Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Homegrown Events - ANZAC Day in Holland

Kiwis/Aussies & friends of Antipodeans,

A quick update on the next big event... ANZAC Day Concert at Bitterzoet, Amsterdam - Sat 25 April, 2009.

Entertainment provided by 2 great acts: Yakuza Smile (Aus) & Mike Berry (NZ).

Click here for more details.

Sigh ... my life.

So going to the bathroom is just one of those things people do ...

Not so in my apartment, no no no.
One should never relax, not for a moment.

I wandered up the hall, noting that Gert had left the bathroom light on after showering, smiling over the mocking I might have been thinking of giving him, as he's so much better at being an adult than I am and sometimes gives small lectures on the apartment being lit up.

I rounded the corner and wandered into the big bathroom only to fall back, clutching at my chest, gasping in fright ... there's Little Miss 4, sitting on the toilet like a cute little elf.

Normal enough you think but no, little Miss 4 has just entered into that period of no more night-time nappies. Winter was long and cold and grey, spring seems more ideal for those sheets accidentally wet.

Fright over, I was so proud of her.

Then she reached up to me, eyes pretty much closed, with something pinched between two fingers, 'Here, you can have this.'

I was naturally wary, suspecting she might be gifting me a bogey, or a snottebel , Flemish for the long wet snot that hangs from a childs nose but so amusing a word that we kiwis now use it when talking of bogeys in general - not that we do that kind of thing regularly.

How could I have so misjudged my granddaughter?
She was handing me one of the plastic diamonds she had stuck to her earlobes today ... or perhaps it was the one from the middle of her forehead.

Anyway, what can I say but 'this is my life ...chaotic delicious unexpected and oftentimes amusing.'

An Angel, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment:
that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

He will put some things behind,
will pass an invisible boundary;
new, universal, and more liberal laws
will begin to establish themselves around and within him;
or the old laws be expanded,
and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense,
and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.

In proportion as he simplifies his life,
the laws of the universe will appear less complex,
and solitude will not be solitude,
nor poverty poverty,
nor weakness weakness.

If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost;
that is where it should be.
Now put the foundations under them.

Walden, Thoreau, 1854.

Borrowed from Gypsy Girl's Guide, a delicious blog rediscovered.

Remembering Tom, Raffaele Ciriello and a few of the others ...

Tom Hurndall had stayed in Rafah. He was only 21 where – in his mother's words – he lost his life through a single, selfless, human act. "Tom was shot in the head as he carried a single Palestinian child out of the range of an Israeli army sniper."

On Saturday, Robert Fisk wrote an article on Tom under the sub-heading, I wish I had met Tom Hurndall, a remarkable man of remarkable principle.

You see, there's me, who writes about the Middle East situation from the safety of home and then there was Tom Hurndall, following up his words and beliefs with action.

BBC made an interesting documentary over here. And News Safety reported on the killing of an award winning film maker, James Miller, by the IDF.

Iain Hook was shot in the back by a sniper with a scoped rifle, from a distance of 20 meters. Co-workers evacuated Hook through the hole in the wall made by militants, but he died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen before reaching a hospital.

Then there were the 4 UN observers: It said the four, from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, had taken shelter in a bunker under the post after it was earlier shelled 14 times by Israeli artillery. A rescue team was also shelled as it tried to clear the rubble. You don't want to research this one, as the killing was a drawn-out but wikipedia has covered it here.

"An Israeli bombardment killed four United Nations Observers, despite multiple warnings by UN peacekeeper. The peacekeepers at the post said the area within a kilometer of the post was hit with precision munitions, including 17 bombs and 12 artillery shells, four of which directly hit the UN observation post. The fatal strike with a "precision-guided weapon" according to UN military personnel hit the post at about 7.20pm. The victims were Austrian, Canadian, Chinese and Finnish UN-observers.

I became aware of this no or very small consequence style of killing when Raffaele Ciriello was shot by the IDF a few years ago. I had just found his website when I learned he was already dead.

The Guardian newspaper mentions it here.

I suspect it's going to be even more important to speak out with the newly-forming right-wing Israeli government. I hope things work out differently but let's not forget the past and the people who died trying to make a difference either by turning up to help or telling the less talked about side of the story.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The oddest thing ...

Gert and I ate out tonight, as he had a last-minute meeting to attend and not enough time between work ending and the meeting beginning to come home and return to the city.

We were having a lovely time at our second-favourite eating-out place when my phone rang.

It was a Turkish guy I know from the integration centre and his English isn't so good and my Nederlands and Turkish are 'interesting' when it comes to conversation so his English-speaking friend came on the line and translated for him.

You see, he had wanted to tell me that he was visiting Istanbul in April and wondered if I wanted him to bring anything on his return.

We talked some more ... it turns out that we'll be travelling on the same flight on the same day at the same hour.

