Monday, 9 December 2019

When your heart sings along to the music

How many times can you remember being really, really happy for no reason at all' That type of happiness is like a silver stream of water that gushes and flows over. It can happen at any time, often when you're not expecting it and as you get older feelings of sadness have the same effect. You might be walking along and catch a glimpse of someone who holds his head like your dad, or wears the same sort of cap. You might see something out of the corner of your eye that reminds you of a loved one, hear some music, see the new moon or the evening star and wish you could just pick up the phone and say' can you see the moon'' even though you're hundreds of miles away.

If I knew I was going to see my parents for Christmas I could listen to any song or carol and feel a warm happy  glow. If I wasn't going to be able to see them then certain bits of those old songs were agony to listen to, like ?Someday soon we all will be together.'
 The fact is that once you've lost your parents you never ever get over it, the pain is always there, deep and hurting, you just learn to cover it up. I've got lots of happy memories of Christmas growing up, when mum and dad were there in my life like a big soft blanket that made everything alright. I was always aware that they were there so happy memories all involve them being in my life, a reassuring presence every day.
This is got a bit melancholy and I didn't want it to be, I started off talking about happy joyful, bubbling over with happiness and love moments. One of these happened when I was ten at the school Christmas party. We were allowed to wear our own clothes and I had a twist dress that I loved. It had a flounce so when I did the twist, or what I thought was the Twist, a general wriggling movement it span around. A Beatles record came on 'I Feel Fine' and as I twirled and twisted and smiled at all my school friends I really felt fine.

We didn't know, the ones growing up together then that we were living through a great period of change, the music reflected this, but when I was ten I knew nothing of teenage angst and dilemmas facing those years, so now when I want to feel extra specially happy I play the music from those years and feel fine.

Your hearts will sing along or cry along, but whatever it does hang on to the happy memories.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Worrying about the world

The world has become a very small place. There is so much to worry about. Bees becoming extinct so we won't have any food, glaciers melting by the minute leaving polar bears stranded on blocks of ice in the middle of the sea, islands of plastic the size of France floating about in the ocean, climate change, pollution, animals becoming extinct, toxic waste, toxic air, the end of the world's resources and today the Amazon is on fire, the world is on fire and people marching with banners reminding us there is no planet B. Mobile phones and 5G are harming our brains, taking away our ability to feel empathy and compassion.

Anyone who read 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley written in the 1930s a very frightening time indeed, might feel a shudder when thinking about the world. The title 'Brave New World' is from a line in The Tempest by William Shakespeare, which tells us that worrying about the world was nothing new.
'There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.' Aldous Huxley.

Here's a little rhyme from my childhood that reminds us of the importance of drinking water,

If all the world were paper
And all the sea were ink,
If all the trees were bread and cheese
What would we have to drink?

Sunday, 21 July 2019

A place where Harmony Reigns

The Color Hotel at Bardolino Lake Garda is the perfect place for anyone who wants to nourish their spirit, body and soul. The moment you enter the hotel your shoulders relax, the tension you have accumulated throughout the year will subside. All is harmony the moment you walk in. The girls at the reception are dressed in silk jackets each one a different colour, green, violet, pink, yellow, blue. Their smiles are warm and welcoming , you feel as though you are in a friend's home.

We had a Harmony Suite which consisted of two connecting rooms. It was blue, calming and soothing. Great excitement on arrival in the room as we all examined the attention to detail, the towels folded like elephants, the books on the shelves perfect holiday reading an German, English, Dutch, Italian and French . The maid had left a card with a welcoming greeting and her name, she was nearby so we introduced ourselves and she told us that she was there to make sure we had a wonderful time.

The Color Hotel is a place to explore, to savour, to enjoy. Here you feel you can regenerate, charge your batteries or whatever you are looking for on holiday.

The breakfast is a magical experience. Each area is a different colour and you are invited to choose your mood. Orange for joy included mango, apricots, cantaloupe melons, vitamin infused fruit juice. Red for energy included strawberries, almonds, walnuts, black cherry jam. The green area was the healthy organic breakfast, green apples, organic yoghurt, apple juice. Then there was the spiritual breakfast to feed your soul, it was violet and included berries , blackcurrants and seeds nuts and raisins. There was also an incredible selection of pastries, jam tarts, mini doughnuts, pancakes.
Bread and jam, honey and  a long table of salami, ham and cheese and salad.

After breakfast take time to explore the hotel. There is a pool next to the bar area with individual jacuzzis round the edge and a Silent area covered nearby. Here the water is warm and again there are push-button whirlpools. There is a relaxation area with large comfortable divans and hammocks. Next door is the gym where you can use exercise bikes and walking machines and other equipment.

There is ample room in the garden round the pool for relaxation on sunbeds. You are given a key to enter the garden on the other side of a narrow lane and it is like entering a secret paradise. Olive trees and exotic flowers abound, again sunbeds and shady spots either under an olive trees or parasols. If you want to sit by the water's edge to keep on the children or develop your tan there are sunbeds round the pool. In the garden there are two pools, one is heated in April and May and then again in September and October.

