Uncategorized

24 hours in… Florence

coupole-firenze-fresco_potpis

Yes, I’m dreaming again but I do have able assistance.  Take a look at Paula on Lost in Translation.  The lady has a supreme talent in photography. These are all her images, which I’ve stolen in a good cause.  I hope I’ll be forgiven.

It’s ages since I’ve entered a competition but this one by Accor Hotels is too good to resist, even though I’m pushing the deadline.  24 Hours In…   Just name your city, and off you go.  My initial reaction- ’24 hours in Florence?’ Impossible!!!  But then resourcefulness kicks in.  I’m a huge fan of free walking tours.  Nothing I like better than a good ramble and to just follow my nose, but my nose has a terrible habit of getting me lost.  With time at a premium I’ll opt to follow ‘one who knows’.  And afterwards pick their brains for good places to eat and whatever else I can pack in.

Florence Free Tour has 2 options.  One at 11.00 and one at 14.00, both starting from the Santa Maria Novella church.

duomo_firenze_potpis

I know I won’t be able to sleep for excitement so I’ll be up at the crack of dawn, grab a coffee and out on the streets to just absorb Florence.  I’ve heard tell there are secret bakeries, open very early, so if I stumble upon a waft of pastry, so much the better.  The other half is always reluctant to be prised from his bed but, if I can persuade him, I’ll have a slot booked at the Uffizi.  They open at 8.15, so not too hard to escape the crowds.

Culture tucked in my back pocket, time to join the morning walking tour, when I can hope to get my bearings. Afterwards I’m going to allow a substantial time for collapse and a leisurely lunch.  Somehow I have to find the energy to climb the 463 steps to get a proper look at Brunelleschi’s Cupola in the Duomo.  I’ve seen Paula’s photo and I know it will be worth it.

I always gravitate to a river, and in Florence there is the biggest incentive of all time, the Ponte Vecchio.  I might have to pinch myself when I get there.  Not since Venice have I been this excited!  A browse through the arcades and a nice little cafe for a restoring coffee. (and I know he’ll want a cake!)  There’s one more must see on my list.  You can’t be married to a garden designer and not visit the Boboli Gardens.  Even if it rains!  It seems the perfect place to watch the sun set over this lovely city.  Maybe there will be an evening concert at the Pitti Palace, but if not it will be a leisurely meal, and then just strolling and sighing until my legs won’t walk any more.

firenza-by-night-crop_druga-1_potpis_resized

I haven’t been there yet, but when I do, next February, I very much hope to enjoy this vista, at Twilight.  And when I do I’ll be telling you all about it.

Meantime, do you have any tips on how to spend 24 hours in your favourite city?  Accor Hotels would very much like to hear them, and if you’re awfully quick there are super prizes!  Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin ring any bells?

Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!

Happy New Year!

Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku

I seem to have neglected my Polish friends lately.  I subscribe to a Polish Language blog, courtesy of my lovely Australian friend, Meg (who has twin half-Polish grandchildren).  I hope they won’t mind if I share with you a snippet from yesterday’s post.

Niech Nowy Rok zabłyśnie dla Was tęczy kolorami
I rozsypie się nad głowami szczęście i uśmiechów moc
I niech zostanie na 12 miesięcy z Wami
Nie tylko w tę Sylwestrową noc.

May the New Year shine for you in rainbow colors
And may happiness and the power of smiles scatter over your heads
And let it stay for 12 months with you
Not only on New Year’s Eve.

Such an international world we now live in!  I’ll leave you with a few fireworks from Sydney- arguably the best display in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing the London spectacular tonight.

From our house to yours, wishing you all a healthy, happy New Year, full of love.

Counting my Blessings

IMG_1505

Traditional though it may be, I really don’t want to waste the time and energy reviewing my year.  If I’m patient a day or two, WordPress will do it for me, and those of you who’ve put up with me all this time deserve better.  What I do want to do is to say a heartfelt thanks to all of you!  It’s been a good year for me and I have many reasons to count my blessings.  Please know that all of you out there number among them.

IMG_1514

IMG_1506

You probably don’t need to look very hard to realise that I’m sharing the beauty of my daughter’s tree.  The hand-made trimmings give it away.  It helps to keep her near to me.  Sentimental old fool!

Not all of us have had such a happy year, yet most of us are survivors.  One such lady, whose beautiful post this morning caught my eye, deserves some Christmas love.  I hope that you are all as prepared as you need to be to spend a joyful Christmas.

 

Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-banner

All I want for Christmas is…

IMG_2109 

Nothing much, really!  A little more love in the world would be good.  Peace and harmony and all those things that go with the Christmas message. No-one going hungry or without shelter.  No children that are unloved or unwanted.  If only the Christmas fairy could make it so!

I haven’t written my ‘Dear Santa’ letter yet.  Maybe I’d better hurry.  Wishing you all a Christmas packed with peace and love.  I’ll be walking again on Monday.  Hope to see you then.

