Monday 19 November 2012

Why Poverty? Give Us the Money

As part of the Why Poverty? series being shown on various BBC channels there will be one programme called Give Us the Money, that looks at the involvement of celebrities in the fight against poverty.  It will examine the work over the last 30 years of Bono and Bob Geldof amongst others. It will include interviews with them and will be broadcast at 9pm on Sunday 25th November on BBC Four. The whole series sounds interesting and covers many aspects of poverty.  I just wish it was being shown on the mainstream BBC One rather than Four (as far as I can see only one programme in the series is being shown on BBC One). It is a very important series and should not be tucked away on Four.

More information about the Why Poverty? series can be found here. And specific programme info for Give Us the Money can be found  here.

Sunday 18 November 2012

U2 Prints

The artist Kelly Eddington has made some of her U2 originals (originally done for the @U2 website) available as prints, so now you can get copies of the pictures for a very reasonable price. I think I will be treating myself soon!

Kelly is a very, very talented artist and if you go to have a look at her U2 prints also check out her other work that is also for sale. You can find the link to her gallery here.

Monday 5 November 2012

Nice 4 - An Eccentric Baroness, a Villa in Paradise and Farewells

11th  October

It seems to have taken me ages to get my Nice Blog done! I think it's the combination of a new job (well a job move) and decorating that has held me back. But anyway here's the last instalment of my Nice blog, hope you enjoy it.

Today we were heading east out of Nice to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. No problems finding the 81 bus and we sat back and savoured the fantastic views as the bus trundled along, it's worth paying the one Euro fare for the views alone. I made a mental note that one day, on another visit, (because I know I'll be back!) I would like to get off at Beaulieu-sur-Mer and look round there.  But today out goal was a stop called Passable (all their stops have names so it is really easy to know the right one to get off at) on St Jean Cap Ferrat. Well the area certainly wasn't passable, it was gorgeous and reminded me a somewhat of Killiney in Ireland with it's stone walls, narrow winding roads, exotic flora and grand houses. 

Deb and Me Enjoying our Champagne Lunch
The bus stop was right beside the road that leads to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and it was a five minute walk to the villa, along the route we marvelled at the views over the bay to Beaulieu and Eze and in the other direction the green peninsula of Cap Ferrat stretched out into the blue Mediterranean Sea.

The Italianate-style Villa, built by Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild between 1907 and 1912,  is a sea of pinkness and white on the outside set in fantastic gardens. But first, before looking round, we decided to go into the Tea Room as we were hungry and I'd heard the food was lovely there.  It was an almost circular room with huge windows that looked out over the bay of Villefranche or the patio shaded by orange trees. The walls were a peachy colour and there was ornate stucco and woodwork, the floor had beautiful mosaic on it and the chairs were golden! Apparently this was where Beatrice had her dining room.

The Patio
We both opted for the Meissen menu - warm tart and salad, a dessert and tea or coffee. I noticed a group of four women sitting by a window enjoying a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne. We couldn't afford a whole bottle but opted for a glass each, it felt very decadent drinking champagne at lunchtime lol!

After that we took the audio tour around the house. I enjoyed the tour as you could get really close to everything and go at your own pace. Beatrice was part of the megarich Rothschild family and she married a rich banker called Maurice Ephrussi. The marriage did not go well as Ephrussi was a gambler and amassed huge debts. After 21 years of marriage they parted, there were no children. It was after this that Beatrice started building the Villa which became her winter home from 1912. In 1933 a year before she died she bequeathed the Villa and all her collections to the Academie des Beaux-Arts.

The tour started in the patio, which wasn't a patio as we understand it, it was a large, square colonnaded area with a gallery running round the first floor level. The ceiling of the column's arches were painted with designs inspired by a Venetian palazzo.  Beatrice often held grand concerts in this area.

Beatrice's Bedroom
Off the patio were the grand and small salons with priceless pieces of furniture, art and tapestry. It is light and airy and very feminine. There are gaming tables too, as Beatrice enjoyed gambling.

Also on the ground floor are Beatrice's apartments. I found her bedroom touching as it felt quite personal with family photos on the table and one of her dresses lying over a chair - she must have been a small woman! There was a large Venetian bed with silk bed linen facing a huge rounded opposite window that looked out over the Bay of Villefranche, what a view to see from your bed!

Another View of the Bedroom Showing the Tiny Chairs
Beatrice was a modern woman and she a fully functional bathroom, (an intriguing round shaped room with a dome) telephone, a lift and coal fired boilers for heating.

