This is a time to reflect. As the old year fades into precious memories, and the new is yet an "untravell'd world", we find ourselves on this winter's night in contemplative mood, our thoughts roaming back and forth over what has been and what lies ahead.
|caught in the convex - Jane and Lance Hattatt with Carol Duke [photographer]|
Most recently, of course, has been the joy of Christmas followed by the jollity of a New Year shared here in Budapest with friends from Germany. But before that, rather in the manner of the eponymous Alice, we found ourselves falling through the mirrored waters of Venice in late November to delight in all that that most seductive of cities has to offer.
|mirrored in the Monaco Hotel, Venice by Carol Duke - Jane and Lance Hattatt|
|seen in the looking glasses of a Venetian shop - photograph by Carol Duke|
Together with our very dear friend, Carol, we yet again stood in awe and wonder before the Tintoretto paintings in the Church of Santa Maria dell' Orto, wept for the eyes of Saint Lucy in the magnificence of the Capella Chapel of the Church of Santi Apostoli, traversed the Stations of the Cross as painted by a youthful Domenico Tiepolo in 1747 inside the mediaeval San Polo and then, some 150 years later, with the painterly eye of Carol, followed in the footsteps of Ruskin, revisiting 'The Stones' where once he himself had gone.
|one of the 'Stations of the Cross' as painted by Domenico Tiepolo and photographed by Carol Duke|
Another day, on the terrace of The Hotel Monaco - Grand Canal, we sipped coffee and watched the light playing on a rising lagoon, spied idle gondoliers at cards and then, a lone threesome, we danced amongst the mirrored halls upstairs of the old ridotto, Venice's first State-run gambling house.
|one of the many mirrored halls to be found in the old ridotto upstairs in The Monaco Hotel|
Once more in Budapest we delighted in the magical performance of 'Eugene Onegin' danced by the Hungarian National Ballet Company as part of a glittering evening, for a magnificent dinner came later, hosted by the most generous of friends, Marianne. Further trips to the Opera, dinner parties at home, with friends, in restaurants, a concert or two and, most naughtily, late night revelries in the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel with our darling and indomitable friend, Richard, finally brought the year to a close.
|late night in the Four Seasons Hotel with friend Richard Adams and a selection of puddings|
|leaving a restaurant on a very wet night in December 2012 - Lance Hattatt with two friends|
As for the present. And how privileged we are to have Dávid Nagy of the Bard Conservatory Orchestra of New York State as a friend for through him we have met such an exciting group of young musicians whose outstanding talent, combined with a liveliness and intelligence of mind, will ensure, without a shadow of doubt, the resounding success of their European Tour.
|Dávid Nagy of the Bard Conservatory Orchestra in our Budapest drawing room this January|
So, as the year begins to unfold, so the pages of the shiny, red-bound 2013 diary start to fill. There are Private Views listed, nights at the Opera booked, dinner parties arranged, concert tickets finalised, artists' studios to be explored, whilst beyond the borders of Hungary invitations wing in from Lucca, Milan, Rotterdam, Berlin, Munich and the sunny slopes of Provence.
|Jane and Lance Hattatt seen stepping out into a new year photographed by Carol Duke|
And for now a thought, no more than a whisper, for we hardly dare to breathe those most exciting and persuasive of words even to ourselves: The United States of America.