Tag Archives: Areas of Natural Beauty

Nureyev, Fontaine and Falling in Love

Dame Margot Fontaine ballet dancing with Rudolph Nureyev.

In 1961, Rudolf Nureyev defected/leaped to the West, and on 21 February 1962 he and Fonteyn first appeared on stage together in a performance of Giselle.   It was a great success; during the curtain calls Nureyev dropped to his knees and kissed Fonteyn’s hand, cementing an on-and-offstage partnership which lasted until her 1979 retirement. Fonteyn and Nureyev became known for inspiring repeated frenzied curtain calls and bouquet tosses. A performance of the Giselle was televised and that was the first time I saw them dance together.  I fell in love with these two beautiful people.  If you would like to know what all the fuss was about then follow this link

Despite their differences in background, temperament, and a nineteen-year difference in age, Nureyev and Fonteyn became close lifelong friends but you were never quite sure about the extent of the friendship and whether there was the love affair you hoped for.  He said of her:

“At the end of Lac des Cygnes when she left the stage in her great white tutu I would have followed her to the end of the world.”

They remained close even after she retired to Panama!  When she was treated for cancer, Nureyev paid many of her medical bills and visited her often, despite his busy schedule as a performer and choreographer and despite his own health problems.

Nureyev said that they danced with “one body, one soul” and that Margot was “all he had, only her.” An observer said that “If most people are at level A, they were at level Z.”

Beautiful Places – the Blue Pool, Llangollen

Blue Pool

If you drive up the  Horseshoe Pass just outside Llangollen in North Wales and know where to turn off you will find the Blue Pool.  These days it is also known as the Blue Lagoon and it is a popular swimming spot, but for experienced swimmers only! It is 40 feet deep and can be icy even in warm weather.  When I knew it first, I was a child and there was none of that!  Cars were rare and  it was considered remote and dangerous!  Therefore for me it was mysterious.  We would travel from my home in the Black Country to the bliss of the open spaces of North Wales!  If I was lucky early on Sunday morning, before church, we would drive up to see the Blue Pool.  Sometimes it was misty, making it doubly dangerous and slightly sinister!  No one swam in it then but I loved it!  Nowhere in the world, and I’ve travelled a bit, have I seen water quite so blue as it is in memory!  You can talk to me about copper sulphate levels and tell me the history of the slate mining that made it!  But for me its seems primeval, beautiful and as old as time!

Something Beautiful – the Lake Isle of Innisfree By W B Yeats

Inisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Innisfree is a small island at the eastern end of Lough Gill in County Sligo, Ireland.  Yeats spent part of nearly every year in Sligo while growing up. He often walked out from Sligo town to Lough Gill. First published in the collection The Rose in 1893, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” is an example of Yeat’s earlier lyric poems. The rhythm of the poem perfectly reflects the lapping of the water on the lake shore.  But the poem was written in London at a time when Ireland was in economic and political turmoil, and Yeats and his family were struggling financially. It is not surprising that the sound of a water fountain in a shop window on a bustling London street would take him back to the lapping water of Lough Gill  and a more gentle life.

Beautiful Places – St Dogmaels, Cardigan,West Wales

St Dogmaels

Cardigan, on the totally unspoiled West Wales coast, is the birthplace of the Welsh National Eisteddfod. With a population of 4,200, Aberteifi (its Welsh name meaning bridge over the Teifi) stands on the banks of the river Teifi where Ceredigion meets Pembrokeshire.  Just outside Cardigan is St Dogmaels, an ancient and tranquil village nestling peacefully around a ruined Abbey at the mouth of the river Teifi.  The monastery at St. Dogmaels was formally established as an abbey on September 10th 1120.  It suffered in the dissolution of the monasteries and is now a picturesque ruin – well worth a visit. Near-by is Poppit Sands,  one of west Wales’ premier blue flag beaches with acres of golden sands and where you can get lungfulls of bracing sea breezes. That is where the wonderful Pembrokeshire coastal path begins.  But it is the river at St Dogmaels that I love best – fascinating in all lights, tidal so constantly changing, but with a wonderful calmness.  Nowhere quite like it on a summer evening with clouds of swallows taking their nightly constitutional before settling to roost! Why don’t you take the lovely winding road across the mountains and visit the place for yourself.

Beautiful Places – Guernsey

HogsBack

A heady mix of stunning scenery and contemporary living make Guernsey an ideal place to relax. Inspiring walks along the cliff paths, rambles through the rural interior can be combined with lazy days on the island’s beautiful beaches. St Peter Port, the island’s capital, is a bustling harbor town with a tapestry of architectural styles that tell the story of the region’s changing fortunes. Here bistros, restaurants and boutiques jostle, while the harbor ferries make travel to the other Channel Islands (Jersey, Alderney, Sark etc) simple. Although Guernsey is geographically much closer to France than the UK, it is loyal to the British crown. This loyalty, can be traced back to Norman times when the Channel Islands first became part of the English realm, and forms the basis of the island’s constitution.