Monday, August 30, 2010

Some France pics





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Picture window


Saturday, August 28, 2010

The bend in the road

So you plod along, living your life. You go to work, you hang out with your kids. Maybe you’re irritated that the power has gone off, or that you couldn’t find any cream in the shops.

 

And then you hear from your dad that your good friend has been shot. At close range by an AK47. In the shoulder and in the head. He tells you that he has been medicaved to Johannesburg but is stable. That he is in an induced coma but they do not yet know the extent of his head injury.

 

And your world spins away from you.

 

And your ex tells you “He was shot in the side of the head and has a shattered eye socket and no ear. But he will pull through. If you remember he was shot in the leg with shotgun SSG 10 years ago. Mark just put his fingers in the holes in his thigh and was taken to his father's house to be sewed up, so this is just another scratch!”

 

And you think, “Are you sure?” Because you are scared to hope.

 

And you try to keep positive. You try not to think about it too hard; not to let your imagination run riot. But then it catches you off guard when you’re chopping ginger and you find yourself sobbing on the kitchen floor.

 

And your husband says “One step at a time. That he was found on the side of the road in time before he bled too much. That he was able to be medicaved. That he is stable. Now we wait to see the rest. One thing at a time.” And he hugs me. And the baby laughs, thinking my sobs are laughs. And I hug them tight.

 

And what else can you do? But live your life. Try to plod a little less and live a little more. Because really, you never know what’s around that bend in the road.


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Picture window? It's dark, I'm writing this in bed. Next time.

 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The holiday part the third and final


If you got your atlas out and looked at the top part of Germany and then ran your finger over the map, all the way south, about as far south in France as you can go before you hit the Pyrenees you'll trace the journey we did. 

Ah, I started writing this days ago. And I kept thinking, I'll get back to it when I feel inspired, I want to give it the time and poetry this part of the trip deserves. I want to tell you about the beautiful old farm house tucked away in the woods, complete with summer vegetable patch and strawberries ripe for the picking.  Of visiting an old stain glassed windowed church - all echoey and old, and of the baby gal splashing about in the stone basin of holy water. Of driving into the Pyrenees and taking fleeting pictures out the back of a funky yellow car. That matched the fields of sunflowers. Of market day and fois gras and enough cheese to sink a galleon. Of medieval villages and old winding streets. Of family and laughter and comfort and reminiscing of old times. 


But...


I've started work you see. Rehearsal. And its just taking up all my brain and my energy. 


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Oh and the picture window! How remiss of me!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Holiday - part the second (with some brief family history thrown in)


My grandmother used to be an author. She is 89 and pretty cool, in a laugh about farts sort of way. She was born in India, and raised partly in the UK and partly in Nyasaland, now Malawi. This is where she met my grandfather and where my mother and aunt were born.
 
She lives in Cornwall now and so we trekked down there for a couple of days to visit and be buffeted about by the wind. We stayed in a little B&B out in the magical woods. 


She stays in a lovely big old house right by the sea that is a care home or assisted living or whatever the euphemism is nowadays for God's waiting room. She's been there a few years but seems to think she's just arrived and seems to quite like it so....
 
We walked in the woods, ate seafood, got wet by waves crashing on rocks, told the same stories manymany times (she's a little forgetful now, my granny) and spoke about the past (she remembers all this perfectly). Oh and laughed. Lots. 




Then we hit the road proper. 


Drove from Worcester in the UK down to the coast, hopped on the ferry in Dover, arrived in Calais, reprogrammed our brains for driving on the other side of the road, dusted off my schoolgirl French and up up and away! 

Destination Shnakenburg, Northern Germany. Where my 90 year old grandfather lives.  That first day we started off in England, then drove through France, Belgium and Holland and the next day into Germany. Sheesh! 

My grandfather is 90 going on 70. Must be all the berries he eats. He is seriously fit - it's a bit freaky actually! He took us on a guided tour of his (and my dad's) hometown. His other son, my dad's brother, came to be there too. To help with the language and all. Because otherwise there would have been an awful lot of smiling and nodding. And awkward silences. This is a side of my family I don't really know, you see. My father left Germany for Africa when he was 20ish and I think this is only the third time I've met my grandfather; my uncle I'd only met once before. And their other sibling, Geli? Have I ever properly in real life met you?? Don't think so. So yes, I have German heritage but I don't speak the language nor do I really know much about this heritage. Time to redress that I reckon.

