dimanche 25 juillet 2010

A summer's tale

The strange thing about having lived so long on an island is that I always had the feeling the sea was far away. I only saw it when we crossed the Channel from England to France, that blue line on the horizon suddenly appearing which never failed to fill me with emotion. I remember the chalky cliffs of Dover with the piercing cries of the seagulls flying overhead and waving to those left behind on the piers. In a way, the sea is so simple with the same sound of the waves constantly breaking but there's something endlessly fascinating about walking along its shore. The sea washes away all traces and the footprints left in the morning will be gone a few hours later, as if we had never existed. There was the joy of rediscovering those familiar beaches of Northumberland from last year with the silhouettes of Bamburgh and Holy Island and the feeling of letting the pain and sadness of 10 days ago be carried away with the breeze and the waves. There were the countless cups of tea and comforting pieces of homemade cake in between visits to ruined abbeys with their beautiful old stones and melancholy churchyards. My room in a farmhouse was decorated pink with flowers in the fireplace and round the mirror; I've never stayed anywhere so silent, far from main roads where you could look for miles over the rolling hills in the distance to watch the dying glow of the sun and see the wisps of grey cloud like feathers across the sky. I love that feeling on holiday of forgetting time; no internet, no phone, it no longer matter what the date is. Evenings were filled with books - Fitzgerald stories and most of all George Perec's La vie mode d'emploi (Life, a user's guide) which amazes me with its detail, irony and sensitivity - but also films, some funny, some serious - Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Body Heat, Wes Anderson's wonderfully quirky The Life Aquatic, Terence Malick's Days of Heaven, possibly the most beautiful film I've ever seen and my very first Eric Rohmer, Conte d'ete or A Summer's Tale which made me long for the beaches of Brittany. Tomorrow I'm headed to London for a few days to visit Keats' house in Hampstead and some museums. Sorry for not commenting much on your blogs at the moment but the internet connection at my parents' place is really awful and I lose it every couple of minutes. I'll be in touch again soon.
In Kelso the first evening

Kelso Abbey

At Melrose Abbey

The graveyard at Melrose

Gargoyles at Melrose

The lighthouse at Berwick

The best lemon cheesecake

General Haig's grave at Dryborough

At Dryborough Abbey

Sir Walter Scott's tomb

At Dryborough Abbey

La mort aimait l'enfant qui finissait un livre...

The best chocolate cake

At Jedburgh Abbey

Carrot cake

A perfect cup of tea

Abbotsford where Sir Walter Scott lived

The prettiest cupcakes

A penguin book bag I couldn't resist

Orange drizzle cake

At the Main Street bookshop where I found a copy of George Orwell's Books and Cigarettes which Pia wrote about a while back.

Bamburgh castle

Playing croquet

A 99 ice cream at Seashouses

Another visit to Barter books in Alnwick

The best cheese toastie, served in the old waiting room

The little train at Barter books

Some images from our garden just before the trip to Scotland

26 commentaires:

  1. Thanks for that beautiful post. I miss England so much... Oh, how I love those old stones, verdant landscapes, gorgeous cakes and haunting cemeteries! Magnificent shots!



  2. Thank you for those beautiful, charming, quirky, funny, enticing photos, dear Vanessa! Good to read you are enjoying your holidays... enjoy your time in London! Warm hugs from Chrissi

  3. I'm so glad to know you are enjoying your time away. I like the Eric Rohmer film about the bakery girl. I also recall one of his Six Moral Tales dvds having an extra short film called Nadja à Paris that was very sweet. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0209175/plotsummary

    Enjoy Hampstead.

  4. Great pictures! For some reason I never get the result I want with digital cameras, and I admire this series.
    Concerning books vs. cigarettes : great book, let me know what you thought about it!
    Concerning that lemon cheesecake: I just realized I never had lemon cheesecake! Outrageous.
    Concerning the penguin book bag: they always get me with their cover-like goodies... I want a set of sheets with this design! Think how great it would look.. and it'be like sleeping in a book...how fitting.

  5. @Rosa - I know how much England is a part of you and I really enjoy savouring all these things whenever I return here.
    @Chrissi - Thanks so much Chrissi. I'm looking forward to seeing your photos when you go to Denmark soon.
    @Denise - I'll have to see that film about the bakery girl and the short one you mentioned. In London, I'm hoping to see My Night with Maud.
    @Pia - Oh but I really like your photos! Actually, I only use one lens so think that's an advantage because you get used to what it can and can't do. Having said that, I feel terribly nostalgic for film and am seriously thinking about getting a Rolleiflex or an analogue SLR later in the year. I share your weakness for this Penguin merchandise and the bed set sounds like a wonderful idea - how about the Big Sleep? You've never eaten lemon cheesecake? We'll have to change that!

  6. I hope I never have to live away from water. In Michigan we had the Lake Huron, in Florida, the ocean. One can look at it forever, dreaming and wondering.

    I do love graveyards and gargoyles, Vanessa! Your photos are such a delight...bringing back my fond memories of England.

  7. Oh my! The pictures are awesome, I loved going through them...thank you so much for taking time and posting it :-)

  8. Bookshops and cake go so well together. This post is so beautiful. It made me want to nuzzle into a cozy corner and read something delicious. I think I just might!

