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I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we had just returned from Nice.  What a fabulous place and it is easy to see why the rich and famous and not so rich or famous head there.  We arrived to a rather cloudy overcast day  but at least it was warm – about 26 degrees.  The hotel was right on the Promenade des Anglais and our room overlooked the sea.

View from Hotel room

View from Hotel Room

The following day we decided to walk round the headland to the West of the town from Villefranche sur Mer.  We stepped off the train and within a few hundred yards were on a superb little beach with a diving pontoon and a swimming area bouyed off from the boats coming out of the marina.  It sort of set the tone for the whole holiday.  Walk a bit, head round a corner, ‘Oh that looks a nice beach’ swim, sunbathe, potter on a little further.  Walking in the Dales is nothing like this!

The old town of Nice is a warren of small streets full of restaurants, bars and shops.  We ate there a couple of times but it is not cheap – £7 a pint of lager!

Vieux Ville

On the Saturday we took a trip to an island just south of Cannes.  It’s called Isle St Marguerite and is just 4 Km long and about one Km wide.  It has no vehicles and is even no smoking!  The trip took about an hour and was quite bumpy across the bay.  We walked along the coast stopping every so often then on the South side found a fantastic little cove.  It was about 15 ft wide and just exqusite.  I swam out of the cove with Stephen’s camera, which is waterproof to take a photo of ‘our beach’ and will post the photos along with loads of others onto the flickr site when they’ve been downloaded.  It was just idyllic and I could have spent all day just taking photos of yet another beautiful view.  The island is covered in pine and eucalyptus trees making the air scented and delicious.

Isle St Marguerite

Isle St Marguerite

It wasn’t all sun, sea and beaches though, we did visit the Museum of Modern Art and the Matisse Museum which are all free.  The Matisse is held in a beautiful 17th century mansion surrounded by olive trees in a park to the North of the city and is worth the visit.   I also managed to get the timer to work on my phone camera so here are the happy couple on the steps of the Museum of Modern Art.

Lisa and Stephen

Lisa and Stephen

All in all a fantastic holiday the best ever!

Rotterdam is very Dutch – well the rest of the Netherlands is too but I’m here so it holds my attention.  I got here on Sunday after a very quick and pretty uneventful flight – though a few questions come to mind every time I go through an airport.  What is it that makes people think it is fine to sit and drink pints of beer at 7 in the morning because they are going on holiday?  Why are books at airport bookshops 50% bigger than books on the high street and what is the point of handing out packets of tuc biscuits in an attempt to make you think you have been fed? 

The train from Schipol to Rotterdam was fast and smooth and sadly not one of the very exciting double decker ones.  It was great to be met by eldest daughter and once I’d dumped my bags we headed off into the city centre.  There are some intersting buildings including the cube house.

Cube Houses - disorientating inside surely.

Cube Houses - disorientating inside surely.

Yesterday I was up North to Amsterdam.  I spent the whole day there and battled round the Van Gogh museum – I was delighted to see a handful of Gaugain pictures as well as some by Millet and Monet.  Amsterdam is beautiful and there is another delicious view round every corner.

Amsterdam Canal

Amsterdam Canal

So a great day spent doing art, shopping and sitting about reading – bliss.  Oh and finally – Happy Birthday Kate! 

The Worth1000 website holds contests for all users of photoshop to produce images to various descriptions.  The current one is called ModRen Sequels and asks for ideas for how classic paintings may have been different if done slightly later than their original setting.  There is God telling Adam to pay attention and touch his finger, from the Sistine Chapel and the guy from American Gothic looking really happy, before the glum wife came along.  One of my favourites is a take on the Night Hawks by Edward Hopper.  This shows the original and the altered one obviously an hour or two later after the bar had closed.

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I’ve had to reduce the size to fit on this page, but if you click on the picture it’s much clearer.  Whistler’s mother appears two or three times as does the Scream and variations on the Last Supper.

I see the film Atonement is due for release on the 7 September.  With the cinema darlings of the moment, James McEvoy and Keira Knightley, I’m sure it will be a success.  I just hope it manages to keep to the essence of the original book by Ian McEwen.  This is one of my favourite books and like a favourite view you don’t want anyone to spoil it for you.  I believe also that the worst word in the English language will be in the film – I mean of course the ‘c’ word – it is essential to the plot.  I’m a little nervous of going to see it but I’m sure it will look stunning if nothing else.