There are 10 million people in Belgium and at least 14 million people in Istanbul and here we are, on the same plane by chance.

No paparazzi

No paparazzi, originally uploaded by - di.

Mother of the cutest thing ...

Mother of the cutest thing ..., originally uploaded by - di.

This mother hippo watched me for ages, letting me take photographs and then her hippo kidlet surfaced and I was torn between the extreme cuteness of the little one and this incredible eye contact with the mother hippo ...

The cutest thing ...

the cutest thing ..., originally uploaded by - di.

I thought his mum was lovely, as she eyed me and my camera as I photographed her in the indoor pool at the zoo ... and I had seen a small snout surface for air but didn't imagine a baby hippo could be quite so cute!

Monday ...

early morning light, roma, originally uploaded by - di.

My body aches this morning and so, like a cat, I'm sitting here in the sun in the quiet of an apartment empty of people, with Louie and Ella Fitzgerald singing April in Paris, just being ... and writing this because for some odd reason, I find writing this blog relaxing.

The latest project is a Flat Stanley project for furiousball's son and so today is about heading into the city with Flat Stanley and showing him around; introducing him to the giants in Antwerpen's history and we think we'll go to the castle on the edge of the river too ... with the camera which makes everything so much more fun.

Jessie's quite keen to take Stan to our zoo - rumoured to be the oldest in Europe, I need to check that. Her antibiotics are kicking in finally and I'm hoping this is a turning point after so long with the cold/flu thing.

As of last night, my niece has all the information I could think of for her 5 French cities project, with any photographs I had and ... a drum roll moment... my sister's birthday present is on its way to her for 5 April.

I'm an unreliable creature and so it's always a drum-roll moment when I manage to co-ordinate things like birthdays and other important events.

Working all weekend left me a physical ruin, as my ergonomic situation would make people who know about these things throw their hands in the air in horror. I always think 'just this time and then I'll fix it' ...

Late last night found me working through photographs with the intention of finally filling the IKEA frames I bought during a moment of financial well-being. It took hours and turned out that my favourite photographs almost all came from the Rome trip, with some Genova photographs making the cut too. It seems the obsession with beautiful Italy continues and is deeply real. I looked through almost every photograph I have and have a bridge series in early morning Roman light, as seen above.

I love light, I get excited when the light is right but don't ever try to have a technical discussion with me about it. It's an instinct that I'm learning more about every week but explaining it all ... ufff!

Istanbul in 10 days.
2 weeks of taking photographs of that beloved city, with a side-trip to return to Gallipoli and another set of battlefields my grandfather fought on, I hope.

I return to unpack and repack for ANZAC commemorations on Flanders Fields, still following Granddad's footsteps ... a fact that would have undoubtedly stunned him had he still been alive. He was with the Otago Mounted Rifles and they were in Gallipoli, then Egypt and then on the Somme - where he was injured and his horse killed. After the Somme they came over to Belgium and were involved in the Battle of Messines Ridge - a landscape I have become so familiar with over time.

But anyway, enough rambling, camera gear to pack ...
I hope you have a lovely day where ever you are.
Tot straks.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ms V, Blogger and ...

I really loved this post by Ms V over on her blog ... Compost Studios - The Art of Life, and decided to send it on out into the world.

If you go down to railway station, you never know what you will find ...

Martin mailed me a link to this Antwerpen Railway Station event . There was me thinking the long conversation Clare and I had with the guy in the yellow tuxedo at central station was a little out of the ordinary ...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Processed the lovely Belgian politician's photographs and burned to cd.
Loaded the Ides of March Rome Run onto another flickr account, burned cd.
Starting on Clare's photographs now ... found Keith Urban during a timeout in the New York Times. We're working well together.

This made me laugh. I keep searching new Urban songs on youtube.
I could be some time.
I complain about housework but I'm glad this isn't my place ...

I'm not sure I would take kindly to that kind of treatment.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How the day ended ...

The photo-shoot went so well. I'm rapt with the results as viewed so far.

The antibiotics have kicked in and Jessie is out of bed, still taking painkillers for the headache but just seeming a little brighter.

Miss 4 ... well, an sms came in during the outdoor section of the shoot.
Was I picking Miss 4 up from kindy?

Oh my goodness ... I had lost track of time, common enough with me and photography but this wasn't so good. Rain was starting to fall, we were wrapping things up anyway and as I phoned about for a solution to my late arrival, my client offered to rush back to the car and take me there.

Miss 4 was duly rescued, on time, horrible gran that I am.

Jessie's recovery was timely because ... this morning, on my way to kindy with Miss 4, strangers stopped me in the street and without English showed me Jessie's Belgian identity card and year-long bus ticket, taped to the inside of a closed shop. It seems they recognised Miss 4, maybe me. It's like that with the early morning school crowd I guess.

Anyway, Jessie's the only one who can pick it up ... me not being her and all that.

It's been a day.

But the photography ... that! made it all worthwhile.

