Category Archives: Travel

Magic in the gem that is Genoa: another view of Easter


I don’t always have material to write about so don’t like to write unless I’ve something new and meaningful to share; thankfully I’ve got something for this month’s post.  I recently spent some time in Genoa Italy – which I found enchanting, beautiful, but with a shade of sadness within the town and its streets.  I can’t put my finger on it, but some kind of ache for feelings and people past, got into my skin.  It is also a place where time can stand still if you let it even though at times it is a fast place with people rushing about.  But head out into the restaurants, coffee shops, the harbour with its views if you climb high enough, and the coast, and you are transported to a different time and level.

My fascination is with a statue in the rock at Monterossa, on the Cinque Terre (meaning Five Lands):

man in rock

Bombs and harsh seas have reduced the giant man, ‘Il Gigante’ to an armless, over-powering figure keeping watch over the sea.  He is Neptune, built in 1910.  It was designed and built by Arrigo Minerbi, a Jewish Italian sculptor who had works in several cathedrals.  In 1937 he was forced into hiding due to his Jewish ancestry.  The statue is far from timid and shows its strength in its ruin – it is a ruin yes but its beauty is in its decay – it retains its watchful and perceptive eye on humanity.  Is he holding up the world, and suffering as a result?

As I write this I can’t help but think of this figure as the ‘Ecce Homo’ – ‘Behold/Here is the man’ – which is especially poignant at Easter.  The figure is not a personal one but nor is it removed from us.  It is a human and we can identify with this.  It is solid, yet at times, probably crumbling.  Like our fragile world, and its people.

I was also interested in the writing on the walls in the streets in Genoa – in its alleyways mainly.  Again there are links with my feelings for the giant – the words in the photo below mean ‘we are dead to the dead’ and ‘we have lost our meaning/centre’.  Powerful and worrying words.  If this is the case, this is tragic.  Have we?  What meaning do we have in our lives?


I leave you with the image of The Man; weak and strong at the same time, like us all, and always vulnerable.

man in rock 2




Places of 2013 – the beauty of Oregon


It’s been a topsy-turvy year for me and I’ve not been able to write as much as I would have liked.  I’ve also realised that it’s sometimes nice to write about something that is outside of yourself, so that is what I am going to do now.

I visited Bend, Oregon, in October and November of this year.  It is amazing landscape – expansive, at times mystical and bleak, and at other times epically uplifting – especially where there are llamas concerned!


The area is known for its mountains and sleeping volcanoes.  To visit an area that has been an area of active volcanoes is to feel that you are at the end of the world; it is the land that time forgot or rather a land that has been left as it was when the eruption happened:


I was really taken into the emotional heart of Bend when I visited the High Desert Museum, which features wonderful insights into the wildlife, geology and people of the area.  I was particularly moved by ‘Snowshoe’, the rescued Lynx.  He was found wondering starving and close to death in California.  He had been taken in by people wanting to use him as a pet, and to make him harmless they had de-clawed and de-toothed him.  They got tired of him and realised he wasn’t what they were looking for so released him back into the wild (with no teeth or claws to survive).  I don’t know whether to call this ignorance, evil or stupidity, or a combination of all three.  It is certainly glaringly obvious that wild animals are wild animals, not for domestic use.  The museum now keep him in his own natural sanctuary – since he is now unable to look after himself in the wild; keeping him safe and fed in an enclosure is the kindest act humans can now do.  Visitors to the museum are generally disgusted and sad at how he was treated in order to fulfill someone’s need of a pet – he is now an exhibit but only because humans left him that way.  He is now at least admired and respected.



I have seen many sunsets in America – they can be beautiful anywhere in the world.  Here is one above the city of Bend:


Finally – for this area of central Oregon, I adored Smith Rocks Park.  It’s one of those places you could stare at forever and you wish that you didn’t have to face the world outside it:

Smith Rocks

All my memories of Oregon will stay with me; I’ve seen a great deal of it in recent years – here are some other photos from other areas of it:

Florence, near the coast of OR

Florence, near the coast of OR

Again, the mist here made me want to throw myself into it and not come back out into the world.

