Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Monday, 29 October 2012

BOOKS: Great Houses of London by James Stourton

At last, a comprehensive book on London houses by the erudite James Stourton, Chairman of Sotheby's, whose prose is eminently readable with photographs by beloved enthusiastic photographic maestro Fritz von der Schulenburg who has taken so many photographs for me..

TRAVEL: Austria

Carinthia has the highest rate of sunshine in all of Austria..
Around the lake of Wörthersee [above] are the towns of Maria WörthKlagenfurt, Villach, Velden.  A region which breathes history and antiquity, a kernel of Europe...
On the left neo-classicism mixed with secessionist, and on the right secessionist
 Landhaus Assembly Hall, Klagenfurt, first assembly 1581. 
Coats of arms of notables in the area [above] 
 Church of St. Jakob  
Hey! a Cadillac, anyone know the year? 

...and last but not least - strict and friendly, ugly rooms and bathrooms, effective cure, good air on the lake... the
F.X. MAYR & more® Health Centre... 

                                                                          Right: a result of the cure!

Friday, 26 October 2012


It was a pleasure to receive an email from a friend who photographed the San Francisco room she was staying in [above].  I had quite forgotten the two coordinated fabrics - one for the walls, the other for curtains with an 18th Century Blackamoor as a motif [I asked the talented artist Konstantin Kakanias to design these fabrics for the room.  he is the author of  the hilarious cartoon book 'Mrs. Tependris: the Contemporary Years' , which was commissioned by the Greek Ministry of Culture to create a book for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens ].

Note the red and white striped fitted carpet we had made - a foil to the grenadine background of the fabrics.  The house contains outstanding antiques bought by a great collector with encyclopaedic knowledge and outstanding flair.
Ann Getty 'Interior Style'  is available to order now.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

MUSIC: Wagner's SIEGFRIED at Covent Garden

...Four days ago since I was Polly Devlin 's guest at ROH Covent Garden .....OMG, Wagner's music is still racing and thundering in my head.  Directed by Keith Warner, the conductor Antonio Pappano and the orchestra were terrific and Siegfried played by Stefan Vinke, who dominated the stage and showed no sign of fatigue, even though he was on for four hours! 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

BOOKS: Patrick Leigh Fermor

For very many years, two 'expats' blew bubbles of romantic scholarship, humour, a love of the Middle East, Greece, the Classical world, bohemian adventure, travel and fun, both ardent philhellenes and friends of Greek poets [Seferis, etc. see blog entry of June 25, 2012], Lawrence Durrell, famous for his Alexandria Quartet, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, a war hero, venerated by Cretans.  An excellent biography has just been published by Artemis Cooper whose 'Cairo in the War' captured the prevalent mood of that time so brilliantly.

Patrick Leigh Fermor [always known as Paddy] had a prodigious memory for poetry and song, a life-enhancer if ever there was one.  His wonderful  house in Kardamyli in The Mani, Peloponnese was bequeathed to the Benaki Museum, Athens,  I hope they make good use of it despite the disastrous economic circumstances now prevailing.    

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Once confined to a literary elite in Japan, Haiku are now written all over the world by poets who find their combination of brevity, technical discipline and expressive content irresistible.  Dominated by four great masters - Basho, Busson, Issa and Shiki - who between them compress the gamut of human experience into the limits of seventeen syllables.  Haiku has an analogy with Chinese drawings that evoke huge landscapes by a few strokes of the brush.

