Holidays


To all my Facebook friends with a birthday in August (17 by my count!), I wish you a wonderful day of sweet and simple pleasure.

לכל חבריי בפייסבוק עם יום הולדת באוגוסט, אני מאחלת לכם יום נפלא של הנאה מתוקה ופשוטה. א

In my youth, my August birthday was a blessing and a curse.

I enjoyed the fact that I was always on holiday from school on this special day. I was free to spend the day enjoying myself, even if there weren’t many special things to do.

But that also meant that everyone else was on holiday and not around to celebrate with me. I was often away, too, on that day.

And, with a birthday at the end of August, I was always the youngest in the class – a fact that held great significance when we were young and was not advantageous.

August Birthdays are the Best

Now, it’s all good. Summer, freedom, almost always sunshine. And the fact that I’m the youngest of all my old school friends doesn’t bother me one bit!

From this year, I’ll be sharing August with my baby: Social Anxiety Revealed, published on August 22, just three days before my birthday.

Cover

 

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I think this was the first riddle I ever heard of the type I’m thinking of:

Brothers and sisters have I none, but that man’s father is my father’s son.

Something David (other half) said recently reminded me of that. We were walking through the village of Aldbury at the start of a circular walk in the Chilterns. He said:

I know this place, but I’ve never been here.

Aldbury1The riddle was soon solved. The village was the setting for an episode of The Avengers, a weird crime series from the 1960s. The stories in this series couldn’t possibly have happened in real life, and that’s the charm of it. I’m not totally hooked, but I think I get it.

Aldbury4We looked up Aldbury, of course, and immediately discovered the episode in question: Murdersville, in which all the village residents are involved in regular murders. For this episode, the village was renamed Little Storping in the Swuff and The Greyhound Inn became The Happy Ploughman. This might make me think differently about ploughman’s lunches!

Aldbury2We watched the episode after returning home. As I said: weird. But well done, David, for recognising the village!

***

The latest meeting of my writing group involved homemade Sachertorte. Obviously, I had to take photos. Sachertorte… Vienna… The Women Friends: Selina.

HenrysSachertorte1HenrysSachertorte2

Hello, lovely readers. I hope you’ve been happily occupied while I was away.

Yes, I’m back from a delightful nine-day trip to the UK, my almost-home. We visited friends and family, attended the book launch of The May Queen by fellow Crooked Cat author, Helen Irene Young, at Waterstones in Richmond, and did lots of walking.

TheMayQueenLaunch

The May Queen is a great story. I know – I edited it.

I also attended a meeting of Crooked Cat authors. Although we’re all in regular contact online, it’s always good to meet up for an informal chat.

I returned yesterday morning to two special annual days and something that, I believe, is unique to Israel. Today is Remembrance Day: ‘Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism’. Yesterday evening and this morning, the nation stood still to mourn, and ceremonies are being held throughout the day. And tomorrow, starting this evening, is Independence Day and a day for rejoicing. Tonight, we’ll stand on our balcony and watch the fireworks that mark the beginning of Independence Day.

IsabellaPlantation1

At Isabella Plantation with notebook and pen, naturally.

UPDATE (2 May): Here’s a photo from last night’s fireworks.

Fireworks1

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has bought Neither Here Nor There during this weekend’s Crooked Cat sale.

A reminder that The Women Friends: Selina is also on sale (99p/99c) until Monday.

In other news, I wish could write the other posts I planned about Ethiopia, but I’m busy editing two books and writing another. And I have a short trip planned. More about that on my return.

Happy holidays to all!

RedSeaCrossingSelfie

Originally posted on Facebook by Gedaliah Gurfein

This is one of several posts about my recent trip to Ethiopia. The others, so far, are:

The Black Country | Anecdotes | Transport | Religion | Danger

The post on transport was updated recently.

I haven’t looked up statistics about animals in Ethiopia, but there are, without doubt, more than I’ve seen in any other country. Cows, goats, buffaloes. You see them on the roads. The driver gives a hoot and the animals inch away until there’s just enough room for the jeep to get past.

Camels and donkeys carry salt – for internal use only, we were told.

Camels carrying salt

We spotted a baboon

Baboon

and a monkey

Monkey

and a dik-dik.

Dik-dik

We saw vervet monkeys.

Vervet monkey

That’s right – blue.

But most of all, I remember the birds. Our guide and driver for part of the tour (Milli) was very knowledgeable about birds and knew all the names. He’d spot them while driving and stop for us to take photos. When said bird was on my side of the jeep, I’d let the window down and sit back for hubby to lean on me while photographing. The results were definitely worth the slight discomfort.

Birds

All photos in this post by David Drori

This is one of several posts about my recent trip to Ethiopia. The others, so far, are:

The Black Country | Anecdotes | Transport | Religion

Before travelling to Ethiopia, we read warnings about visiting the country. Ethiopia has good relations with some of her neighbours and not such good relations with others, notably Eritrea. Terrorism is well known in Ethiopia.

