Note Archive: #travel

Sacred Heart


Let's break my radio silence on here with a hark back to Paris again. This time, we're at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. A beautiful church slash tourist attraction, in the Montmartre area of Paris. Since it was one of Margaux's favourite places in her hometown, she very enthusiastically wanted to take me there. And I, ever the obliging guest, let her do so.

From the base of the hill, Sacre-Cœur stands proud; it dominates like a three-tier cake, except much less edible. It's looks as delicious as a cake though, with the cream brickwork, pointed domes and corniced features. Once we'd walked to the top, and snapped the obligatory selfies to a backdrop of Paris, we sat down on the steps to take a breath. To talk and pause for a moment too.

As we sat, just gazing around at everyone surrounding us, a man stood up on the wall before us. Beside him, a stereo and in his arms, a football. The music started. Instrumental and grand, it coalesced with the heat of the sun and the view overlooking the city. And so the tricks began and the ball glided between his feet, arms, chest and head. For 5 minutes at least, we were all transfixed. Myself, Margaux and everyone around us. I'm told such sights are fairly common by the Sacré-Cœur, but since this was new to me, I was rather impressed.

The crescendo came when the man scaled the lamp-post next to him. He, as you can see from the one photo I managed to capture below, posed and continued his tricks whilst suspended from the light. Bearing in mind that he was above a hefty drop, it's not surprising there was a collective intake of breath the one moment he very nearly fell. However, ever composed, he saved his grip and then slowly came down to finish off his performance.

It was, as you can imagine, quite a moment. After that, we went inside the Basilica. Though I don't follow a religion myself, there is something beautiful about the spiritual stillness that churches often have. The echoes that bounce around the architecture, the quiet prayer or contemplation and the gentle lighting that illuminates the space. And inside, Sacré-Cœur excels at delivering all three.

Visiting Sacré-Cœur was, to return to my cake analogy, a tasty treat. Without really trying, the day delivered many moments which allowed us to stop. And with that, I see why Margaux was so enthusiastic about taking me there.


The Basilica
A visit to the Sacré-Cœur in Paris, August 2015.

Gargoyles


I mentioned in the Abstract Landscapes review that I visited Paris this summer. The second time in my life thus far, and a short trip, spent with a housemate who'd gone home for the holiday.

There are two loose memories from eleven-year-old me in Paris. One involves being terrified of falling between the stairs, whilst walking up the Eiffel tower. And the other, was of going to Notre Dame. This memory is incredibly fuzzy. Yet, it was the architecture that captured me, with that strange feeling of awe perhaps.

So this summer, visiting Notre Dame again was very much on the agenda. My first day in Paris was a tourist day. The day when I wandered the streets and the Seine alone, and covered all the tourist activities I could. Notre Dame was ticked off my list in the afternoon. I opted not to go inside, as much like last time, the queue to enter was hefty.

Outside Notre Dame, I ate an ice cream. I texted my mum, to tell her I was eating an ice cream. Then I sat for a while and listened to all the languages that passed by. Being outside the cathedral was enough. I walked again. I marvelled at the intricacy, and raised an eyebrow at the gargoyles. Most of all, I took pictures. I guess gothic art & architecture is something that I've liked for a while.

So, this is my postcard from Notre Dame. I'm glad I chose to visit again.


Gargoyles & Flying Butresses
An outside view of Notre Dame in Paris, August 2015.

Latinate

Postcards from Italy
Rome - Florence - Venice, September 2011.

Transitory

Moments of Awe
Various places in the UK, over the last few years.

Rock Salt


My friend Emma’s family have a house in Devon. It’s nestled away next to a quiet little cove, across the water from Dartmouth castle – and it is spectacular. Especially, as you’d expect in Britain, during the Spring.

The first year we stayed coincided with one of those sunny spells that climate change has probably created. After a few hours travel from Bristol, we found ourselves gazing onto a glorious sea view, lit up by sun rays as dusk descended. Beach House wafted through the air, and my friends alternated between sipping on drinks and scrambling across rocks. I stayed watching the waves, divulging my then frazzled emotional state into a furious pen scribbling over paper.

The Southwest and I have a small catalog of connections. From my childhood best friend moving at sixteen, to former housemates and futile crushes during university; the associations lie in amusing contrast to my landlocked Brummie hometown. It’s here that I wrote. Everything and nothing, in a little nook of South Devon. Emptying the metaphorical salt from my wounds, for the simple need to do so.

Once my pen ran dry, I stole an idea garnered from stories: I folded the sheet into a boat and let mother nature wash it away. It was a kind of private ritual I suppose; one of letting go. After that, I noticed the blue glint of the neighbouring rock. The dark cracks shooting across a shallow pink one. The curves and crevices, and the strange beauty in barnacles upon a crab. Both country and city have their quirks, but the therapeutic qualities of nature are unmatched for many.

My ink-soaked paper boat probably (hopefully) disintegrated after a few days, but looking at these images transports me to that moment. It reminds me that thoughts sometimes need to occupy a space, before they can begin to disperse. That perspective is useful, and that choice is really everything.

Saltwater, in reference to Beach House, can be a cathartic action when required.


By the Sea
In the South Hams, Devon

Happy Accidents

Summer of 2012
What you get when you combine the mishaps of expired film and the Highlands of Scotland.

A Temporary Fix

Last month saw a snap happy trip to Oxfordshire. In lieu of words today, I'll share a few photographs from Upton House with you.