Friday, 23 April 2010

St George's Day

Today is a bright sunny day, and the trees are covered in clouds of pink and white blossom or else tender pinkish and palest green leaves. The gardens are bright with tulips and violets. A perfect English Spring day to celebrate St George.

It's amazing how very universal he is. Images of George slaying the dragon can be found all the way from England through the Balkans into Greece, Turkey, Syria and beyond. There is a link to the routes taken by waves of crusaders but maybe St George is popular everywhere for being a warrior and a hero. What could be more romantic?

He has also become entwined with local customs and legends, so that he is associated with a variety of traditions. On Buyuk Ada, the largest of the Princes' Islands close to Istanbul, there is a monastery dedicated to St George [Aya Yorgi ] on top of the highest hill. On 23rd April, any girl who wants to find a husband, will walk up the final kilometre barefoot, unwinding a reel of cotton as she goes. If her cotton is long enough and does not break before she reaches the church on the hilltop, she will get her husband within the year.

PS After reaching the church and going in to light a candle, examine all the pictures and hangings and writing a wish to put in the wish box, everyone heads off to the open air restaurant on the very crown of the hill. It's a fact that a simple meal here tastes like the finest feast, due to the fresh air, the sense of achievement at getting to the top and the splendid views across the sea to Istanbul in the distance.

Monday, 12 April 2010

VENETIA and later

After joining in the Riskies' readalong of Georgette Heyer's Venetia, I began to wonder [as I always did on reaching the end of a story I'd enjoyed]... what did happen to them all.

So here's my version.

Damerel married Venetia by Special Licence six weeks after she had finally convinced him she understood what she was doing. He whisked her off on a prolonged tour of Europe [with the first stop in Paris for the purchase of dashing new clothes] and the Mediterranean. It was a dream journey for two people very much in love and able to understand each other's ideas so well.

Aubrey joined them when they visited Italy and Greece. In Athens they met various families involved in excavations and the preservation of ancient artefacts. The bluestocking daughter of one such family became a great friend of Aubrey's, a relationship which blossomed - but that's another story....

Eventually, Venetia and Damerel took up residence at the Priory, where renovations and improvements slowly turned it into a splendid home. With Venetia's experience in land management, rents improved and Damerel eventually rebuilt his fortune. He was much inspired in this work by the birth of two lovely daughters and a son.

The rose garden was Venetia's special place. It became a perfumed outdoor room, a delight for the senses. When they were not absent on one of their journeys of exploration, it was here that she and Damerel liked to walk every afternoon to recall their first meetings and all the events of a full and happy marriage.