Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Friday, 30 May 2014

BOOKS: Short Stories

Alice Monro and Lydia Davis' stories are on my Kindle Library. The former's stories are very Canadian, the latter, very American. Written with great skill they are masters of the genre. 
Lydia Davis' stories, the shortest a sentence, the longest 40 pages, some of which are very funny. 

Friday, 23 May 2014

TRAVEL: Kuwait

Kuwait - a country of 2.7-3 million people, the eighth richest country in the world with a GDP of $58,080. There are plans afoot for a new Norman Foster designed airport and a Dubai 'catch-up'. It has a new skyscraper by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, a firm whose designs, despite all the awards it has received, I have always considered 'middle of the road' and safe. The skyscraper is stunning

A mall, miles long, has become the high street of Kuwait City. Acres of marble, escalators that lead to a wide pedestrian street of buildings, an architectural mix that escapes being Disneyland, shop after shop from Harry Winston to Victoria's Secret, Harvey Nichols, H&M, Tom Ford - you name a world brand it is there interposed with terraced restaurants of every culinary tradition. Daylight pours in from a vast glass roof, all deliciously air-conditioned. Behind all this are streets and alleyways evocative of old Kuwait, more shops and restaurants, and a café that plays the legend, Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum continuously. 
(Listen to her on my choice for BBC 4's Desert Island Discs, blog post 04/07/2010 and Youtube)

Aperçu: Seventy percent or more of the women were veiled, half wore the floor length black dara with a hijab headscarf and many, very many, wearing face veils so that only their eyes and saucy eyebrows are exposed. (A common sight is ladies who lift their veils with their left hand and feed with their right)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Modern and Contemporary Art in a Kensington Square, London with JS Furniture and Carpets.

Monday, 19 May 2014

BOOKS: My Promised Land

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit.

Enquiring, Unprejudiced, Passionate. 
Enthralling and fair-minded about the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma - with its world-wide consequences. 


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

TRAVEL: Morocco

I was the honoured guest of Pierre Bergé in Marrakech. Dar Es Saada, the guest house, and Villa Oasis surrounded by the gardens of the Jardin Majorelle, a part of which is open to the public - the painter, Jacques Marjorelle's studio is now a delectable gift shop, a bookshop and the Musée Berbère, an astonishing collection of Berber culture, artefacts, costumes, carpets and stunning jewellery. The museum supported by the Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent - which will in a couple of years inaugurate another museum with other amenities such as a conference hall, an important collection of botanical books, and a display of Saint Laurent clothes. Another cultural awakening for Morocco.

On the outskirts of Marrakech Marella Agnelli and Madison Cox have created a vast garden worthy of Boccaccio's Decameron, not a garden but an idealised landscape, with miles of pergolas to shade you on your walks, with low adobe walls dividing the Olive groves, orchard of oranges and lemons meadows of poppies, daisies growing in long grass, venerable trees - the Olive trees often transplanted when uprooted by developers putting up new buildings for a new prosperous Moroccan middle class. Ceremonious avenues and paths lined with grasses lead to vegetable gardens and great plantations of roses, collections of the very best. This landscape of relentless beauty whose paths are lined with rills that take water to large square reservoirs is a sight that gladdens the soul. A book is in preparation and it will be sensational!

(Below are some images from both the delectable gardens)


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

DESIGN: Edith Head

If you watch Old Hollywood films and the actresses are well dressed the likelihood is the clothes are designed by the legendary Edith Head - check out Grace Kelly & Audrey Hepburn

Friday, 2 May 2014

BOOKS: The Wild Wyndhams - Claudia Renton

Those Wild Wyndhams by Claudia Renton, "Three Sisters at the Heart of Power" - The writing is sometimes clumsy but it is a riveting book. The subtitle is not what makes this book but the vitality of the sisters' mother - and her daughters who all lived life to the full in equal and diverse ways, the sisters were unconventional members of the Souls, they followed their hearts but fulfilled their ambitions. They were a Jungian psychotic dream on complication, eccentricity, beauty and charm - all in evidence in some of their descendants! 

The book starts in Victorian times and gives a very clear picture of attitudes, the loss of loved ones in WWI - it ends with WWII, quite a span. 

LIVING BY DESIGN: A table setting