Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wise Advice on a Wednesday

When one is feeling a little caged, facing housework and things that don't inspire one ... then one shouldn't wander through websites detailing the big walk through Spain, the Santiago de Compostela.

Walk well Erin and come back full of stories.

Bus shelter decoration, Belgie

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another Day Unintegrated ...

I spent the morning with a truly interesting Belgian man; it was all about an interview in a cafe that will surely become a favourite of mine. I do believe it's a cafe that could work as an office away from home with my laptop and interview tapes.

I delivered cds of photographs taken for the latest project to PINA and while there, enquired about whether I had a place on the upcoming integration course I'm meant to attend.

The organiser wasn't there again, so I'm left guessing as to whether I get to spend a quiet night in catching up with my lovely London-based Australian friend Clare, who arrives that afternoon, or whether I'm attending my first of 10 (2 nights per week) integration course - courtesy of some idiot government official who chased me up after a rule change that suddenly left me supposedly unintegrated.

Mutter mutter ... you can't imagine how many times I heard the Belgian national anthem in October. It quite possibly means I'm 95% native Belgian now.

Then I was back on the tram and out to the YWCA to deliver another cd of photographs taken. Starving by now, I asked about some place for lunch.

I took note of the favourite Moroccan cafe but L' ile Gourmande was closer and had the added attraction of red wine to accompany my baguette stuffed with Brie.

I went over my interview notes, hastily taken when I realised my old and faithful tape recorder had finally died, realising that finding a quiet place to go over interview notes taken as soon as is possible is a must-do in future.

Tonight we have a feverish little Miss Three coughing again. Whether it's the same flu or a new one we're not sure but she's surely being knocked around by autumn bugs during her first term at kindergarten.

Tot ziens from the 'unintegrated' kiwi in Antwerpen.

La Gatita Gringa, Blogger

Señor Gato Gringo and I went to the bullring yesterday. I pray that you paid careful attention to my very deliberate use of vocabulary because it - and/or my inability to speak clearly - sent my (advanced level) students into a tizzy this morning. You went bowling? No, we went to the BULL-ring. I'm going bowling this weekend. BULL-RING. You went to the bullfights? Wishing to release them from their my misery, I offered further clarification: we went to the bullring not a bullfight. Ohhhhh ... Lights flicked on.
An extract from La Gatita Gringa's site.

La Gatita used to be Cat in Rabat till she moved countries ... and now she's a Spanish cat and perhaps, although it's difficult to imagine, even more amusing than before.

That would be amusing in an intelligent and informed kind of way, with the added 'oh my god, did she really write that' thing going on in her posts.

I can go visiting on a darkest Di day and come away smiling because maybe she's just confessed to breaking the oldest tree in Madrid or perhaps she's explaining the phrase sol y sombra and the fact that it can have two distinct meanings.

It could be said she's a bit of a word goddess and surely a superb teller of tales, but then there's her photography over at the Urban Caravan website.

The site where Señor Gato Gringo, La Gatita herself, and Brother Knarf post their images from all over the world.

They are stunningly entertaining people, superb photographers with an interesting view on the world ...

Hmmmm, I think that's all I had to say on this particular subject.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Antwerpen's new stadsfeestzaal

Peter mentioned visiting the newly opened stadsfeestzaal here on the shopping street in Antwerpen, I popped in briefly between work things on Saturday.

It's all a little overwhelming at the moment, I think I'll slip back in once the hype has died down.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Had to post it ... It's Great to Be a Belgian

Even better, I got all the references ...

Thanks Gert.
Sometimes people gift you something so special that you spend time trying to capture something of why it makes your heart sing.

Thank you to v-grrrl.
And to Peter, for that special bottle of red wine.

A birthday, a job and a party with friends ... October has been a good month.

One of my favourite things about living in Belgium

I love the parties we have here ...

It was sad without Shannon but we talked of her. Michelle misses her in this way, I miss her in that way, v-grrrl knew who we were talking of and others heard about her.

Nous t'aimons, Shannon.

It was a different mix of people but still conversations raged and made me think 'should we have invited the neighbours?'

Dank u wel to all who came calling.
We truly enjoyed catching up.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ege was one of my favourite students back in Istanbul.

He sent this today and made me laugh. I had to share the laughter ...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Multi-tasking, Part II

There are emails from the web designer, who might just be working on the very final versions of the new website ...

