Friday, January 6, 2017

Swedish Hasbeens

Logo lettering accents the slim overlay on these sturdy leather Swedish Hasbeens clogs. Chunky wooden heel and platform. Crepe sole.

Leather: Cowhide.
Made in Sweden.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Taming of the Shrew

  "My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,

Or else my heart concealing it will break,
And rather than it shall I will be free
Even to the uttermost as I please in words."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Modern Love

Modern Love
A series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love.

In Japanese, there is a term used in ceramics called kintsugi, which means golden joinery. As a philosophy, it views breakage and the subsequent repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.  By addressing the damage, and repairing it with gold, the broken vessel becomes more valuable, not discarded. (From a lovely travel blog called Open Road.)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Travel to Italy: Via Francigena

The Via Francigena, that is “the road that comes from France”, starts from Canterbury Cathedral in southern England, crosses Kent, meanders along the Somme and its World War I battlefields in northern France, over the Swiss Alps and down into Italy’s Aosta valley.
From there it passes through the regions of Tuscany and Lazio before finishing at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the end game for pilgrims. It’s one of the three big Christian pilgrimages, together with the renowned Spanish Camino de Santiago and the lesser known pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem.

For more than 1,000 years, pilgrims have walked the Via Francigena, once the major pilgrimage route from Northern Europe to the Holy See at Rome. In 990AD, Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury in England, walked to Rome and wrote an account of the Way. My pick would be to follow Sigeric's route in Italy between the cities of Lucca and Siena.

Here's an enviable itinerary from The Wayfarers.

Monday Overnight: Hotel San Miniato

The morning begins with a cycle ride around the magnificently preserved 16th-century ramparts of Lucca. After a short transfer and an early lunch, we start our journey on the Way. The route takes us past the ancient Osteria di Greppi, through woodland and over heathland, finishing at Ponte a Cappiano. From here we transfer to San Miniato, where Michelangelo met with Pope Clement VII who commissioned the great artist to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Tuesday Overnight: Hotel Villa Bianca

After a short transfer to the start of our walk we will take trails through fields and along white roads to Coiano where we visit the wine cellars and old olive mill of the Castello di Coiano, before continuing through olive groves and vineyards to lunch at a farm. After lunch we will continue through the rolling countryside to the Pieve di Santa Maria a Chianni then a short transfer to Gambassi Terme.

Wednesday Overnight: Hotel Belsoggiorno

Our journey today takes us up and downhill along dirt roads through farmland to the Sanctuary of Pancole. We lunch at the Fattoria di Pancole and visit the wine cellars that produce some of the famous Vernaccia white wine. Our afternoon Walk takes us to the Monastero di Bose, a monastic community made up of both men and women of different Christian beliefs. Short transfer to San Gimignano, with a guided tour of the town.

Thursday Overnight: Hotel Belsoggiorno

After a short transfer we walk through hilly countryside and across streams passing farms to Campiglia, then on to Colle Val d'Elsa, a walled medieval town on the Via Francigena  and famous for its crystal glass, which has been produced since 1331. After lunch in a local restaurant there is time to visit the town before driving back to San Gimignano.

Friday Overnight: Villa Scaccia Pensieri

Transfer to the start of our walk. The walk this morning takes us through Abbadia a Isola where we visit the Cistercian abbey dating back to 1001 before continuing on to Monteriggioni set within its medieval walls with towers that Dante likened to giant sentries. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Letters from London

I must read some Nina Stibbe. Her experiences in London in the 1980's have some similarities with my own. She goes on to write novels and have her letters serialised in BBC television series. And I, well, shred my letters and have shoeboxes of pre-digital photographs stored in tubs in the basement. They have thus far provided some mild amusement to my 16 year old daughter as we rummaged about in search of source material for a family history project.

More on Nina here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A great eye for the absurdities of life

Katie Boo1's Weblog on We'll Always Have Paris: Trying and Failing to be French by Emma Beddington.

"What keeps me coming back, and what is such a vital part of the beauty of her writing is that she is good at the darkness of what it means to be human. She excels at showing the sharp spikes of madness that punctuate day to day life, the bleeding edges of grief, the blankness of a life overwhelmed by so much that to feel nothing at all is devoutly to be wished. It’s all here, and it’s all real, and it touches the parts of you, the reader, who have felt those things too."


