Tales to Tell ...

Tiredness continues to be an issue.   I'm doing all that needs done however approximately once every hour, I walk across to my bed and simply fall on it.  I'm exhausted it seems.  The 2 weeks in Italy was intense and my recovery seems to be complicated by 26 celsius nights ... and it's not that I'm complaining about the heat  but it does make the whole sleeping thing quite fraught.

I'm so tired that when I do wake at 5am, it's a simple thing to reason that the sound that woke me was someone walking on a huge dumpster full of wire coat hangers. 

I suspect this may indicate that I'm seriously 'tired'.

There's another huge story I want to tell.  I just need a little more time to sit down with the photographs and stories that unfolded at Palazzo Del Vice Re, located in Lezzeno, on the edge of Lake Como. 

I took the photograph that follows down at the lake edge, below the palazzo, when I slipped out early one morning wanting to capture a slice of the beauty and peace I found there.

A Winter Bouquet by Dieter

We were buying a Christmas tree on that particular day but guided by some wicked and mysterious impulse, I raced off inside while Gert was watching the tree being loaded onto that trolley, and asked Dieter if I might buy one of his beautiful bouquets.  Just flowers this time, I told him.

And this is what he did.  

On Writing ...

I had forgotten the glorious agony of writing an article for a particular audience ... such is the luxury of writing whatever I want on my blog.

I have been carrying this idea that I could only write this particular article when I was ready ... when I was sure that all I would write would be perfection itself. 

Weeks later, I was still wringing my hands about it because the deadline had been far into the future.  Then the future arrived and what would I write?  How would I incorporate my best images into this text? 

I had raised the bar fairly high in my mind ...

Last night, as I was going to sleep, I thought of the series of fountain images I had added to my previous post and I knew that I had it.  A beginning point, an inspiration, a concrete image of the feeling I wanted to capture.

And so it was, after our Sunday Belgian breakfast of pastries and coffee, that I sat down to write.  And how I wrote ... and wrote, and wrote some more.  Finally, slightly lost, I handed it over and asked the more level-headed Belgian bloke if he might read it through and see where I was. 


He handed it back and told me ...   It seemed, to him, that I might have attempted to squeeze the outline of my entire book into 5 pages of text.  It was a little incoherent and he couldn't find a clear line through it.  Of course, I had wanted my best stuff in the article ... all of it!

Perhaps a prayer was needed.  Something like, Oh enthuisiam, oh passion ... be still so I can write more coherently.

Anyway, that explained my lost feeling and allowed me to pull back out of the work.

And so I reread and found the story I wanted to tell.   I had to remove some favourite photographs from the article.   I had to disappear some favourite tales too.  Paragraphs were slashed as I read.

I need to leave it a few hours now.  Weeks would be better.  I have always preferred to spend time away from a first draft, sneaking up on it at some later date and hoping to read it as a stranger.  It's more effective than you can imagine.

When I write here on the blog I write fast and, for some reason that must be entirely frustrating to those with blog readers, I edit best after I've published.   It's a luxury that I don't have when I write for others.  Even when I edit for others, the final draft is with them.  The post-publish quirk is one that has probably lost me more than a few subscribers.  I must work on that.

The thing about writing so intensely, and I had forgotten this peculiar pain, is that when I write it all out like that there is this horrible emptiness when I stop.  As if all of my intensity and energy has been poured directly into the writing, like an IV that pumps my blood to a new location ... outside of me.

I came here in an attempt to step back from the intensity of the last few hours.  Actually, I did have rather a lot of fun creating storyboards to focus me down on the writing.  Here's one I can't use ...

My borrowed 'desk' in Genova.  The one by the open window that looks out over the carruggio, and a selection of the flowers that I always buy as that first thing I must do in the city.

Wandering again ...

it was just a little wander but one that confirmed that I am happiest when catching a train or a plane, a bus or a car to someplace else ...

It was a short journey, maybe an hour and a quarter across Belgium, into French-speaking Wallonia.  There I had the loveliest day, lazily catching up with Wendy and Patrice, and Momo the dog.

And their sunflowers were stunning, just stunning!

Flowers are always the way to arrive ...

I didn't realise how much I love a bunch of flowers in a new place ... not just in Genova but in anyplace new.  They are surely a way to arrive ... a way to feel 'at home'.

