Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A difficult choice in Helsinki.

We were all looking forward to Helsinki as that is where our lovely captain hailed from and he was very proud of it.  #1Helsinki City Tour, #2Porvoo and Helsinki Highlights, #3Helsinki by boat, #4Nordic walking and #5Helsinki Highlights and Ice Bar were all on offer (I'll definitely do this next time) but I remembered as a young girl being captivated by Sibelius's Valse Triste and as it was his 150th Anniversary I chose him.  We would visit his home Ainola, see the famous monument dedicated to him and attend a private concert of his music played by talented students.
We drove out of Helsinki into the countryside.  He yearned for quiet surroundings where he could concentrate on music in peace - away from the diversions of the city.  He found a suitable spot overlooking a lake and many artistic friends also settled there.  However we heard he was not averse to occasionally visiting the diversions of the city.  When he was working the whole household would be plunged into silence.  He and his wife had five daughters and when he wasn't working they would
steam in the sauna,  rush into the lake, beat themselves dry with leafy branches and repeat the exercise many times.
Walking through the woods to visit the house,  one could understand how this milieu attracted so many writers and painters.  Ainola was named after his wife.  He built it in 1904
For almost 60 years their two faithful servants lived at Ainola.  Sibelius died in 1957and his wife lived on in the house till her death in 1969

The house is maintained in exactly the same state but we were not allowed to take photographs

 The graves of the husband and wife
 A sort of wash house cum bathroom cum sauna

 Then we were driven to a nearby concert venue where two young musicians on piano and violin gave a spirited concert lasting about half and hour.  They were excellent.

On again to Sibelius Park and after a short stroll came upon the unique Sibelius  Monument.

It was constructed with 600 steel pipes.  What do you think inspired it?

 Here he is again.
 Just to illustrate the joy of a picture window in one's cabin
Next stop St Petersburg

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Visitor

Our first meeting 2009
Kim and Rogan

Rogan and Pat
The Visitor
I seem to have known Kim all my blogging life – ten years next January.  For a while – just seeing his name on comments - I thought he was a girl – we didn’t have avatars then.  We didn’t actually meet until 2009 when he and his son Rogan joined me in a Minehead cafĂ© for coffee.  Coffee turned into a long chatty lunch and by the time we were turfed out I think we both realised we had found a new friend.
Since then I have seen him most years when he visited family in Devon.  A special time was when our French son Mark was here and Kim took what turned out to be the last photos of Alastair both with me and with Mark.  After a day of fun shooting – a lasting memory is the five of us sitting, totally relaxed – ages varying form teens to eighties and talking freely about the world and his wife.
It was a comfort to have Kim and Rogan visit the first year without Alastair but last year Kim had too much happening to make the long journey.
This year would be the first time I had been alone with Kim and I wondered if we would feel constraint without Rogan and Al.  Would there be awkward silences?
All I can say is I feel compassion for that hind-leg-less donkey.
It was a treat to be taken to the nursery so I could stock up with plants and potting compost and a treat to wander down to the town in the evening and eat out at Mullions.
The last morning was special – sitting on the balcony in balmy weather with the delightful whispering of the trees, bird song, wine for me and elderflower cordial for Kim.  We looked at some of his stunning new work, chatted about exciting new projects he is embarking on and I was grateful to be able to tap into his fount of wisdom for the odd issue I have.  You probably know he has wisdom beyond his years.
As we waved good-bye Kim to rejoin his beloved family and me to nip up the hill to visit Joy - inevitably I wondered if this would be the last time.
But hey! We play scrabble almost every day.  Aren’t I the lucky one?

 Kim and Pat July 2015
Kim kindly took this for an up to date avatar and put it on F.B. for me.  Even he had some difficulty with my chaotic files.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

The best memoir I've read in an age

'Tharon Ann' by Jennifer Brookins

Anyone who has read Jennifer Brookins ‘Who’s up ‘ on Face Book will know she is a born writer.  Not surprisingly her life story is one of those gems you can’t put down and I envy you having it to look forward to.
She speaks with the authentic voice of each age and period in her life and is at her  most captivating as the gutsy, abused little girl.
Tragedy strikes when her father is killed in a road accident 3 months before she is born. Her mother can’t find it in her heart to love her.  She is rejected by her stepfather and while her mother is dying in hospital she is abused by a family friend.
But T.A.  is no victim and she takes ‘Mr God’ to task when she can’t reconcile the teachings of Jesus with the racial bigotry in Little Rock USA.

When her dearest friend Tessie – a little black girl - dies she appears to T.A. in a vision and tells her ‘there ‘aint no black and white in Heaven – just love.’  At one time Tessie and her mother Mama are
the only ones to shew Jennifer love and affection.  We learn that Tessie dies but not what happened to her and Mama.

 The next part of her story is when she becomes an acclaimed actress working with such luminaries as Kazan, Warhol, Albee, Robards, Jackie Kennedy and Ronald Reagan to say nothing of Lucille Ball. (It’s fair to say that Jennifer did not love Lucy.)  There are fascinating insights into this exalted company

Hard edged, spirited fighter though she is Jennifer begins to lose her way in this period – drink, drugs, four packs of cigarettes a day and she has a disastrous marriage with the 'Sperm Donor' who leaves her pregnant and caring for their child Rome and Willy the sperm Donor’s child from another marriage.  She now has to care for three children as a single Mum

 Then she becomes a Seeker ‘I can’t find him’ she laments to Lowee a caring relative.  She hears of a mystic - Mary Blakemore and becomes obsessed with finding her.

This is the part I had some difficulty with - questioning some of Mary’s treatment of her devotee but in the end I admit it worked for Jennifer.  An example of her influence is when Mary told her to have all her teeth extracted but to consult four dental surgeons first .  Jennifer did so and the consensus was that her teeth needed treatment but extraction wasn’t necessary.  So Jennifer has them all extracted as she felt this is what Mary wanted.
I have to say Jennifer has the most beautiful smile.

 Being a romantic my cup overflowed when there was a happy ending – and not just spiritual one. 
No review could do justice to this book- you have to read it for yourself.  Enjoy.


Friday, July 03, 2015

One of the nice things F.B. does.


It made me cry when I read about our 33rd wedding anniversary.  The last we had together.