Saturday, 23 January 2010


There was grim - very grim - news about two boys who had tortured and abused two other boys - children all. I cannot imagine how the two boys who were so badly beaten will recover. There has been a lot on the news about the boys who were the perpetrators and about what will happen to them - but I think that is typical in this country, which never seems to deal with the victims. The victims in this case will be not only the children themselves - poor poor boys - but their parents who will feel that they should have kept their boys safe and failed.

Meanwhile in Haiti, a surgeon was interviewed on the news, and he actually broke down and cried, saying how hard this had been but that it was the only place he COULD be. I wish I were younger and I would also have wanted to go out and do something there to help. I gave money to medecins sans frontier and hope their cargoes are now getting through  - apparently they didn;t, as the US military places were given priority.

I ordered a couple of books from Amazon.

One was by Sharylin Miller about beading, and another by an author called Bartov about surviving relics of the Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. I have never heard of this man so it will be interesting.
I also decided to download some mixed media workshops so that I can - perhaps - be inspired into making some art at some point soon. I know I will feel better if I do. Too much holocaust literature lately. I must read some more cheerful literature.

Joseph and I went out this afternoon to look at a small exhibition of Edwardian photos at the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight. The photos were fascinating and as usual, I had mixed reactions to the actual gallery. They have some wonderful pieces and paintings there, but the place is so gloomy - it feels overfurnished (I know it is a museum of Lord Lever's collections including furniture) and just rather Victorian. It is of its period but I find the whole thing overwhelmingly dark. Nonetheless - a lovely Turner painting, a Millais, some Rosseti, and a few stumpwork embroidered items make the visit worthwhile every time we do go. The weather was grey again.

I woke up disgustingly late, but I find that helps the pain in my arm so I have decided not to fight with myself over my sleeping habits. It didn;t help that I fell asleep very late reading, and woke at around 4am with my glasses still on my nose and the book I was reading still propped up. I fell asleep after that, and woke again at 6 to go to the loo, and thats when I fell into my deep sleep. I must try and get into better sleep habits - but as I look at the clock I see it is 12.20am and my brain is buzzing. If I ever do get to write my novel/memoir it will be during the night. That is just how I am.

I am waiting for flowers in the gardens again. Meanwhile.....a photo from last year!!

Friday, 22 January 2010

this evening

This evening I went to the Embroiderers Guild meeting here on the Wirral.

It was a lovely meeting organised by Janet Vance with members as the speakers showing their own range of work which was interesting - the best pieces by far were by Janet herself although she is a relative beginner - but not in the world of art.

 I really want to start making more - being more creative. I have had a little collage sitting on my work table for 2 weeks waiting to be stuck down and embellished, but I have been reading, and struggling with pain, and the latter has had a dire effect during these cold weeks.
I am also - sad to say - waiting for something to happen as regards my mum. It is so hard to live and work with this overshadowing all of us.


A little inspiration!!

                               I will get on with it I promise!!!!

I am going to download a couple of craft videos from Quilting Arts/ClothPaperScissors and try some of their techniques. There are several which look really good and I am going to choose tomorrow.

I am also going to buy myself a beading book by Sharylin Miller which Abigail recommended - there is a bracelet on the illustration on amazon which looks just wonderful and exactly the kind of thing I have been longing to learn to make. I haven;t spent any money on myself at all lately, so this will be my New Year Treat!!( Abigail bought it and Eric has been busy making wire jewellery which I think is quite amusing.)

I am sure it will cheer me up to have some goodies to look forward to.

And spring isn't far away it?? Some sunshine, some flowers, a little blue sky.....I love the colours of winter but I long for some warmth.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Neuropathic pain

This link takes you to the grim reality that I am trying to come to terms with about neuropathic pain. I have had such a bad time, trying at first to get some sort of diagnosis, and more recently having to deal with a doctor who had never heard of this condition, and who could not read my MRI scan (the same scan was rejected by the neurology department as being unclear.....) telling me that my pain was "psychosocial!"

I have such a horror of dementia. I have such a horror of growing old, and worrying that I will not be able to deal with the pain if I am not totally compos mentis. This is a dark dark posting but I need to place on record that when I can no longer cope, I am going to go to Switzerland and end my days with dignity. There is no way I am going to go screaming into that dark night - sorry Dylan Thomas.

