Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Extraordinary People

In the course of two lifetimes spent, for the most part, in the public domain, it is perhaps to be expected that the lives of many thousands of people have connected with us over the years. With many the connection has been mercifully brief, with a number, circumstances dictated that the relationship remain on a formal footing, with others it has been like star spangled ships passing in the night, whilst with others firm and lasting friendships have been forged. However, with a few, a notable few, the contact has altered the axis of our lives, a lasting impression has been indelibly printed, our souls have been touched. In these instances life is destined never to be the same again on account of these extraordinary people.


'Extraordinary People' a novel by Paul Gervais first published in 1991 by HarperCollins

Following our recent visit to Paul and Gil at the beautiful Villa Massei, we detected a definite shift in the orbit of our world. To spend time with such consummately creative and cultured individuals has been, as may readily be imagined, a wonderful experience.


Paul Gervais pictured on the front steps of the Villa Massei during our recent visit in July

Paul's first degree in English Literature is reflected in his voracious appetite for reading, the titles of which fill the 'stacks' which line the bedroom corridor and cover every available flat surface throughout the house. However, only under duress does he mention his own published poetry collection, 'A Garden in Lucca', his self-deprecating account of the development of the gardens at the Villa Massei, and his novel 'Extraordinary People' which was selected as a finalist for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award in 1991.


Paul's collection of poetry, 'Thoughts That Come In Words', and 'Un Giardino a Lucca'

The poetry, dedicated to his long term partner, Gil, is touchingly tender, capturing the essence of a loving partnership with a sparsity of line which is as technically brilliant as it is powerful. And, in the novel, 'Extraordinary People', we were moved to tears by the delicate portrayal of the descent into dementia of Meg, a principal character, based, we suspect, to some degree on a relative.


Gil Cohen pictured in the shade of the loggia of the Villa Massei during our recent visit

Gil, too, is a man of immensely artistic sensibilities coupled with a social conscience which is as practical as it is endearing. People are instantly drawn to his warmth, openness, generosity and genuine concern for others. He has volunteered his time and energies to work with young people in a variety of situations, including the most challenging of circumstances, in the belief that they may be inspired, supported and encouraged to lead fulfilled lives, as he feels fortunate to have been able to do.


'A Garden in Lucca' seen on our bookshelves - the passion of a lifetime of Paul and Gil

And then, in the last few hours of our recent visit and before we departed, we were afforded a private view of Paul's studio: a white space filled with Art; colour washes in a rainbow of hues; bold lines; mass and void manipulated by the hands of a visual artist; egregious, exotic, emphatic. Extraordinary!

206 comments:

  1. What a wonderful visit.
    What an absolutely beautiful setting. And from what you posted what interesting friends !
    Fabulous !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. We count ourselves very fortunate, Gayle, to have interesting, talented and creative friends in a world where there is often a preponderance of mediocrity.

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  2. Dear Jane and Lance,
    thank you for the wonderful introduction to your friends Paul and Gil. It is always something very special to become real friends with a poet - see the ways how we know them in 'ordinary life' (which does not exist in my opinion - it is always charmed in a way), and the quite different way they write in their books - we sense that the inner life of many people is so much deeper than what we (enjoyably) see while just meeting them: the way they are able to form thoughts and feelings and ideas to something new, using language in a special way, make us see the world from a new angle. Thank you for that post!

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    1. One of the things about creative people, as you say here, Brigitta, is that there is always much beneath the surface to be discovered and that they do, so very often, present the world in a completely different light. One always admires those with the ability and skill to mould language.

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  3. What a lovely and very fitting ode to your friends!

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    1. Thank you, Meike. But we fear that it does not really do them justice.

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  4. I really really envy you this time. Extraordinary people indeed. I must read that book. But since I am re-reading some (basic) philosophy lately I have to ask this question, to complete perfection: Are they happy being extraordinary? That would be extraordinary indeed.

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    1. We should certainly recommend 'Extraordinary People' to you.

      To answer your question, we should perhaps ask how 'happy' should be defined? But better, in our view, to be extraordinary than ordinary which can, very often, equate with dull.

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  5. Dear Jane and Lance
    It's so nice to know in your life such creative and wonderful people. Your stay in Italy seems to have been wonderful in all respects.
    Have an nice day.
    Olympia

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    1. We do find people, Olympia, endlessly fascinating. The more extraordinary they are, the more interesting they become.

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  6. It is indeed wonderful to meet such extraordinary and touching people! You two are so very lucky to have done so! :)

    Hugs,

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    1. We value all our friends immensely and do, indeed, regard ourselves as fortunate to know so many interesting people.

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  7. Dear Jane and Lance,
    If one can say that they have met some extraordinary people in their lives, then I think that you can say ' job well done' !! You two seem to have had more than your fair share of extraordinary people ...... I really think that you should share a few with me !!!! haha ..... although, by reading your posts you are.
    Lucca is one of my favourite cities in Italy and I feel that I must try and get a copy of Paul's book. We do not have a visit to Tuscany booked this year, although Rome is on the cards.
    Thank you both so much for our virtual visit to Villa Massel and, indeed, all of the other wonderful people and places that you share with us. I think that we can also put you two both up there in the extraordinary catagory ! XXXX

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    1. We have, Jackie, been most fortunate to have met many interesting people over the course of our lives, many of whom have become very real friends of long standing.

      Lucca is, we agree, a delightful city, the centre of which appears much as it must always have done, at least for several centuries. How wonderful to be planning a trip to Rome this year - now that we envy you!!

      But always remember that through the Blogosphere we have 'met' with you - that for us is a great joy.

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  8. How wonderful you have such great and it seems so generous of friends and can spend time at their villa; and to know the author of the book and poetry makes the reading all so much better I should think. I can't help myself but I find I'm so curious as to the gardens there.

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    1. The gardens of the Villa Massei are exceptional, Linda, and have been created almost entirely from nothing by Paul and Gil over the last thirty or so years. 'A Garden in Lucca' is a very entertaining account of how it was made.

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  9. It would be hard to pinpoint exactly what makes people extraordinary, but it is a quality that we can feel as soon as we meet them, a sort of benchmark for the soul. For most of us those people come in ones and twos, even over the course of a lifetime. You seem to have a inbuilt radar for people with very special creativity, long may it last and long may you share the meetings with us. A beautiful post.

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    1. We do agree, Susan, that it is difficult to know exactly what makes certain people stand out from others but there is, as you say, a sort of 'benchmark for the soul'.

      We consider ourselves most fortunate to know a large number of interesting people and to count them as friends.

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  10. You are fortunate to have such friends.

