Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

The Real Water Lilies

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

When my parents were in town we caught the train to Vernon and then a shuttle bus to a small town called Giverny to visit Monet’s gardens. This was something I had been meaning to do for some time and as my Mum loves gardens it was the perfect opportunity. Thanks to the advice of some wise friends, I booked our tickets online the night before so that we could skip the queue of tourists as we all moved from train to bus to garden like a well trained flock of sheep. While everyone else went to the ticket office, we snuck in the back entrance. Smooth.

I went there knowing and expecting it to be tourist laden, and, of course, it was. But nothing really prepares me for the inner hatred that sprouts from me whenever I am in those sorts of places. I attempt to accept my position as a tourist and embrace my inability to change the situation or the people I am surrounded by, but I can’t help it. I hate it. Absolutely hate it. I blame the slight peevishness that I have inherited from my father’s side (sorry, Dad) so technically it isn’t my fault. I was born this way. But the sight of masses of tourists arriving in a bus, then following signs to stand around and take photos of something that represents something that once existed makes me want to hit my head against a wall. And then I participate in this circus… shocking.

Sure, I admit, Monet’s gardens were beautiful. There were water lilies just like in his paintings, and despite Autumn being almost in full swing, the garden was scattered with bright flowers. We had chosen to go on a good day and there weren’t that many other people visiting. You were able to get your photo of the pond and the bridge without someone standing in the way and ruining the shot. It was quiet and peaceful (apart from the occasional semi-trailer that roared past on the main road adjacent) and a pleasant way to spend a morning.

Monet's water lily pond

Imagine this with a blue sky – unfortunately we went on an overcast and drizzly day

In the gardens was “Monet’s House”, which I have to put in inverted commas because 1. he never owned it and 2. it had clearly been completely refurbished because no one can keep a house THAT clean. The tiles on the kitchen wall looked brand new, the pots hanging on the walls had never been used and I don’t think Monet had that poor taste in colours of paint for the walls.

Monet's house

Monet’s house

His studio was the most ‘real’ looking space although all of the paintings hanging on the wall were replicas that had been done by artists who had never even met Monet. Needless to say, it was disappointing. As I walked around inside the house, I couldn’t help but feel that I was in a Monet-version of Disneyland. Everything was fake. On reflection, the gardens I had just admired were also fake – there’s no way that Monet would have spent that much time, effort and money on maintaining the garden. He certainly didn’t have a troop of gardeners ensuring there were always lilies available for him to paint.

Monet's garden

Yes! No tourists!

Giverny itself would have been a gorgeous little village had it not been overrun by tourist cafés selling over priced and terrible food. We wandered slowly through the town, looking at the little houses and the decent interpretive signage that had been installed outside some of the main points of interest did provide an interesting insight into the history. But it did just add to the Disneyfication of the place, and all I could think was how much I would hate to live there.

Giverny

A nice little house in Giverny

Overall, I did manage to let myself enjoy the gardens and Giverny, but I was really happy to get back on the train and return to Paris, where you can avoid being sucked into the tourist traps and life is actually somewhat real. Sure, as soon as I step outside my front gate I will spot a tourist, but here they are observing the real world of Paris, or just visiting the Louvre. And I never go there, so no heads against walls for me. Would I recommend going? Yes. Would I go again? Never.

Flowers in Monet's garden

Despite my whinging, I did like these flowers a LOT.

Tulips

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The skies of Paris may be grey, but the tulips are holding strong.

Tulips

Pretty, pretty tulips.

That’s Dutch blood for you.

Spring Time in Paris

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

As I write this I am sitting next to my window, facing out into the park behind my apartment. I am sitting on my dining/work/extra-space table as it is the only thing in my apartment that puts me at a high enough level to look through the window properly. Today is too beautiful to not appreciate in its full extent.

It is Sunday afternoon and the first official day of Summer Time. Paris is alive. The park is full of families having picnics, children playing on the swings, old people sitting on benches watching others go by. There are also the occasional drug dealer and homeless person but everyone blends together.

Last night Europe moved its clocks forward an hour and there appears to have been an instant effect – people are wearing shorts and tshirts, the new leaves on the trees have burst out of their buds, and everyone is smiling. It is definitely contagious – the only thing keeping me inside is the banana bread that I just took out of the oven. After a slice of cake and a cup of tea, the Parisian sunshine and I are going to get acquainted.

Magnolia

The magnolia (I think that is what we decided it was last year) is back in bloom

Lost in Paris

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Another day wandering aimlessly through Paris – I got slightly lost today (on purpose) and stumbled upon areas that I didn’t know existed. I felt an extreme sense of “I have no idea where I am” and loved it. I found lots of cool cafes and a whole new section of shops to explore with my fellow female travellers at a later date.

Highlights include finding the Movida cook book (a spanish tapas cookbook written by the people who run the restaurant Movida in Melbourne) for the low, low, low price of 5 Euros. It’s a soft cover and has a different image on the front but it is the SAME BOOK. I was stoked. Also, walking through random back streets of Paris in the sunshine wearing just a dress and stockings. No jumpers or jackets required. Most other people on the streets were rugged up for some reason… Couldn’t they see the sunshine?

Lowlights include the intense heating system used in Galleries Lafayette – every time I go into that shop I want to leave immediately due to heat exhaustion. Also, the pathetic scoop of Belgian Chocolate ice cream from Häagen Dazs. I knew it was a bad decision as soon as I walked in there but I was craving ice cream so much and couldn’t find anywhere else. At least the small size means it was a ‘diet ice cream’ and I can eat something else delicious as well!

