Architecture I adore

I love architecture and I’m frequently asked which building is my favourite, however, I am much more fascinated, by homes, by property.

So, in no particular order, some of my favourite examples are listed below:

Louisiana plantations:

 

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You will find these beauties dotted around the Southern USA. They truly are one of the South’s pride factors, filled with rich, unique history and perfect for those long hot summers which was a big factor taken into consideration for these plantations.

This type of architecture was inspired by Creole cottages. French as well as Spanish architecture and design left their imprint due to colonisation.

 

A-frame:

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Not until the 50’s did this whacky design really become popular especially as the ideal shape for a holiday home. This weird and wonderful design has been inspired by simple triangular huts from the ancient world. Andrew Geller is the architect credited into turning these basic ancient structures into luxurious and spacious property, suitable for the modern resident. Another benefit – this is a really cheap design to bring to life!

 

Chinese:

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The main reasons to love architecture from China are the spectacular roofing as well as vibrant colours.

Swiss chalets

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Swiss chalets are my favourites. I adore the dark exterior, as well as the shape and balconies.

I can imagine the interior also being dark, but cozy. Perfect for spending those freezing winter evenings in front of a roaring fire with a horror movie on in the background and plenty of marshmallows!

 

 

 

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Whistler – Canada’s Winter Wonderland

In the heart of British Columbia lies the quaintly named resort town that is Whistler.

The mountainous scenery surrounded by rich and lush green forests is simply breath-taking. Fill your lungs completely with the hearty fresh air, go hiking along well-beaten pathways or just immerse yourself in one of the countless majestic lakes around you.

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Take a stroll through the charming whistler village. Whether you’re looking for a unique retail experience, something to feast your tongue upon or an open air concert, the village is sure to leave you with a memory or two.

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The architecture of local lodges and luxurious hotels is also something to be appreciated and is typical of a ski resort. Beautiful and towering log structures with modern features but homely characteristics.

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All the reasons why I adore the Middle East – Poem

In the desert where oil is cheaper than water
and the blistering, merciless sun only gets hotter and hotter
there are exotic women, faces covered with expensive silk
only revealing their golden chestnut eyes
I wonder what secrets lie beneath

Nations here are rugged
Mountains high, deserts dry, starry lit night skies
Maybe you’re in paradise

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Beautiful Arabic on the tongue
Spoken since the sixth century
Only adds to this land’s powerful and mysterious history

Mosques pop up around every corner
lavish, awe-struck buildings
God must be smiling down,
at all the sound made by men each Friday
Calling out

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These countries are for the faithful
Fearers and lovers of God
Praying daily. dressing modestly, One Lord Only.

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Gardening – Inspired by Islam

‘Allah has promised to the believing men and women, gardens, beneath which rivers flow’ (Quran)

The Islamic garden is created to represent paradise, to remind one of paradise. There are endless passages in the Quran describing heaven as a garden. ‘But the God fearing shall be amongst gardens and fountains’. But the idea of paradise being a garden is actually an idea that pre-dates Abrahamic religions and goes right back to the Sumerian period of ancient Mesopotamia. In fact it was the Persians who were some of the first peoples to cultivate walled gardens and parks.

Islamic garden - Spain. The Generalife gardens, part of Alhambra palace from the time of Muslim rule.
Islamic garden – Spain. The Generalife gardens, part of Alhambra palace from the time of Muslim rule.

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Green is often the colour associated with Islam, so it’s a must that a garden inspired by this faith would have an abundance of greenery. Whether that’s in the form of grass to relax upon or lines of palm trees that you can linger under to seek shade and enjoy ripe fruits.

Water is the most important feature of this type of garden. The sound of flowing water is no doubt soothing. Water is therapy all on it’s own.

Gardens are so important for the Islamic world due to what they symbolize. Islamic gardens must be as relaxing and peaceful as possible, they are a place of contemplation and for that reason there is plenty of seating.

These gardens are amazingly powerful, because not only are they a place for laughter and chatter, but for a believer it gives a taste of what paradise could be like, of what eternal happiness could be like, this will most likely make a follower become closer to their creator and want to lead a good life.

But the garden is also important for practical reasons. In the dry, heated climate of the Middle East a beautiful, shaded garden, a calming oasis is not at all taken for granted.

Symmetry is another important feature. If you take a look at Islamic gardens, you’ll often find flowers and trees being in a symmetrical pattern. Many Islamic gardens will have a small lake in the middle with palm trees flanked on either side. islamic_garden_by_redfoxsin-d3fz9ru

Geometric patterns are popular. Whether they’re painted onto the walls of arches in the garden or whether you find these patterns on the floor work paving the way into the garden. Multi-coloured stonework is used for decoration as well. Arches in the shape of the dome of a mosque are common, once again relating directly back to faith. IMG_1380-1024x768 dosa  e8bb92f598cc1f6e9ccb9a7b4a5b863b arvhes

Some more examples of well known gardens of this style….. tajmahal-35a

Al-Azhar park - Cairo
Al-Azhar park – Cairo
Eram garden - Iran. A world heritage site from the 19th century,
Eram garden – Iran. A world heritage site from the 19th century,

A great many of us are familiar of the vast amounts of Islamic architecture, but if you wish to be reminded of paradise, pay closer attention to the gardens!