  9. The tea, the cakes and the photos, a beautiful post. Enjoy your holiday.

  10. lovely, lovely photos. i adore the reflection of the trees in the water. beautiful!

    xo Alison

  11. Such a nice trip! Thank you Vanessa. I've always been amazed by the graves in Great-Britain myself. I love the one with the child reading a book... and the croquet game!

  12. There is so much beauty and mystery and hidden truth in your photos..with a dose of imagined fear.

    I really enjoy your writing.

    "Oh England my Lionheart...I don't want to go ...! "

  14. Lovely photos. Another great post. The lemon cheesecake does look amazing.

  15. So I'm back in Berlin and tomorrow's the big move. Things are a bit chaotic and I'm surrounded by boxes but I promise you a new post on London in the next few days. In the meantime, sorry for my absence on my and your blogs.
    @Barbara - Oh how wonderful it must be to live near water. Somehow, I can never get tired of it, it seems so mysterious and calming.
    @Juliana - Oh thanks so much for taking the time to look at them. I hope to find some time next week to check out your blog.
    @Nicolette - I'm so pleased the photos made you feel like that. Books and cakes are my big weaknesses but then you already knew that.
    @P.K - Thanks so much, it was wonderful.
    @Alison - Dryborough was my favourite abbey and I loved the reflection on that morning.
    @Magda - Me too! There are a few great cemetaries in Berlin I haven't been to yet and I hope to have more time for that after this move, as well as getting around to our blog.
    @Natural Selection - I'm so pleased to hear that!
    @Lazaro - Thanks so much for the lovely comments as always.It was the best lemon cheesecake, although I think it was a non baked one so I'll have to try that out.

  16. I always miss one so forgive me Bree! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  17. what a lovely glimpse of what your trip was, you had the best cakes, cupcakes, cup of tea, and the best photos too, keep it up! cheers from london

  18. Once again, great photos! I particularly like the little penguins at the lighthouse and the gravestones. And speaking of analog cameras, I've just found my grandfather's old camera at my parents' house. It's a folding (!) Kodak 620 from the late 40's with an Angénieux 100mm lens... I sense a great potential for fun and mishaps there (the viewfinder isn't at all connected to the main optical system and of course it's manual focus only).

  19. Vanessa these pictures are stunning! Especially the first one, it looks like something out of a fancy coffee table photography book. I've been off-line for 2 1/2 weeks and it's been nice, I read a book a day and can't remember content of any of them, natch)...
    Funny, I felt the same as you about the sea in the U.K, it IS an island but the sea never felt close the way it always did in NZ and Japan. Hope you're feeling a little less raw about your cat x

  20. Such pictures, Vanessa, just poetry. I have always wanted to see Walter Scott's house... I have it on my list for my next visit as I loved his novels when I was a kid... all those knights and ladies fair.. I hope you had a restful time before moving... so stressful!

  21. Vanessa, your pictures seem kind of like the ocean. I looked through them at least six times to notice all the elements and details. What kind of camera do you take your pictures with? I hope you don't mind me asking, I am looking to buy a better camera and was curious since you take such enjoyable pictures.

  22. Coucou Vanessa ! Je suis contente de voir que tu ne te laisses pas abattre et que tu continues à nous faire découvrir de fabuleux endroits, de délicieux gâteaux, de doux moments... C'était certainement la meilleure manière de te ressourcer :-)

  23. Wonderful post. I've missed your blog very much.

  24. Ah, Vanessa, where art thou?

  25. Dear all, there was no time to post before my move and my promised Internet connection never came which makes blogging trickier. I've been holding out for broadband but it'll probably be a few more weeks before there's anything so I promise a new post tomorrow from an awful Internet café.
    @Pity - Oh thanks so much. I love your photos so feel very honoured.
    @Agnès - I'm curious to see the results with these cameras. You're such a wonderful photographer so I'm sure they'll be great. Last week I bought a medium format camera with two lenses and then a Diana so I can't wait to get started.
    @Sasa - Wow, out of a coffee table book, thanks a lot. I still feel sad about Jemima but also glad I had the chance to say goodbye and that she was part of our lives for 10 years.
    @Lost past remembered - Something tells me you'd love Scott's house. It'd be nice to go there with you, sharing our impressions.Thankfully, the move is over and I've settled in but more about that soon..
    @Cocina Savant - Thanks for the kind words! I use a Canon 1000d with a 50 mm lens. It's one of the cheapest SLRs on the market but also great for beginners and I've enjoyed using it the minute I got it.
    @Julia - Merci chère Julia! Je suis touchée par tes mots. Partir m'a fait beaucoup de bien et j'espère finalement faire un billet sur Londres cette semaine.
    @Des - Oh but I've missed you too! Hope to have more time tomorrow to stop by, although I must have missed so many good posts.
    @cj - With comments like that, how could I resist? Sorry for my absence but I promise some news this week. By the way, I found Mr Rosenblum's list last week and totally love it. Thanks for the tip!

  26. great pics, I love the water, simply stunning..lemon cheesecake oh divine

    good luck with your move