Sunshine’s Macro Monday #74

These photos were all taken down at the beach. They’re of trees washed down the Var valley in the pre-Christmas storms which have ended up on the beach shorn of bark and branches.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday Challenge was hosted by Irene a formidable photographer who encouraged us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It was a one day challenge without prompts which I have continued to pursue. Feel free to join in and brighten everyone’s Monday.

Cee’s Flower of the Day #17

You can’t help feel cheered by flowers can you? Because I photographed so many last year, this is yet another challenge I’ve decided to take part in on week days.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

French Fancies: Diptyque

I adore all this company’s products, particularly its candles. This year Diptyque is celebrating its 60th anniversary, providing me with an opportunity to immerse myself in everything that has inspired the House since its creation.

Introduction

Diptyque’s roots are in a rebellious 1960s Paris when a gypsy-esque threesome composed of artist Desmond Knox-Leet, interior designer Christiane Gautrot and theatre craftsman Yves Coueslant set up on shop in Saint-Germain-des-Prés on the left bank of the River Seine. Their idea was to house a world of wonder at a then closet-sized boutique at 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain, where the collective could create and display art as well as treasures brought back from their travels in Greece or Turkey, goods unavailable to the rest of Paris at the time.

In 1963, Knox-Leet created an experimental fabric which featured geometric variations inspired by abstract and modern art. Using textiles from a mountainous region near France’s German border, the pieces were then hand-dyed in Haut-Rhin. The creation was dubbed Prétorien – after the oval shape of the praetorian soldier’s shield – and the symbol afterward became a mainstay of the trio, who by this time had become officially known as Diptyque. The name came from two outward-facing windows on the store’s façade that created a diptych effect.

That same year Diptyque added candles to its shelves of objets d’art, debuting Aubépine, Cannelle, and Thé. Half a decade later, in 1968 their first eau de toilette came to life: L’Eau, a 16th Century potpourri-inspired, genderless scent comprising geranium, clove and cinnamon.

Fragrances – for both the person and the home – quickly took off, and soon a delicately wrapped Diptyque fig leaf Figuier candles or a Mediterranean escape in the form of the Philosykos eau de toilette became the chicest present around town. Rumor has it that in 1983, right after his appointment to Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld dropped in to 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain looking for a signature scent. Apparently, the designer quickly fell in love with the blackcurrant Baies (now a fashion staple), and chose to stock them in every store of the fashion house.

Years later, Diptyque’s first official fashion collaboration was with John Galliano. The Gibraltar-born fashion designer had long been a fan of the fragrance house, and one day he asked them to create a warm, heavy, deep, and mysterious fragrance for him. Recalling Russian leather, dark bark, mellow musks, and dried herbs, Essence of J.G. was born thereafter.

Their early fragrangres and scented candles drew very much on the founders’ own experiences and interests. Subsequently, each fragrance was inspired by a time, place or story. For example, the Paris en Fleur rose-scented candle was inspired by the city’s Bagatelle botanic garden. And to concoct the imperfectly elegant fragrance Eau Capitale, perfumer Olivier Pescheux chose rose, patchouli and pink peppercorns. This enigmatic mix of floral, woody and zesty notes is called a chypre scent, which has been described as the “epitome of parisienne chic”. Just like Diptyque.

The brand’s early and enduring success comes down to creative chemistry, intuition and attention to detail. Having designed the instantly recognisable oval-shaped logo; Knox-Leet’s love of calligraphy lives on with every hand-drawn label.The name of each product is written with black India ink and the letters dance around in poetic typography. To create the illustrated packaging, large sketches are refined until one aspect embodies the corresponding scent.

Those Candles

Outside of France, Diptyque is best known for its candles, which are showcased in elegant boutiques and come in expensive-sounding French scents such as Figuier (my favourite), Feu de Bois and Feuille de Lavande.

Diptique’s candles are hand made from very specific, natural, high-quality, raw materials. Production can only be done in small batches using lead-free wicks and a pure paraffin wax mix to ensure that the candle burns correctly and doesn’t introduce any unwanted toxins or chemicals into the home. Each full-sized – rather than mini or outsized – should burn for an average of 50-60 hours and is scented right to its very last drop.

In addition, Diptyque candles have been especially designed so that their their scents can be combined. You can light two or more Diptyque candles from the same scent family (such as floral, for example) at opposite ends of one room and create your own unique signature scent. They also look lovely in any setting thanks to their classic design, gorgeous black lettering and bold glass jar. These candles are like the little black dress for your home: they always look wonderful and they always work.

This year Diptyque will be celebrating and revisiting its graphic heritage with a collection of limited edition candles whose packaging will have a playful 1960s design.

