Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Holidays are for people who want to get away from where they are or from what they do when they're not on holiday. Since I don't usually want to get away or to stop whatever I'm doing, holidays are not really my thing. But this was a late celebration of my sister's significant birthday a couple of months ago so we met up in a place she knows and loves and where I've never been.

Vezelay, in Burgundy, a tiny village with a troubled medieval history, the whole of which was enacted by the townsfolk themselves, in period costume, in a full son et lumiere performance (visually impressive but verbally too long to endure). The village consists of one steep uphill street with a scattering of atmospheric shops and restaurants, a small but perfectly designed museum which houses the Zervos collection of modern art, and at the top of the slope, the legendary St. Marie Madeleine Romanesque abbey, unbelievably serene in spite of its violent buried past. The Vezelay hillside is planted with heavy dusty pink stone walls and ochre red roofs like some kind of indestructible vegetation.

 Wonky table for eating baguettes on the terrace outside our hotel room.

  Birdsong and the crunch of footsteps on a back road (all roads are back roads).

Medieval insects? Anyone know what species they are and what they are doing on that tree trunk?

 A victim of medieval torture, imprisoned in a tree?

 Ma boutique? Who knew

Enchanted Soul - wondrous bookshop and gallery. Looks kitschy outside but isn't inside. Brilliant exhibitions of calligraphic art from around the world.

Settings change, tourists stay the same.

Coffee break.

Doorway of Sylvie's house near Vezelay.

Lunch at Sylvie's table, Swiss (or Dutch) doll presiding.

Below, Sylvie von Segebade-Marty at her house near Vezelay. I met her at the Paris Salon du Livre last March, she came to my stand, bought the Trans-Siberian book and we spoke for about ten minutes, became friends for life. She is an extraordinary person. Thanks to Sylvie we met another extraordinary person: Pierre Etienne Breguet, and re-connected with yet another extraordinary person, Jean-Claude Bel, whom my sister had met on one of her previous visits. Vezelay is the kind of place where such connections happen. I trust we'll stay connected with them all.

Blinking in the birthday sun, reflected in the hotel room window, c'est moi on 7th August 2015, Vezelay.

One more thing to pack into this post: before I went on holiday I made a photobook from pics of some of my books and boxes, a partial catalogue. It arrived when I got back home and I am very pleased with it. Here you can flip through it online (best on full screen).