Oceanside, another amazing place on the coast of OR

Oceanside, another amazing place on the coast of OR

Oceanside in the day

Oceanside in the day

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon

Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon

Downtown Portland, OR

Downtown Portland, OR

The city of Portland is vibrant, bohemian, exciting, historical and beautiful.  And, it has the added bonus of nestling within the awesome Mount Hood.

Happy Christmas to all and thank you for reading.



Size isn’t everything


I’ve come across another two small charities which I believe need a message of support.  I am struck by the much needed work they are doing – what they are doing also exposes how nasty humans can be to living beings they see as ‘lower’ or somehow less worthy of care and respectful treatment.

The charities are the Greek Cat Welfare Society and Animal SOS Sri Lanka .  Both charities are registered in the UK, run by volunteers.  They are desperately trying to rescue the cats and dogs thrown on to the streets in Greece and Sri Lanka.  Not only are the animals neglected, they are abused – having been neglected.  It is shocking.

Animal SOS

These small charities are doing the biggest work – saving life where they can.  In the words of William Wordsworth

‘the best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.’

Greek Cat Welfare

What we can do….support the charities, be aware that when we travel – if we see something that does not sit comfortably with us, i.e. an act of cruelty, speak out (in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia).  If we see a working animal abused – such as a donkey or a horse, report it to the many UK charities that are working to stop animals being used as tourist buses (charities include SPANA, The Brooke Animal Hospital).

And above all – don’t pay to ride on a donkey or a horse or camel or any animal.  It is likely to have been beaten into doing it!

Actions speak louder than words and tourists have a lot of power to change primitive and cruel behaviour.

‘Dance First. Think Later.’


The quote is from a favourite writer of mine – of ‘Waiting For Godot’ and many other plays (see below).

dog quote

This is all very well – and a good idea most of the time, I think, but we are rarely able to.  Numerous examples show where people have danced – in other words done what they’ve wanted…and there are consequences for themselves and others.

Perhaps not so long ago I would have said yes to this philosophy with no hesitation as I do think it’s important to grab the moment and enjoy it for what it is – without thought.  I think I’d still say this but I’d add ‘as long as you don’t hurt yourself or other living beings (animal or human).’


What’s the link with Hollywood I hear you ask?  Well, Hollywood is the place where I suppose people do, and can, dance, and achieve great things – if they have the money and contacts.  I recently spent some time at Universal Studios LA and I was blown away by the dreams that have become real.

It is a place of dancing and thinking simultaneously and film makers would not have achieved anything if they had thought and then danced.

Dancing therefore is a metaphor for living life to the full and Universal is a place that takes you to where imagination takes over from reality.  In a world of 3D – which Universal uses to the full in its news rides and shows, we watch a fixed image which we think comes out at us and part of our world.  As we know, this is not the case – but we believe it to be the case.


In the Terminator show, above, the Terminator is not really touching us but we believe it to be so.  Even when we are told ‘it is not real’ – we still jump when it happens!

Universal shows us – in a fun way – the benefits of dancing and not thinking.  The dimensions of the mind would not be stretched to their full capacity if we did only the latter.  And, dancing is often the more objective approach to life; thinking too much can be unhealthy as judgements can creep in.


Walking into Universal is walking into an impossible yet possible world.  It is not so far from the way real life works.

With many thanks


My heartfelt thanks to Leanne at for nominating me for the Lovely Blog Award and Reader Appreciation Award.  Leanne’s blog is wonderful.

I am new to blogging and have learnt a lot and enjoyed reading many other blogs; I’m grateful for the support from other bloggers and to know that there are others interested in the things that interest me.

Here goes for 7 facts about me:

1) I love music (all styles) and play violin in an orchestra, and piano and oboe privately.

2) I really enjoy singing in a choir.

3) I love animals.

4) I love the theatre – plays and musicals alike.

5) I love the British countryside, I do like the north of England and Scotland particularly.

6) I have enjoyed exploring the USA over recent years; I love Oregon.

7) I spent some time in Poland and Ghana in 2003 and 2004; it was an emotional journey which I find hard to put down on paper.

There are so many super blogs out there – here are some of the ones that I think are excellent – http://

























I finish the post with a picture of Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland – one of my favourite places.  I recommend swimming in the sea here – though it is cold it makes you feel alive…