In the bedroom amongst the chairs there are two very small chairs, miniature versions of the full-sized ones. These were for Beatrice's pet dogs and mongoose. She seemed to be a bit eccentric and always had lots of animals around her. Once she had a sumptuous wedding for two of her favourite dogs with the animals dressed as bride and groom and guests and their dogs had to also come suitably attired! Seems pampering and treating pets as humans is not a new phenomenon! True to her memory, animals still lived in the Villa, there were large cages with budgerigars in the patio area.

Some of her Chinese collection of Mandarin robes and tiny silk shoes for bound feet were on show in this area, how those poor Chinese women must have suffered to be able to fit into those minute high fashion shoes, I should have put my hand into the photo so it was clear just how small the shoes were!

The rest of the rooms were primarily filled with her extensive collections from all around the world. Rooms full of Meissen and Sevres porcelain, Louis XVI furniture, Chinese articles, works by Fragonard, priceless tapestries to name just a few of the collections. There was a lot to see and but I still  wondered what was in all those rooms not open to the public that we passed by on the tour.

The View of the Formal Garden to the Villa
The house is only part of the delight of the Villa. The gardens are massive and gorgeous, the south aspect of the house looks down a long manicured garden with fountains. At the end of which there is a little hill with a small building at the top which gives a sensational view of the house and gardens. The fountains performed a show every twenty minutes, dancing, spraying and looping to Handel's Water Music. Around the edges of the formal garden were various themed gardens, each very different and it was quite an adventure following the little paths and steps between them. I liked the lovely shady Spanish Garden and also the Zen feel of the Oriental Garden, but they were all lovely in their own ways. And as you walked along you were treated to stunning views of either the Bay of Villefranche or Bay of Fourmis at Beaulieu, both backed by craggy mountains and cliffs. Stunning.

We were there for ages, but it was informative and fascinating, and also not too busy which meant you could wander parts of the garden without others being around which I liked.  If you would like to read more about the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild visit its website here

We got the bus home and I think the driver must have been finishing his shift as he careered around the tight bends and stopped for the minimum times to pick up or drop off! I spent most of the trip hanging on for dear life lol!

That night was the last Debbi and I would have together in Nice. Her airline (we travelled separately) had cancelled Saturday's flight and she had to go home either the Friday or Sunday, she reluctantly went for the Friday so lost a day of her holiday. We'd done well with our money (Nice is not at all as expensive as they say) and decided to treat ourselves to a meal at the swanky Les Pecheurs close to our apartment. But we found it was fully booked, we'll know for next time! We decided to check out places on the way to our little favourite, Le Barbecue in the Old Town, and if we found nothing we fancied we'd stop and eat there. As it was we did end up there once more and had a delicious, good value meal and the best wine we'd had in Nice (and I'm sorry French people, it was Portuguese!)

12th October

Up early to see Debbi off, it felt really strange to see her walking away and I felt a bit "lost" for a while. But I was determined to make the most of my last full day and first went out to the local patisserie for a baguette, croissant and raspberry cake.  Whilst having breakfast ship's horns, hooters, whistles etc started going off in the Port, no idea why, it went on for about two minutes.  I later realised that it was probably to welcome a cruise ship that I later saw moored there.

After breakfast I walked up to Place Garibaldi, bought a Chantilly Meringue in Serain Cappa for later and then walked into the Old Town. I pottered around the shops, bought a few last things. I then walked through to the Promenade des Anglais by the sea. It was a lovely day and a breeze from the sea made it not too hot for me.  I walked round Castel Hill, past the beautiful War Memorial cut into the rock of the hill and on to the Port. It all looked so lovely glimmering in the sunlight.

Coco Beach
I went home and had lunch before setting out again this time in the other direction towards Coco Beach. I passed by the cruise ship, big, but nothing like the size of the juggernauts we'd seen in the Bay of Villefranche. I was soon at Coco Beach and walked down the steps and found my self a nice bit of rock and sat and read my book on Iceland, a strange combination but it worked for me lol. Funny, two of my favourite places are Iceland and Nice and they are both almost exactly the same distance from my home, but in opposite directions. It was very relaxing there looking out over the sea. There were a few people swimming, one of two sunbathing and a couple like me relaxing and reading, sometimes simple pleasures are the best!

And that was about it for my holiday too. I had the trip from hell home next day, but I won't bore you with all those details here! When we were in Nice three years ago we saw a U2 360 gig so that's one day used up for that and then we were in bed much of the next day as we stayed up so late, so that's two days not devoted to Nice. This time I felt I really got to know the place much better and was able to really enjoy and savour it's many delights. I know I'll be back!

One of the Many Delights of Nice