My partner in this website is off wandering and it's been a tweaking and testing, 'what about this colour or font' kind of afternoon.

The apartment looks respectable and is warm on this cold autumn evening.
Dinner is pizza and it seems like I'm wandering towards a red wine kind of evening.

Me and Multi-tasking ...

I don't think I can multi-task anymore ...

Maybe it's only that I have too many diverse tasks and so rather than smoothly doing everything, this 'tasking' quickly descends into a seat-of-the-pants ride and that makes me giggle on occasion.

So today I'm trying to process the images I've taken for the cultural guidebook but I had this marvellous idea that today was also the day that I caught up on two of my favourite people.

So I talked to Dave and Jude for more than an hour.
It was superb.
They are.

But that idea had come as I was searching through my Istanbul photographs for my niece's project back in New Zealand. Georgie and I had talked for a while as she's putting together a project on Turkey for school.

However Dave had a lot of really useful information about photography and while taking notes, I stopped looking through my Istanbul photographs for Georgie.

Then Mark caught me on skype and we ended up having some 'interesting' discussions on immigration and freedom of speech. He's one of my favourite people to have 'interesting' discussions with because most of my close men friends get grouchy with me while having said 'interesting' discussions.

I think it's because I'm usually right but they're too angry with me to ask at that point so this is unconfirmed.

So after all the conversations with New Zealand I was back to working on the photographs I've taken this week and Georgie's request slipped from my mind.
I worked on.

An sms question came in.
I tried to reply.
I failed and phoned, being incredibly honest about my inability to function today, not mentioning the disconcerting post I had just read over at v-grrrl's blog where I was implicated in starting a conversation about things sexual.

Sigh ... as if I would.
I'm a New Zealander, which is my excuse for everything now I'm out in the world.
I believe it to be a statement of some value.
I am teased for this ;)

Then Jessie put on some music that demanded listening to, as opposed to providing soothing background happy noise.

I have a million things to do in the next 24 hours ...
- Clean the apartment to 'guests arriving' standard
- Shop for said guests.
- Go to the market for fruit and vegetables.
- Photograph a Russian course.
- Post a pile of cds and dvds containing photographs

And then there's the stuff on the list that I've misplaced here on my desk ...
We are here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important.
Natalie Goldberg

Thanks Mark.

Silence. Memories from 90 years ago in France

Silence, memories from 90 years ago, originally uploaded by - di.

This weeks Photo Friday challenge is 'Silence'.

Eugeen Van Mieghem, Schilder

I'm just home from being thrown off the tram close to a GB, some distance from home ...

No, I wasn't misbehaving and yes, it was 11.30pm.

You see, there was a huge gas leak - fire trucks and vans every where, blue lights flashing and my crippled man and I, standing in the cold dark night, wondering how we were going to get home.

We started walking. He was limping on his still damaged knee, while my left knee was complaining about the little black Italian leather boots I had worn to the 25 jaar Eugeen Van Mieghem Stichting Academische zitting.

The wine had been good.
And I think I would have enjoyed all the speeches however ... there is a small lack of understanding Nederlands on my part.

I understood enough but would have liked more.
Understanding more was complicated by the fact that almost half of Professor Roland Baetens speech was in French.

I can say goodbye and thank you in French ...

The extracts from the musical were magical ... 'Portret van een verloren lente' needed no translation. I find that with theatre in other languages. One can follow these things.

Anyway, walking home through a dark Antwerpen night and I heard a stranger behind us. I turned and asked if he had a taxi number in his phone because we didn't.

Being from Antwerp meant that he replied in English, without missing a beat and gave us a taxi number.

We called and were rescued.

8 euro later and we were home.

Niet zo bad.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One of the things I love best about my life is ...

That I'm never sure about what's ahead.

Maybe it's taking photographs of ceremonies that commemorate battles fought during world war one or being asked if I photograph Moroccan weddings, maybe it's 3 hours in a Mosque with my camera or maybe, like today, it's a cooking session with women at Antwerpen's IVCA - the Intercultureel Vrouwen Centrum in Antwerpen.

I arrived late, having possibly annoyed some private home owner by ringing their bell on the wrong street to ask about the classes. Right number, wrong street. Greet saved me. Directions followed and little more walking found me entering a building full of warmth and life.

