Morning Light, Istanbul ...

5am … dawn on a summer’s day, my first morning in Istanbul.

I remember leaning on the sill of a barred window and hearing the muzzein’s call to prayer go out across the city

5am because I had woken early, a mix of jetlag and panic.   What the hell was I doing, moving to Turkey.

But hearing that call go out ... perhaps I began to understand something of why I was there.  It was for moments like these, safe in the home of a friend, listening to a new world wake up around me, enchanted by the sound of an invitation to prayer in Arabic, blessed by the beauty of that sun-lit morning.

I believe that was the moment when the city slowly began to slip in through the gaps that a new world opens in me. You arrive as a child, without language, without knowledge, and you begin again ... until that new life becomes something like familiar too.

I have been thinking about this piece of writing, begun so long ago and far away, as I adjust to yet another new city not my own.

It's London this time.  And slowly, those almost terrifying spaces that open up in me each time I move, are beginning to fill with new knowledge and understanding. 

I understand the Underground.  I'll walk home from my station after 9pm, through the winter-city darkness and along almost deserted roads.  I can agree, although reluctantly thatfirst time, to meet friends for an impromptu dinner in Piccadilly Circus, without studying Google maps and making notes.

The people at this new Sainsburys are kind too.   I go out and buy all the food for dinners that I am remembering how to cook, as each move seems to involve a degree of amnesia in me when it comes to 'things I can cook'.  My repertoire is growing, although all of my cookbooks are back in Belgium.

There is no call to prayer here in London, although two of my 'homes' in England have involved early-morning alarm clocks that have made me smile over the inventiveness of alarm-creators.   Those crowing roosters and other, barely remembered, sounds meant to wake the hard working people who have shared their homes with me, have come through doors and walls, leaving me amazed that anyone can sleep on.  I wake easily, always, since I was small.

My way home is familiar now.  The homes I pass are semi-detached and I enjoy checking out their gardens, making up stories about who might live there.  I met a lovely neighbour the other day.  Bob alternated between gentleman and mocking Englishman.  He made me laugh.

My host, he's the kindest man.  Wise too.  I'll tell the story of him, with his permission, once I have some photographs.  I met him out on Flanders Fields and we stayed friends.  He takes in strays sometimes and so I'm one of those.  A wandering stray until I work out where I'm heading and anchor myself again.

Accidentally, I am living a life where I have traveled a lot and lived in more than a few countries - long term, short term.  Never planned. 

This website is back in an 'under construction' phase ... perhaps 'reconstruction', as I re-cut my cloth to fit this new life.

I miss joy but I'm getting there.  I guess there's the grieving first.  Then the learning how to live a new life.  And then there's working out the next part.  I am exploring some possibilities and so, I guess, it's all about watching this space and seeing how things unfold.

Not even I know.

3 beautiful things found + the doctor told me ...

I had a doctor appointment this morning, at 8.48am.  I wondered, later, what drove me to write down such a freakishly incorrect time but on checking the email I realised it was correct.  I think it's all about him having a new appointment every 12 minutes.

I was back for a repeat prescription as well as a blood test.  I can feel my anemia is all but gone however the blood will tell.  I hope it shuts up about me not taking my vitamin D.  I was prescribed 4 different pills and potions, I chose to take 2 initially.  Maybe I regret this ... maybe I don't.

I do understand any consequences are my fault.  Most especially the sadness that comes from being low in vitamin D but I need a change in direction.  Sadness helps focus one on the demands that emerge out of 'changing a life'.  I'll start with it this week, now that the other 2 appear to have worked.  And ummm, it may be that being low vitamin D doesn't really help a soul to make changes... 

I did decide I might adore my doctor.  It became clear when I explained how one of my health challenges had disappeared during my first 3 days in Italy.  He looked up and said, very seriously, 'then you must go to Italy more often'.

'Seriously' but with quite the twinkle in his eye.   Probably knowing there's nothing that sounds so good as being able to say, 'Well ... the doctor told me.  So I must, mustn't I.'

Today, still searching for a particular Istanbul photograph I'd quite like to post, I found another that I remembered loving.  This one was taken inside Dolmabahçe Palace, that fabulous Istanbul palace where Ataturk lived.  The place where I learned that I love a particular shade of red ... the one that's like slightly faded raspberries.

The quote below, from Goethe, seemed like more good advice.

And the song ... Beyond the Blue by Josh Garrels, just really worked for me on this cold grey rainy Belgian day.

3 beautiful things i found today ... day 2

There was much that I loved about living in Istanbul but I had to smile when I discovered that I had gone as far as photographing my favourite cheese there.  It's divine.

And I loved this small text titled For My Mother When She Doesn't Feel Beautiful.

Did I mention I've been listening to this song a lot lately?  Sting, They Dance Alone.


Falling in Love with the Light ...

Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home - not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colours.  How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you.  How you can fall in love with the light.

Ellen Melloy, Writer

Note, the photograph was taken on one of the Princes' Islands out in the Marmara Sea, Istanbul.

The Lovin Genova Blog

Sometimes, I write a blog post and it hits a wrong note.  If it stays wrong in my mind, I delete it.  Sorry about that ...

Nice news today is that the new Lovin Genova Blog, created by the Office for the Development and Promotion of Tourism of the City of Genoa, has one of my posts up.  It's titled, From The Outside Looking In.

Davide Chelli has written a beautiful post that takes you inside the Oriental Market, on Via XX Settembre in Genova.

Sardines ...

A high of 34 celsius is expected here in Antwerp today.  It started early and was already 29 when I biked to the supermarket at 9am.  It's lovely, I'm not going to complain ... It's just very. very. hot. for this crowded little city with the massive European highway passing through it.

Thunderstorms should crash over us tonight or tomorrow, and a 10 degree drop in temperature is expected.

It's summer.  It's like that.  Sometimes we have one.

When I have time, the search for exhibition photographs goes on ... and along the way I find shots like this one, taken in Istanbul.  It still makes me smile.  I called it sardines.