All Saints Day, 1 November 2018 – a walk to the centre, including King Tomislav and Nikola Subic Zrinski Squares.
I walked from Sopot to the centre for the first time, taking the straightest route past the Gradski City Park (details on Zagreb 1), over the fast flowing River Sava, and past the National and University Library (which was closed due to the National Holiday, and is where they are holding The First International Conference on Green Libraries very soon).
I discovered the bus routes end point and underground Garaza shopping centre (also mostly closed) out of which you emerge in the King Tomislav Square (trg kralja Tomislava) by the Glavini railway station (Kolodov). This brought me to a whole other side of Zagreb I had not yet seen – national monuments resembling Vienna but less overtly grand, more comfortable somehow.
Halloween 31 October 2018: Museum of Contemporary Art, the permanent collection.
Not to be confused with the Moderna Galerija which is a Baroque building, Vranyczany Palace housing art works from the 19th century and after, the Museum of Contemporary Art is (during the day time anyway) a modern block of uninspiring concrete in Novi Zagreb, at the crossroads of Većeslava Holjevca and Dubrovnik Avenues. Do not be put off! It has a modernist interior with sharp, clear lines and is beautifully designed to show off its collection of post 1950s performance and Retroavantgarde art.
I got carried away by the red line theme.
The red neon is in the foyer of the Museum; the red tube which starts on one floor and hooks over the edge of the next level up is Red Line by Ivan Kozaric, 2011; the block with a thin horizontal line (part of a bigger work) is Circles between Surfaces by Dalibor Martinis; and the drawing is part of the presentation for the 32nd Venice Biennale in 1964.
I am currently writing about death so was not surprised to find a number on that theme.
There was an interesting ‘sculpture’ in the Gradski Park – photographer Romeo Ibrisivika has been ‘pulling the wrecks out of the environment’ (dragging rivers, that sort of thing), and then there was a sculpture in the Museum which reminded me of it.
There were two which took a Scottish theme: a video Midges by Dorothy Cross (2000) and these two photos (from a series of three).
I seemed to be picking up on a theme of doorways – what is behind? what will come through?
There was a twisted two-slide shute which must be really fun and doubles up as an art work (which was not working). Then everywhere I looked were coils of metal and chrome.
A poster I saw in Padua reminded me of Lea (before she changed her hair colour!) whose hospitality here in Croatia has been amazing, and the art work in the gallery – Untitled by Antun Motika (1943-44).
Shots through windows.
Even the toilet door signs were related to an artwork!
Tiles like this one are in all the lavatories.
Free admission for all visitors on the first Wednesnday of the month!
If I am making a long journey I spend quite a time looking for cheap ways to do it. This time I plotted Paris to Zagreb on Google maps, saw the stop-offs it suggested I made and from there checked the airlines for who flew where. In the end I found a cheap flight to Milan from Paris which was straightforward, and then took Flix buses the rest of the way.
That part was arduous with local transport from Milan Airport to Monza to get the bus, which was delayed so that was already 10.30pm, although the wait was made more enjoyable with a conversation with a masters student studying in Padua. She told me where to go when I made the change there. I think this was my first 11pm – 1am sightseeing trip!
Then the over night part in the hottest bus I have ever ridden was quite a challenge, plus we had to get off twice at the Slovenian – Croatian border for passport checks despite it being the 32nd country to enter the European Union. Is that what we have to look forward to now just enough British people have voted to leave? What a calamity.
However, I did eventually get there and was met by the wonderful dancing Lea (who I met in a woman’s dormitory in Graz last year and kept up with on Facebook).
‘Croatia was, and still is, the hottest piece of geographic real estate in Europe. Croatia is the gateway between north, south, east and west in Europe.’ From inavukic.com (no longer available).
During my first day I stayed close to where the apartment is and look what I found: Bundek lake with woods in Gradski Park, and the Museum of Modern Art on Avenija Dubrovnik (all less than 15 minutes walk).
The familiar smell of Autumn, insects and wildflowers I am used to, sunshine on my skin.
I sat back against the tree and relaxed my pelvis. Smelling the rotting earth at my feet, I reflected that it is hard to write when I am unsettled. I relax and exhale, feeling myself let go.
The Weeping Willow droops her fronds almost to the earth.
Ripples caused by unseen creatures which almost appeared from underneath the water and from the wind.
