Travelling links ( this is not a post about golf)

It pays to follow the links!  How, probably depends what sort of traveller you are.    Do you meticulously plan a route, follow a schedule and make sure you see all the sights?  Or do you turn left out of the hotel, with maybe one or two spots in mind, and see where you find yourself on the way?  I am definitely the latter.

On the web, this serendipitous travelling style requires paying attention to embedded links as you read.  To avoid the ramshackle dissolution of  time, getting so far away from the original read that you cannot find your way back, it can be a good idea to make a mental note  and then go back.   It also pays respect to the writer who crafted the piece.  A good method is to right click and open the links ‘in a new tab’ as you go, and save them  to look at methodically later.

This morning I savoured a post detailing a sumptuous afternoon tea at Mandarin Hotel Paris. One of a series found on Paris Breakfast, Carol Gillot is  taking tea at a few  exquisite Paris locations, mostly hotels.   For some curious reason I  followed the opening publicity of this hotel closely. When visiting Paris soon, after I made a point of walking past.  On bustling Rue St Honore there is little suggestion of the calm ambience that is evidently the experience of the interior.  So I was thrilled Carol was taking me on a journey inside! paris-hotel-lobby

And here is where it pays to follow the links. Carol has kindly detailed her description of the Mandarin Oriental with a link to the salon of SM Design.  What a discovery!  Not only gorgeous interiors by Sybile de Marguerie but a clever, clever site.

After the opening video the site delivers a Flash play  of banded colour.   Holding the cursor over each opens a room.   Nice.  But it is better!  Each project, hotels in the main,  has its own palette illustrated by  subtle but significant changes.   The bands appear translucent over each image, so there is a sense of ‘through a glass darkly’ to the experience. The same treatment is used for the geographical spread projects/realisations  by this design house.  Colour also signifies each staff member on the contact page.  The Press page looks like this: Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.49.24 am If you are like me and colour literally can make your mouth water,  this site is treat akin to afternoon tea in Paris! … And of course there is the design to behold! …( I hope you have opened the PB link in a new tab.  If not you will miss the images of the boucle sucres. )



It has a name ! The way of flowing spaces together – enfalide: beads on a thread… rooms connected along a sequence of aligned openings through which the eye and the body can travel.  I discovered the term while researching the illustrations of Mark Hampton , such as the one above. ( see also the delightful Mrs Blandings and Whitehaven Interiors) As is the way, I have encountered it many times since and am sure it is a common concept to all knowledgeable decorators.

enfilade 3 mark hampton


My first awareness of this convention came at the Hofburg Palace, Vienna.  Orignally a baroque convention to constrain and manage access by rank and status in palaces and grand residences,  enfilade meant the visitors and residents could flow between reception spaces whilst the staff could move along rear passages, entering each room by a discreet door in the back wall.  It also meant that private escape was afforded, the most famous being the rooms of the king and queen at Versailles. (The ultimate in the front stage / backstage dramatic performances of daily life as described by sociologist Erving Goffman )

I have long wanted to utilise this convention in a design for a modern home though of course for quite different reasons! Enfilade seems a sensible and economic way to design for our  narrow site which runs along a stream,  affording  sun and wonderful views to the north ( southern hemisphere sunny orientation), having a cliff and road at the rear.   Hence my excitement in discovering it is a describable element with which to brief an architect!

Enfilade  affords flexible and multiple use of space.  Why modern domestic architecture does not adopt this layout is a bit of mystery.  Most likely a matter of convention and perhaps a response to site? In a democratised residential world,  the street /public face is to the front, the back/private at the rear.  We open our own front doors and usher our own guests along in. We manage our back living (the messy bits) well away from our public spaces. We do not have the staff to do our running between!

But such light and views are afforded by it! What would you choose?

Perhaps this, shared by Fleeing France Brocante Society ?


Or this by Dani Karavan?


I can easily imagine what this apartment would feel like, though not really qualifying? (ref unavailable):


Or deliciously this from Robert Polidori’s detailing of the renovation of Versailles.


And as an aside – this wonderful quote from Mark Hampton’s wife Duane was also a lovely find….

” When Mark was packing for travel, curiosity, enthusiasm, bravado and charm were, by far, the most important things he packed. And his honest admiration. He admired his way into dozens of fabulous places.”. Read the article.

Dancer’s feet

When I was a young dancer I spent hours drawing dancer’s feet. Just ‘en pointe myself’, I became fascinated by the arch, the gloss of the shoe, the pattern of the ribbons.  I traced and sketched, over and over. I would have been encouraged if I had seen how much Degas wanted to capture this.


Graduation en pointe is a rite of passage for those girls who choose to pursue formal ballet.  With the assemblage of foot and shoe, ballerinas craft  choreographed steps into an art.  Permission to graduate en pointe is determined by strength and maturity of the ankle and foot, but the mystery goes way beyond standing on your toes.