Where will you find Diptyque Products

Aside from the first Parisian store at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain and online, the brand has shops worldwide and a presence in most major department stores where it has nailed the allure of shopping in what feels like a French store: elegant spaces, a limited amount of products to keep a feeling of exclusivity and items placed in expensive-looking packaging.

In 2005 Diptyque was acquired by private equity fund Manzanita Capital France thereby enabling it to greatly expand its product range which still harks back to the goods found in the original Diptyque boutique, a store whose windows had been full of whimsy and fanciful objets d’art.

Images: courtesy of Diptyque

Song Lyric Sunday #25

What do I have in my archives in response to Jim Adams’ prompt for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday Challenge which is Chat/Laugh/Rant/Scream/Talk? I know, and this is probably a bit obvious, but how about Talk Talk by Talk Talk?

Talk Talk were an English band formed in 1981, led by Mark Hollis (vocals, guitar, piano), Lee Harris (drums), and Paul Webb (bass). The group achieved early chart success with the synth-pop singles “Talk Talk” (1982), “It’s My Life”, and “Such a Shame” (both 1984) before moving towards a more experimental approach in the mid-1980s.

Talk Talk was the second single from their debut album, The Party’s Over (1982), it topped at no. 52 in the UK upon initial release. A remix of the song was released later in the same year where it peaked at no. 23 in the UK and number 75 in the USA. The single also reached no. 1 in South Africa in 1983. Influential modern rock radio station KROQ-FM in Los Angeles included this song in its regular rotation of current releases from July–August 1982.

The song was originally recorded by Talk Talk singer Mark Hollis’s previous band, The Reaction, as “Talk Talk Talk Talk”, on the Beggars Banquet punk compilation Streets.

The band were relatively short-lived. Friction with the band’s label resulted in legal action and countersuing. Webb departed, and the band switched to Polydor for their final studio album in 1991 but split soon afterwards. Singer Mark Hollis released one solo album in 1998 before retiring from the music industry; he died in 2019.

Lyrics: Talk Talk

Hey
Well, did I tell you before when I was up?
Anxiety was bringing me down
I’m tired of listening to you talking in rhymes
Twisting around to make me think you’re straight down the line
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
If every sign that I see is complete
Then I’m a fool in your game
And all you want to do is tell me your lies
Won’t you show the other side, you’re just wasting my time
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
When every choice that I make is yours
Keep telling me what’s right and what’s wrong
Don’t you ever stop to think about me
I’m not that blind to see that you’ve been cheating on me
You’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me when I’m down
I see you when you’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: M. Hollis / E. Hollis
Talk Talk lyrics © Hollis Songs Ltd., Universal/island Music Ltd.

Challenge Rules

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to Jim’s post or place your link in his comments section.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Most of all, have fun and enjoy the music.

Silent Sunday #51

Last year all my photographs were from Australia, this year they are all going to be from France.

 

One word Sunday: Body

Body? I have plenty of lycra clad ones (cyclists) but what else……..body of water, car bodies, statues, sculptures……..

I’ve decided to join in with Debbie Smyth’s One Word Sunday challenge, largely because she sets them well in advance – always an advantage in my book. In addition, she’s a fantastic and inspirational photographer.

 

The Musette: red wine-poached pears

You all know about my beloved husband’s love of desserts. In his mind, no meal is complete without one. Because I always have a large bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen, it’s often that which provides my inspiration. How many recipes have I made with over-ripe bananas? Yes, I too have lost count!

This is another one with pears, a fruit bowl staple in winter months. Sometimes he’ll eat them before they soften but, if he doesn’t, I’ll often poach them in spiced red wine.

In terms of spicing, you’re looking to emulate something like mulled wine though I do like to mix it up a bit!

Ingredients (easily serves 5-6)

  • 500ml (2 cups) dry red wine, such as cabernet or merlot
  • 2 tbsp honey or vegan equivalent
  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 10 rose red peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 large, firm, ripe pears

Method

1.In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the pears, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

2. While the poaching liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact and being careful not to blemish the flesh of the pears. Slice a sliver from the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom and gently extract the core (I use a melon baller).

3. Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every five minutes to ensure even colour, until pears are cooked but still firm. If the pears are particularly large, I may even halve or quarter them, removing both stem and core.

4. Remove saucepan from the heat and leave to cool with pears in the pan. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least three hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally, if desired. To serve, gently remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature.

4. Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from flame and let liquid come to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with two tablespoons of syrup and serve with some cold thick cream – vegan or otherwise.

5. These will happily sit in their poaching liquor in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.If I’m serving this dessert at a dinner party or buffet, I’ll typically leave the pears whole. However, if it’s for my beloved, I’ll quarter them. In addition, I won’t reduce the syrup as I’ll re-use it for the next batch of pears, or some red cabbage.