Just like Paris! Someone camping or possibly living in this beautiful place.
I walked around the lake shown above and there was the other side of it – all open and sculpted.
Bumbina Lavada by Damir Matausic akad kipar with Ljevaonica Umjetnina.
I spent some time at a nice cafe in the sun. It had WiFi and green tea, charming staff but no food, so I had to move on.
Like Norway, I am in a country where I speak none of the language and cannot make sense of the signs around me. I quickly learn please and thank you by asking shop owners to teach me. I smile a lot.
In the morning, the Museum of Modern Art looked as if it was disused, and indeed the cafe and restaurants are shut for renovation.
Round the side of the building there were colourful hoardings.
Inside it was very much open (11am – 6pm Tuesday to Sunday, closed Mondays and holidays (it is civically owned), 11 – 8pm on Saturdays. 70 kun for permanent and temporary exhibitions for one day.
The red kites in the shop attracted my attention.
Also from the hyper realism exhibition. Selfie with a difference, two differences!
Outdoor sculptural comment on the waste in our oceans and the effect it has on sea life. Clearing leaves in the background.
Temporary exhibition of industrial photographs by Toso Dabac (1907 – 1970). 1,5000,000 Volt accelerator, Boris Kidric Institute of Nuclear Science, Serbia. Before 1957.
Charenton-le-Pont to Richard-Lenoir métro 5. 5 kms (Charenton-Ecoles metro, Place du Cardinal Lavigerie, Avenue Jean Jaurés, Rue Claude Decaen, Place Félix Eboué, Rue de Reuilly, Rue Faidherbe, Rue Godefroy Caraignac, Square Saint Aboise, Boulevard Voltaire, 11th arrondissement, Richard-Lenoir métro).
Parc Zoologique de Paris.
I was deposited by my bla bla car from Reims in an area I had never previously visited. I decided to walk T the Maria Canal for my Seiki Shiatsu workshop with Catherine Dompas, but I dawdled so much, I had to ake the tube the rest of the way!
Where people live – I have seen this all over London and Paris recently: more people made homeless by the rich-poor divide.
Wherever you go in Paris there’s something lovely to see amidst the blocks of flats, supermarkets and cafés.
Beautiful sun throwing shadows.
Église de Saint-Esprit.
There is a garden in front of the Saint Aboise Church in memory of the Monks of Tibhirine (Algeria). They were horrifically murdered in their Abbey during the Algerian Civil War. A French film was made about it, Of Gods and Men, was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2010.
To get to Richard-Lenoir métro from Boulevard Voltaire you take a left and walk through a public gardens with vines and a playpark.
An impressive floral display for the end of October.
I just can’t seem to stop taking pictures of flowers! I have added links to a blog I have just discovered (London wlogger – we seem to like the same things) and other London gardens which will be sure to delight.
The garden is round the back and I visited when the rest of the museum was being renovated.
Wu Chi – undifferentiated timelessness, the un-manifest aspect ofthe Tao.In peacock feathers from the garden birds.
I enjoyed teaching an introduction to Chi Gung for a group of Masters students (Greek, Dutch, American) from the Netherlands before I left. Their performances at Thursday’s showcase were stimulating: a two-hander addressing non-binary issues in an appropriately naïve style, and a quirky performed reading reminding me of the toymaker in Copélia.
View from the garden. It was colder in the final days, but I still did T’ai Chi there in the morning sun.
Delicate ivy ‘drawings’ on the wall.
Silver birch bark – surely the origin of the design of camouflage clothing!
Autumn leaf burning by E. I sat and watched the burning embers and the small flames lick as the sky darkened. The fire was still warm in the morning.
The walk back to the station took me past Halloween house decorations, the luminous sumac tree, and a village hall (last time the gate was shut and I couldn’t see in, so this time I crept up and peered in the window – they were all playing cards in there!). Then there were two furry friendly (hungry?) donkeys who I was instructed not to feed, and several people who kindly stopped to offer me a lift, which I declined so I could walk.
The WW1 memorial for the dead soldiers, significant given that the topic of my studies is death.
Strips of roots growing across the bottom of the tree.
A whorl of bark.
Flowers found at ground level on the pavement.
Outside the old school is this lovely sundial with the inscription La grive aux raisins (thrush with grapes is a delicacy and also the name of the local newsletter) andon the gate of the village room.
