Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

To all my blogging friends and readers,
Season's Greetings to you all!
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Should The World Not End...

Right now I am in Australia but I still can't resist peeking at the news over in the UK in the evenings and couldn't help noticing that the online newspapers have a new doomsday headline.  As if impending financial meltdown or Eurozone breakup was not enough, we now have the end of the Mayan calendar to look forward to and with it, the end of the world.

Another day, another apocalypse theory.  In fact it was only last year when I danced my way through the "Rapture" and lived to tell the tale.  Every time I hear one of these whacky end of world theories my thoughts turn to the particular region in the South of France Mr V and I visit regularly.  For some reason not even the beleaguered locals could fathom, the Langue D'Oc managed to gain a reputation as being a hot spot for UFO sitings, and has been the subject of several hair brained theories about it being a place where aliens would descend during the apocalypse to rescue the chosen few.  I thought Mr V was kidding when he first told me about this until I saw the support centre for alien abductees in the local village with my own eyes.

Spare a thought for the tiny village of Bugarach in this region.  It sits at the foot of a peculiarly shaped rock formation (the Pic de Bugarach) believed by some to be hiding a large spaceship to whisk those who have gathered there to safety from the end of the world.  So concerned are the village authorities about the impending hoards of loonies arriving on their doorstep seeking salvation that they are begging people NOT to come, and are in fact closing off entry to visitors on the 21st December to both the village and the mountain!

Don't know about you, but personally, the thought of being carted off by aliens with a group of UFO enthusiasts fills me with very little Christmas cheer.  Think I'd rather stay put and place my bets on Santa Claus coming down the chimney - the odds look better frankly.  However, should you find yourself at Bugarach twiddling your thumbs because a) the town authorities have turned you away, b) the world still has not ended, then let me recommend a much nicer thing to do with your time in the area.

From the nearby town of Alet les Bains, there is a beautiful walk you can do up into the foothills of the Pyranees.  It is a long and quiet stroll up winding grassy footpaths where it is rare to encounter either another person or even animals.  There are plenty of bees, butterflies and grasshoppers to keep you company.  Sometimes you can see the signs of sheep as tufts of their wool remain caught in the fences.

At the top there is a small, ancient church.  When you arrive you will find the door locked but in the keyhole someone will have left a large rusty iron key.  An open invitation from an unknown, unseen caretaker to enter.

It seems that legend abounds even beyond France about the good energy of this church.  Even our English hostess at our bed and breakfast where we were staying during the summer sang its praises.  Once inside there is a small rudimentary alter in a tiny stone building with a sloping roof.  On one side of the alter (not seen here) hangs a giant knitted rosary.

There is also an ancient standing stone in the church which the legends also attach some mystical powers to.  A small flowering plant had taken seed in a cavity at the top giving the stone an amusing head dress of tiny sprigs festooned with tiny starry white flowers.

I don't know about good vibes but there was a pleasant and welcoming informality about the place.

Whenever I visit medieval buildings I love gargoyle spotting and there are some great ones still in tact on the corners of the roof outside.  I liked this cow...

...so much so that I had to get him from another angle.

And this fellow with flowing whiskers...

...and his clean shaven counterpart on the other corner.  We weren't sure if this was a depiction of a man or a woman.

And when you come to go, leave everything as you found it, close the door behind you and turn the key.  Although it is only a small church, the walk up is pleasant and the sense of history and village life one gets from doing the journey and entering the church makes it well worth a visit.

I think if you were going to pass the time away before the end of the world it might as well be in a lovely peaceful and picturesque spot with positive vibes like this, rather than elbowing your way though the queue to join the mother ship.  And let's face it, if you can't save your own life you might as well do something good for your soul before it all comes to an end.

See you on the other side of the Mayan apocalypse!

