Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Return to Amsterdam

Farewell to the blue mountains and the sun-stroked green hills.
Though it seems also to be gloriously hot in Amsterdam...
But thunderstorms are approaching.
So here some final views from Judy's house.

I feel as if I had been given a week filled with blessing. Now back to the niggles of city life...

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Pictures from Stavanger

The visual, not the verbal...
The weather continues glorious.
I am very full of peace.
I took these pix early this afternoon, just outside Judy's house.
And the birds never stop singing, until it's deep night (by which time I'm fast asleep...).

Monday, 28 May 2018

Time, memory and light

Waiting in Schiphol airport I was attracted by the books on display ... so encouraging to suspect that people still read somewhere, somehow, despite the manifold distractions!
So I bought The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin, greatly attracted by the words on the cover: Thinking straight in the age of information overload.
And already in the Introduction I found this:

Cognitive psychologists have provided mountains of evidence over the last twenty years that the memory is unreliable. And to make matters worse, we show staggering overconfidence in many recollections that are false. It's not just that we remember things wrongly (which would be bad enough), but we don't even know we are remembering them wrongly, doggedly insisting that the inaccuracies are in fact true.

It was that final half sentence that delighted me: doggedly insisting that the inaccuracies are in fact true.
Meanwhile there are sunsets, and trees, and water, and another world in which what I might call 'truth' is poetic.
And right now, my dearest grandchildren are watching a kids' program which is talking about the difference between what is real and what is make-believe. We are moving into wonderfully intricate waters here. I hope as I read this book I shall become enlightened...

Here is a wonderful sunset pic taken by Komal who is presently staying in my house. Amsterdam in one of its magical moments. True, or make-believe?
 I'm not quite sure which point of the possible canals it has been taken from... no matter, it's a beautiful shot, a solace to look at.

Here in Stavanger we've been having unexpectedly summery weather, much disporting outside and general happiness.
Judy and I walked all round one of the nearby lakes; I had intentionally left my smartphone at home, so no pix.
Today I went with Judy to her Norwegian class, and couldn't follow much of what the teacher was saying, but could understand if I saw the written words (sometimes!). There are many connections with Dutch and English. Great fun. But for me right now rather too much interference from Portuguese.
But that must stay at top level for another month as we can speak Portuguese in Galicia next month.
After that it will be English, Dutch, French and Norwegian.
Ah wondrous words, so sometimes crunchy, at times softly mellifluous. And so forth...
But always ambiguous, deceptive, untrustworthy, shifty and so on.
Maybe I should just stop writing ... for a while.
Poems are OK though.
Words, like poems...
Ciao for now.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

A distinctly different culture...

Now in Norway for a while, having spent a few days in Amsterdam.
Back in the north, where people do not dance in the streets, but I do nevertheless notice a distinct loosening-up in social behaviour since the days when I was young and lived in the south of England.

There was a lot to do in Amsterdam, but on Whit Monday I sauntered through the sunny streets of the city centre and took some pleasing shots.
Two views from a low point on Leidsegracht. Many more... this is a highly photogenic city.
The sun stayed for several days and I managed to do some tidying up in the garden, with the help of my young next-door neighbour, Julius.
I found it very pleasant to be back on land, and with a sense of space and high ceilings...
We celebrated my granddaughter Yara's seventh birthday and mused on the passing of youth...

Here in Stavanger (Norway) I am overwhelmed by the green and the sky and the space; and the many-coloured rhododendrons! Sunset gentles across the lake, seen from my daughter's house:

Softly, the blackbird sings. Light fades slowly and dawn comes early. The water is just warm enough to swim in, at 15 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, down south in grey Porto, our boat Stroemhella (Norwegian name!) once more rejoices in her mast. Replaced without too much problem.
So David could chug a short way northwards to Povoa de Varzim, where she will be lifted out of the water to be cleaned and inspected.
End of a long and happy chapter in Porto. We'll always have a very warm place in our hearts and memories. Below: last night in the marina in Porto, (Leixoes) where we arrived in September 2017.
Now she's in new waters. About the same temperature as here in Stavanger, I think: I was most impressed by these young Norwegians swimming ... they admitted it was rather cold.
He didn't stay in swimming very long!

I am very happy being in this place; think of the lines:
Sweet quiet, have I found thee here,
And solitude, thy sister dear?
Outside, the blackbird pours its evening sweetness into the violet air.
Crazy confused world, how wonderful to find a corner of delight.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Days like the wind

Never failing, becoming more than expected (that's a half-poetic musing!)
It's getting boring to comment on the creaking mooring ropes and the chilling wind.
We have fine outings despite the unfriendly weather.
Wonderful expeditions to the Parque Serralves, which surrounds an excellent museum of contemporary art.
Our family of five departed, leaving the boat full of happy memories, and Samir and Souaad replaced them, and the boat's language became predominantly French.
Here I am saving Samir from falling into the water (joke!) not pushing him in, which is rather what it looks like...
Time to make lunch now, for David who is toiling in the sun and wind, painting the mast on the shore. Picture coming...

Friday, 4 May 2018

Visit to Porto

Time to go into the centre of Porto on a sunny day ... lots of tourists from all over the place, mainly Europe, but also from the Far East.
We went into the Se, with its unadorned Norman arches, and subdued statues, and stood for a few minutes, gazing upwards to where the pillars high above rounded beneath the roof.
then lots of walking down the hilly streets to where the river Douro glistened in the sunlight.
Found a wonderful Portuguese restaurant. Heard some beautiful fado from Coimbra (three black-robed students, one singer, two guitarists), o vento qui passa...
crossed the large square in front of the former Stock Market building (now a museum) where children were turning cartwheels...
And back on a double-decker bus, along the sea road (to the delight of Helene, aged six, who confided to me that she had never before been on a double-decker).
Below: view from the bus
Here we are enjoying our excellent Portuguese lunch (spot the sardines!)
And then home to another glorious sunset across the sea.

And above you see Helene's brilliant depiction of David on the boat!