Sunday, August 27, 2006


The acoustics in the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth are just as amazing as everyone reports. The music glides out from under the covered orchestra pit at the front and swells into the hall, bringing the voices of the singers with it. It is no wonder that people queue for tickets to the Wagner festival and are willing to sit on very hard seats for 4 hours at a time to hear the music. It is glorious and for days afterwards, everytime you are in a quiet place you hear the music in the back of your head.

The performance of Parsifal (directed by Schlingensief) was probably the most controversial of all the operas I saw. Most people I heard talking about it seemed to find it really repugant. I had the opposite reaction and found it the most moving opera I have seen. I was so affected I had to go for a walk in the first interval to recover my equilibrium.

I bought an icecream to help recover. The man in the queue behind me was making very loud aggressive remarks about how awful he found Schlingensiefs´s Parsifal and the man in front of me remarked to his wife that those were his thoughts entirely. I wandered off down to the lovely park (the intervals are one hour long) in front of the Festspielhaus. I noticed a group of young people sitting having a picnic and as I wandered past I asked if they were enjoying the performance. Two young glowing female faces turned towards me and nodded . The looked at me shyly, not quite sure of my reaction. I told them I was delighted to find at least someone who thought it as good as I had.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Need that jumper

The paper today reported that July temperatures in northern Germany were 5 degrees C above normal.

I imagine people going to Bayreuth for the second ring cycle (now playing) packed for hot weather. They will be feeling the cold as in the meantime it has turned really cold. Here in Hamburg it is cold enough for the heating to be turned on and I read that in central Germany it is even colder. 12-16C. Brrr! I was going to leave my jumper here and travel lighter to Bayreuth (and home) - that would have been a bad move.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Harvest time in Hamburg

The rye field around the corner from where I am staying is ready for harvest. It glows golden in the evening light. Posted by Picasa


Horses are a feature of the fields around Rissen and in June I spent a good deal of time drawing them. In June many of them had foals - but not this beautiful black stallion. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Walmdachhaus in Rissen, Hamburg

This thatched roof house in Rissen village has just been renovated and is occupied by the local real estate agent.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Back in Hamburg

I am back in Hamburg. Arriving at the airport felt like coming home. It has been hot but now the first feel of autumn is in the air, a reminder that Hamburg is very far north.

When I open ´blogger´from here everything appears in German. The machines must know which country you are logging in from.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Suspension Bridge at Clifton

This is the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol. It appears on many postcards of Bristol and is the city icon. Posted by Picasa
More paintings of Bristol here

Friday, August 04, 2006


Bristol is a pretty place, built on steep hills, population of 400,000 and a tidal river that runs into the sea. Why did I expect a big industrial town?

There is a replica of an old ship in the harbour of the type that would have sailed from Bristol to discover the new world a century before the ships of convicts set sail for Sydney.