Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ricardo's birthday

Richard's birthday was fast approaching and I had no idea what to do. After posting a plea on facebook to ask for any ideas, my friend and Richard's ex wife Jeannie suggested I throw a party to celebrate, rather than sit and wait for sadness to overtake me. Thus the blue suede shoes were brought out...
I made his favourite liquorice cake (recipe courtesy of Jeannie)..
and invited a whole gang of friends to come over.
As people arrived and I opened the door, I could see their faces were full of concern. Would this be an OK event or would we stand around in small groups crying? Luckily as the room filled up with people, cakes and laughter, I realised I'd done the right thing.
Happy birthday my darling.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I am trying to not worry about things that haven't happened yet (as Ricardo used to constantly remind me) but there are some pretty tricky anniversaries coming up and I wondered if any of my friends out there in blog land had any ideas.
It will have been Richard's 64th birthday this Thursday and I have no idea how a widow goes about celebrating such a thing. If anyone has any ideas, I'd love it if you could leave me a small comment. Thanks gang.
P.S. I found this spiderweb on my walk this morning there were hundreds of them in the grass. Beautiful.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The kindness of strangers

I suppose I must confess to being an anxious traveler. Richard used to tease me about getting dreadful travel anxiety and I felt bad about it until I realised, he was the same. Even though he'd survived a month in Delhi in the 70's with no money AT ALL and traveled through Afghanistan and Pakistan, he always slept badly the night before we went anywhere and was short tempered on the way to the airport. So traveling by myself in a fairly fragile state of mind to somewhere I'd never been before was challenging to say the least. The first time I traveled to Rome to meet Lena in early March, I was quietly terrified. I'm not scared of the flying in fact that's the best bit for me when you don't have to appear as if you know what you're doing and where you're going. It's the arriving that scares the hell out of me. Trying to figure out where you need to go to catch the bus or maybe having to (God forbid) ask someone a question in a foreign language. So it was with huge relief that I met Brad as we waited in line for the Ryanair flight at Stansted airport. I asked him if he was going to Rome for a holiday and he answered in perfect English with a slight American accent, "No I live there!". Thus an amazing friendship was born. Brad and his wife Tamara are having an adventure in Rome, living there for a while with their two children and soaking up as much Italian culture as they can. They were incredibly generous toward Lena and I and put us up Royally on my second visit. Here is Brad with their youngest son Nick and Lena after we'd taken Nick unicycling on the island in the centre of Rome. Tamara is the same age as me and we got on like a house on fire. You can see it in this look as she sat making a small animal out of felt and I sat admiring a piece of fabric she'd brought back from Perugia.
They took us out for lunches and dinners and an amazing night at the American Academy. It was the 400th anniversary of Galileo's unveiling of the telescope. Here are some words from the Academy website...
"The American Academy’s Casa Rustica (in the present Bass Garden) occupies the precise site where, on Thursday 14 April 1611, Galileo made his first demonstration to a learned audience in Rome of his new invention, named on this occasion as the “telescope”. That evening represents the baptism of Galileo’s device as a true scientific instrument, as well as its inaugural presentation for scrutiny by members of the Church."
The building was amazing....
There was free sparkling wine..
strange artistic installations...
fascinating people to talk to and the night was not too's a pity this photo is so blurry as the trees I'm standing under were flowering cherries in perfect bloom.
It was however a little overwhelming the next day for me to be pitched into this many people on the Spanish steps after the sleepy village of East Harling.
Still it was wonderful to stroll along in this kind of sunshine.
happening upon incredible sculpture wherever you looked.
the macro...
and the micro...
Lena and I sat on their balcony on my last day and raised a toast with blood orange juice to the kindness of strangers and their incredible hospitality.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Love stops war...

My favourite painting from the recent trip to Rome was one Lena and I discovered at the "Castel Sant’Angelo". The castle was jam packed with tourists as we'd found ourselves there in the middle of culture week and all the large State owned museums & sites were free. Everyone seemed intent on simply getting to the top and then just as quickly getting back down again to the bottom. We were transported through the castle by a continuous flow of people and found a rare and quiet spot somewhere near the top where this painting hung in its' newly restored state. I still can't quite work out why no one was stopping to look at this absolute gem painted by Guercino called "Marte Furibondo Ritenuto da un Amorino" which literally translated means "Mars furious, is restrained by Cupid" or more usually "When love stops war".
I copied the picture and the following text from a great website; 'In Rome now' ..... "Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino (1591-1666), was one of the most admired and sought after painters of his day. As a young boy, he taught himself the craft of painting before leaving Cento, the small town near Ferrara were he was born. He was influenced by deep, rich colors, applied loosely in the Venetian way, and the new, more intimate manner of interpreting religious themes from careful study and emulation of Ludovico Caracci’s "Madonna with St. Francis", the town’s one great artwork, which hung in a local church.
Along with Guido Reni, Domenichino and Lanfranco, Gurecino was a major exponent of the Scuola Bolognese, a group of Baroque artists who turned away from the idealized beauty of the early Renaissance in pursuit of naturalism. Guercino preferred his subjects to look real. Once he overcame the rigid configuration seen in his earlier works, his attention to naturalism was revealed in meticulously painted hands and faces held together by the movement of swirling robes and theatrical stances."
I love how the tiny, naked baby hangs onto the sword arm of Mars, the God of War stopping him mid stride and how Mars has the classic pose that Carravagio used as a device of the left arm and right leg forward at the same time making the figure twist toward you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Roma due

When I discovered that Lena was going back to Roma and was going to be staying with our new best friends Tamara and Brad, I jumped at the chance to meet her there again. I also took the opportunity to deliver a cushion for Tamara. She has excellent taste and this flower cushion fitted right in to the rest of the decor.

We hit the streets as well and you can see me looking slightly apprehensive here, as I try my luck with the mouth of truth.
One last look at the detail of that cushion.
I forgot to bring my camera cable so these are the only shots so far of this second trip to Rome. When I get home, I'll upload a few more. Ciao for now.