    You may roll your eyes only once as I tell you that after reading the post, my eyes strayed across to your introduction. C19 apartment? What is that? A special land usage zoning? A style? I searched for C19 apartments in Budapest and discovered there is another C19 apartment. I was about to investigate further when suddenly the sun beamed brightly after the passing of a very dark cloud. 19th century. At times I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

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    1. It is, Andrew, a very convenient way of expressing a particular century and can, of course, be applied to any - C11, C15, C21!! Useful!

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  11. What a great visit...you must be proud having such friends...love love love Ria...xxx...

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    1. We always enjoy time spent with Paul and Gil and, of course, their house and garden are lovely.

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  12. What a thoughtful and, for me, thought provoking piece. Paul and Gil sound such interesting people and you are right to value their friendship. This piece got me to thinking about something that I often say about people that I am drawn to. I have a small group of close friends but a larger group of friends who come from all walks of life. For me I am drawn to people through the discussions that I have with them, not their vocations, careers or whatever else they present to the world in general. I often say that I love eccentrics. Some of my friends say that I attract odd people, I say no they are not odd, they are different, a little eccentric maybe but never odd. This makes them interesting and colourful to me, they make me think differently, open my eyes to new possibilities. From today onwards I will not say eccentric I will say extraordinary. You are so right it is better to be extraordinary. Also who are we to define the word happiness for other people too.
    Thank you.

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    1. We are delighted, Cheri, that you have found the post of interest. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      What you say here about friends and friendship is something with which we concur completely. It is what they have to say, the ideas which they present, what they are interested in which matter, as opposed to what they do or where they come from. Eccentrics are generally only such because they are people with vision and it is this which, happily, sets them apart. But, like you, we prefer to think of people as extraordinary, which so many talented and creative people are.

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  13. Thank you for introducing us to your charming and interesting friends and giving us a glimpse of your lives beyond the computer screen.

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    1. One of the great pleasures of the Blogosphere, as you will appreciate yourself, Gaynor, is sharing.

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  14. Qu'est-ce une bonne visite ... vous devez être fiers d'avmoir des tels amis!!!
    Bonne journee!!!
    xxx Maria xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Maria. This is so generous of you.

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  15. Hello Jane and Lance,
    When I first became aware of the blogosphere, just a little over a year ago, one of the first sites I visited was Paul Gervais blog. I put him on a bit of a pedestal. His life, his writing, his lifestyle all seemed so different to my own experiences and I admit, I thought I would never make a connection with this person. How wrong I was. I have followed faithfully over that time, always reading his wonderfully rich and visual posts and only just recently starting to comment. I was amazed he took the time to respond and it was apparent that this was a warm and welcoming man. I am enriched by my visits to his beautiful life on screen. How lucky you are to spend precious time with close friends. It has been a wonderful experience for me, this blog world. I have met people I will probably never physically meet, but nevertheless I feel are friends. They are rich connections, ethereal without the need for physical contact, and provide a sense of belonging. Thank you for the time you have given to me over the past year. I am fortunate to have found you!
    Much love
    Di
    xxxxx

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    1. But first, Dianne, it must be said that it is we whose lives have been enriched through 'meeting' with you, and that 'YONKS' is a blog which continues to give us enormous pleasure.

      We are delighted that you enjoy Paul's blog. It is, as you say, 'wonderfully rich' both in terms of what he writes and, of course, his exceptional photography. Both he and Gil really are extraordinary people.

      Yes, it is wonderful the feeling of being connected with, and 'knowing', so many people through the Blogosphere.

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  16. When lucky enough to meet people who are involved with life - whether the almost internal world of an artist or the external world of an activist - it brings home to me how our society fails to encourage people to develop their talents to universal benefit...and no, encouraging primary age children to write 'poetry' does nothing to assist the process.
    I have been lucky enough to meet a few people over the years who have, as you say, changed the orbit of my life by the intensity of their own.

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    1. You pinpoint here what is, as far as we are concerned, the very thing that makes people of interest - an involvement in life. Too many people, or so it would seem, abdicate this completely, made worse by a reliance on modern technology which, when misused, isolates the individual from society.

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  17. Hell and damnation!

    I have been exerting myself tirelessly in befriending Queen Sonja: a daily note to her ladies in waiting remarking that her hair looks lovely, an invitation to my end of summer garden party, the opportunity to give a speech at same alongside His Excellency the Bishop.

    And now, just as I feel that I am making some progress, I realise that my attentions are misplaced and that Paul and Gil would be the more sparking stars in my social firmament.

    I am hastening to order Paul's fine book and to provide opportunities for Gil to show genuine concern, perhaps at my flightiness, my wasted talent. Telling them that I have the honour to be the humble acquaintance of the much sought-after Hattatts will, I am sure, gain me favour. My heart soars ever upwards thanks to you, dear Jane and Lance.

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    1. Queen Sonja? Now who is she? Really, these crowned heads of Europe are now very passé. It is the new, up and coming dictators [benign if at all possible] who should be cultivated - they are the future!

      Now, dear Mise, as you can readily guess, Paul and Gil are the least commercially minded people we know and so the ordering of a copy of Paul's book might not have the necessary impact. However, if you feel that you could run to perhaps a couple of gross, then surely that would not pass unnoticed. We ourselves originally got by with the single gross but that was some time ago and with inflation being what it is....!

      In the meantime, our lives are enriched through 'knowing' you and visiting 'Pretty Far West'.

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  18. Hello my friends. I am quite moved by this post and the comments that have followed. That spark of creativity, that little internal fire...and then when it is fanned by the breath of beauty, well, that is quite something to behold, isn't it? But like begets like and it is no surprise to me at all for you to connect with Paul and Gil so truly. Di's mention of a "sense of belonging" rings very true for me as well. Thank you for all of your generosity of spirit and sharing your experiences with us, who all care enormously for you both.
    Bisous,
    Heather

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    1. Heather, as always you say the nicest and kindest of things and we, for are part, are deeply touched. But know that it is not at all one sided.

      And yes, as you will know, it is wonderful to count creative and talented people amongst one's friends.

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  19. Dear Jane and Lance,
    How wonderful that you have such loved friends as Paul and Gill..
    To be in the company of extraordinary exentricly wonderful people is a gift.
    They indeed enrichen one's life and time spent with them is precious. Memories that will stay with us forever.. as you wrote these people change our lives, for the good.
    I myself have been blessed to know and have within my family such exentric and gifted people. They light up one's life and take us to places we never would dream of going,beyond the limits of one's imagination.
    Thank you for sharing the life of your friends with us.. Paul's book sounds for good reading.
    wishing you a happy peaceful week
    kind regards
    val

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    1. We do indeed consider ourselves to be very fortunate, Val, with all of our friends and Paul and Gil are very special. Such people do indeed change our lives for the better and that is what is so very wonderful about them.

