A Smaller, Quieter Life ...

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My days here, are so different from those beautiful days back in Genova.

I miss the bars, and the lovely people who worked there, making the best coffe in the world.

I miss the noise of the city, and the quiet of the medieval centre.

I miss the musicians, and the everyday presence of ancient places. I miss passing by people whose faces look like faces painted in 400 year old paintings. I miss good pasta and sauce, pizza and walking. 

I miss the Genovese.

BUT, I am learning to love hanging my laundry out on Dad's old clothes line, in the garden that smells of roses and all the other flowers he has there. And it makes me so happy to climb into my bed when thesheets smell of fresh air & sunshine. 

I love the sound of the birds ... one of the only sounds as I hung out my laundry at 7am this morning.

I was always passionate about driving ... about wandering, and so I am happy to be driving again. Even if I enjoyed the kilometres I walked on Genovese footpaths, and the buses and trains. And I'm not sure how to avoid weight gain, other than via that boring path called self-discipline.

Reading. I have just finished 3 books, one after another. Reading late into the night, just as I did as a child.

My espresso machine is making me happy, I just need to go find 'the' coffee. 

I love 32 celsius days (yesterday) and sitting here in the kitchen, back door open to the garden, and working. 

Mmmhmmm, I called the plumber today. The bathroom tap is broken and it has leaked for days now. 
Another thing to love, after a life lived in Europe, I phoned the plumber at 8.50am and he said, 'Okay, I'm doing a job just round the road, I'll come to you after it'. It was the same with the washing machine repair guy. That's quite marvelous really :-)

Here I am, just trying to find my balance again, in this smaller, quieter life that I'm living. 
Buona giornata ...

Foto: these chairs, were just there, in this ancient ruin in Genova. I had my photograph taken in one, and couldn't resist the beauty of this still-life moment, Genovese-style.

The Things An Imaginary Princess Might Do ...

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A woman who imagines she is a princess might arrive back in New Zealand, after so many years spent living elsewhere and, before she does almost anything else, she fails to resist the espresso machine being sold for below cost …

And is she ashamed?

No, she is not.

(Although she tried to be …)

I made my first espresso this morning, using Lavazza coffee, and it’s all been worth it.

Breakfast has long been my Holy Moment. It’s the only meal I truly love. Finding the precise ingredients, to make it Holy, in every country has been the Thing.

I love an espresso, I love good bread for toast, and butter too. And I’ve managed it in Turkey, in Belgium, in England and Italy but I was slow here, and suffered through some terrible coffee.

Life seems quite beautiful this morning.

Loneliness ....

I wrote a post, over on Facebook, about Loneliness ... 

But things have a habit of disappearing there.  It's the nature of FB.  Life scrolls on.  Perhaps it reappears at a memory in a year, or two but I wanted to keep this post because it seemed to really strike a cord in people.  

I wrote from the heart, and people responded from that place too.

It was this:

I have mostly been part of a tribe...
1 of 4 children, twice a wife, a mother, a stepmother, and a nonna too. And then I have had lovely circles of friends where ever I have lived. 
'T
ribes', made up of family & friends, are things that I appreciate so much, simply because I know I should never take them forgranted.

Out here, sometimes, the loneliness makes me leave the house, with my camera, and walk these ancient city streets. It has always been my way, since I was small, in New Zealand I sought out the beaches and rivers.  In Istanbul, I would cross the city on foot.  And anyway, out walking opens me up to seeing things I wouldn't see if I wasn't alone. It's double-edged sword perhaps.

But if I'm honest, I believe that even being part of a tribe can still leave a person feeling lonely sometimes.  Loneliness is interesting. I've been trying to just let it be ... knowing there are so many lonely people in the world. In or out of relationships, surrounded by family or completely alone. 

It makes me kinder. It makes me admire the older people I see, with their walking sticks and their slow shuffles, out shopping alone. I admire their courage. It makes me offer to help because I know I would appreciate it. And sometimes, like this morning, this lovely older woman and I ended up chatting ... about her sciatica.

But in Italy, in Genova, the people who perhaps understand most of all, are the barista's. I adore the ones I adore. Sometimes they save my day, after a night of bad dreams, when I wake alone in this life I am pursuing. Today, a lovely man gifted me a free espresso and gave me back my courage. It's that simple sometimes. It's that simple to be kind.

We don't talk of our loneliness. But we should. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is familiar with it. 

I dislike being this honest :-) but I suspect it is needed in this world where we all prefer to seem like we're doing okay. And we are ... we are.
Buona giornata.

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Alex...

I was talking with a wise woman the other night.  Her wisdom quietly blew my mind, as she's only 18 however she's way ahead of where I was at that age.  Ahead of so many, of any age, I suspect.

Her history of achievement is quietly spectacular too, both outdoors and academically.  She's waiting now ... to see which university is for her, based on her results.  Physics and maths are her thing.  But so are days out with friends, laughter, and Pokemon Go.  She's startlingly well-balanced and confident. 

I hesitate to write this but this combination seems like a rare gift in these days.  Her parents, her family ... they played a huge role, I'm sure but nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to how we show up in the world.

Alex and I sat up talking after everyone else had gone to their beds and, much to my surprise, I was gently taken to task for under-valuing my photography.

Although she never said these words, I came away with the idea I should simply get over any doubts that I had then get on with it.  Get on with pursuing my passion for photography, as opposed to pacing up and down on the edge of the pier, wanting to swim but trying to make everything perfect before I leap in. 

