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Software techie and professional seamstress.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cheers, London!

Sequined Chanel--too delicate to move
My last few days in London were a mixed of work and pleasure (though not mutually exclusive--I love my co-workers all around the world). On Tuesday and Thursday, I spent the morning with my good friend, Rachel Kurland at the Victoria & Albert Cothworkers' Centre. We view a few garments both times, with the help of curators of the collection. I'm so thankful for Rachel for setting up these appointments and selecting fabulous garment.

A few of the gowns were far too delicate to be moved, but we were still able to view them in their storage drawers.

One of the garments we looked at was a printed cotton gown from the late 1700's. It had no method of closure, so was either pinned or sewn closed. The dress had very little wear and was remarkably vibrant for its age.
Back bodice of a 1700's cotton gown.














The dress that fascinated us the most by far was a persimmon colored Vionnet gown. All her work was like a puzzle, but this was one of the more complicated ones. Unusual seams and gussets. We spent a long time looking at the front, figuring out grainline, seaming and shape, and then when the curator opened the gown to show the inside we both exclaimed, "OHHHHH!!!"

An inside view of a Vionnet.
A view from the groundlings area of Shakespeare's Globe

Tuesday night I met up with Rachel and her husband, David to see Romeo & Juliet at the Globe. It was an edgy, modern interpretation and highly controversial, but I loved it. Especially since we were right at the stage. The death scene played out less than 10 feet from us.

When Rachel and I went back on Thursday morning, there were a few other people looking at garments, most were PhD students. We spoke with one woman at length who is studying the shift starting in the 1600s from dressmaking being almost exclusively male to female. She was studying a gown very similar to one we were looking at, but which hadn't been changed so dramatically (if at all) later.

It turned out she and Rachel knew some NYC theater costume people in common.

Detail on a Calliot Soeurs dress--another gown too delicate to be moved

Embroidery on a velvet half-mourning gown

A hand-painted silk gown from late 1700's that has been altered for fancy dress



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Catching up, slowing down

Today was my first day on my own again. I had a very cool lady from work come stay with me in Paris and travel with me to London. It was her first trip to this part of the world, and she ventured on her own in both cities. I wasn't anywhere near that brave the first time I came her, so I'm impressed. I also got to know her better and like her even more now.

I got a late start today, which was fine since it was Sunday and most things didn't open until 11 or noon anyway. I decided to look for some more obscure places today.

It was a beautiful day, so lots of families were at the park.


My first stop was Shepherd Market--a small hidden set of streets close to Green Park.
Most of the business were closed, but it was a cool little area and I got a great lunch at "The Little Square". A great Italian restaurant. The family at the table next to me chatted in Italian the entire time.
Entrance to Shepherd Market
A house near Carlyle House
From Green Park I headed southwest to visit Carlyle's House, the home of a Scottish writer who was famous in his day and influential to other authors including Charles Dickens and George Eliot.
It was a long walk from the closest tube station, but it was a nice day and beautiful area of London (Chelsea).





The stairs--4 floors!
Possibly the most unassuming museum ever

Carlyle House garden

another house near Carlyle House

 My last destination was Woburn Walk, a Victorian shop street. I'm glad I saved this for last--it was close to the flat and not worth a long trip or walk. Only one shop was open, and it was a convenience store. It was a pretty street in any case.

I'll be in the London office tomorrow, so no posts unless something really interesting happens.



Monday, April 17, 2017

Things are going to get a little boring

sorry, but I didn't do much today and tomorrow I'm headed to the Paris office, so I won't be posting as much for the next few days.

The secret door (I thought it was a closet)
I got some fabric shopping down and picked up some treats for friends and co-workers.

The only photos (other than food photos--with my phone) I took today are of the cool little passage I had to go through to dump the trash.

I was able to catch up with emails and chats today, too.
The basement
The door to the back alley


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday in Paris


There wasn't a lot I could or wanted to do today, which is good, because someone was playing horrible, loud music into the early hours and I didn't get much sleep.
Veggie seller at Marche Bastille. yes, those are mushrooms in that basket

Fish seller at Marche Bastille

I did, however, make it to the Bastille Market and pick up something for dinner. It's mostly a fresh food market with seafood, produce, baked goods, cheese, meat, game, poultry, dried fruits and nuts, olives and some prepared food. There are a few booths with clothes, purses, scarves, etc. I love seeing the long rows of fresh food.
I found a few tasty things at the market.





I came back, hung out at the apartment, enjoying the sounds of the bells from Notre Dame. Around 2:30 I decide to venture out since the sun had made an appearance and I needed to find somewhere to buy coffee.

Kids playing with sailboats in the garden pond








I got a late lunch in the Luxembourg Gardens, one of my favorites to visit on a Sunday to watch the children play. I didn't stay long, though, because about 3/4 of the way through my lunch, it got cold.
Pony rides!!








I did find an open shop on my way back--an M&S food shop, which is a British company. So here I am, in Paris, drinking Scottish spring water. I also picked up a bottle of St. Emilion for 8 euros.
Dinner in the flat.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Le Samedi a Paris

I got a later start than I had planned, but it was fine. I saw what I wanted to, and even got a little shopping in. The only problem is I forgot to pick up a few things at the market, and everything will probably be closed tomorrow. I'm hoping I can get some things at the Bastille Market, assuming it is
still on tomorrow.
I pass this market on my way to the metro...

