Visit to Dunbar at the weekend. There’s an eighteenth century building called Lauderdale House that has been turned into flats; it has a sphinx.
I find the side view of the building slightly disturbing, those inset entrances.
It is a town with plenty of pleasing curve, windows, doorways and benches.
They call it “sunny Dunny” and it wasn’t always that during the visit; but milky sky or low sun, the winter light brought out good things in the place. On Sunday lunchtime we had a drink in the Black Bull and got the train back south.
The other night I locked my bike to a post and went into a bar. When I came out it had a scooter perched on top of it, locked to the same post.
When… I stopped at the top of the hill and saw the town [Bergen] beneath me, my feeling of happiness was so ecstatic that I didn’t know how I would be able to make it home, sit there and write, eat or sleep. But the world is constructed in such a way that it meets you halfway in moments precisely like these, your inner joy seeks an outer counterpart and finds it, it always does, even in the bleakest regions of the world, for nothing is as relative as beauty. Had the world been different, in my opinion, without mountains and oceans, plains and seas, deserts and forests, and consisted of something quite different, inconceivable to us, as we don’t know anything other than this, we would also have found it beautiful. A world with gloes and raies, evanbillets and conulames, for example, or ibitera, proluffs and lopsits, whatever they might be, we would have sung their praises because that is the way we are, we extol the world and love it although this is not necessary, the world is the world, it is all we have.
So as I walked down the steps towards the town centre on this Wednesday at the end of August I had a place in my heart for everything I beheld. (Karl Ove Knausgaard, Some rain must fall)
(York from the minster, 2007)
I don’t think I agree with what Knausgaard says about the bleakest regions of the world. I experienced a lasting increase in beauty when I moved from south to north London, back in the day. I know people who moved from Kenya to Rwanda and experienced the same. South London and Kenya are not bleak; but we don’t find the same beauty everywhere; and I think there are objective correlates for this.
The river cuts through the town; there are plenty of bridges. The bridges near the old town are low. Those downstream have to make arrangements to get pedestrians up to the crossing level.
I also saw a man in a hairdresser’s, so cool he kept his hat on.
Differences between New Year in Bilbao and in Brussels:
- Most restaurants close for the night
- You are issued with a little bag of grapes, which you must eat as the clock strikes twelve
- It is not the end of the holidays, just one more step in the run-up to the Kings on 6 January
We walked home at half midnight. The streets were loud, people were shouting and waving fireworks out of apartment windows, but there wasn’t another person on the street.