Portugal–Part Two

Back at the Oriente metro station on Sunday, I made a beeline for the mainline station and found the platform for my train to Fundao. The train arrived exactly on the minute. My brother had pre-booked my ticket and kindly got me a window seat. The train journey wasn’t that exciting, but I had plenty to read. It was strange not having any form of ticket, but I needn’t have worried. Once I gave the conductor my name, I was allow to continue my trip, which took three hours.

The view from the train to FundaoI took this from the train as we approached Fundao.

I could hardly wait to see the property Roger and Billy had bought and I was really looking forward to settling into Pastor’s Cottage up on the hill.

I’d visited them in Montpellier over a decade ago when they were managing a little hotel there. Both of them are wizards of the land and manage to make something beautiful everywhere they live. But the area in which they now live is arid which necessitates experimenting with what grows and what doesn’t.

They met me at Fundao train station and we had a cup of coffee in a café in the sun before heading back in their little jeep to their Quinta in Paradise Valley (Vale de Prazarez).

Their Quinta is near the Spanish border. On a clear day you can see Spain in the distance.

the view from the terrace of Pastor's cottage

We sat out on their terrace and admired the full moon which was perfectly aligned beside the neon-blue cross over the village church down in the valley.  Billy made a special local dish for dinner. It was very thoughtful of him as I’m pretty sure it was in my honour.

On Monday morning Billy and I went to the market in Fundao where all the locals come to sell their wares, plants, vegetables, baskets, piles of dried cod, all sorts of grains and beans and piles of clothes, shoes, boots and sets of knickers, men’s underwear and what-have-you.

It's a cod at the market    grain and beans at the market Fundao

After the market we met up with a couple of their friends at a local café. The cafés are generally very basic, and this one was no exception, but it is generally a very unpretentious place. Ann and Grant have also taken a big step out of the so-called rat race and have bought a plot of land there too, on the other side of the mountain. They’re making a new life for themselves, renovating an old ruin, planting vegetables and living in very simple conditions until the house is finished. All this while trying to learn the language—it can’t be easy.

This area of Portugal is famous for its cherries. I knew this because Margreda had mentioned it to me, as did a couple of other people I’d met along the way.  The sad thing is that a lot of the young people have left the area to live and work elsewhere. There were several ruins right in the local village. The irony is that most of the new influx of people come from cities like Brighton where the cost of living, I believe, has become exorbitant. I met several of them when we went to the local pub, and I remember one conversation in which a fellow in his forties was berating the price of rents and the cost of his daily commute to London to work. I suppose it all balances out in the end. Some leave, others come. But these ‘others’ obviously have to have capital and live frugally as I imagine there aren’t many jobs available.

ruin in the village

Finally, I moved into my little cottage, which basically consists of one-room open-plan (with bathroom). It’s perfect for a single or a couple. I bought a few basics and set myself up. I was glad my husband suggested I take my Notebook because I had music and could continue writing my next novel.

Billy had enticed me, saying the walls of the cottage contain quartz from the local mountains, and that one of the guests had said she’s awoken with all these sparkles lighting up the room.  He also said it was a hotspot for UFO sightings, but I suspect he was pulling my leg. At least I didn’t see any unidentified objects. It was so serene and I didn’t feel the need to do anything much, except sit out on the gorgeous terrace, listen to music, read and write a bit. Usually, around noon, I’d hear Billy making a bird call and spot him through the trees, climbing up the hill like a young goat. (I know he’ll be flattered by that!). That was my prompt to put on the kettle and make some coffee.

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In the evening I’d go down and join them for dinner. They were very hospitable and we had some good laughs, listening to music and singing to some oldies.

They were both working on the land, planting, cutting back, digging, clearing the well, taking care of the chickens and of course, doing all the work involved in keeping a B&B (although actually breakfast isn’t included). They’d leave fresh veggies of the season, or fruit, and eggs if the chickens were being productive. For the few days I was there, the guests were mainly from Spain, but I know they’ve had guests from all over as you can see by the brilliant testimonials.

http://bit.ly/2riIdd5

On Wednesday, we visited Castelo Branco, the nearest big town and had a little breakfast in a nicer café on the square. It was lovely watching the world go by and seeing all the locals out and about. We then walked around town and ended up in a mall, where we had lunch. They did their ‘big food shopping’ in Lidl (yes, they’re everywhere). The first thing we did was look to see what plants were on offer that day. They really do love their garden. Roger bought a big bag of clams. They had lobster and all sorts of seafood there and it was interesting comparing produce to my local Lidl. We were all glad to be back to the serenity of ‘home’ after the hustle and bustle of the city and the midday heat.

