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  • Midwinter solstice at Abu Simbel

    This blog contains human remains which some readers may find disturbing At 5am on midwinter’s day 2007 we rose happily from our beds in Aswan, Egypt, to catch the plane for a half hour flight down to see the temples at Abu Simbel, just 20 miles from the Sudanese border. The temples were built to aggrandise pharaoh Ramses II in

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  • A felucca called Dolphin

    I first went to Egypt in July 2000. One of the highlights of that trip was four days’ sailing on a felucca (a small open sailboat) up the Nile from Aswan to Luxor, camping out on deck under that stars. The design of these highly-manoeuverable boats rem...

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  • Detail from Vincent's starry night over the Rhon

    Starry night over the Rhone revisited

    Last month, as you know, Moth and I went to Arles in southern France for a van Gogh hunting trip. One of the great thrills for me was to find that the night time view of the Rhone that Vincent painted ...

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  • Another postcard from Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh killed himself

    I've been to Auvers-sur-Oise a number of times before ...

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  • Vincent's cafe terrace at night

    Vincent’s cafe terrace then and now

    This is what Vincent van Gogh’s cafe terrace at night looked like then and now:   It was high on my list of places to go when we were in Arles last month: On our last day in Arles we returned there again as I wanted to make a sketch: Since we returned home, I have had a composition of

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  • Postcard from Arles: La Crau and Montmajour

    I wanted to go to the old ruined abbey at Montmajour, just 3kms from Arles...

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  • Postcard from Arles: artist’s bedroom

    14 September 2007 The Yellow House, where Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles in 1888 was hit in an Allied bombing raid 1944 and subsequently pulled down: ...

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  • Meet Margaret, Queen of Callanish

    This blog first published in July 2006. Republish in March 2022. UPDATE: Margaret died in March 2022, aged 80. Read her obituary here on We Love Stornoway,and here in The Guardian. Decoder of the stones of Callanish For more than 30 years, initially with her first husband Gerald Ponting and since 1989 with her second husband Ron Curtis, Margaret Curtis

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  • St Remy

    Another postcard from St Remy de Provence

    I’d made my first visit to St Remy the week before to discover places where Vincent van Gogh painted while in the asylum there in 1889. But I’d come away quite dissatisfied at not being able to see the specific views and motifs I’d hoped for, as they are still being part of the hospital and not accessible to van

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  • Postcard from Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in search of van Gogh

    6 September 2007 In the 119 years since Vincent van Gogh came to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the village has transformed from a tiny mosquito infested ba...

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  • Postcard from Arles: the Road to Tarascon

    9 September 2007  The road to Tarascon heads north out of Arles from Place Lamartine, which in 1888 was the site of Vincent van Gogh’s Yellow House. Vincent drew and painted himself on the road “on his way to work” is how he put it, on the road to Tarascon, and today I wanted to find this view and experience

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  • Postcard from Arles: an evening in Arles with van Gogh

    Vincent’s Cafe Terrace at Night today I wanted to eat at La Cafe La Nuit, on the Place du Forum in Arles which Vincent van Gogh immortalised in his fabulous painting ‘Cafe Terrace at Night’ in 1888: So we drove into Arles which was alive with excitement as it was the first of a three-day public bull-torturing and bull-killing spree,

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  • Postcard from St Remy de Provence

    4 September 2007 In May 1889, Vincent van Gogh checked in at the St Paul de Mausole hospital in St Remy de Provence, 15 miles from Arles to be treated for his mental illness. He stayed there for more than a year and completed many fine paintings and drawings during his frequent periods of lucidity. In fact painting and drawing

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  • Postcard from Arles: a walk in Vincent van Gogh’s footsteps

    2 September 2007 Vincent van Gogh arrived in Arles in the south of France in February 1888 to seek light, warmth and colour for his paintings for many other romantic reasons, inspired by books he’d read and a quest to find scenes which reminded him of the Japanese prints he collected. He found a delightful ancient town and countryside which

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  • Steely Dan, at last!

    I don't remember exactly when I first heard a Steely Dan record, but I guess it might have been 'Reelin' In The Years' in the early 70s. I was just a child at the time, so did...

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