Hi folks! I hope you are all coping okay, especially in these worrying and sad times…
I just wanted to share a couple of photos with you from my early morning walk, here in my local countryside of Posadas (a village in the province of Andalusia, lying about 35 miles west of the historic town of Córdoba).
As you can see, I was well-accompanied by my six of my fifteen (I think) cats.
“How we behave towards cats here below, determines our status in heaven.”
— Robert A. Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) an American science fiction author, aeronautical engineer and naval officer. Together with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the «Big Three» of English-language science fiction authors. His works include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
When I arrived back, my (destructive) mastiff puppies were only too pleased to help me untie my laces!
«The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man’s.»
— Mark Twain; his real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), was an American writer, humourist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the «greatest humourist the United States has produced», and «the father of American literature.” His novels included The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
(However, judging by the above photo, I’m not so sure about the gentleman bit!)
Before I sign off though, I just wanted to share a site I found and now love on the homemade-crafts Etsy shop, called Costurero Real. No, I’m not promoting myself, nor a friend or relative, but just some lovely hair slides that I came across when looking for a clip for my hair. He or she does some beautiful work, and I’ll be buying the blue butterfly for my hair. It’s so pretty! I love butterflies, and though it might be a bit young for my age, I just can’t resist it! You can see his or her workby clicking here.
(I’m going to order the blue one). They also have leather leaves and moths and butterfly capes! All very lovely and woodlandy!
PS. I hope I’m not infringing any copyrights, but I think it’ll be alright as I am sort-of advertising for them…
Well, that’s all for now. As usual, your comments are always welcome, I love the interaction!
I just wanted to share this sunrise photo with you. In the background you can see the impressive, haunted, Christian-cum-Moorish castle of Almodóvar del Río, stage set for various films and ads. These include:
1967, Camelot, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero
1972, the famous Martini advert
1986, Harem / Dardanelos with Ava Gadner, Nancy Traver, Omar Sharif and Silvia Marsó
2002 the children’s Dutch series Pippo
2015, the Russian singer’s Tiger Cave video clip
2019 a Budweiser advert
And more recently, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and chapter 3 of Netflix’s Warrior Nun, as well asvarious documentaries that took place in between.
The castle, its surrounding villages of Almodóvar del Río, Posadas and Hornachuelos that lie in the Guadalquivir Valley close to the historic town of Cordova, are really well-worth a visit! They are steeped in a rich history and culture, and are replete with traditions. The landscape is beautiful too, varying from flat valleys that rise to the imposing Sierra Morena in the north. (You can find a description of these places in my earlier blogs.)
Well, before leaving I would also like to close with a classic poem about Spanish castles, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Castles in Spain
How much of my young heart, O Spain,
Went out to thee in days of yore! What dreams romantic filled my brain, And summoned back to life again The Paladins of Charlemagne, The Cid Campeador!
And shapes more shadowy than these, In the dim twilight half revealed; Phoenician galleys on the seas, The Roman camps like hives of bees, The Goth uplifting from his knees Pelayo on his shield.
It was these memories perchance, From annals of remotest eld, That lent the colors of romance To every trivial circumstance, And changed the form and countenance Of all that I beheld.
Old towns, whose history lies hid In monkish chronicle or rhyme,– Burgos, the birthplace of the Cid, Zamora and Valladolid, Toledo, built and walled amid The wars of Wamba’s time;
The long, straight line of the highway, The distant town that seems so near, The peasants in the fields, that stay Their toil to cross themselves and pray, When from the belfry at midday The Angelus they hear;
White crosses in the mountain pass, Mules gay with tassels, the loud din Of muleteers, the tethered ass That crops the dusty wayside grass, And cavaliers with spurs of brass Alighting at the inn;
White hamlets hidden in fields of wheat, White cities slumbering by the sea, White sunshine flooding square and street, Dark mountain ranges, at whose feet The river beds are dry with heat,– All was a dream to me.
