Sunday, 29 April 2012

Day 306-326- Blog Friends Are Real Friends Part 1

Those 20 days passed like a dream, the kind they say never do come true because it's too good. The same one you don't want to wake up from. It was as if some Divine Being decided it was time for a treat and gave me a reward. Here, Sans! She said, I am giving you 20 days of some of the best things in Life! Enjoy! 

And did I enjoy? I hesitate to say only because that word does not even begin to scratch the surface of all the magical, unforgettable, incredible moments and all the hyperbole you can think of to describe beautiful, wonderful and plain amazing care and kindness I have had experienced in that 20 days.   

Many of you have shared some of those experiences through the posts here and on the blogs of our friends. Those were but fractions. Tonight, I am giving you the best of them. 

In Spain,

Eva @ Barcino Temple, Barcelona, 15/3/2012 

Eva with her emphatic YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS (Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii)! My reason for choosing Barcelona as the beginning and the end.

Alex @ The El Glop, showing me how to eat calcot- 17/3/2012

Alex who planned his days off work to coincide with my arrival, the designated driver when we hung out with the family and when Arnau was ill, who stayed home to look after him so Eva could take me out. 

He also made almost all the meals we had at home.

Unforgettable moments were when I was listening to his choice of music including "Hey Soul Sisters" in the car to Barcelona, Talamanca or Stiges and feasting on his fabulous librettos and chicken cutlets for dinner.

Me and Arnau @ Casa Battlo 17/3/2012

Arnau, gifted with the best from both his parents and who gave me his bed when I stayed at their home. GAUPO (handsome in Catalan) was the word I learnt because of him. 

Me and Eva @ Talamanca- 16/3/2012

Unforgettable Moments- being at Stiges with Eva where we chanced upon a Quilt Fair, had lunch by the sea and then saw parrots on a palm tree. More importantly, I witnessed the special bond and commitment between loved ones....

Eva and Alex @ Talamanca, 16/3/2012 

Eva and Arnau @ Casa Battlo 17/3/2012

On the guest book at Casa Battlo, 17/3/2012

Jazz Festival @ Terassa, 18/3/2012

Unforgettable was also  that brilliant Spring Sunday before I left for Genoa where we attended an outdoor jazz festival in the park near Eva's home.  

In Italy,

Ro, wearing the table runner I brought her as a shawl, Genoa 21/3/2012

Rosanna and the reason why I was in Europe this year. An incredible long distance relationship that actually lasted and can only become stronger. 

Although we haven't seen each other for 2 years, we wrote one another frequently. Still, I was not prepared when the door at the airport opened and I saw Rosanna, Walter and Matteo waiting and  Rosanna  jumping up and down when she saw me. 

Unforgettable moment: hearing Matteo said don't cry when he could tell I was going to as I hugged Ro. 

Ro engaging in her favourite activity, walking-Portofino, 20/3/2012

Rosanna who promised me we would walk and walk and walk and that we did sometimes up to seven hours a day. Needless to say, I love those walks and am missing them in a big way. 

Rosanna, looking crazy fresh even after a hike through the hills in Portofino, 20/3/2012

Me and Ro on a boat to Portofino-20/3/2012

That day Ro took me to Liguria and Portofino was peppered with the word special. From the centuries old architecture and their trompe loeil to the lone heron prancing for us on a speedboat culminating to the dancing dolphins in the sea paths of our humble ferry. Both of us didn't think all that could happen just because we decided to take the boat instead of walk and I don't care if I might have missed watching a lion mate with a tiger just because we didn't walk.  That day will forever be imprinted in my mind as the one I first met wild dolphins.

Rosanna soaking in the sun just before we had our packed lunch,
 after trekking a few hours-Portofino,20/3/2012

Lunch with Rosanna here with a million dollar view of the Portofino harbour nevertheless held the top spot for most unforgettable moment of that day.

Papa Rolla who loves Rosanna's food and who wouldn't?-Genoa, 20/3/2012

All the meals at Ro's home was prepared by her. She even made me an artichoke pie on the night I arrived in case I got hungry. And on the 3rd day, we had the pesto pasta I had been craving since 2 years ago.

Unforgettable too was the Father's Day fritto dinner Ro made for Papa Rolla, the same day we went to Liguria and Portofino. Heaven was to eat everything deep fried in the company where love abound and kisses flew freely, where laughter was aplenty because Papa Rolla was mimicking a burlesque dancer throwing her breasts over the shoulder, one at a time.

Ro, an Audrey Hepburn moment, Zaanse Schans, 23/3/2012

Rosanna who undertook the Herculean task of getting a week off work so we could travel Holland and Germany together. She who accorded me such honour, by telling me on the last night of our travels and just before our heads hit the pillows, that I was a truly truly decent person (I laughed then and I am laughing now as I type) and how it was a privilege for her to have travelled with me,  when the privilege, my dear Ro, was all mine. 

