June 19, 2008

Inspiration is just around each corner

We're still on the road, but we've reached our half way rest point, which is J's father's house in Yorkshire, UK. How lovely it was to arrive here, to be met at the station and to whisk away up the steep hilly streets lined with familiar grey stone houses and tall terraces.

And then it poured with rain all day, so I felt not the lest bit guilty for spending most of the day in bed, or on the sofa with a gripping, old-fashioned murder mystery.

The travel we've done so far: Italy, France, Germany and Denmark, has been exciting, challenging, interesting, at times frustrating, and often times exhausting.

(Leeds railway station, UK)

I felt at times as if the image inspiration bucket was all filled up and spilling over the edges, and I just needed to go and sit on a park bench, or a sea wall somewhere, and think nothing thoughts, or just thoughts of colour, fabric and no real ideas...

(Helsingor castle grounds, Denmark)

But the main thing I think of on this trip are the people we have met and the unexpected discoveries, which stand out all the more for being unexpected. Like the Commedia dell'Arte pantomime at the Tivoli Gardens, with Pierrot and Harlequin dancing and miming; or the enthusiastic art student in Florence who recommended we go to a service at the Badia Fiorentina, an enormous greek-cross church with huge arches disappearing into light and incense smoke above, and nuns coming and going, coughing and then, finally, singing....

(A cafe we found in Copenhagen, just at the moment when one more tourist cafe would have made us scream, and when we wanted good coffee, books, university types and .... delicious cookies. Ah, those cookies.)

We don't have pictures of many of the most memorable things - we just talk about them and recall them to each other, and that's a different sort of trip memory. The photos stay the same - they almost ossify the memories - but the stories, well, they change with every telling.

(J. photographed Copenhagen's weather predictor: the lady with the bicycle comes out when it will be sunny; she has a dog and an umbrella when it will rain. Both were attempting to come out at the same time, and yes, we had rain and sun.)

When we arrived in London, we went to see some wonderful old friends and their many children (three friends, five children), and we also managed to slip away into central London for half a day. For J. it was coming home and seeing old sights, but even there, there were unexpected delights.

(Neal's Yard, Seven Dials - wonderful Neal's Yard Remedies shop, and the Neal's Yard Dairy and the Monmouth Coffee Co. are just around the corner.... Stinking Bishop cheese and a Colombian dark roast, anyone?)

... And other new surprises such as the King's Library, in the British Museum, now a display area for themes such as Trade, Language, and Myths and Magic, with wonderful objects from the collections here and there:

We even saw a set of golden horns that we had read about two days before, in Denmark, and which were stolen and melted down for the gold. But two copies exist - and we stumbled across one of those copy sets in this library: serendipity.

And the Great Court is always a lovely space when you need to stop and stare up at the ceiling for a while, while resting tired paws.

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