Stairway to heaven….

We found the real stairway to heaven recently… and then the day after we climbed it, we read about the court case Led Zeppelin were fighting over the song’s origins. So strange when that happens. And so today, as the court has decided in the band’s favour, I thought I would post about the beautiful valley in mid Wales that supposedly inspired the lyrics.
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We came across it by accident, We’d spotted the sign ‘Artists’ Valley’ and were intrigued. Who were the artists? I imagined a Victorian woman with a bun, watercolours and a flirty-eyed husband in an artistically tied cravat, so it was a bit of a shock later when the waiter in the hotel told us the valley was the ‘real’ Stairway to Heaven. Had we heard of a band called Led Zeppelin, he asked.

Yes, we said. We had. And so the next day, of course we had to climb the path up the hill… and yes, indeed, it was heaven. But what was amazing was how what we were seeing matched so many of the lyrics.  Who knows if this is what Robert Plant had in mind. Probably not,  because nothing is so literal as that, so I hope he’ll forgive me, after all sometimes words (and pictures) have two meanings….

First though, here’s a link to the song to listen to when you feast on all this beauty.
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Luckily birds don’t know they are tweeting…

… because they might stop at 140 characters then.

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And that would be far too short. Turn your volume up and listen….

This clip above was taken yesterday at the RSPB Ynyshir nature reserve in Wales. I was standing there trying to think how I could describe the beauty of the birdsong. And then I thought I don’t have to, I can record it instead and let the birds sing for themselves. Here’s another.

For lots of reasons we didn’t explore the whole reserve, but it does have possibly the biggest bird feeder I’ve ever seen so we sat on a bench and watched the birds come to us.

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Including what are called, I’ve learnt from a friend recently, are a charm of goldfinch… Isn’t that perfect? Here are some of the other birds seen there…

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And this is a first. The first time I think I’ve put up a photograph of a loo sign from the reserve on this website. But just look how she is dancing… bird10

Perhaps not surprisingly. Research shows that listening to birdsong can help mental wellbeing, increase concentration during homework, and when we are feeling worn out and stressed. 

But we knew that instinctively anyway, didn’t we…

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A garden girl in Paris…

(with apologies to John Denver)

Three nights in Paris, bucket loads of rain, cafes, people watching, a bit of shopping, cake eating and champagne drinking too. But also galleries. Lots of them, and I got interested in the gardens attached. How artists, even in the middle of a city, need space. Here are three of them…

  1. Musee Rodin is probably the most famous artist jardin, and even in the drizzle, it’s obvious why it’s so popular.

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After Rodin left his works and collections to the nation, this house (where Rodin had been a tenant) became an official museum. I loved finding out that other tenants included the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, Isabella Duncan, Henri Matisse and Jean Cocteau.

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The garden is divided into four main areas, and you’re greeted by an extravagant rose garden which smells just as good as it looks…

 

The garden is perfect for displaying the monumental sculptures, such as the Burghers of Calais (which I’d seen in London but they looked so different in a gallery). Here I found them unbearably moving

And I learnt quickly to duck and pose so I could photograph the sculptures without catching the other tourists…

… although of course it is impossible to resist some poses…

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And now the second garden, a surprise for us this one, is the Musee Delacroix in Rue de Furstenberg. 

IMG_0299The painter lived here for the last few years of his life (he died in 1863), and wonderful to see the view of the garden he would have seen from his studio, although these may be *new* chairs and benches….

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But it’s still possible to imagine it as he might have done when he wrote: “My apartment is decidedly charming… Woke up the next day to see the most gracious sun on the houses opposite my window. The view of my little garden and the cheerful appearance of my studio always make me happy.” Even in the rain, and imagining different planting, it was easy to see why. You can see some of his paintings here.

And the last garden is a bit of a cheat because it wasn’t directly connected to a gallery, but it was just round the corner from the Picasso Museum, and was just a delight – Square Georges Cain. 

A beautiful circular design with a bronze statue of Aurore in the centre by the 17th-century sculptor Laurent Magnier. The  gentle planting  is deliberately soothing, and in fact a sign at the entrance says ‘too bright colours would spoil the view of the passer by’. And oh, look, a chess board just waiting for you to play there.

I tried and tried to hear the ‘Le Rossignol Electrique’ by Eric Samakh, a small electronic bird that starts singing whenever the wind blows, but I think it was raining more than windy. I did spot a bit of Parisian beauty rivalry though which got my writing juices flowing. There are archeological relics around the edges of the garden, and I was taken by this beauty – so beautiful that someone has stolen her face…

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…. could it possibly be this woman lounging on the exact opposite side of the park, rather smugly holding up a mirror at the perfect angle to catch my faceless goddess. Perhaps if you stand still long enough in this little park then your face will be taken by the mirror thief too…

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