Saturday, 23 September 2017

Saturday surprise

Friday was depressing as ever, dark and grey with a drizzle. Saturday was from another world completely, sunny with a temperature verging on 20C.

We are venturing on overnighting at the cottage which has no heating. I have a feeling this will be one of the rare occasions I will manage to retire early.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Show of an icon

There’s been quite a number of interesting exhibitions ‘on offer’ recently and we’ve managed to visit several, such as that of the renowned French photographer Robert Doisneau at the Turku Art Museum.

Doisneau (1912-1994) was one of the pioneers of photojournalism whose passion was to capture meaningful moments of the everyday life of ordinary people, both young and old, most often on the streets of Paris. According to his own words, however, he didn’t photograph life as it was but as he would have liked it to be.

His most iconic photo The Kiss (by the townhall) or Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville published in the Life magazine in 1950 has become the symbol of young love in Paris. Even I happen to have a copy of it inside my Paris travel guide. (I haven’t been this old forever, you know.) Some 40 years later a couple sued Doisneau claiming they were the lovers in the photo that had been taken without their consent and demanded the rights to it. It was then revealed The Kiss was to some extent staged, which was a bit of a sensation but actually a storm in a teacup if you ask me.

A modest gentlemanly professional like Doisneau would never have taken such an intimate photo without permission, especially in those days, especially in a country where he might have lost its rights because of that. In fact, he had seen the couple kissing and had asked if they would repeat the kiss for him, which they readily did. He had also given the lady in the photo an original signed print which she sold half a century later at an auction for €155,000!

Sculptor Jean Tinguely.

Writer Simone de Beauvoir.

Sculptor Alberto Giacometti.
Sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle.

Some of Doisneau’s insightful portraits were also shown at the exhibition. But most of all I enjoyed the 77-minute biographical documentary Robert Doisneau: Through the Lens (Robert Doisneau, le révolté du merveilleux) directed by his granddaughter Clémentine Deroudille that was running nonstop on two tv screens throughout the show. I found myself mesmerised by it. Personages like Doisneau who led a balanced life despite all the talent, success and fame preferring to keep themselves in the background are a rare resource these days. Do not miss the film if you ever have a chance to watch it!

Filmmaker Jacques Tati.

Painter Fernand Léger.
The Turku exhibition closed some time ago but there is one ongoing at the Lucca Center of Contemporary Art in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy (until Nov 12) and another one at the Tourist Office of Urrugne in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in France (until Oct 13). For more information and photos of Doisneau’s works you can visit the website of Atelier Robert Doisneau founded by his two daughters.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

On wildlife and more

This season, we’ve seen much less of the mute swans than last year. Although they’ve continued to appear in pairs we’ve seen none with any little ones. I have no idea whether our late spring might have had some sort of an effect on nesting or whether the lack of cygnets was a coincidence. Nevertheless, all the cranes we’ve spotted now have also been without offspring unlike last year when I took the two last photos below.

Other residents in the neighbourhood of the cottage include foxes and roe deer. The latter, although beautiful to look at, are losing their popularity because they act as hosts for ticks that may carry infectious diseases. For the bacterial one, Lyme disease also called Lyme borreliosis, there is no other definite prevention than avoiding tick attachment and the only cure is antibiotics.

We’ve had ourselves vaccinated against the viral one, tick-borne encephalitis or TBE, just in case because we spend a lot of time in the Turku archipelago where a risk exists. Today it is rather low but climate change is expected to increase these kinds of risks even in our secure corner of the world.

Already this very moment, we are evidencing the furious effects of climate change all around the globe. I find it unbelievable there are still people, let alone world leaders, who keep ignoring the expertise of the scientific community and deny the phenomenon. It is intolerable to see there are those who are wilfully contributing to turning many parts of this irreplaceable planet of ours uninhabitable. A spectacular sunset won’t give you much joy if you can’t bear the sight in daylight.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Cool summer

The summer that practically never was has been sweeping towards autumn for quite some time now. The only positive thing about the weather was that we got less rainfall than most of the country. I suppose we could take some consolation in knowing that.

Nevertheless, I’m not letting the season go just yet but must look back on the time spent at the cottage, especially the flowering, for no other reason than to remind myself there actually was some. I must also introduce the smallest of our summer guests, the two who stayed for weeks.

Please meet Unna, the housecat my daughter found at a cat rescue home to keep company to Sheena since her older Maine Coon passed away last autumn. Unna is young and playful and loves to sit on your lap, which is wonderful as our late Jack never did.

Despite the disappointing coolness I must admit even this summer had its moments. The days spent with family and friends were most memorable. We also attended some great events but more about that department later, I hope.