plans not carried through, roads not taken etc etc.  So much symbolic significance did this acquire that I actually put 'plant paperwhites in time for Christmas' as an item on my Life List.

Earlier this year I bought some paperwhite bulbs on a whim.  I planted them and was pleasantly surprised when this happened:

And then, wonder of wonders, on Saturday, I did this:

Those, my dears, are planted paperwhite bulbs.  Sshhh, they're sleeping.  But they'll be awake soon.

68. Plant paperwhites in time for Christmas

Thursday 15 November 2012

Providence or, Stocking the Fridge

“Without any cant, does not Providence provide wonderfully for us?”

Isabel Burton
I was racking my brains to think of a post today: I've temporarily traded in my bedtime travel reading for bedtime reading in French (a couple of chapters and I'm half way to sleep).  But this week I've been thinking about preparations, not just for travelling, but for coming home again.

Isabel Burton, she of the quotation above, wife of the famous explorer Sir Richard Burton, one of these days to be the subject of a LONG post (her, not him), applied her mind to the practicalities of travel.  Her husband was free to adventure because she took care of the mundane, but vital, considerations - where to sleep, what to eat, what to pack and so on.

In this spirit, my new resolve is to ensure that my freezer is always stocked with bread and coffee and at least one meal that can be quickly defrosted and reheated.  This is to avoid the sad fate that too often affects me: arriving late (or early) from a flight and discovering the cupboard is bare.

What we call providence, I find, often comes back to preparation.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Overseen: Disapproving Angels

Overseen at St Fagans, Wales, November 2012:

Somebody's about to be smited.  Smitten.  Smote?

Monday 12 November 2012

There And Back Again

On Thursday I went to Cardiff.  Just a quick day trip, out in the morning, back in the evening.  At least that was the plan...

When I checked in at the airport, around half past seven in the evening, the woman at the desk handed me my boarding pass and then said, as if it was an irrelevant little detail, 'oh and the flight's been delayed until 1.'

'1.  1 am?' I asked, thinking as I said it that it couldn't be because all the airports would be closed.  But she confirmed it was so and handed me a voucher for £7 worth of 'refreshment' which is a misnomer if ever there were one: being forced to choose from a range of pre-packed foods under neon lighting is the antithesis of refreshing.

So, five hours in Cardiff Airport.

The time passes very slowly.

I kept thinking that as a resourceful Lady Traveller I ought to be able to come up with some super strategy to while away the time - turn lemons into lemonade etc.  Weren't my airport reviews based on this very thing?

But unfortunately Cardiff Airport is little more than a shed and offers very little material with which to work.  One bar, one cafe (closed), one WH Smith, one duty free shop (though it closed soon afterwards), voila tout.

My laptop was at home, my phone ran out of battery and I just didn't feel like starting in to writing a bestselling novel.  So I read a little and people watched a little and watched the screens hopefully and eventually a plane materialised and I got home somewhere around three in the morning.

The next day, I wondered if there was a hint to be gleaned from the experience.  Why, yes.  Two hints, actually.

First hint: air travel is often exhausting and frustrating.  Airlines treat you like a child, telling you half-truths (or not telling you anything at all); airports are most often horribly lit ghettoes with uncomfortable chairs and a smaller or greater choice of unappealing food outlets.  There is nothing any of us can do when stranded at an airport except remind ourselves that the time will eventually pass.

Second hint: never, ever, even when just going on a quick day trip, leave your phone charger at home.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

The House That Heidi Built

This is the house that Le Corbusier designed (his last design, for a building that would be a living exhibition space of his work) and Heidi Weber (friend, colleague, fellow Swiss) built.

This is the plan of the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

This is the model of the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built from the plans.

This is the man that shows the scale of the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

This is the perfectly right-angular kitchen in the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

This is the staircase that leads from the back door to the upper storeys of the house that Heidi built.

This is the door onto the roof of the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

This is the view from the roof of the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

This is the Lady Traveller sniffing the delicious wood scent of the door on the roof of the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

This is the office of the museum in the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

This is the back door of the house that Heidi built.

This is the man waving goodbye from the house that Le Corbusier designed and Heidi built.

Heidi Weber Museum, Hoeschgasse 8, 8034 Zurich

Monday 5 November 2012

Shoes, Ships, Sealing Wax & Other Savouries

Well hello there.  So, on Friday of the week before last I was, literally, in the middle of writing a blog post when the phone rang.  (No, this is not the post where I tell you that HTLT has been optioned and will be turned into a movie.  Sorry 'bout dat.)  And the phone kept ringing all day.

One of the calls was to say I had a new nephew: number four in the series entitled Adorable Nephews.  The first order of business today is, therefore, to say welcome to Cian and a big huzzah to his mama for her hard work and to Conor and Cormac for all the support.

Most of the other phone calls were of the Urgent Work That Has to be Completed Right Now variety and between them and actually doing the Urgent Work, my poor blog was well and truly abandoned last week.  Sorry blog.

This post is to explain my absence, bid you welcome to November, link to this piece I wrote about Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly paintings and promise that I will return soon (tomorrow even!)

xxx HTLT