Holidays


Before anything else, I was shocked 馃槈 to discover that not everyone has seen my video introducing Social Anxiety Revealed. If you’re one of those unfortunate people, here’s the link you need to sort it: [See it, say it, sorted. Don’t mind me; I’m just learning the lingo. See below.]

***

“It’s been an awfully long time since you last wrote a blog post,” said everyone.

“I know,” I replied, “and I’m awfully sorry, but life got in the way again.”

“You haven’t been travelling again, have you?” said everyone.

“Actually, I have.” I gave a sheepish grin. “I’ve literally spent like the last six weeks in various like places in the UK.”

“Picked up the lingo, too,” said everyone.

“Just trying to blend in. I didn’t like it when two people I met in Cardiff thought I sounded foreign. I mean… well… if I don’t sound British, then what do I sound?”

Making Welsh Cakes

Making Welsh cakes in Cardiff market

“Weird?” suggested everyone.

“Yeah, but apart from that.”

“What have you been up to?” said everyone, clumsily changing the subject.

“I went geocaching around Wittenham Clump. I did belly dancing and zumba. I walked in Devon, Cambridge, the Lake District, Chess Valley and Richmond. I travelled in cars, buses, trains, planes, a bicycle and a boat.

Cycling in Devon

“I got detrained in Newark. I know I did, because the guard said so, so I don’t care about that red squiggly line that’s appeared below the word. (And no, I don’t want to change it to detained, retained or restrained, but if you annoy me any more, Spelling Checker, you may have to restrain me to prevent me from getting detained.)

“I spent five days at an Arvon retreat and have some great ideas about how to complete one of my works in progress.

Totleigh Barton

“I ate in various restaurants, including Mexican, Italian and Indian. I ate sandwiches a little too often. I ate food on planes that I didn’t particularly like. I enjoyed home cooking that I didn’t have to prepare. The most delicious thing I ate was cheesecake in a Turkish caf茅 in Chesham.

“I visited art museums and an old house. I saw a musical, two plays and a film.

“I read books, including one that I loved: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I also read from one out loud, while taking part in a book festival.

Reading

Reading from Neither Here Nor There

“I had two dogs and a cat on my lap… at different times. But most of all, I met and talked to lots of people and had a great time doing it. I hope they enjoyed my company, too.”

Swansea

“Sounds wonderful,” said everyone.

“It was!”

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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.

诇讻诇 讞讘专讬讬 讘驻讬讬住讘讜拽 注诐 讬讜诐 讛讜诇讚转 讘讗讜讙讜住讟, 讗谞讬 诪讗讞诇转 诇讻诐 讬讜诐 谞驻诇讗 砖诇 讛谞讗讛 诪转讜拽讛 讜驻砖讜讟讛.

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

 

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聽the episode in question: Murdersville, in which all the village residents are involved in regular murders. For this episode,聽the village was renamed聽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聽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聽THANK YOU聽to everyone who has bought Neither Here Nor There during this weekend’s Crooked Cat sale.

A reminder that The Women Friends: Selina聽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聽| Religion聽| 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聽| 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.

erta-ale

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聽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)

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