Island Life ...

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The quiet roar of the waves breaking out on the reef may have woken me this morning.  Or the rooster that's still crowing as I write this, 6.40am Saturday, here in the Cook Islands.

The tide is in, I can see it through the trees at the bottom of the garden. 

The mosquitoes are awake.  Although I suspect the mosquitoes never sleep.

And slowly we're gathering on the terrace outside.  Paula came first, then Charlie - that gorgeous little 2 year we have visiting, with her Dad following when she reached the intended target of us.

So here we are,  just sitting around the big round table in the warm gentle tropical air, drinking coffee that isn't my beloved espresso but that does the job out here, on this beautiful island.

I received a small set of instructions when I arrived here and there was one that amused me.  It was about moving quickly when passing under a coconut tree.  Yesterday a coconut fell from one of the trees.  The thud was impressive. I see it is true.  Don't linger under a coconut tree ...  really.

We're off to the Market today.  To buy flowers and, perhaps, one more sarong for me.  I love the colours they come in, and some days, they're all that you can feasibly wear.  Humidity is high and the summer heat is strong.  My hair is a great big wild mess here.

This photo ... a scene from our first days here.  The dads and their kidlets were all hanging out on the lawn and I couldn't resist attempting this photograph.  

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Light ...

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I am fascinated by both the colours, and the light, I'm finding here in The Cook Islands.  It's beautiful, and runs from a bright lime green/yellow through into this golden tone.  

I suspect, as always, I could spend years attempting to capture all that I see on this light-drenched island.  

I wake, each morning, somewhere between 4.30 and 5.30am.  If not by 5.30, then the roosters wake me then as they crow  at sunrise, celebrating the arrival of the new day.

There are no exotic birds singing-in the day.  There are the roosters, with some squawks from the Mynah birds.  It makes me smile each morning.  How does the rooster dare and yet, why not. 

The chickens wander wild here.  They go from garden to garden, and can be seen everywhere.  But there are dogs too.  Simply wandering.  So friendly and quite attractive middle-sized healthy-looking hounds.  They  call in as they pass by,  they greet you as a friend, let you stroke them, then wander on ... tails and heads held high.  They have to be the happiest, most free dogs I have ever seen.

These are the ways I am getting to know this island.  Via its creatures, its plants and the light.

The mosquitoes, meanwhile, have made a battlefield of my lower legs.  Great big purple-through-pink welts cover me.  My arms and back too.  I finally woke to the carnage they were creating yesterday, making everyone laugh when I pulled on jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and socks with my jandals last night.  In the heat and humidity.

I need to heal.  They were remarkably painful last night but I hope that was the 'crisis' and healing has no commenced.

Based on my experiences in Istanbul and Piedmonte, I believe I have considered 'quite the fine wine' in mosquito circles.  They drank deep at the well of me.

There was a family photo-shoot on my first day here. I'm meeting some beautiful souls out here.

Ciao for now.

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Each Time ...

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Each time I visit another country, and slip into the lives of others, I expect it to be as simple as moving from one room to the next, or perhaps visiting a neighbour.

Sometimes I get so annoyed with myself for not making the transition smoothly.  For struggling with things being so different. 

This time I flew from Genova, with it's low of 7+ celsius to Aberdeenshire, with yesterday's -6 celsius.  I bemoaned that fact that I just couldn't get warm.  My feet were blocks of ice, those first 3 days, until well after lunch.  I fretted about running out of fire wood, had to be lured outside to walk the dog and take photographs in the snow, and just seemed to be taking a horribly long time to adjust to this place where Nature is absolute ruler.

What I was failing to understand was that this was the process of adjustment.  That it wasn't going to be easy to make the climate shift because most of the clothes in my suitcase are for the Southern Hemisphere summer I fly to next, and that made me uneasy.  But more than that, I was out of my comfort zone, out here in the silence of rural Scotland.

So here I am, nestling into my daughter's family and learning (as so many parents surely must) that she's not a mini-me.  She's her very own, strong and independent woman..  She took me out walking last night.  Just her and I, and Orin, the little wolf dog.  And finally I could feel that the air was soft, and quite gentle, and that the peace wasn't quite so peaceful but full of animal sounds, when we stopped moving to listen.  And that yes, the dark was quite dark, with no street lights or houses but it was fine too.  We could see enough, and we had a torch, so we could be seen.

This morning, my first two attempts at lighting the fire have failed but I'll get there.  I need to chop the logs down a bit more and make kindling but people are sleeping.  Yesterday's fire was a grand one ... in the end.  Although some Newbie errors happened, making me laugh as  seemed to be inhabiting a life not unlike Mr Bean's twin sister.  Fire alarms went off, vent knobs fell off ... you know.

Last night I made Persian Chicken and I'm sure that's some kind of revealing act in this life of mine.  Once I'm cooking, I've almost 'arrived'. 

And today, well I'm waiting but I do believe I'll be asking when we can go out for a walk  :-)

Best of all, I'm catching up with family and that is surely the whole reason for being here.

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On The Road Again ...

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I'm writing this from Aberdeenshire, up in Scotland.  I would like to write 'in the frozen north' but I would probably be accused of exaggerating.  In my defense, it's very frozen compared to Genova.

I crept down the stairs this morning, first one awake as usual, and saw it was -6 celsius.  I'm not good once the numbers dip that low ... others seem to thrive or, at very least, be impervious. 

I am on the road again, an epic journey but the story of how it all came about is tied up in work.  I fly from here to London, then London to Rarotonga.  I stop there a while, then fly on, to New Zealand,  home after 5 years away.

I am, so very much, lookind forward to seeing family and old friends.  Meanwhile I'm enjoying time with my daughter, and Miss 13 too, Sander, Orin the Romanian Rescue Dog and Lucy the Champion Vole Hunter  :-)




Where The Magic Happens ...

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The magic happens, sometimes, in that space where you break all the rules ... or accidentally bump the Mode setting onto another, entirely inappropriate, setting.

I love this photograph, taken with my Canon 5D MkII.  It seems like a water colour and is, perhaps, the only way my daughter would allow me to publish a photograph of her.

She's crouching, photographing her exquisite Romanian rescue dog.  Sahara and Sander are there too.  As is the snow.  

I'm up in Scotland today.  -6 celsius this morning, and frozen feet.

In huge news, for me, I managed to light the fire but while applauding my own cleverness, the vent knob fell off.  I went from feeling like Pioneer Woman to Ms Bean - Mr Bean's twin sister, in a heartbeat.

I opted to leave my slippers out of my packing and so,  feet masquerading as blocks of ice, are my new normal here in the north of Scotland.  I'm also missing my external harddrive, my hiking boots ... and my flatmates loved the Italian Christmas cake I left behind. 

I have never forgotten having to throw away quite a bit of my stuff, at the airport, for the flight between the UK and Italy.

Photographically, I am loving Scotland.  But in other ways struggling with the cold.  It seems I have softened in Italy.  That long hot Spring, Summer and Autumn in no way prepared me for this but but but ... it is so good to see family, to catch up on their news, to eat English food :-)

All of that.