Just so you know ...

Did you know, if you rush the cleaning and have unreasonable standards for what is achievable, you will knock over that half-full cup of coffee on the breakfast table; the vacuum cleaner lid will somehow come undone and you will have to work with it open ... like some weird little robot creature. The wind will find all the pot plant containers you thought you had secured on the balcony and blow them out in front of the huge windows in the lounge again. The clothes-horse may follow, you know this ...laden with clothes. You will probably also find more dust than you knew due to the complication of having to clean everywhere because lounge suites, carpets and other furniture will be moved during the photo-shoot.

You know all this ...

A little later and I discovered this has hugely magical properties if played loudly while mopping the floor.

Just so you know that too ... if you didn't already.

Madly disorganised chaotic Me.

I seem to have some kind of Olympian dream happening with regards to just how much I can get done in a given week. Some demon inside me keeps saying yes, or even putting my hand up when I should be quietly stepping back and working on the new website or on marketing my photography. The same demon finds every person I meet interesting and knows there is a story in them.

Questioning myself hasn't worked out.
I'm an evasive creature when it comes to serious conversations with myself. And yes, I really do know that exercise and healthy eating is vital, I just don't have time for it.

My daughter has had a cold/flu for almost a month now. One of those ones that take you by the respiratory system and throw you on the bed, slamming you with headaches, body aches and lots of gunk that insists on coming out. A flu that comes and goes at will, one that the doctor finally said 'Enough!!'to and prescribed some hard-hitting antibiotics.

Little Miss 4 has missed 4 days of kindy due to a heating system failure.
We would walk there in the morning and ... come back home.
Walk there in the morning ... and come back home.

This morning Gert phoned and voila, the heating is fixed and I am faced with a quiet day EXCEPT for the politician popping over for a photo-shoot just after midday.

And that's lovely but for the fact that I like doing photo-shoots here in the lounge. The light is grand, the background perfect, I have my step-ladder close by and all of that however ... my lounge has also been Miss 4-ed and that's less pretty than you can imagine.

I have a couple of hours of intensive cleaning ahead of me I think, just to get it somewhere close to the standard of sterile photo studio.

Today is the first day without rain in days.
Did I mention that our clothes dryer broke about 2 weeks ago. It might be fixable but Gert destroyed his back and I've been running around like a crazy thing. We need to pull the dryer out of our very small laundry room and see if it's salvageable, then decide on what to do next.

Today's sunshine means that loads of washing are spinning as I write, destined for the clothes line out on the balcony.

I processed all of the Rome run photographs and posted them to Facebook because I haven't had time to open a new flickr account for them. Crazy but true and I'm not sure the guy in Rome understands how that might be possible but the fields to fill out just drove me crazy when I tried to do it in a hurry.

Recently, I had excitedly promised my much-loved niece information for her project on France. I finished at midnight last night, running late on my self-set deadline and wished it had been as simple as turning up at her place to work with her in my sister's beautiful dining room area back home in New Zealand. I miss my nieces. They are people who make me so proud.

Yesterday was the dentist, one broken tooth to be repaired at the end of April. She cleaned and polished my teeth and later, that really hurt. I sat down for a moment in the afternoon and fell asleep.

Yesterday was 3 trips to the supermarket, dental floss pre-dental visit, post-finding out kindy was closed again. Then there was the chocolate donut visit as a reward for little Miss 4 because she was so good at the dentist and I had to buy some supplies for dinner, and then out again for orange juice for her mum at the end of the day when I went out to pick up her antibiotics but ... forgot her social security card and so had to go home and out again. 8euro with the card, 25euro without.

My desk is covered in travel books and invoices for my taxes and cds and dvds for burning photographs on and chargers for various pieces of equipment and skype headphones and books and papers and it's buried ... so completely buried.

Last night I opened the red wine at the end of what has felt like a long week while I was cooking dinner and the cork had white stuff on it, mould I think. Gert tasted it later and pronounced it 'dodgy'(his New Zealand speak is coming along nicely thank you) so that was the end of the last bottle of wine.

My life feels like many lives, often in one day. I imagine that's most peoples reality but sometimes I really really struggle with all this reality.

This post was just so you know that I travel, I have nice adventures but I lead a madly disorganised chaotic life most of the rest of the time.

I hope things are good in your world today.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fountain Fish, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

Literary Life is more exhausting nervously, than most, because it works with nothing definite or regular, it is a continuous improvisation of reality out of illusions and fantasy, without set limit or hours. One needs to provide substance and duties to the life.
Ted Hughes, poet

Castel Sant'Angelo II, Rome

Castel Sant'Angelo II, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

I used to sit on the banks with a raft and watch the water roll lazily by. One day I pushed my raft into the shallows of the water and found the water moved swifter than I thought. My raft was actually a boat. Then, after some time, I rowed my little boat into deeper water. There were great storms, mighty winds, tremendous waves, and sometimes I felt so alone. But I have noticed my little rowboat is now a mighty ship manned by my friends and loved ones; and beautiful calm seas, warm sunny days, and nights filled with comfortable dreams always double after a storm. Now, I could never go back and sit on the bank. In fact, I search for deeper water. Such is life when lived.
B.D. Gulledge

Thank you, Raquel.

