Tuesday, 28 April 2015

More widening of the world...

Seems to me my blog is becoming an account of a spiritual journey as well as a physical one ... across the churning sea into quiet harbours ... like G.M. Hopkins's Nun's Prayer :

I have desired to go
where no storms blow ...
and I have longed to be...
out of the swell of the sea

That's not exactly an accurate quote but suggests the gist of the poem. Yes, I could do without the choppy waves and the rolling swell.
On the other hand (as they say) I have loved the adventures of the past ten years or so ... for I have filled my head with such glorious scenes, talked with so many different people (in so many languages!), tasted so many scrumptious foods, sampled so many different wines ... and so on.
Have slept lulled under the moon and the stars and rolled, Ulysses-like, across the wine-dark sea in search of Ithaca.
But now I think it's time to stop and walk across dry land. Well, some sandy or even pebbly beaches will also be acceptable!
Another month and then I'll fly back northwards (Catania - Torino - Amsterdam).
But I already know I will miss the the lonely sea and the sky... Always ambivalence.

(line from John Masefield's Sea Fever)

Monday, 27 April 2015

Farewell Bari...

Now in Brindisi, left Bari two days ago.
Wind on the nose all the time, just motored over the choppy sea.
Stopped at Polignano for one night. Was Italian Liberation day (after WWII) and wonderful atmosphere in the little citta.
We'll stay here in Brindisi for a couple of days till the wind dies down.
The sailing report is generally a good one ... though small things go wrong with the mechanics of the boat.
But the food is excellent (home cooking!), and we purchased a two-lite bottle of vino rosso before leaving Bari.
Have not yet achieved a pleasant cooperative atmosphere wuth the three of us on the boat ... I must learn more about controlling my anger: but now understand how it rises from long-hidden layers of fear and disappointment.
So every day a new one!
On we go...

Friday, 17 April 2015

Mid-April, back in Bari

It really is spring ... what a joy. Blossom everywhere and warm wind wafting the fallen petals along the street...
It was the same in Amsterdam, where I've just spent over a week. Went back chiefly to visit the exhibition Late Rembrandt, in the Rijksmuseum.
Words cannot describe the astonishing effect of standing in front of those portraits made by Rembrandt his later days.
As if you are waiting for the person in the picture to speak... knowing that you are looking at a square of flat canvas covered most miraculously with strokes of paint. I looked and looked ... saw to my amazement, for instance, that in the portrait known to me as Hendrickje bathing, the woman's skin was painted with a grey-blue on her arms and thighs. I observed the thin outline of black paint marking the edge of skin against a vague background in some of the portraits. To put it one way, I supped on beauty ... as did thousands of others. It was extremely crowded, but reasonably quiet. My head is still full of those faces: old Rembrandt, Lucrezia about to die, an old woman reading, young Titus looking up from his reading, Bathsheba just finished reading, Hendrickje smiling softly to herself as she wades into the water...

Then out into the sun and the magnolia blossom.
I also attended a splendid concert of Bach cantatas: the Easter cantata and Kom, Jesu, Kom ((two m's maybe??)) with Amsterdam Bach Ensemble, beautifully baroque, in the Willem de Zwijger church in south Amsterdam.
Then a most interesting theatrical performance in Dutch of Queen Lear ... modern adaptation of Shakespeare's play. Clever transposition of the story: Elisabeth Lear, head of multi-national, getting old, wants to hand over the business to her three sons ... same old story of arrogance, lust, cruelty and gradual learning. Brilliant acting from the lead, Lear, powerful deterioration into poor weak old woman (not quite perfect in her mind). During the final speech there was dead silence in the theatre. Something approaching catharsis touched us! I missed the wonderful resounding language of Shakespeare (incomparable) but the adaptation was clever.

On my final evening in Amsterdam I attended a "talk" in a literary meeting house, De Bali (formerly Amsterdam prison) where excellent cultural activities take place.
This was about Vasily Grossman. I learned a lot and the presentation, by four speakers interspersed with reading from Grossman's work, was excellent, varied, amusing, and sober in turn.

So back to Bari and the joys of Italian food and the colours of the sky over the water ... We will possibly leave in about a week, if the boat is ready, and sail slowly southwards; she's still out if the water and having her bottom cleaned. And much to do on her insides. I'm washing clothes and cooking meals. And of course, reading and speaking Italian.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

April the first ... and no fools round ...

It has become very pleasant here, sunny mornings, breakfast in the back cockpit watching the light dancing on the water and the sides of nearby yachts. David continues re-wiring the boat but has now completed (he tells me) nine-tenths...
I have my excellent Italian lessons and notice how I am now dreaming in this language... in fact, losing (temporarily, I hope) my Dutch: a yacht with large and splendidly bright Dutch flag arrived on our pontoon a couple of days ago, so of course I chatted to the crew (four stalwart men who had brought the boat across from Croatia ((or maybe Slovenia)) for the owner who is planning to sail across to Greece). I found it difficult to pull out the Dutch words when talking with them (Italian, French and English came up first, from the miraculous dark well inside!).

We have booked to go to the citta of Trani, just up the coast, for Easter. It boasts a magnificent cathedral, so everyone says. And apparently, a synagogue where now part of the castle stands (I am not quite clear about this!... will research it). Easter and Pesach virtually coincide this year.  
And still so many chains to be broken, and so many rivers/oceans to cross...

Am now investigating how to cook our baccala, a fish eaten here typically on Good Friday. We're having ours early.  Think I need to go buy a red bell pepper, otherwise known as paprika (in Dutch, ha ha).