Communism: Ceaușescu’s 170 room palace for his family of 5

“This world is full of the most outrageous nonsense. Sometimes things happen which you would hardly think possible.”  

The Nose by Nikolai Gogol

Sunset
Moldova to Romania – sunset on what used to be the northern reaches of the Danube Delta

I sent a Happy New Year message to a friend today.

iPhone auto-correct did it’s magic again …

Complications of the Season to you!” I sent him.

I think you could say that Complications of the Season is what Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu experienced on Christmas day in 1989 when they were summarily executed by firing squad. Continue reading Communism: Ceaușescu’s 170 room palace for his family of 5

Moldovan Christmas, snow, honey, a goat and cheese

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Odd socksUnlike Dumbledore, I gave a received socks for Christmas. I also gave and received books.

Thanks to Christmas in both London and Moldova, and a skit about a goat, we also made an absolute killing in bread, sweets and Lei moldovenească (Moldovan Lai)!

Socks (left) are what Hubby and I gave to our nieces on Christmas day. Continue reading Moldovan Christmas, snow, honey, a goat and cheese

Something special to declare

“Now here’s my idea. Why not keep the journey times the same but make the trains so comfortable and relaxing that people won’t want the trip to end? Instead, they could pass the time staring out the window at all the gleaming hospitals, schools, playing fields and gorgeously maintained countryside that the billions of saved pounds had paid for. Alternatively, you could just put a steam locomotive in front of the train, make all the seats inside wooden and have it run entirely by volunteers. People would come from all over the country to ride on it. In either case, if any money was left over, perhaps a little of it could be used to fit trains with toilets that don’t flush directly on to the tracks.”

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson 

tour of Moldova
Travelling the length and breadth of Moldova.

A knock at the door. Lights on. We sat up, bleary-eyed. 03h30.

A black-leather-jacketed Romanian border guard stood at the open door of our train compartment.

“Pașapoarte!” We handed them over.

A welcome fresh breeze played into our 2 person compartment from an open window in the corridor. Old soviet trains are seriously over heated in winter.

“English?” he noted. We nodded.
“Tourist?” Again we nodded.
“You have something special to declare? Drugs? Weapons.” Continue reading Something special to declare

A funny old time

Mama in a huge plaster cast
Big foot and our new little cousin.

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

“Come home, Babes. All is forgiven.”

This is the WhatsApp message I received from Hubby about 10 days into my recent 2 week break in South Africa.

I didn’t go because South Africa won the Rugby World Cup, though they did. Nor because it’s dark and cold in the UK, which it is. I didn’t go to check on our house, although I did that. I went because Continue reading A funny old time

October 2019 in photographs

red and yellow autumn leaves“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The colours speak for themselves.

Autumn.

Of travels to Canada and north west New York State. Of nippy mornings, a new coat and leaves. Of old friends and new, spicy apple drinks, apple picking, Quebecois, bad coffee and leaves. Continue reading October 2019 in photographs

5 Weeks ‘Into Africa’

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across the these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen)

Karen Blixen Out of Africa“We paid £3 for a haircut in South Africa,” we told our flamboyant, full-of-opinions, Irish hairdresser in London some years ago.

[This, when he quoted Hubby £45 for a men’s short back and sides.]

“WELL! … I don’t exactly live in a frickin mud hut, do I?” he pointed out.

[He had a point.]

“So, are we cutting today or not?” he asked us, waving the scissors around. Continue reading 5 Weeks ‘Into Africa’

Honey, I’m home!

“It is a long way off, sir”
“From what Jane?”
“From England and from Thornfield: and ___”
“Well?”
“From you, sir”

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

This morning I logged into Nyamazela.com after a long absence.

I took a metaphorical key out of my pocket, turned it in the lock and pushed the now-slightly-warped door open, wiped my feet on the mat and walked in. The air was a little stuffy, but I opened a window, drew back the curtains and breathed in the familiar smell of home. Continue reading Honey, I’m home!

Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes

“Good-bye,” said Michael to the Bird Woman. “Feed the Birds,” she replied, smiling. “Good-bye,” said Jane. “Tuppence a Bag!” said the Bird Woman and waved her hand.”

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

pantomimeI stood in the warmth of the church after the service sipping a hot tea in a paper cup. Outside a small boy, puffer-jacketed, gloved and woolly-hatted ran back and forth on the lawn chasing pigeons. They settled. He charged. They flew up into the chilled air and swirled around him for some seconds. Then they settled again on the other side of the lawn. He squealed and charged again. They took flight. He waved his pudgy coated arms around. They swirled. It was mesmerising, this game. Continue reading Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes

Not mushroom picking in Latvia & Sightseeing in Portugal

Concerning truffles – “During the season, from November until March, they can be tracked down by nose, providing you have sensitive enough equipment. The supreme truffle detector is the pig, who is born with a fondness for the taste, and whose sense of smell in this case is superior to the dog’s. But there is a snag: the pig is not content to wag his tail and point when he has discovered a truffle. He wants to eat it. In fact, he is desperate to eat it. And as Ramon said, you cannot reason with a pig on the brink of gastronomic ecstasy.”

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Mushroom pickingHubby: We are going mushroom picking this Autumn.
Me: We don’t have any spare weekends.
Hubby: We are going!
Me: But…
Hubby: Show me our calendar.
Me: The only open weekend left is the end of September and I need to pack for South Africa.
Hubby: That weekend is perfect!

There are no half measures in my husband. Continue reading Not mushroom picking in Latvia & Sightseeing in Portugal

Lists and lists of lists

“If it was my business, I wouldn’t talk about it. It is very vulgar to talk about one’s business. Only people like stockbroker’s do that, and then merely at dinner parties.”

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

Steel trunk check-in luggageWhen my father-in-law was at the helm, he banned a few words and phrases in the office. We weren’t allowed to say ‘cool’, ‘see ya!’, ‘mate’, ‘gotten’ and ‘it’s on my list’.

I’m afraid I just cannot do without my lists. Continue reading Lists and lists of lists