The contrasts of colonial Durban

Having spent a year in England, I was primed for the colonial side of Durban. The colonial street names are on their way out as we encounter double barreled street names like Solomon Maglangu rather than singular names such as Moore road. I have no idea who Edwin Swales is so I am happy to see him go.  I am quite happy to see more african changes. But there is still places like Victoria embankment and Queensborough. In fact the colonial side of Durban is very difficult to erase.
So I went to visit the colonial centre of Durban, and little England it is, from the sweet little hanging baskets (the pay and display parking also very reminiscent of olde England),

to the surprisingly undamaged royal statues and arches.

This is the city hall20170413_142008

Identified as South African from the cycads in front. (could be India from the palms).

In this precinct there are, as in all of Durban, the most amazing trees tat have just burst fort in flower. The alien police have not got here yet. This comes from Madagascar..looks like a normal tree for most of the year and then suddenly bursts into these amazing inflorescences. South African plants are beautiful, but some of these foreigners are utterly stunning.

No this was very british. Its the playhouse theatre

Teir shows are, however very African in style although they may have european origins. Inside it is quite stunning..with some very African artifacts. How about an African style corset?

The other import from Britain was the buying up of tickets and reselling them with an additional 50% price tag, I discovered when I wanted to see Handels Messiah over Easter. Someone called Zee had bought “too many tickets”. Strangely she hadnt even paid for them yet…sounds like some inside job too.

Open a space, and Africa will fill it. And so I wandered into a vibrant flea market

with some stunning shweshwe clothing (not shown here) and beadwork.

There were amazing fever trees..my favourite African tree..I love the colour of their trunks and the generous spread of their canopies.20170413_144122

There were also relics of the colonial and apartheid masters juxtaposed between the lightness of the market.20170413_144152

Open spaces also mean busking and this was a play with the audience. Difference to Blighty..less white skin thats all.20170413_143307

An odd and largely unnoticed sculpture was this Eduardo Villa’s mother and child. His sculptures appear in odd places in Sout Africa, and is a comment on te soft roundness of Africa compared to the hard sharpness of Western intellect. An unsung ant-Western commentator.20170413_142710

Ten I walked through the alleys to the Docks and unexpectedly in a dark narrow alley, I found this:

Rather taken over by a huge concrete monstrosity.

Durban has enormously diverse architecture..none of it all together but interspersed with hideous uncared for blocks. below is a beautiful art Deco building next to this pink thing.

This is on prime estate overlooking the harbour. Durban has these orphans needing paint and love but some may be too awful to do anything about. This is the view from these buildings.

And so I drove home, passing these iconic (art deco?) warehouses that sets the imagination off when you consider that they could be filled to the brim with sugar. 20170413_152322

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Dog walking in the south peninsula

I have been dog sitting for 2 months now, and my obligation is to take these 3 large hounds for a walk every day. Well its been good because I have had time to explore the dog walking south peninsula. Now, its not that easy to walk anywhere with these dogs as they dont fancy a leash..so the city is out, and I cant just walk outside their gate as there are hundreds of bored hounds in Noordhoek that bark at everything that moves. So every day I load them into Alices vintage bakkie and we go somewhere.

THE NOORDHOEK WETLANDS (PAPKUILSVLEI)

Their favourite place is the Noordhoek wetlands that stretch from the main road to the Beach, where they love looking for moles and tearing up the rugby field that is full of mole holes. 20161122_103302Only once did they actually catch one. Mostly they dig and dig, making holes where there once were mounds. (I keep them off the main fields that are used by cricketers, rugby players and soccer clubs.) It is a strangely neglected place, full of almost every kind of exotic plant you can find, and obviously used to be a dumping ground for Noordhoek gardens.

My favourite is the enormous fig tree above that I have raided a number of times for green fig preserve, as they do not seem to get ripe, and as they get soft..but still not sweet I make a lovely jam. The other day, while picking figs, a woman walked past with her dogs, and when I commented on the tree, she said “is that a fig tree?” and I must say I was amazed that she didnt know, probably walking past every day. It is now managed by SANparks, who are trying to restore it, but this is an impossible task. But I love the mix of vegetation where, if you wanted to establish a garden, you have access to huge resources from papyrus to buffalo grass runners to st Johns wort to and occasional indigenous plant that you darent pick as they are rare.