The cooking class had already begun ... ever the 'artiste' I was a little ditzy and late. I went to work and had the loveliest time photographing everyone as they worked and talked and occasionally posed for me. The 'job' culminated in me joining them in a delicious traditional Belgian lunch the group had made.

And conversations ... how I wished for more Nederlands. These women from all over the world had so much more Nederlands than me. The photographs ... I'm downloading them as I write this but I'm thinking that if I caught half of who these women seem to be, then the photographs will be heel mooi.

It's as I said at the start, I never know where this life will take me but there is talk of an interesting event in the near future. Meanwhile I have a cd of Gnawa Diffusion playing and the promise of a band that plays the 'real thing' in November.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Thanks Mark.

About living in Brussels

In Belgium really ...

Read till the end of the article if you start it. Seems negative but ends well and explains things I'm not sure I've managed to convey before.

Thanks Shannon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Birds, Notre Dame, Paris

Birds, Notre Dame, Paris, originally uploaded by - di.

Just organising photographs here and decided to post more from when we were wandering in France.

Rugby and things ...

A frosty morning here in the flatlands ... the sound of car windscreens having ice scraped away accompanied little Ms Three and I as we biked to the kindergarten.

Next there was a quick trip into the city. The tram driver had the cooler blasting cold air into the tram ... I didn't mention it to him because, probably like everyone else, I thought the heat would get through eventually.

By the time we reached the city, I was starting to numb some.

Delightful days here, as emails about my photography continue to come. They're being published in 5 magazines, on websites and 1 newspaper that I know of. A lot went out round New Zealand as press release images - so who knows where they ended up.

It's been an interesting learning curve.
A little stressful, a lot of fun and then there were the really good people met along the way.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthday today ...

And Jessie's making me pavlova!

I'm meeting Gert in the city and he wants to gift me a big bag to carry my mobile office. Laptop and camera gear, you know ... the important stuff.

Dad phoned me this morning and my wee sister wrote a comment here on the blog.
Her first ever ... a gift in itself.

Jessie and I hopped on our matching old-fashioned black bicycles and had lunch at Rivierenhof Park.

My Facebook account, courtesy of the Shannon creature, has been jumping of late and both Shannon and one of my lovely ex-pupils from Turkey sent me little Facebook gifts there. Thanks guys.

I signed up with Facebook unwillingly but now I'm kind of glad, as I'm back in contact with some of the loveliest students a teacher could wish for, and old colleagues too.

New friends were already there and thanks for your birthday wishes Sandy.

It's been a slightly extraordinary day actually.
Paula from Paulo Coelho's blog wrote asking if she might link to a post I wrote about the muse for Paulo's 'The Zahir' book. But of course, I'm delighted ... as happy as I was to stumble upon news of who his muse was, as I was curious but never imagined I would find out.

Okay, off to the city.

Tot straks from the flat land.
What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.
Julia Cameron

Sunday, October 21, 2007

'I love you' in Turkish

Ik hou van jou in Nederlands.

Van Uytsel Tuincentrum

Work annoyances on a Sunday to one side, and moving on.

My day did actually start out quite nicely. Lut took me out this morning, shopping at Van Uytsel Tuincentrum in Kontich.
Bedankt Lut :)

Van Uytsel is the place where you go when you want to colour coordinate your Christmas, or Easter and etc. A huge building is full of all the decorations you can imagine and more.

We wandered the many aisles and I came home triumphant ... with a small packet of scented candles and two 5.30euro Honeysuckle plants, to be nurtured and cared for (and possibly kept inside for the winter). We have plans for a scented balcony garden come the spring.

Spring ... sigh, we just had our first noticeable Autumn frost here in the city this morning.

Candles burning, apartment clean after an attack by the grouchy cleaning woman ... alles good.
A woman must have money and a room of her own.
Virginia Woolf

If I can't write anything nice about the work experience I had today then perhaps I'll just settle for a quote.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

An afternoon at the Mosque, Antwerp

I popped in at an open door day at the mosque today.
Opendeurdag moskee if we're talking Nederlands.

I imagined I was going for an hour at most. A few photographs were needed for the cultural guidebook I'm working on, one good photograph was all that was needed really ... 3 hours later and over 100 photographs, good food, lovely people and we were saying goodbye, with plans to meet again soon.