Finding this online has just knocked the wind out of my sails. I just am having to think that I must, I MUST, live for the present and do as much as I can, thus keeping mind and brain ticking over all the time. And I must enjoy myself more. I have had such a static month this month, having seen noone, having had few real conversations. I haven;t been creative. I have read a lot, which is ok, but is my displacement activity of choice! Not a bad activity but I need to push myself out a lot more often. Mind you - it has been difficult in the ice, and if I were to fall and damage my left hand even more - how could I even get it treated? I can't stand needles in it, couldn;t abide to have it in a bandage or plaster cast, so I am neurotic about keeping myself safe.

I saw my parents yesterday. My mother is still the same, being fed through a tube in her stomach, not speaking not able to communicate, struggling to breathe because of the fluid in her system, but still here, still alive. My dad still tries to have a go at me for marrying Glyn in 1975....that is a lifetime ago. I cannot believe that he has no humility in him, that he is the one who needs the visits, and yet he still blames me for everything that has happened to him and my mother in Manchester. I don;t think so. I really don't think I was the one who told them to move in their 80s, the one who caused my mother to break her arms, or the one who gave him a bad back. He might have hurt his back hitting me of course....

I intend to get back to doing something worthwhile and creative over the next few days. I need to sort out what I can keep here and what I need to take across to Leeds when we go next week. We have such a busy weekend when we get there and I am looking forward to ALL of it.

It is so cold today. I took Martha for a walk and the wind was bitingly cold. The sea was grey today, the cold relentless. Not an enjoyable walk at all, but I think Martha didn;t mind at all! She ran and jumped and skittered around as usual, ate her dinner when we came in, and fell fast asleep at my feet where she is now.

I think I am going to take the article above and go and see my doctor and ask him for some information and help in interpreting what it might mean. Then I might not be so worried.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Monday blues

I don't know why, but I am in the middle of a "down" time at the moment. I know its cyclical, that it will go away as it usually does, but whilst I am in the midst of a period of depression I never know when it will lift and am always petrified in case it doesn't this time.

What has brought it on?
I have not seen anyone since we arrived back in Wallasey and all the people I thought were friends appear to have vanished totally. I know the weather has been bad, but not even an email or phone call. I could have fallen off the face of the earth. So that, and not being able to get out last week because of the ice on the pavements here has given me an attack of cabin fever.
I found an old diary entry from around the time that Glyn died and that upset me. I had forgotten how poor we were, how we struggled from week to week to pay bills, whilst sending our kids abroad.
The neuropathy that I suffer from has become almost unendurable of late giving me very very dark and bleak thoughts. Neuropathic pain is indescribable to anyone who does not struggle with it. It eats away ones very soul.....

I am sure I will pick up as the weather improves. But for now  - life feels like a brick wall.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Barbara Cherish - reflections on a radio interview

I listened to a programme broadcast on Radio 4 in which Fergal Keane interviewed the daughter of one of the commandants hanged for war crimes after the second world was - he had in fact been in charge for 6 months at Auschwitz. Even the name is disgust in any decent and moral person's mouth these days, and for survivors and their children, defines them and the reality they inhabit. The meaning of life is different once you know that had you been alive then, you too would have been stripped, shaved, and eventually worked to death or starved to death or gassed to death - or other deaths too awful to contemplate.

I read, in a novel based on truth (Geraldine Brooks - The People of the Book), that in one place Jews were taken to the edge of a cliff, their hamstrings were slashed, and they were pushed into a pit to die on top of each other. My mind reels from all of this, but I need to read, I need to know, I need to understand - what was done, when it was done, how it was done.....the why is almost irrelevant. I will never understand how the German populace fell for Herr Hitler, and will never understand either why anyone should imagine that this kind of thing could never happen again.

Human life is so cheap. So cheap. Every day we read of catastrophes, deaths, mutilations. Thousands have died today in Haiti, a baby was murdered by its parents as others watched their prem babies struggling to live. Have we actually made any moral progress Mr. Darwin as we have made physical progress through evolution? I sometimes know that we haven;t. There are some beautiful people in the world. There is beautiful art, beautiful music, philosophy, literature, poetry, architecture,  there are scientists making fabulous discoveries. It doesn't add up to anything until we grow up morally, until we know that the worst crime is the undervaluing of another human life, until we learn to treat others with the respect we feel we deserve.

So to Barbara Cherish.

I thought that she was being less than truthful about her own feelings with reference to what she had discovered. She must have decided that "show and tell" would bring her some financial reward if she published a book, she must have made the moral decision to profit from what her father - who left when she only 9 months old and barely counts as a father - did in Auschwitz. He may have saved a few Jews but the reason he saved them is unclear. He had a new lover. Her own mother died in a mental institution - I think I might have had a breakdown if I had had to live her life.