6wsButton

 

 

Seaton Delaval Hall gardens

On Monday many of you joined me for a walk at Seaton Sluice, on the Northumberland coast. There I discovered a wonderful piece of shoreline, but my real purpose that day was to make a return visit to Seaton Delaval Hall.

It was August last year, on a cool, turning to dampish day, that I first saw these gardens.  I knew then that I’d be back.  As luck would have it, I was just in time to rescue the water lilies from the mischievous fingers of a small boy.  Caught in the act!

The frog needed to take a tougher stance

The frog needed to take a tougher stance

Water and small boys.  Inevitable temptation!  But let’s wander elsewhere.  There are plenty of temptations in this garden, and even a small nursery where you might find a little something to add to your collection.  The house and gardens are owned by the National Trust, and the bank of volunteer gardeners are highly enthusiastic about their subject.  Gardener Chris Brock keeps a blog which enthusiasts among you might like.

The Hall is a lovely backdrop to the Rose Garden

The Hall is a lovely backdrop to the Rose Garden

The roses date back to the 1950s

With roses dating back to the 1950s

There are roses a-plenty!

This is my ‘best in show’

The borders thickly weave their spell, in subtle but beautiful swathes of colour.  Here and there, an unapologetic ‘show off’ plant.  If you’ve got it…

Much more than a flounce!

Flaunt it!

You might remember that the ‘Gay Delavals’ liked a little flaunting.  They were fond of masquerade balls and staged their own theatrical productions.  An invitation to one of their parties might have included anything from rope dancers to a sack race in these beautiful gardens. I browsed a little…  sniffing here, sniffing there.

Here's another Bobby Dazzler, as my Mam would say

Here’s another Bobby Dazzler, as my Mam would say

The gardens were designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and include everything from French formal design to the landscape style of Capability Brown.  The National Trust is working hard to make these gardens a success, and throughout the summer there are 15- minute Table Top talks from the gardeners and guided walks through the grounds.  You can even join a Teddy Bears Picnic, if you’ve a mind.  Full details of events are on the website.

A rose bower, anyone?

A rose bower, anyone?

The house is ever present

And the ever present house

I hope you’ve enjoyed my garden tour, and if you’re ever in the area you make an effort to see Seaton Delaval Hall for yourself.  Next Thursday I will be taking you inside the house on a follow up to Restoration.  I’ll say goodbye for now with a nod from the poppies.

Just a little more flamboyance

Just a little more flamboyance

Reflections

213

Reflections for me almost always mean water.  I have lots of examples, but I don’t like to be too predictable.  This week the opportunity came along to play with a different kind of reflection.

On Saturday mornings I usually go to zumba.  I arrived this week to find the floor littered with feathers.  The cause? A Burlesque Night in aid of our local Macmillan nurses.  Jaki, our teacher, regularly fund raises for the hospice and has completed the Great North Run marathon on their behalf for the past several years.  She has an enormous sense of fun and, in the corners of the room, distortion mirrors beamed back at us.  It was quite hard to focus on zumba!

A mirror and a boa, and the reflected blinds

A mirror, a feather boa, and the reflected blinds

Of course, I have to protect the innocent so my shots can’t be too revealing.

Unlike some, Sadie, Jaki’s beloved poodle, doesn’t have any problems being caught on camera.

Putting on the style!

Putting on the style!

Isn’t she a scene stealer?  You can say hi to Jaki and the girls on Centre Yoga’s Facebook page.

Now it’s time for me to go and see what’s special with Paula this Thursday.  The theme is Reflection if you want to join in.  Paula’s duck looks very pensive.

jupiter-widget_text

A bench for all seasons

Trainspotting, anyone?

Trainspotting, anyone?

There's one!

There’s one!

Such a blue sky! Yes, it is England.

Blue skies! It’s an English Summer.

Delving deep into my archives, I’ve concluded that I don’t take many photos of benches.

But I do like to get out into the countryside

But I do like to get out into the countryside

Coastal footpaths are great places for a bench or two.

Especially if you have to climb up there

Especially if you have to climb up there

Ahhh, that's better!

Ahhh, that’s better!

In Giverny, at the Monet Garden, I tried to capture a very cute butterfly and her sister.

Got the bench, but not the butterfly!

Got the bench, but the butterfly nearly got away!

It was such a lovely place! Spot the bench?

It was such a lovely place, with just an occasional free bench

Wasn't it Patrick's Day this week?

It’s not every day you find a bench for St Patrick’s!

Spring has been quite unpredictable too this year.  Walking has brought a few surprises.

No sitting on this one!

No sitting on this one!

Or this!

Or this!

I can’t wait for those sunny days to get here so I can begin hunting for benches in earnest.  Have you joined Jude’s Bench Challenge yet?  Come with me!  You don’t want to miss it.