Those Landscapes ...

When I went home, back in 2012, one of the places I had to revisit was the river in the photograph below.

It was the scene of much childhood joy.  It was my river.  I loved the smell of it as it flowed out of the valley and onto the plains.   I loved the scent the stones would throw up from under our wet and wriggly bodies as we baked ourselves on top of them, teeth chattering, after being ordered out of the river to warm ourselves a while.  I loved picnics there ... warm Greggs cordial in big glass beer bottles, and egg sandwiches and cakes Mum had baked.   And I loved the way my hair would smell, full of river water, on the way home.

Later, when body consciousness forced me out of the river and those idyllic childhood days, I returned with my dog.  She seemed to share my passion for the river.  I would skim stones for her from the shore.

Fast-forward decades and everyone warned me, when I went home ... things will have changed.  You will have idealised it.  So I was cautious with my expectations, knowing that the landscapes I had loved might seem different, now I was older, more traveled.

But no ... those old landscapes, they rose up in front of me and kissed me full on the mouth.  A bear hug, or more, and this deep feeling of joy over simple things like bird song and the scent of bush in the rain at Tautuku. 

Nothing had changed.   All of the big passionate love I had felt was still there.   Those 'scapes allowed me to slip back in and love them like always.  No recriminations about leaving. 

Well, maybe .... just a few sly questions like, have you found anywhere better?  Name one place where the air smells like this ...  

Did you miss us?

Love Notes from Sahara

An old ice cream container appeared behind me, outside my office window, yesterday.  It was hanging from a long thin piece of green string.  Little Miss 8 casually asked me if I had noticed that there was 'something' out there.

I looked and found a little love note that had come from the kidlet who lives above me and I replied, then called out to let her know that she had mail too.  She hauled it and and so it continued till bedtime. 

The notes from upstairs always come with small gifts.  A piece of costume jewellery, a perfume-soaked piece of cloth, and there is always another note.

I sent up a beautiful cockle shell from my desk and then later, as a grand finale, a glue stick.  This morning she came down to breakfast bemused ... 'You sent me a glue stick?

I did.  Was there a problem, I thought you could maybe use one up there in your room?

This morning, to lure her back upstairs to clean her room, I announced there was mail, having loaded two pieces of green chewing gum and a horse picture to colour into the 'basket'.

I wonder how things will proceed today but I think I'd best take this seriously ... no more glue sticks, for sure.

I photographed the note using the camera in my new phone.  I am cautiously adjusting to the touchscreen and all the other wonders of mobile phones in the 21st century. 

Sunshine and the promise of 16 celsius by Saturday.

Good morning.


Clare and Chris ...

They booked their visit months ago.  It was written into 'the book' and then time passed, in its usual haphazard manner.  Being me, I lost track but suddenly, despite this non-participation with regard to time, it was 25 August and voila, they were here.

I met Clare in Istanbul and adored her there.  She left, we stayed in contact and Gert and I had the joy of photographing her British wedding to the lovely Chris ...  

This friendship,  it's been lovely so far.

Yesterday we wandered the city ending our day at Taverne Ter Rivierenhof, with unlimited exceptionally exquisite Mosselen a Velonte, Scampi in Lookboter, and Stoverij.  Bliss!

This morning a traditional Belgian breakfast was enjoyed by all, conversations too, and then afternoon saw them disappear on our bikes, exploring this city Clare has only visited during colder months.  Chris has never been here ... it was therefore imperative that he went wandering.

Last heard of, they were leaving the Open Air Sculpture Park called Middelheim, heading for the famous Het Elfde Gebod - a pub full of religious statues, bought when the Catholic Church entered its minimalist phase.

There have been a couple of serious downpours but we're thinking they're fine.  She's an intrepid soul, as is he ... and we're looking forward to the stories that will surely be told over Shepherd's Pie and Pavlova tonight.

Oh ... and red wine too. Belgian beers for the boys we're thinking - in the style of an anthropological-style ethnography.  Gert's been introducing all the blokes to the new beer by Duvel Tripel Hop.  So far, everyone he has introduced to this new limited edition beer to, has looked like they have partaken of a miracle upon supping from their Duvel glass.

Even Clare toyed with not returning Chris's glass to him after a taste of the Duvel, despite the fact that we in the midst of our own red wine religious experience.  That, my friends, is how good the Duvel Tripel Hop is ... 

Anyway, meet Chris and Clare.