One of my favourite blogs is that by Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void. He does the marketing for Stormhoek wines as well as some work for Microsoft and the about to be released Hallam Foe   movie.  He creates cartoons on the back of business cards and although some of them are too extreme for here I was delighted to see that you can now put a Gaping Void application on Facebook.  For those who aren’t aware of his work I’ll insert an example below.

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So that’s my seven wonders – just to recap they are:

A pretty good selection I think, though obviously showing a massive leaning towards industrial architecture, but it’s my list and that’s what I like.

Back to my seven wonders – Glasgow School of Art is the utmost delight. It was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh who won the commission as a result of a competition against already established architects. It was started in 1897 and the West wing was eventually completed in 1909.

gsaentrance.jpg

His style combined traditional Scottish architecture with a softer more Art Noveau style, epitomised by the Mackintosh rose. He designed fixtures, fittings and the furniture and the library at the school of art has been described as ‘one of the finest rooms in Glasgow’.

 

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It is an extraordinary building and one worth visiting. Although still a working art school, there are frequent guided tours of the entire building.  I’ve since discovered that as a major fund raising scheme, you can buy individual bricks, windows or even some of the brackets.  They are hoping to raise £8million to preserve and protect this fine historic building.  I’ve checked and most of the interesting bits are already sold, but you can buy a stone from round one of the windows for £20.

The world’s first cast iron bridge was built over the River Severn in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire in 1779.  It attracted visitors from all over the world, not just engineers and bridge builders but artists and tourists in general. The technique of smelting iron with coke was perfected nearby by Abrahm Darby who used the product to build the bridge.

ironbridge1800.jpg

This is a picture of the bridge in about 1800.  You can see the large stone pillars either side supporting the bridge.  As early as 1784 there were reports of the iron cracking as a result of the movement of the banks and the pillars or abutments sqeezing the bridge.  These were removed in the early part of the 19th Century.

As soon as the bridge was built, a community started to form around it and the town of Ironbridge was born.  Another one of my seven wonders and it’s just as pleasing to the eye, which is the main criteria!

ironbridge.jpg

One of the most striking Art Deco buildings in the country was built in 1932 as a factory and offices for the Hoover Company. It was designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners and is easily seen as you drive into London on the A40 just before the Hangar Lane Giratory. It is built with a special concrete which stays white despite the ravages of the British weather and is a stunning landmark. It is astonishingly beautiful even though it is a factory – so it goes into my seven wonders.

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The company continued to manufacture vacuum cleaners there until the 1980s. There was concern about the condition of the structure as the steel frame supporting the concrete rusted and pushed apart the concrete. It is listed as a Grade one building and bought by Tesco in 1989 and they have successfully restored the frontage and the canteen using a pioneering re-alkalisation technique ensuring that the future of the building is assured.

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One of my favourite haunts in the North of England is Salts Mill on the outskirts of Bradford.  Built by Sir Titus Salt in 1853 to house his weaving business it is a gem of a building.  Salt was a successful Mill owner in Bradford in the middle of the 19th century.  He decided to build a new mill away from the pollution, poverty and grime of Bradford and chose a spot between the river Aire and the Leeds Liverpool canal.  There he built not only a mill, but houses, schools, meeting houses, churches – everything that his workers could want – except a pub.  It opened in 1853 on his 50th birthday.  The village was named Saltaire and its warm yellow sandstone is just as beautiful as ever.

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The mill stopped production and in 1987 was sold to the entreprenarial Jonathan Silver.  It is now a thriving arts and culture centre with a brilliant restaurant, Salts Diner.  Two floors are now home to the 1853 gallery which acts as a showcase for David Hockney’s work.  Not only that but they sell books, prints, cards and just arty stuff. This is part of a large painting of the Mill by Hockney.

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I love it and enjoy spending a day browsing and eating and of course buying books.  The official website has a brilliant 360 view which gives a great idea of the inside but unfortunately you can’t smell the lillies.

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