      Your expression that there are certain individuals who 'light up one's life' is not only beautifully descriptive but also exceedingly true. And in so doing they really do extend 'the limits of one's imagination'.

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  20. Dear Jane & Lance - in life the people we come across with that special je ne sais quoi are few and far between, lingering long in our memories.
    I love your first paragraph where you sum up so beautifully connections made during a lifetime - some brief and best forgotten, others lasting and memorable, some forever formal.
    Paul and Gil are very fortunate that they have found each other and have such fulfilled lives that they are willing to share with others.

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    1. Yes, Rosemary, we do agree that such people are 'few and far between' and for that they must be, and are, highly valued.

      Life does, as you will know, bring one into contact with so many different people from a wide variety of backgrounds. It is wonderful when connections are made which do, on occasion, turn into real friendships.

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  21. When ever i come here i feel like im in another world. Your post today was beautiful and enchanting and i loved the desciption of your friend he sounds like a gentleman and the villa looks like a wonderful carm place to write. Beautiful views. Thank you for sharing. dee ;-)

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    1. This is so very kind of you, Dee. Whenever we read your posts, which we so much enjoy, we leave with the feeling that there is a genuine openness about your own life which is so very endearing.

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  22. It occurs to me that Paul and Gil also have extraordinary people in their circle:
    Hattatt, J.
    Hattatt, L.

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    1. Dearest 'Fred', you do say the sweetest things!!!

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  23. What a beautiful post.
    But i would agree with a comment above, you two are extraordinary too. Birds of a feather flock together in this instance, i'd say!
    Have a lovley day.

    Red

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    1. This is also very generous of you too. Whatever, we do all have great fun and spend very enjoyable times.

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  24. Finding great people is hard, making great friends is even harder. I am 34 and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of of people I call extraordinary :). You two are much richer than me from this point of view. I think it has a lot to do with your joie de vivre.

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    1. But we have, Petronela, had rather more of life than you so far in which to meet extraordinary people. It does, as we know from experience, take time.

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  25. My dear FGP,

    What a beautiful tribute to two people who have quite obviously enriched your lives. I can imagine them reading this post and having their hearts filled in the manner that only the two of you so instinctively know how to do.

    My sincere admiration and congratulations to Paul, on having been named a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner and equally extended to Gil for his work in encouraging and supporting young people. As a writer and a former teacher, my heart is knit with theirs in these pursuits and accomplishments.

    All love,
    Your Suze

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    1. Paul and Gil are two very special and 'extraordinary' people whose qualities far outnumber anything we can describe here.

      Like you, Suze, one has to have faith in young people and to encourage them to believe in themselves, and to have a high self esteem is, we believe, so important in their development as responsible adults.

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  26. More breathtaking views - of books and books and books! Fills this bibliophile's heart with joy as much as a meadow in the mist. Wonderful peek into another extraordinary life.

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    1. Indeed, Helen, where would we be without books? They are to us, as to you too, the very lifeblood of our daily lives. We consider ourselves so fortunate to number many writers among our friends.

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  27. I like the Teddy Bear keeping an eye on the extraordinary library.

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    1. The Teddy dates from the very early 1950s. He seems at home on the hall table; his compatriots are relegated to a window sill in the back hall!

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  28. What a lovely paean to such a gracious, talented couple!

    We've always called little appreciative notes to hosts "Bread and Butter" notes, and this one---well, this one is jam and cream and sugar on top. How wonderful it must be to be so admired and well-thought-of, and the warmth and affection of friends are some of life's greatest blessings.

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    1. How lovely that you recognize the term 'Bread and Butter' for letters of appreciation sent to one's host traditionally after an overnight, or longer, stay. Sadly this is yet another courtesy which appears to be dying out where young people are concerned. And how beautifully you express it all here, Rachel.

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  29. Hello Jane and Lance,
    I didn't expect to find that friends you may holiday with may have a deeper past and reality than the one presented in a simple holiday post. Not that that means I'd expect any friends of yours to be vacuous. It's my own shortcoming, to miss the point, to neglect to see around the corner of the villa.
    It makes a huge difference to learn that those who may be said to live a privileged life have a relationship to the world around them that is deeply caring and involved. Much more goes on than first appears. I feel humbled to say thankyou for sharing your experience and observation.

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    1. Dear Faisal, your comment here is fully understood as to its meaning and, as always, very much appreciated. In a sense we all live very privileged lives. What one always hopes for oneself, as well as for one's friends, is that together we recognize that there are those less fortunate than ourselves and that we always act appropriately, sensitively, correctly and well towards them. This is, we believe, a shared duty.

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  30. Extraordinary and inspiring! I love the way their talents and passions merge and that they have created a life where those passions can flourish and be shared. Thant you were so affected by your visit is profound. I had a taste of that on my trip to Italy last year, especially when we stayed at the vineyard with our Russian friends--engaging, hospitable, creative, eccentric...filled with life and love of life.

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    1. Theirs is indeed, Jen, very much a shared life where, as you correctly say, passions and interests combine into something very remarkable and exceptional.

      Very obviously, from what you say here about time spent in Italy with your Russian friends, you appreciate fully the kinds of bonds which it is possible to forge with certain people. Long may that be so.

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  31. How well you have expressed your appreciation of friendships that somehow arise and then strengthen as years pass by and the lives of the friends continue evolve.

    When I arrived in New York in the 1960's I really knew no one, but had a long held affection for this city. It was that common feeling that allowed me to connect with others, older and younger than my 20-something self. I discovered that NYC was made up of many villages, and that it was possible to find friends in the crowds.

    Now, so many decades later, I still treasure the vibrancy of both the city and of friendships that continue. It is pleasant to have acquaintances, but truly soul warming to have dear friends.

    Over the past few years it has been a continuing source of amazement to me to also truly connect with folks via blogging. I've been fortunate to have actually met some of these virtual friends and found that we now also have another actual friendship layer.

    Life really can be a feast!

    Best wishes to you all.

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    1. Sometimes, and particularly in a new and unfamiliar place, as you found on arrival in New York in the 1960s, Frances, it takes time to establish the kinds of friendships which persist through the years and which deepen with time. But, as you say, they are there and are so often forged on account of some shared interest.

      Like you, we have friends of all ages. And today we value so much the real friendship which we have found in people very much younger than ourselves. That said, we too have been amazed at how it is possible to make very real connections through the Blogosphere. Such joy!