I had another few hours on the terrace with a grand view down the valley. The weather was perfect—at the beginning of April it was about 26 deg. with a slight breeze.  I don’t know where all the wildlife was hiding because I didn’t see many birds, or wild boar during my stay. But I believe the locals love to hunt everything that flaps, peeps or grunts, and so I suppose the animals were there somewhere. I took a few excursions in the vicinity of the cottage and checked out the wildflowers, the pond etc. but I was resting my leg and so I must admit, I was pretty lazy.

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Later, Roger prepared those delicious clams with garlic, lemon juice and coriander and a fantastic mixed salad, topped off with fresh strawberries soaked in Port wine.

And all too soon, my fantastic holiday was over. The evening before I left, there was a Reggae Party in the next village, organised by one of the local ‘new’ residents. We met up with some of the others in the pub beforehand and had delicious gin and tonics for the grand price of €2.50 a glass.

The evening was a great success. I particularly enjoyed watching the African Dance performance–yes, I know it was a Reggae Party–by a lovely woman from Porto. She said she was returning in August to teach a workshop. I said I definitely wouldn’t be returning in August as it would be far too hot for me. We chatted to her and her husband outside while we waited for the taxi driver to arrive. What lovely people.

I knew it would be late, and my train was leaving at about 7 a.m. the next morning.

 

That’s all for now, folks!

Sorry, I know this is long.

Photos all taken with my phone. i did my best.

(to be continued …)

 

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Portugal Part 1

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Travelling is good for the soul.

I think we all need to step out of the hustle and bustle of life every now and again. Holidays are so rejuvenating. We can forget about duties, bills and the everyday pressures of life. At least it’s true for me.

I’ve just returned from my first ever trip to Portugal and had such a fantastic time. My main reason for going there was to visit my brother Billy and his partner Roger. Last year they took the plunge, sold their house in Ireland and moved to Roger’s home country, Portugal. They bought property near the Spanish border and have been working like crazy renovating the three houses (which are now complete), clearing out wells, planting and beautifying their spot of heaven. I was really curious to see it for myself and had booked seven nights in the stone cottage,  one of the properties on their land.

More about that in Part II.

When I mentioned to my friend, Muffy, that I was planning on stopping off in Lisbon or Porto and spending a night or two there, she said, ‘Oh, you must visit my friend, Margarida. She has a B&B outside Lisbon.  Without further ado, I booked two nights in Margarida’s B&B.

Sometimes we are faced with challenges when we really want to do something.

My challenge was a tendon problem in my right leg. It appeared out of nowhere when I was walking with my husband a couple of weeks prior to my trip.  I was seriously worried about navigating my way up and down stairs with luggage. I was also nervous because I’d never been to Portugal before.

Maybe I was getting cold feet!

Or becoming paralysed with fear?

Our bodies have an interesting way of reacting to our subconscious fears.

But I was going to do it anyway. I’m very stubborn when it comes to seeing things through.

A week beforehand, I was at the hairdressers.  The hairdresser asked me where I was from. I said Ireland. “Oh, that’s interesting. I’d love to go there,” she said. “A friend of mine is visiting Scotland at the moment.” And she went on to tell me that this friend is very active in the local community and that she’s an amazing woman who just married a couple of years ago. “Both she and her new husband married late, just a couple of years ago, and her husband has a severe disability which makes walking difficult for him.”

That was it. Here I was fretting over a small problem but these two people were travelling to Scotland despite severe mobility problems.

The cosmic web has an interesting way of passing on messages to us. We’ve all heard of that book falling off the shelf, hearing an interview on the radio or a song that magically provides us with a solution to our problem. Oftentimes, these messages come in dreams. So be alert for messages.

I had a fabulous time staying with Margarida Freitas and her lovely partner in their B&B in Monte Estoril, outside Lisbon. Granted, I had to take the Metro, change lines, get a mainline train there, but it was well worth it.

