Growing spells


At this time of year, as the summer visibly ends and the leaves start to turn, I often try to spend some more time around nature to enjoy the last of the summer’s growth.


A few years ago I made it to Sissinghurst before the season closed; before that it was a day trip to Dorset, and last year it was Audley End and Saffron Walden.


This time if anyone is looking for a similar kick, here’s some scenes from Ljubljana last month and the allotments in the “suburb” of Trnovo a ten minute walk from the centre.

Pink sultriness


A stream of dusky pink sultriness swept across Theatre Alley. Shopkeepers in felt slippers carried green bottles of wine and barrels of olives out into the street. Macaroni boiled in bags of foamy water in front of the shops, sending up steam that melted into the high heavens. Old women in men’s boots hawked seashells and souvenirs, chasing down hesitant customers with loud cries. Rich Jews with neatly combed and parted beards rode up to the Northern Hotel and rapped gently on the doors of fat, raven-haired actresses with little moustaches – the actresses of Di Grasso’s troupe.

Scenes from Isaac Babel’s Odessa Stories; paintings is Vanessa’s Bell’s Oranges and Lemons from 1914.

A melting pot



Ports have always been a melting pot for communities, and situated at the junction of Italy (specifically Venice and its own cultural mix), Austria and Slovenia, Trieste has its own smattering of diasporas.


One I wasn’t expecting to find, but that makes sense once you think about the geography was that there were larger 19th century churches built by both the Greek Orthodox and Serbian Orthodox communities.


The Greek church, which had been painted mint green and looked like it had been converted to a cultural study centre, faces onto the water but was closed both days we were there. But the Serbian church, standing off an artificial canal and diagonally opposite a catholic church built like a Roman temple, was open.


Dark corners, gold, candles for sale and with embroidered cloths draped over the icons that reminded me of what I’d seen in Lviv. A moment of quiet in a wander round town.

Life and art


I hadn’t seen this Ravilious piece (The Carnation House) before, although I knew some of his other greenhouse paintings


…and then a few days after seeing a picture of it I ended up in a similar scene at the Birmingham botanic gardens


which also had these splendid cacti and a troupe of peacocks. Life imitating art, June 2019.

Books and coffee


Photo from @thelittlebookroom. The sight of these new penguin Shakespeare’s reminds me of near the end of the film “An education” where Lynn Barber goes to have coffee with her former teacher and realised the fulfilment available in black spine penguin classic paperback style and postcards tacked to the wall. Yes!