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  32. PS We spoke of you this past weekend, my friend Kim and I, as we talked (chattered, interrupted, could-not-wait-to-tell all the things we wanted to say in our brief time together) at our hotel halfway between their home and ours.

    She was so happy to have found you, as well, and looks forward to each post as I do. We had met online several years ago, and seem to have become a mutual admiration society, as well as firm friends. I'm still soaring from that way-aloft weekend of wonderful talk and togetherness.

    Even Things in Dishes from a tiny hotel fridge, spread upon a pulled-out desk table into sitting-for-four can become a lovely banquet with all the lively conversation and enjoyment of good company.

    rachel

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    1. Well, Rachel, we have long since held the view that the only thing worse than being talked about is not to be talked about!!!

      How we too should have loved to have been part of this lively banter between the two of you and to share the gossip of the blogosphere. And, how right you are that even the lowliest of snacks can become a veritable feast when shared with good company.

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  33. Dear Jane and Lance
    My first thought on reading this insightful post is: -
    “The fragrance of the rose lingers on the hand that cast it.” St. Francis said, “It's in giving that we receive.”
    I believe there was a constant casting of roses to and fro during your visit with Gil and Paul in Lucca.

    They are more and more interesting with each post. It seems they are both very gifted individuals who are living life to the fullest by using their gifts and making a valuable difference in the world.


    I am delighted you met.

    I am heading off to see if I can find a copy of Extraordinary People. The cover is very familiar.



    Helenxx

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    1. Oh, dearest Helen, how touched we are by your delightful quotation from St Francis. Yes, we can certainly confirm that Paul and Gil are the most generous of hosts and charming of companions, we feel truly blessed to be able to be counted amongst their friends.

      We can well imagine that you would enjoy reading 'Extraordinary People' if you can track a copy down. For us, the novel had an added poignancy by knowing something of Paul's life and being able to have an even deeper understanding the man behind the pen and the blog.

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  34. I often wonder why some friends remain close no matter the distance between and some remain at a distance when they are within a mile or so. I think you have put into words how I so often feel.

    I can only imagine the wonderful conversations the four of you must have shared.

    I am most interested in the book "Extraordinary People" as I am currently coming to terms with my own father's dementia. I find my strength and comfort in journaling my concerns and frustrations.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your friendship with this remarkable couple with us.

    Have a wonderful week! Bonnie

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    1. It is absolutely true. As you say, some friendships can withstand any degree of separation whereas others simply wither on the vine no matter what one does to try to sustain them.

      We are deeply saddened to hear of your father's illness which we are certain must be exceedingly difficult to deal with. We did find that the novel dealt with this topic in an extremely sensitive and totally sympathetic way. You may well find the novel most interesting if for this aspect alone.

      Happy week to you too!!

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  35. What a joy to be able to spend time in such a glorious place with two such amazing and creative people. It would be wonderful and very memoriable.

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    1. Lasting memories are indeed made by occasions such as these.We shall certainly treasure the visit and our wonderful friends and hold it and them close to our hearts.

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  36. An artist will change your perceptions, inspire, and invigorate. These two wonderful people are artists that have done all of that ...and more........how wonderful to have them as friends!

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    1. Absolutely! Both Paul and Gil have degrees in Fine Art and so, you are right, it does pervade and influence all aspects of their lives and the lives of others who come into contact with them. The world is, indeed,never the same when it is reshaped by the hands and eyes of artists and it is wonderful to be able to share in that excitement too.

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  37. You are both incredibly blessed to be able to visit such places and consider such people friends. A beautiful setting and wonderful company make for memories to last a lifetime.

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    1. Jason, how wonderful to hear from you! We are certain that you too would share our belief in the power of friendships to change life for the better. Memories are indeed made of such visits as this!

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  38. Thank you for sharing your visit with us. Creative people who reside in a fairytale setting....Extraordinary is the perfect word for both.

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    1. It could all be a fairy tale if it were not real. However, Paul and Gil also have their feet firmly planted on the ground and have created another Eden at the Villa Massei which we were entranced to share.

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  39. It is so difficult to name the attributes of friendship: accomplishments, interests, same values, different values or outlook, friendliness, warmth, etc., all of which Paul and Gil certainly possess. But the real criterion of friendship is a sense of comfort and companionability, which I believe is the root of those lifelong and life-altering friendships which you delineate here.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Oh, Jim, how perfectly you describe here the qualities of those friendships which do transcend the everyday or commonplace. And yes,it is that very essence of companionability which brings with it an openness and a willingness to share one's innermost thoughts that really makes the relationship special.

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  40. A life spent moving between continents meant that your experience of friendships (brilliantly described) mirrors mine. Some ties are as strong as trans-Atlantic cable and others are mere silk threads. For the past five years blogging friendships have developed, to be explored next month on a ramble through the Benelux and over to the UK.
    It's clear from your post that your friends Paul and Gil are remarkable people - but their gift for friendship would be, to me, the loveliest quality of all.

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    1. How wonderful your 'blogging ramble' sounds to be as you travel through Europe and put faces and real lives to your 'virtual' friends. We are certain that it will all prove to be huge fun and that firm friendships will be forged for years to come.

      Yes, the gift of friendship is a treasure. And, as you say so delightfully, even the Atlantic cannot separate true minds and hearts that belong together.

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  41. Dear Jane and Lance, how lovely it must have been to spend time with two such fine friends and in such a wondrously beautiful setting. Some people have a light inside them and they light up the room even on a dull dark day. I would love to spend time with such lovely friends steeped in conversation and caring and books, it's such an inspiration. Recently I read somewhere on the internet,

    'We walked alongside each other for so long.
    In you I see myself and in myself
    I see you...'

    Thank you SO much for sharing with us all your photographs and stories, I almost feel I've been there too!

    Hugs to you both,
    Jane

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    1. Friendship is, of course, enhanced, Jane, as you will know so very well yourself, when there are shared interests which are, very often, expressed through lively conversation and debate. And without books, where would any one of us be?

      Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to add this very apt quotation to your comment, words which are new to us but which resonate so well.

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  42. A lovely tribute to your friends. What I enjoy about Paul's blog is that it provides a glimpse into his (and their) elegant vision.

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    1. Paul and Gil do indeed have that 'elegant vision' which, sadly, is too often lacking in others.

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  43. I'd been wondering what to read next, and now I know. This is one of the joys of blogging, I discover books I might otherwise have missed.

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    1. Like you, Tracey, we have often come across books to be read through someone's personal recommendation on a blog.

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  44. What a wonderful post, dear Jane and Lance. I agree, there can be so many kinds of acquaintances, but none like the ones that touch you and alter that tiny part inside you.

