Photographed ... in the Carrugi, Genova

The author of Dear Miss Fletcher published one of my photographs, the one where I captured her at work in her beautiful city.

I saw her there in the distance and broke my promise not to photograph her.  But really, I would have deleted if she hadn't approved.  In this instance she felt it was the perfect photograph of her and here you have her.

I still remember her walking me through streets I had walked so often but without an intimate knowledge of the secrets they held.  And so often she would turn to me and tell me, 'I have something to show you ...'  

And so often, she did.

Missing Genova

I miss Via Ravecca, the open window I work next to there, and the noise of the street below. 

I love the way life sounds lived there in the old part of the city of Genova.

I miss the smell of the farinata nearby.  And the overflow of people, their talk and their laughter, at Pizzeria Ravecca. 

I miss walking through Porta Soprana on my way to someplace nice everyday.

I miss the beautiful fountain in Piazza De Ferrari.  And I miss Palazzo Ducale.

I miss 15 celsius because I have returned to -1 celsius. 

I miss interviewing the people of Genova about their quietly remarkable lives.

I'm missing Genova.

The photograph here was taken by Dear Miss Fletcher ... who wrote, E poi siamo passate all’Antica Barberia Giacalone.

Libreria Antiquaria, Genova

I believe I may have created the distortion in this image.  My wide-angle lens and I have an uneasy relationship however I love everything else about this shot ... and I fear that I won't organise myself to repeat it on my last full day in Genova tomorrow.

So please ignore the fact that I ruined the shop sign.  Forgive me even ...

Dear Miss Fletcher wrote of showing me this place, E poi, ancora, le ho mostrato un’affascinante, antica libreria genovese.

And it was a charming, ancient Genoese library.

Pasticceria Liquoreria Marescotti di Cavo, Genova

I had my first hot thick winter chocolate at this beautiful ancient Genovese cafe late on Saturday afternoon.  I met Dear Miss Fletcher, who has already written of this beautiful place, there and we talked over steaming hot drinks.  

I hope to have some of their stories to tell you in the weeks ahead.  I took this photograph as we were leaving.  The place is stunning.  I promise.

City Secrets, Genova

I discovered that wandering with Dear Miss Fletcher involves learning Genova's secrets.

And the crazy thing is that I've walked past this charity slot, from 1729, so many times.  In another location, Sabina showed me where the charity holes in the wall had been removed.

But ... if you don't know what you're looking for you will never find it.  In another place, she stopped me in a narrow alleyway and showed me the indentations left in the cobblestones ... by chariots. 

Wandering with Dear Miss Fletcher, in Genova

A highlight from today was meeting the Genovese blogger responsible for the most wonderful blog - titled, Dear Miss Fletcher

Paola, the friend who gifts me the use of her apartment here in Genova ... the woman who first introduced me to Genova, was also responsible for introducing me to the blog, Dear Miss Fletcher.  And so I've been reading her posts, via google translate, because it's true, she tells marvelous stories about this city I love. 

But I was so busy talking with the blogger, whose real name is Sabina, that I didn't get the details of this marvelous barber shop.  The one down the narrow caruggi where they saw us outside, me with my camera ... and invited us in.  I'm going back during the day, to chat a little and take some more photographs because who wouldn't but you can find a post about it already, over on Dear Miss Fletcher.

The photograph below shows you what drew us in ...

A huge thank you must go to Sabina, for her beautiful English and her glorious introduction to so many new things I still didn't know of the city.  It's her city, and it's in good hands with her writing of it and photographing it too.

Grazie mille, Sabina  :-)

Suspend all the doing ...

2 // take a break from your carefully packaged & organised life; suspend all the doing, sit amongst the shambles of half-read books and empty cups, let blessed rest find you.

Leonie Wise, lifted from her beautiful blog.

Murray left yesterday and I collapsed into a small pile of crumple today.  I can do stuff ... I can but oh how I pay.  Just till the iron medication kicks in. 

I'm so impatient for it to work though.  And so I was always going to love Leonie's wise words, suspend all the doing.