My head on the pillow in Abu Hazim's house. Another home for the traveler, another pillow for the head. My relationship with place is in truth a relationship with time. I move in patches of time, some I have lost and some I possess for a while and then I lose because I am always without a place. I try to regain a personal time that has passed. Nothing that is absent ever comes back complete. Nothing is recaptured as it was.

'Ein al-Deir is not a place, it is a time. Evidence of the last rain that we can see on our shoes even though our eyes tell us it has dried. The thorns of the brambles trained our hands and our sides to bleed early when we were children returning home at sunset to our mothers. Do I want to scramble through brambles now? No, what I want is the time of scrambling. 'Ein al-Deir is specifically the time of Mourid as a child

Mourid Barghouti, from I Saw Ramallah

And so it is ...

Writing requires, for me, not only the actual time when I am writing, but a span of time for dreaming, taking notes, reading, meditating in the bathtub, walking alone.

That peripheral time is just as crucial.
Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun.
- interview extract from Salon Travel.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You know those days when a Guru stops you on a city street?

It was one of those days today ...

I had spent the morning with Marc, a hugely talented Belgian photographer whose BBC English is better than my kiwi and panoramic photography that just astounds me. He's getting into 3D now.

The afternoon was about picking up two spare batteries that had finally arrived for the Canon 5D and about putting in one of the sample photographs for the art series in Berlin and then, the guru approached me.

Hasher's Hand, Rome

Hasher's Hand, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An abundance, with some madness.

In Brussels at work all day today and I'm already so behind on everything ... posting, replying to peoples kind comments, reading the blogs of others and commenting there too, loading my new website, processing photographs from a variety of shoots, organising the trip to Istanbul in April and then a return that sees me unpacking and repacking overnight just in time to spend a couple of days taking some photographs of ANZAC Day on Flanders Fields. May to Italy to visit with friends and a promise of Pompei, then Italy again in July.

My to-do list officially hit slightly disturbing tonight.

I hope you can bear with me, just while I try to sort out this crazy delicious messed up life of mine.

Tot straks.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Aussie II

The Aussie II, originally uploaded by - di.

Gert painted a wall in his lounge area bright orange and it turns out that this is a fabulous backdrop colour.

I never know who it will suit and was almost sure that it wasn't Clare however ...

The Aussie

The Aussie, originally uploaded by - di.

The problem with hanging out with me is that stand still for more than 3 seconds and you will be photographed.

Note: This is not a reciprocal thing ...

So today we were heading for Brussels, prior to Clare leaving on a train for London. We had a schedule, a plan and we prepared to leave but the weather did that thing where it rained and the sky was greyer than grey so we decided to drop Brussels and do Antwerp.

But somehow, it happened that I had this crazy idea to photo-shoot Clare. She was wary but came round in the end and well ... I'm rapt with some of the photographs.

This is her ... unphotoshopped.
Beautiful eh!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spiegelzuil 1981 by Michel Martens

Spiegelzuil 1981 by Michel Martens, originally uploaded by - di.

I fell completely in love with this piece of art, happened-upon today in Middelheim Open-Air Museum, Antwerpen.

Strange and wonderful scenes, Middelheim, Antwerpen

Clare and I spent a very happy couple of hours wandering around the amazing Middelheim Open Air Museum park here in Antwerpen - meeting Gert in the pub in the park later.

This photograph emerged from this rather stunning installation called 'Belgian Fun', by Dan Graham - 2004.

It's interesting in that it gives me motion-sickness if I look through these glass or plastic sheets as I walk into the installation. I can only look with the camera to my eye but the effects ... oh how I liked this.

Clare, in Spiegelzuil

Clare, in Spiegelzuil, originally uploaded by - di.

Clare and I first met in Istanbul, she saved me from that period where my new school 'forgot' to find me an apartment until just before the students arrived for the new year.

She took me in as that creature who slept on the couch. It was one of my happiest periods of time over in Istanbul actually but you can see from the laughter captured in this photograph that she's excellent company.

As for the photograph ... there was this mirror column in the middle of Middelheim open-air stature park here in Antwerpen.

Amsterdam ... on an impulse.

2CV, originally uploaded by - di.

Clare and I had an excellent day wandering Amsterdam streets today.
18euro each way and a day spent with an Australian.
An excellent day full of good food, a sad visit to the house of Anne Frank, balanced out by finally finding a jasmine plant here in the low countries.

A beautiful spring day and the sighting of a rare fushia pink 2CV.

I hope your day was as good!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A favourite friend ...

the Photographer, originally uploaded by - di.