    Thank you for sharing Paul's work with us; I'd love to read his poetry someday. Also, I'd love to live in a house like that, that was stashed with books which further reminds me of one of our professors who used to teach us Victorian literature in the university. He even had mini bookcases nailed to the walls of his bathroom! Visiting his house was always such a treat.

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    1. It is, as you say, Suman, the way in which some people 'touch' our lives that makes them so special. Paul and Gil are two such.

      The book corridor at the Villa Massei is indeed most impressive and forms an excellent library. We love the idea of your professor with small bookcases attached to the walls of his bathroom. So interesting, and such fun!

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  45. Oh my goodness...how could one not be an extrodinary person to have a home filled with so many books? What wonderful experiences you all have, this post was a joy to read.

    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. We do agree with you, Joy, that every house needs to have books and they, in turn, say so much about the occupants. We are so pleased that you enjoyed the post.

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  46. These are the kinds of friendships and moments that change lives forever. Beautiful!

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    1. Certainly they are the kinds of friendships which one very much values and which do not come along everyday.

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  47. how fortunate you are to call these 2 close friends. what would we do without our closest of friends. i shudder to think. xo janet

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    1. We are indeed most fortunate, Janet. And, indeed, where would we all be without dear friends?

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  48. Dearest J&L, Reading this fabulous post has made me all the more curious about you two and off I clicked to explore more . . . wonderful blog by your remarkable friend Paul . . . 'talent extraordinaire' . . . and there you are . . . a 'Royal Visit' and I am not speaking of Queen Sonja. What delightful and caring friends and how they honor and obviously love you both . . . this all speaks volumes about who you are. Their lives and home seem utterly orderly and magical. Your introduction here is intriguing . . . your lives being more in the "public domain" coming into contact with "many thousands of people" and I love this " . . . star spangled ships passing in the night" (would love to hear more about that) all in reference to friendships/acquaintances. Very intriguing indeed. I only just discovered that Lance . . . you are a gifted garden designer yourself and clicked on the link of your stunning garden. Pages of your past . . . I am here recovering from dental surgery and find your travels and companions all very enchanting and entertaining. As always . . . a joy to visit you! I am so happy for you to have had such a marvelous getaway and thank you for sharing it with us. You have certainly lifted my spirits. Hugs, Carol

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    1. Dearest Carol, what can we possibly say? You write here with such generosity of spirit and kindness which, for our part, simply act as yet further confirmation, as if any were needed, of the wonderful, sensitive, caring and loving person we know you to be. And if we have one real wish in life, then it is to meet with you in person and, if at all possible, to see for ourselves the beauty and sanctuary for all living creatures which goes by the name of Flower Hill Farm. You are, Carol, an example to us all.

      And yes, friends Paul and Gil have not only a very special home, the Villa Massei, but also a special place in our hearts. For, as we get older, we realise how very much people, and particularly those who are dear to us, matter, far, far more than any of the material things of life which, finally, count for nothing.

      We are so sorry to learn that you have been having dental surgery, never pleasant at the best of times, and send you our warmest wishes and best love for a speedy recovery.

      And one day, if ever, which we doubt, you have an idle moment, then if you Google 'Hattatt', or 'Jane Hattatt' or 'Lance Hattatt', singly or together, it will, we are sure, tell you a little of the very little there is to know about us!!

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  49. Jane and Lance, though I am an avid follower of Paul's blog and also familiar with Paul's books on Garden design ( and Lance your's too) :) But you have drawn a wonderful sketch of both Paul and Gil. I was not familiar about his poetry, you introduced us with that too.

    You are very fortunate to have great friends, no wealth can substitute it. It is getting hard to find intellectual and refined friends these days.

    Best wishes

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    1. Like you, we find Paul's blog compulsive reading but, as with so many things in life, scratch beneath the surface and so much more is revealed. And this is especially so of both Paul and Gil.

      As we become older, as we have remarked to Carol above, the value to be placed on real friendship counts way above all else.

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  50. As you said, people come in and out of our lives and we are so fortunate when those who we come to love, stay. I am sure your friends treasure you both as your kindness is so abundant and your interest in people knows no bounds. We, your acquaintences on blogger, feel blessed to just be on the peripheral edge of your lives.

    Indeed, your relationship with Gil and Paul must be so fulfilling. They seem like more than interesting people. I love that Paul wrote a book of peoetry dedicated to his partner. A poet writes what his heart tells him.

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    1. It is so very true, Arleen, that there are those in life who simply cross our paths briefly whereas with others, happily, what may start out as a passing acquaintance develops into a long, lasting and loving friendship.

      We always feel that it is an enormous privilege to read the work of a poet for in many ways poetry is, perhaps, the most personal of all writing.

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  51. You have touched on a most interesting observation here. The electrifying pulse of a fabulous friendship - a connection of equally witted minds - is truly the spark which lifts a life so ordinary up to one which is fabulous. For that reason, there is nothing I enjoy more than a dinner party of quick witted friends, whereupon one solves the world's problems large and small, comes up against differing points of view to challenge one's own, and is inspired to read more, learn more, question more. It sounds as though Paul and Gil fall into that category very easily.

    And as an aside to that....what a splendid home they have!!

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    1. It is, as you say here, Virginia, those friends who are quick witted, lively, who have opinions, not necessarily matching one's own, that one wishes to surround oneself with. For they are always such excellent company and, in our experience, great fun. Now, when are you free for dinner??

      Yes, the Villa Massei is a dream!

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  52. Oh I would be spending hours pouring over those books! :) Real friends are the best! Thanks for sharing, I always look forward to your posts and you both are very supportive of people.

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    1. Indeed, to us too, books are such an essential part of life and something, alongside friends, one would not wish to be without.

      And thank you for such a kind comment; we are so pleased that you enjoy the posts.

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  53. How lucky you are to have crossed paths with such extraordinary and talented people.
    I enjoyed your beautiful description of those who have touched your lives, envious of your talent with words.
    Penny x

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    1. We do, Penny, consider ourselves more than fortunate where friends are concerned and to know so many interesting and creative people. In so many instances our lives have been enriched by them.

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  54. Hi Jane and Lance,
    Another fascinating post as usual, and one that brought back very happy memories of Lucca for myself and Amanda. Extraordinary people do seem to be a rare commodity nowadays, well, certainly in the Bournemouth gardening world.

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    1. We are so pleased to know that you and Amanda enjoyed Lucca too. It really is a magical place in our view.

      In our gardening days we did meet several extraordinary people but perhaps times are changing in the gardening world!!

