Close to Home 2

This photo of Exeter Guildhall shows the date AD80, but I’ve never known why. There is some evidence that there was a settlement here as early as 250BC, but the Romans named Exeter Isca around 55 AD.
The visible structure of the guildhall itself dates from the late middle ages and the building has been a guildhall for more than 800 years. It’s possible that even earlier Medieval halls are concealed below ground.

The Winding Path

To the top of the hill leads to my little house. Along the way is the greengrocer, the baker, the butcher and the fishmonger. Every Friday the library man wheels his trolley all the way up, so we old folk don’t have to carry our books.

It gets very blowy up here in winter, but never mind, the views of the river running towards the sea and the town with it’s church spires are beautiful. In summer lots of visitors come for the day. They puff and pant, and many of them give up along the way. I don’t mind when they knock on the door to ask for water, because I can always sell them a bag of my special hill town fudge. The cobbler does well, he hires out sensible shoes for the day, He has a sign saying ‘Ladies, rent my shoes or break your ankles’. City women can be so foolish, how do they think pointy heels will fare on the cobbles?

When the snows comes at Christmas, hundreds come and pay a shilling a time to toboggan down. We decorate with lights and holly, the whole place looks magical. Old Wilf dresses up as Santa and there’s mince pies and mulled wine for the grown ups.

Maybe you’ll come to visit one day? We’ll make you very welcome, as long as you spend lots of money and go away again. But be warned, villains and scrooges will be fed to the wolves in the forest.

Paula has a Thursday Special photo challenge and this week the theme is ‘Winding’. My head is scrambled after a manic week, so I thought I’d share my madness with you.

 

Paula said she would like to visit and asked for directions, so here they are.

Get off the train at Exeter St Davids, next cross to platform 5 for the Tarka line. After an hour and 3769 seconds get ready to jump from the train. Don’t be frightened of the crone in the hedge, and whichever way she directs you choose the opposite. After a nod and 3 blinks you will see a white gate, it’s easy from there as long as you sprinkle coins!

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.

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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.