‘Indeed, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. Indeed, Allah does what He intends’.

‘Because I would rather be on the Alp than anywhere else on Earth’.

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Heidi had the good fortune of growing up between the enchanting Swiss Alps. In Spyri’s book ‘Heidi’, the young girl drinks goat’s milk and larks around the gargantuan mountains and valleys all day. A truly delightful life.

heidithebook_heavybookreview_wordpress_com_ It was this notable children’s storybook that ignited my avid engrossment in Switzerland. Snow topped peaks towering above, with lush grassy green valleys, awakened in the early morning by the tweeting of the birds and what a wonderful feeling knowing that the irritants of urban life are faraway, ugly skyscrapers sprouting up faster than plants, traffic and air pollution all so distant.

In April 2015, Switzerland was awarded the title of ‘Happiest nation in the world’ by the World Happiness Report, maybe this is because they consume the most chocolate than anywhere else.

But for myself, there is more to Switzerland than just its splendid natural beauty and its classic works of literature.

Switzerland’s neutral standing in the world is to be applauded, it hasn’t been in an international state of war since 1815, this is a vital piece of information compared to many other western states. It’s the country where the Red Cross was born and of course where the UN meets.

The Swiss federation is also home to the World Heath Organisation.

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WHO

Obviously the reason for these internationally known organisations being here is thanks to the unique neutrality of this state, so unlike many others…

Currently infamous for its far from neutral position, FIFA also has its beautiful, all black and glossy HQ here. FIFA’s gardens represent each continent with plants and trees grown to represent that region.

http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/administration/01/28/72/70/hof-ee.pdf  (Link for FIFA’s brochure)

FIFA entrance.
FIFA entrance.

It really is a marvel of a nation.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1827-1901) was written in 1880. One of the world’s best selling books having sold approximately 50 million copies. It has been suggested that the author may have received inspiration from the 1830 book called ‘Adelaide: The girl from the Alps’, which has a very similar storyline. Heidi is one of the best works of literature to have come out of Switzerland.

The quote I have used for the title of this post is from the book ‘Heidi’.

Nomadic dreams !

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The nomadic way of life first captured my attention a number of years ago and I instantly fell in love. Whether it’s Russian speaking Kyrgyz nomads or Bedouins meandering around the sand dunes of Arabia, they seem to have a peaceful, humble and stress-free existence. I envy them.

When I’m rushing around on crowded platforms or witnessing the horrific human traffic caused by city consumerism, my mind roams towards them, whilst they’re out, roaming themselves, battling harsh weather conditions, tugging along weary animals, dressed in tribal robes, either dark like the sand they restlessly patter on or pure white to reflect the sunlight that beats down heavily upon their brows.

If I were a nomad myself, the silence and serenity of the night would certainly be my most cherished time. I’d lay myself to rest in my kurt (tent pictured above) and I’d spend many sleepless nights staring at the sky above, watching the stars twinkling and winking at me, providing me with my own private show. The sheer beauty of the vast expanse of sky, coupled with stars, stretching for miles and miles will leave you breathless.

The dazzling Kyrgyz mountains towering up around me and the glittering turquoise rivers that run between them would be home to me. A peaceful, tranquil getaway, blistering sun and the smell of the fresh, cool air, the smell of health and never ending happiness.

Earth’s true beauty can only be witnessed in its most natural of surroundings. I hope one day this will be more than just a story, an image of a thousand words, that I’ve created in my daydreamer head.

Journeying in Jerusalem – Have Faith

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Overlooking the Holy Land

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My fascination with the history of Abrahamic Religions, unsurprisingly, led me to Jerusalem. An image surfaces in the minds of many of an ancient land, scorching, with the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat As Sakhrah in Arabic) in all its beauty and glory, glinting in the centre.

The panoramic view you’re blessed with standing at the Mount of Olives is indescribable.

A short bus ride takes you from the Mount of Olives to Damascus Gate, towards the ‘Muslim Quarter’ of Temple Mount. Coming face to face with the Dome of the Rock was an incredible moment, something I’d imagined myriads of times, but nothing truly prepares you for the real thing. It’s a stunning work of architecture.

Leaving behind the Dome of the Rock, the Western/Wailing wall is a quick 5 minute walk away. It’s a busy place, men and women dressed in traditional, conservative dress, clutching Torah’s and chanting Hebrew prayers. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. Cracks within the wall allow for letters to be written, full of prayers, a direct link to the Almighty.

Spiritual vibes flow through you, everywhere you go.

There’s no therapy like retail ! Who wouldn’t want to experience an Arab Bazaar in Israel?!   Rich and exotic. With each slow step I took, a new spice hit my nose. Gorgeous jewellery neatly lined up as far as the iris can see! Baskets upon baskets of different bean varieties, pretty silky scarves and the deeply tanned and wrinkled friendly faces standing behind each stall, calling out to you, tempting you to buy their wares.

Jerusalem is a magnificent city, where the love for travel and the love for religion can come together in the most magical of ways.