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Posts tagged ‘Mediterranean’

Mallorca Moments: A January Sunday on the Port d’Andratx

Before you look onwards to the photos below, I want you to remember (as you purview the crystal clear blue waters, accompanying blue skies and verdant plant life) that this is January. Yes January. And while for the Malloquins, this sunny January Sunday may be expected, to we two Londoners, this is just incredible. 18 degrees, and a sunny stroll on a beach along the Mediterranean sea. If this is January, then what are we to expect from July?

But weather asides, the topic of my latest Mallorca Moment is a place surely worthy of further exploration. For the Port d’Andratx (or Puerto Andratx) on the South Western coast of Mallorca is a gem of the island, whether in Summer or mid-winter. Benefiting from a naturally curved harbour, almost closed to the forces of the Mediterranean sea, Andratx is a true seaside haven, where fishing boats reside naturally alongside pastel-painted houses and hotels, while next to a cobbled harbour edge, cafés provide the perfect sunny sanctuary for visitors to enjoy the stunning views: of clear blue skies, hillsides clustered with houses, and a direct vista onto the Med.

Reflections on Port d’Andratx

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And this is exactly what we did this Sunday past, as we started to explore outside of our home of Palma with the aid of a trusty hire car and something of a will of iron in getting behind a wheel, on the other side of the road, after several years passed without a single day’s driving practice. But as they say – it’s like getting back on a bicycle; the driving skills returned to me, and we whisked off through a picture-perfect mountain road to this inimitable little port.

After a tipple of the necessarily non-alcoholic kind (such are the downsides of driving), our explorations took us to the port’s stunning coastline, where craggy rocks jut out to sea like mysterious figures from a surreal landscape by Dali. There as the winter sun steadily strained over the rocky outposts, long shadows created some stunning photographic effects, and made for an extremely sultry soujourn to while away the early afternoon.

The stunning craggy coastline

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But heading back towards the car, we found another wonder of nature away from the coast, where a small river met the port. Here, with rushes and long grasses growing naturally in marshy land alongside the small little stream, we felt as though we were in a rural idyll rather than metres away from a bustling port. My photographs taken here have to be amongst my favourite of the day.

Rushes and grasses by a stream

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But you know it’s winter when the sun descends early, and as the pearly round fireball started to make its rosy descent into the horizon, we headed back to Palma, to a garden centre to start a nature reserve of our own. Now, in my office amongst plants freshly installed, I await the onset of Spring, and yet more Mallorca moments in the sunshine.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

New Year 2015: Starting as I mean to carry on

I am a great believer in starting something as I mean to carry on, and if New Year’s Day 2015 is any indication of how the 364 days to come, then I cannot wait to enjoy each and every one of them. For waking up on 1st January of any year is always an experience of great hope for me – it may just be the difference of a day or the turn of a calendar, but with each new year there is a fresh benchmark by which a new list of ambitions and objectives can be measured, and other unfinished and unfulfilled projects relegated to the past. However this year’s 1st January was even more drizzled with the sweet nectar of hope – for how else can a person feel, when waking to bright blue skies, dazzling Mediterranean sunshine, and knowing that this place is not just a holiday destination, but a home.

The day that followed this happy awakening has been one of colours to cradle, flavours to savour, and sounds to nurture. For the sounds, the Vienna New Year’s Concert provided the perfect melodious backdrop to my morning’s cooking, a few hours hard labour which produced a mouthwateringly tender roast chicken with a rich cava-infused gravy and sweetly caramelised apples. So that was the flavour, and as for the colour – a sun-drenched barely-Wintery Palma de Mallorca was waiting just outside the window, and with lunch barely digested, Dominik and I rushed out into the streets to savour all of the splendid vistas which this city so unceasingly affords.

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And of course the record of all these New Year’s treats is in the photos I’m posting, or at least the sights of our day are recorded this way. For the flavour of the food, I’m afraid you’ll need to get yourself an invite… And if you weren’t listening to the New Year’s concert in Vienna, I suggest you find yourself a clip on TV catch-up while you still can. But for the sights of my day at least, I come with gifts aplenty – a post full of photos freshly uploaded from a New Year’s day full of hope for the 12 months ahead.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Sunset on Tuscany

Just as this week of Tuscany posts began with an essay on a sensational sunny morning, when the sun was slowly rising over the calmest of seas, so now it ends with the most sumptuous of sunsets, as that round ball of fire on which we are all so inherently reliant made its 180 degree course through our northern hemisphere before dropping gracefully beyond the reach of the equator to pursue a further path on the other side of the world. 

