I'm Back ...

There's no headache this morning!  It feels so unbelievably good.  I found this area in my neck at 5am ... because it was stiff and sore, so I rubbed and stretched it for a while and voila ... I woke with no pain.

Meanwhile everything continues to happen here.  My huge ring-binder folder, the one I use for my book-writing course, is full of assignments and we're only halfway through.  It's been beyond excellent having to work out things like defining your book's genre, imagining how it will look - ideally.  Hardcover or soft, photographs, text, binding-style, after learning about different options for bindings.

Creating a vision board, a mind map, a set of core values for the book and the process.  Listening to published author interviews, learning all that Christine Mason Miller knows from her publishing successes.  Writing a synopsis and so much more.

It's intense and although we only work with Christine for 6 weeks, the material remains available to us for 6 months.  This course is all about fitting a book in around real life and all the distractions that most people live with ... which is so realistic for a creature like me.

Last night I began trying to select books for the journey next week.  I love reading at night in Genova.  I'm still not an electronic book reader-type, although the Belgian bloke is working on me.  My camera gear makes me a little sad about the extra weight I can't really carry in books but read I must. 

I have Kay Cooke's 2 poetry books on my desk, and 2 of Ren Powell's too.  I'm thinking they would be a great study while I'm out wandering.  Gert found me another Claire Messud book, secondhand, and I picked up Christos Tsiolkas's book, Dead Europe while in France but I think that one might be a little bit darker than I expect.  Let's see it.

There's all that but then I adore La Feltrinelli's in Genova.  It's one of my favourite bookshops out here in the world.  The English selection isn't huge but it's good.  Really good.  Last time I didn't allow myself to go in.  This time, we'll see ...

Anyway, enough of that.  I'm behind with my photo-editing.  I was lucky enough to wander over to Brussels last weekend, to photograph my lovely colour therapist friend, Marcia's, beautiful family.  I need to get on to that now that my head has stopped aching.

They are a truly, madly, deeply exquisite family and I so love photographing them.  It took most of the day but it wasn't just about photography, there was also a delicious cooked lunch after the picnic captured below.

A Delicious Day here in Antwerp

Note to reader: The words ‘delicious’, ‘delightful’ and ‘lovely’ are used often in this post.  Just so you know …

Yesterday was one of those delicious days I don’t want to forget but today finds me train-traveling to Leopoldsburg, with no time to sit down and savour my yesterday howevere I have packed my tiny blue travel laptop and so, here I am, writing from the train.

But perhaps it didn’t begin yesterday.  It began months earlier, when a woman called Karla wrote me a note enquiring about family photo-shoots.  It didn’t work out then but later it did. 

And the shoot was so much fun.  There was the pleasure of meeting the loveliest family, photographing the baby with the bluest eyes, hanging out with a friendly black labrador … stuff like that.

We stayed in touch, worked out a date for the photographs to be picked up and voila, we arrive at my yesterday.

Karla came over, toting her beautiful blue-eyed baby, accompanied by this lovely Irish woman who brought her very own chuckling bundle of delightful baby boy.  Really chuckley … I can’t emphasise how delicious his giggle is.  I’ll photograph him one day, it’s written all over his face when he laughs.

We sat down at my kitchen table, with tea and coffee, and talked, in that intense and delicious way that strangers sometimes do and voila, my marvellous yesterday had begun.

We looked through the photographs first, we learnt something of each others lives, I was introduced to my very first colour therapist and did I mention … we TALKED.

The babies played while we toyed with new ideas for each others lives and businesses.  There was that delightful click of like-minded souls meeting, it’s something that always amuses me.  While right-wing populist politicians work at making us fear ‘the other’, there we were, as is more often the case, finding connections across 3 different cultures and histories.

Karla and Marcia didn’t really know Antwerp at all and so we wandered into the city for a lunch.  I couldn’t resist and despite rain, I introduced them to my most favourite square here … Hendrik Conscienceplein … created by the Italian Jesuits, it soothes my soul sometimes.

We stopped in at the soup cafe, Comme Soupe, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s tiny but the soup is a truly satisfying work of art.  I should have taken a photograph but I will return there, I promise. 

Tiny cafe + two pushchairs meant that we didn’t like to stay longer than need be but afterwards, we crossed the small space to the Cupcake Cafe called Lojola Coffee and Cake, at Hendrik Conscienceplein 14. Oh my, if in Antwerp, you must pop in.

We chose divine little cupcakes to compliment our coffee and we were happy.  Delighting perhaps, in the dollhouse-like playfulness of that little cafe.  Mmm, photographs to follow.

And it was almost 4pm … so suddenly. 

We said our goodbyes in the city, and off I wandered on my next big adventure.  The buying of the Nespresso coffee machine.  Just the espresso part … inspired by a desire to avoid future pain when searching the city for good espresso. Genova and her beautiful coffees ruined me.

I felt childlike but I don’t think they knew in the shop.  Remember that feeling of having that birthday money clenched in your hot little hand as you marched off to buy that thing that you really truly wanted, forever?  It was like that.

I chatted with the woman in the busy Nespresso store, staffed by many.  She had been in Australia.

You know, the more years I am away from New Zealand, and realising both my brothers are married to Australians and living there, the more I feel that we downunder people are fairly similar and there is no insult in mistaking me for an Aussie.

Beaming, and still feeling like a small excited kid, with my coffee machine bagged up and in my hand, I boarded a tram home and had this nice looking guy beckoning to me, wanting me to sit with him.  Gert and I had managed, quite by chance, to find the same tram to ride home.

Well yes, he did have to suffer quite some Chitter-Chatter by Di on the way home.

I didn’t dare caffeinate myself after dinner.  Chitter chatter on a tram after work is one thing, he can do it … just.  Chitter-chatter at 3am, of the over-caffeinated kind, is something else.  I had my first little espresso this morning and it was good.

Lately, life has been all about intensely good friends and meeting lovely people.  Thanks guys.

Anyway, you see it, yesterday was a very good day…