Sunday, 14 September 2014

Art and Nature

How does one define art/artists within nature? Is it even possible? One summer I met a pair of fascinating Greek sisters who lived in Whitehorse, Yukon. They had a knack for using leaves and grass to create all sorts of creative designs. I was convinced they were real artists-in-the-making. Then again other summers I thought that the person responsible for all the plant art around Mont-Tremblant or Bonnett House in Fort Lauderdale was a true artist. It's getting harder and harder to coin a definition for any type of art. Below are some of my favourite quotes by famous artists; long gone but never forgotten.

Vincent Van Gogh: 
"I dream my painting and I paint my dream."
Pablo Picasso: 
"Every child is an artist. 
The problem is how to remain an artist once (s)he grows up."
Oscar Wilde:
"Art is the only serious thing in the world.
And the artist is the only person who is never serious."
Leonardo Da Vinci:
"Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt,
and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen."

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Highclere Castle Gardens

In reality Highclere Castle belongs to the Carnavaron family but in the hearts of most television viewers it belongs to the cast of Downton Abbey. A fantastic show I began watching shortly before moving to England myself, I made it a point to visit the castle as soon as I possibly could. It turned out, however, that one cannot simply stroll onto private property unless it's during the public viewing periods. So it was that I booked a ticket in the middle of July and had to wait impatiently for months. Nonetheless, the experience was as great as I'd hoped and I recommend a visit to anyone who steps foot in England especially since it's not terribly far from London. The gardens were beyond spectacular and I even managed to meet Don, the caretaker who has been happily working there for over 40 years with no plans to retire. Hats off to this family for allowing the public access for a reasonable price. Season five is about to begin and I cannot be more excited to watch this fantastic show!

To obtain tickets to the wonderful castle just visit the: Highclere Website

Monday, 21 July 2014

Lake District Gardens

The Lake District is arguably one of the nicest parts of England. The air is always sublimely fresh, the grass splendidly green, and all the gardens seamlessly flow into one another. Visiting the area in the early summer weeks can be slightly problematic weather-wise but even daily showers did not prevent my enjoyment of the luscious lands. Obviously visiting the childhood home of William Wordsworth was on the top of my list. Beatrix Potter's home was another must-see attraction in the vicinity. Although there are loads of wonderful hotels and rented flats available, we stayed in a lovely hostel in the Elterwater, Cumbria. Tourists are a persistent presence in the Lake District but not in the ridiculously abundant fashion that they are in London or other major cities in Europe. It definitely comes highly recommended by myself and the company I kept. Just be sure to pack a raincoat. 

For more information on what it's all about: The Lake District

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Spoon Garden in the Lake District

There is a cute little gingerbread shop in the Lake District that boasts a most original garden outside the main entrance; a wooden spoon garden! Apparently a shop assistant decorated a spoon and planted it to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Eventually more spoons were added and thus a tourist attraction was born. The shop now encourages locals to decorate their own wooden spoons with weather-resistant paint and enter it into the Spoon Garden Competition. The best ideas are always simple. 

Details on the shop and competition can be found on the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop website.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

University Gardens

Last month I visited Cambridge University on a beautiful spring weekend. The trip from London was just under two hours and well worth the journey. Although many buildings in the university were closed, my friends and I were still able to see a few and roam around the quaint city. The gardens were nothing special but were clearly well-maintained. What we like most were the trees that seemed to stretch into the sky. Punting along the famous river was the highlight of the trip but there was a lot about Cambridge that made it one of my favorite destinations in England.  

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Shakespeare's Spring Sonnet

SPRING by William Shakespeare

When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
And merry larks are plowmen's clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,

Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Sand Gardens: Remal International Festival

Obviously there is no such thing as a sand garden but the term seemed fitting for this blog. Earlier this month I was in Kuwait and attended the Remal International Festival, also known as the "Proud to be Kuwaiti' Festival. The main attraction was a sand sculpture exhibition that was breathtaking by day and beautifully illuminated by night. The sculptures reminded me of the Mosaicultures Internationale exhibition in Montreal last summer. Sand, corn flour, and water were the main ingredients used which is quite marvellous if you look at the stunning results. Kuwait isn't exactly the country one has in mind when it comes to tourism but February is definitely a great month to visit should the need/desire ever occur. The weather averages between 20-24C and Independence day on the 25th means there is no shortage of festivals and other events.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Icelandic Gardens

One would assume that a country with "ice" in its name wouldn't boast terribly creative gardens. On my visit there last month, however, I discovered that that is not necessarily the case! I spent a week in Reykjavik checking out random gardens in the capitol between tourist attractions. Although green was noticeably absent (it being January and all) there was still a presence of some pretty original gardens. The treehouse in the middle photo is probably what impressed me most. It was nice to see people making efforts in their gardens, especially considering they barely see any daylight in the winter. Definitely a country I would recommend for a completely new experience, first rate tourist attractions, and loads of friendly tourists/people!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Southwark Park and King's Stairs Gardens

Sundays can be lazy, but they can also be days spent walking along one of the world's most famous rivers. Although polluted beyond all recognition, the Thames is still quite lovely as it paints a path through many famous landmarks throughout the city of London. One can walk for hours along that river with no lack of interesting sightings. The other day I ventured to Canada Water area for no other reason than curiosity about the name. Southwark Park was a pleasant surprise, along with the incredible amount of birds and ducks about. Beyond the park was the King's Stairs Gardens which also boasted unique trees and wildlife. Tower Bridge was were I unexpectedly ended up and although I had already seen it before it was fantastic to be able to spend over five hours walking (in the dead of winter) and end with a sight like that!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Nothing Gold Can Stay

"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."

-Poet Robert Frost