Collage - Journal 1932...

Collage - Journal 1932...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sophisticated design......"caret initio et fine"

Most women like Burmese Sapphires, Colombian Emeralds, Brazilian Aquamarine, Tahitian Black Pearls......................but this post is going to be about a simple vase created by Alvar Aalto(architect and designer)for Iittala and the World Fair in Paris in 1937. Alvar Aalto son of a cartographer – as a child I was told he got the inspiration from looking at the outlines of mountains on a topographical map . A contemporary piece "The Aalto Vase." This is still a "classical" for being contemporary. Place it on one of your Carl Malmsten tables, matching your curtains designed by Josef Frank - fill it with tulips....a simple touch of understated elegance...........
“A flowerless room is a soulless room, to my way of thinking; but even on solitary little vase of a living flower may redeem it.”
- Vita Sackville-West

Prince Aage of Denmark - An adventurer - Officer of the Foreign Legion. I opened a drawer in one of my cabinets to organize some medals for my dinner jacket.. I came upon one of my old badges from French Commando School - which, I attended, - It reminded me about...Prince Aage, who had a fascinating life, colorful and eccentric - born - Christian Alexander Robert Aage, Prince of Denmark, he was a great,great nephew of King Louis Phillipe of France, the King who founded the French Foreign Legion in 1831. After serving in the Danish Army, he finally joined the French Foreign Legion in 1923 and in February of that year arrived in French Morocco where he joined the the Foreign Legion at Meknes with the rank of Captain. He had been fascinated by the Foreign Legion since his childhood. A close family friend use to return on leave to Denmark from the Legion and in the evenings tell dramatic exotic tales of his adventures as an officer. Prince Aage campaigned in the Middle Atlas Region against the Berbers until May 1923 when he was assigned to the staff of General Poeymirau as liaison officer.


He was awarded the Croix de Guerre in July 1923. The Foreign Legion is known for their eccentric commanders, in May 1924 he was given command of the mounted infantry company of the 2nd R.E.I. He saw combat action north of the border with Spanish Morocco. Here the Legion fought the Berber Riff leader Abd-el-Krim, who had raised the tribes against the Spanish. In 1924, Prince Aage was appointed to the staff of Marshall Lyautey as Intelligence Officer. In April 1925, Abd-el-Krim invaded French Morocco. Here the Prince participated in combat actions in the mountains. He served with the Legion in Morocco until his death in Taza, Morocco, 1940 and was buried in Sidi Bel Abbés, Algeria after serving with the legion for seventeen years. He had reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Destination Arabia and the "City of Consulates" - al-Balad....

Sun rises over Jeddah and a new day is born.......

Life is good, it is all our experiences which we one day will conform into a book of memories when the season of fall arrives in our lives.

Here is some photos I took during my last couple of weeks in Arabia and a little tale about al-Balad - Jeddah, an ancient port city by the Red Sea.

Here is a place were you can smell the past, incense, spices, mystic, and romance,the sun beating down on your unprotected head, your senses creates a mirage and the imagination visualizes caravans, Bedouins in their oasis with date palms, their beauty, shade, and medicinal properties in an arid desert were water is as precious as gold.

It was here in Jeddah the pilgrims arrive(d) on their way to the Holy cities of Medina and Makkah.

Once, this was not more than a small fishing village.
The city traces its traditions back approximately 2500 years.

Jeddah got to be the port for trading between the East and the Mediterranean, with Makkah and Medina pilgrims travels from around the world.

A melting of cultures, very different from Riyahd and Dammam. Well, it is about al-Balad - In the 1880s the Ottoman Empire had reach out and had control over the city - Diplomats started pouring in and the "City of Consulates" grew up or as it is known in Arabic "Bilad al Kanasil" , or al-Balad.

Beautiful, intriguing buildings made out of coral blocks were you can see pieces of coral and sea shells incorporated to the structure. The walls and the foundation are built entirely with coral taken from the seashore or from the surrounding hills which once were under the sea level. The blocks are held together with mortar made by mixing sand and lime, which was produced by firing coral in large vats.

The buildings are slowly falling apart and some of their wooden balconies looks like they will collapse at any moment. I observed some restoration of some of the buildings and was told that they were slowly undergoing restoration.

The balconies provided beautification to the buildings but were there for the practical use of keeping the afternoon breeze to cool and ventilate the house(s).

Blue, pistachio green or sun bleached brown wood - Wood brought back from destinations far away.The balconies were extensions of the house were there owners could sit comfortably and smoke a Shisha (water pipe) with herbal fruits or tobacco in the cooling breeze.To protect the wood from the heat, humidity and insects the wood was coated with a liquid extracted from the Al-Bisham plant found in the mountains. Shark oil was also used for the same purpose. The resulting brown stain was an effective preservative.

The more elaborated balconies with integrate carvings are called mushrabiyah and balconies are called roshan.Balad is a city within the city and a part of the souk.

(All photos in this post by Tavarua)
The rest of this tale? Maybe - you will have some sweet dates and some Arabic coffee under the shades of a palm tree somewhere in the desert...and continue to write the tale of a traveler - I will leave it up to your own imagination.....

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Father was a true Eccentric...(Part I)

 (All photos of eccentrics except the one of my father in this post by Tim Walker)

His... himself - (My Father), here in his late Seventies.

Here is a photo of Alexander Thynne, Marquis of Bath, with crocodile, at his estate, in Longleat, Wiltshire.

Charlie the Penguin stands among portraits of Marquis of Bath at Longleat, his Wiltshire estate.

Sitting here this evening in Arabia - reflecting over my father and his life, I come to think about and search for the characteristics of an eccentric.