In the spring there is a host of flowers and the bees literally hum as you walk. 20161014_123038

POLITICS OF THE PLACE

It also a strange place in that at one stage it was covered in Port jackson, which is mostly absent now, and housed a huge amount of people who made their living by cutting wood. The local Noordhoek residents objected to their presence in the late 1980’s, while apartheid still held sway as there was a law prohibiting anyone of colour to live with their families in the South peninsula. They were evicted  and they became some of the original inhabitants of Masiphumele, on the other side of the reed bed, where they could not be seen. This was a comment from the local NIMBYS that expressed the view in the day:

“…the local residents wish to express in the strongest possible terms their extreme concern at the establishment of a township on Site 5. They wish to state that their concern is not of an apartheid or racial nature, but stems from extreme contrast in cultures, background and standards. It is the view of the local residents that the establishment of this township should be likened to the juxtaposition of moderately well-to-do residential area, such as Pinelands or Bergvliet or Constantia, next to high-density subsistence housing such as Crossroads…”
“A buffer zone of minimum width 30 metres must be established around the township. This
zone should be in the form of a berm, of minimum height 5 metres to minimise visual and
audible effects, should be planted with trees, and must be enclosed by a fence of minimum
height 1,8 metres along the outer perimeter to contain any potential unrest incidents within the township area. This buffer zone must extend along the western and eastern borders of the proposed township… the local residents insist that larger plots be established adjacent to the buffer zone to support higher quality housing and thus ease the geographic transition…”
(Chasmay, Lochiel and Lekkerwater Residents, June 1991).
Now it is a derelict piece of land. However, some local clubs have slowly annexed pieces and so there is now a soccer field that gets used about once a month, and also as a golf practice place;

a cricket field that gets used about the same in summer only and a rugby field I have not seen used at all. Now the Noordhoek Riding association also has a show jumping field. Mostly the place is used by horse riders and dog walkers like myself. the last remaining local farmer in the area has grazed their cows, accompanied by the usual tick birds, here for ever. 20161128_085837

Despite the signs and need for dog walkers permits, many people do not pick up their dogs poo and perhaps in revenge, there is a fair amount of littering around the fields by the players.20161211_101758
I usually just allow the dogs to walk and follow them on the many paths, but I have discovered various places they love: One is the last remaining pool as the water dries up for the summer, that they love to swim in (so do the horses.)  When the water is flowing they love the water ways. The ground (well sand) gets very dry in the summer and even after a good rain, water does not penetrate too far.20161209_111332
After a soaking rain.

Finding a garden to garden

Having spent a year doing a lot of gardening at Ruskin Mill, I was itching to get my fingers into South African soil. However, since all I owned could fit into my car, I had to go find one. Luckily for me, Alice Linton, a Scottish lady, who had to urgently go to Scotland to her 92 year old mother had such a one. I am now house sitting a beautiful house overlooking the sea and three lovely dogs that I walk daily. As a result, the pounds that I put on eating all the carbs in England have started falling off. (I am also eating a lot more protein and fat, thanks to the banting diet.)20160918_122254Okay, this does look like an English breakfast, but its got a lot more (for much less)

So, this is the garden a month ago:

and this is it today.

Things definitely grow here despite the mingy rain and the sandy soil. Of course the place is literally buzzing with bees. and butterflies and all manner of insect life..something I missed at Ruskin Mill, where animal life has fled. Birds twitter all day rather than the squawking of crows. Here are some of the multitude of fruits that I cant keep up with.20161105_084901these bees were devouring the nectar.