Just sell what I do, and talk of what I believe photography is meant to be.  And ohmygoodness, had I heard the story of my life so far??!

But for me, here on the inside of my life, I know all the other stuff.  There's always the pre-leap phase.  And there have been so many times in my life, so far, where I've felt myself back on that pier that heads out into the lake ... pacing.  Wanting to, needing to, jump but so very nervous.

Can I swim well enough?  Sure, but should I wear a life jacket just in case I get into difficulties in the water?  But wait, why not have a small boat in the water, ready to pull me out?  A small boat ... why not a bigger boat, or a cruise ship.  Why not wait, save up and buy a cruise ship and then simply dive into the ship's pool then? 100% success guaranteed ... once I have enough money to buy that big old cruise ship.  

And on it goes, while I remain there on the pier, ready but not committing.

So, to Alex, I write a huge and heartfelt thank you.  You gifted me your idea of me, in that beautifully direct and intelligent way that you have.  Never lose it, never apologise for it.  You're just kind of perfect as you are.

Wishing every success in the years ahead!!  I'm so looking forward to seeing what you do with your life.

Lewis of Lewis ...

I met this man last week and it turned into this delicious story that I just have to tell ...

I was at The Victoria, in Oxshott, and this guy wandered in with his suitcase.  He'd just come up from the train station and was meeting his friend.

Our conversation began simply enough, and then he mentioned he was a Scot, he had been to New Zealand.  And I mentioned ... half laughing, that 'my people' came from Scotland.  From the Isle of Lewis, 6 generations before me.

And that's when it all got a bit odd.  I learned his nickname was Lewis of Lewis, and he was born there on the island I had mentioned.  We stayed on, after his friend arrived, and it was a lovely evening.  But the 'odd' doesn't end there.

His friend arrived and he introduced her.  I said, I feel like I know you ... like we've had conversations

She felt the same.  We talked over where we might have met in this tiny village but agreed we'd never met while wandering out in the Oxshott woods.  And she didn't work, nor did she volunteer at any of the charity shops in Cobham, and so we gave up with the guessing and decided it was simply our imagination.

Later, I was talking of having lived in Belgium and suddenly ... Liz asked me if I had photographed Simon and Deirdre's wedding in Brugge, and I said, no but I did photograph their son's confirmation celebration.  Their daughter's too ... back in Brussels.

And that's where we'd met.  I had both talked with her and photographed her. I was the photographer and Simon is her godson.  We were so confused by meeting in the bar in that tiny village in England, that Belgium simply hadn't occurred to us.

A couple of days later, I wandered into the pub, with Marcelle... and there they were, just finishing their lunch with a friend.  I wandered over to say hi again.  They said pull up a chair, so we did. 

Marcelle couldn't stay long but I stayed a couple of hours.  It turned out their friend was another child of Lewis.  He had been a school friend of Lewis, and now has more than a passing interest in genealogy and the history of the Isle of Lewis. 

He invited me to write to him with the details I have of my family, and the two brothers who left for New Zealand, all those years ago.   As soon as life settles a little, I'll do it. 

I knew Lewis was leaving 10am Monday and I asked if I might photograph him.  He said it would be fine, although he was a little reluctant about posing.  And so there I was, to the amusement of both him and Liz, at the station on Monday.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting that man from Lewis, and Liz too ... then again, it's probably quite clear :-)

I Met This Man While At The Wedding In Norway ... this poet, this writer

We met after the wedding, as he photographed a particular gate there at the church.  He told me the story of the place where he and his wife were married, and how the gate reminded him of it.

I mentioned that he reminded me of someone. 

He suggested James Joyce. 

I said, 'Maybe', as I rummaged round in my memory for images of Joyce.

It turns out, everyone else said he was Elton John ... 20 years ago.  I didn't really look at Elton then but perhaps.  There is a story about a carriage full of people on the Tube, or a train, thinking precisely that about him.

You can decide.

But perhaps he is simply one of those people who allow you to feel like you've known him a long time, and you respond to that.

On the day after the wedding, I wandered over to his website, and found this poem.  I love it.

An extract, from Out of Shape Sonnet:

This is one of those tuneless songs of hope
A father scatters out into the universe
Because he wants the best for his child;
Independence,
Success of the non-material kind,
And, above all, happiness,
Happiness of the forever kind
.

And then, Ren had a copy of his book, Bee Bones.  You can buy a signed copy over here.

I read enough, between processing the wedding photographs, to know I'll find my own copy now that I'm back in the UK.  I reached that point where the father and son have just begun their journey ...

His book, Dead Men, was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award.  It's another to hunt down, sooner or later.

A review:
Washington Independent Review of Books, 18 June 2012
Who said literary works tend to be boring? This debut novel by Richard Pierce proves a poetically written narrative can also be riveting and engrossing.
This is not a lengthy novel and the author uses every word, sentence and verbal image to craft and layer his themes. This is a love story, a historical novel, a polar expedition and a ghostly tale. From an initial improbability, page after page draws the reader in.  As the author’s first effort at full-length fiction, it is a notable success. I highly recommend this novel.

Arthur Kerns.

You can read more on his website.

I met this man, and his wife, at the wedding and they are, so very kindly, allowing me to use the photographs I took of them.  

Richard Pierce was born in Doncaster in 1960.
 
He was educated in Germany, and at the University of Cambridge.

He now lives in Suffolk with Marianne and their four children.

Richard is a novelist, poet and painter, and administers two charities

He has a Youtube channel, and an Amazon author's page too, if you would like to know more.