Roberta at work and with her Chase Away Bad Luck Broom-21/3/2012

Then there is Roberta whom I met again for the 2nd time for a large coffee the size of an espresso, on the last day in Genoa. The funny, endearing and bubbly Roberta who I swear is The Good Witch of Genoa, especially when she excitedly took out her new mini broom and promptly started dusting the space in front of her, to chase away evil, she said. 

In Holland,

Sylvia with Ro, on the train from Amsetrdam to Almere, 22/3/2012

Sylvia, the multi-talented and much admired Sylvia, who's earthiness, experiences and extreme courage made her a giant of a human being, in my eyes. 

Sylvia at home Almere, 22/3/2012

Despite her talents, this star has neither airs or pretenses. Unassuming and generous, she made us a delicious dinner although she disliked and hardly cooked and she brought us to all the shops even when she was not into shopping at all. Then to top it all, she suffered the early morning sun in her eyes to sleep in the hall so Ro and I could have her bed and the bedroom. 

Sylvia's living room with huge black and white prints on the wall-Almere, 22/3/2012

Sylvia at 16
Inspiring even when she least expect to, can you tell where I got the idea for this post from? 

Seeing us off at the train station, 23/3/2012

That very evening we arrived, Sylvia told us that friends had been following our journey through blogland. I knew some of you were reading about my trip but only on my blog and when it dawned on me that you knew when we arrived at Amsterdam and when we were expected in Arnhem, even when I was not posting, I was overwhelmed.

Ro and I opening Margriet's presents-photo by Sylvia bashed by me, Almere, 22/3/2012

Like how I was overwhelmed when we met Margriet through her gifts which she made sure to send in time for our arrival at Sylvia's home. 

Alex at Arnhem, 24/3/2012

Then Alex really made our day at Arnhem by coming up to Rosanna and me and saying you  must be Rosanna and Sans! I recognise you from Sylvia's blog. Another talented miniaturist with beautiful blogs, what a pleasure it was to have met you, Alex. Thank you for coming up to say hi and to have lunch and then coffee because I won't deny it, it is such a thrill to have someone we have never met know who we are. By the way, that happened to us twice! 

All it took for us was to stay with a famous blogger. Seriously though, it never fails to amaze me  how we all connect in such a special way through our shared passion and blogs ! 

And what a day it was at Arnhem! 

Sabiha looking at Ro's gift, Arnhem, 24/3/2012

To have met the really talented Sabiha, as pretty as I have expected and better than that, also genuine, humourous and very sweet. But don't be deceived, she can be mischievous too. Just like Sylvia. I believe they were the ones who came up with the survival kit , Rosanna, and it was Sabiha's handwriting and smiley face on that packet. 

Josje -Arnhem 2012

And then Josje, who doesn't look a year older than 29, when she has just celebrated her 50th. Her beautiful world filled with immense and bewildering wonders, many of which she created by setting  uncompromising standards. Yet, there was nothing unapproachable about her.  

Unforgettable was having the best fish lunch with Josje, her friend, Sylvia, Alexandra, Rosanna and I sharing tips on skinny clothes and youthful looks as if we have been girlfriends for ages. 

Lisette, Arnhem 2012

The biggest surprise at Arnhem for me has to be the legendary Lisette. I have heard of this mega talent way back in 2009. Her work was described as insane and mind-blowing even back then. I visit her blog all the time but we hardly conversed  and because of that, she appeared  inaccessible to me. I could not be further from wrong when I met this delightful lady. She walked the last round of the fair with me and astounded me further with her creativity, resourcefulness and imagination. She showed me how a spindle post could be used to make at least 10 new things on a 1:144 scale, from a yo yo to a mannequin. 

I salute these ladies from The Netherlands who all had beautiful blogs, creative minds and over the top talent. I am so happy to know you, not just as  master miniaturists but also as  sharing, brave and amazing women. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Day 315-Arnhem Dolls' House Show, Purchases

A Solander Box I bought at the shop in Wawel Palace, Krakow

This is a post which may bore some of you. Showing off minis you bought can be a little like showing off your vacation pictures sometimes. Especially when some have already seen them before. Or if everyone else who attended the same fair have already posted pictures of their purchases. I shall therefore  pretend that this post is really just for me to record the most momentous purchases from an important Dolls' House Fair, my first.

Let me ceremoniously open my box of goodies, all fitted nicely into this lovely Solander case  so that I can show you, I mean, me, how wrong I was when I thought I could come away from the fair without buying anything.

