These Autumnal Days of Sudden Beauty

It has been a warm September. Every time that I walked to the nearest stores, which are admittedly 10 blocks away, I felt my pores opening up to the heat, trickles of perspiration coursing down the back. But yesterday, unexpectedly, there was a nip in the air. A beautiful evening had finally arrived. All I could do was bask in its breezy charm, let the breeze ruffle my hair and alongside rush through the rows of trees towering over me as it spoke to my senses in some strange tongue. Psithurism. Sonic and haunting. If there is heaven, it is to be found in the music of nature. In the gushing of that brook, in the breeze that ripples through canopies, in the ebb and tide of the waves…

Houses flanking the blocks with tamed and untamed patches of gardens, the ones matted with tangled ivy catching the eye because there is a certain something about wild overgrown beauty. The occupants of many house fronts: pointy-hatted witches, ghouls and skeletal figures swaying behind fences, a few macabre grins, autumnal wreaths in hues of gold, orange and russet upon doors, porches with autumnal leaves twirled around the balustrades. My kind of porch, I thought.

And then just like that, as I was strolling past an old rundown bakery, peering into windows scrawled with ‘try our cheese and nutella twists’, the feeling clamped down upon me. An intense wave of longing for the autumnal embrace of Northampton. The Racecourse, that sprawling park (you see it in all the shots) where I gathered leaves by the dozen every autumn, watched the seasons change in slow motion, where the trees were my beloved friends, where around this time the fallen leaves gather on the jogging path and trip merrily in the wind like children gone wild on a picnic, where the blustery wind threatens to rip the ponytail off your head as you run the length of its winding paths.

Below are the changes of season in The Racecourse which sprawls sublimely over 118 acres. How the scenes of life play out differently now from what it did centuries ago when cattle grazed upon its green vastness — a bucolic thought given that during the mid-1700s and 1800s it was the chosen spot for public executions. Convicts were brought over to the heath – that is now the park – in carts after they were allowed a last drink at the Bantam Cock pub a few miles off in Abington. In time, the gallows made way for recreational race meets before they were brought to a halt in 1904 after a fatal accident. Its final avataar was that of an army base and barracks during the two world wars before it was transformed into a refuge for pleasure seekers.

You would think that were might be dark memories clinging to the leaves. Yet it does not feel like the kind of place that holds onto disturbing memories. It is the stomping grounds of little girls and boys training in football, families armed with blankets and picnic baskets during summer, teenagers roller skating with abandon, school boys and girls romancing each other under the boughs of those trees, big and small dogs sizing each other up as they patter around with great solemnity, and the ubiquitous cyclists and runners. On the 5th of November, every year, when the Yeomen of the Guard search the Houses of Parliament in London ceremonially for whiffs of gunpowder-laden plots, in Northampton Guy Fawkes night is the occasion for a great bonfire on the green, hot drinks for shivering enthusiastic residents and fireworks beneath a star-laden sky.

There is a dragon too who lies half asleep at one end of the park as if in wait that someone should say those magic words, ‘Dra…’. Shush. Meanwhile if you keep running down the straight path, at the other edge of the park is a disused tram shelter and The White Elephant. From across the road, this pub taunts the hapless jogger with the wondrously warm smell of pizzas baking away in its wood-fired ovens. Now seasons may come and seasons may go, my friend, but that remains a given on Friday nights throughout the year.

2017-04-29 07.46.34 1.jpg

2017-04-29 07.46.29 1.jpg











Northampton to New York!

This is a shot from a certain October sunset from 2012 when we had gone on a glamping trip to Cornwall. Who would have known that the signs were there somewhere.

Adi has a bit of the blues but I am bloody excited. I am ready to meet the world in New York.

See you from the other end of the pond, my lovely readers.

When Doris Came Visiting

Doris was moody. She almost plucked the ponytail off my head for daring to mess with her. As I ran past her, my large headphones on my ears and Cohen crooning into them, a school girl giggled at me as she almost seemed to say, “Look at crazy Doris.” Ooh, Doris was icy alright and she showed me an entire range of emotions in the matter of a couple of hours. I am talking about the storm that hit our good ol’ blighty with gusts going up to 100mph. What did you think?






My Cosy Corner of the World

Every time my husband, Adi, and I come back home with our strolleys, open the door and lay our eyes on the pub signs hanging off the walls of our short entrance corridor, the heart sighs. Almost audibly. That wonderful feeling of letting go, ah. I throw myself on the sheepskin fur sitting on our couch and flop back with happiness. I look around and let the eyes wander for ‘the eye has to travel’ as fashion editor Diana Vreeland puts it.

There is much for the eye to take in, in our apartment. For our home decor is at the other spectrum of minimalism. Would I care for a fridge bare of all the magnets that stick on them right now along with a few quotes and to-do lists? Nah. I like the chaos on our walls and fridge. Warmth pervades the walls of our home through the very many metal tin signs we have accumulated on our various travels.

There is a woman from the rental agency who comes once in a few months to do a check on the apartment on behalf of the landlord, and every time she enters, she says with a note of awe, “I love the way you have done the space up”. But I can see that she struggles to take it all in at one go. This time she took a peek at our wall that is dedicated to travel. The wall in our bedroom has tin signs from places that we have been to. Yes, we put up magnets and tin signs from places that we have actually been to.

That small yellow tram takes me back to Lisbon as does the yellow bird atop a branch that I bagged in a small boutique there for a deal. I remember the hot day on which I walked through alleys in Lisbon before I laid my hands on these cutesy memoirs. The miniature house fronts from Copenhagen, Prague and Bruges take me back to moments of dithering in shops till Adi would roll his eyes and say ‘decide already’, the bunch of red chillies in ceramic sits smiling at me from the kitchen walls and reminds me of our summer jaunt in the Amalfi Coast.

Then there is the louche frame of a man in a hat lighting his smoke off the glowing tip of his woman’s cigarette – which we picked up in a flea market in Brussels on a very grey, cold weekend. The old wall art of silhouettes, a woman in a 16th-century gown sitting in her swing and a rakish figure of a man paying his address to her, travelled back home with us from a small town in Seattle.

Atop the book cupboard.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8.jpg

Ceramic cod fish from Feira de Ladra, Lisbon.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8.jpg
Cods came from Feira da Ladra in Lisbon
Copper pot from Derbyshire.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8.jpg
A copper pot bought in Derbyshire in England from an old, eccentric man who warned us not to put it on the hob or brew tea in it. “You never know, in these times of recession, you might actually use it,” he cackled. Something about old English men with that sense of humour —  it has the tendency to run amok.
Ceramic lemon and pears from Amalfi and plastic strawberries from Seattle.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8.jpg
Ceramic fruits from the Amalfi, Italy, and a bunch of strawberries that my niece brought for me from Seattle because we used to smell soaps together and drool over fake fruits.
Lisbon ceramic tray.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8.jpg
Lisboa tray
The travel wall that always gives us a thrill. It all started with the St. Ives metal tin sign that we bought in Cornwall, UK, from an art studio in Tintagel.

Who cares about minimalism? Not me. Do you?

There are so many more. The apartment is heaving with these memories that we have made, and along with it, the reminder each time that there is nothing as soul-stirring as travel. D.H.Lawrence put it so, ‘When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.’