Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Monday, 30 June 2014


In my Patmos garden an AGAVE - bovicornuta - has produced a noble stalk, an affirmation of masculinity manifested by both male and female plants of the species - a true hermaphrodite we salute you !

Agave is from the Greek 'aganos' meaning noble and illustrious.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

BOOKS: Towers of Crim Tartary

Crimea in the news - with many a problem to solve will have to slip down my list of places to visit. I wonder remains of what was built and restored from the time of Catherine the Great and Potemkin in the 18th Century as a Czarist resort, how it fared under Stalin and now... we shall see. 

At the risk of being frivolous take note of Towers of Crim Tartary by C. E. Brett.

Saturday, 14 June 2014


In the depth of the English Country an umbrella and John Stefanidis Turkish Chairs await the Sun. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

TRAVEL: Salzburg

Salzburg is not only an agreeable town - weather permitting - it is 'allegro vibrante' dominated by its castle and surrounded by enchanting country at its best in Spring. The week before Easter 2014 will remain long in my memory. It is moreover the season for fat white asparagus - delicious!

A huge parking space hidden in the depth of its mountain, a river runs through it, a market town & a magnet for Austrian & Bavarians in loden, shorts, dirndls, all looking splendid.

This years Easter Festival is the second of the Sächsiche Staatskapelle Dresden, who took over from the Berlin Philharmonic,a  great orchestra conducted by Christian Thielemann, apprentice to Herbert von Karajan in years gone by. He is said to be the best interpreter of Richard Strauss and standards were high, but his public persona is somewhat lugubrious. The second conductor Christoph Eschenbach was also doleful - it made one nostalgic of the glamour and magnetism of Karajan. Smiley Simon Rattle (who absconded to Baden-Baden, see a future entry) Muti or Abado who charmed the audience each in his own way.

This is not the place for comprehensive musical criticism - nor am I qualified to do so - but Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen showed what this orchestra can do. The theme Songs of Seriousness and Mourning, not unsuited to Easter after all, was a little relentless and Renée Fleming despite her lovely voice is not 'Arabella' (nor was she Violetta in Traviata in Covent Garden) her good looks too robust - a whiff of vast American Cornfields pervades. 
Maestro Pollini's Mozart C-Dur KV467 was outstanding. 
Richard Strauss Lieder sung by stunning Anja Harteros, whom I had not heard before, was possibly best of all. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

ARCHITECTURE: Sir Edward Lutyens

No architectural or design practice should be without the 3 volumes of "The Architecture of Sir Edward Lutyens" published in the Antique Collectors Club. 
This quintessentially English architect has lessons to teach contemporary avant garde architects as well as the traditionalists. Lutyens (1869-1944) was prolific and his range vast. English country houses, Town planning, War memorials, Imperial Delhi, gardens and furniture. 

These books are amply illustrated and have beautiful architectural drawings, which further demonstrate his skill, inventiveness and humor, no where more than in his interios. His staircases are unmastered, easy to climb and easy to descend. 

In the British Embassy in Washington there, in a small Library, is a window overlooking the very grand staircase, for children to witness the great and good and powerful.

His details, his use of stone and wood, are all exceptional. I cannot admire his mammoth public building, Castle Drogo, magnificently sited yet a disappointment. But lots of quirky jokes, domes and jolly Elephants in New Delhi are all that you could wish for - not to speak of the gardens he designed with Gertrude Jekyll, joyful, pleasing with proportions smited to mankind - developers please take note!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

MUSIC: Jonas Kauffman

The album is preceded by a video showing rehearsals etc - rather moving, very good looks Mr. Kauffman and what a voice! 

Monday, 2 June 2014

FILM: 'The Last of the Unjust' - Documentary

'The Last of the Unjust' a Documentary

(3 hours, 40 minutes), director Claude Lanzmann - famous for Shoah (see my entry 15/08/2012) with an absorbing interview with controversial Benjamin Murmelstein. 

As Anthony Law said in the New Yorker... 
"On what ground should we not surrender half a day of our peaceful life to the scrutiny of mass destruction?"