The bar area is perfect for a light lunch or a game of table tennis. the cheerful, friendly bar staff serve drinks while you are in the pool sitting on tall pool bar stools. There is a life guard on duty all the time and you are allowed to use balls and lilos. If you want a more substantial lunch you can return to the bar area in the main hotel.

The restaurant at the Color Hotel is called 'La Veranda' and has a Michelin star. It is run by Franco and his staff and is the perfect venue for a special occasion or for a fine dining experience.

Most of the guests will go along the lake for their meal. It is a short walk to Bardolino where there is an excellent choice of restaurants, bars and pizzerias to suit everyone.
If you go back to the hotel after supper you might like to stop at the poolside bar for a drink or a coffee. This pool changes colour and is the perfect place to sit and relax before bedtime.

The staff at the Color Hotel are harmonious and friendly like the atmosphere they create. You will come away feeling joyful, calm, energized and enriched spiritually.

A very special warm thank you to Samantha and the girls, Franco and the boys from the Bars and the Restaurant La Veranda, Marta the sommelier and the Marco the life-guard at the pool, and all the staff of the Color Hotel for a really magical experience.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Favourite Lines for Midsummer day

Today is the 21st June, a magical day if ever there was one. Many people will start off with a salute to the sun, our wonderful sun that makes everything brighter. It's arguably the best day of the year to get up at dawn and to find time to admire the sunset, to walk in the countryside and breathe in the rich scents of the summer flowers, always more evocative at dusk, or in the town if you are lucky enough to pass near a lime tree you will find yourself inhaling deeply of its intoxicating perfume.

Here is the start of the speech by Oberon, the Fairy King, Act 2 Scene 1.

OBERON; I pray thee give it me,
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses and with eglantine…

It's the part where he wants to put a lotion on Titania's eyes so she will fall in love with whoever she sees when she wakes.

Have a little midsummer magic today

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Happy Fathers Day

It's fathers Day tomorrow and on Classic Fm there is a whole hour of music dedicated to Fathers. Indiana Jones and the Godfather theme have been played.  The word' father' conjures up so many images but the word 'Dad' just brings to mind one person, my dad.
He was a special dad, for my brother and me he was a hero from the start. He had a heart of gold, he was fun, he loved my mum and us and he made us laugh and he made us feel safe.

Listening to the music on Classic fm made me think that we probably all have pieces of music that remind us of our dads, that bring about a tidal wave of emotion and tears to our eyes.
One thing is certain for us all, you never get over losing your dad or mum. Why would you want to? Losing them is part of the painful mosaic of life.
Oh how I wish that I could say 'I'll go and see my dad today, or give him a call or write him a text.
This is dedicated to my dad and all dads, may they have a wonderful day knowing they are loved.


Thursday, 30 May 2019

Thank you Blogging Friends

Just to celebrate the fact that Derval is back being a regular contributor with her new daily blog I would like to thank you all for sharing your blogs. When I started blogging six years ago it was all my daughter's idea. She thought it would be good for me to have an outlet to express myself in English my native tongue.
I joined this group thanks to a friend from my creative writing group and I really enjoy reading all your blogs.
It is difficult to find time to read everyone's so I decided to concentrate on just a few, Derval, Val Poore, Tanya, Peter Barnet, Jane Risdon, Stephanie and Carol Hedges, Donnalane.but I often read the others too and you are all very talented.

Derval's new blog got me thinking. It is so witty and written in a constant vivacious style. We were used to all the wonderful music reviews which opened up a whole world of Scandinavian music for me, but this new blog is more personal and intimate.

When I first started blogging my cousin was horrified, 'Why on earth do you want to bare yourself like this?' She saw it as laying myself open to criticism and was worried that I would get hurt. In my early days of blogging I often wrote about my childhood and family and all the things I love best, poetry, recipes, the changing seasons, music, and then I went on to writing short stories that would somehow serve as life lessons to my children, make them laugh and affirm the values that I believe in.

I mentioned to a friend's son that I really enjoy seeing his photos on Facebook and Instagram, mainly his children and his sporting events. I saw the hesitation in his face and he asked me if it seemed like he was showing off. I reassured him that no, not at all. I see it as a generosity that he is sharing his happiness and long may it last. How much it brightens my day to see a photo of a beautiful sunset, read about someone's journey to New Zealand, their walk on the Santiago di Compostela trail, their inspirational sayings to encourage and lift up the spirits.

