Sunday, 28 October 2012

Moments of Being

On Thursday evening my friends Jacquie, Emma and I went to a local cafe/bar to talk about a project we shall be doing in the Library where I work.We were sitting outside having a drink with our coats on because the weather has changed here now .As we sat under a heat lamp which kept the cold off talking.I suddenly had a rush of utter contentment and I can only say as Virginia Woolf said "I had a moment of being"
We were in a great place ,surrounded by charming old buildings in Truro Cornwall .Autumnal trees shedding red,gold leaves and the air was fresh as we sipped our drinks. We were discussing "An Evening with Jane Austen" which we are planning for the library in late November,Jacquie will give a lecture on the life and influence of Jane and Emma who is an  actor will dramatise some readings from JaneAusten's works.
The rush came and I realized how lucky I was to be living in an historic old town in a legendary part of the world talking to two amazingly intelligent women!
Here is the old main street of Truro and it has changed  very little.
This is the bandstand in Victoria Park a lovely leafy place to walk right in the city.Sometimes a brass band plays and you can picnic in the summer watching squirrels dashing up and down the large trees.
The Cathedral .
There are plenty of pubs and eating places in our City.
The streets are cobbled.
A good view of the Cathedral and the rest of the town which lays in a valley.
The trains come into Truro over this old viaduct.
The Old Ale House
The Hall For Cornwall where many exciting events take place.
One of the three rivers that run through and under Truro.  

 Inside the Cathedral it is a calm and tranquil change from  outside world. Whatever you believe you can come inside and find peace.

On e of the river boats that work the Fal.
Sometimes we need to realize the beauty in our own  home town,it is easy to dream of wonderful places and so easy to forget that your own place is equally romantic and magic to people from other places,I love those "Moments of Being" wherever they come to me. I think we need those transcendant moments. Hope you enjoyed the trip around Truro!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Fanny Stevenson,Romantic enigma,adventuress and muse

Fanny  Stevenson is  a woman described by her husband the writer Robert Louis Stevenson thus
"Trusty,dusky,vivid ,true
With eyes of gold and bramble dew,
steel true and blade straight."
Later in this poem he also describes her as
" teacher,tender,comrade,wife,
a fellow -farer true through life,heart whole and soul free"
Who then was this paragon,she was an American,barely five feet tall who had run away from her husband Sam Osbourne  and taken her children to Europe to study art. An unusual thing for a woman to do but it seem that all through her life Fanny was unusual.
While she was studying in Paris her youngest child died ,she was distraught at the loss of Hervey and it seems, guilt ridden.
She took her remaing two children Belle and Samuel Lloyd to Grez Sur Loing near Barbizon where a whole gang of young artists  had gathered to paint together.
It was here that she met Robert Louis Stevenson who was visiting his handsome cousin the artist Bob Stevenson and enjoying the bohemian life.
Robert had met his Waterloo in Fanny Osbourne ,she was 11 years his senior and he had never met a woman  like her,free spirited, brave and exotic.
This is her drawing of him,showing his romantic looks and delicate hand.
He would write wonderful adventures and travel books and it is all down to Fanny who nursed him through several illnesses that may have been tubercular that he lived long enough to write these wonderful books.
She tried to put him off at first ,returning to her husband in America .  Robert begged her not to go and when he failed to pursuade her he went on a walking tour and wrote his famous "Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes"
Treasure Island  was written for Samuel Lloyd Fanny's son.
Robert could not stay away from her  and despite her entreaties not to come travelled to America to find her.Eventually after  illness and some scrapes they went off to Silverado together and survived the cold winter there.Fanny could not live without him even though she had tried.
The Silverado winter. 
Together they sailed to the south seas ending up in Samoa,the weather would they hoped cure Roberts delicate health and they could feel free.This is their house in Samoa "Valima".
Robert wrote and Fanny gardened and cooked ,she made very good mayonnaise!
They made many local  friends .
She was an exotic dresser,she liked to wear red slippers like ballet shoes and wore her curly hair  short.
Stevenson was devoted to her and they wrote this  book together.
Sadly  Robert died  of a brain hemorrhage  and is buried in Samoa where he was known by the locals as "Tusitala " teller of tales.
Her Grave.
In later life Fanny went back to America where she scandalised her relatives with two relationships with much younger men. The last one said  she was the "Only woman to die for" and when she herself died of a stroke he and her servants were devastated.  Her ashes were taken back to Samoa.
If you would like to find out more about this fascinating woman  I recommend Alexandra Lapierre's Fanny Stevenson. It is an amazing read.
Fanny's bedroom    



I Will Make You Brooches

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.

I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.

And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, 8 October 2012

Today I should have gone into the library to do some extra hours to help out! It was in my diary and I should have looked in it BUT I was still blithely
reading a book sitting in my bedroom after a nice cup of tea when my boss rang. She was very nice  "Er You are supposed to be working this morning"
"Oh b....." I yelped and stopped dreaming happily of the sewing I was going to do. I dried my hair and put on my polyfiller in about ten minutes flat and ran down the hill to the library. All this Autumn closing in and hibernation etc. is getting to me!!I think I have been forgiven but it does make me worry about my memory....gulp!
Early night tonight!