France – Monet’s Garden

It seems a long time ago since my old friend Rosie suggested that I accompany her on a voyage of discovery around the British Isles. A chance to see new places and to re-discover my penchant for travel. We were to embark on an eight night cruise starting from Tilbury in Essex (London International Cruise Terminal)

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Leaving Tilbury

travelling in an anti-clockwise direction around the British Isles and stopping in Northern Scotland, the Isle of Lewis, the Isle of Mull, Ireland, the Scilly Isles and across the English Channel to Honfleur in France. The circle would be complete on our return to Tilbury. It was to be my first holiday for a long time and my very first cruise.

You need a ship to cruise and I was very pleased to find that this one met my perception of a traditional cruise ship. Small by modern standards but perfectly formed. This view was taken from the tender on our return from a day trip to the Scilly Isles.

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Astoria

From there, we crossed the Channel overnight to France  and docked, on the last day of April, in the small port of Honfleur which is on the southern bank of the River Seine in Normandy. The large commercial port of Le Havre is across the estuary on the north bank of the river.

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Honfleur

We boarded a coach at the dockside for our journey to Monet’s Garden but the route did not take us past the old picturesque 16th- to 18th-century townhouses which feature in some artists work, including Monet, so the above was the best view I could get.

It is about 85 miles, and took less than 2 hours to get to Giverny, where Claude Monet and his family settled in 1883. He set about creating a walled garden in front of his house which would be full of perspectives, symmetries and colours and became Clos Normand. He became a bit of a botanist, spending a lot of money collecting plants and after 10 years set about acquiring more land adjacent to his, but across a road and railway and which, importantly,  contained a brook. He used this to create a pond and water garden full of asymmetries and curves. It is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly. So, that’s the background and now my attempt to show you what there is to see.

From the coach park we entered through the water garden following the brook meandearing through bamboo and clumps of pastel hued plants.

You are required to keep to the paths and as you make your way through the aspect opens up and you get first sight of the placid, still, pool.

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Finding reflections

The biggest problem with trying to get some of these photos is the number of visitors in the garden (getting in the way 😉 ) and deciding how much time you can spend in any spot as there is so much to see and at this point you don’t really know the extent of the gardens.

Then you just know that you have come across the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, which you cannot see as it is too early in the year.

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That bridge

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Reflection of the Japanese bridge

I did my best to capture the view but have not really done it justice.

From here you have to cross road and rail to get to the walled garden using an underpass. Emerging out into the open you get your first glimpse. The house can just be seen at the top of the photos.

We are now in the original garden which is laid out more formally than the water garden and has a number of avenues enclosing beds with clumps of flowers with co-ordinating colours. Fruit trees and climbing plants add height and structure.

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A riot of colour – tulips and wallflowers

It was spring time so flowering bulbs were everywhere.

I was very impressed to see these Crown Imperials standing high above the tulips and wallflowers and will have a go at growing some for next spring.

The main alley below, closed to public access, is covered by arches for climbing roses and provides a perspective to and from the main house.

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Avenue de la Maison

I made up that title by the way, but would love to see it when the roses are in flower.

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Tulips and tulips

A view across the garden, which I hope shows the extent of planting. I haven’t really shown any of the flowering trees, but this one caught my eye also while looking  across

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View through fruit tree blossom

Moving rapidly on we went into the house to have a look around and see how the master painter turned gardener lived, in some style.

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Monet’s house

The house and garden fell into disrepair after the Second World War and it was only about 1970 that work began on restoration.

“Almost ten years were necessary to restore the garden and the house to their former magnificence. Not much was left. The greenhouse panes and the windows in the house were reduced to shards after the bombings. Floors and ceiling beams had rotted away,  a staircase had collapsed. Three trees were even growing in the big studio.

The pond had to be dug again. In the Clos normand soil was removed to find the original ground level. Then the same flower species as those discovered by Monet in his time were planted.

Thanks to generous donors, mostly from the USA ,the house was given a facelift. The ancient furniture and the Japanese prints were restored. Then the visitor areas were fitted out.

The property has been open to the public since September 1980.”  – courtesy of http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm 

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Interior of Monet’s House

The view from upstairs.

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A wider perspective

and the view down the central alley from the house

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Reverse Avenue de la Maison

I will finish with my personal favourite, a view through the window across the flower bed

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View from inside

which I think, looks great full screen.

I hope there were not too many photos for one post, that i have given you an idea of the marvel of Monet’s vision and that you have enjoyed your visit almost as much as the half a million visitors who pass through the garden each year.

Thanks for your time.

 

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Britain in Europe – A Referendum

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As the date for the European referendum in the UK draws ever closer, I get more and more agitated and the need to express my opinion gets stronger. I have been very lazy at posting any thoughts or pictures on my blog and it is only at times like this that I really feel the need.

I have tried, but Twitter and Facebook are just not enough to properly express thoughts that are so important. It is great to watch a programme on television and be able to comment,  albeit briefly, on the social media sites, but one is never given enough web space to properly express one’s feelings. OK, so here we go with Brandybutter’s thoughts on #Brexit.