The Sweetpeas have been abundant in the garden herein Wallonia.  They remind me of my childhood back home in Mosgiel.  My mum loved them.

We were up early out here in the country this morning, a pavlova made from freshly-laid eggs went into the oven straight after breakfast.  Gert whipped up a batch of his sultana and frangipani bread ...  Welcome home gifts for the family who gave us their beautiful house for a couple of weeks. 

Now to clean and leave for 't stad.  Meanwhile, my beautiful flowers ...

How to Arrive in Genova ...

I think I arrive once there are flowers on the kitchen table ...

Here in Genova there is always someplace to buy flowers and Paola’s round dining table invites flowers, even if I still haven’t quite organised a vase. Today one of my water bottles has been sawn-off to play hostess to flowers bought at a market on Piazza Scio where we also discovered a large market and the sweetest smallest tomatoes.

These last few days have been days of long conversations, where two old friends caught up on 5 years of absence and massive life changes.  We reminisced, laughed over pizzas and red wine, caught boats and journeyed through that favourite space we most enjoy – the place where the land meets the sea.

Genova was good to us, providing us with the very best foccacia at the beginning of each day or, on alternate days, unbelievably good breakfast cappuccino.  We had days of wandering, cherry gelato, inexpensive yet good red wines, slow mornings and late nights.

Pippa came to me 2 weeks out of New Zealand, via Haiwaii and Vienna, and our 5 days passed quicky.  Yesterday we caught a train to Milan to say goodbye at an airport bus stop in a city on fire with heat and humidity.  We talked through the 2 hour train trip to Milan, and then, after the goodbye, I possibly became one of the few people to have travelled with a slightly nervous, world-wandering friend, from Genova through to Milan only to leave her boarding her airport bus while I returned on another train within the hour and head straight back to Genova.

That would be the train where the air-conditioning in my carriage was broken.  Being a creature who prefers heat not too much above 20 celsius yesterday was a struggle and I struck out in search of a cool place only to find myself standing on tiptoes in a corridor, trying to catch something of the slightly cooler breeze as it came in through a high window. 

A very short elderly woman spotted the breeze in my hair, and came to stand in front of me, continuing to fan herself furiously as the breeze was never going to reach her.  We all laughed, her son too, and I resisted the temptation to offer to hoist her up to the high window.

imageEventually a harried, sweating conductor came to our rescue and led us through to carriage 5 ... or I think that was what he was saying.  I flopped into an air-conditioned 6 seat carriage with two men who left at the next stop.  I could only smile over my own paranoia that they were moving away from this smelly foreign woman.

Those last tunnels before Genova held us captive longer than necessary, as our train queued to weave its way into the main station ... the station I didn’t really know how to get ‘home’ from.

I read bus stop lists and decided on Bus 33, it would reach Piazza De Ferrari eventually and I was too tired to do more than smile as Bus 33 climbed up into the hills behind Genova and took me around my destination, the one marked out clearly by the giant ERG sign down there near the old centre ... round and then down.

I saw the city from the heights and its a beautiful city ...

In these days of wandering without intending to talk, I have discovered some truly special people anyway ... the lovely man with the vegetarian cafe, who has since asked if one of my photographs of him might be used in an article for the Corriere della Sera; the man and his wife with the farinata shop close by and the pizza people… 

imageThe woman who sells me my breakfast foccacia discovered I come from Nuova Zelanda today ... we reached a point of understanding and agreement via gestures and our few words in common, regarding the fact that we both loved our countries of origin but admired each other’s too.

The cafe where my favourite cappuccino is made is called Cafe Boomerang, in honour of the owner’s visit to Australia, and the gelato guy had an ‘I love you!‘moment when he realised I wanted the details of his shop for this website.

The internet cafe people are just as I left them last year but the vegetarian cafe has free wifi too, so I’ll wander between them, so as not to seem too internet needy perhaps ...

There is so much here in this tiny corner of the city, so much to love.  I’m holidaying with Gert for a few days now, trying not to talk to or photograph interesting strangers but it’s difficult.

Even the man operating the boat trips to Camogli, San Fruttuoso and Portofino is going to cycle New Zealand next year.

It’s good to be out ...

Ciao for now.