Saturday, 31 March 2012

 Winter Work, George Clausen (1883-84)
The Beanfield, Letchworth, Spencer Frederick Gore (1912)

Thirty years and twenty miles separate these two paintings of the Hertfordshire countryside (both on loan from the Tate) which I saw when I went to a fascinating exhibition yesterday at lovely Compton Verney.
How fast things were changing.

Friday, 30 March 2012

On my way home tonight I nipped into the V&A and discovered a cape made from the golden silk of one million spiders ...

Just thought you'd like to know.

I was slightly freaked last night by the thought of 8,000,000 spider legs but there's more here, here and here for those with the stomach to read about spider-milking machines.   

Thursday, 29 March 2012

It seemed such a long time since I last visited Kew Gardens. They were putting the waterlilies to bed for the winter last time I was there - and this week the waterlily house opens again for the summer, though I missed it by a couple of days.
The magnolias were grandiflorous which probably isn't a word. (But take a look at Kristina's lovely pictures from a few days earlier.)
There was a faint blue glimmer of the very first bluebells down by the river.
There was a flutter of fritillaries, if you looked carefully - which intrigue me, because I love their dainty chequered flowers.
And then I saw this fellow strolling through the Rhododendron Dell.
And it was déjà vu for me, though he completely ignored me.
I'm afraid that's why I've struggled to blog recently. It does make you realise that life is cyclical.

But I did visit the Maids of Honour tearoom for tea from a Spode china cup and an elephant's foot choux bun. And I haven't done that for absolutely ages.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

I haven't been off doing anything in particular. Life has been ticking away as normal. And it's so easy to lose the habit of blogging.
I've been looking at paintings but that's something I do pretty much every week.
And going to exhibitions. Nothing new there.
I read a very long book, though I'm not sure that I enjoyed it as much as an earlier one.
And I read a short one that was completely fascinating.
I made a flying visit up to Edinburgh last Sunday to see something stunning that made me so glad I'd made the trip.
And today the sun shone and I thought it was far too long since I'd ambled along by the river for coffee and cake. (Blood orange cake, very nice, too.)
So that's what I've been doing.
I'd tell you more but I don't want to miss the start of Downton-on-Sea.

(Oh dear, Downton-on-Sea was in dire need of Maggie Smith in the lifeboats.)

Thanks to the Daily Mirror for the funniest scathing review ... and the best Drownton Abbey headline.

Monday, 5 March 2012

I nearly missed this really lovely documentary with the very engaging David Hockney but there's still time to catch it if you're quick and it's the next best thing  to seeing the RA exhibition for those unable to get there.
And I especially loved the bit at 52.28 when Andrew Marr says it's time for him to shut up and allow the viewer simply to look ...
in silence, without any intrusive music.
I do wish I had Andrew Marr's job.
Not the politics.
But sharing Maltesers with David Hockney? (That's at 30.25)
I could do that!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

I can't think how to begin reviewing Julian Barnes' slender and perfect novel without letting slip something that might inadvertently spoil it for others. So all I'm going to say is that the spare elegance of his writing takes my breath away. It is about memory and time and the tricks they play on us and the gaucheness of youth and the ineptness of middleage. Only 150pp long but it needs to be read slowly in a quiet room.
I was miffed when Sebastian Barry wasn't even shortlisted for the Booker. Now I think that maybe the best man won. But if I'd been a judge, it would have been very hard to choose between them.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

This made me laugh today ...
And I can't think why I've never noticed it before in Golden Square.
Except that my mind is normally on cinnamon buns from here.
There should be a Time Traveller's Diet
That allows you to eat all the buns you desire -
Then turns back the clock to the moment before you gave into temptation.