Willow did an interesting post last week investigating things beginning with E. I really enjoyed it and suggested she gave me a letter to explore - she gave me V. At first, when this alphabet thing began to circulate around blogs I thought it was a bit of a cop out and I wasn't interested. But I can tell you that looking into all the things I like beginning with V and doing a bit of reading around them, has been a very interesting exercise and I have enjoyed it very much - so thanks to Willow for suggestion that I think about the letter V.
The first three things which spring to mind are Venice, Vivaldi and Vienna.
Vivaldi is one of my favourite composers. In the seventies and eighties I played in an Early Music Group - mainly playing virginals. I can tell you there is some wonderful Vivaldi stuff for keyboard and I spent many happy hours playing it. Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678. He was a contemporary of Bach and a brilliant violinist, as well as being capelmeister at a Girls' Conservatoire on the waterfront in Venice. He wrote over four hundred concertos and also The Four Seasons, which is one of my favourite pieces.
Venice - maybe the most beautiful city in the world, and unique in so many ways. I once had the good fortune to have to wait for landing for forty minutes over Venice, during which time we circled and got a fantastic view of Venice from the air - the layout is amazing. If I had to choose my favourite building it would have to be Santa Maria della Salute - as much for its position at the head of The Grand Canal as for its simple beauty.
And where, conveniently for this blog, did Vivaldi die? He died in probably the next most beautiful city in the world, Vienna. A city so full of Renaissance and Baroque buildings that it is impossible to choose a favourite. A city so closely associated with the music of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert and also the home of Sigmund Freud (where would we be without him?)
Moving on to painters; one of my favourites is Vermeer. I have a print on my wall of what used to be called Girl in a Yellow Turban but now seems to be called Girl with a Pearl Earring. It was bought for me on my twenty-first birthday and I never tire of looking at it. Then Van Gogh springs to mind with all those wonderful sunflowers and views of the countryside which are full of movement.
Rather than make this a long read, I am now going to list some other favourite things beginning with V:
One of my favourite instruments is the cello, conveniently really called the violincello - particularly Elgar's Cello Concerto - particularly the du Pre version.
A favourite novel is Charlotte Bronte's Villette - a bit Gothic but also a bit of an antidote to the rather "over the top" Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre (sorry to J E lovers)
Vindalanda - one of the forts on Hadrian's wall, which is easily visited for the day from here.
Names: I can't think of a single boy's name I like, but I do like Valerie, Virginia and Veronica - and I had a sister called Vera.
Flowers - well that would have to be the violet. They grow in profusion in the hedge bottoms of our fields in May - the simple, wild dog violet with its deep purple colour and its heady scent. As a child I knew a railway embankment in our village where they grew in their thousands. Each year we used to pick small bunches of flowers, surround each bunch with a few violet leaves, tie them with cotton and take them to any old house-bound ladies in the village. It was a custom which had gone on for many years.
Is that the end of my V list? Well almost, but I must say that I am very partial to vowels. Where would our written language be without a,e,i,o and u? Have you noticed how we have to open our mouths wide to say them? They open up our words and make our language intelligible.
And last, but not least, there are all those wonderful vegetables. I am already sitting by the fire with the seed catalogue on my knee and a pad and pencil in my hand. In February I have such hopes - that's before white fly, slugs, clay soil, drought, too much water, mildew, rust and all the other pests kick in.
So willow and all other fellow bloggers, that is my list of V loves. If I could have an orchestra playing it could be the Vienna Philharmonic and they could play out my post with The Ride of the Valkyries!
If anyone feels like investigating a letter - tell me and I'll choose one for you.