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Veshoevius: Ah E-bay! Thou dost deliver!  What better to break the shopping ban than with a vintage opera cape fashioned from a antique piano shawl.
Vintage Cape: Greetings!
Veshoevius: Eeek! It speaks!
Vintage Cape: I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Veshoevius: What? No you're not! You're a vintage cape!
Vintage Cape: A mere ruse, Veshoevius, a mere ruse! I've been sent to warn you that Christmas is approaching and you've been shopping again haven't you?
Veshoevius: Who me?
Vintage Cape: I thought you were on a shopping ban.
Veshoevius: Err yes well, that kind of came to an abrupt end when I spied you on E-Bay.
Vintage Cape:  I thought as much but that's not all is it? You've been spending the Christmas present budget on shoes haven't you?  Don't think I haven't seen the boxes arriving and being added to the stash.  And Nicholas Kirkwood no less.
Veshoevius: But it was a sample sale! They're only once a year!

Vintage Cape: Sample, schmample - you are supposed to be buying Christmas presents!
Veshoevius: Oh yes, yes alright I'm supposed to be buying Christmas presents! But that's half the problem! Then you have to go shopping and you spend all this time seeing all these lovely things that you actually end up buying for yourself...
Vintage Cape: Christmas is about giving to others...
Veshoevius: Are you sure you're not just my guilty conscience speaking? You sound exactly like it.
Vintage Cape: You don't listen to your guilty conscience anymore so the powers that be have sent me.  Honestly, where is your sense of self control?
Veshoevius: Oh come now, do you really expect me to exert self control when I can get three pairs of Nicholas Kirkwood shoes for the price of one?
Vintage Cape: You have enough shoes!
Veshoevius: Damn it speaks sense...
Vintage Cape: And don't think I missed the discounted Lucy Choi shoe boots you snuck in either...
Veshoevius: Double damn! Okay Ghost of Christmas Past, I admit the shoes were beyond indulgent but you couldn't expect me to pass up on a one of a kind vintage cape of such exquisite beauty as this.  I mean all that heavy embroidered silk, the colour like buttery cream, the shimmering silk fringe, the fine cotton lace trimming the generous shawl collar, the single button closure so intricately carved from Mother-of-Pearl and the detail of the large decorative tassel.

Vintage Cape: Why stop! You're making me blush!
Veshoevius: You totally seduced me.  Really I am just a sucker for beautiful things, be they shawls or shoes.  There was no way I could leave you on the E-bay shop floor.  You deserve to be taken out and shown off to the world.  You were crying out to be taken to the ballet, to the opera where other audience members can marvel at the sight of you.
Vintage Cape: The opera? Really? Why...I haven't been to the opera in oh...about two centuries.
Veshoevius: Then to the opera you shall go on my shoulders.  Why, I'd need to get a box at the Royal Opera House if I was wearing you!
Vintage Cape:  A box? At the Royal Opera House? Do you mean that?
Veshoevius: I hear La Bohème is on...
Vintage Cape: Aahhh La Bohème - Puccini!  One of my all time favourites....
Veshoevius: Passion, tragedy and romance in 1830's Paris...it would be divine from a box view with you draped across my shoulders non?
Vintage Cape: Is that a promise?
Veshoevius: I swear on my Nicholas Kirkwood shoes.
Vintage Cape: You're on! Veshoevius, all is forgiven! To the opera with us!

Anyone else's conscience tickling them in the run up to Christmas?

Not very visible this week as I'm travelling but still linking up to Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style.

Vintage Silk Opera Cape: E-Bay

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Tulle, Teacups and Thanks

Some of you who follow the same blogs as I do may have already guessed what this particular get-up is all about.  I am pretty late for the "tulle and teacup on a step" portraiture party that was started by this amazing lady, subsequently turned into a blogger challenge by the wonderful Sarah, and taken up with gusto by a few of my favourite fellow tutu-loving bloggers (see Helga, Desiree and Butane Anvil for some tulle-layered inspiration par excellence).