It was the most interesting thing I had done since those days out on Flanders Fields.

I was even allowed to quietly attend the afternoon prayers and sat in the back, grateful to those who allowed it.

I have some beautiful photographs but have to wait for permissions to post.

Tomorrow I'm visiting an African community, after a few hours of catching up with Lut before she flies out to Turkey.

I hope your day was a good one.
Tot ziens.

Otago Boy, writer

My clever friend Otago boy wrote for NZ Mac.

Imagine ...

You have the shiny bright new and fabulous laptop.

You're packed and leaving for a 5 day photography gig.

You have the laptop in its new laptop bag over your shoulder, keeping it safe and seperate from everything else, along with your camera bag.

Suddenly, the weight on your shoulder disappears and that shiny bright new and fabulous laptop falls to the ground because the shoulder strap catch broke on its bag ...

I didn't mention that happened as I headed off to the place where the new laptop would be performance tested in a big way.

All 'leaving' was halted while I turned it on and tested it still worked.
It did, and it performed perfectly out in the field.

There's this site that I would like to recommend you pop over and read ...

And it's Michael Schwass's Rolling Rishi website.

An intriguing man In December 1975, then sixteen year-old Michael Schwass sustained a devastating blow to his neck in a hockey accident, which left him paralyzed from the neck down for life. An instant quadriplegic. Don't Blame The Game is the chronicle of this indomitable youth who decided he would walk again, and the astonishing transformation that characterized his journey.

Now in his mid-forties, and living in Des Plaines, Illinois, Michael teaches and lectures to audiences all over the country, inspiring his able-bodied listeners with courage and skills to face and overcome their own challenges.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A very serious Di with the new glasses photograph

de bril, originally uploaded by - di.

For Pam, who asked the question.

Oh and a 100euro special deal means I get the green bits on the side there ... sigh.

The New Glasses

They are stunning!

I was glad to meet no one on the way home from picking them up today because I was looking around me in wonder.
Truly ... I didn't know how much I couldn't see.

I had glasses, little wire-frame ones that popped out a lens as often as they were tangled in my long hair. Mostly I chose not to wear them, often explaining 'Well I usually wear glasses' when I couldn't see what people were showing me.

Truth be told, my eyesight isn't so bad but clearly it's worse than I had imagined.

Stunning, stunning, stunning ... I love my new glasses!

Neil, Citizen of the Month blog

This has to be one of the most amusing (and misleading) blog posts I've read in forever!

Viva Neil!
By now, most of the world will know that an attempt was made on Benazir Bhutto's life last night, as she made a triumphant return to Pakistan after 8 years of exile.

As I watched events after the two explosions unfold last night, I heard foreign correspondent Christina Lamb reporting in. She had been on the bus, traveling as Bhutto's biographer. Curious I researched Christina this morning, a search made easy due to her having her own website.

I discovered that she has written some truly interesting books and was the muse for Paulo Coelho's book 'The Zahir'.

She seems like a remarkably interesting woman.

Meeting Resistance, a documentary movie

There was an interesting documentary in the NY Times tonight.

In a video Op-Ed by documentary filmmakers Molly Bingham and Steve Connors, Iraqis explain the roots of the insurgency.

Meeting Resistance needs to be seen.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My lovely friend Lut just sent photographs of these wee puppies, puppies that are urgently looking for a home.

Surely it's a sign ...

Gert can't be reached for comment, as in he's sitting on the couch ignoring all 'ooohhs' and 'ahhhhs'.

Noone Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July

Matthew posted news of 'this' website ... it's like nothing I've ever seen.

On procrastination, and pets...

In an effort to avoid beginning work on a long list of things to be done, I wandered into my blog's stat details ...

I didn't realise but I've been blogging for more than 2 years.
The blog was born when I moved to Belgium - July 2005.

My archives read November but I moved from something like myspace and brought some of those posts with me, double-dating them. I lost a lot too, being technically inept on occasions.

So it appears that I've been blogging for 2 years and 3 months, had 46,545 visitors through this particular site and they've looked at 77,731 pages.

Gert hasn't taken the news of my dog well.
He's very stubborn.
Quiet but stubborn.

My first husband was quite stubborn too however while together we had two Golden Labradors, rescued a pony, acquired a cat and allowed another to stay after it was found in a house we moved into...

