Maybe I was frowning when I uploaded this shot! Whatever the mysterious reason, it was determined not to be clickable like the rest in that post. So, for you, dear readers, click away Ax
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
I was beginning to think that he had deserted us on this trip, so it was good to feel the heat on that last morning and to see the sun on the stone pathway ahead as well.
Mosaic panels decorated the track that wound up through olive trees, twisted pines and gorse bushes. The arrow-shaped ones made me smile. I think someone had had fun while making these. Could anyone ever doubt that the way to the best views in town would involve going uphill?
Coming out of the shade into a blast of heat, the breeze flooded at your back and you could turn to see wonderful views all around, right across the city, to the distant mountains and out to the sea.
But the main reason for this morning walk was to get a different perspective on a view in another direction, to one that attracts millions of people.
It had been drawing my eyes even in all that rain and especially when floodlit at night. Bright specs moved around the whole hilltop. Among the scaffolds and the fallen downs, crowds of people were making their pilgrimage.
And I didn't care that the way to it meant retracing our steps and then another steeper climb in the scorching heat. I just knew I had to go there.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Sounds great, doesn't it, especially the "abandon" bit?
But that's what I'm hoping for in November, as I just signed up for NaNoWriMo which invites writers to dive into the maelstrom of attempting to write a novel in one month. The free writer in me CANNOT WAIT.
The story idea that's been mumbling and muttering in me these last few weeks has finally found a place it can let rip, I hope. Now my only doubt about hitting the target of 50,000 words in 30 days is - will I, who normally does my writing out and about on a beach, or in between tending my broccoli and picking raspberries on my plot, be able to sit still in front of my computer screen for long enough every day?
It's now or never. A shelf is not a good place for an idea to sit.
Here's my NaNo profile. Anyone else joining in?
Thursday, 22 October 2009
The mountains hunched in close as the black sky fell down. Pink crackle glaze lightning split the clouds, then the hail started, as big as gobstoppers.
Mid-morning darkness. My first taste of Athens.
The airport bus was a metal drum speeding along free flow on a road turned into a gushing river. It was going to be this sort of a day.
In the hour it took us to hurtle into the city, the rain had eased enough for an outdoor lunch which I think we might have chased into town.
Warm enough for shirtsleeves, it was still a day good for strolling and dodging the rain. Boy after boy tried to sell us umbrellas we didn't want. I didn't want anything to spoil the view. I loved stumbling upon ancient ruins caught up in the modern push and shove of the city, some of them looking as prominent as wedding cakes, others still falling down, but drawing all eyes and cameras.
And in the worst of the rain, a little refuge in the entrance hall of a tube station where they display what they found when they were digging the train tunnels. Hard to grasp how old some of these pieces are.
Street dogs lounged at each tourist hub, lazy among the international crowds. One slept on the welcome mat of the best hotel in town, right at home. Windows of Byzantium supply shops revealed hidden caves of silver treasure, throne-like chairs and candelabras.
Glass cabinet saints were kissed outside churches before Friday night mass. Candles fizzed under the drizzle shroud of trees sheltering skinny cats. An elderly woman in black swept up dry leaves on the steps, chatted away on her mobile phone.
Red fleshed plums tasted like heaven. Fish on the market were displayed as if in mid flip, on ice. A flower market stayed open late into the night. And on every street, shoe shop after shoe shop. Not sure these would have been right for today.
Click here to see a billboard shot from my previous post. Thanks to Leslie, Rose and Robyn for having a guess at where I was.
Will do another Athens post soon with more shots.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Monday, 19 October 2009
Lizard like, a creature that bites it's own tail, turtle pushing for tide, running salamander, skeletal bird taking flight, galloping dog, hint of heron, otter's back. Gaze down from even higher and it would look like a creation myth drawing.
Hieroglyph lines. Rough drawn up to the hilltop, around that curve of the river, like lines broken up by the swaying of branches across the forest road, or the too harsh brushing of curious hands who can't resist touching.
Small town Europe, seen from my late flight. Little towns whose streets shiver in lights, tiny against the wild spaces of mountain and forest. Freckles on velvet. A night map to guide you home.
The river joins up a string of villages, threads in beads of little towns, unties the knot to spill them into the massing city that draws all rivers in, like the arms of a star might pull the attention of a sky-watching eye. The city, in turn lets those tiny beads run out to sea.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
I was surprised I got anything done on the plot the other day.
Despite grey skies and intermittent rain, there was a visual feast on show. The fall back into dry pale and fade is well in progress, like the ground is drinking back every ounce of colour that raged through the Summer.
Nasturtiums are running crazy trails through the tired jungle of corn that I can't bear to pull down. The red stalks seem exotic, like polished furniture made from rare wood. The last leaves sound like paper in a restless hand.