As the Tuscan coastline universally faces west, wherever you are on that beautiful stretch of pine tree lined coast, you are guaranteed to be treated to the most stunning of sunsets, whatever the time of the year. Over just a short weekend in Tuscany, we witnessed three incredible shows, and with each the panoply of colours striding through the sky seemed to increase. From a lemon yellow deepening through to mango, when the sun eventually plunged beneath the horizon, the sky was shot with the most exquisite shades of rose and raspberry ripple so that, by the time night descended, the sky had danced its way through a cabaret of colours, inspiring fruit filled cocktails and artists aplenty in its wake. 

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But just as the sun had to set, a little earlier each day, so too did the time have to set on our little trip to Tuscany. For the nature of a weekend is the inevitable onset of work the following Monday, and with this damned thought in mind, we made our long way back, besides a fading purple sky, along the dark winding road to Pisa. 

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Dubrovnik | Photography Focus: Part One – Lovrijenac Fort

There can be no doubt that the historically intact magnificent city of Dubrovnik oozes magic and magnificence from every corner and street, in its main grand piazzas and in the shadows of its imposing encircling walls, before its various churches and cathedrals, and from whichever viewpoint the city is admired. And yet for all the magic of mankind’s creation, it is the creation of nature, surrounding the city, which enchants me the most. Not only is Dubrovnik built upon an island cast from vast rocky forms which plunge out to see unabashed by the forces of the Adriatic, but besides the main city, a number of smaller rock forms create little bays and natural harbours which are loaded with a special unique mysticism which make them feel almost otherworldly.

Chief amongst these is the area of the Lovrijenac fortress. Set upon another vast rock and surrounded by a tranquil little bay (Brsalje Harbour) punctuated with its own collection of smaller little rock forms, Lobrijenac felt like a castle straight out of a fairytale. The rocks leading to it were crisscrossed with little steps, and the steep sided rock faces peppered with nature’s best display of yellow and purple wild flowers, mosses and cacti. Meanwhile in the waters below, the proliferation of rocks on the seabed meant that the water under Dubrovnik’s blue skies glowed a ravishing tone of turquoise, while the shape of the rocks themselves looked almost like wild mystical animals, refreshing themselves in the shallow waters.

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Perhaps it was the combination of these magical natural forms and the fading afternoon light when we visited which made this place extra specially supernatural when we visited on our first day in Dubrovnik; it may also have been my artistic imagination which gave the place such significance. After all, only recently I completed my large scale painting, Autorretrato, which was set in a fantastical bay containing random rock forms just like these, an image which I had then carried through to two of my etchings. Whatever the reason though, I found this area just outside Dubrovnik’s walls to be completely stunning, hence why I’m giving it a whole post of its own in amongst my new season of posts from the city.

For all its tranquillity and light, its mystical rocky forms and sparkling sensuous watery ripples, the Brsalje Harbour is definitely one of my favourite of all places in Dubrovnik, but ultimately there are so many more which warranted my artistic and photographic attentions. So be sure to come back soon to The Daily Norm so see what else the Pearl of the Adriatic had to offer.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Dubrovnik | Day 1 – The Diamond of Dalmatia

Is it because of the delightful haphazard spotting of their black and white fur that the beautiful breed of Dalmatian dogs are given the same name as the Croatian coast of Dalmatia, whose geography comprises a confetti-like sprinkling of small islands of every shape and size? Or just a coincidence of their natural origins? Such were the thoughts running through my mind as our plane swept over and along the stunning Dalmatian coast on the southern most stretch of Croatia last weekend, as we began a short city trip to what must undoubtedly be one of the most deservedly popular attractions on the whole coast – the fortress city of Dubrovnik.

Encased within metre-thick massive stone walls and built upon foundations of solid rock, Dubrovnik truly is a gem set within a ring of solid stone, whose preservation has been accordingly restored, despite various historical threats over the centuries, including most recently devastating bombardment during the Yugoslavian conflict of the early 90s. Today it gleams like a true diamond for all the world’s tourists (and fans of Game of Thrones which is allegedly filmed there – I’ve never watched it) to enjoy. With its uniform collection of terracotta roofed houses, main roads gleaming with shiny marble pavements, narrow streets hung with washing climbing up the city’s steep sides, and the odd sprinkling of lavish renaissance style palaces, Dubrovnik is a visual stunner and a historical enclave – so different from its surrounding modern suburbs, and so consistent in being utterly unspoilt. And Dubrovnik is not just a living museum, but a living breathing spirited city whose location affords it a Mediterranean climate and all the advantages of a coastal resort set with eye-wateringly blue cerulean azure seas.

First glimpses of this most beautiful of cities

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And it was to these stunning waters that we headed upon our timely early afternoon arrival in the city, walking down the shiny central street, the Stradun, from the most Western Pile gate of the city, across to its Eastern entrance which looks onto the uniquely charming old port. Filled with little fishing boats and friendly cats basking in the warm sunshine, the port has all of the delights of a Mediterranean harbour, including bustling cafes serving the very freshest seafood guaranteed to have come straight out of the warm crystal clear waters that very morning. One such serving of squid did not last long out of the water, being devoured by we hungry holiday makers along with several glasses of Croatian white wine and some fresh soft white bread.

