Yesterday afternoon, in Manila living a Travelife, I have to admit that I had serious house envy.
I spent several very pleasant hours visiting friends who live in a lovely old house they’d renovated in a painstaking way, in Forbes Park.
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LETTING WAY TOO MUCH TIME PASS
It was my first time to visit them in this house as I’d been quite remiss about keeping in touch.
But when we finally did meet up yesterday, it was like no time had passed at all, even if way too much time really had.
These friends I've known forever live on one of the grandest streets in this grandest of neighborhoods in the city.
SIMPLE AND SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL
Their house is beautiful, but from the street it would not stand out in any major way amidst neighbors with positively palatial homes.
But in a heartbeat, I would take their home over all the rest because it’s so simple and pretty, and it blends in so well with nature.
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SO LIKE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
I can't accurately describe how beautiful it is, and also how comfortable it makes visitors instantly feel, except to say that it reminded me of houses that the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright had designed.
The use of wood and stone, and the way the house flows from the outside to inside to outside again, is simply vintage Frank Lloyd Wright.
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REMEMBERING A PRETENTIOUS RESTAURANT
Several years back, some friends from Tokyo and I had flown to Seattle for a week of good food and lots of nature.
We'd stayed in a lovely and highly-rated inn on a nearby island, which had an even more famous restaurant.
This was way before pricey restaurants in general became overly fussy about their food and their presentations.
I still remember how pretentious the chef had sounded talking about every ingredient that had gone into his cooking.
He lectured the entire dining room like a professor and began each sentence with "I did this," or "I did that," as if his cooking that night was going to change the world.
It was really very funny.
A GOLF HOLIDAY IN NORTH CAROLINA
After that, the guys had gone on a golfing holiday to North Carolina, and this involved two games a day and serious drinking afterwards.
Not my type of thing at all, so instead I'd booked a ticket from Seattle to Arizona on Southwest Airlines to spend a week by myself at the Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain, a contemporary spa that had just opened at that time.
I spent lots of time at the spa, reading books and re-learning how to play tennis.
DRIVING BY MYSELF TO TALIESIN WEST
One day I rented a car by myself and drove to Taliesin West, which was Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and headquarters, about an hour from Arizona's CBD. It was my very first time to rent a car all by myself and drive in the United States. But, as with everything else in life, it's small stuff like this that build up your confidence to take on other things.
This was another lifetime ago. And since then, I've rented cars by myself in other parts of the world, usually in between trips with friends, and driven around -- simply because I'd hurdled this first experience. Most recently, I'd rented a car in Lausanne, Switzerland and driven along Lake Geneva (known as Lac Leman to the locals) to the pretty spa town of Evian-Les-Bains in France. Then I drove back to Switzerland after three days to meet up with friends in Lausanne.
I was reminded of this trip and this visit yesterday, as I walked around my friend's home, where every corner made me think of Frank Lloyd Wright.
A HOUSE THAT'S PART OF NATURE
My friends really try to make their house work with nature.
They've devised a system for capturing rainwater for their garden, and they even have a big herb garden at the back.
Plus, they're growing bananas, pineapples and mangoes as well.
When I heard this, I couldn't help saying: "Wow, bananas from Forbes Park."
5K AROUND THE POLO CLUB
AND A TRAVELIFE REUNION DINNER
Soon after that, I left to do my daily 5K walking rounds around the Manila Polo Club.
And then I went home to cook a paella for a reunion dinner of one of our Travelife Sri Lanka groups on the other side of Forbes Park.
More on this dinner in my next blog entry, about my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.