little red jottings

when a little red pen wanders off the page

Tag: trying to look at art

Slow day

The Rabbit is home with a sore tummy, and I am trying to slow down. I’m pretty shit at it, to be honest. I started the day by writing a mega list of all the things I wanted to get done, then I cleaned the bathroom, made the beds, looked at some work stuff, got dressed, let the chooks out, made morning tea, and finally, finally sat down with my boy.

“I want to draw a picture with you,” he said.

“I have this big list — wouldn’t it be fun to look at it together and work out what we’re going to do next?” I said.

“I want you to put ‘draw a picture with Rabbit’ on your list,” he said.

“Okay, I get it now,” I said.

20160616_111948We decided to draw a rabbit, and he had a wee freeze about being able to draw, which is such a sad thing, children suddenly being unsure of their abilities. We talked about being able to try things and rub them out, and about how I like kids to start drawings because I have ways I’m used to doing things and it’s always interesting to see how a child would draw something before they get stuck on copying an adult’s picture. He liked the rubber idea, and once I’d put the ears in, he was off, with only a few worries about how to do eyes and whether rabbits have whiskers.

20160616_113213I like so much about this picture. I like the fur and the heart. I like the brown tail and the detailed caption Rabbit dictated to me. I like the note to the Rabbit-on-the-picture. And I like the dedication, for which I had to close my eyes because it was a surprise. Most of all, I like the time it took, the concentration and the conversations it generated. I like the reminder about what matters.

Thanks, Rabbit.

 

Update: While I was making lunch, Rabbit was very busy. Then he brought me this. A rainbow rabbit! Exactly what I needed.

City living

P1080684We did half of Dunedin’s Street Art Trail last weekend. We were planning to do the whole thing, which is estimated to take 60 minutes, but it took us a good couple of hours to bus into town, trek around the first half, take photos, write notes, wrangle children, climb on anything climbable, kiss a lion and stop for coffee, cold drinks and an antipasto platter. More to come, I guess.

Anyhoodle, the trail is awesome. You’re basically tromping round the city, but doing art at the same time. My boys are disastrous in galleries (although the small one loves the DPAG kids’ room) unless the art is extremely interactive. Lego was a winner, and the funny blow-up landscape thing almost was but the staff were so uptight about that one that they kind of sucked out all the joy, y’know. So, back to topic, doing art outside with buildings and trees and streets and graffiti and BIG, CRAZY, EXUBERANT pictures is the way to go.

Thanks for the art, Dunedin. And thanks for the photos, kids.

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Travel: Paris

About halfway through our travels, we move from the UK to France and I start writing in the present tense. Odd. I could psychoanalyse myself, or I could just roll with it. I’m rolling.

P1050179 9 May: London | Paris
An early start for the Eurostar, then whoosh through the tunnel and we’re up and in France. A bit muddly finding our way through the Métro (accent/no accent?? help me, someone — the internet is inconclusive) to our flat, but the owner meets us on the street and the flat is just perfect — small and light and charming. Dad and I go shopping around the corner on Rue Daguerre, returning with baguettes and ham and fruit and pastries. We take the Rabbit to the playground in the afternoon, where he potters about very happily.

It’s so good to be in France, to be eating summer fruit at the peak of ripeness and looking out over these old rooftops. It’s like coming home.

10 May: Paris
An orientation day, starting with a walk to Jardin de Luxembourg. But first, baguettes, and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten any so good — they have a sourdough quality, chewy, light, hole-y, soft, and crusty all at once. I can’t get enough, and I do a bit of ranting about the cost and quality of food at home. The melons are so ripe that I feel drunk eating them. The fragrance is straight from heaven.

The walk brings back memories — the wide, tree-lined boulevards, the shops, the forbidden grass. We find a playground, and the Rabbit is happy. The Cat sits on a bench reading and eating his baguette. Ian reads his newspaper. Dad and I let ourselves be directed by the small one, who has discovered the power of point and command. It is a little hard to enjoy the garden, with the wind cooler than expected and the Rabbit getting cross about non-grass rules. But we eat our lunch and feel as elegant as possible in the circumstances.

We catch a bus to the Pont Neuf and walk onto our island. Around a corner, and there’s the square, with Hotel Henri IV and the trees and the sudden quiet. We stop for a coffee, which is a more frazzling experience than in the pre-children days, then the Cat and Ian guide us on the Métro to the Tour Eiffel. It’s big. We Métro home. I buy honey from a shop that has dozens of varieties. I choose citrus flowers.

11 May: Paris
A day for the children today. We go to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne. Ian takes the boys on a train ride in the woods while Dad and I scout out the surroundings. It’s Breton-themed at the moment, so lots of stalls with galettes, oysters and champagne, striped clothing, cider, etc. The boys come back, and we find a table under the trees for our pique-nique.

Then we wander about, find the aviary, and try the amusement rides. The boys are allowed one thing each, so the Rabbit drives a firetruck on a merry-go-round with his Mama, and the Cat drives a racing car with his Dad. Ian is supposed to be the driver, but I have clear photographic evidence of the Cat’s hands on the wheel. A little farm zoo next, with tired, cross animals, then we stop for a drink.

