Flowers for Isolation

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca

The week started out so well.

Or maybe I should say last week ended well. This week was a nightmare.

Last Saturday my SO and I got the first of our AstraZeneca COVID vaccines! What a relief that was– the first bit of light at the end of a long, long tunnel. I had very mild side effects that didn’t last long. He didn’t have any side effects. We’re looking forward to our second doses.

I think it was Monday that I found out my entire family had either tested positive for COVID, or was exposed to it. Let me tell you, it’s a special kind of feeling of isolation to hear that nearly all the people you care about in the world have contracted or might contract a deadly and debilitating illness. I don’t recommend it. And my family aren’t covidiots, by any means; it was a real shock to hear the news.

But speaking of the people you care about in the world, on Wednesday my SO was hit with a non-COVID health issue. Because those haven’t taken a pause during the pandemic. And we then discovered the fun of trying to get medical care during a lockdown (he managed to connect with a doctor and avoid a trip to the ER, thankfully).

So, things have been stressful lately. In light of that I decided to share some pictures I’ve taken of spring flowers, because flowers make me feel better. If you’ve also had a rough week, maybe they’ll make you feel better too…

Cherry Blossoms

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, cherry blossoms, sakura, photography, covid, astrazeneca

Magnolia

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, magnolia, magnolias, photography, covid, astrazeneca

Daffodils

Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Flowers in Isolation, blog post with photos by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com, spring, daffodils, narcissus, photography, covid, astrazeneca
Photo by Maria Tyutina on Pexels.com (I didn’t take this one but I’m using it because my photos are too disorganized for me to find all the daffodil photos I did take!)

What makes you feel better when things haven’t been going your way? Share in the comments.

Studies have shown that books fight stress. Download some stress relief today:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords (all formats), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
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If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Stay safe and happy May 1st,

Aspasía S. Bissas

10 Inspiring Attic Libraries

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com, france, paris
Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels.com

I’ve never had a proper attic anywhere I lived, the kind where it’s a large, open space with a high, sloping ceiling and at least one window (in newer buildings “attics” tend to be windowless crawlspaces full of insulation). But I was always fascinated by these spaces. The ones I’d see on TV always seemed mysterious, full of treasures (and dust), maybe a little creepy. I didn’t really start coveting an attic of my own until I realized they could be renovated. The potential seems unlimited for these private bonus spaces, something these attic owners clearly got.  Here are some of my favourite attic libraries, as found around the internet….

  1. I love the floor, as well as the shelves reaching the ceiling. It also looks like there’s plenty of good light for settling in with one of those books.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

2. With stained glass windows and a cozy place to sit, I can picture myself here with a good book and a cup of tea.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

3. This goes to show that no space is too small to turn into something great. As long as you can fit a comfy chair, a bookcase, and some lighting, you have a library.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

4. Though it’s a little dark, I love this attic library. It looks like a room you could happily live in (or at least, I could).

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

5.  Lots of good light, piles of books, cushy floor pillows, and a cup of coffee or tea. What’s not to love?

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

6. Not as many books as there could be, but this is a cozy, elegant library. The ladder is a nice touch too.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

7. This is such a fun, bright space. There’s also good lighting, an excellent choice of seating, ample shelves, and a chandelier. When can I move in?

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

8. This looks like a nice room in which to sit, read, and ignore the world. The window over the couch must offer some great lighting too. I’d love to be here on a rainy day.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

9. I wish I could have found a better photo because I love this library. The red walls, the woodwork, and the Gothic-arch-esque shape around the window give it a Harry Potter feel. I imagine this is what a castle attic would be like.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

10. If I’d had this library during the pandemic, I think lockdown would have been a lot more pleasant. Even without a pandemic, I think it would take a lot to get me to ever leave.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com

Bonus Library: Apparently this is a still from the movie Knives Out. I haven’t seen it, but kudos to the set designer– this is probably the perfect attic library. Books, art, cozy seating, great architecture, and a desk and computer.  This is the room library lovers’ dreams are made of.

10 Inspiring Library Attics, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, book collection, decorating, decor, home, home library, attic, attic reno, attic design, aspasiasbissas.com, knives out

Which attic library was your favourite? Are you lucky enough to have one of your own? Share in the comments…

Looking for something to read in your (real or imagined) attic library? I’ve got you covered…

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Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Lavender Fields

One of my longtime dreams was to visit the lavender fields of Provence. In my mind, nothing could be more romantic; it was like a fairytale you could experience, something magical. And in 2015 I was lucky enough to finally be able to go. With surreal blue skies, cypress trees, castles, hills, Roman structures (some still in use so they can’t be called ruins), and, of course, lavender fields, Provence really is magical. When I was there my guide (Elodie of Provence Authentic) told me the fields are disappearing as farmers replace them with more profitable grapevines, which would be like Paris taking down the Eiffel tower to put up highrises. If you ever have a chance to visit the Luberon, the region where these fields were located, take it– while the lavender, and so much of the magic, is still there.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

By the way, the smell was incredible. Forget whatever you think lavender smells like– there’s nothing like an entire sun-warmed field of these flowers.

In the next photo, you can just make out a castle on the hill in the background. Apparently it once belonged to the Marquis de Sade. When I was there it was owned by designer Pierre Cardin, who was raising money to restore it. I wonder how that went…

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The flowers in this field haven’t quite opened yet. Lavender blooms in the Luberon from June until August, depending on location and type of lavender.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The farm’s name, “La Savonnade” means soap. By the way, “lavender” comes from the French “lavendre,” meaning to wash.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Mallow flowers among the lavender.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Surrounded by lavender fields is the lush green garden of the world’s luckiest homeowner. I wonder how they feel about unexpected houseguests…

Some local wildlife…

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Before we left, we moved l’escargot off the road to more pleasant surroundings.