Although, rather than suspend all, I'm doing slowly and carefully, then resting.  Multiple loads of laundry have been done today because ... it's 17 celsius here in Belgium.  Unusual perhaps, or simply an Indian summer.  It's good, as so many of my very best people are arriving on Friday.

Shannon and Erik are zooming over from Holland, Teresa and Kim from the UK, Jayne is coming and her Steve is flying back from Dubai, Ren and her lovely Norwegian are coming too.

Steven and Isabel, Martin and Gaby, Ellen and Anna, Marcia and her man ... I'm happy.

My photography exhibition has its official reception/opening on Friday night.  Saturday night is the night of the birthday party.  But honestly, it's mostly about my pleasure in catching up with these people I love. 

I'm scared I've forgotten to invite some people and they need to contact me because I am haphazard at the moment.  The anemia has surely caused problems with energy levels but also with concentration.  And I thought it was enough to take the medicine and move slowly but it's the 'not doing' that is making me most crazy.  It feels like someone has removed my larger station wagon motor and replaced it with the engine of a very small scooter.

Or that's the way I'm explaining this loss of forward motion. 

Slowly, slowly ... let's see how it goes.

Leonie, thank you for the music too.

Rewilding ...

Of all the world's creatures, perhaps those in greatest need of rewilding are our children. The collapse of children's engagement with nature has been even faster than the collapse of the natural world. In the turning of one generation, the outdoor life in which many of us were immersed has gone....So many fences are raised to shut us out that eventually they shut us in.

George Monbiot

I absolutely borrowed this from Terri Windling's blog, Myth & Moor.  I wanted to note it some place ...


Leonie Wise & Waves

Leonie Wise lives in New Zealand these days, on an incredible heartbreakingly beautiful island called Waiheke Island. 

And she blogs, sharing small pieces of that country I love, allowing us all to drink in images ... text too.

I visited that island, once, long ago.  All indications are that it has improved over the decades since and that it offers lifestyle ... on steroids.  In a natural nature-enhancing way.

And she posted photographs today, and a song too, by Mr Probz called Waves.

So I went and found some waves I had photographed while we were out on a boat exploring Mercury Bay, up in the Coromandel, when I was back at home too.

What Have I Achieved... ?

I believe that half the trouble in the world comes from people asking 'What have I achieved?' rather than 'What have I enjoyed?'

Walter Farley

A wholehearted yes to this quote, found over on Terri Windling's beautiful blog, Myth & Moor.

I have decided that to die rich is stories is another way to measure a life.  I have never 'achieved' in the normal sense of the word but I like the way my life has played out so far.  I've lost everything twice but not in a traumatic way ... it's more that I simply stepped away from 'stuff'.

I read of people desiring, quite desperately it seems, to declutter their lives and I think, 'move countries' and take only the 23kg limit allowed by most carriers out of New Zealand.  It was the same when I moved from Istanbul. What you can't leave behind becomes clear ...

Rob, the Scottish Guy Living in Ireland

A long long time ago, I met a lovely bloke online ... in a chatroom called Travel and we became friends.

He was one of many really good friends I made there.  There was Mary Lou and Marco, Diede and Eltje, Maddalena and so many others.  We're all still friends today but it was Rob, the Scottish guy who used to live in Australia that I wanted to write about here.

He and his wife moved back to this side of the world a few years ago, to Ireland of course, that lovely Scottish couple.  And we were once again on the same side of the world.

We wandered over to stay with them there in Oughterard back in 2011, it my first time driving in years.  Oh how I loved that!

And days unfolded with visits to stations of the cross up in the hills, tree-creatures, and we met highway robbers there too.

It was lovely. 

Today I remembered it all when I found the red rowboat photograph from Oughterard.

You have Been Invited to Italy!

I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend in the company of Renovating Italy's creator, Lisa Chiodo and she wrote, I am sure Di Mackey and I were sisters in another life, we just clicked, it felt like I’d known her forever. She gave me the gift of deep belly laughs, understanding, and freedom to be myself, each one I will treasure forever.