Monday, October 3, 2016

Domestic Noir

From recent article by on the emerging book genre:
"Can you really trust those who are closest to you?" This is the underlying premise of the latest "hot" crime genre, the domestic or marriage thriller.
Spurred on by the success of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, a number of authors have moved into realm of the domestic thriller where the common concern is the fear of a partner's unknowability. As one recent book in the genre noted, "The most dangerous lies are those closest to home".
(Including by Australia's own Liane Moriaty.)

From a review of new release film, The Girl on the Train. 
"...perhaps has more in common with Before I Go to Sleep, the 2011 debut novel from S.J. Watson, which was filmed in 2014 with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong in the leads. Both are what has been termed domestic thrillers (or domestic noir), with a female character at the heart of the story, the drama unfolding around the home, and trust the central issue (well, that and murder, which frankly doesn't help much with the old trust business).
It's a sub-genre that flourished in the early 1990s, and might include the likes of Fatal Attraction and Single White Female or even Joel Edgerton's excellent 2015 Hollywood directing debut The Gift.
Acknowledging his debt to classics of the genre such as Pacific Heights (1990) and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), he said at the heart of his movie was the question "how well do you know the person you're living with?".
Classic domestic thrillers:
Suspicion, 1941
Fatal Attraction, 1987
Malice, 1993
Gone Girl, 2014
The Gift, 2015

Image from Suspicion starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Parenting should be child's play

"Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call "parenting" is a surprisingly new invention. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the multibillion-dollar industry surrounding it have transformed child care into obsessive, controlling, goal-oriented labor intended to create a particular kind of child and thereby a particular kind of adult. In The Gardener and the Carpenter, the pioneering developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik argues that the familiar twenty-first-century picture of parents and children is profoundly wrong - it's not just based on bad science, it's also bad for kids and parents.

Drawing on the study of human evolution and on her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is immensely important, the goal shouldn't be to shape them so they turn out a certain way. Children are designed to be messy and unpredictable, playful and imaginative, and very different both from their parents and from one another. The variability and flexibility of childhood allow them to innovate, create, and survive in an unpredictable world. "Parenting" won't make children learn - rather, caring parents let children learn by creating a secure, loving environment."

From the front jacket flap of The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children. By Alison Gopnik

Review by Jackie Annesley.

This same theory was put forward in 1930 by philosopher Bertrand Russell, who devoted a chapter of his book The Conquest of Happiness to the potential value of boredom. Imagination and capacity to cope with boredom must be learnt as a child, he wrote:

A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Maths Puzzle

Von Neumann was at a dinner when the hostess posed this old problem:
Two bicyclists start 100 miles apart, and head towards each other, each
one going 10 mph. At the same instant, a fly leaves the first bike and
flies at 20 mph to the second. When it gets there, it immediately turns
around and heads back to the first. Then it repeats, going back and forth
between the two bikers. By the time they reach each other, how far will
the fly have travelled?

The easy way to solve this problem is to realize that the bikers are
approaching each other at a net speed of 20 mph, so it will take 5 hours
for them to meet. During that time the fly is travelling constantly,
back and forth, at 20 mph, so in 5 hours it will travel exactly 100 miles,
and that is the answer.

The harder way is to sum an infinite series. The first leg has the fly
meeting the biker at a net speed of 30 mph. They start off 100 miles
apart so it takes 3 1/3 hours to meet, during which the fly travels 66 2/3
miles. Now the fly will turn around. By this time the bikers have
drawn to 33 1/3 miles apart. So this second leg of the trip will take
1/3 as long. Similarly the third leg will take 1/3 of the second, or 1/9
of the first, and so in indefinitely, with each leg taking 1/3 as long
(and hence the fly going 1/3 as far) as the previous one. So the answer
will be 66 2/3 times (1 + 1/3 + 1/9 + 1/27 + ...). The value of that
infinite series is exactly 1 1/2, so the answer is 66 2/3 times 1 1/2,
or 100 miles.

Von Neumann thought for a brief moment and gave the answer. The hostess
was disappointed and said, oh, you saw the trick, most people try to sum
the infinite series. Von Neumann looked surprised and said, but that's
how I did it. (Cue laughter/applause.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


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