Aimez-vous Brahms

I have to interrupt the report of the Waitors’ Race at Reims for today because I have come across a wonderful gem during I was beachcombing Youtube last night.

“Goodbye Again” 1961


The film is based on a novel by Françoise Sagan’s Aimez-vous Brahms.
I call the film a gem because the cast is amazing: Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand and Anthony Perkins, the location is glamorous: ever so beautiful Paris in the late 50’s and the costume for Ingrid Bergman: designed by Christian Dior! What not to like?

As a teenager, I read all of Sagan’s novels, imagining how it would like to be in love. Even though most of her love stories ended tragically, it didn’t put me off from reading them and I found being “ennui” impossibly grown-up and sophisticated. Oh how shallow and immature I was then.

Anyway, the film may be getting deleted from Youtube soon because of the copywright business. So watch it while it lasts!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

R.I.P Mr.Petty

Another musical giant is gone.

I especially loved this song, Free Fallin’.
The song and the visual were the epitome of everything I dreamt about the life in LA during the certain period of my life.

Rest in peace, Tom.

Bonjour encore, Strasbourg!

Despite the pandemonium experienced during the final leg of our German road trip, we managed to travel to Strasbourg in three hours.

‘We are like an old pro now, aren’t we?’ I chatted to mum as we strode towards Hotel Cathédrale from La place Gutenberg. We were there a mere seven days ago and acquainted ourselves with the area already.

Bonjour, our one night nest!

Last time we were in the city, we only had a few hours to explore the place in reality. It was in a late Saturday afternoon when we arrived and had to leave for Würzburg next morning.

This time, we reach the city by lunchtime, therefore, we had ample time to explore the place further. Mum and I dumped our luggage in our hotel room and went out to see what Strasbourg’s Saturday was really like.

Saturday was market day, and there were stalls laden with antiques and crafts all around La place Gutenberg…

At one stall which specialized in vintage and second-hand books, I asked in my basic French if they had any book of Caroline et ses amis by Pierre Probst. An old vendor in a director’s chair with a Panama hat on looked very surprised and asked me why I knew about the books. I answered him in my basic French again that the series was my childhood favourite.

Caroline and her friends on summer vacation in original French…

Then, the Japanese version with which I grew up…

I loved all the characters in the series…

and especially Youpi, I loved the most because he was the naughtiest…

And I named my aunt’s Yorkshire terrier as Youpi as well!

It was before we had a family dog, and Caroline and her friends really made me fantasised about the life with furry friends…

The old man apologised that he didn’t have any Caroline book in stock and I had to walk away from the stall empty-handed.

It would have been wonderful if I could read the book with mum again…

Some years back, I did managed to buy a few copies of the vintage Caroline series at one of the antique bookshops in Passage Jouffroy, Paris. The books smelt rather musty, but they brought back all the memories of my early childhood.

‘Now, let’s stretch our leg further, mum!’ We turned northward and walked towards Rue des Grandes Arcades…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Our carriage ride through a leafy path towards the castle was very pleasant and relaxing. Apart from a steady rhythm of the hoove kicking the tarmac and occasional murmuring by our fellow passengers, there was hardly any sound which reminded us the hustle and bustle we went through prior to the ride.
We alighted the carriage at where the road bulged out so a carriage could manoeuvre, and headed for a waiting area adjacent to a direct approach to the castle. The waiting area was equipped with benches, some of them were under the roof, electric noticeboards and a small kiosk for souvenirs and refreshments.

A view over the parapet…

We had another 40 minutes to kill before our tour began so we started to read guide books, a short biography of Ludwig II and a book about the interior of the castle, together.

Eventually, “16:45” was displayed on the electric notice board, and we proceeded to the entrance.

Unfortunately, the main entrance was undergoing a major restoration work and it was completely hidden beneath scaffolding…

The work was very much needed for the castle to stay on this windswept cliff. However, it did spoil the view very much, therefore, I didn’t take many pictures of the castle’s exterior.

Photographing the inside of the castle was strictly forbidden, therefore, again I have no image to show here.