Yet something sombre and severe O’er the enchanted landscape reigned; A terror in the atmosphere As if King Philip listened near, Or Torquemada, the austere, His ghostly sway maintained.
The softer Andalusian skies Dispelled the sadness and the gloom; There Cadiz by the seaside lies, And Seville’s orange-orchards rise, Making the land a paradise Of beauty and of bloom.
There Cordova is hidden among The palm, the olive, and the vine; Gem of the South, by poets sung, And in whose Mosque Ahmanzor hung As lamps the bells that once had rung At Compostella’s shrine.
But over all the rest supreme, The star of stars, the cynosure, The artist’s and the poet’s theme, The young man’s vision, the old man’s dream,– Granada by its winding stream, The city of the Moor!
And there the Alhambra still recalls Aladdin’s palace of delight; Allah il Allah! through its halls Whispers the fountain as it falls, The Darro darts beneath its walls, The hills with snow are white.
Ah yes, the hills are white with snow, And cold with blasts that bite and freeze; But in the happy vale below The orange and pomegranate grow, And wafts of air toss to and fro The blossoming almond trees.
The Vega cleft by the Xenil, The fascination and allure Of the sweet landscape chains the will; The traveller lingers on the hill, His parted lips are breathing still The last sigh of the Moor.
How like a ruin overgrown With flowers that hide the rents of time, Stands now the Past that I have known; Castles in Spain, not built of stone But of white summer clouds, and blown Into this little mist of rhyme!
A very beautiful poem, encompassing many parts of Spain and touching on its history.
Hi folks! I hope this finds you all in good health and spirits.
Just a brief post to say that I probably won’t be writing ‘til the beginning of November as tomorrow I will be leaving for England and will be staying there until the end of October.
I am excited and nervous as it has been almost two years since I last saw my mother and brother. Emotions run high.
Anyway, what better than include a sunset photo and a prayer for travellers? So here goes…
Irish blessings for those who travel
«May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields and, Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
May God grant you always… A sunbeam to warm you, A moonbeam to charm you, A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.”
May the Saints protect you And bless you today And may troubles ignore you Each step of the way.”
Today is the day of the immigrant — and this is something I can identify with, as I too am an immigrant. It is something, that once started can be passed on from generation to generation: I emigrated to Cordova due to my husband’s health; my mother immigrated to London from Italy with her parents because of financial reasons — though first they tried their luck in Australia.
When my grandfather went over to Australia a second time with his brother (which entailed a long, arduous journey by boat, lasting a month), my grandmother and mother were due to follow, but unfortunately WWII broke out and they were separated — seven years passed before they were finally reunited, by which time my mother had grown into a young woman and felt her father quite a stranger. In his absence, my great grandfather (her mother’s father) had adopted the role of father and she grew extremely fond of him: he was a loving, sensible and very wise man, so much so that he was elected to be the mayor of their town in the Piemonti region. When he died a few years later, the whole town and neighbouring villages turned up at his funeral; but my mother and grandmother felt their world had collapsed.
After a few years had passed, my grandfather, or ‘nonno’ as we say in Italian, decided to up and leave Italy once again, looking for a better fortune in London. So my mother, together with her mother (my ‘nonna’) and uncle emigrated to London. They left their whole life behind them: friends, family, customs, climate, traditions, way of life, education… and so much more. My mother, being the only child just like her mother was an only child, felt the sharp and harsh contrast of the loneliness and lost feeling that an immigrant can feel. However, in the end, my grandparents had to go back to Italy because my nonno suffered from bad angina due to the smutty, London fogs. My mother was left behind in London where she had a stable job and where she had already met my father. Her future in that cold, grey city was soon signed and sealed.
