Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress

Once again, the last film in the Sissi trilogy of films does not disappoint.  A wonderful film of magnificent settings and beauty.  These films are well recommended.

Sissi at one time leaves the Viennese court and travels to warmer climes.  The backdrop of scenery is magical and the pageantry of the times magnificent.  This is a film which will warm the very soul.  It is lovely..  The music and song and dancing are also wonderful.  The Viennese dances at court seem very different from the traditional folk music of Hungary.  The film is a splendour of romance and

Sissi travels to Hungary Madeira and Italy.  To see this film is a visual beauty

I now look forward to watching the film of Queen Victoria in Dover which complements the set of
the Sissi trilogy.

My best wishes

Friday, July 19, 2013

Daniel Deronda (film)

I enjoyed watching this fascinating film of Daniel Deronda.  A fascinating drama and also a social commentary of the times as this film also portrays the plight of the Jewish people in nineteenth century England and their struggle for acceptance and a place of their own in a promised land.  I actually found the film compelling viewing. 

I loved the costumes, the drama, the beauty of the settings and the artistry of the characters.  The singing and music.  It was wonderful.

 A wonderful script and character portrayal depicted in an era of charm and high society living.
A well recommended film!

Beautiful singing in the film in this you tube video:

Best wishes from Sandra

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I have recently watched two films of the trilogy of Sissi starring Romy Schneider and what beautiful films these are to view! So magical and wonderful!

I would recommend these films to people who love a romantic story and a beautiful setting.

Sissi was a princess of Bavaria who married the Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph and became Empress.  I was enchanted by the beauty of the Austrian alps, the mountains where Sissi grew up
and where her family home was located.  In many ways I am reminded of the film The Sound of
Music, for the beauty of the settings and the charming household of siblings.

  Sissi was of a naturally happy and joyous nature with a
beautiful personality.  Her charm and natural ways enchanted the Emperor, who was very much also
under his mother's guidance.  His mother let it be known to him that she had stepped aside but she was also very much in control of political matters to a certain extent.

  Sissi was different from her mother-in-law with firm views of her own.  The people loved her.

The second film is of the story of Sissi as a young Empress.  This film is also wonderful.
The Austrian Alps and the Tyrol feature in this beautiful story in which Sissi is also crowned Queen of Hungary at Franz Joseph's coronation by popular acclaim.

The pageantry, music and beauty of these films remain in my imagination.  They are so beautiful.  I look forward to watching the third film of Sissi, the fateful years and there is also a film of Victoria in Dover, the Story of Vickie, which I also look forward to watching.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A beautiful poem by James Henry Leigh Hunt

A beautiful poem by James Henry Leigh Hunt: I found this poem on poem after it was mentioned to me yesterday.  I certainly do love this wonderful poem of inspiration and light.

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

Anonymous Submission
Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

The Chance by Karen Kingsbury

The Chance by Karen Kingsbury

This wonderful novel by Karen Kingsbury is an inspirational story of love.

It tells the story of two young people who are separated by circumstances beyond their control and over the years the love for each other is not forgotten. If anything, the love between them increases. Ellie and her true love make a compact promise that they will meet again in eleven years' time. This was to be at the old oak tree in the park where they spent so much of their time and was a favourite spot. So much happens in these eleven years and it is beyond comprehension that so many favourable and unfavourable circumstances occur in Ellie's life and yet she finds the strength and will power to survive and do well. She overcomes so many obstacles to make good her life, from raising a child on her own and overcoming the harsh uncompromising attitude of her father in her early days.

The settings of the story are wonderful and Ellie often reminiscences of her earlier days in a small town in the south where she was often the companion of her friend Nolan who lived close by and Ellie often also attended his basketball games where he had a great talent and will to succeed in his chosen sport and career.  This also because he wanted to excel for the memory of his father who had been his coach.

Ellie for many years would be cheering him on from the stands, always enjoying watching him play his marvellous game.

There is also the gift of promise in this beautiful story. A gift of hope, inspiration and beauty. There is redemption for Ellie's parents and forgiveness as Ellie had been prevented from seeing her mother for eleven years.

The truth at the end of the story is all clear. It is wonderful and magical as all doubts, misgivings and misunderstandings are put to rest and Ellie can finally move on with her life. The beauty of the human spirit which is capable of achieving great things!

The Chance is a wonderful story of love and faith. The truth is in the pages which are so elegantly written. A story of life. A story to cherish and a story of love.

The Red Rose of Anjou by Jean Plaidy

The Red Rose of Anjou is a wonderful story of the life of Margaret of Anjou who marries King Henry VI of England.
 It gives a fascinating account of the life of Margaret in her early years at the castles of
Saumur and Angers and her visits to the French Court during the reign of Charles VII of France. The story of Charles VII, his life as the Dauphin and his subsequent crowning at Rheims Cathedral by Joan of Arc all comes alive in this wonderful story of the times. As a Dauphin, Charles VII lacked confidence but gradually he became a strong king over time.