The Aussie arrives tomorrow morning, one of the sweetest people you could hope to meet. Sweet in a strong intelligent way, and an incredibly talented wanderer with the heart of a lioness.

This photograph was taken last time she was here ... far too long ago, and as usual, we have photography high on our things-to-do list.

Work today, with a small break for coffee and conversation with Paola.

Tonight I'm feeling incredibly lucky know more than a few really excellent people.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bubble Girl

Bubble Girl, originally uploaded by - di.

I wandered Rome with some lovely people.

We had bubble mixture and this moment happened ...

This place ...

Castel Sant'Angelo II, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

Can you tell that I love this place ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Doorway, Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

This ... is my favourite doorway in the world, so far.

I keep returning.


from, Castel Sant' Angelo, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

Today is about unpacking and re-orientating myself. I had photographs on memory cards, on an external storage device and on my little travel laptop.

It's been an odd 12 hours already.

The plane landed in Brussels last night and they couldn't get the electricity supply connected. We were stranded on the plane for more than a few minutes while they organised that ... in darkness. I could feel the air running out, I think we all could, as the plane was one of those little ones and jammed full of people.

I arrived home eventually, the bus runs hourly, and I fell into bed.

This morning I discovered the water was off when I turned on the washing machine ... But that's not all, going out I learned the elevator was out too. Life on the top floor is grand, except for those moments when it's less grand and involves more than one hundred stairs.

Apparently the pipe in the basement blocked in the night and the ground floor family found the building's sewerage flooding their bathroom.

The elevator ... well that's a mystery, no elevator servicemen met in the foyer when I went out but most people here have been trapped in our elevator at least once so it's nothing new.

Muddling along here ... hope things are good out there.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

'Art' from Rome

The hot shower didn't do much more than take the worst of the stiffness out of my joints so I climbed into bed to work through my photographs.

I do believe Photoshop Elements (the free trial version) and I have become cautious friends and this was the result of playing with a photograph I took on impulse today.

I love graffiti.
It's local, it's usually colourful and it's often photogenic.

Hands, Rome

Hands, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

I'm happiest when I'm following along ... not tasked with finding the way, free to photograph all that unfolds around me and so it happened today, that I was following this lovely couple as we made our way to the Hash House Harriers run at Piazza La Malfa, above Circo Massimo.

Hash House Harriers - Ides of March Run, Roma

Ides of March Run, Roma, originally uploaded by - di.

So this was the setting off, some of the participants walking down the side of the hill from Piazza La Malfa to Circo Massimo - the place where the chariot races were held once upon a time.

I was photographing the Rome Hash House Harriers Ides of March Run, held here in the city of Rome but that's a story for the new website - coming soon. I kept up with them, taking photographs as they moved through the city ... initially I started out with the walkers but lost those walking at my pace due to photographing the pub stop a little too intently.

To continue, I had to go on with the runners. Fortunately much hilarity and non-serious actions meant that I could keep up but oh the cost ... I ache tonight, after racing around the city (not quite having to run), heavy camera and gear, forgetting my reality in pursuit of that perfect hashing shot.

Anyway ...Caesar was killed on the spot Julius Caesar was actually killed. Much tomato sauce was used and many photographs were taken.

It was a good day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Light, Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome

Light, Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

Castel Sant' Angelo, Rome

View from Castel Sant' Angelo, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

There is something that draws me back to Castel Sant'Angelo every time I am in Rome …

This mausoleum that Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus began in 135 gives me so much than one would expect from a mausoleum. I have no explanation for this place it reaches, deep in the soul of me.

Maybe it is the walk up the spiral tower intended, some say, for a four-horse chariot or a colossal statue of Hadrian. I love the peace of that walk and I've been lucky to often walk it alone, out of tourist seasons and early enough in the day to avoid crowds.

Perhaps there is something about knowing that it later became a military fortress and acted as such for more than a thousand years … or perhaps it's simply about knowing that this hugely solid structure has been modified through time by new masters and still, it outlived them all.

But perhaps the kiwi in me, the woman from a country of empty spaces, loves reaching the top and standing there on the roof terrace, looking out over Rome and the River Tiber and revelling in being there, in this ancient place so far from home where so many have already stood. A place that has witnessed so much.

It's a place I love.

Rome, at the end of the third day

2 pillars, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

Roma, non basta una vita – Rome, a lifetime is not enough.
Silvio Negro, author and journalist.

It would be difficult to tell you what I love more about returning to Rome …

There is the fact that everything, and I mean almost everything looks like some hugely talented artist designed this magical city that persists in surviving the passage and ravages of time.

I photographed 2 stone pillars today, set against a wall, as pictured and voila, isn't it art?

... a street close to the Pantheon.

Or perhaps it the fact that when I arrive in the same trattoria for the second night in a row, I am greeted with a handshake, a two-cheek kiss and kindness. It's a marketing technique that works with me but then again, perhaps I am visiting a culture that naturally and effortlessly has this way of building a customer base.