The purpose of this post is to thank you all for sharing and inspiring and spreading positive thoughts and views and it's really good to know you're there.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

The Merry Month of May

It's at sunset that you realize how the year is flying by. As you become aware of how far it has shifted since Christmas and it will soon be June and then the nights will start to draw in again.  May is a magical month, there is still colourful blossom among the trees, we haven't had the full explosion of green and there are some bare branches with buds that are waiting for the threat of frost to pass before they reveal their full blown beauty. Lambs, baby ducks, chicks and cygnets frolic in the shallows, bird song is loud and clear and the cuckoo sings at any time. I could go on and on but just wish you all a happy May. Summer is round the corner. Sayings such as 'Cast not a clout till May is out' remind us to be cautious planting seeds and discarding scarves.
Wishing all my lovely readers a wonderful month.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Momenti Magici in the heart of a Northern Italian town

Everyone knows about the magnificence of Venice, the grandeur and exotic history that can be found merely wandering along its intricate pattern of canals, its squares that whisper secrets of bygone ages as you walk through them, the thrill to be had raising your eyes to sun kissed buildings in this architectural sweet shop of delights.

Verona also has captured the imagination of writers, lovers, poets, musicians through the ages and is a must on every tourists list.

In between these two magnificent cities lies Vicenza.  Many might know it is the city of Palladio and wish to visit his famous villas built for rich silk merchants and scattered about the surrounding countryside, but before doing this stay awhile in the city of Vicenza and feast upon the architectural beauty of its really delightful centre.

Vicenza is a hidden gem. Nestled at the foot of the Berici Hills its historic city centre has been protected from urban sprawl. Just a short walk from the railway station and you will find yourself in Piazza dei Signori. It might take your breath away if you are not prepared for the beauty you will find there. One side is flanked by Palladio's Basilica, it's majestic archways, green copper roof and stunning clock tower a joy to behold.
At one end of the square two columns proudly stand. One bearing the winged lion that is the symbol of the Serenissima, the Venetian Republic, the other representing the Redentore. The buildings beyond the columns are painted in the colours of a rich golden Italian sunset. Opposite the Basilica is the imposing Loggia del Capitaniato and some fine palazzi adorned with frescoes.

We were lucky enough to visit at Christmas and on entering the square were overcome by the sparkling beauty of the Christmas tree the lights and the buildings.  The square was covered with strands of light making it seem like a magical fairy kingdom. Children running around beneath  this starlit canopy could be seen pausing to gaze in wonder at the decoration of their playground. Stalls selling mulled wine and hot chocolate took the chill off the winter air.

All around the square there are bars, restaurants and cafes catering for every age group and mood. Intimate candlelit bars, restaurants with log fires, open air bars with blankets provided to keep warm, like most Italian towns where sitting and chatting with family or friends is a timeless favourite pastime.

In the corner of the beautiful Piazza Signore, with its terrace that enjoys the most spectacular view, is the Caffè Garibaldi.
In the winter months the terrace is enclosed with glass and decorated with strings of lights and greenery. The moment you enter you are overwhelmed by the enticing aromas.
We had booked a table for twenty of us, ranging from one year olds to grandparents.
It seemed a tall order to keep everybody happy but the charming manager, Serena, had everything under control from the start. We were worried about disturbing the other customers who were quietly chatting and sipping spritz or espresso coffee but she reassured us by preparing our table at a distance. She also suggested a sharing menu that would appeal to everyone, children, vegetarians, babies. Two high chairs were provided for the little ones. Aperitifs and drinks were served immediately and we all sat back and relaxed, enjoying the enchanting view of the lights all around us which made us feel as though we were in the centre of a magical grotto.
The young men and women that served us were so friendly and courteous, happy to deal with any request, everyone felt at home.
 At Serena's suggestion we started off with wooden trays of cheese and Italian ham and salami, vegetables and mozzarella fried in breadcrumbs, arancini ( made famous by the television series Montalbano), small bruschetta and various finger foods.
By this time a deep happiness had overcome us all, there we were, all together, enjoying each others company, sipping prosecco, tasting delicious food and wrapped in a magical winter wonderland of lights and beautiful buildings.
Our antipasti and aperitif were followed by the Garibaldi's speciality, would you believe it, fish and chips?. The fish were deep fried  bite sized  pieces of fish, cod, scampi, scallops, squid, accompanied by crisp chips and wasabi sauce.

By this time some of the children wanted to stretch their legs and so a quick run around the magnificent square was needed.  A balloon seller  added to the charm and excitement for the little ones. Looking at the Garibaldi from the square, from the outside looking in, our loved ones inside, warm and friendly, the feeling of enchantment continued. The day was darkening and the lights twinkled brighter and made the Garibaldi even more inviting.

Having let off some steam we returned to continue our delicious meal. the next course was Risotto with pumpkin, a hint of lemon and rosemary and decorated with toasted almonds, delicious.

While the orders for coffee were being taken the children and anyone else who still had room went to choose their desserts from a spectacular colourful display inside the caffe.
Lemon meringue, chocolate nuts, macaroons, raspberry shortbread, again, something for everyone.

It was hard to leave the Garibaldi, such a magical occasion for us all.
Thank you Serena and all your lovely staff.