Home on the Métro and shopping for dinner. The other grandparents are meeting us at the flat, so Dad and I do a comprehensive if not particularly efficient shop on Rue Daguerre, and then we have a little feast: ham, snow peas, cucumber, hummus, and olives while we catch up and get dinner ready; rainbow trout baked with lemon and bay, couscous with dates and apricots, asparagus, and green salad; melon and sorbet for dessert. Wine and coffee. It’s easy, pretty, and quick to prepare, and I want to shop and cook like this more often.

12 May: Paris
Mother’s Day! I stay in bed while Ian and the Cat make me breakfast. Well, the Cat takes my order, then comes back for a cuddle and a chat. I get baguette and coffee, with a block of chocolate wrapped in paper. Drawn on the paper is a picture with arrows — Kits is LOVELY! COOL! FUNNY! BIT OF A DAG! DADDY TOO! The Rabbit wakes, and then there’s four in the bed. I’m happy and loved.

We spend the morning at home so the Cat and Ian can play Risk, then go to the Musée d’Orsay after lunch. It’s good to be there again, but the Cat finds looking at art excruciatingly dull, so he refuses to walk around with us, and then gets lost. The Rabbit wants to keep going back to look at a stone owl (very nice, but…), and I don’t find my favourite paintings until the end, when I’m so cranky it’s hard to relax and appreciate them. Renoir stops me in my tracks though.

Perhaps it’s this evening that I make a stonkingly good bolognaise.

P105018313 May: Paris
Ian and I escape for a few hours today while the grandparents take the boys to the zoo. We have shopping to do, but end up not buying anything. We walk around St Michel, but we don’t really know what we want, and when we go to Galeries Lafayette later, it’s so full-on we run away.

But we’re happy to be wandering the streets, daydreaming about living here. We have lunch in a bistro, and the waiter sounds like his voice has been sifted through gravel.

We leave tomorrow; it’s too soon. Perhaps it would always be too soon.

Travel: London

5 May: LondonP1050054
Everyone very slow to get going this morning. Dad came with us and we walked around the Docklands to Canary Wharf. Ian bought toasted ham sandwiches — a revelation that they could work without cheese. Turns out that squashed bread and hot ham is all you need. Who knew?

P1050045We caught a riverboat up the Thames. Went a bit gawky and tourist-eyed as familiar monumental and historic sights appeared around us. Took photos and pointed shamelessly. We changed to the Tube at Embankment and had serious Underground font joy. Got off at South Kensington to take the Cat to the Natural History Museum.

Ian and the Cat headed for mammals and dinosaurs while Dad, the Rabbit, and I went to Sebastiao Salgado exhibition. The photos are haunting; precise in timing, composition, and lighting, but with a grace of wonder, hope, sadness that carries them beyond. The Rabbit very keen on one with a boy and a chicken.

Dad and I lost each other, but we all reconnected in the lobby. Back to the flat where Fiona and Duncan somehow magicked a stirfry out of the kitchen.

P10500846 May: London
We attempted to do adult stuff this morning, with partial success. The Cat grumped all the way to the Tate Modern (past the Globe, which I didn’t visit because of the paying thing and also leaving Ian and Dad outside with two fractious children — sad about that — I just wanted to stand inside and whisper to literary ghosts, and the same goes for Westminster Abbey), but he managed to look at a few galleries, and more importantly, so did I. Excellent coffee kiosk, with computer stations connecting to an interactive art project, This Exquisite Forest. The kids drew for ages, while we ate our sandwiches and had coffee.P1050086

We headed to Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens after that — glorious open green spaces, and a river of birds that cheered everyone up. We searched a long time for the Diana Memorial Playground; when we found it, there was a long queue outside. Queuing for a playground! Poor Brits.

7 May: London
A different group spilt today, with Duncan and Ian taking the boys to the zoo and me, Fiona, and Dad going to the V + A. Loved it. Loved the garden, loved the galleries, loved the immensity and hoarderesque quality of the collection, loved the whole damn thing.

Fell in love with Lucie Rie when I saw her pots, and more so when I saw David Attenborough interviewing her (aged 80-odd) in her studio, the pair of them flirting gently over the making of a pot. At one point, Rie is lying, planking really, full stretch over the edge of her kiln and she asks Attenborough to hold her leg. He does so, carefully and with a hint of a blush in his body language. In fact, he displays the same sort of hushed, wondering delight he shows in the presence of a rare and easily frightened animal. Rie pops up and thanks him. “I got a little bit stuck there,” she says. For the merest moment, he looks faintly disappointed.

P1050098And there was a modern silversmith, and beautifully designed jewellery and glass galleries, and an Iranian collection that made me think of Mum so hard I cried. Plus, the gift shop is excellent.

After a lot of text negotiation and confused navigation, we met the boys at the boating lake at Regent’s Park. Duncan took the Cat out in a paddleboat. We saw more birds. Some icecreams were eaten.

P10501718 May: London
Sorting and shopping. 84 Charing Cross Road is now a Pizza Hut. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, etc. Packing. Bangers and mash for tea. Goodbye, Britain, the UK, whatever you like to be called.P1050173

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