Margaret was the daughter of Isabelle of Lorraine and King Rene of Naples and Sicily and grand-daughter of Yolande of Aragon. Margaret did receive the title of princess which was beneficial for her when arragements for her marriage were being made. Her parents were a king and queen in title only and not in possession of their kingdom. Her mother was the daughter of the duke of Lorraine but because of the Salic law she was unable to inherit her father's castle or title and the dukedom went to a male relative. This did not occur without hostility from both sides of the family and whilst in battle King Rene was taken prisoner.

The Duke of Burgundy, who was a powerful ally for the Vaudemont family which was claiming the inheritance and title of the duchy of Lorraine, had disapproved of Rene and Isabelle succeeding to the duchy of

Lorraine. They were already in possession of the castle and duchy which greatly improved their standard of living and Margaret's childhood had been quite impoverished. Rene (subsequently known as Good King Rene, who had a love of painting, poetry and the arts) had shown himself to be loyal to King Charles VII of France previously and not shown his loyalty to the Duke of Burgundy. After a lengthy time of imprisonment, in which he had occupied himself by painting beautiful portraits and stained glass at Dijon Castle, he finally was granted his freedom on the condition that he allow his elder daughter, Yolande, to marry a son of the family,

whom Yolande ended up growing up with, befriending and eventually wishing to marry. It was very sad for all concerned when Rene's daughter, Yolande, left the family home. Rene always stalled the marriage until at the time of Margaret's wedding, of which the celebrations were arranged by Charles VII, that Yolande and Ferri de Vaudemont made it be known that they did wish to marry.

The processions through France and the magnificent pageantry are described in great detail when
Margaret eventually makes the journey to England to become the new queen. An English party come to France to escort her on her journey and she befriends the Marquess and Marchioness of Suffolk,

who become loyal allies for her and the king. It is interesting to read of the customs at the time and what was expected of a queen on a royal procession.i.e. to look like a queen and to give dresses and shoes away for the number of years of her age in one town as was a tradition. Margaret was grateful for the kindness and assistance shown her by the Marchioness of Suffolk in these matters.

I love the descriptions of old towns of England where the sense of history gives an added measure to the story, as for example, the descriptions of Coventry, which was an old town named for a convent which had been destroyed before the time of William the Conqueror and the Norman conquest. However the earl of Leofric and Lady Godiva had founded a Benedictine monastery. Henry VI enjoyed and loved this city and was responsible for various of the buildings there, as for example, St Mary's Hall with its fascinating style of carvings and figures and a beautiful coloured tapestry. There was also a St Michael's Church which had dated to the time of the first Henry and had been given to the monks of Coventry by Earl Randulph. It was a wonderful peaceful time at Coventry in which Henry VI recovered from his debilitating illness. His
new born baby, Prince Edward of Wales, was also brought to him at the castle of Coventry.

The book gives vivid and compelling descriptions of the times, the politics and the family of Richard, Duke of York and his wife, Cecily, the Duchess of York, the parents of the future Edward IV. The characters represented in the story are quite fascinating in themselves and the author has written of riveting times. The story flows with characters of history written as though the writer had an inside knowledge. Many of the chracters are likeable in their own way and the story is set amongst a background of conflict and aspirations, belief of a true claim to the throne of England which of course causes controversy, resulting in the wars of the Roses.

For aficionados of the genre of historical fiction this book is a gem.

The stories of kings, the history of the conflicts in France, the wars of the Roses and settings in historical towns of England make for a fascinating tale. In all of this Margaret is a compelling character of strength and tenacity in her role as the queen, often having to take matters into her own hands when the need arose because of the recurring illness of Henry VI. In this she had her role models in her own mother and grand-mother who were also strong women. The story is quite compelling and well recommended.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

beautiful stained glass and art

Wonderful stained glass is depicted on the second section of this beautiful hymn on you tube:

I love the beautiful stained glass to be found in churches, the art work and colours.  So magnificent!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Versailles (a beauty)

Oh Versailles,

my memory stirs

The leaves flutter

and it all comes back to me:-

A summer breeze or a nightly feast,

the sound of distant music on the night breezes,

the wonder of the night.

The beauty gliding along your beautiful canal

on a windswept night;

these memories can never be erased:

Looking from a distance and seeing

your beautiful chateau lit up by night;

The beauty of the ponds and the lights

illuminated in the water;

The echo of laughter,

the lovely dresses and costumes

the masques, balls and delightful nights;

you who were never vain

but only always created beauty

in all of your imaginings;

the king,

of course;

the orange trees, fruit and flowers,

tulips of every day

breath-taking chestnuts

and hornbeam;

Oh, it was all exquisite

as in a dream;

now your days resound

to a different beat;

your history is never forgotten

your pleasures and beauty

give way to a new retreat;

the tourists delight

in every new treat:

music, a flower display

as people go on their way,

beautiful baroque

echoed all along in the day

as in a pantomime play;

the world created gave of its best

never for a day at rest;

there was always work to do

even though the people were few

and on and on this beautiful place was created

fountains and gardens were generated

As Angelique believed in Road to Versailles

she was close to Heaven on earth;

this from ever the day of her birth;

So beautiful, so wonderful,

a land of human endeavour

creating beauty

which lasts forever.

You, a prince of the line bourbon

shared a vision which goes on and on;

Did it come from Old Babylon?

The stories, the magic,

the gift goes on:

Louis, the king!

you created a stir,

Invited the nobles

and lives to bestir;

as beauty abounds

in all its surrounds;

hedges, greenery

enchanting scenery

and trees of fir;

the king was checked

the costs of the day

the amounts to pay

the king held sway

Colbert gave way:

Le Notre, Le Vau

who came from Vaux

with much to bestow

gave of themselves

a fine tableau;

with much to do

perspective and view

statues and yew,

menagerie, orangerie

and stable;

Versailles is your magic

with flowers bedecked

an enchanting effect

of rose, bay leaf

and maple;

As a Tower of Babel

on terrain sable

embellished by

a Fontaine fable;


topiary relief,

to enhance

by chance

as writ on a script

in ancient Sanskrit

or from Old Egypt:

a verdant


sand table;

glanced off the stage

peppered by age

did you not know?

This was the show:

Curtain came down

At the sun-down

and turn of a page;

come to this place

and never forget

the wonder and pageant

which the place would beget;

Now it is the end of the story,

don't forget the beauty-

chapel created in glory

songs of wonder

never cease;

beautiful Marly, the Tuileries


all of these places in the heart

ever from,

it was from the start;

Louis never took from the story,

he only added his theme.

And now with a different generation of folk

living their lives under a different yoke

who seek out the renewing green oak

travel a long and endurance path

this we know

as we go along

the time has come to sing a new song

the times of beauty and wonder

we admire from the past

as our spirits tread in a spirit of lightness

and now hope for a brightness

not ever dimm'd

but to last over yonder

and forever held fast

seeking beauty

wherever it may be

this we hope to always see.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Winter Sun on a Distant Shore

Oh, how I love the Winter Sun

which glints and glimmers free-

spills upon the ocean wave

and sparkles upon the Sea:

Oh, how I love that Winter Scene

God grant that I may ever dream

and see a different Winter Gleam

In a place serene:

And the sparkle in the tree:

as the ocean birds

warm their wings

in a windvale lee;

It glanced upon the lily pond

Came down to the shining sea

where a wonderful palm frond

waved back and forward to me:

And out on that glittering sea

Beckoned awhile a beautiful boat

Gleaming bright

upon the ocean white:

Rocking to and fro

upon the ocean breeze

Taking me

To wherever I please?

On the horizon

The glint of the sun

This I knew

was the one,

The boat of my Dreams:

Get on, get on

get on with the tide

the call of Nature is on your side:

the breeze was right

the time was night

and on to this ship I embarked

And now it was a

Dream of mine

gliding along the brine

Looked up and saw a pine,

Shadowy branches

Spreading all along

a breaking surf incline;

and upon this golden ship

could be an achor over to climb

for a future

way past time:-

This golden light

ever bright

springs forth amongst the trees-

Golden Splendour

My Delight

Greenery, symmetrically

A bird haven, shelter

which beauty about decrees:

This winter light

sparkles white

glinting bright

on a distant land:

where pink-tinged clouds

touch lightly on golden sand

in a powder blue haze

of an orange sunset maze;

and distant birds call a night retreat


gracefully gliding,

wings flapping on a silent beat:

And the noble green

where dancing shadows

flicker in-between

the tall poplar, fig and rose

on a distant shore.

Oh, for me a

distant slip

Where forever


A Golden Horizon

burns ever so bright:

And golden were the tomorrows I could see

on this enchantment-filled sea-trip;

Imaginings, imaginings

If only this were true-

To sail across the ocean blue

to a distant shore

with colours of every hue:

This, I say, to my regret

A land where once there was a Crown

and the gold-fish danced beside the ship

the dolphins frolicked

in their play

At the closing of the day;

The sails went up,

the winds did whirl

About and about

A glorious show

As sails unfurl;

A place where people

would bow and clasp your hand:

Oh, help me, Master, to understand

That as I sail to another land

the truth alone I see in mine own eyes

Not difficulties in another guise:

with beauty, truth

the perspective clears

and hope our Master

always hears-

I see light come from the grey

Banish all my thoughts away

There is beauty in the day

And for peace

I will always pray.

Come let us form a circle for our friends

And light a candle for this hope

And clap together our hands

for in giving peace

we give scope

for people visiting other lands.

