Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Once there was a dragon...

I taught my two grandsons this song ... I knew a version about three dragons, each with a different colour, Red, Green or Black .. and if you were ever to meet any of them, one fine day, far away, then you must SLAY that particular dragon ... It was much appreciated and Isaak contributed a version about one dressed in Lime (full of crime), and Nathan liked the idea of one dressed in Blue (beautiful and true) and of course, this one you would greet, and say "Good day, Dragon who is dressed in blue".
Isaak's class was having a 'medieval Europe week', dressing up as knights, fair ladies, and of course, confronting dens of dragons... I was delighted to hear that they were also learning about 'stereotypes' and used ideas about dragons to break the stereotypical notion that such a monster must inevitably be full of wrath and breathing out flames. We learnt that there are friendly dragons too.
Great fun to be six years old and attend a school like that.  And thank goodness for air conditioning, though it is quite remarkable how many of these youngsters don't appear to turn a hair at air temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius. (The heat hits me as I open the front door to go outside, and the ground scorches my bare feet ... quick retreat into shadow before plunging into the wam waters of the nearby swimming pool.)

So it's good-bye Dubai I guess; have been visiting there for around six and a half years now, and Judy has lived there over four years. She and her family will soon be re-locating. Farewell Babylon, the huge quiet desert and the nearby misty mountains, the alluring shopping malls and the absurd sky-high towers. Like an insubstantial pageant faded ... I have already almost forgotten the boogy-woogy lights below as the plane comes in to land at night. I remember the people I met there.

Back in Finike, south Turkey, watching the sea. Wind-ruffled, rocking the boats, no chance of mast-patterns on the rippling sea. But such tranquillity here, despite the roaring lorries that zoom down the hills from Demre (shades of Sint Nikolaas) on  their way to Antalya.
We could happily stay here, going for walks along St Paul's Way, climbing up to ancient fortresses built of white stone, bleached by the Mediterranean sun, gazing into bright distances, across rolling land sprinkled with golden broom, where pine and cypress clothe the nearby hills. And in the distance the cloud-capped towers... (or mountains?)

I think so often: there is not enough time, certainly not to describe enough detail, like the hairs on a caterpillar, or write a carefully structured sonnet. But I also think: make the time you need and enjoy every moment that you have.
And now it's suppertime (red lentil soup of course, with tiny shavings of dried red chili).
Turkish delight...

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter in Dubai

Still dark, but the birds are beginning to twitter. Out into the warm air and down the street towards the beach. Sound of surf breaking on the shore. Many figures moving towards a spot on the sand where trestle tables stand, piled with pans of food and paper plates. That's for later.
When the air has grown light, we sing praises to God that the darkness of death has been conquered, that nothing can separate us from this love that fills the universe. As Paul wrote, Behold, I tell you a mystery... It is a mystery and I cannot find good-enough ways to explain why I am convinced that there is such a thing as God's glory. It is like music. Either you are moved and transported by certain sounds, or you aren't; no logic can convince a person to hear.
So here I am full of joy and the peace that passes all understanding...
And I have a new tiny granddaughter, a little over one week old. We watch in wonder, gazing at her sleep-filled face, so mobile, sometimes apparently smiling, sometimes lined with deep concentration, as if pondering upon the insolubles of time and space... Little creature, born of joy and mirth...
I play with my two grandsons, now aged just over 6 1/2 and 4 1/3. The two are utterly different. Sometimes like bear cubs, rolling and wrestling, or shouting at each other. At other times, building a 'sofa-boat' togeher, and complete with detailed sea chart drawn by Isaak, we sail off towards a Treasure Island, avoiding the swarming sharks and the thousand treacherous rocks (marked with an x on the chart) that impede our journey across the waves. Tricky business, skirting the coast to find somewhere to beach, and set off for the cave where the treausre lies buried... Then it's usually suppertime.

I guess this will be my last visit to Dubai for some time, since Judy and family are re-locating to Brunei in the summer. Every time I visit here it seems like another building has been added; I continue to be amaxed at the awesome (yes!) shopping malls, palaces of plenty but also adapted for the not-so-rich; try to learn a little more history of this part of the world. Oh, so much to learn...

Soon back to Turkey for our final month in Finike. We could happily stay there another year, or years... But Europe seems to be calling.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The realms of gold...

David and I were just trying to recap all the places I/we travelled to last year : it was a crazy compilation! This year has started off on a similar foot, but I think things will calm down a little ... though now with my daughter and family off to Brunei for three years there's going to be some serious long-haul flights occurring.
So far 2014 has been: New Year in the south of England, visits to former university friends including a few days discovering a semi-flooded Cirencester (delightful), Amsterdam with Gaenor for a few days and the Hague granddaughters, back to the boat in Turkey, delightful visit on the boat from niece and nephew and their partners, then to Palestine and family reunions, Italy and dear friends, back to Turkey with Kate from Leiden, then Amsterdam sandwiching brief days in London and some family, more lovely granddaughters, lots of spring daffodils in the north of Europe (!) and then back here to the boat.
Next trip is Dubai, probably my last visit there for a while, to greet new granddaughter and just be happy with my lovely family there.
After that our French sailing crew will arrive in Turkey, in the form od Dany, companion of many travels. And we shall set sail, around mid-May, towards Greece.
There are so many things to occupy time here, apart from simply gazing at the wondrous purple mountains that embrace this bay of Finike and watching the light on the water and the rippling patterns of the masts on the still sea in the harbour.
Suppertime now (food is varied and utterly delicious here ... I plan to devote a whole day to compliing alliterative descriptions of the Turkish food we are enjoying. I suspect we shall never eat so well (home-cooked on two burners) again...