Spring plants in the rain

I walked down my road from work today , with my neighbour Katie and she admired the euphorbia draping itself over my garden wall. I thanked her because it had self seeded from hers! We decided it was at it’s best, even better than her mother plant and that I should take a photo.

So as I’d got the camera out, I decided to see what else was happening.

I must say it’s nice to get home in daylight and next week will be even better. The weather’s been squally again, bright sunshine, then short, sharp showers and some very heavy rain and wind. I think the plants enjoyed the freshness.

 

Close to home 1

As I was walking home today, I thought about the area where I live. I’ve lived within three miles all of my life, and I know lots of the little nooks and crannies. So I thought I’d start posting phone camera shots from time to time as a record for myself and to show you the real Exeter.

Here’s number one, sometimes there may be long gaps, other times I might post them thick and fast, as it takes my fancy.

Castelling, a human tower

Castelling is an ancient Catalan tradition, first documented in the early 1800’s, it began in Tarragona, but has since spread throughout Catalonia. I first saw it courtesy of the pink trousered one, Michael Portillo, in one of his tv programmes, to which I am addicted. As I was in Barcelona for ‘The Dia’ last September, I knew there was a fair chance of seeing it.

The Centre for Cultura i Memoria in El Born was one of the places it could be seen, the one that was easy to find, and close to a favourite little café!

After a croissant filled with coffee flavoured mascarpone, it was time to go out into the Placa Comercial,

Where preparations were underway.

And then it began.

In the background, you can see the first layer climb on the shoulders of the base level, or Pinya as it’s known. The Pinya is wide and formed by the strongest of the group, to make a base that can support the weight of the rest and be a safety net should anyone fall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Several more layers are added, the Tronc, and finally, the littlest one scrambles atop, zoom in to see her nearly there, but I didn’t capture her with the camera, I was too entranced!

Once there, she gives a very quick wave, the crowd cheer and she’s back down the six layers beneath her, in just a few moments. Three troups performed that day, in competition, and each time I saw the wave, but my camera didn’t.

Desemparats

They’ve gone, my husband and my son. In my mind’s eye, I can still see them waving in the distance, as the boat drifted further and further towards the horizon. And then they were no more.

 My baby and I are alone, and we wait to hear that they have arrived but I’ve lost count of the weeks, and the crossing should have taken just days. I’ve heard of boats not arriving, but that couldn’t happen to my Miran and Sami, could it? They have Allah’s protection. I pray, and they pray, five times a day and we lead good lives, remembering the Pillars of Islam, so we must wait patiently. For how long? another week, another month?

He left me with 100 euros, I can’t spend it, no one will change it for me, they think it’s fake money. We are hungry, this girl child will starve soon. The camp is full of rats and the grain has bugs in it. The toilets are a poisonous death waiting to happen. I have to walk three miles a day to get to a clean place, but then the heat bears down on me. My clothes are rags now, the girl is hungry and was crying all the time, but now today she has stopped.  That’s not a good thing, she’s giving up, missing her father and brother. I miss my men and feel frightened all the time. The men that wait for boats look me up and down, desperate to see if I have money. If they find my euros they will take them.

I have a wound on my leg that festers and this morning I scraped a worm from it. I am worried now, but must hold on to my husband’s smile and promise to send for me, as soon as they find work and save enough for us to join them in Europe. Italy, Greece? Anywhere will do if there is food and shelter over our heads. We need medicine as well. I bleed all the time and have no protection just grimy rags, my child has shit running down her legs. 

We must keep safe, I must keep the girl safe. If the aid workers see us, they may try to take the girl or lock us away and send us home to Syria. Ah, if only we didn’t have to leave Syria, but we would have been dead already if we’d stayed. I watched them kill my brothers and my Miran’s father. We had to leave.

There are thousands of people here, all hungry, all frightened and desperate. The boat price goes up every day and still people find the money and go. If I was a bad woman it would be easier, I could sell my body and make lots of money to get us to Europe. But it’s too late, even if I was a bad woman, no one would buy my body now, it’s full of insects and sickness. I must sleep, perhaps tomorrow I will hear from Miran that they are safe. Suppose they got separated, what would become of my son on his own in a strange land with nothing but a few words of English?  They wanted to pick grapes, work in farms or factories, anything, all hours if they could get it. They will get it, Allah is with them, we are good people and this pain will end, Insha’Allah.

This writing was inspired by a Picasso painting ‘The Desemparats, (the abandoned) displayed in the Musee Picasso, Barcelona.

A Lunchtime Find

When it’s cold or wet I tend to stay on campus, or even walk the corridors of the main hospital building for my lunchtime stroll. Today the weather was perfect, so I went through the housing estate, because I knew my secret pathway was looking pretty.

I’m glad I went because the daffs won’t be around much longer. I lingered a few minutes and then it was time to stride out. Next I came across this van,

and just had to investigate. Who remembers the days when the baker, the fishmonger, the milkman, the green grocer and of course the Corona lorry and the ice cream man came?

Now in Exeter, the farm shop comes to some areas.

With lots of lovely local produce.

You’re probably wondering if I was tempted.

Well, as I’m over the baking phase I had in the autumn, because if you make cake you have to eat it don’t you? That’s bad news for a chubba-bubba, so it had to stop. The only thing to do is buy the odd treat or ten, so I chose a brownie which I’ve left in my desk drawer until Friday afternoon, when I’ll need – uh – deserve a treat for surviving the week.

This lovely lady runs the mobile shop. She was a delight to chat to and said Love Local Food is based at West Town Farm, where they have open days for families and schools. Their mission is to produce and promote sustainable food, reduce food miles and to engage with people in the community.

We all like our food to be fresh don’t we? It really does have more flavour if it’s local and in season, rather than being chilled for goodness knows how long, while it’s being flown hallway around the planet. Have a look at Love Local’s pages, there’s even a ted Talk. If you’re near Exeter, watch out for the happy food van!

Worth the wait?

After nearly ten years, the olive tree has started bearing fruit. Just a few last year, that never grew beyond the size of a currant. This year, they’ve survived the winter and are almost the size of the black olives I like. The birds have had a few pecks of them and spat them on the ground, so I guess they probably taste horrid.

I read somewhere that olives are cured for eating, I’ve no idea what with of how, but I expect they need a whole lot more heat and sun to be enjoyable. Some of you are in olive producing countries, perhaps you could tell me more?