Words&wanderings

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When I decided to read more poetry last year I stumbled across Bashō and I haven’t looked back since. Of all the things I read his works was some of the ones I came back to over and over. I was happy to find some in A poem for every night of the year too but ultimately I needed to get more, and thus I bought The narrow road to the deep north and other travel sketches.

What should be noted is that it’s mix of prose and poetry( i.e. haiku) and not only his own work but also that of others; people he met and people he admired. As he undertook his travels almost as a pilgrimage it ends up being the notes from both his inner journey and his reflections of his surrounding. “Delicacy of feeling” are the words used on the back and I agree. There is a tenderness there, and insights. A very good books to read on the commute or when traveling.

I must say that I took in the introduction and footnotes with joy as this is an era(the Heian-Era) that I’m interested in. And I always read the footnotes anyways, I’m just pedantic in that un-charming way. You don’t have to, it makes a lot of sense without it, the translator has done a very good job I believe.

-Suss

Life&London

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I’ve taken you to Venice, I’ve taken you to Paris; might I invite you to one of my favourite places in London too?

I shall not pretend that I’m not very comfortable in Mayfair or around Sloan Square. Which very much has to do with the fact that I actually not belong there; I’m a cat among the ermines and I enjoy it. As a Scandinavian (albeit one that doesn’t look it because short and a brunette) I pretend I own the place. In the east end it’s the same thing but opposite; I don’t belong because I’m not hip nor genuin enough. But I do love that part of London.

The flower market at Columbia Road is so wonderful. I also very much enjoy shopping for fabrics and Bollywood earrings in the Indian shops that I pass getting there. Dennis Sever’s house is one of my fave museums(except it isn’t a museum,it’s a living tableaux). Oh and the beigle bakery in Brick lane. Get the strudel; almost as good as in Vienna. And if If I want a bit of that east end vibe when I don’t have a chance to go ? The Gentle Author takes me there.

I actually saw this book at the Brick lane bookshop when I was in London in 2014 but didn’t buy it because it was a brick of a book(pun intended) and my bags were already full to the brim. But I had a look when I got home and found it online. It started as a blog so it’s divided into many small chapters about the people,places and past of Spitalfields in the East end. There are probably very strict geographical lines to adhere to, as a bloody Swedish tourist it’s all the East End to me and I can’t tell Spitalfields from Shoreditch. I think I might just be a tad proud of that in fact.

The point is that this book is a darling thing to read and it has all those kinds of sweet nostalgic stories that I love on paper but don’t know how to deal with in real life. Like the story about the pigeon fanciers. That’s lovely that is, that someone is still keeping postal pigeons that carry messages. I also think that they are nasty birds, all of them. The kind of thing that I love to read about, I might even throw in an “we have culture anymore. Carrier pigeons was a sign of civilization and now we have the Kardashians”. I don’t mean it at all.

But many of the things in this book I do love, and I do appreciate diversity in real life. It should be noted that because it’s so many small chapters,and about a variety of things it doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover, and it’s an easy read too or browse. But possibly hard to get. I would advice to read the book before going to London,not after. Or you know, make another trip. London is always a good idea.

Things mentioned in this post;

The Gentle Author

-Suss

Carbs&Chignons

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So the world is rejoicing that the French decided not to elect a right wing populist as president. Of course,always contrarian the french; electing a right wing leader is what everyone else is doing. So I guess the fascination with them will continue. The food,the style and the attitude. Paris, the city of lights, the undulating hills of Provence and the glamorous life in Nice; they are the object of our dreams and desires. How to get there without leaving the comfort of your own home?

Many a books have been written by the french, by people living in France and about the french themselves. And on a few occasions by the french about the french;  to explain to us mere mortals how they do it. I’ve read more then one of those books, and even when I open the book with the intention of not liking it and assume they are making fun of me, I still manage to find a few tips and tricks along the way.

Why french women don’t get fat supposedly got quite a buzz when it was published. I have the Swedish translation that I bought at a gift shop a few years back. And Giuliano is a bit full of herself, i.e. lives up to the myth of the french woman, but many of the recipes are good I have to admit. I don’t know how “valid” it still is. She advocates a life with carbs,and I agree, but many of the food fads continue to rage, get exchanged for new ones and obesity is still one of the biggest health problems in the world.  So maybe she sold a lot of books but her solutions probably mostly preached to the gospel. I don’t think she did intend to save the world however.