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As we sat out on Margarida’s terrace that first evening, exchanging stories, drinking wine and snacking on olives and cheese,  she convinced me to visit Sintra instead of travelling back to Lisbon the next day. Since I tend to follow the signs, I did as she suggested.

The next morning we walked down the hill to the waterfront and continued along the coastal promenade to Cascais, which is a couple of kilometers away. The electric blue water sparkled and palm trees swayed in the breeze in 25 deg balmy sunshine.  This was really exciting. I had no idea how gorgeous it would be. Joggers passed us by and people were sunbathing in early April! A woman in her seventies stopped to talk to Margarida, blew kisses to us and zoomed off with her shopping trolley. Margarida told me that older woman does that walk several times a day.

I’d been looking at brochures the night before and decided to visit Quinta de Regaleira, one of Sintra’s many tourist destinations. It sounded the most interesting as it is steeped in mysticism and contains an eclectic mix of esoteric symbolism, statues of Greek Gods, a deep well signifying Dante’s layers of hell, a lovely little chapel, statues of Greek Gods, and many other fascinating details. It’s not huge, and you can roam the forest-like grounds for an hour or two and soak up the peacful atmosphere, which is just what I did.

I took the bus to Sintra. I think I probably got off a bit too early; apparently there’s an old part of the city and a new part. After walking for a few minutes, I spotted an interesting-looking boutique and couldn’t resist . . .

That’s the joy of travelling by yourself. You can do what you like, when you like.

I bought myself a much-needed backpack and a straw hat. The sun was quite hot at this stage and the backpack was definitely a good buy.

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But I need it, Mommy, as Cassandra, my friend’s daughter used to say.

I knew these would be my only purchases on this trip and, let’s face it, they were necessary. I dumped all my accoutrements, sunglasses, phone, diary, pens, scarf (in case it got cold) and my purse into the backpack and found somewhere around the corner, on a side street, to have lunch.

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The café was perfect and the food was freshly-made and delicious.

Fortified and feeling quite peaceful, I continued walking into the buzzing centre of Sintra. It was teeming with tourists but not half as bad as late afternoon. From there, I followed the signs to my destination, the Quinta da Regaleira, hobbling a bit but curious at the same time.  I think it probably took me another twenty minutes to reach the entrance. It was uphill but manageable.  The guard at the gate directed the woman in front of me to continue on for another couple hundred meters to the ticket office. They were the hardest. Of course I could have taken a jaloppy or a taxi there. There were plenty of modes of transport available, but I’d made it this far!

I spent a couple of hours walking around the grounds and enjoying the peace and solitude. Despite the fact that there were many tourists there, there was plenty of space for everyone. Due to space restrictions, I cannot post too many pictures here. Besides, the internet is full of information and pictures.

Before going into the palace, I sat in the open-air cafe for an hour or so with its views onto the grounds and the imposing palace in the distance.

A view from the house onto the cafe, the interior, the long walk up, an interesting door (I couldn’t resist feeling it–surface was felt) , a fiew from the tunnel.

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Returning back to the tourist centre was a shock after the peace of the gardens. It really was abuzz with people and I just wanted to get back to Cascais. I walked back to the bus station and made it back by 7 p.m. Margarida and her partner picked me up in Cascais. We took the scenic route along the waterfront and I was sorry I wasn’t staying longer. There’s so much more I’d like to have seen. But I hope to return one day. We spent another lovely evening on their spacious terrace.

Boy, does Margarida have interesting stories to tell.

That crispy chicken was delicious!

Margarida, her partner, her mother who is 96, and their lovely dalmation!

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You can find her on Airbnb.

I’ll be posting the second part of my journey next week.

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Bye for now.

Leonard Cohen and a Trip Down Memory Lane

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R.I.P. Leonard Cohen and thanks for the music.

“My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke that caused me to laugh bitterly through the ten thousand nights I spent alone.”
― Leonard Cohen

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
― Leonard Cohen

“Remember when I moved in you and the holy dove was moving too, and every breath we drew was, “Hallelujah.”
― Leonard Cohen

I associate Leonard Cohen with a rich collage of memories.

I first moved to Germany when I was twenty-two. My German boyfriend and I met at a party in Dublin. That first year we had  a long-distance relationship until he was accepted to study for a year at Trinity. After that, or before it—or both—I stayed in his flat in Karlsruhe. He had a huge collection of LP’s—we still have them.