Sandie, 1997

Sandie, originally uploaded by - di.

She was 12 years old here and lived to be 16.
I'd like another like her ...

You know those mornings when you wake tired?

I looked at my teeth in the mirror this morning and since the dental work last year, my nightly teeth-clenching has begun to make a small ragged mountain range of my bottom teeth. It's minor but new.

Note to self, must try to relax in my sleep.

I had an interesting project fleshed out and confirmed yesterday.
Over the next 2 weeks I'll be taking photographs at events as diverse as an African day at the zoo, through into Turkish homework classes, a Moroccan Ramadan reception, YWCA cooking classes and Russian classes.

The photographs are for a cultural guidebook from Antwerpen and I'm so delighted to be working on it.

And I've been muttering over a paper plan for the Rome project, trying to work out how big or small it will be ... deciding, in the end, to put no limits on it.

My daughter and I created a beautiful gift voucher for my photography sessions and Gert and I are working on a cafepress webshop to be launched this week. Miss Three remains the entertainment factor in the household and I'm still working on finangling the dog that I've decided I need.

Oh, where did that come from?
Gert has said no.
The apartment building we live in also says no but ... I've always had dogs, Golden Labradors actually and I've realised I have need of one here if I'm actually staying.

Henry Miller wrote something that struck a chord with me as I rode the tram home yesterday ... Develop an interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.'

He's so right.
We all should.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

down an alleyway, lille, france ...

down an alleyway, lille, france ..., originally uploaded by - di.

startling, to say the least.
it demanded a photograph be taken ... maybe i should have written 'they'.

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.
Agnes de Mille

Australia's citizenship test ...

Seems that Johny's not giving any other colonisers the opportunity to come in a colonise Australia ...

His relatives did it, they know how to get round these things.

Now ... drum roll please, (to be read in a gameshow host's voice) there is a citizenship test.

The test that lets people know whether or not you have what it takes to live in Australia ...


Well actually, you can test yourself here or, like me, you could alter the questions and apply them to your country of birth, just to see if you're clever enough to remain as a citizen in the country you happened to be born in ... as in New Zealand, due to my ancestors deciding to laugh in the face of 'countries belong to the people born in them'.

While mocking this extraordinarily stupid time-wasting piece of rubbish, I passed - 5/5. Gert almost fell over laughing but it was only that I had pretended I was a rightwing party member and answered accordingly.

I will never be able to comprehend how a test like this can be taken seriously by living breathing intelligent adults ...

Ahhh but then there's kataroma! . She made up her own Aussie citizenship test. See what you make of it.

Thanks Kataroma.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So ...

I completed the work out on Flanders Fields and there's a few things I've been waiting a while for ...

I had my eyes tested after 5 years and was happy to hear there's no change but today I chose new frames, with glass ... 100euros. No more trying to slip the glass back into the thin wire frame when it pops out.

2 books from the secondhand bookshop - Bruce Chatwin and Julia Cameron - and I'm done.

It was delicious but to the next 'job' ... organising 3 nights in Rome, interviewing and creating a photo essay of a community there. There's a fabulous Belgian poet to talk with here and another Belgian, a traveler with stunning tales from a lifetime of wandering.

4 other interviews to be written up.
And a pile of packages needing posted, some promised months ago, others from recent work done.

Oh and I ordered a 40x60cm print of the hongi image for the wall.

The best news ... well my Belgian's not really broken.
The x-ray came back today.
No cracks in his kneecap, just a week resting while he heals.

soap ...

soap ..., originally uploaded by - di.

Lille, France

Lille, France, originally uploaded by - di.

Riverbend, a blogger

I haven't checked in at Riverbend's blog lately. She's the blogger who had written her life out of Iraq, been nominated for literary prizes, had a book published.

She was the Iraqi voice I watched turn from hope to anger to disillusionment.

I'm glad that she's out.
I hope Syria is kinder to her and her family.

Here's an extract from Riverbend's 6 September post, the last one there at the moment: As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to seem like a baby. I didn’t want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds… we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.

We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.

The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness… How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe twenty minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?

How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and… peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe- even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.