2. I’ll also typically replace part (1/4) of the poaching liquor with ruby port, rather than red wine.

3. Feel free to play around with the aromatics. I don’t add cloves but will occasionally add some liquorice stick/powder/syrup.

4. As youcan see from the picture above, I often just juice the citrus and chuck the remainder into the poaching liquid.

4. I’ve also poached pears in a sweet white wine to which I’d only added lemon zest and thyme, which was also well received!

Sculpture Saturday #42

Leaving behind French civic sculptures and installations, I’m now heading to ones I’ve found in museums.

From the the series “The Theatre of Disappearance” are these marble and nylon legs (2017)  by Argentinian Adrián Villar Rojas (1980 – ).

While the marble comes from the same Italian quarry as the original classical sculpture on which it’s modelled, the two legs have been carved by machine. On its plinth, designed specifically for the exhibition, the piece imposes its strange presence, which is reinforced by two 3D-printed kittens playing at the feet of the colossus.  Is it the remains of a lost civilisation? A fugitive fragment of another planet? A commemoration of suspended time, or a prophetic image? This mysterious ruin seems to feed into the scenario of a post-apocalyptic world in which mankind has been annihilated, along with his works of art: only fragments remain to evoke their memory.

This challenge is kindly hosted by Susan Kelly over at No Fixed Plans.

Share a photo of a statue or sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

One from the vaults: The bits in between – Melbourne to Sydney

Today’s #blastfromthepast is from our 2016 #adventuredownunder when we drove from Melbourne to Sydney.

We drove the longer coastal route heading past the lovely Mornington Peninsula on the Alpine road, then onto the South Gippsland and Princes highways. As a keen MotoGP fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Phillip Island, home to the Australian MotoGP. Sadly we couldn’t look around as the circuit was playing host to a classic car rally – acres of gleaming chrome, polished by thousands of loving owners.

2016-01-10 Phillip

The island reminded me of childhood holidays on the Isle of Wight. Its two largest resorts were even called Ventnor and Cowes. It’s obviously a popular spot for bikers, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Harleys in one place. What’s the collective noun for loads of Harley Davidson bikes?

I enjoyed the most amazing vegan lemon tart in one of the island’s many cafes but sadly couldn’t persuade the owner to part with his recipe though he gave me enough information to be able to replicate it when I get home.

We then sped through the vast wilderness and rugged coastline of Wilson’s Promontory towards Toora and the eminently forgettable motel (the one and only) for our first overnight stop.

image

We both had a good chuckle at the breakfast menu that included spaghetti on toast. Remember those overcooked bits of pasta swimming in a sickly sweet, orange viscous sauce? Stuff of childhood nightmares!

The redeeming feature of the first part of our trip was the landscape, particularly the beautiful wetlands with its granite outcrops, eucalyptus forests and Agnes Falls.

image

The following day we headed further up the coast stopping in Sale for a coffee and then onto the amazing aquatic wonderland of Gippsland Lakes for lunch.

image

The ever-changing landscape was a cause for delight and, to be honest, the highlight of the trip. We stopped overnight in the seaside town of Eden that has this beautiful cemetery overlooking the gorgeous white sandy beach.

2016-01-12 Eden

On both days breakfast and dinner were supermarket sourced where I’ve found a pleasing supply of vegan goodies, along with plenty of fresh, seasonal and local produce. Not unnaturally, outside of the larger towns, many cafes and restaurants close up shop at 4 o’clock, though there are always plenty of takeaways – fish and chips anyone?

The landscape north of Eden was much greener and its pretty rolling hills dotted with idling cattle more reminiscent of an English countryside. We’ve spotted plenty of native birds and a large rabbit and kangaroo crossing the road ahead of us. Sadly, most of the wildlife we’ve seen has been road kill though the roads have been excellent and largely empty of daytime traffic.

2016-01-12 Bateman

We passed through the pretty town of Narooma before stopping for lunch at the quayside in Bateman’s Bay where crowds of gulls intently watched us, channeling the spirit of Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

image

The last stretch of our journey was along the Grand Pacific Drive taking in Jervis Bay and Wollongong before retreating inland to the lush green vegetation and rolling hills of the Sydney suburbs.

2016-01-10 Wetlands 2

During our three-day trip, the scenery changed dramatically yet subtly as the kilometers ticked past. Flat wetlands, transitioned into almost impenetrable rain forests to undulating open spaces offering tantalising glimpses of the ocean fringed by white sandy beaches, sometimes on both sides of the road. Some things were constant – the dairy herds and lush green pastures. It really was an eye opening trip.

 

 

Cee’s Flower of the Day #16

Because I photographed so many flowers last year, this is yet another challenge I’ve decided to take part in on week days.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers