Menton

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Taking one last look at the place that we are leaving …

Taking out the recycling in Menton is hardly a chore since it involves the nicest walk ever, a stroll along the Boulevard de Garavan to the recycling station, where we post the cardboard through one slot and the glass through the other. Across the road from the recycling station is a lookout with a panoramic view. In September, we stood at this lookout in bright broiling heat and uncertainly picked out the major landmarks. Since then, we’ve walked this route...

‘I salute you with tangerines’: happy solstice from Menton

In December 1920, Katherine Mansfield walked a short distance along the Chemin Fleuri outside the Villa Isola Bella. She could see women doing laundry in the gardens of houses below, washing linen in ‘great tubs of glittering water’ and draping it over orange trees to dry. Imagine, sleeping later between those orange-and-sunshine scented sheets.  I see KM standing there in the lane, leaning on her stick as she gazed at that scene. She found it, she wrote in a letter to her husband, ‘supremely...

Train whistle blowing

Trains chug through Katherine Mansfield’s stories, from ‘The Little Governess’ to ‘Marriage à la Mode’ to ‘The Journey to Bruges’ to ‘An Indiscreet Journey’ and beyond. They chugged through her real life too, carrying her on adventures, or journeys of hope, and bringing people to visit when illness kept her tied to whatever bedroom in France or Switzerland she was currently trying to recuperate in.   In fact, Mansfield first arrived in Menton by motor car, not train, having been driven...

The writing process

People often want to know about the writing process. Where do you write? When? Where do your ideas come from? I get bamboozled by these questions. By ‘write’, do you mean the physical act of writing? That’s part of the process, and in itself contains many other processes. There’s the shitty first draft and there are the many rewrites. Some of us have preferred tools for these different stages. Actually, before the shitty first draft there’s (for me anyway) the...

Autumn light in Menton

Autumn is advancing here in the northern hemisphere. In Menton, September’s heat has gone, giving way to a mild October. The days are shortening and leaves are falling. The Mediterranean, which was a deep satin blue, still and strangely quiet for most of our first weeks here, has come alive. It’s as Katherine Mansfield wrote from Menton to her brother-in-law in 1920: ‘Big glancing silver ducks of light dive in and out of the sea’.  It hasn’t been particularly windy, but nevertheless for...

The Garden Party

And after all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it. Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Garden Party’ (1922). ‘The Garden Party‘ is one of Katherine Mansfield’s best known stories, so it was apt to receive an invitation to a garden party last weekend to honour Katherine Mansfield in the centenary year of her death and to mark fifty years of New Zealand’s Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. The event was...

Key Ceremony

On Friday morning, 15 September, the formal Key Ceremony for the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship  took place in the Salle des Marriages at the Menton Town Hall. This room is famous for its murals, which cover the walls and the ceiling and were painted by poet and artist Jean Cocteau in 1957-58. For this project, Cocteau drew inspiration from African and Ancient Greek mythologies and symbolism to design a narrative tableau that runs the gamut of human passions, emotions and behaviour. Love, desire,...

In the Novelists’ Garden

Katherine Mansfield  was remembered today in Menton with readings from her work in the beautiful setting of the Jardin Fortana Rosa, also called Le Jardin des Romanciers (the Novelists’ Garden).  These gardens were built in the Belle Epoch style by Spanish novelist Vicente Biasco Ibáñez who started the work in 1922, and who lived here until his death in 1928. We gathered in the shade of tall trees, and were treated to readings from KM’s stories ‘The Doll’s House’ and ‘The Young Girl’ and...

Menton: Villa Isola Bella

On 13 September 1920, Katherine Mansfield and Ida Baker arrived from London to take up residency in the Villa Isola Bella in Garavan, Menton. KM was enchanted by the town, the climate, the people and the house. The view, she wrote to her husband John Middleton Murry the next day, ‘is surpassingly beautiful. Late last night on the balcony I stood listening to the tiny cicadas and to the frogs and to someone playing a little chain of notes on...