15 July 2009

European Grand Tour - The Departure

In the traditional sense, the Grand Tour was a undertaken by young men of the British upper classes and gentry. Its purpose was to expose these fortunate young men to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, thereby expanding their recently completed Oxbridge education, all whilst migling with the aristocratic society of the continent.

Grand tourists were exposed to a number of valuable commercial and collectible goods while abroad, and trunk loads of goods would often return to Britain along with the tourist. What an exceptional delight a continent-wide shopping excursion would be. In this era of stay-cations and armchair travelling, however, we shall make our tour a virtual one.

Our tour will begin today, at the homebase of these Grand Tourists, with a tour across Great Britain and Ireland.

First stop, Ireland. A country that has long inspired poets and lyricists with its pewter skies and emerald landscapes; where one can sit in front of a peaty fire and sip whiskey in a pub, or trek dramatic oceanside cliffs; where angelic harps provide a soundtrack and the craic freely flows.

Waterford is typically known for its manufacture of some of the world's most beautiful fine crystal. It also is home to Bonzie, a self-described "independant Irish design label with a romantic vintage appeal". A very fitting description. On my grand tour, I would surely pay a visit and treat myself to this stunning Pewter Grey Velvet Blazer.

In this land of faeries, banshees, leprechauns and other wee creatures, this little upcycled elf hat by Mosey of Belfast, is a sweet souvenier.

Now boarding the ferry, and battling seasickness while crossing the choppy Irish Sea, we make for Scotland.

Scotland, the land of clans and kilts; an oft-disputed territory, whose turbulent history has left a legacy of castles, which dramatically rise against her heathered hills and brooding skies. It is the home of the mythical Loch Ness monster and the birthplace of golf, tweed and Rabbie Burns. Scotland's national dish is haggis - the "Great Chieftain o' the pudding-race"; its national flower the prickly purple thistle.

Off the coast of Scotland, continually battered by the pounding sea lies the Isle of Skye. Here is home to greybirdtextiles. Surely inspired by the landscape, is this beautuful hand-dyed, hand-spun wool.

Down now to Glasgow, where we discover the whimsical work of laurabailliedesigns2. Laura is the creator of wonderful prints, ACEO's and collages. A current favorite theme of hers is Alice in Wonderland, and lucky for us, as from that was born this beautiful mixed media collage.

Like the white rabbit, we are late, we are late, and we must continue on. We will follow the west coast of Scotland down into Wales, where white ponies trot over rocky mountains. Wales is the birthplace of Dylan Thomas, Roald Dahl, and Tom Jones. The mythical King Arthur fought his last battle in the Dovey Valley, and Merlin is said to have been born in Caermarthen.

On our trek through Wales, we will stop and pick up some of these lovely little gift boxes which we can use as we send gifts home to loved ones. These are made by gooseberrymoon.

Back across the border to England, home to the Queen and her handsome, princely grandsons. Here is where tea and ale are sipped with equal frequency; where fish and chips with a side of mushy peas is supper. Home might be a drafty castle, a quaint cottage or a trendy urban flat. Where the pretty, flushed cheek of the young girls matches the colour of the perfect English rose.

Kent, England has been called the "garden of England". You can almost imagine this beautiful and vibrant ribbon lotus flower, made by calexandra, floating atop a garden pool.

This beautiful blush rose and feather hair comb comes to us from trendy London, courtesy of tiedandfeathered.

This particular hairpiece is called Paris. How serendipitous as tomorrow our journey will continue on across the Channel to France, and into the City of Lights.

Get a good rest, we have a long journey ahead.


Little Sister said...

Your post made me want to pack my bags, grab my passport and head to airport. Come on Lotto 649!

gooseberrymoon said...

What a great blog post. I learnt so much reading it! Thanks for including my work I feel very proud to be representing Wales.