I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest…

How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Some days are like this – nothing really gets done and what does get done is pointless. Then, out comes a poem or a cat, or a flower, or a sunburst, or even a good piece of cheese, and the tilted world rights.
Jeanette Winterson

How I Broke My Belgian (or why he shouldn't have run to photograph the Haka in the dark in the cemetery)

I didn't really have anything to do with the breaking of the Belgian ...

I had successfully found my way through a dark corner of the cemetery with the well-known, medal-bedecked New Zealander without incident earlier.

Gert was back using the tripod to take beautiful photographs like this one when he realised that a Haka was to be performed and he knew I couldn't get back from my position at the front to photograph it.

He ran.

He tripped over the step he had been warning people not to trip over ... but on the other side, the side that wasn't lit after being 'blinded by a bloody spot light!'
His New Zealandese is coming along very nicely thank you.

He met me after the commemoration and I had to wipe blood from the bridge of his nose. He was limping, his elbow was painful.

He soldiered on through the day.
He drove home the next day.
Today he could barely walk when he woke.

In Belgium, if you have a day off ill you have to have a doctor's note and the control doctor may be sent to check you out ... so the doctor called in and Gert's off for an x-ray tomorrow.

Apparently his kneecap may have a crack in it...

If there's a moral to his story, I guess it would be ... Children, don't run in the cemetery when it's dark, even if there's a Haka.

A slice of New Zealand life from the NZ Herald

Buchanan said police told him he could not leave the house and that the warrant for the search was issued under the Terrorism Act.

Police had broken a glass door into the house and Buchanan said he supposed he was expected to replace it.

"It's been a very annoying morning," he said.

Among the others arrested are a member of an anti-capitalist organisation for young people.

Others are film-makers and an artist.

Maybe it's not appropriate that I ended up giggling my way through reading this newspaper article aloud to Gert but read for yourself ... all the way through, as it gets more and more farcical as it goes on.

Oh New Zealand, how I love you!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

at the rugby, passchendaele, 7 october 2007

The 90th commemoration of the battle of Passchendaele

Here's some film footage of the project I've been working on out on Flanders Fields.

And here's a clip with 3 of the lovely NZ veterans I spent a couple of hours with.


Moose, LNZRFC, originally uploaded by - di.

Once, a long time ago, I disappeared into the wilds of New Zealand to interview climbers for a book of interviews I was putting together ...

I was out there for a month and had the most incredible time and my companion for the journey was, by chance, Doris Lessing's 'Golden Notebooks'.

I found a quote that made me smile and will link to the others on the site found here .

She said, and I believe it to be true:
Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.
Doris Lessing

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The New Zealand Apse, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Flanders Fields I

The Guard

The Guard, originally uploaded by - di.

Other times, you try to include a little nature ...

Sometimes you just try to take a photograph that tells the story on its own.

Ding Dong

'Ding dong' is 'thank you' according to little Miss Three.

We don't know why.

'Okay' is 'otay' which is simpler.
She just doesn't do the c or k sound.

Still, it's really sad that sometimes we find ourselves saying 'otay' and 'ding dong' when really, we know better.

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, France

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, France, originally uploaded by - di.

I wandered in this war cemetery in France with the New Zealand War Veterans - a sad yet stunning place.

A Haka

the haka, originally uploaded by - di.

The London New Zealand Rugby Football Club performed a post-match Haka after the game at Passchendaele on 7 October 2007.

A stunning day out.

NZ Rugby player, Passchendaele 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nooit Gedacht, a B&B in Ieper

If you had peeked into our lives Friday night, you would have have seen two exhausted people quietly recovering from busy days, complicated by the flu that we're fighting and added to by Gert's fall in a dark cemetery at 6am on a dark Belgian morning.

However we had the luck to be staying in the most nurturing, cosy B&B that I've ever known.

Our host was the one who greeted us at 5.15am as we left for the dawn ceremony ... not wanting us to drink coffee that had stewed overnight in a thermos and he made sure we had everything before we set out for Tyne Cot Cemetery.

And on Wednesday, when we they realised that we needed to move many photographs from my laptop to their computer to email them ... they looked into their wifi setup, called in the computer guy and made sure I had access to wifi.

The beds had white ironed lace sheets, the room were so very clean yet cosy and the breakfasts were lovely and as endless as you want them to be.

If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Ieper (Ypres in French) then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Eddie and Erna's Nooit Gedacht at Ligywijk 129. Phone: 0032(0)57208400

Tyne Cot, October 12 2007

Tyne Cot, October 12 2007, originally uploaded by - di.