It is the food … for sure, and the fact the red wine costs less than coca cola, and that it remains more than drinkable at that price.

Today it was about spending the day with a Canadian, an American and an Italian and being taught about the difference between gnocchi made with flour and the real gnocchi, made with potato; about being lost, and then found, and simply delighting in the photographic possibilities that all but overwhelm me, she writes on day when more than 200 photographs were taken.

It's about returning to a hotel room that feels like home after one night and about meeting a fellow New Zealander working in reception. His story of arriving in Rome was a truly interesting one.

It's about waiting for a table at my'local' trattoria and discovering that I am waiting with Aussies from Sydney who have just come from Istanbul – my 'old hometown', and about falling into intense conversation on that cool evening in March.

It's about feeling at home in the world while suffering from travel sadness, that peculiar condition where I realise that no one knows where I am and that I am meeting no one for dinner. It's when I'm not sure why I'm out here and I have no idea what drives this impulse inside of me that is all about leaving … since I was 3 years old and could climb the wooden gate back home in small town New Zealand.

It's about this feeling Rome gives me … a soul-deep feeling of meeting an old and favourite lover, about a city I simply adore because Rome deserves only adoration for remaining when so many things have changed. And remaining so beautifully Rome.


Bernini Exquisiteness, Rome

Bernini Exquisiteness, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

This is without any photoshop light adjustment ... without photoshop at all.

This is the magic of Rome!

Late afternoon yesterday, walking past Castel Sant' Angelo from photographing the Vatican and the light changed, the sky darkened but the sun shone on the Bernini angels on the bridge called the Bridge of Angels ... the bridge that crosses the River Tiber and leads you to Hadrian's Tomb.

The new Canon camera is a dream but I am finally learning the technicalities of everything and voila, I am so pleased with this, even though it's more about Rome.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rome - my first full day in the city

And what an incredible day ...

I revisited Castel Sant'Angelo, my favourite place here and I am truly delighted with some of the photographs taken there. Rome offered up 15 celsius, sunshine and some periods of interesting dark grey cloud, enhanced by strong sunlight - Bernini's statues truly revelled in it all.

I'm using the little travelling laptop, downsizing and putting my watermark on them is more than I have the energy for ... so photographs to follow on my return home but I am delighted with this day's work.

I wandered all day so tonight I'm footsore and weary but still smiling over the scooter ride an old friend gave me at the end of his working day ... driving me up onto a hill overlooking Rome. The view was grand however I absolutely love the whole scooter thing and that has left me smiling like a small but very happy child.

Ciao from one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rome today ...

Pont Sant 'Angelo, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

I've woken to drizzle and low grey skies here in Antwerp and have begun the muddle that is me preparing to travel. It's an organised muddle. In that moment when all appears lost, voila! I am packed.

I'm hoping my glasses turn up in that 'voila' moment, actually.

I had lessons on my new website last night, in-between arriving home from work and beginning to leave. My web-designer created the site using Expression Engine, and for the non-geeky like me, it's a dream to operate.

I hope to load and launch that in the weeks ahead and gather photographs and stories from Rome. I have a couple of interesting interviews lined up and as always in Rome, some photographs to take.

If anyone knows of a solution to Belgium's insurance industry not insuring camera equipment for travelling, I would be deeply grateful. So far, insurers outside Belgium won't cover my gear either ... but anyway, going wandering.
Back soon.

Just by the way, my flight is 1euro each way, plus 77euro in taxes. Stunning when you compare that to the cost of a flight to Rome from New Zealand.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Di's new camera strap

Di's new camera strap, originally uploaded by - di.

It wasn't enough to invite me to Paris, no.

When I arrived Tara had the most perfect surprise waiting for me.

What? you wonder.

Well, I have this new and fantabulous camera but much to my horror, the details of said camera are written in big bold letters on its camera strap.

I fumed and I fretted when I realised, as low key is how I am about cameras, even if my delight in this machine did spill onto my blog.

Tara was quite possibly stunned by my absolute delight with her gift, my ongoing delight actually because everytime I picked up my camera in Paris, that beautiful green and gold strap you see in this photograph taken tonight, I would smile.

The deeply happy smile of that 10 year old kid who got that pony as a birthday gift.

So Tara ... as it's been a whole week since you heard this kiwi creature say 'thank you', here I am again, just one more time with a heartfelt and smiling 'thank you!'

If you like what you see, you can order your own camera strap over on Em's Etsy shop, although popping into her blog is a highly recommended idea too.

Imagine ...

So imagine ... you find a new blog via a favourite blogger and voila, one of your lovely houseguests notices that you've written up Pohanginapete's blog and writes to ask if you had noticed him in this shot on that Pohanginapete's blog.

You look and discover that there is this, an even better shot of that same session - houseguest guy there at the centre of it all.

