Friday Fun: Old Montmartre in Photos and Paintings

If I could live anywhere in Paris, and money were no object, I would choose Montmartre, despite the tourist hordes. The endless steps and steep roads would keep me fit, and there are still many quiet picturesque corners if you know where to look. Plus oh, the historical artistic associations! Of course, in the 19th century Montmartre was anything but posh and expensive: it was a scrappy little suburb full of rebellious smallholders (marking the start of the revolutionary Paris Commune in 1871), poor working class people, bars and cabarets. Artists flocked there because it was cheap and provided an excellent spot for people-spotting.

Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre.
Van Gogh’s representation of it.
Impasse Girardon in real life.
Utrillo’s version of Impasse Girardon.
The infamously steep road Impasse Trainee.
Impasse Trainee in winter, by Utrillo.
Rue St Vincent and the cabaret-bar Lapin Agile.
Yet another Utrillo rendition of the same spot.
Place du Tertre, which is now filled with portrait painters and souvenir stalls.
Antoine Blanchard’s rainsodden version.
The vineyards in Montmartre have existed since Roman times, but almost fell victim to property developers in the early 20th century.
Not quite the same angle, but Van Gogh was fascinated with these orchards and vineyards too.
The vines are flourishing now and celebrate an annual harvest festival. From

Friday Fun: Windows and Doors

I’ve always believed in keeping windows curtainless (so you can admire the view) and doors open (so that friends can come in at any time). Some of the incarnations of doors and windows below take this to a whole new level, but I have to admit I dream about owning something like this…

Art nouveau door in Paris, from
Stained glass beauty, from Explorers Club on Pinterest.
Terrace in an island house in Greece, from Architectural Digest.
Laucala Island, Fiji, from
Pool house desinged by Luigi Rosselli, from
Six Senses resort in Vietnam, from
Anne Hepfer Lake House in Canada, from House Beautiful.
All-white restful bedroom, from Daily Dream Decor.
Japanese Tea House window, picture credit Andy Serrano, from Deviant Art.

Friday Fun: Writerly Places of Interest

Even if some of the people below are not writers, their studies give us an insight into their lives, and above all into the places where creation takes place.

Beryl Bainbridge’s wonderfully eclectic study, from angels to Titanic to stuffed dogs and guns, from
As you’d expect, Donna Leon is serene in an office reeking of Italian elegance. From El Pais.
Pretty much dream conditions here in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s lived-in study, from The Guardian.
W.S. Maugham also had near-perfect conditions – maybe at his house in France? From BreathingBooks on Tumblr.
A tour of Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s Apartment at 31 Rue Cambone Paris. from Lily Adore Paris.
Peter York, more of a broadcaster and commentator rather than a pure writer, which perhaps explains the up-to-date decor. From The Guardian
This didn’t belong to an actual writer, but is from a marketing brochure for an interior design company. Still, I wouldn’t mind, would you?From

Friday Fun: Reading Nooks in All Seasons

There are reading nooks for all seasons. Maybe you can fit four into your house… or here are some simple ways to tweak them to fit each time of the year.

The delicate shoots of spring can be admired from this bed, when you still feel lethargic after a long winter. From Bored Panda.
Watching the mountains turn green from your reading nook is lovely in Spring. From Michael Rex Architects.
Greek island views are much more suited to summer, from Bored Panda.
Of course, you could move outside into the garden. From Pinterest.
But the balcony offers a shadier alternative, especially for e-books. From Hunter Design.
As the nights turn cooler in autumn, it makes sense to move indoors. From She Knows.
Somewhere far away from prying eyes is perfect when school starts again in autumn, from Pinterest.
While in winter we have a hankering for wooden chalets, curtains, plaid and cosy lights. From BeDe Design.
From this viewpoint we will certainly not miss Santa when he brings us some new books. From Woo Home.

Friday Fun: Women Reading

Portraits of women reading is perhaps one of the loveliest examples of ‘memes’ in art history, particularly in the 19th century and particularly in France. Was it the rise of the middle classes and of leisure time? Were the men boasting that their wives and daughters were well looked after, well-educated and could therefore spend time on that frivolous pursuit of reading novels? Or was it that there is a certain stillness in the act of reading which men as doers felt that they could not or would not choose to quite live up to? Or was it simply a respectable form of voyeurism for rich men/art collectors? Whatever the reason for it, it has left behind some beautiful paintings (all in the public domain, as far as I know, but please correct me if I am wrong).

One of the best known – by Fragonard.
Woman reading in landscape, by Corot.
Another dreamy summer readingscape, by Monet.
So intent on reading, this must have been a real page-turner, by Jacques-Emile Blanches
One of my earliest favourites, by Renoir.
She hasn’t got eyes for anyone but the book, leave her alone, by Matisse.
Victorian portrayals of the angel in the household on the rare evening off, by Edward John Poynter.
Blue Girl Reading by August Macke from the Blaue Reiter school of art.
American impressionism via Dutch painter Isaac Israels.


Friday Fun: Writing in Your Bedroom

I believe in separating your working and sleeping space, but I’ve heard of plenty of writers and readers who feel at their most comfortable (or most inspired) in their bedrooms. And what about if you have no other space for writing? So here are some elegant solutions to this quandary. Which don’t involve lying propped up on cushions in bed (although that is perfect for reading).

The elegant townie, from
The occasional scribbler, from The Design Chaser.
The teenage artist, from You Tube.
The one designed by the interior designer, from Gravity Home.
The one designed by your mother, from Decoist.
The professional writer (or the writer on holiday), from Architecture Art Designs.

Friday Fun: Garden Sheds Forever Young

Keeping it a politics-free zone today, although Schadenfreude and ‘The future belongs to young people’ does come to mind…

There is a very ugly term for these scrumplicious creations: ‘she-sheds’ – insulting to both women (as if only men have the right to own sheds) and to men (as if only women have the right to have pretty things). I keep measuring my garden to check if I do have space after all for a shed or two, especially if they look anything like these…

At one with nature, if you can bear the bugs, from
The nostalgic cottage shed, with climbing roses, from
The secret garden shed, from de.pinterest
The shed to move into for the whole summer. Those unbearably perfect Norwegians once more, from Living Norway Architects.
The Russian shed in Newcastle built by Russian John, from
The conservatory option if you don’t have shedloads of space, from Garden and Landscape Directory.
The fully transparent option, if you don’t mind the sun and have nothing to hide. Very romantic though. From