Meanwhile, the story was much the same for my father and his family, with the exception that my ‘nonni’ (grandparents) went straight from the Trentino region in the Dolomites to London, with no detours. However, many relatives did head for America instead; hence my family is distributed far and wide. It was hard for my paternal grandparents too. When the war broke out, my father, grandfather and uncles were all interned in prison for a while until it could be proved that they weren’t Mussolini’s spies. So they also left behind everything they had, while trying to anglicise themselves (though my grandparent’s English was fairly poor as they always preferred to speak in their Italian dialect). The contrast between living in Italy and England was stark, what with the better weather and more laid-back approach of Italy as compared to the then colder, frostier climate and sterner way-of-life in England.
So when I look back and remember my earlier generations, I can sympathise with them: I too had to leave my country in search of a dry, arid climate. Though I am very fortunate in many more ways than one, I still feel the pinch after all these years of being an immigrant, always different to the rest, to not having your family round you nor there to support you and to mostly going it ‘alone’; this is felt even more so when you live in a small community like a village, where you see that most people have their ‘extended’ family around them. It is not easy either if you have had to give up your career or studies and adapt and retrain, redirecting the course of your life, or when you see the best friends you had gradually fade in the background due to not being able to physically meet up as often as before, or when you notice that part of your character may sometimes become muted by the sense of wistfulness and nostalgia… though, needless to say, much worse are those who leave because of wars, political instability, poverty and natural disasters — this is no comparison to my case.
However, I know that neither I nor my past generations were the only ones in this situation. Just in my catholic secondary school alone there were various nationalities and all were immigrants, also experiencing the same feelings. In my class there were Irish, Italians, Spanish, Czechs, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, Hongkongers, Indians, Sri Lankans, Africans, South Americans etc., etc., etc., (As you can see, I grew up with a wide mix of people, and great fun it was too, learning about other cultures and ways of life!) I know that their parents also felt the pinch of leaving everything behind. Many never grasped the language too well and continued to speak to their children in their mother tongues so the kids grew up learning their original language fluently. Even here in Cordova, which is much smaller than London, I know many immigrants: Moroccans, Syrians, Algerians, Dutch, Canadian, Chinese, Ghanaian, Senegalese, Turks, Colombians, Hondurans, Romanians, Pakistanis, Indians, Georgians, Israelis etc., etc., etc.
They and I are grateful for the opportunities, friendliness and accommodating ways that the host countries offer, as so too are our former generations, though generally when you are an immigrant, you do always feel a bit different… or at least those are my sentiments…
The important thing I have learnt from all this is:
to not to consider yourself too much,
to be ever-grateful of all you have,
to view other people as your family and to be like moving water, being able to flow past obstacles and always adapt, and
to be a child of God, a child of the world and another child, brother or sister in what is this, our vast, worldwide family.
Well, that’s it from me for now, but to end with, here’s a moving poem about immigrants:
“THINGS WE CARRY ON THE SEA” BY WANG PING (born 1957, Shanghai, China)
We carry tears in our eyes: good-bye father, good-bye mother
We carry soil in small bags: may home never fade in our hearts
We carry names, stories, memories of our villages, fields, boats
We carry scars from proxy wars of greed
We carry carnage of mining, droughts, floods, genocides
We carry dust of our families and neighbours incinerated in mushroom clouds
We carry our islands sinking under the sea
We carry our hands, feet, bones, hearts and best minds for a new life
We carry diplomas: medicine, engineer, nurse, education, math, poetry, even if they mean nothing to the other shore
We carry railroads, plantations, laundromats, bodegas, taco trucks, farms, factories, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, temples…built on our ancestors’ backs
We carry old homes along the spine, new dreams in our chests
We carry yesterday, today and tomorrow
We’re orphans of the wars forced upon us
We’re refugees of the sea rising from industrial wastes
And we carry our mother tongues 爱(ai)，حب (hubb), ליבע (libe), amor, love
The good news is that since the incidence numbers have fallen here in Cordova and the province is now in level 1, things are gradually opening up and there has been more movement on the tourist front. This is also good for me, as the tourist shop in the Judería (Jewish Quarters) which sells locally-crafted items, has also opened. (See photos of the Judería here.)