We attended a rather beautiful Dawn Ceremony on Flanders Fields this morning and this image is one of the photographs taken by my slightly superb Belgian 'assistant' and husband.

Two more ceremonies and then this adventure is over.

It's been an incredible privilege with unusual moments throughout. At one point, I found myself kneeling to photograph a haka next to one of New Zealand's legendary photographers.

Another moment and I was next to a well-known, medal-bedecked New Zealander, taking a side entrance into the cemetery ... the unlit side entrance in the 5.45am darkness. I was full of silent laughter, trying to be respectful while finding the whole thing more than a little hilarious.

Wayne Mowat, an old hero from Radio New Zealand, Mike McRoberts from TV3, hakas and Maori flutes.

It has been truly amazing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

NZDF Passchendaele Images

The NZDF website is running some of the photographs I've been out making these last few days.

Meanwhile I'm here at the computer, organising everything into files for burning to dvd ... blue slippers on cold feet that normally don't feel the cold. Autumn has arrived, there's no doubt about it ... the daily fog is a huge clue.

Back home in New Zealand people ... there's another big ANZAC Passchendaele 90th commemoration day on 12 October out on Flanders Fields.

See you there - TV 3 is filming for sure.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A hongi, Passchendaele

I'm starting to hear reports about where my photography is being published.

I was delighted and privileged to even be taking this photograph. The accompanying story explains.

A busy few days ...

I was sitting here at my laptop, preparing to go through a week's worth of images and decided to take a little time out to write ...

Today began at 5.45am, allowing Corryl and I to arrive at Brussels Airport at 8.30am. She flies today, leaving me far the richer in terms of having had an old and dear friend around to talk easily with, without having to explain the history of this thing or that.

Walking home, I thought through the last few days.

October 3 and I was the freelance photographer working with the British Army magazine on an interview with singer, Hayley Westenra.

October 4 was crazy busy with the Prime Minister of New Zealand attending more than a few commemorations for the 90th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele.

That was the day that began with a 6.30am breakfast, an early morning press briefing, a moving misty commemoration ceremony at Gravenstafel, followed by an ANZAC commemoration service at Tyne Cot Ceremony. I was fortunate with my place in the press area each time and was cosy-ed up next to the Television One camera crew at the second ceremony.

There were lovely people out there. Needless to say, I'd been a little worried about being the newbie who found herself eased to the back of the media scrum (a rugby thing for those who don't know) but there was no scrum and I was fortunate enough to find myself in the front row each time.

There was a lunch in Ieper with interesting people before heading off to the reburial of the Zonnebeke Five. The five were first world war Australian soldiers recently discovered in Westhoek. New Zealand's prime minister was in attendance, as was the Governor-General of Australia and it was an incredibly moving ceremony that needs more than this little post to describe all that was experienced.

From there I was whisked off to the New Zealand memorial for a small ceremony with the prime minister and met a friendly Sun photographer from England. They were hoping for an interview with New Zealand's recent Victoria Cross recipient who was also in attendance.

We sprinted away from there and yes, that was me, caught on the locked gate we had to climb in order to get ahead of the prime minister. More photographs were taken and then we were off up to the final shoot where I was once again seen sprinting in for a photograph ... clearly a warm-up for the my stint as sports photographer on 7 October.

It was a huge day that ended with me sitting on the steps of the Zonnebeke Chateau, home to the Passchendaele Museum ... listening to the free concert Hayley Westenra gave in the huge tent erected for the performance.

It was midnight before I had the images from that day processed and mailed.

October 5 and Gert, Corryl and I headed for France ... Lille to be precise, and had a lovely time wandering.

October 6 I was back in France, this time traveling with the NZ Veterans as photographer. They were a superb bunch of people and I was delighted with some of the images.

One of the delights of this particular job was the fact that the only internet connection available for my, already much-loved, little laptop was in the bar at the Peace Village in Mesen.

I had to work there ...

October 7 and we had lunch at The Old Cheese Factory, close to Zonnebeke. If you ever find yourself in the area, I recommend a meal there. The 7th was my sports photographer day ... the London NZ Rugby Football Club was over playing a French team and it was sublime to find myself in this small corner of Passchendaele, completely immersed in things New Zealand.