We need to break free from a European bureaucracy that is going down the tubes. Economic forecasters are just that – fortune tellers and they are only interested in their own economic well-being. Forget the economics; the stock market, the economy and the Pound, will go up and down whether or not we are in the EU. What is more important is to regain our freedom, to be able to decide our own future, without unelected European bureaucrats trying to drag the UK into a United Europe. Make no mistake, that is the ultimate aim. There is no manifesto, no spoken target, but that is the ultimate pinnacle of European Union, a United Europe in which no one country can have any real influence. A haven for the unelected, a wasteful bureaucracy that spends all it’s time on making ever encompassing rules and regulations. This referendum is your only chance to establish our independence.

The UK is one of the oldest, most respected states in the world and should not allow itself to become embroiled in a failing union of European countries. I am old enough to have voted in the last referendum, in 1975, to remain in the EEC. (We were not given the choice to join.)  I did not vote to join a United Europe. At that time just over 67% of voters supported the Labour government’s campaign to stay in the EEC, or Common Market. We were not voting for a European Union. That is what has been forgotten.

Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973 and hence the EU in the 1990s. But Britain never fully accepted the legitimacy of European control over British institutions in a way that other EU members did. It refused, for example, to join either the Schengen Area, which eliminates internal border controls, or the common currency. In the same way, you should refrain from further integration with Europe by voting Leave.

For a professional, informed opinion, I recommend The Spectator article http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/06/out-and-into-the-world-why-the-spectator-is-for-leave/ which provides a very succinct view.

In February, the Prime Minister in a formal document, has claimed that he secured a new settlement to give the United Kingdom  a special status within the European Union, as well as setting the EU as a whole on a path of long-term reform. He claims that this settlement makes the EU work much better for the UK but there are still many ways in which it needs to improve. He says that the task of reforming the EU does not end with this agreement. What he does not say is that his agreement, is a proposal and  may not be formally approved in all respects. The agreement states – “The European Council agreed that, should the result of the referendum be a vote that the UK should leave the EU, the new settlement for the UK will cease to exist.” So he has not obtained any binding reform to Europe.  “The UK is stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU.” The problem is that he has not reformed the EU.

The Prime Minister says Turkey will not join the EU for decades, but he does not have a crystal ball and it may only be 5 years or less before Turkish citizens will have the right to flood the UK. They are not interested in staying in France or Greece, they want the best – the UK. Do not allow them to overcrowd our small country that already has one of the highest population densities in Europe.

Germany is now realising that Angela Merkel set her country on the road to ruin with her invitation for an unlimited number of political refugees to stay in Germany. It was her invitation that sparked the worst influx of mass immigration to affluent Europe since the Second World War. How many lives were lost as a result of her rash words? How many Germans are now regretting the social problems overwhelming some of their cities?

Do not forget, Turkey is only one of many poor countries on the edge of Europe that will willingly sell their economy to Europe in order to take advantage of the wealth that they have not been able to generate on their own. Remember well that Greece took such advantage of it’s inclusion that it very nearly brought down the whole European economy. It was not a poor country before it joined the EU, but it took everything it could, allowed workers to retire early on silly pensions and failed to tax properly and subsequently caused the near breakdown of the European economy. The economic problems of Greece in Europe are still not resolved. So much for stronger in Europe!

Do not listen to all the politicians and business leaders who advocate remaining in Europe. They all have only one aim in life – to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible from you and me. They do not have any interest in the freedom of the individual or the freedom of nation states. They are money orientated, already rich and interested only in making more money. Listen to the chancellor’s rhetoric, the Prime Minister’s urging, they want only to make more money. Never forget, in every country around the world, politicians are rich. The USA is proud to announce that anyone can become President, but the truth is that there has never been a poor President.

My overwhelming thoughts concern our need to retain our independence and not to drown in the unelected morass of greed and waste that engulfs the gravy train of Brussels bureaucracy. The Prime Minister has exhorted us to remain in Europe on the basis that we are stronger in, that this “will be a once-in-a-generation moment to shape the future of our country. Whatever the British people decide, I will make it work to the best of my abilities.”  Who is he kidding?  He has not reformed Europe and Europe will not allow Britain to shape the future. He will not remain Prime Minister if Britain votes to leave. No wonder he wants us to remain!

Your chance to vote is this week. There is no more time. The future of Britain is in the hands of the British electorate for once and the politicians and the business leaders will have to wait on British common sense. The economy, your affluence and the value of the pound will continue to rise and fall, irrespective of whether we remain in or leave Europe.

Remember, you will not get the chance to reclaim Britain’s independence ever again. Once you relinquish our sovereignty, it will be gone forever. You will have voted for the European Superstate. No one mentions it but rest assured that is the ultimate dream of  the unelected Brussels bureaucrats. The bigger their empire, the bigger their salaries. The Prime Minister has proved that the UK cannot, in substance, reform Europe.

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I will be voting Leave the European Union and I hope the majority will also seek a better future for the UK free from interference from Europe.