Friday Fun: Gates, Walls and Freedom

I’ve always been fascinated by doorways and gates, especially if someone is trying to close them in front of me. I cannot resist peering in and imagining what lies beyond.

In this period of celebration of 25 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of Communist regimes in most of the East Bloc countries, events which marked me profoundly and changed the course of my life, I do wonder if the landscape we espied beyond those walls quite lived up to our euphoric expectations. Or if it ever could.

But I do know that I am forever grateful that we could open those gates and discover for ourselves.

 

The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

From Blessedwildapplegirl.com
From Blessedwildapplegirl.com

Explanation separates us from astonishment, which is the only gateway to the incomprehensible.
(Eugene Ionesco)

David Freedman sculpture gate.
David Freedman sculpture gate.

The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind. (E. B. White)

From English Spirit.
From English Spirit.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. (Albert Camus)

Architecture Art Design.
Architecture Art Design.

Look on every exit as being the entrance to somewhere else. (Tom Stoppard)

Leith Hall Gardens, from their website.
Leith Hall Gardens, from their website.

We are afraid of the enormity of the possible. (Emil Cioran)

This is dedicated to East Berliner journalist Thomas Otto, whom I met in late October 1989, and who had the first open and honest political discussion with me. ‘All you need is more choice…’

Photo from 1989, used by Prof. Sonja Kuftinec.
Photo from 1989, used by Prof. Sonja Kuftinec, Institute of Advanced Study, Univ. of Minnesota

 

Friday Fun: Time for Some Chateaux Again!

I know you’ve all missed my ever-so-useful posts about acquiring the chateau of your dreams in France or thereabouts. Fear not: I’ve continued avidly collecting information and pictures (my future as an estate agent seems secure!).

Chateau in Figeac, right about in the middle of France.
Chateau in Figeac, right about in the middle of nowhere. Sorry, I mean France.
Same property as above. I'd be content with this little outhouse!
Same property as above. I’d be content with this little outhouse!
chateauRochechouart
Chateau in Rochechouart, Limousin, near a famous crater. No, it won’t fall in!
Inside the Rochechouart castle, you can find all the medieval comforts you might expect...
Inside the Rochechouart castle, you can find all the medieval comforts you might expect…
... and a few you might not. I would die for that library!
… and a few modern ones you might not. I would die for that library!
Price available on request – need not apply if you have less than 21 million euros at your disposal!

And, finally, one that is not for sale. It’s been converted into a hotel and restaurant, it’s not that far away from where I currently live… so I still dream of having a civilised supper with friends on the terrace at some point…

Chateau de Divonne.
Chateau de Divonne, divonnelesbains.com
Credits for all of the pictures above, excepting Divonne, is from the property website http://www.avendrelouer.fr.

 

 

Friday Fun: Get Thee to a Lighthouse

It’s a grey, gloomy Friday over here, with menacing clouds and raindrops all the way. Time to imagine an escape, methinks… And where better to escape than to a lighthouse. Or is that as unattainable as in Virginia Woolf’s novel?

www.besthotelbreaks.com
http://www.besthotelbreaks.com
Godrevy Lighthouse, the one said to have inspired Virginia Woolf. From Wikipedia.
Godrevy Lighthouse, the one said to have inspired Virginia Woolf. From Wikipedia.
More modest proportions and one you can buy. www.lighthousesforsale.com
More modest proportions and one you can buy. http://www.lighthousesforsale.com
Russian Nuclear Polar Lighthouse (decommissioned). www.englishrussia.com
Russian Nuclear Polar Lighthouse (decommissioned). http://www.englishrussia.com
www.unc.edu
http://www.unc.edu
White Shoal, www.ipl.org
White Shoal, http://www.ipl.org

Just think of all the writing you could get done with no interruptions, no Internet, perhaps just the occasional storm to keep you awake…

Friday Fun: Reading Nooks

Another week of school and it has felt like three weeks in one! And that’s just for me, the mother, let alone for the poor boys. While we still struggle to get into something resembling a normal routine, here are some pictures to help us dream of getting organised.

alittleshelfofheaven.com
alittleshelfofheaven.com
domainehome.com
domainehome.com
designsfreshome.com
designsfreshome.com

A ladder, a ladder, because any self-respecting library has got to have one, right?

Domainehome.com
Domainehome.com

For those long, blissful soaks… Just make sure you don’t drop your book in the bathtub!

decoist.com
decoist.com

If you need to get away from your guests, here’s reading nook with a view in your dream house in Estonia…

Friday Fun: Barn Conversions

So many of you liked the barn conversion picture I posted last Friday that I thought I would go out and take pictures of more barns in the area for you. They are a bit different from barns in the UK or US: there’s a lot more stone involved, for one.

This is usually the starting point - just four walls crumbling.
This is usually the starting point – just four walls crumbling.
This is your basic conversion: doors and windows all kept to the original size.
This is your basic conversion: doors and windows all kept to the original size.
This is the more ambitious and modern version.
This is the more ambitious and modern version.
This is the version which combines tradition and modernity.
This is the version which combines tradition and modernity.
And this is the farmhouse wing right next to the barn above. Pure charm and my ideal living space!
And this is the farmhouse wing right next to the barn above. Pure charm and my ideal living space!