For me, school was over and motherhood had not yet begun. I was free and happy and the world around me was new and exciting.

I call it my Pink Period. My boyfriend and his friends fixed up an old bicycle for me. I painted it pink, and because I had some paint left over, I painted my suede ankle boots too.

Getting back to Leonard Cohen. He reminds me of that whole period—candlelit rooms, dancing to Harry Belafonte at parties occasionally financed by Blutspenden (donation of blood). Shameful, I know. They sold their blood for the price of a few bottles of wine, which was very cheap. A lot of students did this. And their blood was pure, like their hearts.

You learn to be creative when you’re living on a tight budget.

It was a communal time too. We’d get together and bake Zwiebelkuchen (onion tart), or one of our flatmates would bring huge vats of Most, a most bitter apple cider in its early stages of fermentation. It wasn’t too bad after a glass or two. Roland’s family had a small farm and he’d go down there to Schwabenland (near Stuttgart) every autumn and help harvest the apples.

When I hear Leonard Cohen, I immediately unlock a trunkful of memories and old photos. For some reason, I also associate Leonard Cohen with Raymond Chandler. Since I was enjoying doing nothing much at the time, I availed of the local library services and swept the shelves clean,  devouring Steinbeck, Marlowe, Hemingway, Anais Nin and whatever books the library deemed literary enough to add to their collection. When I hear Leonard Cohen’s songs, particularly Suzanne and So Long Marianne, the memories come rushing in.

When I wasn’t out on my pink bicycle on my way to the Schlossgarten (castle garden) for a morning under the big chestnut tree with a flask of coffee and my Walkman, I was sitting in his high-ceilinged room, listening to my boyfriend’s record collection, or reading.

Turns out my boyfriend (now husband) didn’t particularly like Leonard Cohen. A lot of men don’t, it seems. Ah, but we women love him. And you know, I’m not even too sad he’s gone because he left us his music and poetry and he’s as much alive now as he was then. He lived a long and rich life and now it’s time to move on.

This cycle of birth and death is part of life. Since we’re in autumn on this side of the world and are witnessing the leaves changing colour and falling off the trees, not to mention major changes coming up on the political arena, we know we have to get through this until the next spurt of growth.

Leonard Cohen’s rich, deep voice crooned out pure poetry like no other.

His voice transports me to a different world. It warms me like a glass of good rich wine and awakened a hard-to-put-a-finger-on-longing for something, a Sehnsucht, as the Germans say. The pathos flowed from his huskiness’s throat, which I’m sure was lubricated with a fair amount of rich amber liquid.  He told stories with his poetic lyrics. He was a deeply spiritual man too and I think he had his share of heartache, at least that’s what comes across in his lyrics, and his voice.

Some people are just born like that. Melancholic, deep, soulful. Unforgettable.

Three Quotes for Three Days

Here’s my second quote:
pablo1
“Without magic, there is no art. Without art, there is no idealism. Without idealism, there is no integrity. Without integrity, there is nothing but production.”
Raymond Chandler

Thanks to Millie Slavidou for nominating me for the “Three Quotes for Three Days” challenge.
The rules of the challenge are:
Three quotes for three days.
Three nominees each day (no repetition).
Thank the person who nominated you.
Inform the nominees.

My nominees are:

Susanne Downes,

Katerina Sestakova Novotna

Susan Darlene Faw

 

 

 

Three Quotes for Three Days

bumblee-quote

Thanks to Millie Slavidou of Glossologics for nominating me for the “Three Quotes for Three Days” challenge.
The rules of the challenge are:
Three quotes for three days.
Three nominees each day (no repetition).
Thank the person who nominated you.
Inform the nominees

Today’s quote is from Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics:

Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.

 

My nominees are:

Pam Lecky

Angelika Schwarz

Eithne Muffy O’Connor

If You Want to Write

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photo: thanks to pixabay and pablo

I’ve written this as an inspiration to others who may have been longing to write for years but who haven’t started yet. And I may continue this theme by writing about the books that have inspired me and how I went about publishing my book. 

I love to write, but so do millions of others. But could I actually write a novel? Should I? Why not?  If you can imagine it, you can do it. Then there’s the age old battle between the ego and the spirit. Should I remain humble and keep my mumblings to myself, or should I live my dream and publish a book, or two, or three?