Now that there's little to water, the rain catchers are gradually filling up from the skies. A frog emerged from a burrow as a depleted courgette plant was pulled from the ground. Hope he likes that soupy "pond" a few yards away.
And the last potatoes are out of the ground. It always seems so final, so sudden, that everything finishes fruiting. But the raspberries seem to be going on and on. Wonderful that we've been eating them all Summer long without giving them much tending at all. At home, Dahlias brighten up the shady corners of early twilight when I try not to put the light on too soon.
Those gloves can have a bit of a rest soon, I think.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Caught in the flagpole, a blues harp blows and draws on one reluctant reed.
The wake of a tourist boat licks a scrape of shore with dark dashes of Morse code. They mark out the time long after the boat has turned for home.
And out on that scrape of sand, within the breathy metallics of wave sounds, the town has fallen from behind me. An ozone curtain drift has pillowed it out.
I watch the speckled screens of sea shimmer within each leggy frame of the wrecked pier, and I'm drawn to follow the horizon mirage of billowing dust cloud against the white-out of too bright sky. A speedboat races like a spluttering pen writing in a truck on a stony road.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Fancy a walk?
A few miles East along the coast, it's possible to leave behind the built up and the gridlock and enjoy some wild spaces where the only sounds are the sea and birds and your feet as they meet the ground or shift on the stones.
The beaches beneath the towering chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters are narrow strips, often blocked by falls. They are gradually falling into the sea while the sea adds to the work in progress by carving away at the chalk every high tide.
I love the caves that line the shore, but I'm always a bit nervous of staying too long in them. Flecks of chalk dust scatter down as you eat your picnic, sit on your shoulders as a reminder that it's best to have wings here, or waders.
My favourite beach here seems to make it clear that she likes her own company.
There's another shot of it form a previous post here.
Barefoot is best because she will chase you back to land if you stay too long.
The walk West is my favourite. It always reminds me of a roller coaster route and I always lose count of which of the seven cliffs I'm on as the huff and puff of another climb leads me to thinking it's the last, only to find another looms ahead of me as the swallows whizz and whoop past my head and the seagulls just drift along the edge where the reflections from the sea turns their bellies pink.
And just at the point where you think you can climb no more, the final sister leads you to a wonderful view across a river estuary and there's nothing to do except sit there and look....
Low tide gives views like this one -
And then, if you turn to look behind the shingle beach, there's a lagoon which I love to sit and gaze at as the sun goes down.
It's a couple of miles to the car park or the bus route into town and it's all downhill! (Have I worn you out yet?) All the paths are worn chalky white. You won't need a torch to find your way or the help of a full moon. You'll see the tracks leading you in the dark, like white lines on a school blackboard.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
In celebration of National Poetry Day, I want to share one of my all time favourite poems. I found it in an anthology when I was about 20 and it shook me out of myself. Wonderful that many years later, it still has that power for me. Enjoy.
Ordeal by Nina CassianI promise to make you more alive than you've ever been.For the first time you'll see your pores openinglike the gills of a fish and you'll hearthe noise of blood in galleriesand feel light gliding on your corneaslike the dragging of a dress across the floor.For the first time, you'll note gravity's pricklike a thorn in your heel,and your shoulder blades will hurt from the imperative of wings.I promise to make you so alive thatthe fall of dust on furniture will deafen you,and you'll feel your eyebrows like two wounds formingand your memories will seem to beginwith the creation of the world.Translated by Michael Impey and Brian Swann
Monday, 5 October 2009
I was looking at a wall covered in leaves like these as the rain came down. Too hot in my hooded jacket, I was frustrated at the shuffling cramped view it gives of the world. I brought these with me because my camera was at home and as I carried them in from the grey street, they seemed like the most colourful thing in town. They felt like a garland.
Friday, 2 October 2009
Still there today. Thanks to our lack of rain, the chalk drawings and messages I've been looking at on the promenade are still just about visible. Truth is, they are now so faded that you would miss them if you had other things on your mind.
It's been an odd week. Brighton has just said goodbye to a big political gathering plus all the necessary security measures in the centre of town to ensure smooth running and safety. It has made me feel like carrying a notebook and a camera is a radical act. Reminded me that such is the case in other parts of the world.
So, the town felt a bit more normal this afternoon. Phew!
Anyway, the message I like best is written in great big letters with a certain desperate and frenetic energy about them that gradually fade out smaller and smaller like a diminuendo at the end of a musical phrase. It says "Shhhhhhhhhhhh" until the final h is tiny, just like the perfect Shhhhhhhhhhh would sound. It's drawn on a background of cross hatching.
And I'm thinking, what a huge relief after all the helicopters, police sirens, no go zones, traffic jams and general hoo haa, to just have some voice from afar let rip with a Shhhhhhhhhh that can silence the masses even if just for a little while.