Time, Butter, and the Sands of Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel anneharrison.com.au

I don’t do time.

I realised this as I sat eating breakfast while watching the sands of Mont St Michel disappear beneath the waves. Victor Hugo wrote of how the tides move à la vitesse d’un cheval au galop (as swiftly as a galloping horse). A bell tolls as the surge begins for, like many a medieval pilgrim, people still drown making their way across the tidal flats. The force of the rolling waves creates ever-changing fields of quicksand which confuse even the locals. The Bayeux Tapestry shows a trapped rider and horse, with the Abbey of Mont St Michel clearly visible in the background. Other riders are being rescued, with Hic Harold dux trahebat eos de arena embroidered beneath; (Duke Harold pulled them from the sand).

The grey sands literally do vanish; in the time it took to spread butter on my croissant and have a sip of my café au lait, another island of sand had disappeared.

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Travels With an Epicurean Zombie

anneharrison.com.au

It Begins In Australia

The zombie apocalypse is upon us. There is no point denying it. Just because we are all about to rise from the dead, however, is no excuse not to enjoy epicurean delights.

Brains have long been the Holy Grail of the zombie repertoire. Indeed, eating brains seems to be their raison d’être. Although rarely featured on the menu of a local pub or restaurant, they have long been considered a delicacy. In Moby Dick, for example, Hermann Melville lovingly describes the preparation of those two white globes comprising the brain of a smaller sperm whale.

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Nasoni – Rome’s Fountains of the Big Noses

Convent Stays

The history of Rome can be seen in her nasoni, or fountains of the big noses. From the aqueducts supplying an ancient city, to the beauty of her Renaissance fountains, Rome has always been dependant upon a fresh water supply. In 98 AD the Roman Consul was named as Guardian of the city’s water supply; today the Romans have l’acqua del sindaco – the mayor’s water. Free to residents and tourists alike, clean water sprouts from drinking fountains, called nasoni, all over the city.

 

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Sainte-Chapelle: Let There Be Light

Let there be light - the wondrous Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

At this early hour, the sun was kissing the top corner of a window. Under her magic touch, the glass sparkled in a myriad of colours. Concerts are often held here at sunset, when the light is said to be spectacular, yet even at this hour the air around me glistened.

The Sainte-Chapelle proved as spectacular as promised. By arriving early, I avoided the queues and had the place as much to myself as possible in the heart of Paris in summer. By the time I left the queues had swollen to ridiculous lengths (the first for security, the next to buy tickets), and both the upper and lower chapels had filled with both bodies and noise. It was time to find a restorative café crème. Perhaps in the Tuileries.

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On Finding My Great Uncle’s Grave

My great uncle's grave from anneharrison.com.au

On the 8th September 1916, my great-uncle died from wounds sustained during the Battle of the Somme. Second Lieutenant Henry Byron, 1st/5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, was twenty-two. His brother – my grandfather – enlisted at the age of fourteen, had a kidney shot out in Ypres, contracted TB while convalescing, and was shipped home with six months to live. Deciding escape was the only way to survive the miasmas of war-time Liverpool, he worked his way to Australia, jumped shipped in Perth, and died at the age of ninety two. He could never bring himself to return to France and visit his beloved brother’s grave – my daughter and I were the first in the family to do so.

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Finding Old Shanghai

Old Shanghai from anneharrison.com.au

 

Once known as ‘The Pearl of the Orient’, Shanghai is now a meld of Blade Runner, Gotham City and The Jetsons. From the airport The Maglev, (the world’s fastest train), races at 430 km/hr into a city where the number of high-rises beggars the imagination. Cars drive through a sea of buildings scraping the sky, along multi-lane highways floating through the air to merge with massive overpasses. A hover-jet would not be out of place. By midday, the sun becomes an orange ball floating behind a haze of smog.

Yet Shanghai began life as a small fishing village nestled on the banks of the Huang Pu River, near where it flows into the mighty Yangtze. Despite her now gargantuan size, parts of the old town are still to be found – although they are rapidly vanishing. As the city rushes into the future, land is proving too expensive to preserve the past.

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