A new life prospers true

And gives the day a new spark

Taking me from days of dark

If I could only see

A wonderful world

A place to be

wherever you may be.

Little Women (film)

Little Women is a mini-series on dvd and well worth watching.

An enchanting story of a family of four daughters and their ups and downs in life

set during the time of the Civil War in New England, USA.

The costumes are elegant and the characters endearing. The scenery, settings

and story line make for a wonderful film. The horses and carriages and the elegance of the times bring to life a different kind of world.

Jo was the bright spark who wished to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. Jo was

the perennial tom-boy who loved nothing more than to be dashing through the fields or

climbing trees.

Jo at one time was at cross-purposes with a German professor regarding

her scripts of stories which were first published. She had become a governess and was writing

short stories for a paper in New York.

The publisher of her

stories had initially informed her that the readers wished to be entertained and not read

moralistic stories. However, the publisher did admit that he did take a liking to her stories.

She perhaps should have informed the professor of this at the time. She did perhaps change her

stories a little to find favour with the publisher.

The aspect of her writing progress in the story is fascinating to follow and also how Jo's writing abilities eventually

developed. Finally, Jo felt that the stories wrote themselves later as she became a more

proficient writer with a deeper understanding and experience of life's sadness and


Little Women is tinged with sadness but also with the lightness of spirit

and the charm of the characters. It is a story of life. It has great beauty and acts of selflessness

demonstrated by the characters in times of need.

The stories of the romances of the daughters are also wonderful.

One daughter, Amy, travels to

Europe. Another daughter has a wedding.

The film is based on the book by Louisa May Alcott which I read many years ago.

It was a delight and pleasure to view this beautiful film.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Story of Esther on film

A lovely film which I enjoyed watching on dvd.

This is the biblical story of Queen Esther who eventually helped free

her Jewish people.

The story needs to be seen within the context of the times where women

could be banished as occurred to queen Vashti for not attending an entertainment

and banquet for the King's assembled nobles and visiting dignitaries.

King Xerxes often took advice from his wise and experienced counsellors. He was

advised to send Queen Vashti away and find a more suitable queen.

Esther never asked for anything. It was customary for the women of the harem

to request whatever they may require before going into the king's presence. Esther was

happy to oblige with whatever was suggested by the eunuchs in attendance who served

the king.

It was a fascinating time in history. The action of the story takes place in Susa and King Xerxes was King of Persia and Media and reigned over 127 provinces.

Esther's Jewish background was not known. This was

on the instructions of Mordecai, a cousin who had brought Esther up.

Mordecai, at a later stage, saved the king's life by discovering a plot.

Haman, a noble who had been elevated at the court by the king, had issued an edict to destroy Jewish people. He was also plotting against Mordecai.

The story is fascinating with beautiful settings and exquisite costumes. Esther becomes a beautiful queen and it is in this respect as a queen and using her wits she tries to do as Mordecai wished by

influencing the king as regards the Jewish people.

Mordecai had sent messages to Esther and after receiving a reply he warned her that she could

not remain silent on this issue and that just because she lived in the king's palace she could not believe that she alone of the Jewish people would escape. The Jewish people may find another way for their deliverance but she would not be safe. He also believed that it was possible that Esther was a royal for such a time as this. This strong message of Mordecai spurred Esther to try and do something to influence the king. In the biblical story, Esther and her maids fasted for three days and she also requested Mordecai to do the same with the Jews of Susa.

Within the context of the story Esther was playing with fire. The king had not seen her for thirty days when she eventually went to see him. He offered the gold sceptre which was an exception to the rule that people without formal request who entered into the king's presence were punished and put to death.

With lavish surroundings and banquets which Esther prepares the story moves to its climax and eventually the Jews are freed. The tables are turned on Haman.

The film is excellent and well worth watching. Esther and the king are wonderful characters.

I loved viewing this film and may watch it again. It has all the elements of a great and wonderful story and with clever manoevrings on the part of Mordecai, who was subsequently raised to a high level in the court, and also of Queen Esther, the Jewish people found their freedom again. They issued a decree that the Jews were allowed to gather and protect themselves. The occasion became a celebrated feast day in all of the provinces of the king.

It is a wonderful story.

Temple of Esther and Mordecai:

Best wishes from Sandra

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

Once again, another wonderful novel by Georgette Heyer! I enjoyed reading

this novel of adventure and romance. It is wonderful.

The two protagonists of the story, Prudence and Robin Merriott, are obliged to don disguise

on the instructions of their father, and are sent, as it were, into the lions' den of London. This is because

they were escaped Jacobites of the time and they had lived in other countries of the Continent. For various reasons Prudence's father had wished Prudence to disguise herself.

It is a fascinating

story of loyalty, disguises and a wonderful romance of Prudence (aka Peter Merriott) and

Sir Anthony Fanshawe. Sir Anthony Fanshawe, who to all appearances seemed not likely to

notice anything untoward did become suspicious of Prudence and that she was not all that she

appeared to be.. However, he did fall in love with her which is a marvellous aspect of the story.

