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Sunday, 22 March 2015

End of the season

What a long and beautiful winter it has been. In two weeks the rink will close and I will very shortly be in the throes of some serious skating-withdrawal. It will be good to have warm weather again, but I miss the snow already. In all honesty…next winter cannot come soon enough!

Last week I had such an amazing and unexpected surprise: a trophy for the "Most Improved Skater 2014-15"! Engraved and everything. These guys at the rink are so kind and so sweet. Did you know they chip in and give all the ladies chocolate for Valentine's Day every year? Something like twenty boxes… 

Don't know how I managed to come across this wonderful and new community of people, but they skated into my life and completely transformed the start of 2015 for me :)

Friday, 20 March 2015

First Day of Spring

Happy Norooz! Wishing you the very best today: it is the first day of spring; it is the Persian New Year!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Forty Portraits in Forty Years

The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, copyright 2014 Nicholas Nixon

My mother came across a fascinating article and collection of photographs on the New York Times website two evenings ago and I couldn't help but share them here.

The pictures themselves speak volumes, but in two lines: four sisters, photographed together every year, someplace in New England, since 1975. A simple idea but with stunning results. The tiny loving gestures, expressions, and the lines and cares that start to creep into each face over time…all beautiful and haunting.

White says in OFK, "She looked singularly lovely, not like a film star, but like a woman who had grown a soul." That is what I see in these ladies' images. Imagine if we could see all of our lives laid out in photographs this way?

While working at the bookshop I often heard people say that they wished there was a book on such-and-such topic. I think I would like to see more picture books that deal with memories and with aging.

At the ice rink there are a group of older men who come every day to the open skate. Some are former hockey players, but all have skated since they were little. They are like the American version of my older English friends. David, Jeffrey, Gordon, Nigel, Roger, Colin, Phil, and Fred have become Bob, John, Bill, Doug, Kenny, Steve, Rich, and Frank. Instead of talking about art and music and life in East Anglia, we talk more about sports and the news and life in western New York. A couple of them may be a little creaky off the ice, and maybe the speed they once had has slowed, but there is a deftness and a grace in their footwork. Sometimes, in a fleeting second or two, they seem young again that way, and in the smile in their eyes.

White writes: "She had made the brave protest: I will not be vanquished….The young eyes were puzzled, saying: It is I, inside here -- what have they done to me? I will not submit….They said: Don't look at all this. Look at me. I am still here, in the eyes. Look at me, here in the prison, and help me out. Another part said: I am not old, it is illusion. I am beautifully made-up. See, I will perform the movements of youth. I will defy the enormous army of age."

One of the men told me that they start to worry when one of the group doesn't show up for a day or two. They tell me about some of their friends who used to come but have since died. And one day, there will be an empty space in these photographs. But that is what makes it all so beautiful, no?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Eric Ravilious and the Fry Art Gallery on BBC Radio 3

A fantastic feature on BBC Radio 3 this past Sunday about Eric Ravilious and his work.

"The richest and most evocative collection of Ravilious's work is to be found in a tiny gallery in the Essex town of Saffron Walden…"

Oh, that can only be one place I know and love so well: The Fry Art Gallery! Click here to listen to the full programme and to hear our chairman David Oelman speak to Alexandra Harris about some of the remarkable pieces from the collection on display at the gallery.

Eric Ravilious, Chalk Paths, watercolour on paper (1935)

I am counting down the days till I step foot in England again!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Nei cieli bigi guardo fumar dai mille comignoli Parigi

It was snowing this morning and beautifully, too. Huge, soft flakes coming down. Hard to believe it has already been four years since I first visited a certain dear city with those loveliest of rooftops. I wonder if it is snowing there now?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


One of my resolutions for the new year is to learn how to ice skate. Once, a long time ago, I tried it, fell down, and decided that it was not for me. So this year I'm going to get past that fear - I signed up for weekly lessons and have also for the past three weeks gone just about every day to the rink during my lunch hour. It is paying off wonderfully and I love it. It feels like flying and is so much fun. Extremely wobbly at first but getting better and quite a bit faster now, which is encouraging!

Have you heard Waldteufel's Les Patineurs (The Skater's Waltz)?

How I wish that winter would last forever…