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Montreal – such fun! Climbing Mont Réal, queuing for Poutine, not to mention the queues de castors….

The main purpose of our recent trip to North America was to visit daughter number 4, currently living in Canada (*waves* – could be some while till we meet again!). We had the choice of March or May. I badly wanted to see a real Winter (and we did!!) – but how lucky was that…we just missed the travel ban, quite by serendipity and my enthusiasm for snow.

A warm welcome from some Canadian relatives in Kingston – fabulous views over Lake Ontario, and three colours of squirrel. This is the black one, which I didn’t know existed. The red and the grey are smaller and kept their distance. I wanted a shot of all three together, but they weren’t up for co-operating.

Mont Tremblant, where SOME of us went skiing. The rest (me) wandered around the Disney-like little winter sports village. All very cute and pretty but not real. I wished I’d brought my Thomas Mann Magic Mountain, which I last read in the Alps – but way too heavy for the plane journey.

Ottawa  – frozen rivers and canals, as far as you can see… definitely magic. The second picture was taken outside the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau – beautifully laid out, really interesting and on a manageable human scale.

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Finally – no prizes for guessing the last stop! Niagara, on the way back to Toronto airport. Terrifying force – and such a noise of rushing water. You can only stand and stare.  Literally awesome. I haven’t upgraded this blog to accept video – so you’re spared that!

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This is so striking. We came across it on the way out of the Met. and it caught my eye because it looked like a modern sculpture, down amongst the Greek and Roman exhibits. It turns out it is by Jean-Antoine Houdon, called ‘La Frileuse’ (but known as ‘Winter’) and dates from the late eighteenth century.  I can’t believe I had never come across it before – it’s probably famous. We just walked round and round it. Stunningly powerful.

(Much better photos than these on the internet, sorry about mine!)

 

 

Those were the days….

Of transatlantic flights, that is. About three weeks ago actually. Unbelievable.

Fabulous variety of food. Crazy, vibrant fun city.

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It will be back.

Yarn addicts will note there was a pilgrimage to Purl to check out the artyarn handspun. (Bit disappointing actually – not a lot of choice and definitely no better than my own – at  over double the price!)

OK, no excuses….

(And definitely no resolutions, either!)

But this is where the time went – late Autumn in the Auvergne, then a family wedding in the West (with another visit to Salisbury sneaked in). In the photos it all looks rather brown. The picture of the leaves on the black grass has recently evolved into a skein of tweedy speckled handspun – so I have been fitting in a bit of work….

December was much more urban.

Paris, the first week of the French strike….Eurostar cancelled, no metro, no buses – and no **** Opera, which had been booked since September!

The Orangerie was also closed – but they let tourists into the Monet waterlilies – AND they didn’t charge! The dramatic metal figures (outside, along the river) are free to view anyway – such upmarket street art and so French!

Then back to Christmas. Rather traditional this year – family, books, music, puzzles….ridiculous quantities of food…. The decorations have got to be the best bit – I spent a great deal of time staring into the depths of the tree and was fairly gutted to have to take it down!

Some silk dyeing has been going on too – but that is for next time.

More Crazy Buildings

Couldn’t resist a few more pictures of these splendid streets – jigsaw-worthy houses that seem to be scattered through every village in mid Suffolk. Most of these details came from buildings around Lavenham –  oh, those doors!

I am fighting my own battles with an historic building, though on nothing like the grand scale of those above. More like Historic Damp, Historic Decay, and Historic Plumbing… After listening to an expert on Regency restoration, I was inspired to reject most modern techniques and  return to using traditional materials….but this involves capturing a sympathetic builder who doesn’t fall about laughing….

So far I haven’t got past the email stage, but I’m on it!

Old buildings, loved – and not.

 

Twenty five years ago we were contemplating buying this one. But we couldn’t really justify it and it turned out the owner had no interest in selling anyway. Now it is far too late. Someone clearly did love it once (you can just see the hand stencilled trefoils below  the roof and round the windows – unusual decoration for a modest locaterie) Nothing has been done to preserve it, though a few years back the vegetation (jungle) was cleared from the front and I got excited thinking maybe it would be rescued…I make a point of walking past it several times a year but I fear the structure doesn’t have much longer.  And it is by no means alone round this area. There are several abandoned farm buildings, casualties of the rural exodus, which even now nobody seems to want. Such a pity.

This building, though, is in great shape – literally!  It is part of what was a medieval Guild Hall in Suffolk. It apparently became a Free Grammar School in 1577 and has now morphed into a holiday cottage where we stayed for a peaceful week in September. I spent several days trying to fathom out the original architecture – very confusing and I’m sure I failed but the exposed wood is very exciting – lots of detail, carefully preserved. One of my daughters is in Canada for a year, so I’ll make sure I send her pictures of the timber framed houses we saw all over Suffolk – it seems so weird to me to be in a country where you just can’t see any!

 

 

Both Victorian, both still in service.

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The first one – my local in Brighton – is a rough workhorse of a box, scuffed and much painted over. The second is in Tunbridge Wells (sorry, ROYAL Tunbridge Wells) – very pretty design, beautifully maintained and, it has to be said, with just a whiff of tourist about it….

They are both listed – the unsophisticated one as curtilage, not in its own right. I know which one I prefer though!