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  55. I am at my happiest when surrounded by books - and also when I am surrounded by creative people : whether in "real life" or online. And I am pleased to count you among that latter group.

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    1. Dear Alan, thank you so much for your kind comment. Like you, we really cannot imagine living anywhere without plenty of books readily to hand and, we suspect as you, over the years we have accumulated many hundreds, none of which we can bear to be parted from. Books tell one so much about the personalities of their owners we find!!

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  56. Always a joy to spend time with truly creative people. They see the world differently and enhance ours as a consequence. What a gorgeous villa too.

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    1. How well you express the influence on one's life that creative people have. We find ourselves instinctively drawn to them, no matter what drama may come as a result!!!

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  57. As a just another ordinary person, it’s a pleasure for me to meet such extraordinary creative people even at the trustworthy blog friends’ post, Jane and Lance. Paul and Gill are definitely the ones who constantly inspire, encourage, and enrich people around them. You must be proud of who you have as lifetime mates.

    Yoko

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    1. We do not in any way, Yoko, consider you to be 'just another ordinary person'. Indeed, anyone reading 'Stardust English Talk' would know this not to be the case.

      Indeed, we are very, very fortunate to have so many good friends in life, all of whom we value greatly.

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  58. Replies
    1. So many incredible experiences and all in the space of a week!

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  59. With an opening paragraph like that above I couldn't wait to read on. It was poetry itself. Your friends certainly are extraordinary people and the stacks of books would draw me immediately. I have said on more than one occasion that I am inherently nosy when it comes to other people's bookshelves and I find myself scanning the titles as though in a library. Your own 'gardening section' looks interesting and I see that you display by subject, as do I.

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    1. This is hugely generous of you, Marilyn.

      Paul and Gil's book collection is very impressive and it is very difficult, as you may imagine, to walk along the bedroom corridor without becoming distracted. Other people's books are indeed always fascinating.

      For years we collected First Edition gardening titles dating from the late C19 to the late C20. They now occupy a great deal of space but we still enjoy them.

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  60. Extraodinary people indeed. I too have a keen interest in uphill gardening! Sadly the book isn't available on Kindle, I hope that isn't a dirty word in your household. I got rid of my book collection when I discovered I had silverfish (*shudders* at the very word), lurking in my bookcase.

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    1. Dear Mitzi, we always associate you with being in the vanguard of everything and so it would be impossible to imagine you without a Kindle. Where you lead, the Blogosphere will [in time] follow!

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  61. One meets people who float on the surface of life but then [happily] there are those who dive in, plumbing the depths with relish. How lucky you are to meet two who are clearly of the latter type. The are the ones who enrich our lives :-)

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    1. Your extended metaphor is so very apt. It is, to borrow from you, those who dive deeply and swim strongly who are of interest and who give life meaning.

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  62. I am the most captured at the description of the studio at the end of this wonderful post. Sounds like a snippet of Heaven--actually, it all sounds like that. How lucky you are to have such wonderful, talented friends (and they, you...btw ;)).

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    1. We were most interested to see both Paul's studio and also his work. You would of course, Elizabeth, have been very much on home territory, far more so than we.

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  63. My dear Jane and Lance, I believe that you have found kindred spirits in Paul and Gil and vice versa. I'm always fascinated by the erudite people (those who love reading for the great appreciation of literature). You both are among the most fascinating people I've met. I'll have to thank god for the new techonology because they bring so many kindred spirits like you into our lives and our lives are richer for it.

    A couple of years ago, I read somewhere in an interview with Paul where he said that his favourite writer was Denton Welch. I thought that's extraordinary because he is one of my favourties too!! I read him a lot during my younger days!!

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    1. But, dear ASD, you yourself are securely in the ranks of those erudite people of whom you so kindly and generously speak. And through our 'meeting' with you, and the insight you have given into your own fascinating world, we count ourselves truly blessed.

      Perhaps we should start the Denton Welch Appreciation Society; we have over time collected his books as First Editions. As for your 'younger days'.....!!

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  64. Dear Jane and Lance, How often your words connect with something in my own life! I am due to visit a very dear university friend and his partner and I have just been thinking about how the purity of their lifestyle has always been an inspiration to me. I hope to write of my visit. I am so glad that you both had such a wonderful time with your dear friends. Jane xx

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    1. One does sometimes in life have the great fortune to meet with people who do in fact inspire one and who make a lasting impression on one's own living. It would seem to us, Jane, that your university friend and his partner are two such people. We do so hope that you will write about them and will keenly look forward to the post.

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  65. What a beautiful and touching post, dearest Jane and Lance!
    Isn't it the greatest of blessings to be touched in such a positive way by fellow extraordinary human beings...and more wonderful still to be able to call them friends.
    I will look into reading Paul's books, looking forward to it very much.
    And I must tell you, that getting to know both of you has been a remarkable, life-enriching experience!
    Blessings,
    - Irina

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    1. We are delighted that you have enjoyed the post, Irina, and thank you so much for saying. In a world where at times human behaviour defies belief, one's faith is so often restored through meeting with totally genuine, unselfish people. In this respect we are all blessed.

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    2. Indeed...
      Wishing you a beautiful weekend!

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    3. Thank you so much, Irina. How kind. We wish you the same and more!

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  66. Jane and lance, I'm happy for you you've made a connection such as this, with Paul and Gil. You're right, such a connection doesn't come along very often.
    It's inspiring to know people who 'stretch' themselves, yet who can do so without making those around them feel there's a competition going on. Your friends appear not to take themselves too seriously, and to do what they do with a light touch.

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    1. Following on to your previous comment and our reply [see above], Faisal, it is the 'light touch', as you so aptly put it, possessed by friends such as Paul and Gil which endears one to them. In friendship there can be no competition.

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  67. Blessed the ones to be touhed by extraordinary people...

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    1. This is so very true, Demie. And may we all always be surrounded by extraordinary people.

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  68. What a wonderful, extraordinary and immensely satisfying connection to have made.

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    1. Connecting with people with shared interests is always a joy as we are certain that you find too.

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  69. Wow, they are living my dream life!!! Must read Gervais's book about gardening in Tuscany!

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    1. We really do recommend 'A Garden in Lucca' to you as an excellent and fascinating read.

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  70. Such a lovely post. It is wonderful to know people who leave such a positive impact on our lives. Beautiful! Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my blog. I appreciate your visits!

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    1. Yes, some people really do add a positive energy to life and it is incredibly uplifting to know them and connect with them.

      We very much enjoy our visits to 'In My Wild Eden' as you have such an original view on life and a deep love of Nature which comes through all your writing.

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  71. It's a wonderful feeling and very satisfying to be blessed to connect with individuals. How fortunate the four of you are to have this wonderful relationship with each other.

