joi, 21 ianuarie 2016

Downton Abbey





Did you use any personal story for the book ?
Not my personal stories so much but some from the Fellowes family, which is mine too of course. Julian, my uncle, is the creator and writer of the show, and like any writer he looked to his own life for inspiration. So many of the characters and their plots, or even just their witty one-liners, came from family stories – such as the Dowager Countess, who is based on Julian’s great-aunt, Isie Stephenson. The rest of it comes from history itself, a huge interest of Julian’s. He was keen that the show should be steeped in authenticity, which is why we have the wonderful juxtaposition of fictional characters dealing with events that actually happened in history – such as the Troubles in Ireland and World War I.

Did you enjoy going to set ?
Yes, it’s a real privilege and not one I pass up on! It’s a treat to watch something right before your eyes and know that it will be screened on televisions to millions of people around the world. They are all consummate professionals but also clearly hugely enjoy their work, so have a lot of fun together. The only problem is that there are so many crew – around 60 or 70 at least, daily – that an extra person like me can feel a bit in the way. I say ‘sorry, excuse me!’ quite frequently…

Do you feel close to the characters of the époque ?
Julian and I have always shared an interest in that period between the wars – partly, I think, because so many of our family stories come from then. Julian’s father, my grandfather, was born in 1912, the year the first Downton Abbey episode was set – so he was certainly in that era, if not quite in that world. But we are fascinated by it too because it was, in many ways, the beginning of the modern age – with electricity, motorcars, rail travel, the rise of socialism, women’s rights, medical advances and so on – yet those who lived within it were still heavily influenced by Victorian mores. They struggled to adapt but knew they had to if they wished to survive. That’s the basic premise of Downton Abbey and the reason it is so compelling – we are going through something very similar ourselves, with the huge advances in technology impacting on our social and political lives.

Something you still use in the kitchen and you inherited.
I still use my grandmother’s cookbooks, although it’s interesting to see how fashions change with food – right now, quite rapidly, as we get into ‘clean eating’ and so on. But if you look at cookbooks of a hundred years ago, they are very similar to modern cooking, in terms of low sugar, fresh ingredients and so on. One thing that is very different is that in England at the turn of the 20th century, French cooking was the most fashionable, and a lot of it was rather fiddly and highly skilled. Mrs Patmore may look like a simple cook but she was actually a chef of supreme ability!

Your favorite receipt in the book. Do you cook often?
My son is a huge fan of pancakes, so at the weekends the book will fall open at that page! But I love the more traditional receipts too, such as the marmalade. My father lives in Ireland, and I have been spending summers there every year since I was a little girl, so when I’m feeling nostalgic I’ll do a big Irish stew, with slices of warm soda bread on the side to mop up the gravy. Delicious!

It was a difficult research for the book ?
The research is, for me, the most enjoyable part of the process. As it was my third Downton Abbey companion book, a lot of the research had built up in layers – on my bookshelves and in my head. Even when not officially researching a Downton book, I still read around the period, particularly memoirs of that time, as I prefer to read a first-hand account to a historian’s analysis. Julian also has a huge amount of knowledge, so if I got stuck on anything, I’d just fire off a quick email to ask him.

Do you think the success of Downton Abbey will bring more politeness and elegance in the world?
It would be nice to think so, wouldn’t it? Perhaps it does – people seem to appreciate the elegance and style of the period. Whether nice people watch it or it makes people nice, I don’t know. But I interviewed the woman who lives in a house that is used for filming – as the exterior of Isobel Crawley’s house – and she was telling me that people frequently knock on the door, peer over her garden wall and so on. ‘Don’t you mind?’ I asked her. ‘Oh, no,’ she said, ‘the sort of people who like Downton Abbey are usually very nice people.’

