Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween





Happy Birthday, Hubby!



Monday, October 30, 2006

Grim report

Will Nicholas Stern's report on climate change finally trigger fear in each and everyone of us?

What bright side?

I've just realized that my mum, my younger sister and myself probably suffer from dysthymia (I had never heard of this word until a couple of hours ago, imagine that...). As this is hereditary, I just hope my kids will have inherited the necessary genes from their slighter saner father to balance mine out, so that they will eventually become healthy and happy adults.
As for me, even if I sing "Always look on the bright side of life" for a whole day, I'll never "snap out of it" for very long.
PS - Somebody get me one of these! Just kidding: I'm not THAT mad...

Order of the day

1. The kids are back in school after the mid-term break. Preparing lunch boxes, laying out school uniforms, chauffeuring and monitoring homework are once again in my daily agenda.
2. Countdown for hubby's 40th b-day, tomorrow: presents, greeting cards and other goodies are safely stored and await the midnight hour to be placed on hubby's nightstand, ready to be opened and savoured first thing in the morning. The house has been thoroughly aired and cleaned. Bright, fresh flowers embelish the dining room. The traditional leg of lamb - with all the trimmings - has been seasoned and is ready to be put in the oven. The birthday cake has been decorated. The pudding for tomorrow night's dinner still has to be made, however...
3. Countdown for Halloween, tomorrow night: front window has been spookily decorated for the eerie night of all souls. The kids will go out trick-or-treating with friends and their dad; their masks are ready for them to wear. I'll stay home, putting the finishing touches on the birthday dinner and giving out treats to the trick-or-treaters who come calling while my own are out.
4. Countdown for hubby's trip to Lisbon, the day after tomorrow: once again, lots of clothes and "stuff "to prepare...
5. Keep tuned: I'll try to post some pictures in the next couple of days!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Morning walk

To celebrate being given the gift of time overnight (1 whole hour!), we took some pictures of today's glorious morning 1 hour walk.
The downside of returning to winter time is that right now it's 4.30 PM and it's already dark outside. I begin to feel a visceral need to hibernate I can't indulge and I know I'll end up taking my revenge on chocolate!
Click on the pictures for original size.

Gloomy Sunday

Now playing on the iPod: Gloomy Sunday, the infamous "Hungarian suicide song" some seem to find quite suiting on Halloween. This devastatingly sad melody has been interpreted by numerous famous artists, including Billie Holiday, Marianne Faithfull, Elvis Costello, Bjork, Sinead O'Connor and Sarah Brightman, and its lyrics are almost gothic:

Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought of ever returning you
Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles and prayers that are sad I know
Let them not weep let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream for in death I'm caressing you
With the last breath of my soul I'll be blessing you

Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep in the deep of my heart, here
Darling, I hope that my dream never haunted you
My heart is telling you how much I wanted you


Hey! Not too bad, really, the original 1933 lyrics were much, much more depressing!!!!

It is autumn and the leaves are falling
All love has died on earth
The wind is weeping with sorrowful tears
My heart will never hope for a new spring again
My tears and my sorrows are all in vain
People are heartless, greedy and wicked...

Love has died!

The world has come to its end, hope has ceased to have a meaning
Cities are being wiped out, shrapnel is making music
Meadows are coloured red with human blood
There are dead people on the streets everywhere
I will say another quiet prayer:
People are sinners, Lord, they make mistakes...

The world has ended!


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Midterm holidays

The girls's autumn mid-term holidays are coming to an end. Although we haven't gone anywhere because hubby has been working 'round-the-clock (we had hoped to go to Cornwall...), Clara, Ana and I have been having plenty of fun.
We've been preparing for someone's 40th birthday, next Tuesday (which is also Halloween!), we went to a very enjoyable classical music concert for kids, watched movies, shopped, painted and cooked together, and just basically thoroughly enjoyed not having to follow a schedule for a whole week.
It's still relatively warm outside, lots of trees remain green and although it has been raining all week and the days are already shortish (and will become even shorter from now on because tonight, at 1 am, we'll have to turn our clocks back one hour), it really doesn't feel like Christmas is just around the corner (just 8 more weeks to go!!!)...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Potpourri

A report says 65% of Germans, 52% of Spanish and 50% of Italians would be willing to intervene if they saw a group of 14-year-old boys vandalising a bus shelter, compared with just 34% of Britons. --> For once I'm glad there aren't a lot of 14-year-old British vandals reading the news, although I suspect they're already fully aware of their increasing power over a society that is too politically correct and weak to endorse any notion of respect or any kind of authority...