    Having just received my masters degree in library, I was dying over all the books in your photos!

    Have a lovely weekend.

    Mary

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    1. We do so agree with all that you write here about friends and friendships, Mary. Human contact does, we believe, count above all else in life.

      Congratulations on your masters degree in library. We suspect that you have a keen interest in books!!

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  72. You are lucky to lead a very interesting life surrounded with equally interesting people. I think Dementia is such a sad illness, it takes away a lot of love and memories too. The book as you describe it looks really a good read.

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    1. Dementia really is the most alarming of illnesses, Ann, as much for those who care as for the sufferer. We should certainly recommend 'Extraordinary People'.

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  73. What a great connection to have made. An interesting post. I have met many people who I think are extraordinary, though they may not appear so to others. Have a great Sunday. Diane

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    1. It is the individuality of the individual which matters in life, Diane, or so we believe. We trust that you too are having an enjoyable weekend.

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  74. Do you wonder about all the people whose paths crossed yours, however briefly? I can't help but ponder where the folk who've passed into and out of my life are now. But none were as interesting as the friends you describe here :)

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    1. Yes, Annie, we do often wonder about this. When we moved abroad, inevitably some contacts were lost and we have many regrets about this. It is only the absence of friends which we miss about England, we have to say, but we have been most fortunate to make new friendships which is a happy compensation.

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  75. Hi Jane and Lance,
    Gil and Paul seem like such warm people; love the library and think I could be lost in there for decades.
    As to dementia...such a sad disease, it robs everyone. Dave's Mother spent the last six of her eight years with us and we watched her dementia become worse and worse as the days advanced.

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    1. Like you, dearest Sandra, Gil and Paul are very warm and welcoming people.

      We cannot imagine living without books and, in the course of our lifetimes, the books do seem to have accumulated to enormous proportions. We can never bear to part with them.

      Dementia, as you say, is such an unkind illness. It is the loss of respect for the individual concerned and the communication gap which ever widens that are so distressing.

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  76. Dear Jane & Lance~ Your lovely and very eloquent ode to the differing varieties of friendships and aquaintances could not have been better expressed, nor could this post have been a more touching tribute to your dear and special friends...they and you are very blessed to have each other!

    I loved the peak at your wonderful gardening books...it must be so special to have your friends beautiful book sitting amongst them, such a treasure.
    At the moment, I'm completely immersed in the whimsical gardening world of Beverley Nichols, and am slowly collecting his books to become a part of our garden library.
    He was actually discussing 'Moss' a few chapters back, and I felt that we made somewhat of a connection...the timing couldn't have been more perfect! Do you know his writing?

    All the best to you both...and thank you for sharing your friends with us all...and happy Moss growing!
    xo J~

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    1. Thank you, Jessica, for your kind and generous comment.

      Yes, we do know of the writing of Beverley Nichols and have collected most of his books as first editions over the years. They do make a jolly read as well as containing much sound and practical gardening advice.

      As for the 'moss', well, you know what they say about rolling stones...!!!!

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    2. Well, now I'm just jealous! Fist editions of Mr. Nichols' books definitely place me in the catagory of coveting...maybe if I don't gather an moss as I roll down the road of his enchanting writings...I too will one day be able to have a few...and signed! :)
      xo J~

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    3. He is just one of a number of writers who have appealed to us over the years. Not great prose, rather as you say 'whimsical', but nevertheless engaging.

      And if you do not already know her, then we are sure that you would enjoy Margery Fish starting with 'We Made a Garden'. Highly readable.

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  77. I'm not much of a gardener but very appreciative of others efforts. What a wonderful life Mr C and Mr G seem to live. Although I'm sure there is alot of work done at Villa Massei, and certainly Mr C's efforts in the community are really praiseworthy. He sounds fantastic

    I love the teddy bear too

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    1. Whether one does or does not garden oneself, there is, as you say, something of a work of Art that one can appreciate in a garden which works well. Certainly, the garden at the Villa Massei we should include in our top ten gardens of all time.

      The teddy bear is one of a small collection which we have from our childhoods, one of which still has its 'growl'!!!The others are propped up on a windowsill so that they can amuse anyone passing by!

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  78. What an extraordinary life you lead!
    In my life, I have come to associate the duality of a creative mine with social consciousness...

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    1. This is a most interesting thought. Yes, we would certainly concur that those who do have creative minds are acutely aware of everything around them and so do develop a social conscience as a result.

      Thank you for your comment and we do hope that we may welcome you here again.

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    2. Opps on the first cimment…I meant MIND. I love reading what you are up to!

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  79. Thank you, dear Jane and Lance, for stopping by!
    I hope the coming week is a joyful one for you...
    with many fascinating adventures ;)
    As we come to sweet summer's end, I am trying to spend as much time outside as possible...but today we are heading to the Art Institute for what is the largest collection of Rembrandt works ever assembled in the U.S.
    Rather exciting!
    Take care, sweet friends...
    - Irina

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    1. It is always an enormous pleasure for us to read your posts, Irina.

      How wonderful to have the opportunity of visiting such an exhibition as the Rembrandt one. Now that is something we really do envy you. We are sure that it will be marvellous. Most exciting indeed!!!

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  80. Such friends are indeed to be treasured. The photographs of the books, singly and arrayed, are endlessly appealing.

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    1. Books always hold a fascination for us. They do reveal so much, we feel, about the natures of their 'owners'.

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  81. Ah good, I can comment again.

    You are indeed fortunate to be good friends with a wonderful couple like these two. There are few people one meets whom one takes to whole-heartedly.

    Now I have to find out about them, you realise that, don't you.

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    1. We are not in the least surprised to read that you will now be busy at some detective work to find out more. Indeed, we are delighted that we have intrigued you sufficiently to want to delve deeper.

      We take it from your first sentence that you have been experiencing blogger problems. There always seems to be a technical hitch these days. We have been unable to manage our reading list for months.....such is life in Blogland!!

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  82. Wouldn't it be fantastic to have your own published books to show friends? Not journal articles in obscure, academic journals; not chapters in edited volumes; not self published blogs. I would be so proud :)

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    1. As we feel sure that you yourself will know, there is a great thrill in seeing one's work published. Like you, we absolutely discount self published blogs!!

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  83. Your words and candour - a great reminder to me that we touch everyone (however briefly and in whatever manner) we meet... important stuff! Since we are all we really have. When I lost my father (or should I say when he passed on) we buried him in comfortable sleeping attire and placed letters in his front breast pocket. Letters filled with love and grief and memories and longing. He could take these with him, in the metaphorical sense, but nothing else - no stuff, no money, no possessions. It really is true... we are the greatest gift we can give anyone.

