Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fruits of the Harvest...


Last day of the month, so before that ends I'll harvest another post... As clichéd as it sounds, the colours of the autumn gatherings seem to reflect the sunny, golden days that we've been experiencing here. Be they gnarled, lumpen and twisted, or smooth and taut-skinned, I love all these strange fruits.


Just looking at these mushrooms makes me hungry, simply thinking of the dishes that they could result in, although probably not through any of my limited culinary skills!


These specimens all have their own unique texture as you eat them, not to mention the taste...


In fact the cèpe mushrooms above look as if they have already been nibbled...


Both artichaut and garlic seem to have aesthetic qualities in their own right, alongside their edible ones and are often strung up as decoration...


Whilst other autumn fruits are stored away for the months to come....


Some things, however, can only be consumed fresh, such as the beautifully patterned wrasse below... I love the fine pair of lips on this specimen.


Roll on October...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mackerels & Mowzers...


These fine, fishy specimens I came across at the beginning of the summer, having seen the solitary fisherman come into the tiny harbour of Mousehole, early one morning, with these mackerel as his catch. Having just caught a cold, coughing to the point of losing my voice and feeling caught up and completely overwhelmed by the work load right now, wouldn't I just love to go out for a long, long walk along the coast... regardless of the weather. Well, since that's not very likely to happen, I'm looking over my photos, determined not to let another month slip by with minimal posts.


These are the usual nets that I see in Newlyn, left there year in, year out, or so it would seem, and I just love their colour. Likewise, it was the bright colour of the fisherman's clothing that caught my attention initially at Mousehole...


As I went about the village, looking at all the sights that I took totally for granted when I was young, and duly photographing them, the fisherman went about his fishing routines...


He landed his catch just beyond the old Lobster Pot guest house, that once housed the newly-wed Dylan Thomas and his bride. The fisherman kindly let me catch him in the following photo, along with the close-up of his fish.



His pose recalled that of the statue at the seafront entrance of Newlyn green, and reminded me that the weather is not always as calm and clement as it was that particular morning. The ravaged Wherrytown beach attests to that...


It also made me think of the legend of the Star-gazy Pie, the speciality of Mousehole, served in memory of Tom Bawcock, the fisherman who had braved winter storms to save the local population from certain starvation. The dish's distinctive appearance, with its pilchards' heads poking through the savoury crust, observing the stars above, themselves in a stellar formation, features in the childrens' book by Antonia Barber, illustrated by Nicola Bayley - The Mousehole Cat. 


The Mousehole Cat published by Walker Books Ltd 1993
Mozwer, Tom's cat, plays a central role in the heroic endeavours of her owner, ensuring that finally the villagers were able to bake "half a hundred star-gazy pies. Then, people and cats, they feasted together, until the hunger was no more than a memory..."


The star design of the infamous Cornish pie seems to repeat itself around the village itself, bursting out on the pavements or in the wrought-iron ...


Meanwhile, anywhere fish is to be found, Mowzer's distant relatives will never be far away...


Either waiting patiently to be let in, after a night's marauding around Mousehole, or looking out intently from the safety of the home, as Mowzer herself, observing her beloved harbour.

The Mousehole Cat - Antonia Barber / Nicola Bayley Walker Books Ltd 1993
I suppose I should admit at this point that I have never actually eaten Star-gazy pie, however nothing beats a good old smoked, peppered mackerel!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Colour on grey...


Having eaten up all the summer, and worn away any energy reserves and pockets of patience that I had, the flat-move finally came and went. After a myriad of frustrating moments and the exasperating events and non-events that animated the whole experience, and still continue to do, albeit to a lesser degree, things are finally settling down as the grey walls of Routine take over.

Grrrrr..... Grey.
Part of routine involves the weekly shopping trip... To reach the supermarkets, I now have to go past dingy zones that have been reclaimed from urban wasteland, but still seem to remain largely inhospitable, uninspiring and uninviting to nature and man alike, just as they did twenty years ago, when I first encountered them. Or so it would seem on first glance. This concrete/corrugated stretch of land seems to be summed up by the scrawl above, with the same old initials (IGS etc) that are to be found ALL over this town, on every imaginable surface - even the façade of our old house! To avoid looking at this ugliness I generally keep my head down, dodge the traffic and trudge over the equally lacklustre expanses of tarmac. Fortunately, as invariably happens, grey makes colour seem all the more radiant...


Yesterday evening, with fewer parked cars to obscure the walls behind, I happened to look up and was hit by the explosion of colour on the dull concrete.


 Racing back to get my camera and son (acting as bodyguard since this isn't the safest place to be) I managed to take some photos.


I have no idea how long it takes to carry out this urban art, or even how the 'graffeurs' set about their work, beyond the use of spray-can paint, of course.


I often see other (lesser) graffeurs along the canal-side cycle lanes, busy with their cans but their art is generally far inferior in quality to these.


Needless to say, I don't understand (or even try to understand) the references in this art, I just admire the visual effect and the obvious talent of the artists.


The intricate swirls and forms are a little like Gothic illuminated script and as for the colours...


These are eye-burningly bright and beautiful -  the tiresome, tedious 'taggeurs' from around town really could learn something, instead of marking territory with their visual irritations.


In the photo above, I liked the irony of the façadier's van parked in front of this very alternative approach to façades...


It seems a pity that this art can't be used 'officially', to decorate public areas - it seems to be wasted, hidden away in such wasteland...


Though maybe from the graffeurs' point of view, this would defeat the object; I really don't know.


Below each piece, you can see traces of former work. I wish I'd seen these too. The image of dripping paint is even taken up within the art itself...


The one above looks as if it's pushing out another work or is being pushed...


Meanwhile, even the trees end up decorated too, in one way or another and the vegatation flourishes all around this terrain vague.



Aspects of the lettering below reminded me of Art Deco work...


The following face certainly looked familiar too.


All in all, however, none of this reminded me of its sister-art from the town centre, apart from the obvious drive towards creativity and expression. This I followed when we were living in the heart of the town - Made in Reims - Paste on, peel off graffiti art...
New quartier, new art, I'm just glad it's there...

Friday, July 18, 2014

A new home for the agapanthus...


Agapanthus seem to grow in abundance around certain parts of Cornwall, although I don't remember this being the case when I was young. Either way, these plants just make me feel great, with their beautiful colours of jewel-like blue and vivid green blades, and stalks determined to reach impressive heights, regardless of any adverse conditions. I brought back a few in my suitcase on leaving - no mean feat and a few stalks did have to be sacrificed for the greater good.
Whilst the keys were officially handed over to me yesterday, the new flat only felt mine once the agapanthus had been installed on the balcony of the new home. A promising sign of good things to come was the fact that I came across two different florists in my new street, both selling agapanthus which I promptly bought. These French plants are, of course, complete with majestic flowered heads, unlike their Cornish equivalents which I had been obliged to decapitate.
Now the balcony feels like home, I just need to tackle the rest of the flat, which could well take some time... By the time all my plants are in flower again, I hope life in this new home will have started to flourish too.

Cornish agapanthus - with St Michael's Mount in the background.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sculpted hands...


As actual teaching lessons came to an end some time ago now, I thought these early summer weeks would be calm and contemplative, however that hasn't entirely been the case...


There have been the preparations for the next academic year and then those for our move to a new flat, so all in all it's been busy as books and boxes are accumulating, along with a backlog of blog posts.


I don't have time to write those for the moment, but as I was looking at past photos I came across these; all of sculpted hands.


Rodin's studies of hands usually come to mind, with their expressive gestures that convey so much, however I think these sculptures from earlier centuries are so beautiful in their own manner.


The poise of hands seems so peaceful, with details of fold of skin, or veins that reveal life, even if the sculptures themselves are all part of tombs and as such are intended to symbolize the departure from this life of the deceased.


Most of these come from the basilica of Saint Denis, near Paris, but some also come from Canterbury cathedral.


Saint Denis was to serve as royal necropolis and so is the symbolic resting place of many of the kings and queens of France.


Whilst the whole appears in full pomp and splendour...


Or may appear a little too over-dramatic...


The hands seem to reveal humanity...


Although these are often positioned in prayer, there are very slight variations.


Some more obvious than others, of course...


Especially as the more classic hands give rise to the tapering, elongated forms...


And on that, I will have to leave in order to continue my various repair-work tasks around the flat... literally keeping my hands very busy!