Oops here are some of the multitude of fruits that I cant keep up with. I have given to friends, family and everyone who loves them. Sorry you are missing them, Alice.img-20161016-wa0000

I am living in this very retro cottage:

everything is retro, including the bath:

I have this wonderful view over the sea

and go for dog walks to all these places a spit from the house:

The dogs love moleing in the dunes or running in water

Nights were dark and you can see almost 360 degrees of stars. (couldnt photograph those) Tonight is the gibbous moon. But its the sounds that grab you. Frogs croak all night and now that has been replaced by crickets and cicadas (christmas beetles to us..as they come around christmas).

We celebrated my son’s 25th birthday, and so we invited friends to a real south African braai, and despite (or because of) their age, there were cartwheels on the lawn as the sun went down.

I am now planting out the HUGE amount of tomatoes you seeded, Alice,  and I cant find enough space. You will bear the fruits of these when you return. Lucky you.20161105_085041

London in 4 days again

I decided to reverse the way I came to the UK, but going by bus to London for 4 days and then on to the airport. So I booked into the Hostel I was in before. Luckily tings had improved there over the year. They got rid of the miserable front staff and now have polite and helpful people (this was a major complaint on their website) They also had improved their entrance and gave free wi-fi instead of charging an arm and a leg for it. I was put one floor lower, whew, those stairs are a killer, but it was in season so my 6 bed room was full of 6 sweaty people. It was hot and muggy and the window opened only very slightly. Also because of Health and safety fire rules, every lading was closed by a fire door. Now I am sure that no fire would spread there, but the health of the occupants wrt fresh air was definitely compromised. Its funny how some issues take precedence over others..too bad if you cant breathe, at least you wont get burnt down. One fat Italian had luckily bought a fan that he kept running and we opened the fire door with a fire hydrant.

Unfortunately the same fat Italian was also a LOUD snorer. My earplugs were not designed for those decibels, but somehow, amongst the other MALE snorers, I managed to sleep. (As I said before, the rooms were mixed male/female..but I was the only female.

London was full of tourists, as it was holidays for most. This gave it a good vibe too. So I planned to meet some of my OLD friends there.

I first planned to go to Camden market to get some souvenirs to take home, despite the fact that I literally had no place in my suitcase, which was already overweight, but I decided to throw away some clothes,  I had got too fat for. (yes, despite all that exercise and healthy food, I had put on weight! I put it down to the huge amount of carbs you end up eating on a low protein vegetarian diet, as you are constantly hungry. Also the fact that you cant buy a small bar of chocolate..they are ENORMOUS..so you end up eating it all in one sitting.) Camden market is some place you wont see anywhere. I had come previously with Amie (a German girl who had volunteered previously in SA and came to visit me in England).

They had this zulu restaurant with boerewors rolls for R180! (9 pounds).

I thought that I should first go to Portobello road market, as I had not yet been there. Well after that I didnt really need to go to Camden market, as I got all my souvenirs there. Its an incredibly long street lined with market stalls and shops, but difficult to find, as its not advertised.

There was this shop with literally hundreds of old singer sewing machines that echoed a similar one in camden market. In Malawi they would have been used, not just posing in the windows.

I wished I could buy more, but my bulging suitcase said no. I thought of sending some things home by post, but the cost was prohibitive. (R2000 for 5 kg). So more clothes got turfed out.

The next day I met my OLD friend, Andrew, and we walked to Kensington castle, which was where Lady Di used to live. Well, I am sure I would also have been depressed there..what an ugly square building..just lots of square rooms, and the garden was so formal and full of tourists. I am sure the paparazzi were lurking at every corner.

Then we found the memorial to prince Albert, the love of queen Victoria. Well you cant miss it..it is HUGE. She must have really loved him. At each corner of the memorial was a statue commemorating the conquered lands: Africa, Asia, Europe and America..it looked like she did it all for him.

Coming from an ex-colony, I was not impressed, and wondered what the “Rhodes must fall” group would have done. London is FULL of colonial relics. I found that the street leading to Trafalgar square had a statue of a (male) war hero very 100 yards or so, I began to wonder if that was all that was commemorated. then I found one for all The FEMALE war heroes…but war heroes nevertheless.