It's a small world ...

Meanwhile, the cd is in the post, Paul (finally). The one with this photograph shot outside Het Elfde Gebod back when the sun actually shone down on Antwerpen stad.

A little of this and a little of that.

I've been a little storm-tossed lately, with this feeling of living from experience to experience and sinking into the silences in-between times.

I didn't quite get round to writing up the Galata Mevlevi Ensemble performance we attended before heading away to Honfleur ... which Tara tells me is actually pronounced 'Onfleur', more or less.

The whirling dervish were superb and it was nice to be back on the edge of that Turkish world.

There was the run-away tram I mentioned back here. That was a Friday night thing ... a few strangers, me included, climbed onto the back carriage of a two-carriage tram. It had the right number on it however ... the front carriage must have been telling another story.

I noticed the tram turn right in a place I didn't expect but thought that perhaps it was a new piece of line. The first couple leapt off at the stop just before we entered the underground ... that would be the underground route this tram doesn't usually take. I phoned my emergency locator beacon and Gert told me that it must have had something else on the front, as another passenger leapt off the tram at the next stop.

I had Gert's brother waiting for me in the city and needed to know how to get back on track, being so far off-track and all that. So, Gert talked me through it only to learn that the right tram wasn't coming along for quite some time...

Gert said 'A taxi!
I said, 'A taxi?'
They are so very expensive here and often manage to get extra money out of me. They have this mysterious inability to produce any coins required and I get so exasperated that I leave the taxi guy with his loot.

And so I arrived and Afrika Afrika was worth all the trouble.

Then there was dinner with Marc and Louisa on Saturday. Marc was a chef and is now a rather superb cutting edge panoramic photographer. He served much champagne and white wine with his stunning dishes - most particularly this mussel quiche that was just so exquisite it defies description.

Today is about new business cards, work things and trying to get ready for Rome.

How's things in your world?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Franky Bostyn, The Belgians Have Not Forgotten Exhibition

Dave sent mail, letting me know that one of the lovely guys I know on Flanders Fields had given an interview on National Radio, New Zealand.

Click on this link when you reach the Radio New Zealand page: Franky Bostyn: Passchendaele: The Begians Have Not Forgotten. A new exhibition about World War 1 - 90 years on, the nightmare of Passchendaele continues. (duration: 8′26″)

Franky Bostyn is the curator of an exhibition - The Belgians Have Not Forgotten - soon to be touring New Zealand. He is also a published author and the curator of the The Passchendaele Memorial Museum.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Guess where I was last night ...

Eventually, when I escaped the clutches of the run-away tram ... but that's another story almost.

My lovely brother-in-law had a spare ticket for this stunning show.

Meanwhile, I'm running out the door to visit a lovely Antwerpen friend.

More later.

Tot straks!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Father Anselm Grün

If globalisation only benefits the strongest in society, then it will be a curse.
Father Anselm Grün, extract from his interview in cafebabel.com

Father Anselm Grün appeals to the responsibility of a global economy, demanding ‘net product through high regard for one another’. In his regular management seminars, Grün teaches that business and management should be undertaken with an open heart, tolerance and with understanding and empathy instead of thinking of oneself all the time. ‘The aim is not to judge, but to be understanding’ - the principle commandment of the Benedictines.


One of my favourite online magazines is cafebabel.com.

I never quite know what to expect but there's often something delicious.
Today's link was one of those things ... (according to me anyway.)

'the truth is found between the lies', Paris

This was a beautiful shop window in Paris. I meant to note the name of the light designer but there was so much else to see .

You will find the words of the title in the centre of the 'light'.

Loved it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A little more from Paris

Film set, Paris, originally uploaded by - di.

This was the scene, or part of the scene being filmed as Tara and I wandered through Parisian streets somewhere around Notre Dame but in a back street.

Delicious ...

Big Ben Bicycle, Paris

Big Ben Bicycle, Paris, originally uploaded by - di.

I loved this bicycle and photographed it from as many angles as possible, as it rested, tied to a pole while the filmakers filmed.

That's all ...

Paris in March

Paris in March, originally uploaded by - di.

I wandered out the bakery this morning and successfully returned to the apartment. It's always lovely when I don't get lost and there are no incidents.

Before heading out to catch my Thalys back to Antwerpen, Tara introduced me to some Spring in a Parisian Park.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The end of the day ...

Paris street scene II, originally uploaded by - di.

I loved this scene and couldn't resist.

Paris Postcards

Paris, originally uploaded by - di.

We discovered a film set behind the postcard rack ... we'll blog about that another day.

Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris

Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, originally uploaded by - di.

We began the day here ... the Institut du Monde Arabe .

I photographed a corner of this fabulous building, more detail to follow once I'm home.

The exhibition of the moment is Bonaparte et l'Egypte.