The moon in the water                               The water-fowl
Turned a somersault                                   Lays its beak in its breast 
and floated away                                           And sleeps as it floats 
RYOTA                                    GINKO

Early dusk:                                                    Plum-blossoms 
The mouth of the toad                              My spring
Exhales the moon.                                     In an ecstacy.
SHIKI                                                      ISSA

                                   In my medicine cabinet,
                                   the winter fly
                                   Has died of old age
                           JACK KEROUAC [Author of 'On The Road']

Friday, 19 October 2012


This type of table so prevalent in the early 19th century has gone out of fashion.  Used primarily in dining rooms, here I have used it decoratively to show china, a Niki de Saint Phale plaster sculpture, a potted myrtle plant as an exclamation.  On the wall is a painting by Ray Richardson, Robbers Day Out.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

COMMENT: The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books does best what its title proclaims - and so much more - with articles on politics,  art exhibitions worldwide, reason & despair find their voices in this unique publication......I await every issue with impatience. An example of excellence & high standards.

Monday, 15 October 2012

TRAVEL: Lazio / Umbria, ITALY [Part II]

The lake of Bolsena feels like the sea, it is vast, an extinct volcano filled with water from a spring - most lakes are fed by rivers so water flows in and out.

The most charming and erudite of princes,
Don Giovanni del Drago has restored his family castle with care and great taste...

Orvieto in the distance [top left]

The house of the beautiful and gifted designer Donna Verde Visconti
in rustic modeShe has used Indian fabrics and furniture indoors - an homogeneous, most comfortable and beguiling house.  

Friday, 12 October 2012

POETRY: The Autopsy

The Autopsy

And so they found that the gold of the olive root had dripped in the re-
cesses of his heart.

And from the many times that he had lain awake by candlelight 
for the dawn, a strange heat had seized his entrails.

A little below the skin, the blue line of the horizon sharply painted.
ample traces of blue throughout his blood.

The cries of birds which he had come to memorize in hours of great 
ness apparently spilled out all at once, so that it was impossible for 
the knife to enter deeply.

Probably the intention sufficed for the evil

Which he met—it is obvious—in the terrifying posture of the innocent. 
His eyes open, proud, the whole forest moving still on the unblem-
ished retina.

Nothing in the brain but a dead echo of the sky.

Only in the hollow of his left ear some light fine sand, as though in a 
Which means that often he had walked by the sea alone with the pain 
of love and the roar of the wind.

As for those particles of fire on his groin, they show that he moved 
hours ahead whenever he embraced a woman.

We shall have early fruit this year

Odysseas Elytis

Thursday, 11 October 2012


The Loo, the Gents, the Guest Cloakroom, the Lavatory or whatever else you call it can be hung with school and university group photographs, wedding pictures and the like or can be architectural and painted in trompe l'oeil faux marbre! Note: the Baroque frame attached straight onto mirror.
East 71st Street, New York

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Poussin's Rape of the Sabines

Palazzo Parisi in the Sabine Hills
 - an antique land with Roman remains

The Palazzo Parisi was once a Roman fort and still has its dungeons. The family house of Arabella Lennox-Boyd [see my Gresgarth Hall blog entry of May 2, 2012 ]. Praised by Virgil, Sabine olive oil, as produced here, is excellent!


Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza by Borromini once opened
 on Sunday morning - now only on a Wednesday
 so I was unable to revisit its amazing interior 
      Crochet ears covers to keep flies away
The Convent of Trinità dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps, founded in the late 15th century by the French Minimes.  In 1798, when as a result of the French Revolution, the convent was devastated and became studios of the French Academy - Villa Medici - where Ingres lived and worked.  In 1828, the Pope intervened and the Sacré-Coeur order opened a school.  The Trompe L'Oeil room of ruins [see my Curiosity blog entry of July 16, 2012] is firmly closed for restorations to take place.  

Happily there are charming wall paintings of the walls of the Refectory - paint on the walls
NOT frescoes [which are wet and absorbed by the plaster] the former are more difficult to restore.

BUT the great surprise is a corridor which is an enchanting 16th Century sun dial, more correctly, a Catoptric dia by Pierre Maignan.    

   ...and another corridor of strange anamorphic perspective

The highest hill of Rome, known as Mons Vaticanus, now called Monte Mario - The disease has spread!
[see Pont de l’Archevêché my Paris Part II blog entry of January 26, 2012] - t