The worst was finding the funeral mask of Lord Kitchener in ST PAULS CATHEDRAL. He was responsible for the slash and burn tactics that led to the establishment of the first Concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer war that the Germans emulated so sadly in the second world war. Eventually 26,370 Afrikaner women and children (81% were children) died in the concentration camps. I am not surprised that he is guarded behind an iron gate, as I am sure his memorial would have been defaced.20160801_133435.[.

Frederick Joubert Duquesne, a Boer soldier and spy, claimed that he had assassinated Kitchener after an earlier attempt to kill him in Cape Town failed. I was shocked that such a cruel man was lying in state in one of the most important Cathedrals. I wonder if one day he would be brought to justice by the ICC. (The ICC seems biased towards Africans and Germans)

Another sculpture that had SA echoes, was this one in Hyde park called ” Physical energy”. 20160730_180547Three of these sculptures were created and one is at the Rhodes memorial in Cape Town! The artist: George Frederic Watts. It was dedicated to Cecil John Rhodes, but the plaque does not mention him at all.

Watts said the statue was “a symbol of that restless physical impulse to seek the still unachieved in the domain of material things”. This was particularly appropriate for Cecil Rhodes, made his fortune before he was 30 and in 1880 established the De Beers mining company, which has dominated the diamond industry ever since.

Rhodes used his wealth to try to extend the British Empire in Africa from the Cape of Good Hope in the south to Cairo in the north. Rhodes’ dream came true shortly after he died when Britain took control of one million square miles of the Transvaal at the end of the Boer Wars. Rhodes left his fortune to Oxford University to fund the Rhodes Scholarships. the third sculpture is in Harare, Zimbabwe. “Rhodes must fall” would have  a field day in London.

Talking about de Beers and gold and diamonds, we went to Harrods, and at last I saw where all the money has gone..well the SA gold and diamonds. As Trevor Noah said Britain never thought of giving the gold back, but that we could win it back at the olympics, one gold medal at a time. (I found out that each gold medal contains 0.1 ounce of gold. Thats a lot of medals to win!)

Harrods has to be seen to be believed. It is really a hub for the ultra rich, I am surprised they dont charge you to go in. Frankly, its quite embarrassing in its opulence in a world of so much poverty. When you flaunt riches like that, you are asking for economic migrants to come to your country. (I also wonder how much can be truly said to be earned rather than stolen at some point in history and even still.) I am afraid I felt quite sick.

The fashion, however, was unusual and creative, but totally unaffordable.

We walked down Baker street, where people were queueing to go two by two into Sherlock Holmes’ tiny house at 221B, 20160730_142348then we  went to Regents park, where we were serenaded by the open air theatre that was staging Jesus Christ Superstar, and sounded magnificent although we could only hear it. Other typical scenes were bobbies on the beat that still wear those Mr Plod hats, women doing a race for cancer awareness and many street performers..mostly levitators.

The next day I went to meet a colleague from Constantia Waldorf school..Eva Binamu, who is now Eva Godfrey, our wonderfully popular and under appreciated (by staff) eurhythmy teacher who is excelling at Kings Langley Waldorf school in London.

We had trouble meeting each other, as London roads were blocked off by a bicycle race similar to the Argus in cape town, (but not as big, even though they say theyre the biggest in the world..I have checked..its not as long and not as many people ride it). it raises funds for charity..see the flags and see my previous post about charity in the UK.

So finally we met at Kings cross station which is huge. 20160731_164822The Eurostar to Paris leaves from here and so does the Hogwarts express, where I saw platform 9 and 3 quarters..with everyone in line trying to get a photograph next to a baggage trolley.

The new harry potter had just come out and a harry potter shop was doing a roaring trade in wands,owls and funny sweets.

The queue was too long to buy any momentoes. It was lovely seeing Eva, and we had a good skinder..although she’s too sweet to skinder. It was good to see how fully involved she was..a member of college and board, and planning to start a school in Tanzania.

Last and not least, I went to the Tate Modern again. A new wing had been opened that I wanted to see. 20160801_101817By this time, my feet LITERALLY were blistered from walking, so I took the tube. First to Big ben and watched the hundreds of ways people were photographing it in all kinds of ways.