Shakespeare and Co Antiquarian Books, Paris

This bookshop has to be one of the best English bookshops in the world ... well, the world according to Di (I'm not sure I would take too much notice but anyway ... )

Shakespeare and Co is just across the road from Notre Dame, should you find yourself in Paris.

Paris Streets

Paris street scene., originally uploaded by - di.

Paris is beautiful in the rain too ... just so you know.

Welcome to Paris

The River Seine, Paris, originally uploaded by - di.

Tara and I spent the day wandering and had a marvellous time, full of good food, lots of laughter and some truly delicious finds.

Here's a shot of the Seine ... a cold day today but so much fun.

Thank you Tara.

Guest blogging as I gallivant in Paris ;)

Off into the wet city of Paris today but last night, I was guest blogger over on Tara's blog ...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Paris !!

I arrived but learnt some things along the way ...

The Thalys travels at 300km/h.
The Thalys has wifi access as it travels through 4 countries.
Thalys lets you explore your wifi options, misleading the more simple among us (aka me) that the wifi is free.

Thalys asks for a credit card payment or tells you to wander along to the restaurant car to purchase some internet time. The cost seemed quite reasonable however I don't have a credit card and I had already had a Mr Bean like experience with setting up in my allocated train seat.

I will only say that I had the good fortune to sit next to a lovely French man who forgave all.

However, the thing you really need to know if you're more energetic than I, or more prepared with your credit card is ... does travelling at 300km/h give you motion sickness if you try to work on your laptop or read.

Mmmm, very important information.

That said, it took just over an hour to travel from Brussels to Paris on the incredibly comfortable Thalys, for 25euro (if you shop earlyish and fit your travel around cheaper fares)

Tara is as lovely as ever and it's so very good to be spending time with her again!

Photos and stories to follow in the days ahead.

Monday, March 02, 2009

So much going on ... in a nice way

Sunday, Raf and his Mamiya medium format camera came for dinner.

I think I might have fallen in love with the Mamiya. I guess that's what Gert would prefer, as Raf is his brother. Actually, I'm quite sure Raf is relieved too ;)

I had never ever used a medium format Mamiya before and was completely intimidated until Raf showed me how and voila, I wanted to keep taking photographs with it, go on a road trip, set up a portrait session, work outside with it ... stuff like that.

He had some very cool lenses too actually.
A Russian fish-eye that I am now on the look-out for.

Then today I was at work, after unravelling the mystery of my train tickets for Paris and Tara in the morning. I may have called the help guy at the railway station an angel, and he just might have beamed back at me. I don't think he's been called an angel before but truly, he was.

Work was a delight, lunch with a friend and then my boss had a proposal regarding my photography and an interesting project.

Gert and I are also beginning work on proposing a joint photo exhibition in the months ahead on something completley different.

And we're slowly gearing up for a two-week Istanbul guidebook photo-shoot in the spring.

Rome next week ... she whispers, with a smile so big.

The smiling is partially a result of sunshine today.
Today's newspaper told us the bare naked facts about sunshine hours in Belgium for the month of February ... 33 hours!!!!

Summer alsjeblief.

Spell that out loud and see if you don't get the giggles.
Alsjeblief is please (in this instance) in Nederlands.

Gert didn't know what to do when I all but fell from my chair laughing as he spelt alsjeblief out to me. Sometimes he forgets that I come from a nation of mockers and spelling that word is precisely what my people would do when they were annoyed with me for asking how to spell something simple ... they would just throw together some random letters.

Mmmm, I should go do some dishes to apologise, ik denk.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Antwerpen Hilton, Reflections

Reflection II, originally uploaded by - di.


Reflections IV, originally uploaded by - di.

I've been fitting in a few minutes here and there to work on an online course I signed up to and it's been interesting, revealing more than I had initially expected.

An assignment this week was on reflections ...

You've Got Mail

Lately, I've received emails from some beautiful souls and I guess this post is about thanking them. Of course, I'm not sure how to do that but the friendship and support that I've received via friends and readers of late has been the kind that leaves me grateful to know so many good people.

Then this morning, amongst the mail, was an email from Pippa. It was Pippa who asked if Vienna was close enough for us to catch up in July and travel with her after she was done at the conference she's speaking at there.

This morning, she's added one more destination - asking if I want to go to Haiwaii with her on the way home.

Gert laughed, saying And now for something completely different.

I'm almost sure I won't have the money but what fun that would have been, and Mary Lou might just chime in with an 'And then you could come to me in Ohio!!' - something she's been saying since the first time she flew to me in New Zealand back in 2000. Mary Lou's on a cruise so I can slip this news in without her plotting to get me there finally ... but lordy, writing that, tempts me to try. And she's not the only American friend I'd love to catch up with.

Sunshine today and the promise of 15 celsius - the highest temperature we've probably had since last September. I've started opening windows through the apartment and there is already washing out on the balcony line.

Happy Sunday to you where ever you are.