Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday Walk

Well, it's the third Monday of term, and the third wintry cold Monday- but at least we had sunshine on Sunday morning for a walk- added to by some blue blue winter skies.

I love the changing look of this shed with the light, and the crops in the field around it change with the seasons as well.

I take far too many photos of winter trees against the sky- but I just love the look of those bare branches, each tree so individual.

I'd just climbed up this hill that the lady with the dog is descending. It's steeper than it looks, and has quite a 'grunt' factor to it.

Back home, the sunshine was 'just right' on the cyclamens in the kitchen. This bulb was looking quite dead when I left the country mid-April, but I put it outside to experience the cold and wet- and it was clearly just what it needed to spark off new life again.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Daffodil

First daffodil blooming on the back deck. Spring is in the air....

Monday, July 23, 2012

Paris to Burgundy- 16 April

After a few days enjoying Paris, and getting over jetlag, it was time to head across to the Burgundy region ready for the start of my walk along the Chemin de St Jacques from Cluny.
I'd already had a taste of the way of St James in Paris when I explored the little park around the Tour St-Jacques which was recently restored.

 I think I enjoy large train stations almost more than airports- and the Gare de Lyon didn't disappoint with its vitality and colour.
I was taking two trains to get to Burgundy, and then a French friend was picking me up for a 30 minute car ride to his small village. Laroche-Migennes was the first of my train destinations.
 It was another French place with spring in full abundance.

 I'm a fan of long station platforms as well :-)

 A few hours later I was in my friend's house, and they had a statue of St Jacques in the bedroom. He was watching over my transition from tourist to pilgrim...

 Next morning I took a walk around the village and nearby countryside. There was a good frost early on, but sunshine as well. The little rounded hills provided a wee taste of the bigger hills soon to come further south in this Burgundy (Bourgogne) region.

And there was another hint of what was to come in this little village: there was a balise on the tree as this village was also on the chemin towards Compostelle.

These were the small markings I was soon going to have to keep a close eye out for so I could find my way along the Cluny Chemin.

There'll be a blog developing over the coming weeks with more about my Cluny Chemin, but it isn't up and running yet....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

St Sulpice Organ, Paris

Daniel Roth was the organist.

Sunday afternoon in Paris- 15 April

After a good lunch I was ready to walk some more in the streets of Paris: just being a tourist in a large city means you can notch up a fair few kilometres walking in a day.

There are some top class buskers in Paris, and these guys outside the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés were attracting quite a few listeners on a bustling street.
Part of this church is very old. I was told it was the oldest church in Paris, and I think it was Liliane told me that.... and there is certainly a very old chapel near the entrance to the main church, said to be originally to Saint Symphonien, martyred in 179 in Autun. These kind of dates for early Christianity really push back the boundaries so Palestine doesn't seem so far away.

Not being much of a Catholic, and having grown up in New Zealand where candles were never really part of what 'happened' in church when I grew up, I am never one for lighting candles in churches- but I always love the 'look' of the light produced.

This is the interior of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the windows and arches having rounded Romanesque characteristics.

I took a few more photos of dresses in shop windows for Leanne. I saw the price tags too, and understand why the sales I saw at the end of June in Paris were so very popular.

Everywhere as I wandered I saw more signs of rampant spring...

In the afternoon I took a more 'traditional' tourist route- first along the Seine where I saw many of the tourist boats plying their trade, even so early in the season in mid-April.

I was aiming for the Museum of the Orangerie, via the gardens around the Louvre.

Here's an impressive archway in the Tuileries Gardens, named the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. You can read more about it here.

And here's a view of the Eiffel Tower from the gardens:

And here is a bit more spring lavishness:

But my visit to the Museum of the Orangerie was not to be this day. It turned out there was a massive election rally for Sarkozy nearby- not that it did him any good in the end- and the museum was closed for the day for security reasons.

Turitea Walkway- home again

Despite my recent posts with photos from overseas, I am actually 'home' again..... and this morning I took a walk along the Turitea Walkway. Top photo shows a view across to the northern end of the Tararua ranges in behind Palmerston North.

 And on the pond at the Old West Rd end of the walkway, there were some young pukeko, as well as this pair of ducks that seem to be all ready for springtime.

I realised when I walked the track that I have rarely chosen to walk this route in winter: I'm not used to seeing the view through the bareness of winter trees.

I met lots of others out walking, all smiling and saying "Good morning!". I have thought before that the happiest people in Palmy often seem to be those on the Turitea Walkway on a Sunday morning!

Sunday morning in Paris- 15 April

One thing I had googled before my arrival was which church might have some good organ music at Sunday Mass, and the answer seemed to be 'St Sulpice', so I caught the metro in that direction on Sunday morning.
 The Square outside the church had an ornate fountain, and was filled with sculpture.

 I'd arrived somewhat early and the place was fairly deserted just after 9am, but a quick glance at the church noticeboard confirmed I was in the right place for organ music.

 This was yet another place where 'spring' was shouting out its very presence. Paris seems to announce spring very definitely.

 I could see from my map that the Luxembourg gardens were not far away so I wandered there: you never seem to be far from a park or gardens in Paris.

There were many sculptures of various ages and styles, and lots of tulips in flower. This one was 'Le Triomphe de Silene'.
And this was by Zadkine- 'Le poete ou hommage a Paul Eluard'. (Sorry for lack of accents- I still have to work out how to do them on this new laptop.) I got into slight trouble with a security guard when I took this photo as I had stepped onto the grass!

And of course, there were more signs of glorious spring at the park, even if it was cold this Sunday morning, and I had my jacket firmly on.

I returned to St Sulpice for the Mass, but it was the organ playing I was really there for, and yes, it was superb. I have a short section captured as video on my camera, but it is 'huge' in terms of megabytes and haven't worked out how to 'reduce' it for the blog yet...
They still have 'sanity' in France: most shops remain firmly closed on Sundays (though I noticed many were open when I returned in late June and the 'sales' were on). I took a few photos of shop windows instead- many small clothes shops were in evidence- there is still a lot of individuality that hasn't been devoured by 'chains'.

I knew enough to search for a meal at lunchtime so I didn't miss out on eating, and found a 'beer' restaurant open, where I fortified myself for more walking in the afternoon.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Paris in Springtime

Two long plane trips had taken me from autumn at home in New Zealand and deposited me into springtime in Paris. I arrived on Friday morning and that afternoon I was meeting up with Liliane, a Camino friend from 2008, who helped me to get a pilgrim credential ready for my walk from Cluny.

Then she took me exploring in the Marais district in Paris, which was where she had grown up as a little girl. So she was very familiar with the Place des Vosges which was her favourite square in Paris.

Liliane showed me all sorts of places like this church, St Paul's, where she was married, the school she attended as a child, and where her childhood apartment was. I was very lucky to have such a personal guided tour- it was a lovely afternoon.

Next day I explored some more of Paris on my own. I always enjoy seeing the many varied styles of French restaurants (and eating in them!)

I wandered along the Seine, and heard some bells ringing. I thought there might be a wedding nearby, but it turned out to be a monastic community that was singing Office in one of Paris' many old churches- St Gervais St Protais -such a heavenly sound. Their Alleluias just soared into the arches- an unexpected 'pearl' on my walk.

 Paris is such an interesting city to wander in, full of so many sights, from bicycles... beautiful flower gardens... statues and fountains of varied kinds...

There was one other job I had to do before the weekend passed by: I wanted to buy a basic mobile and French SIM card. At the hostel they told me that Darty, an electronics shop just around the corner, would be a good place to try. And so it turned out to be:- the service I got there was excellent.