Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunday Service

Well, we now seem to have our Sunday mornings sorted out. Unlike Saturdays, which are all about sitting around eating lots and stocking up on a day's supply of caffeine in a single sitting, Sunday mornings are all about culture. There's a little museum about five minutes walk from the house called the Museu da Casa Brasileira (museum of the Brazilian house) and we now pop in there whenever the weather is nice and sunny.

To be honest, the museum itself is no great shakes. It's about four rooms big and houses a collection of old furniture. One of the rooms contains all the really old stuff, although really old only goes back about three hundred years, and once you've seen one old chest of drawers, you've pretty much seen them all. The other rooms are more up-to-date and contain a few objects which are, presumably, Brazilian design classics from the 1960s. There are a few oddly-shaped chairs, a couple of over-ornate lamps and some intriguingly pointless tables, usually with fewer than the normal number of legs.

But the reason for enjoying the museum is not the exhibits, but the building itself. It's a beautiful old mansion, set in its own grounds and is easily the oldest building I've seen out here so far. But more importantly for us, it possesses a really nice little garden, open and sunny in the middle but with a winding path around the edge which is shaded by an interesting collection of trees from around the world. It may be pretty pathetic when compared to the Botanic Garden in Cambridge (which was our previous recreational park of choice) but to have any sort of green space, devoid of cars and dogs, within five minutes walk of the house here in São Paulo is really quite amazing.

There is also a nice little cafe/restaurant attached to the back of the museum which opens onto the garden so you can while away many a pleasant hour enjoying a lovely refreshing juice and just staring out at green things for a change. That's assuming you've gone there without the children. Otherwise, you can spend your time wandering round the garden as the guardian of armfulls of curiously-shaped sticks and twigs while your coffee goes cold back at your table.

The other good thing about the museum, and the reason we go there on Sunday, is that they host concerts on Sunday mornings. They have a performance space, covered, but also open to the garden, which can seat about two hundred people and when the music sounds promising the place is packed. The first time we went we were treated to some jazz which was a little bit too loud and a little bit too free form for my taste, and as the weather wasn't great there were not so many people there.

Last Sunday we had a small ensemble playing baroque works in a traditional manner and the place was full. But it's all quite informal so you can come and go as you please and get up and wander off into the garden if you want, or sit and have an early lunch while you listen. Next week, we have a solo guitarist and we'll definitely be going to that. We may even stay on for a bit of lunch and some twig collecting afterwards.

And while we're on the subject, the boys have been enjoying their own forays into the world of culture today. James spent the morning on a school trip to the St Paul's Episcopal Anglican Cathedral, where he got to meet two Royal British Legionaries who saw active service during the Second World War. The point of the trip was to learn something about the war from first-hand sources, but also, as it helpfully points out on the trip information sheet I'm copying this from, to improve their listening, interviewing and information gathering skills.

So we packed James off with a camera and let him take his own photos and here are a couple of the better ones.

But meeting the veteran was clearly the best thing that's happened to James all week. Having casually asked him what it was like I was treated to a ten-minute recap of every single little detail James could remember. He was particularly impressed with Michel (he was French) as it appears he spent several years as a teenage spy - very Alex Rider-esque - and as far as James is concerned, it doesn't get any better than that.

And while James was off honing his interview techniques I was being entertained by David in his class performance of The Ugly Duckling. Sadly, due to the fact that flash was not permitted, my photography today was no better than James' and I haven't really done the performance justice.

The yellow t-shirt was our one pathetic attempt at a costume and it was refreshingly pleasing to see that the other parents had clearly gone to about the same level of effort as us. The head pieces, however, were fantastic.

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