Le temps des cerises

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There’s a famous scene in Proust where the narrator goes for a walk with Gilberte and noticing the hawthorn, she allows him a few moments alone to talk to the leaves and ask where the blossom has gone. I was reminded of this when I visited the Jardin des Plantes in April to see the cherry trees in bloom. Never have I seen such a huge or magnificent display. Even a whole school group disappeared under the pink boughs of one of the trees.

I sat quietly for a while, eavesdropping on the two Americans alongside who were complaining about how their grandchildren never want to do anything and savouring the smell of freshly cut grass and the warmth of the sun. I spent as long as possible with the trees, knowing that I wouldn’t see them again for a while, turning for one final lingering glance at the gate. If you go there, please give them my regards.

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A visit to Hidcote

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I had always wanted to visit Hidcote, the famous Arts and Crafts garden in the Cotswolds created by Lawrence Johnston, the son of a wealthy American. Back in early June when it was summer and the wisteria was in bloom, I finally got my chance. Nothing can really prepare you for the astonishing beauty of the place with its linked ‘rooms’ of hedges, herbaceous plants and shrubs and it truly is one of the loveliest gardens I’ve ever visited.

 

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One week in Berlin

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At the Max Liebermann villa, Wannsee

 

Four years after I packed my bags and moved away from this wonderful city, I finally went back there last autumn. It’s strange to return to a place where you lived for so long, whose streets are so familiar, you can trace them with your eyes closed. In many ways, it felt as if I had never left. The only thing that struck me was how crowded certain spots have become – heaving crowds at Hackescher Markt, waiting in line for the Siegessaeule to open, the grime and seediness of Kottbusser Tor replaced by large groups of tourists, wandering from bars and restaurants where everyone automatically speaks English. But it’s still one of the few cities where you can find space to be alone and find your own way, where eating out is cheap and the bread is to die for. A week wasn’t nearly enough to see all the friends and places I wanted to – a perfect excuse to get back there again soon.  In the meantime, here are some moments to share with you.

IMG_9655The beautiful garden at the Max Liebermann villaIMG_9663WannseeIMG_9661LunchIMG_9680Early morning view from the Siegessaeule, direction Brandenburg GateIMG_9684View over the Tiergarten towards Potsdamer PlatzIMG_9651Café terrace at Zoologischer GartenIMG_9702I also went on an amazing tour of Tempelhof airport – so many interesting things to see!IMG_9703A raisin bomber – the only plane allowed to remain at the airportIMG_9710The check-in desksIMG_9739The famous eagle outsideIMG_9727

IMG_9754Finally made it to the Pfaueninsel – Peacock island – accessible via a short ferry ride. It was such a magical day.IMG_9756

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IMG_9778Home made plum cakeIMG_9785I turned a corner and discovered a fountain among the palmsIMG_9786One last look at the peacock and then time to head home.