Forty of Velazquez works will be on display at the National Gallery until 21 January: an experience not to be missed by anyone who cares about art. When I first visited the Prado Museum in Madrid, I spent over one hour looking at Las Meninas, that most fascinating of paintings. I don't know if this masterpiece is comming to London (I'm almost sure it's not, as most people visit the Prado just to see it) but I'm certainly not going to miss this exhibition.

Fiction and big bucks over historical fact: a movie version of Vivaldi's life, portraying him as a "sex-obsessed star", aims to match the multi-Oscar success of Milos Forman's Amadeus.

A new luxury rail journey will allow passengers to cross India in comfort: such a pity hubby won't be able to afford it when he goes to Mumbai in January (The 15-day 'Viceroy of India' journey costs from £5,695 per person, excluding flights: he doesn't have the time nor the money)...

Last but not least, a bit of humour! Laughter is good for you!!!

Outside

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fado

Unsuspectedly intense pleasure, listening to Amalia Rodrigues's early Fado recordings late in this autumn Saturday night. Saudade.
Click on Amalia's photo to hear her fado...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some of today's news

Britain is number 1 target for Al-Qaida. Counter-terrorist officials say that the organization regards July 7 attacks as 'just the beginning' of UK campaign.
Lack of sleep may lead to obesity. Sleep deprivation leads to hormonal changes. These changes tell the body to eat sugary or starchy food to provide an energy boost. Over a prolonged period this leads to weight gain.
Roaming price war begins. As the European Union continues to press mobile firms to cut roaming costs. UK's mobile phone operator O2 and Spain's operator Movistar have announced they will stop charging its customers for incoming calls when they use their phones elsewhere in Europe. There are some catches, though...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Good things in life - 2

1. A word of encouragement.
2. A spontaneous compliment.
3. A box of Neuhaus chocolates (click on the picture!!!)
4. A good night's sleep.
5. Feeling warm in the cold.
6. Having a home.
7. Making a home.
8. Listening to good music in the car, with the volume turned up loud.
9. Happiness stamped all over a much loved face.
10. Freshly baked bread.
11. The scent of a rose.
12. Crisp and luminous days of vibrant colours and contrasts.
13. Golden evenings followed by scarlet sunsets.
14. Having at least one friend who likes you exactly as you are.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good things in life - 1

1. Finding God in Mozart's and Beethoven's music.
2. The wind rustling the auburn autumn leaves in the trees that line the silent country lane you're walking down on your own.
3. The warmth and softness of your child's body, sleeping next to you.
4. Eyes that look at you overflowing with unconditional love.
5. Sharing what you love with whom you love.
6. Getting/sending a letter or a present in the post from/to someone you care about.
7. Reading a good book, in peace and quiet.
8. Looking at something beautiful.
9. Affording to have time to notice and enjoy the small details that make all the difference.
10. Winning a challenge.
11. Being able to pour out your feelings by playing the piano with your eyes wide shut.
12. Having a purpose in life and being able to pursue it.
13. Being useful, needed and loved without feeling burdened.
14. The smell of freshly grounded coffee.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Borat

About Borat humour: You either love it or you absolutely abhor it.
Curiously, Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Nazarbayev was, unwittingly, one of the most effective publicists of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" when he threatened legal action against Sacha Baron Cohen for the way his country is portrayed in the film. Bush doesn't come out too well, either

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Magical Montmartre

Re-heard one of my favourite songs from 13 years ago (What's Up, 4 Non Blondes, 1993) sitting amongst a crowd on the stone steps that lead up to the Sacré-Cœur, in Montmartre, on a sunny and warm Autumn saturday afternoon (a week ago). The performer wasn't that good but the crowd was and the moment was magical. Along with the Place des Vosges, Montmartre is my favourite place to be in Paris.