View from the train to Reims.
Another sundial, a giant one in Reims lit up in the night. Cadrans Solaire de la Marne, also connected to WW1 as the River Marne, site of the battles of 1914 and 1918 where the German advancements were halted.
From the back of a toilet door at Le Maryland bar in Reims – not so very respectful of our monarch!
This bar is near the Cathedral and I do not recommend it as it was full of smokers and smoke, and with men making not so-funny remarks. I didn’t feel comfortable there on my own.
Sculpture by Armelle Blary https://armelleblary.com in a window in Reims – inspired by the work of Louise Bouregeois I would guess.
Les bunnies. At the home of Julie Martin who was my bla bla car driver 10 days before and who kindly invited me to stay on my return. Together with her lovely flatmate, Marie, I was cooked two sorts of crêpes which were delicious.
Many thanks to them for their hopitality. Check out their innovate business: Be Vegetal My Friend which offers all sorts of workshops with plants and flowers, plus you can see Julie demonstrating what she does, and go there to get designs for your wedding or event.
Julie Martin, Be Vegetal My Freind, in her element!
Yesterday I lay down on my back to do my exercises under a tree with my eyes closed. I was focusing on my breath and muscles, moving through my paces. I opened them on hearing a tweet and there, in the spreading branches (don’t they always spread?) and bright leaves, was one, no, two, a whole flock of little birds with long tails bobbing up and down, jutting their tiny heads and flitting fast from place to place. I couldn’t see their backs because I was underneath, but there were hints of pink adding to the brown and beige. They took no notice of me, which was nice.
As I watched, a beastie with many legs crawled up the edge of my arm and onto the top; another one went in and, thankfully, out of my ear; an ant went all round my knee.
When I went to the loo I sprayed soft moss fronds and scratchy bits of autumn twig on the floor!
Later sitting at my desk, writing, the lime greenery was only broken by the odd brown leaf and matching beech nuts opening their hard lips to the air. From the first floor I am half way up where the branches are thinner. It all shivers and sways gently, not much, almost settling, continuing its dialogue with the breeze.
This morning I stood beside another one to do my T’ai Chi. Just as I got to move 134 I found myself back at thirty something so I completed almost a whole second round (140 in total). I got slower and slower. In the fog I saw the tips of my fingers, covered in fine rain, shift in my peripheral vision and I felt myself sink a little.
It’s trunk was very quiet, half in, half out of the ground. I couldn’t see it move although I knew it was, inside. It stood there before I got here of course, and stands there now. I tried to emulate it. I thought of the tree, being in all weathers; watching people, animals and insects coming and going over the years. The wind rustled it. Then did the same to my hair. I stood, learning.
Then I stood still, ‘standing like a tree’ (it’s a chi gung exercise). It was lighter now (approaching 7am). I enjoyed it.
First in shoulder stand and then bottom in the air – the world looked lovely even upside down looking between my legs.
After I gave Shiatsu to a wood worker this morning, I left him on the mat and walked to the window. High on the second floor I was level with the top of the tree and there was a woodpecker. No, really. Right there. Black and white all down its back with a red top knot and knickers. The window was closed, but I saw it noiselessly tapping inbetween tilting its head to the right as if looking to see if anyone was coming.
When I looked back into the room and asked how L was doing, he said “floating” and then there was a wait. From inside himself with his eyes tight shut he added, “my body’s fizzing”.
I didn’t try to take a photo of the woodpecker in case I disturbed it. However this little critter, a ladybird, was on my last piece of apple (from the tree in the garden) when I came back in.
I sit and work in the garden and the hot sun heats my lower back beautifully. I tan.
A peacock feather.
I look up as something thuds. An apple lies beside me. As I watch, whisper of a leaf; an acorn drops. Fruits still red and ripening.
Giving one Shiatsu per day for the community.
I took a walk to the Intermarché/ supermarket on a sunny Sunday.
School and graf / graffiti.
The garden is the best place for writing. The light is inspiring. I caught myself thinking, ‘With this beauty and peacefulness I don’t need to eat’!
The slightly weird grottoes showing above the trees, which catch the morning rays.