A book more recently published is How to be Parisian wherever you are-love style and bad habits written by a group of very chic french women. the kind that has an inherited Hermés bag, a cool piece of new Chanel and has perfected the art of messy hair. I would say that this book,also intended for the hapless non-french, doesn’t take itself to seriously. And it does involve some good recipes. If we are talking style ideals and role models I would say that this bunch isn’t all that bad. I’m obviously biased; I think french pharmacies are brilliant with their affordable skincare, love good food and have a had a penchant for striped tops since childhood. Also any excuse not to wash my hair to often,or brush it, will be used. They say it’s chic, I nod my head and wear my hair in a messy bun for the 19th day in a row. But it is a fun book to browse through. I liked it more then I thought I would.

One thing that the french has figured out is that older women aren’t a menace to society. Yes, they do love young women, the femme-infant has a place in the french heart, but there seems to be room for all women.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I just thought I would mention these two books, that have in common that I gained more from them then I thought I would. The good thing about advice from a book about how to be french is that you can pick what you like and ignore the rest, which really is the best kind advice book. And I haven’t visited France since 2015 so aching to go back.

-Suss

 

Art&Amaretto

For all it’s grandeur it’s built to the human scale. While the tangle of streets,alleys and canals form a maze that can confuse even old-timers,the city is small enough to be comprehensible. You will continue to get lost,but in places that are familiar and welcoming.-p. 29 of No Vulgar Hotel

More cocktails I’m afraid. I had a trial monkey over and decided to make the most of it. And as the Venice Biennale has now begun it seemed like a good idea to make a cocktail named after that habitat on the marshes. But let’s be honest; for me Venice is always “top of mind”. It is one of the most magical places on earth. I’ve visited twice and would love to go back, but we’ll see when it happens. Until then there is plenty to read to take me back.

One of my all time favorite books,Jonathan Strange&Mr Norrell, partly takes place in Venice. In Proust’s epic suit A la recherche de temps perdu the narrator makes a visit. I recently read The passion by Jeanette Winterson which also is set partly there. And many many others. I’ve read more then one book purely because it takes place in that decaying city that has been described as a living museum. My tip for getting a genuin feel for the place is to get up early and move around, have breakfast at a cafe to view people who live and work there. Try to get away from the crowds a bit and visit the outskirts of the city, which given the small size of the plan isn’t that difficult.

A fun read, a bit out of the ordinary, that I picked up on one of my visits is No vulgar hotel by Judith Martin. She is a Venetophile and isn’t afraid to say so(nobody is; a love of Venice is a love that totally dares speak it’s name). With a a dark sense of humor Martin tells the story of Venice and how to make the most of your stay. Somewhere between “A Year in France” and “1066 and all that”, but you know, Venice, is how I would describe it. Byron makes an appearance, obviously.  Martin is American and writes from that perspective, just skim the fist chapter or so where she draws parallels between the US and The Venetian Republic. Or read them, rather interesting actually.

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But the where is the drink I promised? Ah. Most who have visited Italy are familiar with The Spritz; white wine, Aperol or Campari and soda. Very good stuff on a hot day. So called low ABV i.e. low alcohol but very refreshing. Served with olives or crips. This cocktail, the Ventian, comes from a cocktail book I have somewhere. Iused to make it often and feel it’s time to bring it back into my repertoire as Campari is always a good idea and Amaretto has a bad rep despite being a very nice thing to have on the bar cart.

Venetia-cocktail;yields 1 drink

4 cl dry gin

2 cl dry vermouth

1 cl Campari

1cl Amaretto

for serving;

chilled coupette or other cocktail glass

lemonzest

  1. Stir ingredients in an ice-filled mixer glass until chilled.
  2. Pour into the coupette and add the lemon zest.
  3. Enjoy responsibly.

This is a very nice drink with a mix of bitter and sweet. Very refreshing but also potent. On a hot day a spritz is a better option, and if you find yourself in the actual city you may not find this but then a Martin at Harry’S Bar is a nice substitute. For rainy nights when you wish you were somewhere else? This is just the thing.

-Suss

Travels and tea-towels

img_9438Let me tell you what I did; about 2 years ago I decided to make tea-towels my souvenir of choice(and chocolate). When I travelled someplace I would try to find a nice,good-quality tea towel at my destination. It’s a memento and it’s useful. I have managed to find them everywhere and seriously, tea-towels are a lot more stylish nowadays then the plain white ones I grew up with(not knocking the plain white ones though). I’ve come across more nice prints then I really need. Museums are good places to look, and big department stores. These do perk up the kitchen. And when they are worn out I’ll probably cut out the still good bits and use for a patchwork quilt or something. So the memento stays in circulation for longer.