Prudence was completely without guile and it is this mark of her character which is also so appealing. She had courage and wit and would even accept a challenge for a duel when called out. Prudence and Robin certainly became prominent in Polite Society which may not have been

initially intended.

Robin was the consummate actor who donned the guise of Kate Merriott to perfection. He was of athletic build and looked the noble genleman in his fashionable attire and nobody would have been wiser for his disguise. As Kate Merriott, he played an often vapid woman. The father wished to embark on a new life in England and claim his title of the Viscount. This in itself is a fascinating aspect of the storyline as he had left the family home many years earlier.

The plot of the story progresses and evolves with duels, cards, rescues, banquets and balls. I loved reading about the times. The costumes are described in great detail and the reader is transported to another time completely. The dialogue is excellent. I loved reading of the characters and their romances and adventures.

Wonderful descriptions of the moonlit countryside are given of England during a night ride with the hoot of an owl or the twittering of a nightjar breaking the silence of the night. A romantic setting is described with a horse trek across the open fields guided only by moonlight and the occasional lamplight in a house window of a town which they would circumvent.

Propriety and respectability are themes which do enhance the novel as it was set in the seventeenth century.

It is a noteworthy book of value.

An entertaining novel of great value and worth! This book does have all of the elements of comedy and drama and characters of some esteem. The romance of the story is lovely.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Casanova (film)

Casanova is a wonderful film set in Venice which I enjoyed watching.  The backdrops of scenery were
spellbinding and the baroque music was lovely.  The time was 1753, in Vencie, an exotic time, with the fashions, clothing. music and Carnivale.

The costumes which the characters wore were magnificent and the story amazing.

I would describe this film as romantic comedy and also quite entralling to watch.
I loved every minute of this film.

It is the story of the love between Francesca and Casanova.  The artistry, the beauty of the scenes and the humorous
adventures in the film made this film very enjoyable.

Casanova flalls in love with Francesca who is quite unlike any woman he has come across previously.  Casanova plays his role under many disguises and it is this aspect of the film which is quite humorous
and the misconceptions of the people he comes into contact with.

A doge, an inquisitorial bishop, Francesca's mother and brother, Francesca's fiance and the wonderful
scenery made this film very special.

The film stars Heath Ledger as Casanova and Sienna Miller as Francesca.  A must-see film for enjoyment
and light entertainment.  Even though the film seems humorous in many respects the film also represents
many truths and a wisdom of life.  It is a wonderful story.

Well recommended!

Best wishes

My best wishes Sandra

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Les Miserables (film)

I enjoyed watching the musical version in film of Les Miserables.  I thought it was a wonderful film
set in France about thirty or forty years after the revolution.

It is a compelling story of a zealous officer of the law determined to chase an ex-prisoner who had already served his sentence over the years.

A wonderful cast starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe and the beautiful songs make for an exceptional tale.  It is a tale of beauty and love, the story of the young people who put up the barricaades in Paris in the 1830's and it is also a story of hope and wonder.

This film is well recommended.

A couple of songs from the film:

Do you hear the people sing...

I dreamed a dream: Anne Hathaway as Fantine:

lovely songs!

I may watch this film again!

best wishes from Sandra

Love Starts With Elle by Rachael Hauck

Love Starts With Elle by Rachael Hauck is a compelling story of love, loss,

hope and wonder. I enjoyed reading this contemporary story set in Beaufort,

a small rural town in USA.

It is also an inspiring story of an aspiring painter, Elle, and a lawyer who has aspirations

of becoming a writer. I enjoyed very much reading of the lawyer's scripts of his attempt at a novel

of a World War II romance set in the Aleutian Islands, when in effect, he was expected to be writing a crime thriller or a political thriller.

The book is a fascinating story of people and relationships, of Elle, her friends and family, including four sisters and wonderful descriptions of the hometown of Beaufort given. At first impressions it does seem quite a wholesome story to read. The home, the art gallery, the cafes which Elle and her friends frequented and an aspiring artist whom Elle at one stage gives art lessons to as she is trying to steer him on to a more moderate path as his paintings were a little too extreme for her art gallery which she had previously set up.

Circumstances can change and at one time Elle is without purpose in life and it does take her awhile to find her place in society again after the sale of her art gallery.

The characters give depth to the novel. The prayerful Miss Anna, always with a song of hope in her heart, who was an inpsiration and support for Elle. There was the minister whom Elle was engaged to marry and the lawyer who became a good friend, her parents, people in the art world and at the art galleries who could decide Elle's future in art with their critical reviews. Elle's romances are also

cause for reflection and it is this aspect of the novel which is quite inspirational. I enjoyed reading about her interactions with the people close to her in her community.