The ritual of point shoes begins with needle and thread. You learn to sew on ribbons, darn the satin cover that cushions the bloch and work up the sole. A professional dancer goes through literally hundreds of shoes per year, but each must be tuned and tailored perfectly.   Shoes need to be broken in, then quickly break beyond the point of use. They are at once integral yet disposable.

Transformation from slipper to point emerged in 17th century France, evoking an ethereal weightlessness that remains part of the magic of point.  At the moment of elevating to point the dancer appears to be free from the constraint of  gravity, erasing the effort of movement. This fascinated Degas - the rehearsal, the articulation, the work of dance - and now occupies many photographic projects.  Some juxtapose the dream of point as performance against material worlds. This from The Ballerina Project New Zealand (Facebook)


For some  artists  it is the  the physical reality behind the magic which is the story worth telling. A fascinating insight here from Diablo Ballet, describes a dancer’s love of en pointe, despite the agony and the life long search for the perfect pair of shoes.


Seeking solace  in dance,  war/conflict photographer Sebastian Rich discovered of carnage  on the dance floor painfully transported  him back to the battlefield.  He comments :

…Unfortunately for me, the very first frame that I shot in the dance studio in Buenos Aires took me straight back to something horrible I had witnessed and photographed in a shop in Mogadishu. I visibly winced as I saw the bloodied, bruised, and deformed toes wrapped with tape and padding.

But as soon as they were up “on pointe,” Mogadishu and its nightmares vanished from my mind altogether. These girls moved so beautifully and with such grace and poise that once again, for a little while, I didn’t shoot a frame, but just watched in fascination.

Julio Bocca Dance Academy Argentina Buenos Aires

Luis Morris,  finalist of the 2103 Portrait Artist of the Year chose to portray dancer Lauren Cuthbertson resting between rehearsal, bandaged feet elevated. ( the actual work is held by the The National Portrait Gallery)


In interview she reflected that this intensely private recuperation allows her to listen to the music and rehearse every step in her mind.  Capturing this training of the body with the mind, the dancer at rest,  is entirely in keeping with the spirit of Degas.


Personal pointe stories from the Australian National Ballet:

Insights from the Royal Opera, featuring Lauren Cuthberson , (14 mins)  describes that the life of Dega’s dancers was harder!

Cherry Winter

Here in mid winter New Zealand , a nice reminder that summer will return are the fruits that fall through my virtual window to the world.

Last month I loved the strawberries appearing  in a plethora of blogs.  These arrived  from Carol Gillot at Paris Breakfasts,  all the way from Ile Saint Louis into my letter box !


On Fabulously French,  this strawberry, rhubarb and tarragon tart tartan - which reminds me that I must give some thought to my pottager now that the solstice is past and the growth will soon begin again.

strawberry rhubarb tarte tartin

This week it is cherries all round.  For me, they are a much more visceral reminder of Europe.


I remember travelling in Eastern Europe in 1987, where fresh food was not easily come by but cherry juice and whole cherries, like these,  abounded.  When I see a jar of cherries I am instantly back in a supermarket in Ljubliana. Or in  Budapast where I first tried cherry soup. I always have a jar in my cupboard. Somehow I feel it will ensure I get back one day.

A good friend has just left Budapest, where she stayed in a grand hotel,  akin Wes Anderson’s  cherry pink one,   and ate cherries for breakfast.

I wonder if she ate cakes like this? These are coffee bean decorations but a cherry would be nice?


I believe… but I’m waiting for the surprise… that Paris Breakfasts July letter is all cherries too.


And, best of all… just in… a new apartment, also on the divine Ile Saint Louis, from those wonderful hosts at Guest Apartment Services.  Cherries all year round in this kitchen!




Adobe here and there…

Hmmm… I think we are all being held to ransom somewhere along the chain of circulation of image content and the Adobe -i thing war.    Yesterday the ipad would not give me the option to replace cover photo on FB no matter what I tried.  Nor will the ipad allow me to upload images, even my own, into WordPress.  Many, many times I cannot look at websites due to flash not being supported.   So today I turned on the big old box to replace the FB cover  and now it  wont let me place a link because Adobe flash 10.0 not installed.


Now I know I should probably consider the upkeep of my devices as important as my housekeeping …. ( yes well,  housekeeping has never been a strength,  earlier this week I couldn’t find the iron … it had been that long !)  Turns our Adobe Flash replaced 10.3 with 11.7  on July 9… not so far behind.  But also that the implications of being behind are wider than mere user loyalty.