One little confession: When I first moved to this area, I dreamt of owning a chateau with a vineyard on the hills of La Cote, overlooking Lake Geneva. With this view.

From The Guardian.
From The Guardian.

By now I would be quite happy with a converted barn in my area, slightly further away from the lake and without a vineyard (but maybe an orchard?).

The truth of course is that I will never own any property in this area, as the prices are exorbitant. But hey, we can always dream a little…

Summer, Sea, Sun and … So Long!

I’m off on holiday and hope to get lots of lovely sunshine and beach reading, as well as meet some dear friends that I don’t get to see nearly as much as I would like!

While I’m away, be as good as you can, as bad as you need to, as bold as you want, and read and write with va-va-voom!

Here are a few summer-inspired goodies to tide you through until we meet again…

Summer Idyll – a poem

Escapist Holiday Pictures 

What we all dream of: a writers’ retreat in beautiful landscape

Quintessential summer song: Kokomo by The Beach Boys. Never mind that it’s associated with the rather silly film ‘Cocktail’ (and that some of us don’t like Tom Cruise anymore)…  when my boys sing it to me: ‘Come on, pretty Mama…’, believe me: it doesn’t get much better than that!

Friday Fun: Dreamy Holiday Homes

No need for words… Just let yourself be swept away by these beautiful images… It’s holiday season, after all!

Montana house, Decoist.
Montana house, Decoist.
Design: Sawyer, Domaine Home.
Design: Sawyer, Domaine Home.
Design: Okitu Beach House by Pete Bossley, Minimalisti.
Design: Okitu Beach House by Pete Bossley, Minimalisti.
Casa das Canoas, Oscar Niemeyer, Rio. http://www.niemeyer.org.br/fundacao/locais/casa-das-canoas
Casa das Canoas, Oscar Niemeyer, Rio. http://www.niemeyer.org.br/fundacao/locais/casa-das-canoas
Cap Martin, South of France, Sotheby's.
Cap Martin, South of France, Sotheby’s.
Cabin in Maine, Decoist.
Cabin in Maine, Decoist.
Green Lantern, Decoist.
Green Lantern, Decoist.

And, finally, something of more modest proportions, but great pedigree. Close to where I live.

Le Corbusier Villa Le Lac.  Dwell.
Le Corbusier Villa Le Lac. Dwell.

Friday Fun: Places to Read in Summer

You know my love for cosy reading nooks. They are perfect for winter, particularly with a toasty fire somewhere nearby (for burning toes and marshmallows, not books, of course!). But, come summer, you long for something fresher, more airy, to do your reading. If you are not fortunate enough to have a super-comfortable cherry tree like I did during my childhood summers at my grandmother’s house, here are some worthy alternatives. Plain woodwork and white shades are the way to go…

Front porch. Frome Domaine Home.
Front porch. From Domaine Home.
Japanese bath house. From Decoist.
Japanese bath house. From Decoist.
Veranda.  From Vogue Living.
Veranda. From Vogue Living.
Conservatory. Savvy Home.
Conservatory. Savvy Home.
Mykonos San Giorgio Hotel.
Mykonos San Giorgio Hotel.
Garden retreat. With a Pimms, of course! From Pinterest.
Garden retreat. With a Pimms, of course! From Pinterest.

Is It Time for Castles Yet?

Not for me a timid manor-house, a larger-than-average barn:

Towers, sculptures, crenellations are things I yearn.

A place where my imagination and I can gallop unfettered,

where no one has tethered my quiver so impatient.

Castles in Spain? Pah! I scorn!

It’s the chateaux in France that I adore!

 

It’s Friday, it’s been a crazy week, so I felt like having a silly little ditty to accompany the pictures below. I am also responding to the prompt over at dVerse Poets, where we are asked to experiment with slant rhymes: the ones that sound nearly but not quite right, and are so much more interesting than perfection!

Chateau in Angers, www.affinityprestige.ch
Chateau in Angers, http://www.affinityprestige.ch
Chateau in Angouleme, avendrealouer.fr
Chateau in Angouleme, avendrealouer.fr
Chateau near Blois, www.maisons-et-chateaux.com
Chateau near Blois, http://www.maisons-et-chateaux.com
Chateau near Limousin, bellesdemeures.com
Chateau near Limousin, bellesdemeures.com

They probably have libraries already, but just in case you are looking for the perfect one… (I may have posted this picture before, but it’s just the most romantic chateau library I have ever seen).

Chateau de Groussay, from bookmania.me
Chateau de Groussay, from bookmania.me

 

Bring the Outside Inside Houses

Another mainly visual post for the weekend. Now that Spring has sprung (or is doing its best to spring here in the Northern hemisphere), we are eager to bring the beautiful outside indoors. Or I would be, if we didn’t have a building site just opposite our garden. So instead, I dream about places such as these…

Domaine de la Dombes, Ain, France
Domaine de la Dombes, Ain, France

Simple, escapist…

From the Ask Kissy website.
From the Ask Kissy website.

Over the top…

Mountain cabin, Decoist.
Mountain cabin, Decoist.

Inspiring…

www.jetsetter.com
http://www.jetsetter.com

Dreamy…

www.boutique-homes.com
http://www.boutique-homes.com

Deceptively simple…

I think a trip to the garden centre might be in order.