The descriptions of Elle's paintings are quite exquisite as is also the story of the book. It is well worth reading. There is a quotation at the beginning of the book by Georgia O'Keefe of expressing by colours and shapes feelings which could not be put into words. This expression conveys a sense of beauty and wonder and seems to be a theme in the book as Elle's paintings were really quite wonderful and full of beauty seemingly touching on the spiritual and magical.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Colours and Imaginings

A poem for Poetry in Paradise which occurs every month at the Library:

Colours and Imaginings:

The afternoon sunlight

seems so right

if only it would stay

Not turn into night:

the quiet,tranquillity

Bird song and serenity,

it gives hope to my heart

and all the beginnings of a new start:

Pink shadows and grey

A darkening ray-

But a-far and be-yond

By a magical wand

the Sun dips its beam

into the Great Unseen:

Autumn leaves,

They flutter and fall

sweep up my dreams

and gather them all:

Ruby, russett, orange and red

Colours of imagination

wherein I am led.

A beautiful valley

Of Summer Green

the clover, flower,

and grass:

A spectacular scene

And greet in the distance

sweet summer's haze;

beyond the township

dips the soft sun

The light in the meadows

a glimmering one;

A perfumed landscape

As nightfall approaches

this I see

In all my reproaches

A shimmering stream


The beauties of Nature

give a powerful beam:

the contours,

the colours

they glance into Space

Now it is a canopy,

A starlit, wondrous Place;

Oh, this lovely Night-scape!

By candle-light beauty

echoes the Grace

with each little star

flung out into space

And the seasons,

an ever encircling ring

As May flowers bloom in spring;

The soft greens by the River Seine

they seemed to beckon and call my name

but out on the fields is a different scene

Crimson and yellow and bright blue and green;

The echoing distance

the ringing of bells

A picture-page story-book

which often tells

of adventures and romance

the kind which sells:

In distant played memories

My mind perceives

The beauty of this world

which never deceives;

Who knows where it all began?

The stories of life

which travelled on the winds,

in the currents of streams

whispered in leaves

and reached different shores

North, south, east or west

in the Great Plan:

As oft in my day-dreams

the colours return

Soft greens of a vineyard,

Do colours play tricks?

In my mind,

backwards and forwards

Colours behold!

Beauty magnified

in colours re-run

At the setting of a Sun;

Crimson starlight, pink and blue

Purple, orange, every hue;

Colours of the World,

I say

A beauty of Art

Peace of the World

I pray

And a new start

Peace in my Heart:

the colours and imaginings

Grace plays its part;

Soft glimmering hopes

my last wishing stance

the wonders of Nature

give a Second Chance

for peace, harmony,

beauty tranquillity.

The Way We Were by Elizabeth Noble

The Way We Were by Elizabeth Noble

The Way We Were is a story told with panache and verve

by the author. She tells the story as it is and what a roller coaster of emotional

drama it is!

This story is set in England of London and rural England. Sometimes the story is told in retrospect of Susannah's life growing up in a rural country town, her friends and a near neighbour, Rob, and his family.

It is an interesting story to read of a romance, career, friends and family. I enjoyed reading this

novel which is very contemporary in every respect.

The story is poignant and humorous, especially the banter exchanged between

Susannah and her best friend, Amelia, who had been a school friend in her earlier years.

I enjoyed reading of the earlier times when Susannah's life seemed simpler as she was growing up in

the countryside.

There are many wonderful memories and anecdotes, her memories of congregating with other members of the community outside the village church every week-end to watch the bride and bridal party leave the village church after their wedding and she would bicycle to the local shops to purchase her sherbet and sweets while the bridal party was in the church or of the wonderful celebrations on the village common on the occasion of Guy Fawkes Night which was a special treat for the children.

These occasions are told with authenticity and often the dialogue scripted would be the dialogue expected of the villagers spoken on these different occasions. Susannah's own parents, her family and Rob's parents are fascinating characters to read of with their idiosyncrasies and approach to life. It is a whimsical book to read with sentimentality shown at times in the dialogue and story. It is also sad. Susannah may have been the author of her own misfortunes. It is a story of Susannah's life. It gives a glimpse of a not too distant past in England of the twentieth century.

The Women of the Cousins' War

The Women of the Cousins' War, The Duchess, The Queen and The King's Mother

Three stories by three different authors comprise this book which is quite fascinating to read

for the medieval times of English history and the early reign of

the Tudors.

The first story is of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who was married to King Henry V's

brother, John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford and subsequently married Sir Richard Woodville, father of Elizabeth Woodville, a future queen of England.

I enjoyed reading of

Jacquetta's life as I had earlier read The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

where Jacquetta plays a significant role in the story. There are the family

legends of Melusine, a water nymph. Perhaps

because of these unfounded legends Jacquetta at one time is suspected and arraigned for being

a witch. She certainly was fortunate in that she was acquitted of all charges. Jacquetta is a

witness at the marriage ceremony of Elizabeth and Edward IV. Jacquetta's allegiances

previously were for the Lancasters. In those precarious times Jacquetta and her husband

often had to balance their position between the opposing forces of Lancasters and Yorks.