I regularly place some of my items with them, the latest being a couple of paintings on locally-sourced cork from the oak trees in my neighbouring Hornachuelos Natural Park area — you can read about this area here in case you’re thinking about visiting in the future — after all, it is a place rich in ecological diversity and also boasts a supposedly-haunted monastery).
I have also painted some stones with acrylics and will start my new autumn/winter/Christmassy selection next week.
Though why did I move to Cordova in the first place if I find the summers impossibly hot? Well, you can view my very first blog here for the reason; this also has lots of photos of the historic town and is actually the introduction to my book An English Lady in Cordova — the Alternative Guide(at present available from me).
Anyway, getting back to this morning’s photo — not only is the rich palette of colours inspiring, but you can also just spy the conical hill of Priego, La Tiñosa rising up from the plains that form part of the hilly Sierra Subbética. (The word Subbética has Roman origins and derives also from the Gualdalquivir River, which was then called the River Betis. The present Guadalquivir name is Arabic and harks back to the Moorish occupancy of the Iberian Peninsula, previously named Al-Andalus.) For more photos of the views from my home, you can visit the earlier blog of mine.
Though for now, I’d just like to end this blog with a quote from Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī’ (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), the Persian poet, theologian, scholar and mystic’s,
The Breeze at Dawn
The Breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.
(Perhaps meaning something like: we can break old habits and tendencies and become the present. We don’t need to fall back into the same old ways…)
That’s all for now folks! Once again, thanks for visiting — and do take care! xxx
I just wanted to share with you a photo of this morning’s sunrise (yes, yet another one!). So here it is…
The sunrise reminded me of one of Shakespeare’s verses — I had to read him for my English literature O-levels while studying at Gumley House Convent School for girls in Isleworth, London. Here are the first four lines of his Sonnet 33. (I haven’t included the following ten lines because it’s a little more depressing and saddens the tone of what was a lovely sunrise, but if you want to read the full sonnet, you can do so here!)
William Shakespeare (April 1564 — April 23, 1616)
Full many a glorious morning have I seen Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye, Kissing with golden face the meadows green, Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy …
As you might already know, Shakespeare was an ‘English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist.’ (Wiki) He was also known as England’s national poet or simply, the Bard of Avon. To read more of his biography you can take a look at this link.
Also, I couldn’t resist including one of Federico Lorca García’s poems, entitled Alba (Dawn). His full name was Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca. He was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director. Tragically, he was killed by Nationalist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. His remains have never been found.
(Below is the English translation.)
Federico García Lorca (June 5, 1898 — August 18, 1936)
My oppressed heart
Sits next to the dawn
The pain of its loves
And the dream of the distances
The light of the dawn brings
Seedbeds of nostalgias
And the sadness without eyes
Of the marrow of the soul.
The great tomb of the night
Its black veil rises
To conceal with the day
The immense starry summit.
What will I do about these fields
Picking nests and branches
Surrounded by dawn
And full of night in the soul!
What will I do if your eyes are
Dead to the clear light
And if my flesh will no longer feel
The heat of your gaze!
Why did I lose you forever
In that clear evening?
Today my chest is arid
Like a shut-off star.
And if you feel like practising your Spanish, here is the original version:
Federico García Lorca (junio 5, 1898 — agosto 18, 1936)
Mi corazón oprimido Siente junto a la alborada El dolor de sus amores Y el sueño de las distancias. La luz de la aurora lleva Semilleros de nostalgias Y la tristeza sin ojos De la médula del alma. La gran tumba de la noche Su negro velo levanta Para ocultar con el día La inmensa cumbre estrellada.
¡Qué haré yo sobre estos campos Cogiendo nidos y ramas Rodeado de la aurora Y llena de noche el alma! ¡Qué haré si tienes tus ojos Muertos a las luces claras Y no ha de sentir mi carne El calor de tus miradas! ¿Por qué te perdí por siempre En aquella tarde clara? Hoy mi pecho está reseco Como una estrella apagada.
Well, that’s all for the mo… thanks for visiting and take care! xxx