It’s so easy and yet so hard. We must learn the rules of writing. And what better way to learn this that to give it a try. Start with a short story. But read, read the classics, read different genres. These authors make it look so easy, right?

At some stage, you’ll begin to read like a writer. You’ll find yourself thinking about the way the scene was set up, or the way the character was portrayed. How did the author do that? Where did they get their ideas from?

We might look at Picasso’s work and think ‘What the dickens was he on?’ His abstract paintings look simple. And what’s with all those distorted heads?  But his style was innovative at the time. He had learned the ropes so he could afford to do something ‘different.’ He knew all about perspective, colour and form.

A writer’s tools may be different. We have to learn how to paint pictures with words, create characters with depth and paint scenes in such a way that the reader can see them vividly. Learn the basics and go create your unique story.

What kind of book would you like to read? Do you have a theme you’d like to explore?

Anything is possible, almost.

I think that’s the secret. That’s where you should begin, by writing a story that pleases you.

While some people cannot write without an outline, others just begin and hope it will all come together at some stage. I fall somewhere in between.

It’s a good idea to keep a journal and jot down your ideas.

Even if you write on your computer, the journal writing and the plotting should be done with good old pen and paper. At least that’s what works better for me.

And you might find yourself distracted as you go about your day, wondering what your characters are up to when you’re not controlling them. They might even begin to control you.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s impossible to please everybody. Somebody will find your plot too unrealistic, your characters too flat, your pacing too slow and your story unoriginal. That’s the risk you have to take when you finally put your book out there for the public to see and critique. Some will love it; some won’t. That’s life!

Don’t give up. Write the next one. Learn from your mistakes. Be daring.

Listen to critique, take it on board, work constantly on improving yourself, but more than anything else trust your own instincts.

Don’t write for the glory or the fame, or for the money. Do it because you love it.

Commit to writing a little every day. While writing a novel can seem like a momentous task, if you write a page a day you’ll have a book finished within a year.

If you begin without any great idea of a plot, create interesting characters and see how they interact with each other. Write one scene with these characters. Describe the setting. Play with dialogue. There are many good books on all aspects of writing. Read as many as you can but be careful not to  become paralysed by all these rules.

You’ll reach a place in your novel where you’ll need to figure out where the story is going. This is where mind-mapping or other such tools can be most useful. Plotting is tricky. I’m currently writing my second novel and am trying to work my way through a difficult plot line. I know where I want to go but am not sure how to get there yet. I don’t want to waste days of writing only to have to go back and delete all my hard work. Because it is hard work.

You can write for years, spend a small fortune on books and workshops, travel to see your favourite authors talk, and all without any promise of reward, except the feeling of having completed another novel.

Sometimes I listen to binaural beats when I’m writing. There are many on YouTube and I find them particularly useful. I cannot listen to lyrics when I’m writing, but I do need some sort of light background music. I also listen to classical music. It can be dramatic if the scene is dramatic, or light piano music if I don’t want to be distracted.

If you get stuck in one chapter, you can leave it and continue to the next scene. That’s the beauty of computers. Imagine how laborious it was to write a novel before the dawn of computers? Now, we can delete and add sections as we see fit. We can move chapters around. We can use the ‘search and find’ option, and we can format as we go along. I usually edit as I go along, but a lot of writers advise getting the story on the page first. That’ll be your first draft. Afterwards you can go back and edit.

We all have our own pace. Appoach your writing as a delicious addiction, it will bring you both pain and pleasure. It is not a race.

Keep reminding yourself that most of the writers who are applauded today collected many rejection slips on their path to success.  They never gave up.

I began posting my writing on an international writing site about ten years ago. I was nervous at first, but I started with poetry. Although I hadn’t written poetry for years, I loved playing with words and rhyme. I signed up using a pseudonym, paid the small fee and quickly wrote a couple of poems and posted them. I tried to settle my galloping heart as I ducked for cover.  Since I’d given myself a pseudonym, I felt safe and anonymous.  Imagine my delight when I checked in a few hours later. Yuhooo!  I had great feedback. I got gold stars. This was fun. A published poet became my first fan. ‘You have it in you,’ he said.  I felt a bit like a pretender.  If I was really a poet I would have been collecting and reading poetry books, wouldn’t I?  True, I had a few, but certainly not a slew. I found it easier to condense my thoughts and put them in poetry form. It didn’t take as long to write a poem as it did to write a short story either.