After going through automated ticketing gates with revolving bars and walking through a small courtyard, we entered an assembly point by the main entrance. In there, a small handheld audio device was distributed to each of us by the staff and we were herded up by a castle tour guide. Our tour guide was a very (very) handsome German guy and he spoke English with a slight German accent. He explained how the handheld device worked – it amplified the sound of his commentary which he would make through a small microphone so everyone in the group, no matter how far they were, would be able to hear it if the device was held close to one’s ear. He also warned us that strenuous stair-climbing would await us before we were treated with the extravaganza of Ludwig II’s medeaval fantasy. He explained it was because we were on level 2 and we were to skip entire level 3 before reaching to level 4 on which most of the highlights of the tour were located.

The stair-climbing he mentioned was certainly tough. Please heed my advice, anyone who may be thinking about visiting the castle. You must visit before being too OLD! Even though my mum managed to negotiate them with a walking stick and a handrail, it was a bit of an ordeal for her. Did the king himself climbed those steps? He must have done because it was the main staircase. Didn’t he find it a bit cumbersome? Maybe he didn’t have to move between different floors as often as his servants had to?

I didn’t count the steps but it felt like the stair would never end. Then, we arrived at level 4, the king’s floor. The first room we were ushered in was the throne room. The ceiling was high and it had a huge steel chandelier which resemble a crown. Symbolically, a space allocated for Ludwig’s throne was left empty because the king died before the castle was completed. What kind of chair would have been installed if the project was not abandoned, mum and I mused. Would it resemble the one in Westminster Abbey, a simple dark wooden one in gothic style? Or a bejewelled one which would compliment an opulent decor of the throne room?

Has any of the readers watched a documentary “The Fairytale Castles of King Ludwig II with Dan Cruickshank” which was aired on BBC4 during last May? The programme gave a fascinating insight into the king’s tragic circumstance and his motivation for building those fanciful castles. Obviously, the main problem was that Ludwig did not have the cunning and stomach to survive the turbulent period which swallowed up not only him and his kingdom but also the rest of Europe and beyond.

Even if he managed to stay alive until the castle was completed and the throne was installed, what sort of life would he have led? Would he be still very alone and melancholic? And what caused his death by Lake Starnberg?

His and Dr.Gudden’s death by the lake was shrouded in mystery, and it has been a subject of speculation and fascination ever since. Was he bumped or did he jump?

After the throne room, we were led to Ludwig’s dining room, followed by his bedroom. The rooms were dark, and if I may say so, gloomy. It was undeniable that a mood of melancholy was hanging in the air.

And, had I ever been any castle which had an indoor grotto? Never! It was until I visited Neuschwanstein, of course. Between his living room and study, there was a small grotto made from plaster and paint. The grotto was dark and felt slightly damp like the real one. Why he decided to have a man made grotto in there, I had no idea. I should have asked my guide, Mr.Adonis…

All in all the castle was beautiful. It was like a jewel box. One of a kind. Still, I found it hollow and tragic through and through. Poor Ludwig II, a powerless puppet king living in fantasy in self imposed exile. Probably, the castle was Ludwig’s oversized bravado against the outside world which was ruthless and ungratifying?

He never imagined that his beloved castle was to become one of the most well-known tourist attraction…

We left the castle and headed for a pick up point of horse carriage.

Hello there. Good to see you guys again…

Descending was a lot easier for the horses. The driver made sure the carriage wouldn’t roll too fast by applying a foot brake time to time…

Join a carriage ride with us!



Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Is this for real?!

Ok, this knitwear, which I came across at Liberty the other day, has been troubling me for sometimes…

I mean, what can I say, apart from ‘Is this for real?!’

Let me guess from where the designer got his/her inspiration from…

Maybe a dinner lady?

Don’t tell me that the knitwear is an epitome of functionality. This is absurd!

Who pays money for this sort of expensive nonsense?

I garantee you this vest/cape/whatever is dead easy to make by ourselves – if anyone likes knitwear with zero-warmth or a non flattering silhouette.

I don’t mind if kids are making this kind of garments for fun and play. But I do mind if a big name brand like Tomorrowland and a well-respected retailer like Liberty decide to sell something as ridiculous as this with a premium price.

I thought I was going to let this encounter pass but I just couldn’t let it go before blogging about it because it was insulting to all fashion lovers, including consumers and creators.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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