The Most Fabulous of Aprils.

The Fabulous Month of April

April 2011 must have been the most delightful month ever as the weather was sublime, the sun shone with real warmth, the spring flowers were magnificent and I had the good fortune of escaping work on a number of occasions.

Camilia--spring

And so it is that I am going to tell you about one of my all time favourite places in the world to escape to!

doorway

Where does the path lead?

This loction is nearing the top of my list in the ‘blissfully peaceful’ holiday escapes – and is really a secret I should keep, for I love the quietness it affords!

Perched high up in the Tuscan Hills in the midst of an olive grove is a tiny hamlet of rustic stone houses named Peralta. Once owned by the renowned Sculptor, Fiore de Henriquez, whose work is still all over the hamlet, the place has an atmosphere of such serenity and tranquillity that one feels they are enjoying a tiny slice of heaven.

Our-terrace---Peralta

The scent of wisteria perfumes the terraces…..

When Fiore died a number of years ago, she left the hamlet to her lover, who has made the various houses available for holiday let. They are wonderful for she has left them as they were when Fiore lived there – full of original artwork and nostaglic pieces.

Track-winding-down-the-hill

Sculptures lurking amongst the houses…. some hidden by vines and flower pots….

It is a popular place for artists – for inspiration is abounding. Equally do families recline on the endless terraces filling the air with hilarity and fun, whilst couples smooch on the hidden balconies. It is the type of place that if one longs for breathtaking beauty combined with authentic rustic Italian living, paradise could not be better.

3-terrace-house-at-sunset-peralta

I had the good fortune of being with a large group of my family on this occasion and what a ball we had. Making the treacherous trip down the hillside every day to the little village below, we filled our baskets with fresh produce from the local market and speciality shops. And yes, cheese of course was high on my list!

Cheese-shop

The cheeses were tantalising !

the-butcher

The precision of this butcher shop expemplary..

Easter-eggs

and the chocolate shop …well nothing short of teasingly colourful.

One afternoon whilst napping in the sun and enjoying the ambience, a poem by Wordsworth came to me.

Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes

While in a grove I sat reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What Man has made of Man.

Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And 'tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure –

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature's holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What Man has made of Man?

  • William Wordsworth

Why is it that when one is surrounded by beauty a certain sadness can wash over the mind and soul? Maybe the perfection of nature contrasted with that of the imperfection of man is made more obvious. These ponderings don’t usually come to mind, for in the hustle and bustle of city life there is not the time to muse and and become deeply philosophical about life to such a degree, but in such a place they meander their way into ones consciousness.

Sunset-at-Peralta

Looking out to the sunset, over the valley and out to sea.

I also had plenty of time to muse about Italian fashion and especially shoes! However, I must report that due to the fact that my husband stuck to me like glue whenever a shoe shop came into view, with that typical quip,

‘Do you really need more shoes?’ I came home shoeless.

What a travesty – for the shoes were mouthwateringly gorgeous!

Blue-shoes-in-Florence

MMMmmmm…..ice blue – one of my favourite colours!

Luckily I was able to shake him off on a number of occasions when it came to handbags!

(He has never cottoned on to my love of handbags, so I was quite safe. And no ladies, I know exactly what you are thinking – he doesn’t read my blogs for they are a whole pile of twaddle as far as he is concerned, so he will be none the wiser!)

Of course Italy wouldn’t be Italy without its remarkable works of art.

– from the sublime –

sculpture-florence

Michelangelo's "David"

To the even more sublime !!!!!

Big-Man-sculpture

O.k….I'll be fair and show you the woman as well !

Big-Woman-sculpture

Don't you just love her!

Big-Bottom

…and I thought my bottom was big!!!

********************

In contrast to the Tuscan hills, a fabulous Easter was spent at the country house of some friends in the gentle rolling hills of Kent…….

Hills-in-Kent-at-Easter

Buttons and Bertie trundling along the afternoon sun..happy to amble about until a rabbit came into view!

Lydia-and-Richard

Lydia and her Dad, Richard

The beauty was soft and with a certain gentleness that is immensely relaxing.

Whilst I am a city girl at heart, there is nothing like the vision of greenness to calm the most hectic of lives.

And as for the bluebells – divine.

Bluebells-spring

Perfection personified, for the colour and daintiness of each tiny bloom is so alluring.

Buttons-and-Bertie-in-the-Bluebells

Now..this took a bit to get such a composed pose!

I will leave you with another spring poem that I read for the first time the other day, how it made me laugh for it sums up modern life and man far more readily than those romantic lines of Wordsworth.

Spring Observations

Green slipped out from under the white

Splashed in early other colours,

And gave up lambs, who

Bleated tirelessly on the subject.

Screams from the nearby park

Told of newly playful children, with

Bleary fathers; clattering mothers,

Undersense befuddled by a perfume –

It was the budding blossom.

And younger men perked up at

Early bosoms once again parading –

More blossom – audacious blooms:

Sexual selection back on stage.

It was happening with the birds,

Only there was more decorum,

More order – a greater sense of purpose;

Unwitting duty.

I turned over the soil – warming

Under the cautious sun –

Yellow still nubile,

Though coping with its shyness.

My first beads of sweat were oddly ambivalent:

Surging vigour forcing out the

Stubborn winter indolence.

Inside, a warming smile worked

Up towards my mouth, lips, eyes.

The kitchen window rattled:

Lunch was ready.

Lamp-spring

Daffs in my garden!

And so it is that with my thoughts wandering to Spring and the pleasures of the countryside, not to mention flowers blooming with all their wonderful hues, I actually sit in the midst of my busy workshop late on Monday afternoon tapping away on the computer, with the sound of sewing machines humming around me.

There has been no rest here this weekend, despite the holidays. Too many weddings and events that need special dresses made for us to sit on our laurels and dream of blissful quiet days in the sun. And right now, to be honest, I am  enjoying the production of all these gorgeous dresses and the fact that they will be winging there way around the world to be worn at all sorts of special occasions – Just wish I could see them all on you!!

Madeleine-in-teal-wrap-over-dress

An elegant creation of teal patterned, very soft silk chiffon draped over an even softer silk lining. Feels like you are barely wearing anything!

Enjoy the spring ladies, and enjoy all these scrumptious spring clothes.

And I will stop musing about life and get back to sewing on buttons!

Maddy-in-black

There is nothing like a little black dress for a touch of elegance!

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