Ah, but that was my ultimate goal—to write short stories or novels.

And so I began writing short stories, more poems and then a novel. I’d post a chapter of my novel every week. That was doable. I could fit it in around my other duties. It was great getting feedback, and I learned a lot that way. But it was taking up a lot of my time; it was becoming an addiction. Not only was I writing, but I was also reading a lot of the other members’ work. The more work you reviewed, the more points you accrued, which in turn allowed you to post your next piece of work. There was another option, which was to pay for each piece of work you wrote. I didn’t choose that one for obvious reasons.

I began recognising names and making online writing buddies. It was a helpuful and fun community and remarkably well-run.

Since I live in Germany, I didn’t have a writing community here. Joining an online group was definitely the next best thing. In fact,  I was quite prolific during those couple of years. There were several published novelists on there and great poets too.

That was what got me started. I’m ever grateful for the advances in technology and the ability to connect with people from all over the world. I’ve met some incredibly helpful and supportive people online, particularly on Facebook. I’ve even met some of them in person. This is my motivation for sharing what I’ve learned.

But there are many challenges. Like posting pictures and removing the image of your face floating in the clouds. I’ll work on that.

Tschüss for now!

Insights from Amsterdam

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It’s always nice to get away; I usually return refreshed and invigorated.

This weekend we went to Amsterdam. We are lucky to live a three hours’ drive from that vibrant city with its canals, boats, flowers, markets, smiling happy people and bicycles.

And we were visiting good friends who we met over thirty years ago, shortly after we got married and moved to the U.S. for a few years. Carl was an assistant professor, starting at Iowa State University and Wies, his wife is Dutch. My husband and I arrived back then in Ames, Iowa, with a rucksack each and returned with our first born, Sebastian, a couple boxes of books and a wealth of experiences.

Now Carl and Wies are back from Maine, spending a year in Amsterdam and living in a fantastic apartment right on the Prinzengracht.

We shared many happy memories of our time in Ames, although we’ve been seeing each other regularly over the years. My first son was born in Ames, and Wies’s only daughter was born almost a year later. We have happy memories of taking them to the park to play, going for walks and letting them splash in the bathtub while we drank coffee and chatted. We never run out of things to talk about!

But this weekend, after hours of sitting around over leisurly breakfasts, we usually parted ways. Carl and Fr. did their thing and Wies and I strolled through the city, went to the markets, to the English Book Shop, bought flowers and cheese and herbs and jewellry, looked at antique books at the book market, had coffee and reminisced and planned for the future. Where are they going to end up? Where are we going to end up? That theme again, Where She Belongs–and here I’ll do a shameless plug for my debut novel–http://bit.ly/29Yao5z. You can click on the link if you’re interested. We talked about the refugee crisis, the U.S. elections, the Trumpet, as he is known, and everything else in between.

On the Rembrandt plein there is usually a small gathering of artists displaying their wares on Sunday mornings. I was happy to meet up again with Sara J., who hails from South Africa but now lives near Amsterdam. There’s that theme again. A city like Amsterdam is so multi-cultural; you’ll meet people from all over the world. I bought a couple of Sara J’s prints, Zebra Pleasure and Madam’s Kiss. One is an early Christmas present for my sister. Here’s a link to Sara J’s art site: http://bit.ly/29Yao5z. We were going to go to one of the museums but the weather was just too nice for that and we didn’t want to have to queue up for ages either.

The market’s are fantastic, of course, and now is the time to buy tulip bulbs for next spring. I recommed the book Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach, by the way. She’s also the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which I love, but Tulip Fever is entirely different. My brother gave it to me years ago. It’s full of suspense and will transport you back to the time when people were going crazy speculating on tulip bulbs. It’s a gem of a book. I wrote to tell D. Moggach how much I liked her book, something I rarely do, and she answered me. Gold stars for her!

Now I’m going to post a picture I took of cheese–just because. The Dutch do love their cheese. Germans call the Dutch Käsköppe (Cheese Heads) and the Dutch call the Germans Krauts (the cabages), but that’s well known. If you go to Amsterdam you must buy some cheese.

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Yes, I know. I really need to minimize these pictures, but I don’t have the patience for that at the moment.

Adieu for now!

Barbara