Consequently, security is high. At every airport, there are two security checks – one to enter the building and another before boarding the plane. You have to take your shoes off twice. Large hotels also have security checks outside their entrances. Soldiers and police were often visible where we went. I was surprised to see them at tourist lookout points. I felt as if they feel tourists are more important than their own citizens. Fortunately, we saw no signs of terrorist activity.

Driving, in Ethiopia, from what I saw, is good. Our drivers kept calm and didn’t take risks. The roads were not always good, and some busy junctions would have benefited from traffic lights, but I didn’t feel in danger there. This is in marked contrast to India, where my heart was in my mouth each time we overtook.

Danger on our trip came from more natural places. One was Erta Ale, the volcano in the Dannakil Desert. We’d been expecting to be taken to the lava lake, where danger would have come from breathing the sulphur, but views would have been spectacular. Unfortunately, just before we arrived, there was a rare eruption and we weren’t allowed near the lake. We did make the climb, however, and saw the new activity from afar.

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Erta Ale (Photo by David Drori)

Then, instead of spending the night at the top and walking back down in the morning, we had to return to the camp at night, due to the danger from the volcano.

All that came after what for me was the most frightening part of the trip, but I did it. I climbed a vertical cliff to reach the Abuna Yemata Guh Church. Here is the proof:

climbingtoabunayemataguhchurch

Climbing to Abuna Yemata Guh Church (Photos by Mira Weinstein)

I got help, as you can see, from above and below. “Left hand here. Right foot here.” You see where my right knee is resting? I had to get my right foot there, and somehow I did. Yes, we took our shoes off before that stretch. They told us that was because all the ground near the church is holy, but I wouldn’t have been able to climb with boots on. I could barely squeeze my feet into the spaces as it was.

The pictures above were not taken by David, who decided not to go up. He made a wise decision; it’s not a place for someone who’s afraid of heights.

I made it! I took pictures from inside the nearby cave and of the church.

abunayemataguhcaveandchurch

I even lived to tell the tale!

descent-from-abuna-yemata-gur-church

Descent from Abuna Yemata Guh Church (Photo by David Drori)

This is one of several posts about my recent trip to Ethiopia. The others, so far, are:

The Black Country | Anecdotes | Transport

Ethiopia is a country of religion, more than any other country I know. All the residents seem to identify with a religion.

addis-ababa-holy-trinity-cathedral-interior-1

Addis Ababa Holy Trinity Cathedral (Photo by David Drori)

One of the guides informed us that Ethiopia is roughly half Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and half Muslim. This made me wonder why we weren’t shown more about Islam. Is it because there is nothing particularly worth seeing in connection with the Muslim community? Or is it because every one of our guides was Christian?

from-mekele-to-lalibela-128

(Photo by David Drori)

Proof (if we needed it) was all around us, in the crosses hanging in vehicles, in the way one of the drivers crossed himself three times each time we passed a church, in the keeping of fast days. On those days – twice a week – adherents refrain from eating all animal products, including eggs and milk products. There are stricter and less strict versions, but this seems to be the norm.

lalibella-asheten-mariam-monastery-30

Lalibela – Asheten Mariam monastery (Photo by David Drori)

We visited many churches, always having to leave our shoes outside. We saw separate entrances for men and women. All the churches had an area where only priests were allowed to enter. We saw pictures, including many from the Old Testament. Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity treats the Old and New Testaments with equal importance.

lalibella-st-georges-day-ceremony-35

Lalibela – St. George’s Day ceremony (Photo by David Drori)

Apart from churches and monasteries, we witnessed religious ceremonies outside. In Axum, we saw the Timket ceremony, of which the highlight involves jumping into the lake and filling bottles with holy water. In Lalibela, we saw the celebrations for St. George’s Day.

lalibella-church-interior-ceiling-142

Lalibela church interior – ceiling (Photo by David Drori)

Perhaps because of where we came from, the guides were keen to stress the many similarities between Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity and Judaism. They don’t eat pork. They pray in an ancient language called Gez, which is similar to Hebrew. Etc. Jews have lived in Ethiopia for a long time, starting (if Ethopian tradition can be believed) with the son of King Solomon. When Christianity arrived in Ethiopia, most people converted. Recently, during the 1980s and ’90s, Ethiopians Jews were brought to Israel and there might not be any Jews left in Ethiopia.

I haven’t mentioned the traditional, tribal religions, and I promise to do so in another post.

I hope you’re enjoying the lovely photos taken by David Drori. You can view the full set on Flickr.

There’s one church that he didn’t photograph and that’s because… I’ll leave that for next time!

One more thing: in  Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, shown above, we saw the crypt of Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife. (I mention that because someone said she was particularly interested to read about him.)

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