Then to the millenium bridge, which I walked over, admiring the contrasting views of St Pauls cathedral and the shard.

There were some of my favourite artists like Kandinsky, Matisse,

but not their best works, but the Picasso was my all time favourite,the weeping women, that I had seen many years ago in Paris. 20160801_115835I ventured into the new wing that had HUGE spaces for HUGE art pieces.20160801_101658 The installations were so odd: this was a mirrored installation, used as an excuse for a selfie20160801_102210…that I found I had mistaken an office for an installation. 20160801_110642I found an interesting African artist making a comment on colonialism using a colonial desk, gold bullion and money. 20160801_104608Active installations like the one of Marina Abramovic, who lets herself be abused by the pubic by displaying a host of items on a table that can be put on her, then videoing the results;20160801_105816 and another woman artist from Bangladore, who uses human hair to knit these great spider webs. 20160801_112138However, the installation that electrified the audiences who could not stop photographing was that of Jane Alexander, a South African artist who used a the red kalahari soil and created a  surreal 3 dimensional landscape that stopped you in your tracks, with Chandeliers dripping from the ceiling, a commentary in the appropriate place on colonialism.

And so, my exploration of my colonial roots ended as I passed some vandalized bicycles to remind me that Britain is not so different to SA.

and  in me pushing my overfull bags to the bus stop using a Tesco trolley bergie style, as I refused to pay the exorbitant taxi fare to get around the corner. I didnt take a photo of that! But this is me at the airport, using the disabled toilet so that I could get my baggage in with me, taking a selfie in the mirror.A20160802_123834

And so I headed home, having had some enlightening experiences and also VERY glad to be back in SA. My next blog will be looking at my own country from British eyes.20160803_081312

Cheese rolling Gloucestershire

On the second (yes, there were amazingly two) bank holiday of May, is the Annual Cheese rolling event, since, as you all know, I love cheese. It wasnt too far away from where I am living, so instead of slacking off with a book, I decided to venture out and have a look at this totally crazy event. On the outside, British people are polite and contained, but in another area, they have this crazy side that is , unfortunately becoming more and more hidden or trodden on by more and more laws, mostly related to Health and Safety. Soon Britain will be so healthy and so safe, people will not leave their homes for fear. Or, perhaps this is why there is the Brexit campaign!

Anyway, this event has a safety warning attached to it. It was banned, but the locals were determined to continue the tradition that has been going for years. According to some very load, very drunk young women from Brockworth, who celebrate Cheese rolling day every year as their Christmas, even giving each other presents, they call it International Brockworth day, and their grand parents were involved from way back. It was started in the middle ages..try and stop that!

The main road to Coopers Hill, was closed to try to stop the event. But people somehow found their way there. This is not an advertised event, but still the exodus was immense. I cleverly went a back way, parked next to a forest on the edge of a hiking path called the Cotswold way and hiked about 3km to the Hill..with a whole lot of other people, it seems.

I didnt know where I was going, so followed some people, and we knew we were on the right track because of this sign: The Health and Safety warning.20160530_113015

We eventually came to a clearing which literally fell away at a steep angle of at least 60 degrees to the horizontal. There was a fence to stop you going off the edge. there were hundreds of people all around the course, and we arrived just before the first cheese was rolled. Here you can see the distance with people waiting at the other end.

It was hard to see everything and some drunk yob was practically pushing down the fence and blocking my view, while the Brockworth girls were shouting in my ear..also drunk: “International Brockworth day”. At the top of the Hill was a row of men about to run to their death. In order to get to the top, they had to climb up the hill, which was extremely strenuous. This was also a kind of race.20160530_123253

The cheese bounced rapidly down the hill..too fast to be seen, and at the bottom were a row of “catchers” from the local rugby team, to help catch the runners. Well, they didnt run down the Hill, as it was too steep..they cartwheeled, rolled, tripped and slid. Surprisingly no-one was taken off in an ambulance this time, but were cut and scraped to smithereens, those who were foolish enough to wear shorts and T shirts especially.

