travel

Tolochenaz, Switzerland

‘For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others, for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.’

In 2019, I managed to tick off the number one item on my bucket list. I finally, after years of idolising Audrey Hepburn, took the journey off the beaten track to Tolochenaz, Switzerland, where she spent the final thirty years of her life. I’m still in a state of disbelief that I managed to visit the tiny little town, and can’t believe I am even writing this blog post. I can honestly say that Tolochenaz is one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited and can certainly see the charm it held for Audrey and why she chose to spend the latter years of her life there.

From Geneva, we took a train to Morges and visited the local Migros to pick up a bouquet of flowers for Audrey’s graveside: I chose a vibrant yellow bunch of roses. We then waited for the 703 bus toward Lussy-sur-Morges and took the 10 minute journey to the village, getting off at Place Audrey Hepburn. As we meandered down the windy road into Tolochenaz, I spotted the monument in the middle of the tiny square: a statue and plaque commemorating Audrey’s life, and I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to jump off and see up close. We ran over to the square and had a look at the plaque, with words from her son, Sean Hepburn-Ferrer. The statue of her face is scarily realistic, and such an amazing recognition of her presence in Tolochenaz. There was the loveliest little water fountain next to the statue, offering a peaceful soundtrack to the quaint town.

509635A6-C2D7-4340-A6A8-72C582C73959

We decided to explore the town itself before heading to the cemetery, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. The whole time that we spent in the village, we did not see a single other person. Normally, I would find this slightly eerie but in this instance, it felt peaceful and relaxing. The village is quintessentially Swiss, with a range of charming terraced houses, small cottages and houses with thatched roofs. A rainy day, most of the local business were closed, however we passed a lovely coffee shop and the one and only restaurant in Tolochenaz that looked typically-Swiss and extremely cute! The town was extremely rural with gorgeous views of Lac Leman in the distance, framed by the snow-capped alps, one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen.

We wandered up the hill to La Paisible, the house where Audrey lived for the last thirty years of her life. Surrounded by high walls and greenery, the top of the house peeped over, giving us an insight into her home. With blue shuttered windows and a thatched roof, it was just as quaint and charming as the photos suggested. We were sure to be as respectful and quiet as possible, as there are now new owners of the house who live there, but it was so exciting to be able to see where she lived and raised her children! There is also a plaque on the outside of the house commemorating her time there.

Finally, we walked five minutes further up the hill and through the underpass to visit Tolochenaz Cemetery, where Audrey is buried. It offered beautiful views of both Lac Leman and Tolochenaz itself, and right behind the cemetery is the famous buttercup field where a lot of photos were taken of Audrey, so that was lovely to see. The cemetery is very small, no more than 20 people laid to rest there, so it was easy to find Audrey. Her grave is utterly beautiful, and adorned with photos, gifts and trinkets from fans of all nationalities. I honestly couldn’t believe I’d finally got to explore the town and see her resting place, it felt like a huge privilege and my roses looked lovely on her grave. Despite it being so rainy, it was an amazing day and one that I will never forget.

6DEED19A-F3B3-4C46-970E-6A52268B16F0

grace-2

books

Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

The first time I wrote about Milk & Honey was in the first ever edition of my Wishlist series, which you can read by clicking here. There was much hype surrounding the book, the implications and meanings of the poetry and almost every female within a 30 mile radius had this book in hand. Shortly after writing my wishlist post, I actually went on to buy the book. I’ve had it for a few months now, and read and re-read it I would say over ten times. I have completely fallen in love with Kaur’s prose, but I didn’t want to write a post on the book until I felt completely compelled to: until I understood the meanings and intentions behind her work, and until I felt like I could do the book justice. I think the time has come!

Firstly, I want to comment on the appearance of the book, how beautiful is the cover? I suppose it’s arguable that the book itself doesn’t affect the content: ‘do not judge a book by it’s cover’ etc, but it just looks so super pretty on my bookshelf. It had a matte black cover which feels so luxurious, and the monochrome colour scheme with a hint of honey-gold is both appropriate and gorgeous. I know it doesn’t affect the skill of Kaur’s words and the effect they have on the reader, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as a beautiful, well constructed book.

While on the topic of appearance, I’d also like to comment on the illustrations of the book. They aren’t the epitome of art; they aren’t super detailed, but they are functional, simple, and through this, become skilful and almost beautiful. The way in which the images seem to be hand-drawn almost with a ballpoint pen, makes the words even more relatable to everyday life, makes the pages adaptable to your own personal situations. Much like her words, the images are so simple that they take on their own beauty.

But now for the actual book itself: the ‘poetry.’ I quote the word ‘poetry’ because I’m not sure how far to argue that Kaur’s words do classify in this genre. Of course, the words themselves are not a novel, they do not progress into a storyline of such, but they do not seem to follow a metric, they do not form a conventional form of poetry. I’ve read much critique of Kaur’s work because of this, but isn’t this what makes the book unique, beautiful? The simplicity of her words and the uncomplicated nature of the structure, for me, is what makes the book so special. She is unapologetically brutal, she doesn’t miss a beat, and she talks of her themes with the utmost candour. For this, I have the utmost respect for Rupi Kaur. Anyone who is planning on reading this book should be aware of triggering topics such as sexual abuse and rape, topics of which she is very frank about. Her frankness and openness about such topics, are what make her a bold and incredible writer.

The book is split into four parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking and The Healing. It becomes almost a process; a cycle that I’m sure every woman has experienced or will experience at least once in her life. I love every part just as much as each other but I would say that The Healing is my favourite, it’s both empowering and reassuring. Below I have left some of my favourite quotes from each section. I fully recommend purchasing this book and giving it a read, you won’t be disappointed.

The Hurting

‘A daughter should not have to beg her father for a relationship’ (28)

‘I was made heavy: half blade and half silk, difficult to forget and not easy for the mind to follow’ (30)

‘the thing about having an alcoholic parent is an alcoholic parent doesn’t exist, simply an alcoholic who could not stay sober long enough to raise their kids’ (39)

‘you tell me quiet down cause my opinions make me less beautiful, but I was not made with a fire in my belly so I could be put out’ (30)

The Loving

‘I want to be so complete I could light a whole city and then I want to have you cause the two of us combined could set it on fire’ (59)

‘You might not have been my first love but you were the love that made all the other loves irrelevant’ (63)

‘you look like you smell of honey and no pain, let me have a taste of that’ (66)

‘how do you turn a forest fire like me so soft I turn into running water’ (65)

The Breaking

‘don’t mistake salt for sugar: if he wants to be with you he will, it’s that simple’ (85)

‘I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself’ (95)

‘I am a museum full of art but you had your eyes shut’ (100)

‘I had to leave, I was tired of allowing you to make me feel anything less than whole’ (107)

‘You cannot leave me and have me too, I cannot exist in two places at once – when you ask if we can still be friends’ (136)

The Healing

‘Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself’ (153)

‘If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise’ (156)

‘fall in love with your solitude’ (161)

‘your body is a museum of natural disasters, can you grasp how stunning that is?’ (173)

‘the world gives you so much pain and here you are making gold out of it – there is nothing purer than that’ (185)

grace-2