Running late seems to be a recurring theme for me these days.  I'm getting up too late in the mornings, I'm late with Christmas shopping, I'm late with blog posts and I'm very late in extending a big heartfelt thank you to every one of you who took the time to read and comment on my personal tale of a storm.  I was overwhelmed with the heartfelt and emotional reactions to the story, and to those of you who warmly encouraged me to turn it into a piece of fiction I will say that yes, this has been an idea for some time and your encouragement has been more invaluable than you will ever know.

I kept hand written diaries when I lived in Spain documenting my flamenco related experiences and sometimes when I return to read them it seems, from the distance of the much quieter life I live now, like I'm reading stories about somebody else.  I have to remind myself that no, that really was me.  I'm suddenly getting a craving to put pen to paper again, to revel in old fashioned handwriting rather than just typing on a keyboard, to see my scrawling script drying in ink on a crisp white page and to write about things other than just clothes or fashion (though I still love doing that).

But for the moment my mind is on clothes.  One reason I'm so late for the tulle and tea party is that all my tulle skirts had been in storage and I only recently managed to get this one out.  I was an avid ballerina for many years and so I have a soft spot for a tutu and satin ballet flats.  I had another dance related "was that really me?" moment not so long ago.  In these photos I'm seated on the step of our garden shed, part of which I had turned into a dance studio to rehearse in when we moved here.  I don't rehearse there much anymore as a major and irreparable leak in the roof has rendered it unusable.  In winter it has become inhospitably cold and damp and we have recently been moving out our personal belongings to a dry storeroom as mould has been attacking things.


I'd forgotten that I'd stored every pair of ballet shoes I'd ever owned in a bag in there and when sorting things out I was saddened to find them sodden and covered in a furry layer of nasty green mould.  My beautiful pink satin pointe shoes, my beloved canvas split soles and my pink leather ballet flats so battered and bruised from overuse, all ruined.  I was reminded of the excitement of buying a new pair, the simple joy of admiring the beauty of the pale pink satin or taking in the scent of new leather, the sewing on of ribbons and pink elastic straps, the ritual of breaking in a pointe shoe, the pride of wearing them for the first time, and all those hours of practice and pain in dance studios as a ballet student.  Throwing that bag away was like bearing witness to the death of a previous life, sad yet also cathartic in a way.

I am such a dreadful hoarder of things of sentimental value, so perhaps this was the universe saying it's time to let some things go now and move on.  It might also be because it is that time of the year again but I am already setting myself some resolutions for the near future.  I don't want to pin them to New Year exactly as I think you should be free to resolve to do something at any time of the year, but I do think putting one's goals down in writing is always helpful to visualise a path to achieving them.

So here's my shortlist:
1. Mr V and I need a new place to live.  We've outgrown this flat, we need more room, I need a grown up wardrobe rather than the current arrangement of crammed and bowing rails on a wall that frustrate me daily, and I need a place at home where I can rehearse properly.
2. I need to have the mother of all wardrobe clear outs.  I need a proper, honest and brutal look at what I do not wear anymore and let it go.
3. I want to get back into writing something, anything, more regularly. It may not necessarily be here on this blog but I'll let a post count.
4. Mr V and I would like to do a digital photography course together.  We both love photography and I'm sure we are not getting nearly as much out of the camera we have as we could with a bit more know how.
5. Although we travel alot, for the last few years it has tended to be to the same destinations.  We'd like to travel to some new places together, especially ones where we can indulge in some travel photography.  We've got the ball rolling with a tropical stop off on the way to Australia for Christmas.  We leave next week!

P.S. It feels like ages since I did but better late than never - I'm linking up to Patti's Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style.

Victorian embroidered net tulle blouse: Vintage; Black wool turtleneck: Cos; Embroidered tulle skirt: Wheels and Doll Baby; Pony skin ballet flats: Dune; Pewter flower earrings: Vintage inherited from my grandmother; Teacup: Anthropologie


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