Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Long winter shadows

Last week I spent a few days in Oxford visiting my parents. I was brought up in Oxford. As a teenager I considered Oxford to be such a boring, dull place to live. It was only once I'd left, and returned as an adult, that I fully began to appreciate what a beautiful city it is.

On the first day I was there last week we went for a walk around Christchurch Meadows, a large area of pasture land in the centre of Oxford that belongs to Christchurch College. We walked into town first, the sky was cloudless. As we approached the town centre we saw Magdalen Tower.

We walked around Christchurch meadows along the river. The grass banks, the gravel path and the puddles were striped with breathtaking shadows and reflections. 

The colours were so intense.

Trees like this...

...created vertiginous reflections like this.

As we walked along the river Isis (the river Thames is called the river Isis in Oxford), we saw a family of swans. Their feathers were puffed up. I'm not sure if this was to keep them warm or to serve as sails, either way they looked wonderful.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Fence Art

I've been spending a few days in the UK. Yesterday I came across a long wooden fence. Somebody had been painstakingly sanding off graffiti tags that another person had carelessly painted on. 

In Paris you never see a wooden fence and graffiti is dealt with by painting over the offending tag. The end result is a beige wall, where the paint is sometimes so thick it starts to peel off in big crusty flakes.

The Oxford fence with its' sanded patches caught my eye from the other side of the street. It looked lovely I thought, with the subtle abstract pattern of lighter and darker patches.

So there you go, I've fallen for a fence.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Beautiful Bakery

Living in Paris for nearly twenty years has turned me into a snob. A bread and cake snob. Within five minutes walk from our house there are five excellent bakeries to choose from, that figure doubles if I'm prepared (I am) to walk an 'outrageous' (*ducks for cover*) ten minutes.

One manifestation of the snobbery is carrying out a quick 'triage' of which bakery does what best. Best baguette at bakery (i), best viennoiseries at bakery (ii), creamy cakes at bakery (iii)...etc.

In my view one of the best bakeries for bread near us is on 48 Rue Caulaincourt. They do the most delicious sourdough bread - pain au levain. Big thick crusty slices toasted with pumpkin soup, has become one of our regular winter dinners. They do an amazing 'flute' as well. Look!

This bakery was also used for filming one of the scenes of the film 'Julie and Julia' (2009) starring Meryl Streep. Paris Movie Walks provides some interesting tit-bits about the film here.

They must have chosen this bakery because of the fabulous interior. First off is this wonderful chandelier. What's not to like?

The ceiling is quite something as well. Roses.



But perhaps my favourite details can be found on the tiling.

Just look at these croissants and baguettes hanging delicately from white ribbons.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some chouquettes waiting for me.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Madeleine in the sun and on the table

The church at Place de la Madeleine was looking gorgeous in the bright sun yesterday.

Here's another kind of Madeleine which is not bad either.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Fun with signs

We have been enjoying some witty, fun and clever street art in our neighbourhood recently. My daughter spotted the first one, the 'no-entry-man-carries-plank' one, in the 9th arrondissement. Since then, I've seen quite a few more in the 18th. I think 'no-entry-man-carries-plank' is my favourite. The bon-homme looks so weighed down by his plank.

Here are some of the others that I've spotted. Skull and cross bones.


Eiffel Tower

Flower picking.

Bicycle ride.

I took this photo a while back. I think the 'artist'...*cough*...is the Mairie de Paris. The message is frankly confusing.

I also took this photo a long while back at the Porte de Montmartre. It makes me smile, there's something with the scale that is all wrong!

Edited - Having carried out some more research I discovered that the street sign artist is called Clet Abraham, a French artist born in 1966 in Brittany. He now lives in Florence where more of these street signs can be found. His Facebook page with more examples of his work can be found here