Have you visited any lavender fields, in France or anywhere else? Share in the comments…

Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by actual events (there aren’t any lavender fields, but there are vampires.)

Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

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Further Reading

Visiting Provence: Carpentras

Vampire’s Garden: Lavender

Note: All photos in this post are © Aspasía S. Bissas. They were originally shared on my other blog Whimsy Bower (click to see more photos there).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Visiting Provence: Carpentras

Since travelling right now is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us, I’m sharing pictures of my past trip to Provence, France. Why not be inspired by where we’ve been while we dream about where we’d like to go?

In June 2015, after years of drooling over pictures and other people’s stories, I finally had the chance to visit Provence. While I was there I stayed in Carpentras, a town in the Vaucluse region of Provence with a fascinating history, a fantastic weekly marché (market), and a name that’s really difficult to pronounce if you’ve never heard it before! Why didn’t this video exist five years ago?

It’s also the centre of the truffle trade for the region (unfortunately I was there too late for truffle season). I think it would take many visits at all different times of the year to fully appreciate Carpentras. For now, here are a few shots I took during my brief time there. Enjoy…

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The sign directs drivers to the paid parking ticket dispenser. Somehow it sounds better in French.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The mountain in the background is Mt. Ventoux, known for its white peaks, which are bare rock and not snow.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Love the random plants growing on the side of the building.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, provence, france, carpentras, vaucluse, architecture, travel, travelling, french tourism, avignon, whimsy bower, history, photography, aspasiasbissas.com

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The other end of the fountain features a female head.

My favourite part of Carpentras was probably the Roman arch (located behind the Palais de Justice). Provence actually has many Romans ruins and structures (farmers still use Roman-built aqueducts to water non-edible crops like lavender!) If I ever get to go back, I’m going to take a tour of all things Roman 🙂

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The side of the arch.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, provence, france, carpentras, vaucluse, architecture, travel, travelling, french tourism, avignon, whimsy bower, history, photography, aspasiasbissas.com
Palais de Justice (back view). You can see the Roman arch at the bottom, right.

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Carpentras also produces a local specialty called Berlingots:

Visiting Provence: Carpentras, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

They were invented by a candy maker who wanted to find a way to use the syrup left over from making candied fruit. Now Carpentras is known for them– make sure to pick some up if you ever get the chance.

What’s a favourite place you’ve visited? Share in the comments…

Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by a true story (did I mention there are also vampires?)

Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

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Note: All photos in this post (other than the one of the Berlingots) are © Aspasía S. Bissas. They were originally shared on my other blog Whimsy Bower (click to see more photos there).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

5 Dreamy Book Towns

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book lovers are dreamers. We dream of other worlds and other lives. We dream of what we just finished reading and what we’re going to read next. We dream of homes crammed with our book collections, libraries that never close, and cozy local bookshops where we can spend massive quantities of both time and money. And some book lovers dream of entire towns devoted to books and then make them a reality. Did you know there are dozens of book towns around the world (enough that one writer even wrote a book about them)? At a time when so many events have been cancelled and travel is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us, dreaming is more important than ever. Here are five book towns to dream about (and where one day, hopefully, you’ll be able to live your dreams).

Have you been to any book towns? Which are your favourites? Share in the comments…

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Probably the best known of all the book towns, and credited with inventing the concept, Hay-on-Wye is home to numerous book and antiques shops. It hosts the Hay Festival, a literary event that (normally) travels to other cities throughout the year (click the link to watch this year’s events online). There’s also a castle.

St. Pierre de Clages, Switzerland

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

A Medieval village, St. Pierre de Clages is Switzerland’s only book town. The town specializes in antiquarian booksellers, but that’s not all you’ll find there. They also host an annual book festival that’s described as a must for “book lovers, amateur readers, history buffs or fans of comic books.” (No word on what’s happening with the festival in 2020, but it’s probably safe to assume it’s cancelled.)

Featherston, New Zealand

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

One of the newer book towns, Featherston has already established itself as a place for book lovers. Its annual Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival, usually held in May, was postponed, but a Words in Winter event is currently taking place until August– key features include author talks and book signings.

Hobart, USA

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Located in the Catskills (New York), Hobart was essentially a ghost town not too long ago. Now it’s a dedicated book town with stores featuring books on topics ranging from American history and feminism to vintage cookbooks and craft books. Massive book sales are held on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, and Hobart also hosts their Festival of Women Writers (currently postponed but there may be virtual events).

Sidney, Canada

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Sidney is Canada’s only book town, as far as I can tell (something they’ve apparently been claiming since the 1990s). Located on beautiful Vancouver Island, Sidney bookstores include new, used, and antiquarian books on everything from military history to classic children’s fiction. There’s a special focus on local authors and culture, and many stores hold regular events. Most books are in English, but you can also find a good selection of Japanese and Chinese titles. There’s also the annual Sidney LitFest (returning in 2021).

These are just a few of the dozens of book towns that exist around the world (although most seem to be in Europe, hopefully this concept will catch on). You can find out about more book towns here and here.

Aspasía S. Bissas book covers png
If you’re looking for something to read until you can get to the nearest book town, download my books FREE…

Love Lies Bleeding: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books
Blood Magic: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books
Tooth & Claw: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

 

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas