Friday Fun: And Breathe… in New Zealand

This Friday Fun post is pure escapism, nothing political about it at all… but for some reason all of today’s houses seem to be located in New Zealand. A country I very much hope to visit some day. Most if not all of these pictures are taken from the wonderful website ArchitectureNow.co.nz

Villa in Wairarapa, photo: Simon Devitt.
House designed by Strachan Architects, photo Patrick Reynolds.
House on Lake Wakatipu, photo Paul McCredie.
Kawau Island bach, photo Alex Wallace.
This house is not about the view, but about the rather lovely inner courtyard. Photo: Samuel Hartnett
The perfect beach house? Sorry, not sure of photo credit, but I couldn’t resist sharing it.

 

Friday Fun: A Romanian Landscape Photographer

Autumn is spectacular in the Romanian mountains and, as if to alleviate my homesickness, I’ve discovered the amazing photographs of the very talented Alex Robciuc. Here are just a few examples, but you can follow all his work on alexrobciuc.wixsite.com/photo or check him out on Facebook. He was the award winner for Romania in the Sony World Photography Awards 2019. No filter required!

The first glimpses of autumn.
Autumnal village in Maramures.
Almost like a toy landscape in Transylvania.
Makes me want to move there immediately…

Friday Fun: Ireland in the Sun

To the tune of ‘Islands in the Sun’, here are some pictures from our lovely trip to Ireland last week.

My favourite place indoors, of course. Trinity College Library.

Guess what symbol this is?

View over Dublin and Howth.

Wicklow Mountains. No sun but spectacular clouds blowing past.

Old monastery, graveyard and siege-ready tower.

Lough Bray Lower.

The sea, the sea at Bray.

The grounds at Malahide Castle.

Cosy three-bedroom medieval castle at Malahide.

This was a common sight in Ireland and reminded me how I’ve never seen the Union Jack flying together with the EU flag in the UK even before the Brexit vote.

Friday Fun: Villas to Get Away from It All

Sunny spells announced today after yesterday’s stormy weather, but more grey bleakness still to come. So of course I cannot help but wish I were far, far away from it all, in one of these luxurious villas. (Small aside: have you noticed how most celebrity homes and holiday villas featured in magazines are rather tacky and over-decorated? It wasn’t as easy as you might think to find something appealing… even when money is no object.)

It's the landscape which usually does it for me... Villa in Bali, from baliluxuryvillas.com
It’s the views which usually do it for me… Villa in Bali, from baliluxuryvillas.com

Fearless architecture also tempts me, villa in Camps Bay, South Africa. From paradizo.com.
Fearless architecture also tempts me, villa in Camps Bay, South Africa. From paradizo.com.

Another Balinese beauty, but this time the Zen qualities of the inner courtyard. From cuded.com
Another Balinese beauty, but this time the Zen qualities of the inner courtyard. From cuded.com

The swimming pool seems obligatory, even if you have the sea nearby, as in this villa in Seychelles, from cuded.com
Plenty of room to welcome your friends in a mass contemplation of the sea, as in this villa in Seychelles, from cuded.com

The swimming pool comes in handy if you want a quick dip without trekking all the way down to and up from the beach, as in this Mykonos villa. From 400 Holidays site.
The swimming pool comes in handy if you want a quick dip without trekking all the way down to and up from the beach, as in this Mykonos villa. From 400 Holidays site.

Villa in Chile integrated into the landscape, with a rooftop garden. From trendir.com
Villa in Chile integrated into the landscape, with a rooftop garden. From trendir.com

The final one is purely conceptual for the time being and might prove a little too much for my claustrophobic tendencies, but it’s the perfect desert island for someone.

Floating villa with underwater level, from Daily Express.
Floating villa with underwater level, from Daily Express.

Friday Fun: Snow and Mountain Love

I am a snow bunny, an unashamed snow bunny (imagine this sung to the tune of An Englishman in New York). Admittedly, at times the memory of skiing is much sweeter when you are safely nestled beside a toasty fire, sipping mulled wine and reading a favourite book. I won’t be skiing this year, but I have plenty of wonderful memories…

This is my idea of heavenly powder... from OnTheSnow.com
This is my idea of heavenly powder… from OnTheSnow.com

Nope, I can't jump like that, but I keep on dreaming. From lasrehab.com
Nope, I can’t jump like that, but I keep on dreaming. From lasrehab.com

A corner of the French Alps formerly known as home.
A corner of the French Alps formerly known as home.

If you get bored of using your own legs for locomotion...
If you get bored of using your own legs for locomotion… Plus an indispensable finger over the camera lense!

Personally, I find snowshoeing more challenging than skiing...
Personally, I find snowshoeing more challenging than skiing…

Mont Blanc is a stunner from all angles.
Mont Blanc is a stunner from all angles.

And after the effort and the cold, relax the Savoyard or Swiss way, with a raclette in front of the fireplace.

From Tripadvisor.com
From Tripadvisor.com

Autumn in all its glory: Savill Garden, Windsor

In case you think it’s all doom, gloom and complaints in my life at the moment, there are the occasional perfect autumn days to rejoice every little cockle and mussel of my heart. There are few things more beautiful than an English garden, but perhaps one with artworks to discover and a son with a map determined to see every single one of them (and exclaim at the prices) is the best garden of all!

Savill Garden is an enclosed, well-tended part of Windsor Great Park, but not that easy to find even with a GPS. It’s considered one of the finest ornamental gardens in England, is part of the Crown Estate, and until 31st October it hosts an exhibition of 61 sculptures.