I was photographing the veterans in attendance and then there was the fun of following the game with my camera.

Yesterday was a day out in the city with Corryl and a continuation of the sending of photographs in the evening.

It's been hectic. Today began again at 11am and has to be a combination of working here and washing, as I get ready to head back and finish up the photography contract over the days ahead.

I hope alles goed in your world.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Zealand beats France, 34 -0

Passchendaele Rugby, 7 October, originally uploaded by - di.

So much better thought I ...

I was still at the Peace Village in Mesen this morning, breakfasting with a busload of traveling Australians and none of us could really comprehend that France had beaten New Zealand in the final 10 minutes ...

However the day improved. After a beautiful yet simple bread, cheese and wine lunch outside in the sun at the Old Cheese Factory just out of Passchendaele, I was off on my next task ... sports photographer.

A French rugby team was up against a team of New Zealand expats living in London. 'We' were superb.

Home again now, exhausted but happy.

More work to follow in a few days.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Market in Armentieres, France

Market in Armentieres, France, originally uploaded by - di.

I couldn't resist this shot.

Another day ...

Today I was in France and the oddest things happened ...

I was traveling with the New Zealand Veterans Association as part of my ongoing assignment and we traveled to Arras and beyond.

I had a stunning time creating a photographic essay of their wanderings but ... it was later, back in Arras and upon wandering into a cathedral I was invited to be one of the judges at a photography exhibition inside.

Yes really.

It was lovely and I enjoyed viewing their work.

Then later, seated at a delicious little outdoor cafe table drinking a glass of red wine and writing postcards for people back home, this whole protest on bicycles began making its way round and round and round the small central plaza.

They were chanting slogans in French, looked kind of like middle-class young parents and they were followed by a police car that seemed crammed full of policemen ... slowly, round and round and round.

So I was the last one back on the bus and on telling my tales I was asked if I'd also seen a pig fall from the sky and fly away.

But it's all true, I swear it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

the Prime Minister of New Zealand

the Prime Minister of New Zealand, originally uploaded by - di.

From the media area, October 4th

Reuters, originally uploaded by - di.

Yesterday began at 6.30am and ended at midnight.

I attended 4 commemorations on Flanders Fields as a contracted photographer, followed the Prime Minister of New Zealand both at those events and on a small tour of the area, sat on the chateau steps outside a packed tent at the free concert Hayley Westenra gave in the grounds of the Passchendaele Museum in Zonnebeke, then sat up till midnight, sorting and sending the images with Gert.

The previous day I had been photographer for the British Army magazine on an interview with singer Hayley Westenra.

It's been a surreal few days ... so far.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An interesting day ...

One where I learned that no, a ticket from Antwerpen to Brussels doesn't include the second train to the airport.

I looked mortified, he said 'Don't worry this time'.

It was a day where the next conductor also wanted to talk with me about my ticket.
Sigh ...

Apparently, his colleague had somehow stamped or clicked the ticket in an odd place. I blushed and suggested that 'Perhaps he was just toying with the foreigner, knowing you would react in this way'.

Best news of all, I found Corryl.

She had flown across the world, bearing all kinds of delicous and unexpected gifts but best of all was the bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir. The same New Zealand Pinot Noir that is challenging France's dominance in the area of said wine.

New Zealanders ... such an incredible race of people and so modest too ;)

In retrospect ... no, even as it was occurring, it did cross my mind that a fast-forwarded movie of Corryl and I carrying, lifting, pushing, shoving and rolling her large 22kg suitcase up and down elevators and stairs, onto trains and trams and finally up that last little spiral stairway to our apartment, would be truly hilarious. We laughed often.

I went out and chose a frame for a client's 30x40cm canvased photograph and worried a lot. I realised that I don't ever want to select a frame for another person because it's all so personal.

I hope I chose right.

The jetlagged traveler wandered off to bed after a dinner of pumpkin soup, bread and a few of Belgium's glorious cheeses, having been Australian wined and charmed by little Miss Three.

Tonight I go over my camera gear, making sure all is charged and packed and ready for the next couple of weeks.

I hope your day was a delicious one too.

a traveler, originally uploaded by - di.

People don't just get to stop by at my place ... they're also invited to sit a while, on the floor of my lounge and allow me to photograph them.

This is one of the delightful house guests who filled the apartment here last week.