Bill and I have returned safe and sound from our most recent road trip, this time within Victoria. I love getting on the road and exploring the diversity of this amazing country / island-continent, but as I grow older I suspect I love returning home even more. It is just so comforting to open the door and find everything as you left it, and your familiar, comfortable bed awaiting you.
What I don’t love is unpacking, but that is a necessary evil. As is the washing. The ironing, on the other hand, is just plain evil and has no redeeming features that I can turn into a positive. The overflowing basket is glaring at me even as I procrastinate by writing a blog post.
Speaking of blog posts, the ambition to write of our trip in real time once again got away from me. Partially due to slow internet, partially difficulty processing photographs, partially – well, just plain tiredness. So watch this space over coming days as I catch up the tale of the last two weeks on the road.
Neither Bill nor I are great shoppers, and we rarely buy souvenirs of our travels, but we did make a few purchases on this trip. One is a hand made glass bowl in which I intend to display Bill’s collection of matchbooks. I have long been on the lookout for such a thing. I envisage visitors diving a hand in and pulling out a handful of matchbooks, maybe using them as a conversation starter about shared experiences, or similar places they have been in the past, or perhaps simply curiosity value. Anything has to be better than leaving the collection in a plastic bag at the back of a cupboard. I don’t like to hoard items that have no regular use, function or enjoyment.
Another purchase was a tall plain-glass vase with an interesting bulb shape at its base and a narrowish opening at the top. Every week we love to buy fresh Tiger Lillies and Irises from our local market, but they usually flop around in a too wide vase. I am the world’s worst floral arranger. So hopefully I will do better with this vase. In the meantime, I have turned it in to a make-do Christmas arrangement. Please don’t laugh. My lousy arty-creative skills run a close second to my lousy floral skills, but at least I try. My sisters got all those visually innovative genes, one is florist and the other an interior designer. But! I write – and they don’t. Unless you count their greeting cards. The best I can muster is “best wishes, happy – (insert appropriate celebratory event)”, while they, on the other hand, find the right words to fill all the blank spaces. And all in that amazing handwriting that you find on swing price tags in an upmarket gift-wares store.
By this stage of my ramble you are desperate to know what else we bought – right? Well this one I have to put all down to Bill. Given as he is much taller than me, we shop at different eye heights. And when you can see “up”, you see the artwork dotted around the walls. And that is how he came to point out to me a piece that would complement something we already had.
So it was that we bought “Portofino Waterfront“, which turns out to be a companion piece for “Portofino Colours” not only because of the shared subject – but because they are by the same artist – Michael O’Toole! How hilarious!
At least you can say our tastes have remained consistent, even if a little pedestrian or ordinary over the years. We have owned Colours for at least fifteen years, maybe longer. I guess I can put it down to a celebration of my Italian heritage. Even though the bulk of our apartment decor is Asian, the front entry has turned into my little European homage.
It includes my wooden bowls from Poland purchased in 1978 when it was compulsory to spend hard currency if you wished to visit what was then a Communist country . . .
and several ceramics from my father’s hometown of Caltagirone, Sicily. I have a number of these, both painted and raw, which I alternate on the sideboard. In fact, I am using two of the heavier pieces as bookends at the moment.
I hate clutter, and yet I love to be surrounded by beautiful things. Beauty of course is in the eye of the beholder, so “mi casa” may not be “su casa” when it comes to decor. But if you ignore the lamp – which has made its way to the sideboard from another room and is in need of a suitable lampshade if it is to stay in this spot – then I am content that for the moment I have struck a warm balance between minimal and decorated, at least for what gives me that “I’m home” feeling after a trip away.
And by the way, here is another one of our rare souvenir purchases. This is a hand-embroidered doily acquired during our visit to Hungary a few years back. I particularly admired it as I learnt the Balkan style of cross-stitch when I lived in Yugoslavia decades ago. (The red and white cloth under the new vase is one of my pieces). Instead of using it to protect a coffee table, I decided to hang it. Spare a thought for the framer who had to stretch out all the thread fringes. He or she did a great job at a reasonable price. Please try to overlook the reflections in the glass (lucky I didn’t catch Bill snoozing on the lounge). I really must remind myself to ask for non-reflective glass whenever I order framing!
Sunday 18th December, 2016