This reminded me of buildings in Boston
but this is file, not copper.
I started off heading to an exhibit I just found out about--Balenciaga's Black Dresses at Musee Bourdelle. It was in the 15th and should have been easy to get to, but the metro line closest to the flat was not stopping at the station closest to the museum, and I ended up walking quite a ways.
I was disappointed in the exhibit. It was nicely done, but very small--2 cases with toiles laid out and another one or two on forms, and 4 or 5 complete garments. The ticket was 10 euros. Thankfully, the book I bought has photos of quite a few garments as well as sketches.

Candle holder, Musee Cognacq Jay
fireplace in Musee Cognacq Jay
A bed fit for a queen, Musee Cognacq Jay
Next I headed to the other side of the river (I was on the left bank), to Musee Cognacq Jay. I'd wanted to visit when I was last here two years ago, but it was closed for renovations.





This was a house museum, which I really like, especially when most of the original decor is in place.

I got a prix fixe lunch not far from Cognacq Jay. Roast lamb shoulder with rosemary and apple tart for dessert. Very tasty.
Really cool, really old watches, Petit Palais












Yes, I've got a thing for stairs (Petit Palais)


My next stop was another place I've been wanting to visit but never got around to it before: Le Petit Palais. The little place. Um, yeah, I guess for a palace it's petit, but it's still a palace. Lots of nice works here, and quite a range: paintings, furniture, objects d'art, sculpture. And the
building is beautiful.

My view for the concert
I headed back to the flat to put my feet up for a bit and drop off the huge book I bought at the Balenciaga exhibit.

After some shopping, I had a light snack at the apartment, then headed to a concert in one of the most stunning chapels I've ever seen: St. Chapelle. It's small, but mostly stained glass.



Notre Dame de Paris. Even prettier at night.
On my way back I found the one restaurant still open (really? 9:30 in Paris? that's what I get for staying in a primarily tourist area). Some apple sorbet and a pear brandy, and I was ready to turn in for the night.

Friday, April 14, 2017

En Fin!

I am in Paris. I keep waiting for the day I arrive in Paris and I'm bored with her. This is my 7th visit and I only love her more each time. Yes, I know, I'm only a visitor and she's not nearly as charming if you actually have to live with her, but I'm still happy to visit.
I love Meerkats.

But first, let me tell you about my last day in Edinburgh. I gave myself a break from art and ancient buildings and visited the zoo and then the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The zoo was easy to get to, and has very nice grounds. It sits on a hill, so there's some good exercise walking up and down the paths. It was cold (more of the weather I expected), so most of the animals stayed inside. Also, because of a bird flu concern, the penguin parade is suspended.
Flamingos!
It was still a nice visit, and I had as much fun watching and listening to the kids and their parents as I did the animals.

This beautiful mansion in the middle of the zoo







One fine looking primate, no?


Some marsupial just chillin'












Prayer Plant in one of the Glass Houses

Next I headed across the city to the Royal Botanical Gardens. Again, not the best day and a little early in the season, but it was nice to take a break from city streets, and the glasshouses were fantastic.

Ferns--this was my favorite Glass House
One of the ponds in the Royal Botanical Gardens




















I ended up finishing some snacks I had in the flat and didn't go out for dinner. I needed to pack and clean up since my alarm was set for 3:15. I needed to catch the bus to the airport by 4:09 to catch my flight. I made it, and it was good I got there as early as I did since security took quite awhile.

The view down from the 4th floor (that's 5th floor in US)
The flight was uneventful except for the young man sitting in front of me who had a panic attack as soon as the plane took off. The Air France crew was quick to calm and soothe him.

I was debating whether to take the train into Paris or grab a taxi, but I decided a taxi would take too long to get all the way to the apartment, and I was traveling light enough I wasn't worried about carrying my bags up stairs.








I ended up sitting with a very nice couple from Dublin, Ireland. I made it to the flat with no problems, and up the 4! flights of stairs. The apartment is small but nice and even has a dishwasher. The view is fantastic, and I'm pretty sure the windows and hardware are original.

Spring has arrive in Paris.
I hung out for a bit, then ran to Carrefour for some groceries. I came back and waited for the manager to give him my rent and have him show me how to work the washer. Nice man, Thierry, who I discovered after booking this place, was the same person Wayne and I rented from back in 2004.
After he left, I wandered to the Left Bank to find a patisserie because, well, PARIS. (duh). I picked up a few things since I hadn't had a proper lunch and because I'm in Paris and that's what people do. Eat carbs.

My hood this time.

Since I only got about 4 hours sleep last night, I'm staying in tonight. I've got a fresh baguette, good butter and brie, so don't feel too bad for me.
My plan is to get up early, get a fresh croissant and cafe au lait, then hit a market. At some point, I want to visit Musee Cognacq Jay. It was closed last time I visited.
A light snack from the patisserie/boulangerie.