The next story is of Jacquetta's daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of Edward IV. This gives a fascinating insight inot her life as queen.

The following story is of the life of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of a King Henry VII, grand-mother of Henry VIII.

This biography gives an insight into the times prior to the early Tudor kings of Henry VII and Henry VIII and of Margaret's life, who was married at a young age to Edmund Tudor and gave birth to Henry VII at a young age as a widow. Margaret was ambitious and concerned mostly for her son, Henry, in exile in France, whom she did not see for many years. Margaret Tudor was the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Her story is a noteworthy one of setting up a Professorship of Divinity at Cambridge University and being a founder of St John's College, Cambridge and Christ's College, Cambridge.

Margaret was a Beaufort, descended from the line of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford, who subsequently became John of Gaunt's third wife, the Duchess of Lancaster. During Henry IV's time a clause was included in the succession bill that the Beauforts could not claim the throne. Margaret's rise in politics and royalty is all the more spectacular for what she achieved from her early beginnings.

The stories give a good overview of the women and how they adapted to change and coped during troubled times in English history. The stories are written by three different authors, Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones respectively. It is more of a book of interest for people who are interested in this era of English history and drama of the times. It gives details more likely to be found in a non-fiction book than a fictionalised story.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Places in France

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris:

A wonderful place to visit.

  Beautiful stained glass windows, a statue of Louis IX, Saint Louis, by the altar and wonderful carved doors leading to a balcony upstairs with depictions of scenes from the Old Testament.  Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark.  This chapel is well worth visiting and quite beautiful.
Built in the 13th century and as a place for the religious relics of a true
piece of the Holy Cross and other religious items.

Staue of Louis IX

Wonderful stained glass: so beautiful, lovely colours and light.

Carving on door: the building of Noah's Ark:

The Sainte-Chapelle in on the Ile de la Cite, next to the Conciergierie. It is lovely
to wander around this area of Paris with the flower markets and the wonderful views of
the River Seine and the famous land-marks of the city.

Beautiful river Seine, Paris

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Places of beauty and colour

Pohutakawa trees flower a beautiful red in coastal regions of New Zealand in November, December and for Christmas. 
A pohutakawa flower in bloom from wikipedia:
These trees are magnificent. to view.  So special putting on a spectacular show at Christmas which makes the season seem so much more magical.  They flower along the Auckland waterfront and at many beach side areas and parks. 

Albert Park, Auckland:  Beautiful flower gardens can be seen at all times of the year.  In the winter there are often different varieties of flowers.

Floral Clock, Albert Park, Auckland from wikipedia:
The park is opposite Auckland University and its
landmark clock tower.  There is also a floral clock in the park.  When in Auckland
I have often enjoyed walking in this park.  It also reminds me of days at University
when I was often walking from the city to lectures.

Places of Inspiration and Beauty

Flower gardens St Sergiyev, Posad
Trinity Cathedral from wikipedia:
Assumption Cathedral from wikipedia:
The Monastery of St Sergiyev at Posad is of enduring beauty and inspires with the magnificent
architectural styles, the peaceful gardens and the beauty to be found there of the religious
paintings, icons and art in the churches.  A majestic place!
There is also a wonderful little gift shop.  I lived visiting this little town not far distant from Moscow.
The Baltic Sea: views across the Gulf of Finland from the coastal regions of St Petersburg:
Wild, windswept and beautiful.  I loved looking out over this area from the coast and to imagine Finland over the water.  A magnificent setting in its beauty of water and but so sky.  This was in October
and the weather was getting very cold.  The colours of sea and sky merged as the weather was often
Peterhof Palace and gardens: St Petersburg: from wikipedia:
A wonderful place to visit for the beauty of the interior and the magnificent gardens and fountains.
A fascinating history, built by Peter the Great who had visited and travelled in Western Europe.  He would have been inspired by the beauty of the architectural designs which he had seen while on his travels.  This palace may have been modelled on Louis XIV's Versailles as he would have taken inspiration from his travels in France.
River Thames, London
A beautiful scene of water, landscapes, architecture and sky seen from the Embankment and Temple stations.  I loved the view.  It was magnificent.  The water and sky again were overcast in grey, white and  silver colours and the landmarks stood out so vibrantly and clearly.  Not far from here was the Palace of the Savoy which was destroyed in the fourteenth century during a rebellion.  There were once landscaped terrace gardens on the banks of the Thames which would have been beautiful.
Hyde Park, London:
Wonderful in the autumn with the varying shades of trees.  A lively place with people walking their dogs and bicycling. 
Oia on Santorini: a Greek Island:
Wonderful to view the majestic sunset from high up on the hill which overlooks the beautiful blue
Aegean Sea.
Sunset at Oia from wikipedia:

I remember watching from between two white washed walls high up on a hill.  It was so peacful and beautiful and silent.  This is a beautiful place to visit.  There are also wonderful churches with blue domes on the island.