There he is striding forth, we could barely keep up with him!

Shnakenburg is tiny old town on the river Elbe halfway between Hamburg and Berlin. Surrounded by huge forests. You look across the river into what used to be east Germany and it looks so peaceful now you can't really imagine the patrol boats ready to shoot people on sight if they tried to swim across. 


He also took us to see an old section of the fence between east and west. Where a small village was demolished to make way for it, the residents given a few hours to move out. Gruelling to think, but again, such a weirdly peaceful spot.

The houses are all oldold with gaps in between them for the cows to walk through. Some have shrapnel pockmarks. They are beautiful, and mostly really well maintained, 



with a few old crumbling buildings, overgrown with ivy. 



We went inside one that a friend of theirs was renovating and its amazing to see how they were built, all straw and mud and beams. And to have survived all these years. The termites can't be as bad as the ones here, surely? 



And an 800 year old church that apparently no-one really attends. I found that odd, I'm not sure why.

Oh I could go on and on and on but I can feel you all shifting boredly in your seats, stifling a yawn. Lots of stories and pictures I have. But we still have France to get through! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Holiday - part the first



We thought it would be a good idea to visit Europe in the summer, since I'd only ever seen her in the dark dead of winter. Which I love. 

But the summer? 

Oh its all shiny and sparkly and covered in smartie flavoured flowers! And I can totally believe in fairies and talking trees and  jacket wearing rabbits in the English summer countryside!
Divine. 

Its always something getting used to driving a little car when we get to the developed world. The engine is so quiet. Sometimes you think its not on and try to restart it. And when you try and touch the clutch, you put your great big foot on all three pedals at once. And the breaks? You only need to use your big toe! Well, I say this as if I drive in England. Noooo. You wouldn't catch me dead driving in that scary traffic. Well, actually you would.  

Give me a big old landrover and scary African city driving any time. The driving here may be crazy with people overtaking overtaking cars and cutting in and basically driving into you if you're not on your toes and anticipating each driver's move within a 200 metre radius, but at least people expect you to make mistakes. In Europe or wherever everything goes so smoothly. If you did make a mistake you'd be the crumpled one on the side of the highway that causes the tailback and that everyone rubbernecks at as they go past. No no, not for me. Luckily (since we were doing a road trip through Europe) the husband loves to drive. 

So we landed at Heathrow and picked up our wee car. And the other thing? How can you tell which car is yours in a crowded parking lot? They all look the same. (Yes yes, I'm a girl I know). Okay, so the time difference is only two hours but having woken up at four that morning, and having been on an all day flight with a squirming one year old we thought it would be a great idea to go and spend the night at a mate's house in London and have a party. I mean why not, right? The gathering of the clans. And the last time we'd seen most of them we were being crazy, climbing trees and drinking copious amounts of beer on an elephant dung infested dry river bed in the middle of a national park. And now we see them and most of us are all familied up. Kids. Cars full of broken plastic dinosours and armbands. But not above drinking copious amounts of beer. And climbing trees and playing cricket with said elephant dung if there was any around. Right? Or at least taking about it.  So in with a bang and it was great. 

Part of our mission on this trip was to go and visit all the rellies. Many of whom I've only met a couple of times - most of whom are pushing a hundred but we thought it would be fun to go and see them all, introduce them to the baby gal. A victory lap of sorts. 

But first stop middle of England somewhere, spent a week with my parents-in-law. Shop. Eat. Shop. Eat.

Next stop Cornwall to visit my 89 year old grandmother. 


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Honey, I'm home! (but shhhh, don't tell anyone)


I am back from holiday. Well fed and dragging my heels. 

Where to start, where to start? 

Can I just pretend I'm on holiday a bit longer? Lay my head on my pillow and deal with everything tomorrow? Or the next day?

Maybe Monday.

I think I'll keep my Out of Office Reply on just a little bit longer.... 


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Picture Window

with drier grass and taller trees