Firstly, this seltzer bottle. I don't even know how I could have spotted him, lined up together with so many other little things on a shelf amongst shelves of even more little things.  It was as if our eyes met across a crowded room and our destinies entwined in that moment. I didn't even know it's name or how it would fit into my 19th century Indian life but how do you explain love? I parted with almost 20 Euros so that we could be together, hopefully forever.

Now this one, Rosanna actually apologised to me for. We barely finished going through the fair the first time round when Rosanna pulled me to Cocky Wildeschut's stand to show me this plate. It is clear I had to buy it there and then. No waiting to come back the 2nd time around! We are talking about peacocks here! Sorry, Rosanna said, but I know you will like it. Sorry, my dear? No way!  My first purchase at the fair and the one with the most exclamation marks ....! THANK YOU! Ro!

These are my most expensive purchases. These ones, which reminded me so much of hand painted wares from Kashmir, I walked a few rounds for. You have to when you kept thinking couples get divorced over spending this kind of money. After saying hi to the sisters at Wagon Mountain Studio three times in 3  hours and after seeking advice from Rosanna or Ms-she-who-had-5 Euros-left, who of course was very encouraging, I walked up to the booth for the 4th time . I said to myself ,well, good thing I don't have a husband and promptly whipped out a chunk of cash for 2 of these boxes only to be told by one of the sisters, sorry, but that was 15 Euros too little. I had misread the prices! O, what the heck!  It's only 15 Euros to save me from a lifetime of regrets.  I gladly paid, still happy today.

It was the pitcher and basin that sold me this set from Victoria Fasken. They reminded me of the ones I saw in Wickramasinghe Folk Museum when I was in Sri Lanka. I thought these would fit quite nicely in my haveli. There were so many things I coveted at Victoria Fasken's table but I was very disciplined and quite proud too of my restraint. Until my last post when I saw the pictures all blown up and pretty. I am kicking myself now for not spotting that cute little decanter set.

I never thought I would end up buying a knitted jacket because I didn't think there would be one in this whole wide world that would suit the colourful needs of my Indian dolls. Thanks to Marijke Vuuren, there was! I love how the colours are so Missoni-ly Indo-phile. And the teeny weeny meeny little buttons. Attention please,  mini-miracle workers who knit! How in the world do you work one colour at a time like that over something half the size of  my palm? When I showed Pam all my purchases, this was the one she declared The Best Buy!

These lovely vases, I dubbed my yellow Muranos. Excellent buys at about 5-6 Euros each, I thought them better than a pair of Manolos. That's saying a lot coming from a shoe fiend like me. They were standing on a nearby shelf from Mr Seltzer Bottle in a stall run by a really sweet German lady. After extensive research, I suspect the company might have been Small Dreams Miniatures. Listed on their website are similar vases described as blown, handmade items made  from Lausha Glas.

I have since found out that the shop's name is Miniatur Puppenwelt after investigating my credit card bills.

There was no way I could resist Mr Tumbling Twirly, especially after I have named him. This vintage mechanical toy was made by the infectiously enthusiastic Serge Piacentino from France. I couldn't decide which was more fun. Watching Mr Piacentino demonstrate how his toys work or playing with the toys myself. His was the 1st and last stall I saw because it was situated near the entrance. More amazing (as if that's possible) than his miniatures is how Mr P's enthusiasm never wavered. Be it 11am or 6pm , his smiles were as wide and demonstrations just as energetic as it was before his very 1st customer.

And if you think I went nuts over these glass bottles, you couldn't have been more right! Some of you may know my penchant for glass bottles and these were so reasonably priced that I went really really crazy.

Total number 25. Would have bought more if not for the postcards I spent on in Amsterdam.

There they are, my purchases! Those I took pictures of. I also bought a dozen spindle posts from Tiny Turning 1000, 5 back issues of magazines on dolls' houses for 1 Euro each and 2 kits at the last minute just before closing time that were not quite what they cut out to be. Yes, the pieces of wood the kit came in were not even cut. It didn't cost much but let's just say there would have been no love lost if  I have left my wallet in the bag as Rosanna has suggested. It seems I only follow her advice when she encourages me to buy and ignores her when she says stop.

Pretty restaurant in Arnhem where Ro and I had our last meal in Holland. 

And then it was closing time. Ro and I bid farewell to all our friends in The Netherlands. Since we had about 2 hours to our night train to Neumunster, we took a walk down to take a photo of a bridge too far or the John Frost Bridge so that I could show it to my housemate who is a WWII nut. We had our last meal in Holland at a nice restaurant. I don't remember exactly what we had except that it was good. I think Rosanna only had soup. Don't be sad for her. She had it with her fancy Stokesay teacup and sugar bowl and was pleased as punch. 

That, my friends, was how I was no longer a Fair Virgin. Hmmm...that doesn't sound right......My Goodness! No wonder I am already gibberishing...It's 2.42am already!!!! 
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