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. 
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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Posts From This Beautiful Garden in Surrey.


I'm sitting on a big old wrought iron chair, on the edge of the beautiful English garden that belongs to a woman who has been an incredibly good friend to me. I finished the novel I had been using to get me through these tricky days of transition and so came outside with my laptop and coffee.  Jenny, the King Cavalier spaniel, is keeping me company.

Like me, I suspect she's enjoying the early morning cool. Yesterday Surrey hit 36 celsius and no one was ready. It was the worst day to move house but it was done. Accidentally ... as you do.

The days have tumbled by lately, with an impetus similar to a mountain stream falling down a mountainside, if I try to describe it. Days so full of good people that I'm not sure I can write of everyone. But perhaps if I work backwards, starting yesterday. Perhaps if I write a series, before I leave for Italy next week …

Yesterday and my Australian friend, Clare living in London, arrived to take away and store as many of my books as she could. I have a habit of losing the best of my books when I divorce and move countries. Just twice but I'm a woman who loves the idea of living a lifetime with her collection of books. The Universe clearly has other plans.

Clare also provided transport for a load of my possessions. We took them to Cathy's, where I have some space in her garage for those things I wouldn't mind keeping, if I can work out a way.

Evening fell and I realised I had left the place I've been living these last 7 months.

Last night was spent out here in the garden, with Cathy, James and Alexandra.. A BBQ dinner, and them patiently teaching me how to play cards. I was so quietly deeply happy to be there, on the edge of this truly special family.

It has almost been a year since I left Belgium. Marriage over and without a country, I wanted to stay close to my daughter and Miss 12. Kim suggested I arrive in her world and set about making it happen … as it turns out, I was quite incapable, in some ways. More devastated than I realised, and far more broken than I knew.

It's been a year of deep change but I like who I'm becoming. I'll leave England so much stronger than I've been, in years … in every way.

And stronger because of the friends I've always had, but also because of the new friends I've made. For me, I see how it has been all about people. Friends, and strangers, who have picked me up, dusted me off, and been incredibly kind. Generous. Understanding. And welcoming too.

I woke this morning, in a beautiful bedroom and, for the first time in a long time, I felt peace-filled. Sitting out here this morning, I felt safe enough to cry … and had to smile. I've been so busy moving forward, surviving, that there hasn't been too much time for self-pity.  It would have crippled me some.

Today, the first time I've felt normal in a long time, and I wanted to cry. I had to mock myself a little … ' Di, you need life to be a struggle so you can stay strong?'

I didn't cry. I think I'll just weave that recognition of struggle in with all the rest and keep going forward because forward movement is surely the best thing.

It turns out, I have too much luggage for Italy. I, the queen of 'take only what you can carry up and down stairs' in those train stations, wants to take too much to Genova.

My other 'rule' is based on being able to walk away from possessions.  Clearly I have tried to keep too much this time and so today needs to be about stripping away the excess, again. I'm in the right place. I know people in Oxfam, and there's a refuse tip here. It's time to go back to bare bones. I thought I had but no, not quite.

As mentioned before ... have lost 16kgs in England, or 30 pounds … which sounds so much better :-) None of the clothes I bought with me from Belgium survived that weight loss. I was so fortunate to arrive in a place where quality secondhand clothing cost so very little.  Today, I may have purchased an exquisite, truly exquisite, Laura Ashley skirt for 7 pounds. 


Silk is the new Di ... it's amusing me.  I don't know who would recognise me from those other lives I've lived.  Not Christine and Peter Kirker, from those airforce days when I favoured the long baggy jersey, with jeans, look.  Not my Belgian friends, some who worked so hard on getting me out of that habit of dressing in black ... Marcie:-)  Not my Turkish friends, who mentioned my hippy taste ...

But I'm loving it all.  Dresses, beautiful colours, and silk ... and so very inexpensive despite labels like Monsoon and Zara now appearing there in my ... suitcase.

But suddenly it's tonight.  I stopped writing here earlier, to repack and reorder those boxes stored in the garage.  Then went wandering with Cathy, zapping about the countryside in her daughter's Mini ... dropping stuff off at the dump, leaving other stuff with Oxfam, eating lunch somewhere in Surrey staring with E.

And it's tonight ... there's a massive pavlova sitting here in the kitchen.  My best ever ... perhaps.  There's a glass of wine in front of me.  Fish is frying, salads are ready.  We're feasting outside again. 

I'll leave you with a photograph of Jenny, my lovely breakfast buddy ...

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Remembering Good Food and Good Friends

Last week ... this was the dinner starter at Il Genovese

It's a little of this, a little of that, to be shared between five.  Outi, my Finnish friend living in Liguria.  Alessandra and Davide, lovely Italian friends from Genova.  And Gabrielle, my Australian client, the one who has become a lovely friend too.

The food was exquisite ... of course, and the company.

