A walk in the cemetery at sunset.

We had the most beautiful sunny Saturday last week.
At the end of a day spent roasting in the sun, I went for a walk with my camera and my little girl to the graveyard just behind the house.
I have always loved this place and often come here when I can't hear myself think, if I'm upset or homesick: I just need to look across to France (you can just about see it in one of the photos) to feel much more at peace.

The light was extremely tricky for an inexperienced person like me, it was fading fast and that posed serious problems with exposure, but I guess it's all learning!
Still, here are some of the photos I took.

Next I'll post the photos I took in the same graveyard but in different conditions: bright daylight.
I love the place so much I couldn't stop shooting it!


From the balcony.

Last week we moved from the back of the house which overlooked the old Church, to the front where there is a big balcony overlooking the garden, the village, the sea and on a clear day even France!
I've been roasting to perfection over the week-end there.
No more tinted moisturizer for me, thank goodness!


"The Waves" by Virginia Woolf

Branded "unreadable" even by Virginia Woolf herself, not a novel but, again in her own words, "a playpoem", "The Waves" is one challenging book. In my experience this was probably the most daunting and tough book I've ever read after Gabriele D'Annunzio's "Il Fuoco".
Written in pure "stream of consciousness" style, we follow the thoughts of six different characters, all friends, from their childhood through to their middle aged life.
The novel is divided into nine sections, each of which corresponds to a time of day, and, symbolically, to a period in the lives of the characters. Woolf enters their minds and reports their thoughts and perceptions as they occur, with few external clues to provide shape or context.All six characters struggle with who they are, they all long to make sense of the world around them, and they all try and make sense of the concept of death and try to incorporate it into their lives.

I loved the still, beautifully poetic quick images Woolf conjures up. It was a bit like looking at mental photographs with one's own mind eye.
I recommend it only if you like Virginia Woolf. If you've never read anything by her, don't start with this one!

I posted some photos I took on a still, sunny morning in a little village in Sardinia. The beginning of the book reminded me of this particular morning there. So, here they are!


"Instead of a Letter" by Diana Athill.

This is the autobiography of Diana Athill from her childhood until her early forties.
In the 1920s Athill had a privileged upbringing in the English countryside in her maternal grandmother's big Georgian house, surrounded by servants, acres of beautiful land complete with lake and animals, surrounded by beauty and delicious healthy food. She tells us about the happy childhood she spent there and the love of her family. We read about long golden summers spent boating along the river and cozy afternoons spent reading books from her Grandfather's extensive library. We then move through her Oxford years and with it the first and biggest love of her life.
WW2 strikes and we see it through Athill's eyes. We follow her story until the then present day, 1958, when she is in her early 40s being a publisher and enjoying happiness.

I enjoyed this book for various reasons. I love reading about the 1930s and 1940s, decades where so much happened. And I love England so it was good to see how growing up there, within a rich family I must add, was indeed privileged and beautiful. Of course there were problems but nothing compared with what was happening at the same time in other parts of the world, or even within poorer family in England itself at the time.
I thought a lot about my own Grandmother who was born at about the same time in the South of Italy and who didn't go to school because helping the family by working and looking after her younger siblings was the right thing to do. Reading about Athill's stay at Oxford, her charming afternoons having tea and cake, going to exhibitions in London, riding on boats along the river and even her promiscuity made me feel like Italy was on a completely different planet at the time. And it made me feel very sad for my own Grandmother. Still, I was glad that Athill and women like her could enjoy such freedom back then.

I found a lot myself in the book. I too, can be very mentally lazy and Athill's descriptions of inertia were at times, describing my own life. I fully understand what it means: wanting to change things, understanding that something must be done about a situation but just not being able to.
I share the same love for literature as Athill, the same love for details and small things in life, the same love for sight (physical and mental), the same realization that God is, and the same mental lucidity when it comes to my own faults.

The author's life was unfortunately marred by a sad event. But it was nice to see how she learnt to cope and eventually put it behind her.
I would love to get my hands on her later autobiography and see what happened in her life later on. She is a fascinating, sensitive soul, with a lot of poetry in her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was a bit like meeting someone and suddenly and unexpectedly clicking with them. I devoured the book as I wanted to get to know Diana better and better to see if we had more things in common just like you would with a real friend.
I recommend it, but only if you're a girl!


Driving along.

As I was forced to give up my front seat in our Land Rover Defender to my brother, I was "treated" to 3 weeks of bumpy, nauseous rides in the back of the car.
After I managed to cope with the car sickness I took this photo of this "stretchy postcard" view I was being treated to. I could also enjoy the "stripey view" through the back window!
It was like being on a roller-coaster at times! But fun.
Eventually I even managed to doze off strewn all over the seats!
Who said Defenders were not comfortable?


To see the world in a mug handle.

Last Sunday was one of those much welcomed "Lazy Sundays".
After reading the newspaper, and watching a couple of films I thought the day could only be complete if I had one of those rather naff, very 1970s "Cupasoups".
As I sat there, and the level of boredom crept up, I couldn't help but notice how nice it was to see the blue sky reflected in the handle of my mug.
Maybe it's sad, but I wanted to have a photo of that.
It's the details that count I say!


Snooping around the cottage.

While my husband is working away at the cottage I usually help fetching and tidying tools and making copious cups of tea. I have a lot of breaks in between and on this day I thought I'd take some photos of the beautiful trees around, one of the turtledoves that are nesting in our roof, and a detail of the beautifully hand woven hazelnut wooden fence.
And my lovely 10 year old cat, Mr Morris, posed for a photo as he was basking in the sun. Isn't he gorgeous? But don't be fooled by his lazy expression, he's a vicious hunter. That's just the "warrior's rest".


Reclamation Yard

A few weeks ago we had to go to a Reclamation yard to get materials as we are doing some work on our XV century cottage.
We drove along beautiful winding lanes in the country, and around one of the bends lies this fantastic place, full of things that once belonged in houses that now lie in the middle of the woods in a lovely little village in Kent.
Couldn't resist taking my camera along.

Guarding this charming place there was this adorable old dog that just wanted to play "Catch".
My little girl tired him out in the end!