Others came in full armour with elbow and knee pads. The winner won a 10kg cheese..a local double Gloucester. In the bottom of the picture you can see the cheese before the roll. After the roll, you cant see it at all.20160530_121703

After the main race, there was a boys race and a girls race.

There was a lot of rousing choruses of ” Cheese”, and urging on various tumblers (I was going to say runners..but they didnt run). there is a video of this event from previous years showing how they tumble at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IITAJ6NDlo and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYyKoKSvCBY

After the event, I had to find my way back through the forest. I got a bit lost, but knew that I had walked along the Cotswold way, and eventually found my car after backtracking somewhat. Moral of the story: Always look back when you are going forward to make sure you know which path not to take on your way back.

Heres a pic of me in my cheesemaking days. Think I should cut my hair again.before cheesemaker

LONDON TO GET A SCHENGEN VISA (“LUCKILY” FOR TECHNOLOGY)

 

As a South African, I need a Schengen visa to visit Europe, and honestly, the process is as bad as applying for a British one. One would think that, having a British visa would allow me entrance to Europe, since they are part of the EU, but no such luck.

It is all very strange that every Schengen country has different rules in order to get a Schengen visa, yet, when you get it, you have three months to travel to any Schengen country you like. Also the form you fill in is the same for all Schengen countries. I first tried to get one for Spain. Well, many conflicting websites later, I found I had to go through an intermediary..and then scan their website daily to get an appointment. This was my first encounter with the technology needed to be a traveler in this side of the world.

I then decided I would try for the French and the Spanish visa at the same time and see which was more efficient. I managed eventually to get appointment at the French one, so carried on there. Their rules were incredibly bureaucratic and illogical. You cant go ANYWHERE without a hotel booking (via some website or other..I am not sure that AIR BNB counts as a hotel. I thought the best way was to have a place to stay with Agathe, my fellow French volunteer, but you have to have a letter of invitation, which she duly wrote,

Well, the only place you can get a visa is in London..for the entire country..hows that for first world organisation! In SA there are 3 places..Cape town, Pretoria and Durban. You have to go in person for “Biometrics” , where they photograph you and fingerprint you..all electronic. So I took a day off to go to London, which is 100miles from where I live.

Well it went smoothly driving there, finding a cheap all day parking (When I say cheap, its R100) and then going in with the tube.

The tube to the station I needed (olympia) wasn’t running at the time, (technology failure!), so, I got out at the previous tube station, and luckily I knew where I was from my previous visit (see blog 1) and so headed where I thought I was going..on foot (luckily for feet). Well. It took me 3 hours to find the place..luckily I gave it plenty of time.20160401_160122 some high street art I found along the way.

Luckily for smart phones that I could find the address on opera mini, but ran out of airtime to get google maps, then couldnt load new airtime due to a technological hitch at Vodacom.

At first they wouldn’t let me in without my invitation..which I had failed to print. Luckily for smart phones, I could call it up. Then they usually scan your bags for instruments of destruction..except, at that point, the searcher had to go to the loo, and so I just walked in (Luckily for non-technological human needs) so they did not find my pen knife.

Well there were three levels of checking my application. One at the reception desk, where they pointed out a mistake in my date, but let me through. The second wouldn’t let me through, and I had to fill in a new form because of the date error. They also found that my ferry ticket didn’t have my name on the page with the details, and my insurance didn’t have the dates but the number of days. Then they said, my letter of invitation from Agathe wasn’t the official one..which is supposed to be a form that the inviter has to fill in and have stamped by their local councillor. Now Agathe is still in England..it would have been a little difficult for her to go home to France, get the form, go to her councillor and get it signed, just so that I could come and stay.

Then they said I had applied for the wrong visa as I was visiting friends and not touring (tourist visa). (I wondered why you cant do both).  So either I had to have Hotel bookings for my entire trip, including where I planned to go to in Spain, or I had to apply for  visiting visa and fill in a new form. She said “For all we know you will be sleeping on the streets”. No room for changing your mind or being impulsive here. But I suppose the world is on paranoia alert. I might even want to stay there and become a refugee in the Jungle, while I await their magnanimous concession to live and work there. Who knows, I come from Africa after all…third world and desperate for civilizing.