Today finds me at my desk and working, back here in Belgium, freezing.  I'm wearing Fiona's hand-knitted woolen rainbow socks and warm clothes.  It's grey, cold and raining, and I remembered this photograph.

Mmmhmmm, I just had peanut butter on toast and a coffee for lunch.

I miss Genovese food. 

'Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more'.

We're just in from a weekend spent in Wallonia, where the temperature dropped to below zero celsius and snow fell.  And we gathered around a huge fire in a big old house and spent our time talking with good friends.

Actually, my heart has been warmed as friends have welcomed us back to Belgium after weeks spent wandering in that New Zealand summer.

Wednesday found me out with Jurjana, my truly delicious Croatian friend here in Antwerp.  She drove me to her favourite restaurant and we enjoyed a lovely lunch and catch-up session at Patrasche, in Hoboken

Thursday and Stephanie, an English friend, came over for dinner with her daughter.  Another few hours spent talking and listening.

Friday and it was Lucy, Fiona, and Ruth.  My lovely Irish and Belgian friends.  We began as an informal Nederlands class but they have become such good friends that there was something of a 'coming home' feeling as I arrived at Fiona's house.  Actually, we don't really speak in Nederlands anymore .... but, by crikey, we always have a most excellent time when we get together.

And this weekend was the icing on the cake.  We wandered over to the New Zealand/Belgian/American household, over there on the other side of Belgium, and the snow fell and our wandering souls were surely warmed.

We're back in Belgium where its winter.

Sometimes ... I just get quietly lost

…And that’s why i have to go back
to so many places
there to find myself
and constantly examine myself
with no witness but the moon
and then whistle with joy,
ambling over rocks and clods of earth,
with no task but to live,
with no family but the road.

Pablo Neruda

I found Pablo Neruda's words in my inbox, via The Quotationist, and I thought 'yes'.  Sometimes I just need 'the road' because ...

These days have been dizzy, giddy, fast-moving days.  And in recognition of the pace and insanity, I am quietly developing this habit of throwing myself back at my bed on a Sunday - to read and nap and sleep and rest because I have been tired.

I returned from Italy and stepped straight into 10+ days with the delightful Miss 7.  She had 8 of those days off school but we read a lot of Harry Potter, walked in the park, talked about interesting things and maybe we had quite some fun.

My stepdaughter arrived for a few days too.  And I was cleaning and cooking and slipping back into this life while trying not to think about the fact that my daughter and her daughter are moving countries soon. 

I'm fortunate.  Their destination is no longer that small South American village, reachable only by horseback ... that place where tarantulas and scorpions are commonplace.  And it's no longer New Zealand ... some 16,000kms away from me.

Instead, it's just next door, over in Germany.  I can do that.

Gert used his environmentally-friendly gift cheques to buy me a bicycle ... a brand new one.  The first brand new bicycle I've ever owned but that's a whole other story that needs blogging, with photographs.  I love my new bike though.

I've been putting together my book on Genova, and editing it ... because I edit.  It's not a good thing.  It may be that I'm seeking perfection ... just perfection.  So yes, I need someone to take my first draft from me, as I write, and not let me edit until the whole thing is done.  I know this thing about me but I'm not sure of the solution. 

And I have received the first draft of the story of a special wine and a family and their friends in Italy.  I can't wait to write that up and share the photographs with you.  It's one of those stories that make me smile whenever I think on it.

I have made a yoga date and hope to become a creature who rescues herself with the practice of yoga.

Paola, Simon and Matteo came to dinner on Saturday night.  It was good to sit down and catch up with them again.  They bought wine ... my beloved Banfi.  Gert cooked a pie from The Hairy Bikers Perfect Pies Cookbook.   It was lovely, although we're still experimenting with pastries here in this country that doesn't sell the New Zealand pastry I knew and loved.

On Friday, I was running all over Brussels, meeting with the most delightful people.  First stop was my accountant ... she who rescues me from the hellish complication of daring to be self-employed in Belgium.  Then on to Paola, to return her Genova keys and catch up.  And then a little further, to the inspiring New Zealand artist, wise woman, and friend, Wendy Leach.

Oh, and I sold a photograph that will be published in a book.  News to follow when that all comes to fruition.

Hmmmm, Stephanie and Catalina came to dinner last Wednesday night, and I had a tooth rebuilt on the Tuesday ... a second tooth.  I do appreciate my wonderful Belgian dentist.

There was an English church fete on Sunday with Stephanie, Catalina, Miss 7 and I ... and a phone call home to my dad because he turned 76.  And on it goes.  You see the giddy mad slide that is my life?

But I think I  must love it because nothing ever changes.  It's always kind of mad and chaotic and full of good people, and frustrations, and things slipping through my fingers, or arriving - in all their beauty - in front of me.

Anyway, all that to say that I haven't been quite so bloggy lately but I will be again ... soon.