I had my best friend’s daughter, and my daughter’s best friend, to stay this weekend. we had a nice time visiting a bit of the coast I don’t go to much yesterday. this beach is a site where fossil elephants from 700,000 years ago have been found.
here is my website designer on the beach
it has a chalk floor with huge circular masses of flints in it – a geologist’s paradise – and inspiration for my pots
look out for pots like this anytime soon. then we went to Cromer and walked on the pier.
I had to make sure I didn’t look down as you could see the beach and the sea below through the floorboards. wonderful views of eau de nil coloured very calm sea all around. it has a theatre as you can see, and in the summer there is a great end-of-pier variety show.
we bought a dressed Cromer crab and had it on toast for lunch.
we went out here for a walk today. these dunes are mostly covered in marram grass; its a strange furry landscape.
but in some area the surface is just lichens, and in the summer, hundreds of little orchids.
the dogs adore it and play tag and hide and seek.
now Tilda is fast asleep on the sofa, exhausted after tearing around in the grass, up and down the dunes. there was a barn owl hunting too. it flew up, disturbed by the dogs, and floated over the edge to the lower level, where the dunes descend in a big step to a lichen filled valley.
I have made quite a few pots in the last week.
and 15 little ones. the little pots seem to be selling very well at the moment. they are useful to try new things out on, and they fill up the spaces in the kiln. these are not quite finished.
they look like chocolate pots, dusted with powdered sugar. I will have to find a way of glazing that allows this speckle of porcelain to show through.
as we walked along the edge of the woods this morning I noticed geese on the stubble upslope from us. at first they didn’t take much notice, perhaps the woods behind camouflaged us, but more and more heads came up with honking and squeaking, and I could see it was quite a big flock. suddenly up they went, flew round a couple of times, and then must have decided we were not much of a threat, down they came again, letting the wind out from under their wings in that sideways motion that looks so effortless.
but they didn’t stay long, as we walked up the ride between high hedges they all took off again, came over the hedge, but I couldn’t photograph them because the trees were in the way, then rose up, shaped themselves into a messy sort of vee shape with trailing edges and off they went in search of quieter and more sugarbeet filled fields.
its almost dusk at the end of the most perfect autumn day and a vee formation of geese fly low right over my kitchen. but the camera is nowhere to hand. I took these yesterday in Holt Lows, a piece of old heathland dotted with marsh and ponds, and overgrown with bracken and gorse, with groves of silver birch
and scrubby oak trees. I went cep hunting but there was hardly any fungi to be seen.
I don’t know if I was too early, usually there is plenty, with fly agaric all over the place. the leaves have not really changed colour much yet either.
looking out of my kitchen door yesterday morning I heard the squeaks and honks first, then looking up, there they were, skeins of pink-footed geese lit by the sun like strings of pearls wavering against the dark blue-grey storm cloud. I didn’t get a picture then, but here they are today, not as close, nor lit like that.
this week I went to a demonstration and lecture on Japanese laquer, urushi. its a very old technique, used by the Jomon culture at least 4,000 years ago to stick arrowheads to their shafts, and then eventually to make objects. two of the urushi makers in the Crafting Beauty exhibition which finishes at the British Museum this weekend have been giving demonstrations at the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. this is a very time consuming art, requiring enormous patience and manual dexterity. I went to see Murose Kazume using gold and silver dust, mother of pearl, cinnabar, and abalone to decorate laquer objects in successive layers of urushi laquer. I have to be honest and say that while I respect absolutely the virtuosity of this artist, these objects are far too perfect for my taste. I found his tools the most interesting things. he has brushes of mouse hair, and tubes with silk over the end of various grades to sift out the particles of gold.
I have spent some time today looking at Japanese poetry. I had an email from a Japanese potter I know, who has the lovely trick of adding an image to his emails, and in this case a poem. which just sums up how I am in my yoga class.
Although I try
to hold the single thought
of Buddha’s teaching in my heart,
I cannot help but hear
the many crickets’ voices calling as well
(Izumi Shikibu, Mediaeval Japanese female poet, 978 – ?)
I am really pleased to be home this time, more than usual. the dogs are fat, someone has given them a lot of bonios …… a big bag has been used up in a week. I am pleased Tilda has put on some weight. here she is waiting to pounce on Sal at Morston today:
the brent geese are back too, I could hear their purring calls across the lagoon and marsh. lots of curlews as well. and the mussel season has started. we paddled across the river here with difficulty, even at low tide the current was very strong after yesterday’s heavy rain.
I just have some photos I wanted to put up, of Philippe’s house and the model, Anne showing off Akira’s collection. so here they are. I sat on the stairs to my room watching this.
Akira works in Sidney, and he brings a team of people to help sell the collection, which is exquisite – couture almost. the model shows each piece the customer is interested in, and this takes some time and effort. its fascinating to watch, the clothes come alive. very glamorous, I would not have the lifestyle this collection requires!
just one of the windows in Philippe’s kitchen
and a view of the court from the kitchen. there are zebra finches down there, you can hear them “beeping” all day.
just one of Philippe’s eccentric little details from the kitchen.
An October evening so mild that you can sit outside comfortably for a drink and a meal. Sky clear and still quite light at although it is already dark down here on the edge of the place. It’s an old market place – the covered market has been replaced by a five storey glass and steel building with a shallow pitched roof and central arcade lit by a glass skylight. So it has reference to the old building. There is still one bar and bistro from the old days; they are shut at the weekend. The bar Le Rubis serves plates of charcuterie and cheese, and a huge list of wines; the bistro does enormous lunches of traditional French cuisine, and you have a napkin of similar proportions tied around your neck, all the better to enjoy it.
Some of the buildings here are 16th century; a big 18th century corner building was the club frequented by the Jacobin politicians during the Terror. Now American Apparel and Comme des Garcons Parfum, Italian restaurants and Audi cars sit behind sleek glass, and there is an underground car park. A trio of motorcyclists, their pillion passengers wearing headsets with microphones, roll past (reminds me of my great grandmother, towed behind my great grandfather’s motorbike in a wicker chariot; her only method of communication a rubber bulb motor horn).
Most nights the central area of the modern building has monocyclists or skateboarders practising their skills, rollerskaters whizz past and on three sides of the place the restaurants spread out onto the pavement.
A very pleasant meal of papardelle aigli spinaci, and two glasses of red wine.
Back in the Marais, it is Nuit Blanche, there are huge crowds outside several bars roaring support for France in the international rugby match against NZ All Blacks, and the whole street is buzzing. As I walk along a truck emerges from a side street, with a mobile DJ on the back, speakers dangling from a metal framework, broadcasting a strangely beautiful mix as it goes up St Antoine towards the rue Rivoli and the Hotel de Ville. Here in the hotel room I can hear whistles and shrieks from neighbouring apartments and cars tooting –France has won!