I would have written these words about her had she not beaten me to it in her generous post about attending the A New Way Of Seeing workshop.  It's been rare that anyone could make me laugh so hard that I almost collapsed in the street.  She has a gift for laughter that works with her beautiful attitude to life, and there's a deep wisdom too.

Meeting her, after having only read of her life via her beautiful website, Renovating Italy, was more than I could have imagined in so many ways.  She is the loveliest person and I'm sure, based on her website, that her family are just as she paints them.

Lisa and her family have put an invitation out into the world and I can't recommend it highly enough.  They are opening their Italian home to all of us and they have bookings available for 2015

Who knows, maybe I'll see you there.

Lately ...

Lately, so much has happened that I seem to have lost my ability to process it all ... and to write the stories.  I so very much want to write the stories.  From Genova, Lake Como, and Norway.

Italy was intense, followed by a stint at home where I played 'catch-up' ... which was intense.  Before flying out to Norway, to give a photography workshop that was all about more intensity and more beauty.  Day after day after day when the electricity of a life lived intensely hummed inside of me.

Home again to an impressive 'to-do' list that has me dreaming of two weeks of doing absolutely nothing.  But I think the problem is mine, no one else's.  I suspect, even if I were set down on a deserted island, a castaway or two would wash up and we'd talk for days and nights until rescued. 

I'm like that.  Intensely curious, intensely interested, in almost everything.  I'm beginning to understand this thing about me.  I don't rest but it's my fault.

Kim and AP came over from England last week and that was so good.  Then I caught up with Marcia, my lovely Irish colour therapist friend, from Brussels.  We had another kind of day filled with a different intensity ...  one that involved everything from walking and singing to her 8 week old baby, to talking of e-courses and all kinds of other things too.

In-between times I photographed two lovely Belgian families, laughing but intense as we worked with the bright light and 5 beautiful children under 8 years of age.  I rode home on the tram, jeans splattered with mud, exhausted but happy.

Then today ... an unplanned visit to the city, because I was almost out of coffee beans, netted an unexpected bonus.  5 fabulous books! 

A  Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron.

Tim Parks, Dreams of Rivers and Seas.  A novel.  I already loved his book, A Season With Verona.

Then, Jon Snow, one of my favourite journalists wrote a book i didn't know about.  Lately I've been finding so many good books by and about war journalists and photographers.   His book, Shooting History, was published in 2004.  Jon had already spent 25 years reporting and is  'one of the most highly regarded newsmen of our time, renowned for his independence of mind and his unerring ability to get to the heart of the matter.'

I particularly love this, 'he presents his uncensored views on the new world order: how the West's constant search for an enemy has helped unhinge the world, and why the media have been less than helpful in drawing attention to key political and global developments'.

And then there was a book I had forgotten I was waiting for.  Daniel Pearl's wife wrote about her husband's life and death in A Mighty Heart.   ' A journalist in her own right, Mariane is, as was her husband, profoundly committed to the idea that a more informed public makes for a better world, and to the idea that risks have to be taken to uncover a story.'

And the final book, before I stepped away from that dangerous 50% off shelf is one by New Zealander, William Brandt.   Titled The Book of the Film of the Story of my Life, I couldn't resist.

It's been a good day here in the flatlands of Belgium.  I'm also working on the very first A New Way of Seeing Newsletter.  And processing the family photography session, and trying to decide which book I should begin reading while knowing that, at this very moment in time, I should step away from the computer and go organise dinner.

Our Clients Wrote of Our Workshop

What can I write ...

I feel so extraordinarily grateful to the three women Helen and I invited on our A New Way of Seeing workshop, in Genoa, Italy.

Since then Lisa, Leah, and Laura have written of working with us in ways that have filled my wee kiwi soul to overflowing.

Leah, from Help. I Live With My Italian Mother In Law, wrote of her experience with us in an English magazine

Laura, from Ciao Amalfi, wrote up her experience with us over on her blog. 

Today, I'm just in from reading Lisa's account of her time with us over on her blog.  That would be Lisa, from Renovating Italy ... the Lisa who had me laughing so hard that I could barely stay standing out there on Via Porta Soprana.  She has a talent for laughter but the weekend was full of laughter, of stories and photography too.

