We get only transient and partial glimpses of the beauty of the world. Standing at the right angle, we are dazzled by the colors of the rainbow in colorless ice. From the right point of view, every storm and every drop in it is a rainbow.
(Henry David Thoreau: Journal, 11 December 1855)
There’s an old (1949) British comedy film in which Pimlico, a part of London, becomes the Duchy of Burgundy practically overnight with all the complications that this entails – the kind of complications that Carles Puidgemont, the Catalan ex-president, should have foreseen before he unilaterally declared independence from Spain.
If this post will have any merit, it won’t be in the quality of the photos, taken from a distance from a moving boat; it will be in the subject.
For fellow admirers of Arthur Ransome‘s Swallows and Amazons, here follows part two of Waterblogged’s tribute to Arthur Ransome and the beauty of the Lake District: today we’re going on a tour around Lake Coniston.
One of the most engaging books I read as a child was Swallows and Amazons, and its sequel, Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome. (I didn’t get to read more of the series until later.)
Last week, we visited the Lake District and went to see the locations where the books take place. Young Friend of the Elephants, a firm fan of Swallows and Amazons, even lugged the books with her on the trip.
This is our joint tribute to the beauty of Lake Coniston and the genius of Arthur Ransome. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)
The world is full of books and they are all set somewhere; let’s explore some of the places where our favourite book characters walked, fought, fell in love or made a fool of themselves.
I thought I’d photograph the sky at sunset as it has been so spectacular recently.
Me ocurrió sacar unas fotos del cielo cuando se pone el sol, como recientemente estaba tan impresionante.
So I went down to the Thames and picked a prime spot where there was nothing in the way of my spectacular sunset. No trees, no tall buildings, no radio masts – nothing. There was the river, the sky and me. And there was going to be this sunset.
Así que fui al Támesis y elegí un lugar perfecto, donde no había nada para bloquear la vista de mi puesta de sol espectacular. No árboles, ni rascacielos, ni torres de telecomunicación – nada de nada. Había el río, el cielo y yo. Y iba a ser esta puesta de sol.
Two years ago I read No One Writes to the Colonel (El coronel no tiene quien le escriba) by Gabriel García Márquez on the train en route for a day’s hiking. (It was just the right length.) Yesterday it was the first genuinely nice day of the year, so we went hiking; and I re-read No One Writes to the Colonel on the train.
I mean the first time round I thought it was brilliant and my Spanish is two years better now.
(The day’s hiking wasn’t bad either.)
There’s only one problem with No One Writes to the Colonel: I feel completely discouraged from picking up any of García Márquez’s other books ever again: there’s no way he could have surpassed this one.
In fact, I know he didn’t think he ever did.
You might also like: ⇒ Gabriel García Márquez, Minus Magical Realism
The other day, reading a history of Spain by Juan Eslava Galán, I came across the following paragraph:
Spain had become the defender of the honour of God. Theologians and thinkers (not so many of these latter) became convinced that Spain and God were united in a pact. God promoted Spain to the rank of the chosen people, protected her and granted her riches and power (the Americas) in exchange for which Spain acted as his armed arm on Earth, champion of the true faith against the error of the Protestants and the Turks.
España se había erigido en defensora del honor de Dios. Teólogos y pensadores (de estos hubo menos) llegaron al convencimiento de que España y Dios estaban unidos por un pacto. Dios la había promocionado al rango de pueblo elegido, la protegía y le otorgaba riquezas y poder (las Américas) a cambio de que ella ejerciese como su brazo armado en la Tierra, paladín de la fe verdadera contra el error de protestantes y turcos.
This notion of the pact with God and the chosen people put me strongly in mind of the Hun-Hungarian legends which I read as a child.
Formby in Lancashire is famous for its beach, its sand dunes and its pine woods where you can still see the elusive red squirrel. (Shame about the Irish Sea.)
Continued from: What Price a Thames Skiff?
We went walking on the Thames path the only sunny day this spring. I was going to point out all the jolly people rowing upriver in their beautiful Thames skiffs to my husband – I thought he needed encouragement to see things in the right light. But all I could point out were motorboats.
If you and I sat down to have a cup of coffee right now… well, to begin with, I’d be drinking lemon tea. And despite of all the interesting books that you think we could or should be talking about, chances are we’d end up talking about politics and football.
(Yeah, I know. It pretends to be a book blog.)
But we had a referendum last week and the UK decided to leave the EU. Simultaneously, we reached the knockout stage of the European Championship…
Imagine that you just built a graceful sailing ship – a tea clipper, no less – and have to come up with a name for it… Any ideas? No? Well, if you’re short of ideas, allow me to suggest you a name. How about the Skimpy Night-dress?
Today’s miscellany is a swindle… because the Spaniard’s Inn is not actually anywhere near the Mediterranean! The Spaniard’s Inn, in fact, is a pub in Hampstead Heath in London. Although, clearly, Spaniards are involved – which is my excuse for writing about it here. (That, and that it was passable weather today and I went to Hampstead Heath.)
Lord Street, in the small Victorian seaside town of Southport in Lancashire, has the airs and graces of Paris. Except that, if you’re to believe the locals, it’s the tree-lined avenues of Paris which have the airs and graces of Lord Street: the exiled Napoleon III lived here before he became king of France and afterwards he had Paris rebuilt in the same style. In any case, Lord Street is the main shopping street of Southport which you can’t avoid en route from the railway station to the pier (there’s a lovely stretch of sandy beach too although you’d have to question the sanity of anyone who wanted to go for a swim in the Irish Sea) and in between two bright and modern shops with their sparkling clean plate-glass windows, belonging to well-known chains, there is a narrow and uninspiring passageway.
Continued from: Upriver: Jerome K. Jerome Comes Out of the Woodwork
Sometime in January, I suggested to my family that we should go rowing up the Thames. À la Jerome K. Jerome. They didn’t take me seriously but I didn’t see why that should stop me. So a few weeks later, I was back on topic…
“We will need to get fit,” I said. It was a Saturday night and my husband and I were alone in the living room with a bottle of red. “We’ll need to practise.”
“Let’s row up the Thames.”
I said this towards the end of dinner sometime in January . “Like in Three Men in a Boat,” I specified, in case anyone around the dinner table was in the slightest doubt.
My husband gave me a wary look from the opposite end of the table. On my left, Sophisticated Young Lady tried (and failed) not to look immensely relieved that she was old enough to be excused family holidays. I can’t remember whether Young Friend of the Elephants was in favour or not. But either way, she got over-excited. She always gets over-excited.
The theme on day 16 was treasure. And the task description did begin with, ‘in the absence of a wooden chest full of gold doubloons…’
“And I was going to sea myself, to sea in a schooner, with a piping boatswain and pig-tailed singing seamen, to sea, bound for an unknown island, and to seek for buried treasure!”
Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island
In point of fact, this treasure from the British Museum is not pirate’s gold; these aureus coins from 160 A.D. were found in a jug below the floor of a Roman house in Corbridge, Northumberland. The Corbridge hoard, as it came to be known, was discovered in 1911. The 160 aureus coins were hidden below a layer of bronze coins wedged in the neck of the jug, which broke under its own weight when the archeologists lifted it out of the ground.
But I did once handle a genuine Spanish real de a ocho, better known as a piece of eight… as well as an Ancient Athenian tetradrachm, merely 2500 years old. (This is why it’s worth having kids! 🙂 They’re your passport to things that you as an adult would have no access to: like handling treasure and entering Boeing cockpits…)