Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

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Update (Home again #2)

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 24, 2015

My apologies for not updating things here…
This is not really a public blog like ANZ LitLovers or my (now retired) LisaHillSchoolStuff blog), it’s only followed by my friends and family so, pushed for time and not always thinking clearly, I let it slip. I’ve kept up with some friends on Facebook and on the ANZ LitLovers blog and others by email, but I should have got back here sooner in case there is someone out there wondering…

My father has rallied sufficiently for me to come home to Melbourne the day before yesterday, where I wait with some unease for the next phone call summoning me north. He’s only two hours away now, not 36 hours, and I am doing my best to keep that distance to Qld in perspective.

I am blessed with wonderful friends who have taken care of things for me while I was away, and now I am just taking things easy, pottering around in the garden and the kitchen, watching Masterchef but not Australia’s nasty politics on TV, walking the dog with my beloved Tim, and reading and blogging to take my mind off thoughts that threaten to derail me.

And travel? Well…

By coincidence I received Stephanie Alexander’s newsletter today, full of enticing chat about her recent trip to Peru. So tucked away in the back of my mind, for later, for when things have healed, is the idea of maybe taking a coastal cruise to South America. It’s good to have a little ambition like that, to hold on to…

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Home again

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 16, 2015

Hello to my faithful readers: we had to cut short our trip because my father is gravely ill, so we’re now back in Australia after a gruelling 36 hours.

To Stuart at Academy Travel in Australia: you are wonderful. He was in touch within 20 minutes of my text, listened, and then said he would ring back in half an hour with a solution. It was four in the morning in Brussels, and Sunday in Australia. He rang back, and everything was sorted. We were on the train to Paris with connecting flights and kindly considerate treatment from everyone at Singapore Airlines – with a rental car ready for us at Brisbane as well.

*weak smile* The hospital won’t let us in to visit until 10:00am and they are very strict with double-locked doors and all, so we have time for a quick shower and some breakfast…

Bye for now

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Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Wednesday June 10th 2015

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 11, 2015

Another day, another wonderful art gallery, this time in Rotterdam.

The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen is a little different because it is inclusive of art from outside the Netherlands, and it has quite a bit of modern art, but truth be told, although I quite often like modern art, I tend to find it banal after I’ve been admiring the art of earlier times.  Even major impressionists look a bit limp after looking at Rembrandt and Vermeer, so it’s best left for another day, IMO.

We have to pack for our departure for Brussels tomorrow, so without further ado, here are the highlights of today’s artworks!

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Posted in Art Galleries, Europe 2015, Netherlands, Rotterdam 2015, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

Yusopov Palace, St Petersburg

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 1, 2012

No time tonight to do more than upload the photos, we’re off to the Museum of Russian Vodka for dinner!

I’ll come back to this later and tell you all the gossip about Rasputin…

Later, (the same night)

Ok, here’s what you need to know.  First of all the Yusopov Family was fabulously wealthy.  They had four palaces, one of which (lucky for them) was in the Crimea, and they just happened to be there when the Revolution broke out and so (unlike all the other aristocrats in St Petersburg) they were able to make their way into the safety of exile.  They were so fabulously wealthy that they had their own porcelain factory – not to make porcelain for sale, but solely for the purpose of making porcelain for themselves and as gifts for their friends.

Mama Yusopov (I forget her name) was star struck, but because of her rank she couldn’t go on the stage.  So they had their own little theatre and a royal box so royal that even the royals weren’t allowed to sit in it, only the Yusopov family.  While on a jaunt to Italy (or was it Spain?) Papa Yusopov admired a marble staircase that was just the thing for his palace, but the owner wouldn’t sell it because he was selling the estate.  No problem, said Papa Yusopov and bought the entire estate, just so that he could have the marble staircase…

However, while they had money aplenty, they were not especially gifted in the brains department.  Rasputin, the Russian peasant who had enormous influence over the Russian court got on their nerves a bit, so the younger generation of Yusopovs in 1916  decided to bump him off.  They invited him to a party, and poisoned him with cyanide.  This failed to kill him (possibly because of a counter-plot in the kitchen) so Prince Felix shot him and left him for dead.