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    1. And how we 'touch' the lives of others is also important.

      The way in which you included letters at the burial of your father is, we think, most touching and also very meaningful. We very much like the idea of his taking all of your continuing love out of this life with him.

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  84. Dear Jane and Lance,

    It feels so strange sitting behind my laptop again, leaving commens. It's like I have been away for ages, but it's only three weeks!!

    I am so very jealous of the lovely time you had in Tuscany and Krakow ;-) The house and surrounding countryside look amazing and your two hosts really special. Imagine to have written a book......You must have had so much in common to talk about with your love of literature and gardening. I will see if I can find the book on the internet.

    Our house is still a mess with teacups, plates and handbags everywhere. Jan is in despair!! How am I ever going to get rid of this :-)!

    Love,

    Madelief x

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    1. Dearest Madelief, we have missed you! It seems a positive age since we were last in touch and now our imaginations are running wild with thoughts of every available surface in your house covered with china and other goodies from your travels. Nothing for it but to open a shop!

      We had the most wonderful of times in Krakow and Lucca. Both very different experiences and yet so many similarities that it was almost uncanny. And yes, Paul and Gil are the most charming and thoughtful of hosts. How we wished that we could simply move in with them.....but we are sure that they would have had a different view!!

      Welcome back!!

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  85. A beautifully written piece of friendship there in black and white, backed up by 178 comments. Lovely.

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    1. Thank you for your kind and generous comment, number 179 and very much appreciated. Beautiful friendships are hard to come by and all the more precious because of it we think.

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  86. Paul sounds like a fascinating person to know. Love his stacks of books.

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    1. Paul and Gil are both wonderful people and we feel ourselves very privileged to be able to call them friends. We love books as, we are certain, so do you!

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  87. Greetings Jane and Lance,
    Sincere apologies in my delay in commenting on your latest posting. I was determined to stay away from a computer during my latest outing. However, now that I have returned, behold, an eagerly anticipated response from me.
    Your heartfelt caring for your dear friends, resonates within this thoughtful posting. Paul and Gil, friends to be cherished, indeed.
    All the best and peace be with you.
    With respect and good wishes, Gary

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    1. Gary, there is never a need to apologise. You are always welcome here at any time and there is never an obligation. What is more, we fully understand the need on occasion to absence oneself from the computer - we certainly do!!

      Yes, Paul and Gil are wonderful friends to have.

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  88. Hello Jane and Lance, It was a pleasure to read your last few posts of days of warmth, sunlight, friendship and beauty. Time well spent gaining new insights and experiences must be sought out...and in such settings as Prague and Villa Massei, will take on the patina of fine art in the years to come. Thank you for sharing these lovely memories.

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    1. Thank you so much, Carol, taking the time and trouble to go back over previous posts. We have certainly had a very busy but pleasurable time recently and are now keenly anticipating a trip to Venice.

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  89. This is a very thought provoking post, and has made me ponder the people that have come and gone through my own adult life which, for the most part, has been spent behind the bars of London pubs. I know exactly what you mean by some relationships being thankfully brief, but how others have become part of your own life.

    Gil & Paul are obviously those sort of people: poetry, literature, social conscience, love of beauty in nature, and white spaces filled with Art. They are definitely my kind of people.

    Your photos perfectly illustrate this ode to those extraordinary people in our lives.

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    1. We can well imagine that you have in your own life, and particularly through your work, come across a wide variety of people, many of whom must, we are sure, have been most interesting and, most likely, unusual. For we see you with those sorts of people.

      Paul and Gil are exceptionally good friends and are cultured in a way which, increasingly, it is difficult to find. We do hope that you have had, or even are having, the most wonderful time with your friends in France.

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  90. How lucky you are to know these two extraordinary people.....I wish I did! (O:

    xo

    Jo

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    1. We agree. We count ourselves very fortunate to be able to call Paul and Gil friends.

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  91. What an extraordinary place to visit. Wonderful pictures. I love a home filled with books whether it is a villa or not. But of course, a 'villa' has a special allure. Just the sound of the word leads to all sorts of fanciful thoughts.

    You are indeed fortunate, Jane and Lance, to have such inspiring friends and gorgeous homes to visit. As always, thanks so much for sharing. :)

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    1. We do count ourselves as very fortunate indeed to be able to count Paul and Gil amongst our friends. As you say, a home filled with books is always enchanting and to be able to browse amongst the titles is a fascination.

      Yes, we agree, the word 'Villa' does have a special appeal. And, when the Villa in question is a renaissance hunting lodge, then all kinds of romantic images instantly spring to mind.

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  92. Extraordinary people, four of them I imagine, enjoyed the time spent together at Villa Massei among the gardens and charged atmosphere. I have found that the extraordinary people have a passion for life and an enthusiasm that radiates. Certainly, the Hattatts brought their special brand of "extraordinary" to the meeting.

    There are people we meet along the way who have a lasting impact and hopefully a bonding friendship. Thank you for sharing the refined setting filled with art and conversation among good friends.

    I have been away and almost missed before your next posting. Many thanks for your "extraordinary" inspirations.

    Bises,
    Genie

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    1. Dearest Genie, you do say the kindest and sweetest of things. It is true that when one meets people with a zest for life and all it offers, it does charge oneself with an enthusiasm for even the simplest things. Paul and Gil are exactly those kind of people and it is pure joy to spend time with them.

      We hope that you have enjoyed a restful and relaxing time away and that, perhaps, we may hear of some of your adventures via your wonderful blog.

      Happy weekend!

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  93. This is wonderful, you write with such passion and care. Thank you for sharing! Minerva x

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    1. This is exceedingly kind and generous of you. And we are so pleased that you have enjoyed this post. Thank you too for signing up as our latest Follower. You are most welcome.

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  94. Beautiful places give great pleasure, Jane and Lance, but without the presence of unique and precious individuals, they are ultimately mere landscape. I love your deeply affectionate portrait of two very special friends in their wonderful setting.

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    1. What you say here is so very true, Perpetua, and something of which we all need reminding from time to time. Both Gil and Paul are very special people and we do think of ourselves as very fortunate to count them as close friends.

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  95. I can see why you feel they are special. I love meeting interesting and cultured people now, but I also think it was particularly helpful when young to meet people who had carved out interesting lives for themselves. It illuminated the possibilities.

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    1. Yes, Jenny, you are so right about the amazing influence such extraordinary people can have upon the young. Sadly, we think back and regret not making the most of some wonderful opportunities which presented themselves when we were much younger. Oh, the folly of youth!

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