Wednesday, 7 July 2010


7 JULY 2010


Sometimes things happen which surpass even the boundless realms of the imagination - and Monday was one such day.

I'd been weekending in Paris - a wild and wonderful time which involved partying in a garage, getting lost while out jogging by the Seine and having to be rescued by a kindly woman who took me into her home (merci, Laurence!) and visiting Normandy to explore an exquisite Cathedral in Evreux.

I didn't just visit it - but climbed up scaffolding, slithered through trap-doors like a jack-in-the-box and took an escalator which consisted of a mesh cage which juddered up into the sky.

The opportunity to do this came about through the brilliant sculptor Jean Garleita
whose Parisian atelier I visited in January. Currently, he is working his magic on restoring the Cathedral's beautiful sculptures.

And here he is:

See how high I am!

And check this out for the most sublime of views....

This was taken (following a delicious lunch) with Jean and fellow sculptor, Philippe.

And here, in the dreamy gardens outside - is Jean with his cousin - the ever-charmant and hospitable Michele.

It was an awfully big adventure....I still haven't quite come down from the experience.
What was your greatest adventure?


  1. Altitude? Fascinating subject – pretty much as James Stewart has to face it in the mesmerizing Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Vertigo”. And about this, I had a quite similar experience three years ago in Florence (blissfully exquisite town of my heart) – and one day, during a walk in the famous old town, we suddenly contemplated Giotto’s Bell Tower, which is part of the Florence Cathedral, in Piazza del Duomo.
    It was June and very hot.

    Smiling, I told my friend Luca: “It looks so high to the top”. He stared at me weirdly and I retained a laugh; he just said: “ Indeed it is… 414 stairs, more or less”.
    I smiled again and he said seriously: “No elevator”. I pretended to be surprised and said: “Really? That would be shocking! An ultramodern elevator in a very old bell tower…” He then said: “Oh, mio Dio…” It was a sort of “Carpe Diem” and he realized that I wanted to reach the top of the tower. I also could have gone alone but he was resolute to follow me. The first stairs were “peaceful” but after 100 of them it began to sound tiring. Of course. I could hear Luca laughing behind me and saying that he would have never forgiven me! Luckily I wore shorts or I would have never tried.

    On the way, we met some tourists which had our same idea… well, “my idea”.
    An English guy looked at me and laughing he said: “Why am I doing this?” I replied: “Because you won’t do it anymore!” He agreed. The final result was all-worthy.
    An astonishing and breathtaking view over Florence full of all those ancient buildings and houses with nut brown roofs.
    I’ll never forget that day, that powerful feeling of antiquity, austerity and being part of age-old tradition. Luca agreed that the view was beautiful and forgave me! I won’t do that again but it was a truly wonderful experience.

  2. We don't have ancient carved stone buildings here alas - but climbing the spiral of metal spikes up a 50m plus Karri tree out in Western Aus is certainly an adventure ... Did you get to do that when here?


  3. What a gorgeous picture you paint with your words, Michela - and you've made me long to go back to's been too long!

  4. No, Kyle - I can honestly say I've never even seen a Karri tree (but I do enjoy Carry-On films!) and I do enjoy your Antipodean musings!

  5. Sharon - if you saw Firenze just once then you definitely need a return. It’s the sixth time for me and every time I discover something new, different.
    Firenze is like a Monet’s picture to me: if you look at it the first time you are dazzled by its simple beauty but when you look at it closer your eye captures clear nuances, as soft caresses, that you missed previously. Few things make my heart beat faster than walking along the Arno at sunset.
    Lights and colours make it similar to a picture and the air is magic.

    The blue and violet shade of the sky perfectly matches with lights reflection on the water and make it a surreal place. Sometimes I can still hear the glasses tinkling in restaurants, laughs, voices, sounds and silences filling that town rich in history and beauty.
    Yes, it’s a must for one’s heart and soul.