marți, 29 decembrie 2015

HOTEL BOURG TIBOURG - PARIS



Carnet d’adresse
PARIS


Hôtel Bourg Tibourg
După o zi plină în care abia mîncasem, am ajuns obosită la Hôtel Bourg Tibourg, în Marais, la doi paşi de Beaubourg , Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame. Poziţia perfectă pentru străinul care vrea să cunoască Parisul la pas. Parte a grupului Costes, HBT este un hotel boutique gîndit de designerul Jacques Garcia. Are caracter, are mister, are farmecul locului unde te simţi bine din prima clipă, nu e intimidant cu stelele lui, patru la număr. Cum tot  auzisem că este un loc pentru hipsterii din lumea modei internaţionale, eram curioasă să văd ce oferă mofturoşilor cosmopoliţi.
Am ajuns seara. Taxiul m-a lăsat la intrarea care putea fi a casei unui prieten. Trebuie să fii atent la număr ca să n-o ratezi.  La recepţie am fost întîmpinată cu eficientă amabilitate. În aer plutea mirosul acela specific Costes, a lemn şi portocale amărui. Am fost întrumată spre lift, de-a lungul unui coridor îngust, albastru regal. Strîmtul lift m-a dus la etajul la care uşa mi-a fost deschisă de un tînăr în uniformă care m-a condus în camera mea, mi-a explicat cum funcţionează toate şi unde se află amplasate lucrurile pe care hotelul mi le punea la dispoziţie.
Pentru cine nu cunoaşte Marais-ul, trebuie să  precizez că este un cartier in mare parte alcătuit din clădiri vechi de sute de ani. Mie îmi place genul, găsesc că un hotel are mai mult farmec într-o astfel de clădire. Decoratorii nu au o sarcină uşoară în astfel de situaţii, dar Jacques Garcia a speculat exact ceea ce părea din start un dezavantaj şi l-a transformat ăntr-un avantaj, i-a dat camerei un aer medieval, neogotic, cu lămpile ale căror abajururi de mătase cu franjuri sînt semnătura sa distinct, cu scaune ale căror picioare sănt încrustrate, iar covorul în dungi se asortează cu materialul tapetului. 
Camera are un confortabil pat dublu cu cerşafuri apretate atăt căt trebuie ca să fie perfecte, cu plasmă, CD şi DVD player, dulap cu seif pentru lucrurile preţioase pe care le cari cu tine şi un halat care te aşteaptă (totuşi nu aveau papuci), 



un minibar bine garnisit (cu genul delucruri pe care le adoră clientele mai sus menţionată, ca de exemplu apa mineral VOSS, norvegiană, cea mai pură, se spune), free wifi şi o foarte graţioasă măsuţă pe care am găsit un carton cu o notă de bine am venit scrisă de mînă, o splendidă orhidee, revista Palace Costes şi o farfurie cu fragi & căpşune pe care am devorat-o imediat ce s-a închis uşa.

 Nimic mai răcoritor la finalul unei zile epuizante. Un gest frumos. Am făcut o fotografie unde puteţi nota şi cheia de modă veche (ador detaliile astea!) cu un canaf  elegant.
Am deschis ferestrele franţuzeşti spre balconul unde era o măsuţă şi scaune, dar mai ales o privelişte senzaţională, atăt de specific pariziană.  






Am lăsat balconul romantic şi m-am îndreptat spre prozaica baie. MI-au plăcut lambriurile, chiuveta adîncă (detest castroanele ale ape care le găseşti peste tot acum), cada adîncă, mozaicul care îţi dădea  senzaţia de lux, mai ales că era însoţit de un set complet de produse pentru baie Costes, ale căror miros seducător, combinaţie reuşită de fructe de ienupăr, coriandru, lemn de trandafir, tămîie, mosc, dafin, piper alb şi lavandă îl asociez cu Luxul. Presiunea apei la duş a fost excelentă şi prosoapele multe şi pufoase. Înfăşurată în halatul mare  pufos şi el, am comandat la room service o cină japoneză care mi-a fost adusă în jumătate de oră.

 N-am apelat la serviciul pus la dispoziţie de hotel , care un meniu şi  pentru cărţi  sau filme, gratuit. Eram prea obosită şi mai aveam puţin de lucru pe laptop.
M-am odihnit bine, am dormit pînă tîrziu, n-au fost zgomotele matinale care te trezesc de obicei într-un hotel. Mi-era atît de bine că mi-a fost lene să cobor pentru micul dejun în caverna hotelului, plină de farmec cu tapiseria ei medieval şi candelabrul care îi dă un aer misterios. Altădată. Am luat un mic dejun copios în cameră. Vă poate convinge fotografia. 


Curtea interioară am admirat-o de la înălţime, aşteptînd liftul: splendid.
E un loc pe care l-am trecut în carnetul meu de adrese : 19, Rue du Bourg Tibourg, Paris, France.

