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Posts tagged ‘Writing’

The house of Robert Graves

They say that once in a while you will read a book that changes your life. A story of DH Lawrence’s obsession with the inspirational light of the Mediterranean read while I soaked up the sun on the Amalfi Coast last summer came very close (Lady Chatterley’s Villa by Richard Owen). After all, I surely followed his mantra in moving to the Mediterranean. But more powerful still was The White Goddess: An Encounter by Simon Gough.

Telling the real life story of his time with great uncle Robert Graves on the island of Mallorca, it was a story which more than inspired me to move to the Balearic paradise in which I now find myself; it injected my very heart with a passion for the island which formed the genesis of the life I now live; it transported me to a golden era in a utopian island and made me deeply conscious of the life and work of Robert Graves, the English writer and poet who probably did more for Mallorca than any other Englishman before or since when he moved to Deia in the 40s.

The house of Robert Graves

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the house of Robert Graves and his family just outside my beloved Tramuntana village of Deia. Replicating exactly how the house would have been in Robert’s day as brought to life again with the help of his son, William Graves, my visit to the house had the power to bring the book I had so admired fully to life. From the glasses laid nonchalantly on the poet’s desk, to the garlic hung anticipating a feast in the little sun-drenched kitchen, the house was every inch the familial idyll I head read about.

…and the gardens he so loved

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Only the now busier road alongside the house had the power to transport me back to reality. For no more does the family donkey pass sleepily along its dusty path. But that brief interruption asides, with its garden still abundant and the stunning coastal views ever present, Robert Graves house at Deia remains every inch the paradise which drew him to remain on the island and in his house for the remaining decades of his life, and which inspired him to write his life’s best work. I can only hope that Mallorca will continue to inspire me to my greatest work. In the meantime I plan to reopen the pages of Simon Gough’s stunning novel, to relive the idyll which brought me to Mallorca. 

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.

Autobiographical Mobile: My painting diary – Day 16 and a half: The Caravan

Very occasionally, when I get home after work early enough, and when I am not totally exhausted from the daily grind of London living, I may take out my paintbrushes and indulge in a little evening painting. I find it difficult to dip in and out of my art work like this, not least because it always takes me a while to get back into the swing of painting after a break of even a few hours, but equally, taking the time out in a busy week for a little creativity can only be a good thing.

So my recent addition to my autobiographical mobile painting wasn’t really a day’s work as such, more of a half-day effort (or less). However what I painted was no less important for the quick few hours in which it was created. Following on from my weekend’s work on Enid the Golly, I went on to fill in that mysterious white box to the left of her: My family caravan.

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Not our caravan, but one just like it.

Not our caravan, but one just like it.

I think it’s fair to say that caravan holidays aren’t perhaps as trendy as they once were, back in the 70s and 80s when British families were only really starting to dip their toes into the great brave new world that is foreign travel. While the tourist boom was only starting to implode across the globe, for many of us, like my family, the comforts of familiar surroundings, driven on wheels from one holiday destination to the next was both a more economic and convenient holiday solution. The holidays taken by my parents, sister and I in our caravan, largely in the likes of the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, were some of the best of my childhood. Simpler holidays, but imbued with so many rich, sensuous memories, such as evening walks through the sun-warmed english countryside, returning to the slightly dewy damp caravan to cosy beds made by my mother from the easily converted sofas, setting aside bunches of freshly picked wild flowers, and settling down to the sultry sounds of country wildlife and the faint smell of now smoldering barbeques from neighbouring caravans; the family meals around the collapsible table, eating off our plastic caravan crockery emblazoned with a merry strawberry design; and those occasional days when, faced with grizzly British summer rain outside, we all gathered in the caravan to watch the likes of Wimbledon on the crackling old TV.

The caravan, painted.

The caravan, painted.

But beyond the holidays, the caravan was also hugely important to my academic progression. In term times, we used to park the caravan on our driveway, and in it I would sit, studying away for hours at a time, turning the caravan into my makeshift study, providing me with the perfect solitude in which to concentrate. I credit that caravan as being one of the reasons why I was able to do so well at school.

Sadly, the caravan is gone now, sold some years ago when we used it no longer, when a house in Spain took over our affections, and the physical strain intrinsic in camping became too much for my parents. But that caravan, its sights, its smells, is still so familiar to me, so inextricably a part of the fabric of my childhood that this biographical painting would not be complete without it.

The painting at its current stage

The painting at its current stage, complete with caravan

So I give you, our family caravan.

Until next time.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. 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. 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.