A little research led me into a world of impenetrable language but one implication would seem to be that Adobe is not keeping up on its housekeeping either.  Turns out, according to this   that the stalling (my word) around flash can sometimes make us vulnerable to exposure to the big wide interweb.  According to Adobe “None of the vulnerabilities are being exploited in the wild”  but the tone of this blogger suggests a question mark.

Turns out there is whole infrastructure ( using the term sociologically) , that has developed to a level of sophistication that designates special Adobe  ‘patch’ days. – ie the day all the patches come out to fix the holes across operating systems.  I use Firefox and I’m not even going to link to the plethora of strings around this,  but it looks as though Firefox didn’t keep up on patchday this month.  And I have no idea if Cold Fusion is relevant but something’s not right there either.  I am well out of my depth here!
The moral… for want of really understanding why, and a bit like having the house tidy in case of visitors… do those updates on all your devices – you never know who is looking.

However  unlike housework, when often a bucket of water and a scrubbing brush does as well as the fancy steam mop, with the housekeeping of our devices we are permanently at the mercy of the patch wars.  Cold comfort.

Fleur de lis


This morning is misty and cool. I should be out collecting the last fall of walnuts. Another coffee and the sun may come out….

This morning French Essence posted pics of iris in A French spring. A comment made me aware that these are the base of the fleur de lis. Visually this is so obvious. But I, like many, thought the translation was lily.

As for most things there are differences of opinion for the origin … But I am convinced by the argument below.

” It was thus understandable that our kings, having to choose a symbolic image for what later became a coat of arms, set their minds on the iris, a flower that was common around their homes, and is also as beautiful as it was remarkable. They called it, in short, the fleur-de-lis, instead of the flower of the river of lis.” read more

The hills are alive

There is no doubt in my mind that a good Sound of Music quote can  help any situation.  A recent watch of the trailer on our newly acquired Apple TV had me singing around the house for hours and my husband muttering “well that was a mistake” …

I wanted to share  a very good piece by James Croot in yesterday’s CHCH Press  Good Living section. A chat to P J Hogan on his movie Mental, which portrays his own family history, wrapped around his mother’s mental illness.  However, I just spent half an hour trying to find it free online.  It seems that Fairfax have it wrapped up. I signed up for the 7 day trial only to be confronted with the subscription screen at every click.  No thanks, not today…

The movie looks excellent. I will go. But the interview cheered me up and made me laugh out loud. In case you are fortunate enough not to have access to The Press as your daily,  but cannot manage to find James Croot’s take on an it,   here is a excerpt:

His mother was a huge fan of  [The Sound of Music] and demanded that Hogan and his siblings behave like the von Trapp kids.
” Nobody can live up to that ideal. We couldn’t even sing, let alone be brought to order, famous, be perfect and defeat the Nazis. And if you do any reading on the real Maria von Trapp you’ll discover she wasn’t Julie Andrews, she was a little but more of  slave driver”

Of mental illness in general he says :

“Trimming lawns till within an inch of their lives every week during summer?  Eventually you will die and they will continue growing…There are alot of things that people think are completely normal which are nutty and can be found in DSM” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder

He has a bit to say on autism and Aspergers .  All in all his take on the normality of ‘mental’ is heartening.

Here is and ABC piece when the movie was launched in Aus.

I look forward to my family’s feedback !!

Interior health

I’ve been spending alot of time in health institutions lately, supporting several family members across the generations.  We are sharing the challenges of accepting that much of the hope of medicine, that it can alleviate discomfort, is based on a failry small repetoire of tests.  For some reason the afflictions in our world fall outside these and so medicine becomes a wait and see affair.  A patient waiting for symptoms to abate.

So I was rather gratified to spot a title : 2012 Top 100 Giants: Healthcare Breakout.   Good design won’t cure you. But it might make you feel better.

Scaled Down

You HAVE to make time to see this   article on Home New Zealand’s blog  about Scaled Down – a Christchurch company that creates miniature models of buildings which have significance to their client.  Especially precious for quake recovery.

In particular, scroll down the article to the model of the tile roofed Cashmere house.   This image took my breath with its magic.  Can’t you just SEE the tiny people inside going about their activities?

This is the stuff of Andre Norton’s Octagon Magic, a fantasy set around a house and its replica,  which launched my  passion for octagon houses.

I have not copied images from Scaled Down out of respect to their ownership.   Take a look for yourself…and read the accompanying historical detail.

I adore the  Scaled Down model of Ashley Downs Homestead
See and read  more of Chapman -Taylor Cashmere House

NB :  Some of us will remember Richard Gardiner from school days. He was the teacher who allowed me to arrange to drop PE and sit School Cert Art. On reflection it was pretty daring of us both… it was August.  I guess he assumed that since I spent all my time bunking with my friends in the Art Room,  I might as well have a go. I passed.

Teachers who are prepared to bend the rules to keep a spark alive in a child…. real heroes.