Limon Tree at Poros: Greek Island: a magnificent walk through countryside to a beautiful place called Limontree where there is a lemon grove.  Wonderful lemon drinks were available in the heat of the day and after the long walk.  There is also a maagnificent monastery on a hilltop where to view the visitors must don a robe to enter.  The architecture is wonderful with old stone columns and the scenry is beautiful.  Spiritual and peaceful.

A Sunset over the River Seine, Paris: so beautiful
a Sunset over vineyards: magnificent, with so many vibrant colours!
Many places of inspiration and beauty!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Miss Austen Regrets: a film

This is a wonderful film from the BBC of the novelist Jane Austen,

writer of romantic novels Pride and Prejudice, Sense and

Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Emma.

Jane was widely admired for her novels which were read in Paris

and enjoyed by royalty and yet her own story may not

have been quite so romantic as her heroines.

I enjoyed watching this movie. It is so different!

Jane lives in fairly straitened circumstances with her mother and sister

in a cottage on her impoverished brother's estate who is a widower

responsible for eleven children.

Jane wonders about her life and how it may have been different had she married

at an earlier stage of her life when she received a marriage proposal.

The film reflects a society with its different codes of

conduct and character of early nineteenth century tempered by its beautiful horses and carriages,

music and dancing, elegance and manners.

The beliefs of the times when people thought differently

about marriage make for compelling viewing.

It is an unusual film with wonderful settings of beautiful landscapes and authentic styles of clothing which reflected the times.

Strong emotions, quirks and foibles of the characters and an engaging story line enhance

the picturesque quality of this film. Jane Austen was a strong and witty character herself

like her romantic heroine in Pride and Prejudice.

Full credit to the makers of this movie! It is quite a masterpiece.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

The Grass Harp

A wonderful mesmorising story by Truman Capote which is so

beautiful, poignant and evocative. I loved reading this story by

Truman Capote.

This novella tells the story of an orphan boy who lives with his relatives

from a young age. He befriends a sister of the house and her servant. This

story is set in earlier times in small town America. The story fascinates with

its spitituality and beautiful descriptive writing. The script beckons it is so

wonderful and I would recommend this story.
There are also more wonderful stories by the same author included with the story of
The Grass Harp which I m now enjoying reading.    They certainly are different and I
have finished reading Master Misery, which is a story of a girl who sells her dreams.
I look forward to reading more stories by this compelling author.
Best wishes and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Places of enduring beauty

Places of enduring beauty

Venice, St Mark's Square and the little canals, bridges, gondolas and ambience

of a beautiful city. The shining water and reflections, the magnificence of the

art and architecture and beautiful old churches and Doges Palace. A place I wish

to return to for its wonderful atmosphere and beauty. A trip to the colourful villages

of Murano and Burano where the glassblowers do their craft so well would also be nice

to revisit. It is awhile since I visited this beautiful and inspiring city.

St Sergiyev Monastery, Posad, Russia

Wonderful architecture of the trinity cathedral and bell tower.

Splendid! Memorising and so beautiful! Wonderful colours of blue and

white and magnificent domes in a peaceful and rural setting. I loved visiting this

place which is not far distant from Moscow.

River Seine, Paris

So beautiful and enchanting, by daylight and the setting sun.

A wonderful place to stroll along the banks of this mesmerising river

which winds its way through the city of Paris.

The Isle de la Cite is wonderful with the flower markets, the scents and


Beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral by the river setting is beautiful.

I love Paris.

The beautiful gardens of Versailles:

Not far from the Paris, the magnificence of the baroque era of the seventeenth

century is on show. The chateau of Louis XIV, the Hall of Mirrors, art works

and sculpture and magnificent salons. The views of the gardens are spectacular

in all of their wonder and glory.

Beautiful flowers, colours and fountains give a sense of wonder and beauty.

Geometrical patterns of the flower beds, the hornbeam, the hedges and groves

with pretty fountains and rock pools give an air of serenity, peace and tranquillity.

The baroque music of the era complements the fountain displays and gives a sense

of the seventeenth century during the time of Louis XIV in all of its splendour.

Tuileries Gardens, Paris

Beautiful in the spring time and summer with the magnificent varieties of colours

and flowers. The gardens are beautiful and peaceful.

Statues and fountains add charm and beauty.

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Wonderful in the autumn with the varying colours of the leaves. I often used to enjoy

wandering around the Luxembourg Gardens where I could sometimes purchase a waffle.

Paris is a magnificent place to be in autumn with the many tree lined boulevards

which make the city so attractive and the temperatures begin to cool with lovely

breezes along the banks of the River Seine.

More to follow at a later date.