I had a lovely day today – I went for a seven kilometre run this morning along the canal and to Parc Buttes de Chaumont where I had the lookout and a view towards Sacre Coeur all to myself. Sure, on my way home I may have been somewhat stalked by a Tunisian man who decided we should run together but who just slowed me down, but let’s just forget that.

The sun has been shining all day despite original forecasts for it to be overcast and the park outside my window is blossoming, blooming and bursting with new leaves and flowers. So pretty. The only problem with leaf growth is that our view becomes less and less, but who wouldn’t want to stare at that amazing vibrant, granny-smith green all day?

Park

Look at all the colours!

Magnolias

Look at the flowers! So, who can tell me what these are?

Now I am home after spending the last four hours walking around the city, my back is sore from carrying my bag and my feet are going numb. But Tom just called to ask me what delicious treat I want from the boulangerie for dessert and I am about to whip up something amazing in the kitch (by that I mean I am making up a recipe and am extremely worried about whether or not it will work). Now that’s the good life in Paris.

Lover, Lover, Lover…

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Saint Valentine’s Day in the city of love. I expected to see the streets filled with red roses, chocolate smeared across young girls’ faces, and endless kisses in public places. Surely the sound of violins would be wafting through every crevice of Paris, filling hearts with the sounds of romance. Surprisingly, I was wrong.

I put Valentine’s Day on my list of “Hallmark Days I Hate” along side Christmas, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. Valentine’s Day is definitely at the top of the list though because why should there be a specific day where you’re supposed to buy your loved one (if you’re lucky enough to have one) a tacky red or pink coloured gift and declare your love for them. Surely it should be a daily, off the cuff, sort of a thing rather than predetermined by the card description writing folk at Hallmark.

Yesterday I didn’t spend a huge amount of time wandering the streets looking for lovers (Tom and I were stuck wandering around a very large home furniture store trying to decide on whether or not to buy a sofa bed), but I can’t say I noticed an excess showcases of love. I had wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower, just so I could point and laugh, but didn’t have time so I tell myself that every Jack and Jill was there popping the question and screaming with delight. In fact, on previous days while wandering through Paris, particularly in the city’s parks and gardens, the number of public displays of love have been far greater than yesterday. It seems to be a-okay to sit on a park bench with your lover and go a bit crazy and clearly these people have been overcome by Paris’s love vibes.

Anyway, I was a tad disappointed by the lack of Valentine romance in Paris, purely because I thought it would make a good story. Instead I have to admit that I was a little bit chuffed when Tom went out in search of croissants for breakfast and returned home with one of the ugliest bunches of flowers I have ever seen. I’m not sure he took my laughter very well as he then went back out for the croissants that he had ‘forgotten’ and then came home with some beautiful tulips. Dang! He completely ruined my negative nancy viewpoint as I can’t say I had a problem with being bought flowers… I even went and bought a new vase for my tulips, and the daggy roses are feeling right at home in a used milk bottle.

Tulips

Pretty tulips

Tulips

My tulips in their temporary vase making the window look so pretty

Roses

Nawwww! Look! There's even a pink love heart hidden in there!

Valentine's roses

Such a pretty vase for such pretty flowers

I do, however, mind that he gave me his cold as well. Lucky I’m in France – aka land of pharmaceutical drugs where they have a tablet, spray and ointment for EVERY illness.

Life in Florida

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

While down in Florida on the weekend I spotted a few native Australian treats in the garden.

Flowers

Pretty.

Actually, I don’t even know if that is an Australian plant but it certainly looks like one and I just love the bright colours.

Lizard

Seeking the sun.

This spiky fella sat in the sun for a good hour or so, working on his Florida tan.

Summer Already?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Where has winter gone? I blame Canada. A few weeks ago I finally received my Elroy coat in the mail – it only took 2 months and 6 days to arrive from Vancouver. I still wonder where exactly it went… It could make a great book! But my point is as soon as my thick, warm, woolie jacket arrived on my doorstep the weather changed. The sun came out, the birds started singing and the flowers bloomed. Spring arrived and I haven’t been able to wear my jacket. THAT’S NOT FAIR.

On the other hand, spring is here! I love this season; particularly the smells. On the weekend, the scent of freshly hand-watered garden hit my nostrils. On my regular bike rides and walks through Kings Park I am filled with wafts of freesias and new growth. It is only mid-September and already I am contemplating shorts. Not so good for the farmers who need some rain, but I’m quite happy enjoying the sunshine. On the weekend I walked past a house in Fremantle that had a lawn of flowers. Sure, they’re evil weeds, but who wouldn’t want to roll in this?

Spring flowers

Hay fever, anyone?

It’s Coming…

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

There is one thing that I look forward to every year – the arrival of Spring. There is something so wonderful about seeing the first buds arrive and suddenly gardens are full of bright flowers. I went for a morning walk today and as I stepped outside into my front garden I noticed the flowering plum has released its first blooms and there are freesias popping up. As I walked through Kings Park I saw my first kangaroo paw for the season. Very exciting.

Plum flower

Flowering plum.

Freesia

Freesias – They may be weeds but they're pretty and smell damn good!

Perhaps I am a tad more excited than usual about the approaching season as it means my move to Paris is getting so much closer. 167 days to go. It’s remarkable how quickly it is passing.