I borrowed one of Lisa's photographs from her post about it all.  I love this particular image, taken by Silvana, wife of Pino.  Pino is the man nestled in-between Lisa, myself, and Helen ... late on that laughter-filled evening in Genova.

Silvana and Pino own the very best pizzeria in the world and I adore them.  Their pizzas too. And so it seemed entirely appropriate to be photographed together.  Silvana, after a hot and exhausting evening, decided she would be the photographer ... and no begging her to join us would change her mind. 

I have to admit, I'm looking a little rumpled at this point in the day.  We were almost home after that first workshopping day.

I would work with any of these women in a heartbeat.  They were magnificent.  All of them. 

Huge grazie mille's to Laura and Lisa, Leah and Helen. 

It was a most magnificent weekend!

I Am Missing That City, Its People ...

Coffee at Douce in Piazza Matteotti, Genova.

Or perhaps I am generally missing good coffee.  Even the highway autogrills do good coffee in Italy.

I am missing green beans, lightly cooked.  Tomatoes from Il Bio di Soziglia.  And adding the best riccotta from Le Gramole Olioteca to that mix.  Missing Francesca and Norma too.

Then I miss the possibility of eating Ravioli fatti in casa al “tuccu” di carne at Roberto's place, Il Genovese because Tuccu is the most divine sauce ever invented ... any place here on this earth.

I miss Stefano's restaurant because there are always stunning surprises in store when you eat and drink there. 

I miss the possibility of hearing Donatella singing and Luciano play there.  I am learning to miss Donatella's fried squash flowers too.  They were divine that night she took Helen and I home and cooked for us.  

I miss Barbara and Alessandra.  I most definitely miss Stefano.  I miss Lorenzo

I miss the 'ciao's' that I hear in the street.  I miss Pino & Silvana, and their divine pizzas.

I miss Boccadasse and my seat up on the hill, I miss Outi, Paula and Paola.  There is Davide, Federico, and Leah, and so many others. 

I'm thinking now  ... perhaps it all adds up to the fact that I'm simply missing Genova. And forgive me if your name isn't here because I'm sure to be missing you too  :-)


Below, a photograph of Luciano playing bass guitar (really, he is), taken at a performance he and Donatella gave recently.

In These Days ...

These days find me consumed by a writing course that I'm doing ...

Consumed.  In a way that I haven't been since those rare occasions when school or uni were teaching me things that I was passionate about. 

Writing was my first love, closely followed by photography, way back in my childhood.  But it was writing that took most of my attention when I lived in New Zealand.  Then I flew, I was teacher for while, I wandered some, and I mostly misplaced my writing ... in one sense. 

In another way, blog-writing arrived and I started out on a different kind of writing.  One that I probably didn't really consider as 'writing' ... it occurs to me now, as I realise I have never stopped writing.  I only stopped writing that novel.  I only packed away my manuscript of interviews with climbers.  I only stopped the book-orientated writing.

But anyway, I am writing again.  I have book I want to finish soon.  It's complicated.  I almost made it simple but that would be silly.  I like complications ... why would I write a simple book. 

All that to say, if you're thinking you have a book in you, if you want to explore the whole process ... from the idea to the publishing (including all the tiny details along the way), then I highly recommend you take Christine Mason Miller's course, The Conscious Booksmith.

It's consuming, and fun, and satisfying, and exciting ... it contains all the elements of a damn fine adventure actually.

Oh!  And adventures.  I'm off road-tripping to France next week.  My Belgian bloke has surprised me with a small pilgrimage, in honour of one of my favourite New Zealand authors.  Really surprised and delighted me.

In July, I'm road-tripping, with Helen, to Italy.  Oh the adventures we have planned.  I shall be blogging that road-trip.

August is Norway and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to spending time with Ren.

For now ... it's all about waiting for this special couple's little girl to arrive in the world. And there a ballet performance and a poetry reading planned for tomorrow.  Dank u wel, to the lovely Ruth, who organises some of my best adventures here.