  6. The Shepherdess9 July 2010 at 12:14

    Dear Sharon. What a wonderful tale! My brother told me about your comings and goings after reading your blog, and it sounded so fascinating I thought I would read it myself! I would so love the opportunity to go abroad one day. It sounds so lovely.I've spent my life among the heather on the moors, tending our flock and never even made it down to London. There is always so much to do. Fifty goats don't look after themselves! Perhaps one day I shall get a visit, and then I could come and meet you in person. Your blog gives me such pleasure. You are a very special person, Sharon. J Pincher (Miss)

  7. Such a beautiful cathedral...and the view is incredbible. Sounds like you had a great time, Sharon.

    Greatest adventure? I would probably have to say that mine happened when I was about 20 years old. I went hiking in southern Illinois' Shawnee National Forest and I got lost....for 3 days. Back then, trail-markers were scarce and I was young, alone, over-confident and under-prepared.

    The forest is over a quarter of a million acres in size. I decided to leave the trail and do a little exploration. I spent 3 days and 2 nights wandering around until I finally found my way out. It was somewhat harrowing at the time, but I came away reasonably unscathed. Just minor dehydration, a twisted ankle and several thousand mosquito bites. I learned several valuable lessons from that adventure....

  8. Dan - this is so EXCITING! What did you eat? What did you drink? Was it cold at night and were you at all au fait with survival techniques?

    You must inspire me by telling all....

  9. Sharon, I was completely unprepared. Remember, I grew up in the big city. When I ran out of the water that I carried in, I drank (very little) from streams. My mind raced with thoughts of water-born bacteria. I had some beef jerky which lasted me until the middle of the second day. I was tempted to try some mushrooms - but I had so little knowledge of which were safe to eat - so I decided against it. I found some berries that were horribly bitter; I ate them sparingly. I slept little - every noise seemed to set my nerves on edge. When I finally found my way to a trail around noon-time on the third day, I came across an old man who was hiking. He had water and was very familiar with the area. Another 3-hour hike took us back to civilization. He said people often get lost in this forest.

    He took me to a local doctor who looked at my many bug-bites and my ankle. The doctor gave me fluids and an antibiotic and shook his head at me. I knew what he meant. Honestly, I felt foolish.

    I guess the biggest lesson that I learned is that while it's good to have the courage to leave the marked trail - or take the road less travelled - you must be prepared for the consequences and possess the resources to deal with them. At 20 years old, I obviously did not.

  10. What a story, Dan - thank you. You describe it so well.....I am THERE! Must have been so scary....especially the nights.

  11. On a much more pleasant note, I just returned from a recent adventure in Maine. I spent 8 wonderful days in the western, lakes region of the state. I stayed with old friends at their lakefront home.

    While the weather was brutally hot, the company was warm and pleasant. They are two of my oldest friends and we only see each other twice a year.

    I detached myself from all digital technology. No cell phones, laptops or iPods allowed. I swam in the lake, walked in the woods and enjoyed myself immensely. We drank wine and watched the Fourth of July Fireworks. We spent several late nights talking, laughing and enjoying each others company under the star-strewn sky.

    I returned late last night with my mental and spiritual batteries fully recharged. It was an incredible time...

  12. It’s true – what a wonderful and exciting tale, Dan! Wondering if you’ve ever thought of writing a story about it… sometimes good stories spring from unusual and unbelievable experiences.

    And… HOORAY FOR SPAIN! I’m so happy and everybody here in Napoli too! It was one of my four favourite teams and it won… great! I’m also glad because my ancestors are from Spain, so I feel very close to it.

    Are you happy for the FINAL CUP winner, Sharon?

  13. Thanks, Michela, but I have my doubts about how good of a story it would make. (Sharon is right, though, the nights were the worst. The darkness seemed to have weight.)

    However, I came away from the experience feeling foolish and small... I guess there was some drama involved, but I don't think I was in any life-threatening danger. I was young and in good shape and I never panicked. And yes, it could have been much worse if I were seriously injured, but the worst injury was to my 20-year-old ego. But, I don't think anyone can actually die from embarassment.

    Sometimes, my brothers jokingly bring the story up and I never fail to feel the sting of foolishness and embarassment....even 21 years later.

  14. I agree with Michela and think you should write it, Dan!

    And, yes - I was VERY HAPPY that Spain won. I was supporting them from the beginning and, to be frank - (although my name is Sharon) - I was disappointed at the Dutch game. No elegance.