Thursday 31 October 2013

What we ate

If you like fish then you will be happy eating out in Venice.
Mm, where to start!
With fish, of course, and a lime dressing.
Followed by lots more things from the sea!
And still some space left for pudding.
I chose the zabaione
but we all put a spoon into each others puds.
Does your family do that?
And to finish, a good selection of regional cheeses.
Another day, another menu, and more delicious things from the sea.
Lagoon cuttlefish in black ink sauce 
and carpet shell clams.
By the end of the holiday our family must have seriously diminished the regions supply of clams! Never mind, there are plenty of vegetables to buy in the market, where bunches of chillies looked every bit as attractive as a bouquet of flowers.

Thursday 24 October 2013

What we bought in Venice.

Venice is awash with tourist tat, they sell it by the bucket load. I've bought plenty in the past, carnival masks, coloured glass in the shape of boiled sweets, and, when the girls were small, to their delight, tiny glass Snoopy dogs each holding a daisy. This time, mindful of the fact that our house is crammed to the roof top with 'stuff' we bought very little. (Well, I behaved!)
We hunted for a pigment shop in the S. Banaba area, whose window display was always of row upon row of delectable colours. No success. Then, in another part of the city we found a shop selling artists' materials. On the back shelves were large glass jars of pigment. Himself was like a child in a sweet shop.
Rosso laccascurra, blu cobalto, rubin rosso. How lovely well-known colours sound in Italian! We were the only customers and able to have an enjoyable conversation with Carla, the shop attendant. Himself chose a range of colours which Carla decanted from the jars.
'Verde pappagallo, which pigment is that?' we wondered.
"Come Uccello," Carla told us. If it was good enough for Uccello then it's good enough for us!
In a junk/antique/magical curiosity shop Himself was on a roll. His eyes alighted on a battered old painting. The elderly shopkeeper, who had been restoring a frame in the workshop at the rear of the building, came to help us. With no English but considerable charm he told us that it was a 'grazia' painting from Choggia. Himself had to have it, the white mist had enclosed him - do you have a partner like this? We didn't have enough money on us. Good, a reason to leave the shop, collect some cash and rendevous with Wee One and Roman, who possess bargaining skills.
When the four of us returned we were met by the shop owner's son. The picture had been made, he told us, as thanks for saving the life of a sailor during a storm at sea. It is a naive painting, a gesso ground on a thick chunk of wood. It bears the inscription
A good slap of varnish covers the surface and binds the paint to the wood.
It's an Italian version of an Alfred Wallis!
Back at the apartment Himself said in great satisfaction and justification, "And, look, it fits perfectly into my inflight bag!"
But whose birthday was it, for goodness sake!
On the last day of our holiday I choose an aquamarine necklace,
just the same colour as the water in the Grand Canal.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Wet and wild

It's not being a gentle autumn, far from it, it's really wet and wild. Just as well, because it stops me from wanting to be outside working in the garden. One good outcome of the weather is that the rain softens the walnut casings and then the wind knocks them down to the ground. The weather is so poor that the squirrels seem to be staying in bed. Good - all the more nuts for us! We have put them in trays in the kitchen to dry out.

I'll confess to rather liking the damp and decay that settles on the garden at this time of year. 

A few brave flowers are battling it out.

More high winds are forecast, so Himself has picked all the pears from the tree. They are still very green, I hope they'll ripen.
But the Swiss chard doesn't seem to be bothered by the weather at all. Why, it looks good enough to eat.
But it doesn't fool me!

Monday 21 October 2013

Flowers in the house

This outrageously colourful bouquet of flowers arrived from the Young and Fit when we returned from holiday - just as bright as the houses in Burano! They came with a lovely message
and detailed instructions for their care. After a few days I was to dismantle the whole caboodle, cut the stems, change the water and so forth.
I waited for six days before doing as I was told. And now I've got two vases of flowers, a winter arrangement in the dining room
which looks quite different under artificial light.
And in the sitting room, with the addition of a few straggly specimens from the garden, a much quieter display.(But, oh, isn't lily pollen pesky!)
For Jane's flowers in the house at small but charming.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Lions etc.

Some parts of Venice are awash with tourists and I am so impressed by how courteous and friendly the Venetians are in the face of such an onslaught of visitors. During the daytime St Marks Square is a throng of people like myself attached to a camera - or a phone or pad.
The images that we take are recognised the world over.
Which hasn't stopped me taking them!
The cafe orchestras compete for attention.
And customers look suitably soigné.
But I like it best in the evening when the crowds have dispersed. Under pools of light the bands still play and their music floats into the inky darkness of the square.
The arcade shops display expensive goods and outrageously overworked glassware.
But many parts of the city are quiet and undisturbed. I like the Arsenale area,
the site of my favourite Venetian lion.

The last time I was in Venice I was collecting information for a mural and I tucked myself in beside him at the end of the canvas.

There are certainly plenty of lions to choose from
and beautiful decorative details to discover
all over the city.