Just an idea. It has really worked for me.(I love it when I find tea-towels with maps on them. I love maps but have no wall space left).

-Suss

London calling; Part two

While I’m on the subject of London(see yesterday’s post) I would like to add a few places that I recommend and then move on from this and plan my next trip instead of looking back.

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I’m not down (I drink classy cocktails you know)

I don’t drink a lot but what I do drink has to count. So I’m usually particular about bars or rather I try to visit a few places that can provide me with inspiration. The Worship street Whistling stop was lovely (here) but always on my to visit-list are;

-69 Colebrook row;home to mixology maverick Tony Conigliaro (here)

-Zetter townhouse; bar is managed by Conigliaro but a very cosy environment  (here)

-The Artesian; voted best bar in the world many time (here)

There are many great bars in London; I couldn’t possibly visit them all without being extremely hungover but those three have found a way into my heart.

Death or Glory

img_6879-1Undoubtedly the Museums of London bring it. Probably one of my fave museums in the world is Sir John Soane’s: a place that can be summed up with the words “you are not a hoarder if your stuff is in order”. So much to see. It is sometime called “the museum of museums” and I buy that. Soane was an architect and he built his own house in order to fit the vast collection of artifacts; the colours and the light are spectacular.  No photos are allowed inside but you can find out more here.

 

 

Oddly enough it was the first time I managed a visit to the British Library. It is well worthimg_6919 a visit (and now I’m placing a moratorium on that phrase) not only for the spectacular shop but it is very nice to see the old scripts; “soaring on the wings of history” and all that. Jane Austen’s writing desk was temporarily elsewhere when I visited but I did get to see the Magna Charta and some inspiring illustrations in religious scripture. There was a temporary exhibit on the subject of Punk that was interesting and the library itself is pretty amazing. All those books.

 

 

Brand New Cadillac (-ish)

On our way there I drank the shot of espresso that made me hit rock bottom and forced me to rethink my coffee guzzling ways. I will remember it always. The next day when visiting the British museum (here) I started my new life and had herbal tea and the paper cup it was served in was the nicest I’ve ever seen. In the area around the British museum I also want to mention the lovely café Syrup of Soot(here). It was newly opened when I visited but based on the location, instagramability and lovely coffee and pastries I expect it will become very popular.

 

 

I spent time looking at old things not only at the British museum but also the Victoria and Albert, usually just called the V&A(here). I could do that all day really. I am obsessed with kimonos. And my own sloppy take on them. Both places have amazing shops.

And then as always when traveling; keep your eyes open. You might just see something unexpected.

-Suss

London Calling; part 1

img_7680The point of clearing the shelves is to make room for new books, isn’t it?  Because browsing bookshops and buying new things to read definitely “spark joy”.

I went to London the other month and bookshopping is an integral part of any trip there. I was having a discussion with my brother (who is going to London soon) about London bookshops; he swears by Waterstones Piccadilly and Hatchard’s. The latter is alright I guess but I avoid that part of town as much as I can: too crowded(wrote the ninny who doesn’t mind running around in Soho which is also effing crowded. Too crowded by people wearing bum-bags is what the snob means about Piccadilly Circus).

I made two new discoveries this time and Sandoe Books has become one of my favorite bookshops actually.

Located in Chelsea,just of King’s road, it’s surprising that I haven’t been before. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in that area (I don’t really know what that says about me). When I posted from there on my IG-account I compared it to a hobbit’s burrow and I stand by that. It is very cosy, and an intimate environment is better for book shopping I think. Stress free browsing and excellent service. Find out more here.

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Another place I visited for the first time is Persephone books on Lamb’s conduit street. Managed to pop in on route between the British Museum and The British Library. Such a wonderful little bookshop/publisher and their idea of printing neglected books is an admirable one. Walked out with two books and a catalogue. It can be the start of of wonderful friendship. Find out more here.

img_6833Daunt books, in particular the shop on Marylebone High street, is an old acquaintance. Find out more here.This time I left without any books actually. And then I walked not that many meters, stumbled in to an Oxfam on the same street and bought a bunch. That Oxfam is highly recommended.

Other places to shop for books included previously mentioned Hatchard’s(here) and Foyle’s which is brilliant but big (here)

I would also recommend following @anicegreenleaf (here) on Instagram since she often posts about nice bookshops or things related to books in London.

-Suss