25 years and my life is still
trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this
Brotherhood of man
For whatever that means
And so I cry somethimes when I'm lying in bed
Just to get it all out what's in my head
And I'm, I am feeling a little peculiar
So I wake in the morning and I step outside
And I take deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's goin' on
And I say hey....
And I say hey what's goin' on
And I say hey....
I said hey what's goin' on
Oooh....
Oooh....
And I try, oh my God do I try
I try all the time
In this institution
And I pray, oh my God do I pray
I pray every single day
For a revolution
And so I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed
Just to get it all out what's in my head
And I'm, I am feeling a little peculiar
So I wake in the morning and I step outside
And I take deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's goin'on
And I say hey...
And I say hey what's goin' on
And I say hey...
I said hey what's goin' on
And I say hey...
And I say hey what's goin' on
And I say hey...
I said hey what's goin' on
Oooh....
25 years and my life is still
trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination



Friday, October 13, 2006

Sugar and spice and everything nice

Russell Crowe is being interviewed on BBC1 by Jonathan Ross (funny creep). I can't concentrate enough to write anything meaningful. People such as Russell Crowe, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges or Liam Neeson always seem to shatter all my attempts at concentration whenever they're on TV.
The kids and hubby have gone to bed long ago and are fast asleep. It's been a long day for all of us.
Hubby brought some fine "patisserie" from Paul's in London and, feeling obliged to accept what had been offered to me as a special treat, I ended up stuffing my face with all sorts of food in the kitchen after they went to bed. A mere treat triggered a huge binge eating episode which left me feeling utterly defeated and a complete failure. I've lost 30 Kg since May and I really don't want to pile it on again so soon (I'll die from the subsequent and inevitable depression). It's just that sugar acts on me like a potent stupefacient: it calms me and induces a very pleasant drowsiness. It's extremely addictive ... and, unfortunately, very caloric, also.
I expect I'll have an immense headache in the morning and wake up as bloated as a balloon.
Oh, well, off to bed now. At least I'll sleep drowned in the sweetest dreams. I hope.

People Ain't no Good


What else could be playing on the iPod? NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS: People Ain't no Good. For you, my dear friend. Life hasn't been kind.

People just ain't no good
I think that's welll understood
You can see it everywhere you look
People just ain't no good

We were married under cherry trees
Under blossom we made pour vows
All the blossoms come sailing down
Through the streets and through the playgrounds

The sun would stream on the sheets
Awoken by the morning bird
We'd buy the Sunday newspapers
And never read a single word

People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good

Seasons came, Seasons went
The winter stripped the blossoms bare
A different tree now lines the streets
Shaking its fists in the air
The winter slammed us like a fist
The windows rattling in the gales
To which she drew the curtains
Made out of her wedding veils

People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good at all

To our love send a dozen white lilies
To our love send a coffin of wood
To our love let all the pink-eyed pigeons coo
That people they just ain't no good
To our love send back all the letters
To our love a valentine of blood
To our love let all the jilted lovers cry
That people they just ain't no good

It ain't that in their hearts they're bad
They can comfort you, some even try
They nurse you when you're ill of health
They bury you when you go and die
It ain't that in their hearts they're bad
They'd stick by you if they could
But that's just bullshit
People just ain't no good

People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good at all

Thursday, October 12, 2006

End of Summer Traditions

"Rule, Britannia!" at the Last Night of The Proms
(click on Britannia to hear)

When Britain first at Heav'n's command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never shall be slaves.

The nations not so blest as thee,
Shall in their turns to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never shall be slaves.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never shall be slaves.

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame,
All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never shall be slaves.

To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never shall be slaves.

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair;
O blest Isle! With matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guide the fair.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never shall be slaves.

Paris 2006

Grand Union Canal Boating 2006

Cambridge 2006

Algarve 2006

Lisbon 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Home

New lawn and new paint for our new house.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I'm back !

I've surfaced.
This blog will continue in a few moments.
See you soon!!!