But like a cat with nine lives, Rasputin wasn’t dead, and when Felix came back later to find his victim still obstinately living he shot him again three times.  He and his siblings then wrapped the body up in a bit of carpet with – you guessed it – the Yusopov coat of arms on it – and carted him off to the frozen Neva River.  Alas, they failed to sink him because the corpse stuck to the ice, and the body was found within 24 hours and the murder traced back to the perpetrators.

The Royals were peeved, especially the Tsarina who was convinced that Rasputin’s ‘cure’ for her son’s haemophilia was just the thing, but since the murderers were all relations, nothing much happened, just a brief exile, which (since the Revolution took place within 12 months) was kind-of irrelevant really….

Is any of this true?  Our guide said it was, so it must be, right?

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Relaxing in the Hunter Valley

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 9, 2012

We’re staying in a lovely spot at Cedar Creek in the Hunter Valley, but so far all attempts to upload photos and a video have failed because of poor internet access.

I’ll keep trying!

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Posted by Lisa Hill on October 7, 2010

No reliable Internet here…so I am having an enforced break…

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Painswick, Cotswolds 27.9.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 28, 2010

I don’t understand why British people complain about their trains – we think they’re terrific.   We packed up so efficiently this morning that we were able to squeeze in another hour at the British Museum, and then we took the Bristol train to Swindon.  It was on time, super clean and super fast, and very comfortable.  Best of all they have ‘quiet carriages’ where people are not allowed to talk loudly or use mobile phones.   

At Swindon we picked up our hire car, a Ford Focus, which is just big enough for the suitcases and just small enough to manage the narrow village roads here in Painswick.   It was foggy en route which made driving through the forest pleasantly spooky but alas ruined the views.  Too bad, this is England, and if the forecast is bad, well, there’s plenty to do whatever the weather. 



Painswick is enchanting.  We’re staying at Byfield House, which is a Grade II* heritage listed house.  Our host Jill showed us some of its features which include a medieval oak door, a Tudor section, a 17th Century Barn conversion and some gorgeous  ‘Adam’ plasterwork on the roof and walls in the 18th Century Drawing Room. (Think Josiah Wedgewood in pale pink and white and you have some idea of how pretty it is. ) Jill is also an antique dealer so the house is full of wonderful artworks and antiques including an intriguing Dutch corner cupboard which caught my eye! 

Just before night closed in we made our way into St Mary’s Church. Tim’s not as keen on churches as I am, but even he was fascinated by this one. It’s very old, with an Anglo-Saxon side chapel called St Peter’s where there are gravestones dated 1702, and others perhaps older where the inscriptions are so faded from centuries of parishioners traipsing across them the writing (probably in Latin anyway) is illegible to an untrained eye like mine. (Actually, I’m not sure that they’re called gravestones when they’re on the floor in a church. Can anyone enlighten me?) 

As you’d expect there are stained-glass windows erected in memory of loved ones, the most poignant of which are always the ones from that pointless Great War where young men lost their lives in their thousands. Here in Britain as in Australia, small places like this village would have felt their losses keenly and memorials like these keep names alive in public memory long after those of city boys remain an ache only in family history. 

What we weren’t expecting was a ship. There was a sign nearby that explains the religious associations, but still, a 1/25 scale model of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship The Bonaventure hanging off a wall in the nave is rather a curiosity. And we’re not the only ones to think so. Back at Byfield House we found a book entitled Cotswold Curiosities by Reginald Dixon, and he thought it odd enough to include in his book, (which has a lot of other bizarre sights to see in and around Painswick, including the stocks in the churchyard which we hope to find in daylight today). 

We had a fine dinner at the Cotswold’s 88 Hotel. The ambience is bizarre, a retro 1950s décor in a wonderful stone building centuries old. But the food was great: we both had pigeon and sirloin and the dishes were beautifully presented, light and delicious. As good as anything you’d get in a London restaurant. 

This post is a bit disjointed because the WiFi here is not fantastic and the signal keeps dropping out. Some of what I’ve written was done online, and some of it offline and pasted in when I could get back online. It’s too hard to do pictures too, I’ll try and add them later.

Posted in Cotswolds 2010, England 2010, Painswick, UK 2010, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »