Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Turkey Cafe, and Solitude

This is one of the buildings in Leicester that caught my attention on Sunday. I guess it must be pretty well-known because one of my commenters yesterday asked if I'd seen it. Built in 1901, it's the Art Nouveau-style Turkey Cafe.

It even has its own Wikipedia page. It's a protected building and now serves as a restaurant, though it didn't seem to be open when we were there, so we didn't go in.

I love the mosaic turkey on the roof, made with Royal Doulton ceramic tiles.

Things are finally starting to settle down around here. Ever since Singapore my life has been in a bit of an uproar, with our visiting guest, our trip to Leicester and my efforts to finish as much Bleeding London as possible by today's deadline. Not to mention work. That too. I haven't had much time to read blogs (or even the news) so I must apologize to my blog pals. I promise I will catch up with all of you ASAP!

I read a terrific piece in Harper's this month about solitude -- a writing life lived singly -- and it really resonated with me. I lived almost my entire adult life as a single man, until age 42, and I appreciated author Fenton Johnson's take on the creative rewards of being alone. Don't get me wrong -- I treasure my relationship with Dave, and fortunately we have the kind of bond that allows each of us to do his own thing, so I am not bereft of solitude even now. In fact I'm arguably even more solitary than I was when I was single, no longer pulled by the social whirl and the romantic ebb and flow of various crushes and casual dates.

But I always enjoyed my singlehood, and Johnson's piece was thought-provoking in questioning the cultural tide that pulls us toward pairing up. Especially those of us who tend to be creative, cerebral types. I do need to continue to make quiet time for myself. Bleeding London serves that purpose now -- it gives me a chance to walk, all by myself, with just my thoughts and my camera and my creative impulses. Aloneness in general soothes me and makes me much less cranky. Some people find it a curse but I find it a refuge.

Dave feels the same way. I know he enjoys being alone at home, when he can fling ingredients in the kitchen or putter in the garden. (Why is "putter" a word exclusively reserved for gardens? Do people ever "putter" in the living room or the den?)

Speaking of which, Dave spent a lot of time in the garden yesterday. He finally put our pathetic lemon tree in the ground, or at least the remaining twiggy bits, in the hopes that it will somehow survive. (Odds are long.)

Is it my imagination or does that turkey have unrealistically huge feet?

Olga is enjoying having us at home this week. She got two outings yesterday -- a morning romp in the cemetery with me and an afternoon walk with her dog-walker. (We haven't cancelled the dog-walker, even though we're home all week. It's nice to farm that task out, especially when I'm hoofing it with the camera.)

It's super-windy out there this morning. The daffodils are taking a beating!


  1. I hope the daffs and the lemon tree survive...

  2. I enjoyed that essay in Harper's very much. Thanks for pointing it out.

    My Irish father-in-law always pottered in the garden and in the greenhouse, but puttered in the shed with his tools and bits and pieces, often tut-tutting as he went along.

  3. I, too, need lots of solitude. And my husband does go off frequently to hunt and fish and in fact, is packing up right now. I have to fight the tendency to just stay here in Lloyd though. I have this fear that some day he'll come back to find me sitting in a chair, covered in mold.
    Not a good image.
    I love the The Turkey Cafe! What a gorgeous building!

  4. I definitely putter in my apartment all the time. I'm thinking again how great it must be to have a garden in the city tho. I cherish my alone time too, especially when I know congenial company will be coming home at the end of it.

  5. I've always been pretty much of a loner but I'm not sure if it is inherent or learned behavior. we moved to a pretty isolated neighborhood when I was about 6 or 7 and I spent a good deal of time alone. even now, my husband and I spend most of our time separately only coming together for meals and in the evenings. he likes to sit and read and I like to be outside or working on some new art piece.

  6. The Turkey Café is a truly amazing sight. A photographers delight for sure. I loved your comments on solitude. I'll try to find that Harper's article and read it. I've always enjoyed being alone and I don't remember a time I didn't enjoy doing things on my own.

  7. I have to have some alone time too or I can't be civil to anyone. I used to complain that I never got to spend any time alone in our home (back when Mike was in school - he was always home when I was), but now I get lots of time by myself in the house. I luxuriate in it :)

  8. Yes thank you for pointing out the Harper's article, Steve. That sort of thing has been on my mind a lot of late (it always is, actually), so I look forward to reading it.

    Also, we have in common the lemon tree recently planted. I killed a beautiful one in our front yard last year by over-pruning. It was doing just fine and had just yielded over 100 lemons. I cried like a madwoman when I realized what I'd done. I just planted a new one in the old spot, and it seems very happy.