Fiona Alderman Blog: One Year On

first para fiona 1 nov

One Year On

I was looking through photos on my blog recently and comparing them to today? With the COVID pandemic still firmly in place and with a fifth wave, plus a new variant, in France, I wondered what have we gained or perhaps lost? Maybe we are clearer  regarding what is and what is not important and that good health is perhaps taken for granted. Personally, we have had to deal with a lot of health issues and I have noticed that our usually excellent Health Service is vastly overstretched. Luckily we have a Health Centre within walking distance, where they they set up a Vaccination Centre last year.We have both been tripled vaccinated by our local nurses that we  now know very well.

Local commerce seems to have taken an upward swing and with the new Mayor, things seem to be moving forward. We are even having a Christmas Market this year, which will be great to see, bringing a little gaiety to the village.

I was talking to someone who runs keep fit and stress management classes and wasn’t able to exercise her skills this last year during lockdown, so then took her classes outside in a local tennis court, until it was too cold! Now she is indoors but with fewer people, and just taking it month by month. She said she had noticed the difference in people, either fearful to engage in social contact or aggressive in behaviour. I have heard this many times and experienced it too. I have been asked if , for instance, if I had been vaccinated, just to a casual acquaintance, and this is someone who shut herself away for months, only going out for basic necessities and refused to resume once formed friendships?  Strange.I have also noticed that I have to check on medical appointments as they sometimes cancelled at the last minute. My command of the French language, even on the phone, is much improved in one year.

collage dinner fiona

Neighbours and friends too have continued to be marvellous, often leaving fruit, homemade cakes and  even wild mushrooms at the door and recently a huge piece of Cantal cheese  from friends after they visited that area. I helped too,  by looking after their animals when they were away. It is always reciprocal, never mind the language.

The Days of Diaghilev


(Dyagilev_SP – Ж. де Стрелецки, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

When I was a young ballet student in Edinburgh part of our training included the History of Ballet. This is where I discovered the incredible stars of the Russian era, the designer Leon Bakst, and the Impresario Serge Diaghilev.

Born in Russia in 1872, sadly losing his mother not long after his birth, Diaghilev grew up in a artistic environment, going to the Imperial University and studying music with Rimsky Korsakov, his love of art, music and later dance would form his future.
Two distinct periods of his life would emerge. The first being in St Petersburg, where he would meet Alexandre Benois, Leon Bakst, Walter Nouvel and Konstantin Somov, a group that would later participate in the Ballets Russes.

Diaghilev would start producing art exhibitions promoting Russian art and sculpture abroad. In 1906 he would come to Paris to host Two Centuries of Russian Art and Sculpture, 750 works designed by Leon Bakst. This was the start of the second period of his life and where he began to go to rehearsals of the Imperial Ballet, watching great ballerinas such as Mathilde Kschessinska, who was a favourite of the Czar of Russia. Within the next few years with financial support of Misia Sert, a wealthy socialite of the time, Diaghilev would come to Paris and formhis Ballets Russes. Stars such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova,Tamara Karsavina, Ida Rubenstein and Mikhail Mordkin would wow audiences in ballets such as Les Sylphides and Pavillon d’Armide,Polovtsan Dances. These would follow Russian great operas, Boris Godunov and the Maid of Pskov. Long evenings of culture.

The artistic Director was Leon Bakst and musical Director Igor Stravinsky, whose score for the ballet Rite of Spring was not at first well received by Parisian audiences. By 1910 and ballets like The Firebird and Petrushka made famous by the dancer Nijinsky and also Spectre de la Rose, when he made a huge leap through the side of the stage through a prop depicting a window and people marvelled at his strength and prowess.

By 1920 and a new ballet called Pulcinella which had costumes and colourful decor by Pablo Picasso.This was a great success and was choreographed by Leonid Massine, who also danced in the production.

These collaborations were unique of this time. The dance, music and visual arts all in one performance. This was an important part of the world of ballet and for its future.
It is such an interesting and lengthy subject that I may well return to it!

Another Missy Tale

missy tale

I haven’t written about our little Missy for a few months now, but she continues to delight us.
She came to us one year ago too?
I remember, she sneaked into our Cave, looking for a new home. She wasn’t happy where she was.
Little by little she decided  that we would be fine, as they decide, not us?
She sometimes though does her disappearing act but now I know she is probably down in the big garage belonging to our neighbour. He loves her too. He does sometimes put out food for Missy but she declines. He has a little kitten himself, just temporary, as he found her in his garden and needs to find a home for her. I can’t take her as Missy reigns this household!
Her latest game is to chase me to let her out whether the back door or the front. We had snow the last few days and  she delicately put her paws out to test the ground but was quickly returned to the warmth. She sleeps on the bed with me – on a pair of bed socks no less. Purring gently. Merci beaucoup, Missy, I tell her every night.

Fifi’s Stories from rural France
November 2021.

Salignac Foundation.

Fiona Alderman Blogging from Rural France: A Winter Tale From France
Fiona Alderman's Blog: Filming in France

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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