‘I really like it. It looks beautiful, the colours are lush and it’s a refreshing perspective on the world. I love the idea of excellent dates engaging with Pliny’s figs and mushrooms, your thought provoking note on innocence, and the concept of the songs of men deep in the heart of grape buds’ – Nicki

A grandfather’s love

A grandfather’s love

The Hungarian poet Faludy gives an enticing description of his grandfather, seen through a boy's eyes.  I like how he pitches his speech appropriately for a child, consciously or not.  Also the idea that his words sunk into the young mind, and were understood...

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Paying the bill

Paying the bill

A charming admission of costs incurred by a character who appears in György Faludy's memoir of life in Communist Hungary.  This outrageously sumptuous evening takes place in pre-communist days, during Faludy's childhood.  A larger than life person, this Simon Pan, but...

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Now, at last

Now, at last

The Hungarian poet György Faludy had a full dose of adventure in his long life. On the eve of the Second World War he opted to leave his native country rather than get caught up fighting for Hitler.  Spending time in France and Morocco before reaching the US and...

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They were not sad people

They were not sad people

It's a few years since I read Steinbeck's account of his visit to the Soviet Union with the photographer Robert Capa.  A wonderful book full of...

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Enduring friendship

Enduring friendship

The cool and collected Narziss finally tells his lifelong friend Goldmund how much he means to him.  Goldmund wanders the world for years, the...

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Firm friends

Firm friends

The blithe and luminous boy Goldmund arrives at the school which will be his home until he reaches adulthood, and feels reassured by two new...

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Bursting the boundaries

Bursting the boundaries

A wonderful comment on life - you can come up with as many fine formulae as you like, it will sooner or later defy our clever definitions. Life...

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Merry in the greenwood

Merry in the greenwood

Something blithe and enchanting about this description of the man she loves, before she realises that he loves her.  He is resilient, upstanding,...

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The breath of happiness

The breath of happiness

Ivan is a character, apparently based on Vasily Grossman's brother-in-law, who survived 30 years in a gulag before being released into 'normal'...

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The thread of love (i)

The thread of love (i)

This lovely metaphor for love is from a fine story of it by Mary Webb. I found this quotation around the same time as another by a quite different...

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The miracle of red water

The miracle of red water

Zorba, one of the world's great nuannaarpoqians, questions the soul-expanding miracle of wine. A key aspects of his vivid living is his constant...

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A day in the woods

A day in the woods

A moment when the two main characters of Bronte's less well known novel get to know each other.  Shirley, newly arrived, proposes a day in the woods...

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The meeting of winged friends

The meeting of winged friends

This description of a Chinese garden designed for the benefit of birds made me review our own.  We have water baths, winter and summer (they need...

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The magic of the sea shore

The magic of the sea shore

A subtle portrayal of the enduring enchantment of sea shores, whether through the richness of their treasures or their simple liminality.  I like...

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Freedom from alarms

Freedom from alarms

One of the joys of leaving a job is the growing awareness that waking becomes a natural process, rather than an aural shock.  This doesn't...

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Down to the hare-bell sea

Down to the hare-bell sea

A blazingly limpid landscape on the island of Thera, plunging down to the sea, with flashes of passing birds and lizards over patterned stones and...

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