Dubrovnik’s Old Port

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Dubrovnik is a city filled with lazy sun-loving cats

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It was to be the first treat of many on a day which gave us our first taster of this incredible city. What followed were walks around the old port and the huge rocks on which the city’s seaward walls are built; afternoon drinks in the bustling market square where the gentle trickle of the Amerling Fountain is soporific accompaniment once the busy morning market has closed down for the day; and a walk around the Lovrijenac Fort in the last sunlight of the afternoon, a fort set upon a huge rock just outside the city which, crisscrossed with ancient stairs and nature’s best offerings of wild flowers has something utterly magical about it, not to mention the smaller rocks which sit besides it, looking like animals stretching in the water.

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All this proved, doubly, triply, again and again how uniquely beautiful the city of Dubrovnik is, a fact proven once again as moonlight fell over the city, the architectural details of its most beautiful monuments were picked out in flood light, the jazz bars started bustling with people, and we dined, once again looking over the Lovrijenac Fort, in the knowledge that we were dining in front of one of the most beautiful restaurant views in the world. And all this was after just a few hours in the city. You can imagine how many photos, art works, and rambling descriptions are now to follow in this, my new Dubrovnik season on The Daily Norm. Be sure to come back and savour much more, as I take you on a journey around the jewel of Dalmatia.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Sunday Supplement – The Joie de Vivre Triptych

The sun is shining in London, the olympic torch is gradually winding its way around the country to rapturous applause, and the nation is decking its streets in union jacks in anticipation of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations next weekend (you notice I’ve ignore the slight blip that was eurovision last night, when the UK came second from bottom in the results table – but no surprises there, it only goes to emphasise our disconnection from continental europe). So with spirits high, and with what looks like the arrival of summer (finally!) I have decided to showcase a triptych of paintings which I completed when the times were good, the sun was shining, and I was enjoying uninhibited zest for life. I was holidaying in Marbella, Spain at the time. I had just finished my law degree, and was spending almost a month in Spain. By day I would enjoy the freshness of the mediterranean sea, the heat of the beach, and the pleasure of seafood and of wine. In the balmy afternoons, I would retreat to our sun-dappled garden, under the shade of our fragrant jasmine tree, and rest, contemplate, and (being english, even when in Spain) drink tea.

It was in these times of ultimate afternoon delight that the Joie de Vivre triptych was born, three paintings which were unplanned, but which burst freely out of my paintbrush and straight onto canvas, an apt demonstration of my uninhibited happiness when life was good, the drinks flowed, the sea lapped upon the shore and my imagination came to life.

The resulting triptych sold at my 2006 exhibition, Between me and my Reflection and is now one of my best selling limited edition prints (with some still for sale on my Etsy store). It celebrates the ‘zest’ or joys of life through an illustration of the three stages of culinary and alcoholic indulgence during the day; lunchtime, afternoon tea and evening. Recreation and hedonism are central to the juxtaposed images with a further emphasis on home entertainment, namely piano/music, cards/gambling and chess. Opulence is illustrated by symbols of extravagance contained within all three images, as well as buried treasure and jewellery. Sea food is the culinary indulgence on the menu: many other life-forms or objects are anthropomorphised, for example, the sheep seen in the domestic setting of its whale-house, the musical notes struggling to save each other from the perils of a rough sea, and a snail which digs underground to retrieve the buried treasure. The ‘zest of life’ which these images embody is also specifically reflected by the citrus slices which radiate perfect weather conditions in each scene, while a human hand is always “on hand” to assist in the activities being illustrated, whether it be pouring the cream for the afternoon’s strawberries and the marie-rose sauce for the crab, or dealing out the cards for an evening of casino entertainment. The painted images flow and metamorphose from one object to another, as a string harbour-side lights becomes a string of pearls which in turn  becomes of floating buoys or a sudden rain shower becomes ice cream, piled on a cone to be enjoyed with a glass of rosé.

There’s a lot to explore in these paintings, which are typical of what happens when I set my mind loose, so without further ado I will let you enjoy the paintings in full, hoping that you take from them the optimism for life which they engender as you go about enjoying your sunny sunday and forthcoming summer.

Joie de Vivre/ Zest of Life 1: Crab Cocktail (2005 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

This print is available to purchase as a limited edition print at my Etsy store 

Joie de Vivre/ Zest of Life 2: Afternoon Sea (2005 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

This print is also available to purchase as a limited edition print at my Etsy store

Joie de Vivre/ Zest of Life 3: Casino Nights (2005 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

This print is also available to purchase as a limited edition print at my Etsy store

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.