That my father was an eccentric - was no doubt about it, a man from the old school, a man with a definitely nonconforming attitude. 

My father brilliant, handsome and charming belonged to a different world - an eccentric world of thoughts and behavior. He did not ever conform to society.

You will ask - How do I really know he was an eccentric?

Very simple answer indeed - he had no idea that his behavior was anything but absolutely normal...

Others were different.

So, I read as follow; "according to studies, there are fifteen distinctive characteristics that differentiate a healthy eccentric person from a regular person (although some may not always apply). The first five are in most people regarded as eccentric:" The outcome? 

My father had thirteen of the fifteen characteristics.  The two characteristics he did not have - he was not a bad speller or single. 

Nomadic Jaguars in the Cheviot Walk, Northumberland.

Lady Isabella Cawdor with three of her four children, Eleanor, Jean, and James, at Carnoch, Invernesshire, in the Scottish Highlands.

The Characteristics are:

1 - Nonconforming attitude
2 - Creative
3 - Strongly motivated by curiosity
4 - Idealistic
5 - Happy obsession with a hobby or hobbies

Snowfall in the summer at Eglingham Hall, in Northumberland, owned by the Bewicke family.

6 - Known very early in his or her childhood they were different from others
7 - Highly Intelligent
8 - Opinionated and outspoken
9 -Noncompetitive
10 - Not in need of reassurance or reinforcement from society

Dame Vivienne Westwood, unconventional fashion designer, in the old Camden Palace, in London.

 11 - Unusual living or eating habits
12 - Not interested in the opinions or company of others

Three Guinness heirs.

13 - Mischievous sense of humor
14 - Usually the eldest or an only child
15 - Bad spellers

Guinness heir Garech Browne at Luggala, the family estate in County Wicklow, Ireland, where he has put white sand around his black lake so that it resembles a glass of Guinness.

To be continued 
click here for Part II

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Destination Arabia...............

"The mind is for seeing, the heart is for hearing. "

"The world looks with some awe upon a man who appears unconcernedly indifferent to home, money, comfort, rank, or even power and fame. The world feels not without a certain apprehension, that here is some one outside its jurisdiction; someone before whom its allurements may be spread in vain; some one strangely enfranchised, untamed, untrammelled by convention, moving independent of the ordinary currents of human action."
- Winston Churchill

"Every day of your life is a page of your history."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arabia - R. V. C. Bodley

It was after having a conversation with T.E. Lawrence, R.V.C. went to live with the Arabs. They were both Officers and friends. R.V.C. had expressed himself and did not know what to do with his future -T.E. had simply said go and live with the Arabs. R.V.C. thought about it and came to live in the Sahara for seven years. It was in 1918 after the war he went to north-west Africa to live. There he learned to speak the language of the nomads, dressed like them and adopted their customs and took their culture to heart. Educated at Eton and at Sandhurst. He had lived in France for nine years, six years in India as an Officer where he explored the Himalayas.........R.V.C. a hunter as well. A man definitely ready for some new life experiences..... Who new the Arabs better than his friend T.E.? This new life, changed R.V.C.s life philosophy forever. A book to read: "Wind in the Sahara by R.V.C. Bodley"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

.."White Hunters" ....J.A. Hunter (1887 - 1963)

Hunter was one of the first ”White Hunters”. Born in Scotland, he arrived in East Africa in 1908. Hunter came to spend his entire life as a Professional Hunter in East Africa. He brought with him his old Purdey shotgun which, had been a present from his father in Scotland before he departed for Africa (For all of us who like Purdey). Some of his Big Game rifles were a 416 Rigby, 500 Nitro Express and a 505 Gibbs. He owned Hunters Lodge hotel in Makindu. He bought the Lodge in 1958 and it became his final resting place in 1963.

He wrote several books: African Bush Adventures, African Hunter, Hunter’s Tracks and White Hunter.

Arabia - Lady Blunt (1837 - 1917) - 15th Baroness Wentworth

Lady Anne Isabella Noel Blunt was Lord Byron's Granddaughter. She dressed as a Bedouin, spoke Arabic fluently and bought Arabian horses from the Bedouins. - Her horses (or should I say the Blunts) were famous in Europe - they were purebred Arabian horses all brought back to England. Lady Blunt traveled extensively in Arabia and the Middle East. Her husband, Sir Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, a diplomat and poet, who entered the British Diplomatic Corps and served as a British Attache in Constantinople, Paris, Madrid,...,....,..... - Lady Blunt died in 1917 at Sheykh Obeyd , it was here the Blunts had a stud farm, not far from Cairo, Egypt. After she divorced her husband, Sheykh Obeyd got to be her home away from home.

The Garden in Sheyk Obeyd by Artist Ivan Lloyd

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Hunted

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carl Milles (1875 - 1955) - Swedish-American - Sculptor assistant to August Rodin in Paris, France...

He was a most famous sculptor himself. Born in Sweden, immigrated to the USA and became an American citizen in 1945. His works can be found all over the world. Many of his sculptures can bee seen to this day at Millesgarden,a museum on one of the northern islands in Stockholm called Lidingo. Did I ever experience his sculptures?
Yes, over and over from visiting various locations.

Photo by Carl Mydans 1952

Photo by Carl Mydans 1952

Journals without meaning.........once again.....

"Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrats are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd"
- Dame Edith Sitwell

'One is wise to cultivate the tree that bears fruit in your soul"-Henry David Thoreau

“If people and their manner of living were alike everywhere, there would not be much point in moving from one place to another.”
- Paul Bowles

“Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.”
- Henry David Thoreau