Sunday, April 23, 2017

Faint signs

Some time ago just before our recent holiday, we had the renting of the seaside cottage secured for another year. A couple of days ago, we paid a visit to check the situation there.

I was hoping the weather wouldn’t be too cold to take up some raking and other landscape clean-up. It was +4°C (+39°F) both outdoors and indoors, actually also in the sea. As the wind made it feel even colder we attacked our picnic lunch instead later walking around in search of some physical proof of spring.

In addition to a few specimens of the first spring flowers, the signs were still very faint. I just couldn’t get excited about the tiny buds. Fortunately, one of the mute swan couples spending the summer season in the neighbourhood had already settled down bathing and grooming rather close by. Such a sight will never fail to please me.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Proms at the Cathedral

Our Easter break was very quiet, almost to the point of uneventful. Much relaxing at home, some good food with a little bit of traditional delicacies, a few films on TV, some walks on the downtown riverfront – mostly by hubby on his own, but also some snowfall. In mid-April, can you believe that?

The concert we attended at our local church, the Turku Cathedral, on Easter Monday formed quite a surprising highlight for the weekend. It was the young symphonic wind orchestra JBO YoungStars from Germany that was performing music from England, Scotland and Ireland under the title ‘A Night on the Isles’. The show included rhythmic arrangements ranging from pop classics, eg by Coldplay and The Beatles, to more traditional songs and tunes.

What we didn’t expect was that the orchestra really took it the-last-night-of-the-proms style. The aisle and band area were decorated with flags of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. There were Union Jacks hanging from the gallery. The spectators were handed flags they could wave just like in the real BBC Proms. The conductor Natalie Hönemann even put on a special waistcoat for the final part of the concert. Had I known about all this I would have taken my camera with me. There was nothing whatsoever to complain about the most delightful event except perhaps the acoustics of the high medieval stone Cathedral.

The story how the orchestra of youngsters happened to come to Finland and Turku in the first place is a fascinating one. A girl from here, while working as an au pair in Hanover, had played in the JBO YoungStars during her stay in Germany. She now studies music in Tampere and had invited the band for a visit. As the group arrived by ferry from Stockholm to Turku a concert was naturally arranged also here before continuing to the girl’s present home town where the orchestra performed last night.

I had a look at the programme of The Last Night of the Proms 2017. Sakari Oramo, the Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 2013 and a Finn, will be holding the baton once again. It’s going to be, among others, tributes to Zoltán Kodály and Malcolm Sargent, who both died 50 year ago, some John Adams, and Finlandia by our greatest composer Jean Sibelius to mark the centenary year of Finnish independence. It’s about time we revisited London so I just decided I will send an application for tickets by the open ballot. I already marked September 9 on my calendar. That way I will at least remember to glue myself to the TV that night. But please, no snowfall that time.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Walk by Lake Orta

We recently returned from a most relaxing, warm and sunny holiday and I’m finding it hard to return to the blogosphere. Firstly, because there’s little sign of any spring back home yet. Secondly, because we had a project completed while we were away and I’ve been finally doing some arranging in the spare room. There is also a third reason I will share later at some point. I am working on finding the blog bug again but first things first. Here is the second post on our visit to Orta San Giulio in Piedmont I kind of promised last time. (If you missed the first one click here.)

When walking along the wet alley away from the piazza towards the cape north of the old town we noticed that the gate to the garden of Villa Bossi was open.

Even on a rainy October afternoon the little garden looked most inviting. It’s easy to imagine how lovely it will be in the springtime – that is at about now I suppose – when the archway of wisterias leading towards the lake will be cascading with flowers.

In fact, the place will provide a most enchanting venue for civil weddings any time of the year as the 17th century villa now serves as the town hall. The bride can make a grand entrance by boat to the little pier and through the lakefront iron gate.

Despite the somewhat unfriendly weather we continued towards the waterfront passeggiata rimming the tip of the cape, peeping into the gardens of the villas and admiring the views across the lake. Never mind wetting your shoes a bit when you can take a walk by water in such an adorable setting.

Later when we were at Monte Mottarone we spotted Lago d’Orta, Isola di San Giulio and the cape down in the distance. The poor weather was all forgotten by then and we were rather pleased when looking back at our few hours at the pretty little town a few days earlier. But should we ever return to Lake Orta such a short visit won’t do that’s for sure. (My post on the mountain excursion here.)