                                                                          Laura Guţanu


luni, 14 decembrie 2015

Parisian Story - Part 1



                                       PARISIAN   STORY – Part 1


I left my hometown Iasi, in the North-East of Romania with a company I don’t recommend and so I don’t name it, via Vienna where I had an half of hour between planes so I nearly run. People at the airport were kind and even I was the last one to arrive they smiled to me  welcoming. I was several times in Paris, a city I love like the most of people I know. Each time I take a taxi to the address I stay. As it is always in the central area, it is 50-60 euros. This time I stayed near Jardin de Luxembourg, where you can find restaurants of all kinds opened till late in the night. And the atmosphere is lively as you can imagine, being near Sorbonne. My host lived long years before in the 16th arrondisment, an area with beautiful buildings, but more posh. Now she is happy to live in this part of Paris. In the evening I arrived we had a late dinner at a splendid French restaurant as this was my choice between French, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Moroccan, all along the same street, rue Monsieur le Prince. And I must add the restaurant was full.
I’ll start the photo diary with a place your readers can’t visit unless they become friends-or customers – with my lovely host the French-Romanian artist Marguerite Iuca. The window is from her kitchen  where I check up the weather each morning waiting for the coffee to be ready.


1 the kitchen window where I check up the weather each morning
2 my host the  artist Marguerite Iuca
As the weather was good in the second day, my friend Radu Negresco-Soutzo invited me to visit Domaine de Chantilly, meaning le château, les grandes écuries, le parc .We took a metro train and made a nice trip for 20 euros each tour-retour. In the station it is a bus with the end stop in front of the Chateau.
  The last owner, le duc d’Aumale, son of the King Louis-Philippe, was a collector and made  his museé Condé ,the second after Louvre.  After a long visit we had luncheon in the  Vatel’s kitchen where I wanted something with crème Chantilly , the French for whipped cream.

3 Chateau de Chantilly
The most famous story related to the Chateau de Chantilly is from 1671 when  the King Louis XIV visited the place and the maitre d’hôtel Vatel to the Grand Condé, the host, committed suicide when he feared the fish would be served late and so his honor was destroyed. You maybe saw the film with Gerard Depardieu.  
 4 Radu Negresco-Soutzo taking a photo of the staircase detail
Once there you start to take photos and stop only the memory is full. Everything is Art in the most little details.  
5 I did the same thing.

6 I have an weakness for Tanagra statues
7 Two portraits by amazing Flamand  painter Memling
8 The library 

 9 The Chapel
10 the chapel
11 gardens designed by Andre Le Notre.


12 the gallery
13 Famous paintings : a Holy Family by Raphael near the portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Cleopatra by the Italian Renaissance painter Piero di Cosimo(about 1480-1490)
14 another famous painting The  Three Graces , an oil painting by Italian painter Raphael, 1504-1505


15 Loncheon in the Vatel's kitchen
And then we walk to the stables where some horses and ponies and mulls, all very good looking and very calm, uninterested by all the people staring, talking in different languages, walking in front of them.  




 The Grand Stables are still functional and  the French Jockey Club  use the hippodrome. 
  The locals enjoy an evening ride like the gentleman I took a photo. Could be in an English village, at 30 minutes from Paris.




 Chantilly is a place with rich people since the 19th century and the buildings are well kept.
As we lost the last bus to the station we took a long walk enjoying the beautiful houses and their gardens. It was a lovely day.   


For me it was easy as it was at two steps from my host. 

 A medieval wood statue of Christ on the mull. Incredible how impressive is to be near.



 Original  sculptures from Notre Dame de Paris, the heads from the gallery of Kings, removed by mobs during the Revolution from 1789.  


The Golden Rose of Basel (1330) 

 The Lady and the Unicorn  tapestry.

We left the cold walls of the Cluny museum for a quick visit at marche aux puces at Porte de Clignancourt by metro, of course. As it was lunch time and for the French people this is something undisputable, we eat at a popular restaurant right in the middle of the flea market  founded in the late 19th century.


In the kitsch charm of the restaurant, live concert with Edith Piaf and Yves Montand repertoire.

  After Cluny, another museum, something of an unknown gem, is Gustave Moreau Museum established in the artist’s family home with the second and the third floors occupied by huge studios showing his work as undisputed master of French symbolism. You can see there also artists at work, as you can see at Louvre.  

The private family mansion built at the end of the 19th century.  








We see in the house how the Parisians lived in La Belle Epoque. A bourgeois way of life.  

 In 1895 Moreau built two huge glassed-over workshops on the upper floors linked by an iron spiral staircase.  

There are more than 5,000 paintings displayed on the pink walls. 




Near the museum, a church Eglise de la Sainte Trinité, with a rare sculpture of Jeanne d’Arc in skirt. 

It was Saturday and there was a wedding. Of course I entered to see the bride.

  The French heroine, a Sainte, Jeanne d’Arc here in skirt. Very unusual. 

 The bride and the groom just went outside the church on these steps.

  And they leave in a sumptuous vintage Bentley in the way of their new life.