After my tour, I sat in the garden as the sky darkened and the moon brightened. The last of the sun illuminated the tops of the birches and their tiny leaves flickered in the wind. The cyprus stood steady, turning a black silhouette before the rest. I watched a plane go past a star – that’s what it looked like.
Then an owl hooted: sometimes singly, followed by silence, then four in a row. Baby blue clouds appeared and a gauze of them passed in front of the orb which altered the light on the lawn.
The sound in the trees kidded my body into thinking it was colder than it was. Still, I pulled my hood over my hat, poked my thumbs through the holes in my sleeves and wormed one hand up the opposite arm. The chickens had been put to bed I realised, and there was no sign of the peacocks. A dog barked. The church bell tolled. I recognised a halloween sky but minus the bats! And I knew there was revellry going on indoors.
The Piano Concerto No. 21, 2nd Movement “Andante” by Mozart plays over and over in my head. I get down to the next chapter.
Oh the Autumn colours please me! As this is farmland, there are sheep, and further along the way, horses too.
With a lot of space to wander and feed. They aren’t fazed by me at all.
One matching chestnut, one dappled grey and one white. I wonder again, do horses (and cows) communicate with each other? Do they vary their behaviour at different times of the day? ‘It’s getting dark guys, let’s have one more meal and then lie down for the night!’
Here are the wide open arable fields where huge spreaders are spraying (just like Kent!). There are almost no flowers or birds as a result of the chemicals. These are recently sown and ploughed fields.
I follow the sign posts and there are also familiar neon arrows at ground level to keep me right – pointers for a run or cross-country cycling no doubt.
I remember the red and white stripes of the French walks I made in Normandy, but as always the entrances and exits for walkers are unusual.
This one was a sort of turnstile of oxydised metal.
I tread quietly. Once I enter the woods, the leaves are falling randomly around me and there is a sweet autumnal leafy smell.
Saw-edged sweet chestnut leaves litter the way, bronze and tan.
Ash and sycamore, acorns in cups, chestnuts in their prickly cases.
There are no fuchsias here like in Ireland, the hedgerows are instead bountiful with clematis, their furry seed heads studded with dark brown cores.
A tweet here and there; a rustling up high; and chirp chirp as a bird darts past.
I pick my way over sandy white soil, and admire the whispy grasses.
Laden with ruddy apples, on a carpet of windfalls.
Downhill, past domestic vines, beehives and allotments with bright flowers, I discover Saint Thomas.
The mairie, town hall
Ceramic flowers on a grave
By the end of the day, the effects of the sun as she brightens the wall and path shining low now behind a telegraph pole or street light so a shadow is thrown.
I am in Champagne country, in Picardy. I took the train from Reims.
The driver waited patiently
The countryside looked amazing through the train window – flat, on into the distance, great expanses of single colours.
I visited the Artisan Baker and then left my rucksack under a tree as the Intermarché was in the opposite direction and I was tired.
I set off with the additional weight of shopping (root veg and cheese) and the first place of note I passed was the library – so surprising to see one in this small but well resourced village. The three women greeted me effusively and showed me around, asking me questions, instructing me on how to use it and proudly showing their collection of English books. Marie T was just leaving, she said, and offered me a most welcome lift, telling me her incredibly sad personal family ‘death’ story on the way. She said that volunteering at the library had been her lifeline and now she was living again.
I am staying in a old convent (where nuns are or were is always a good place for me). It was used as a prison and a hospital in the past by the Americans and the Gestapo so it has a chequered history.
18th October 2018
Early the first morning, the cockerel (that’s him above, all white and fluffy) asks us why we are not outside yet. He is right, it is a gloriously sunny morning. I found a spot between four silver birch trees for t’ai chi.
Later I was greeted by Johnny the gardener and able to keep practicing my French. Everyone is really friendly.
The hives are not producing honey but they have a local source.
Spiralling up to a pool of sunshine I sit and soak it up, starting my writing.
L from New Zealand crouches in a grotto – he wears nail varnish and makes both art as well as shelves – his contribution to the community.
I move as the sun goes behind trees, finding new spots.
Collecting windfalls – brown, yellow and red; prising walnuts from their damp black coats; snapping hazel shells for a breakfast from the garden.
Someone has made apple cake and roasted some chestnuts which I add to my banquet.
We drink tea and eat homemade cakes during the English conversation group that evening. I learn about some of the local people, their jobs, travels and families. We have a laugh.