Autumn colours
Autumn colours

Landscape with deer
Landscape with deer

A sea of hortensias
A sea of hortensias

Lilac tree, the most expensive sculpture in the garden.
Lilac tree, the most expensive sculpture in the garden.

Borders with real flowers and sculpted ones.
Borders with real flowers and sculpted ones.

A more affordable metal flower which captured our hearts.
A more affordable metal flower which captured our hearts.

The prize for artificial flower of the day goes to this one, though.
The prize for artificial flower of the day goes to this one, though.

Mr. Fluffles, owner of the garden, who showed us around his manor.
Mr. Fluffles, owner of the garden, who showed us around his manor.

 

Friday Fun: Landscapes and Houses

To escape my present chaos, here are the landscapes I’ve recently rediscovered in England and in Romania. As well as some effortlessly elegant houses to which I can but aspire!

Climbing towards Cetatea Poienari, the real Dracula's castle in Arges, Romania.
Climbing towards Cetatea Poienari, the real Dracula’s castle in Arges, Romania. 1480 steps take you to the top.

Some sinister souvenirs await you in the ruins of the fortress. But then, it was used as a prison...
Some sinister souvenirs await you in the ruins of the fortress. But then, it was used as a prison…

The view downstream...
The view downstream…

...and the view upstream are both equally astonishing and lushly green.
…and the view upstream are both equally astonishing and lushly green.

But we're pretty blessed with lush greenery in this corner of the world, on the Thames, as well.
But we’re pretty blessed with lush greenery in this corner of the world, on the Thames, as well.

And this is what I would like my conservatory to look like, instead of the boiling in summer, freezing in winter construction with a green-slimed roof, broken blinds and dingy old carpet.
And this is what I would like my conservatory to look like, instead of the boiling in summer, freezing in winter construction with a green-slimed roof, broken blinds and dingy old carpet.

Yet, even in this imperfect state, it is a wonderful place to read and relax...
Yet, even in this imperfect state, it is a wonderful place to read and relax…

Friday Fun: Farewell, Ferney and Voltaire!

We leave this weekend. Here’s a pictorial goodbye to Ferney, Voltaire and a few of my favourite local places. I will now be offline for several weeks.

The Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne, from EPFL website.
The Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne, from EPFL website.

On the banks of Lake Divonne in autumn.
On the banks of Lake Divonne in autumn.

The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden of Vaulx

Spring on the lake.
Spring on the lake.

Voltaire's shady path, lined with trees planted by himself.
Voltaire’s shady path, lined with trees planted by himself. Apparently, Gogol carved his initials on one of these trees.

The more formal chateau gardens.
The more formal chateau gardens.

The main street of Ferney. The house on the corner, currently a hotel/restaurant, was built by Voltaire for his personal secretary.
The main street of Ferney. The house on the corner, currently a hotel/restaurant, Hotel de France, was built by Voltaire for his personal secretary. My dream job…

Knitted decorations for the Fete de Voltaire.
Knitted decorations for the Fete de Voltaire.

Weather watching from the bedroom window.
Weather watching over the Jura from the bedroom window.

I'll most likely never have such a glorious view from my house again.
I’ll most likely never have such a glorious view from my house again.

At any time of day or night.
At any time of day or night.

Thank you, France, Rhone-Alpes and Lake Geneva!

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Friday Fun: More Memories of the Local Area

More higgledy-piggledy pictures of the beautiful area I have had the pleasure of calling home for the last five years…

'Beware of dogs' says the sign - but all I can see are porcelain cows
‘Beware of dogs’ says the sign – but all I can see are porcelain cows

A reading nook I've often dreamt about...
A reading nook I’ve often dreamt about…

Another charming farm conversion...
Another charming farm conversion…

Hours of chromatic and olfactory delight in the Botanical Gardens.
Hours of chromatic and olfactory delight in the Botanical Gardens.

Voltaire's chateau grounds overrun with people and colour and music - just the way he would have liked it.
Voltaire’s chateau grounds overrun with people and colour and music – just the way he would have liked it.

The Swiss flag flying in the oddest of places.
The Swiss flag flying in the oddest of places.

And, above us all, the Mont Blanc floating in its haze like a ghostly apparition.
And, above us all, the Mont Blanc floating in its haze like a ghostly apparition.

 

Friday Fun: Local Villages

I’m already suffering from homesickness before I’ve even left this region. I am aware just how lucky I’ve been to be able to call this ‘my local area’ for the past 5 years. Here are some reasons why…

Reason 1: the lake surrounded by mountains
Reason 1: the lake surrounded by mountains

Reason 2: the vineyards
Reason 2: the vineyards

Reason: the jumble of waterfront houses
Reason 3: the jumble of waterfront houses

Reason 4: no high fences
Reason 4: no high fences

Reason 5: Plenty of gracious manor houses
Reason 5: Plenty of gracious, not too grand manor houses

Reason 6: Mont Blanc dominating the horizon no matter where you are
Reason 6: Mont Blanc dominating the horizon no matter where you are

Reason 7: Borders have become a thing of the past...
Reason 7: Borders have become a thing of the past…

Reason 9: Full moon is made even more dramatic by the backdrop of mountains
Reason 8: Full moon is made even more dramatic by the backdrop of mountains

Reason 9: Neighbours with far better gardens than ours
Reason 9: Neighbours with far better gardens than ours

Reason 10: If you get bored with the Alps, you swivel round and admire the Jura
Reason 10: If you get bored with the Alps, you swivel round and admire the Jura

And, if you need one bonus reason, having cake and tea by the lakeside (or a glass of local wine):

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