I also noticed that the people awaiting Schengen visas were mostly Chinese with a smattering of Africa and Arab. ( the discriminated few..no Americans, no Australians…why not? Are they more worthy than us lowly citizens? Less prone to asylum seeking?..perhaps)

Well eventually I did fill in a new form, applying as a visitor, and with some persuasion, I just asked them to submit it. It then goes to the next level..which is the consulate..who MAY be more lenient, as I had enough money to support me..had to provide bank statements, a letter for Ruskin mill that I was working there, plus pay slips of my meager stipend. I also had to have at least 3 months on my British visa AFTER I return. (Other countries do not have this regulation).

The third level was the Biometrics and hefty payment, that I would lose if they refused my visa. At this point, I stopped caring. I am only going for 2 weeks, for heavens sake, is it really worth it just to see a few mouldy buildings? I decide at that point that I was done with traveling. Give me a hole I can creep in with no smart phones, no wi-fi, somewhere in my own warm country. Really, traveling is just another myth promoted by good advertising and glossy photos. In fact I wont postpone my stay, as planned, and I will get back at the soonest convenience..luckily for airplanes, and forget my down Africa trip. From now on I agree with Byron, I wont go anywhere that requires a visa…its all a money making scam and not worth the effort. In fact, Home is where the Heart is.

Well 2 hours later, I entered busy London again. Saw an old Fiat 500. I used to have an old green Fiat 850 called snarley. 20160401_154302I was going to visit Maurice (another lost OLD friend) for  coffee next to the Serpentine, but that was scuppered by time at the consulate mostly and his family obligations. I thought of visiting a couple of museums and places, but  didn’t feel the yen. I went past the Olympia exhibition centre, which had a wacky bright green and purple carpet with an exhibition of home ware…lovely space, but homeware? Not for me who has no home at present.20160401_155501 Went to an exhibition of contemporary Arab art. Then felt that maybe I shouldn’t if I am trying to get a visa for Europe. They might think I am plotting something.20160401_162148

So I took the tube back to my car 20160401_164655and drove back to Nailsworth, happy to reach my cosy room and a bath.

Sunday in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, where I am living, is  a place where busy Brits come to have a holiday. So, instead of driving out, as I do most weekends, Agathe, my co-volunteer from France, Nils, a Biodynamic apprentice from Sweden and I went for a walk in the Slad Valley near Stroud. It was, unusually, a lovely day for Early spring.

We followed Agathe, who is very adventurous. She led us up hill (pant, pant), 20160313_100256where we had a tea break and admired the view,20160313_100413 (The Cotswolds it very hilly), and down dale into Slad, where, unsurprisingly, we went for a warm British pint at the local pub. I swear I am becoming an alcoholic without trying too hard. The pub is, unsurprisingly, just over the road from the church. After church, everyone slips down to the pub for “Lunch”.

After our pint we had a picnic lunch in the church graveyard that had a smattering of sun.20160313_125244

Slad was the home, we found out, of Laurie Lee, who was a poet and author who wrote Cider with Rosie. A book I have heard of, but not read. On his grave was a rendering of his writing, and I must say it was beautiful, and I will certainly read it when I manage to get hold of it.

Some beautiful things we saw on the way. I love trees, as you can see.

Some interesting things was this little alcove at someones house, where they obviously sat even in the rain and looked out over their private lake.20160313_11170020160313_111709The view.

this little railway track in someones garden20160313_113304and on the way back to Stroud we saw this telephone Library.

what a useful and imaginative idea for what is becoming a useless, though iconic, space!

People just put their old books into it, and anyone can borrow them. I love this.

Then on my way home, I came across a lot of kite flying on Minchinhampton common.

There were a lot of strange kites, but of course there was one of a soccer ball (oops its called foot ball) and some soccer legs (Foot ball legs?) that moved like they were kicking the ball. What else, but in Britain!20160313_151733

I arrived home to encounter this beautiful sunset over the Cotswolds20160313_183148