Cherish didn't sound particularly remorseful - even when she appeared slightly overcome the general feeling I had was that the whole thing was a little ersatz  (she must have gone through loads of these interviews and learnt how to answer the difficult questions!)  and Fergal Keane was no better - he could have been more ascerbic, his questions less gentle, less mannered. 

The article quoted below says that Cherish is now contented as she has found the truth. How interesting. The more I find out, the less contented I become, the less comforted by any illusions about the humanity of those times. I think the words I might use for all of this are sanctimonious and self seeking justification. I know thats harsh but that is how I (ie just me,)  view it.

As the child of a survivor of the camps and the Nazi invasion of the Ukraine, I have very very strong views about this subject.

Here is the  article about Barabara Cherish from the Guardian - the link to the page wouldn't work but the Guardian article is still online.

"My father, the Auschwitz commandant" - Barbara Cherish's father was an SS officer who ran the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Adopted after the second world war by an American family, she kept her birth father's identity secret for decades. She tells Joanna Moorhead what it's like to be the child of a man responsible for mass murder, and how she finally faced the truth
Joanna Moorhead The Guardian, Saturday 20 June 2009 Article history

At the age of 47, Barbara Cherish was at a crossroads. Her children were grown up, but her marriage was over. Her beloved elder sister, who had been a surrogate mother when she was young, had recently died. "Everything had gone from under me," she says. "But I knew one thing: this was the moment to confront the secret I had kept hidden for so long."
That secret lay buried in an upstairs drawer. It was a photograph of a man whose eyes Barbara describes as "thoughtful and sad", a man whose existence she had never dared to admit to anyone. The man was her father: the photograph betrayed the awful truth about him. In the picture, Arthur Liebehenschel is wearing a military hat - a hat that clearly displays the insignia of Hitler's SS and the death's head of the concentration camp staff.
Barbara's father wasn't just any SS officer - he had one of the most terrible jobs imaginable. "He was the camp commandant at Auschwitz," says Barbara quietly. "And, do you know, when I started being able to say that out loud, it was actually a tremendous relief."
"My father had an appalling job," says Barbara, a 66-year-old grandmother who lives in San Diego, California. "But I couldn't go on hiding it. I had to find out who he was and what he was, as much to find out where I came from as for any other reason." She says she wanted to uncover the truth as much for her son and her granddaughter as for herself (her daughter died several years ago). "I don't want there to be secrets in our family any more. However bad the truth, I wanted it to be known."
Barbara, named Bärbel when she was born in Nazi Germany in 1943, began her quest at that crossroads in 1988 after her sister's death. It was the start of a journey that has taken more than 20 years. The final element in the process is the publication of a book detailing all the information she has been able to muster about Liebehenschel and his life.
It's a book that is both unbearably moving and extraordinarily laborious - there are pages and pages of transcripts from his trial after the war ended. And yet, says Barbara, this was essential to her mission. "I wanted to let him speak in his own words," she says. "I wanted him to have a chance to say himself what his life was about."
Barbara is adamant that she wasn't seeking to exonerate a man who had played so central a role in the Final Solution. Yet it's clear, from the earliest pages, that she can't stop herself from being Liebehenschel's daughter. If there is good to see in the man she will - unsurprisingly - find it. So we are told that when he was put in charge of Auschwitz he released prisoners from the notorious Block II, and put an end to the executions at the Black Wall. Auschwitz survivors, some of whom Barbara has approached and interviewed, have told her that her father, while culpable for his part in the Nazi atrocities, did what he could to help some of the prisoners. And Barbara quotes Anneliese, Liebehenschel's lover, who remembers how he would return home from the camp and cry, before taking long showers and longer walks.
None of it, of course, adds up to any kind of pardon - and Barbara is well aware that there is likely to be criticism about what she has done. What she wants, she admits, is to provide, if not excuses, then a context to what her father did. She talks about him as a man who loved the military life, who was a career soldier, who perhaps wanted to extricate himself from the horror but didn't know how. To many readers this will ring hollow - when she dares to compare him to Oscar Schindler, who saved thousands of Jews from death, one feels she is sailing very close to the wind.

What is fascinating about Barbara is that the man she has managed to see in as favourable a light as possible was not only a war criminal (he was found guilty of war crimes and hanged in 1948) but also deserted her mother, leaving her to bring up four children alone. It was this desertion, in fact, that led to Gertrud Liebehenschel's mental breakdown, as a result of which Barbara was eventually adopted and shipped to the US with her new family.

So the man she is trying so hard to love is responsible not only for unquantifiable public suffering, but also for immense private grief. Yet, almost seven decades on, Barbara is moved to tears when she talks about him.

One is also struck, reading her account of what it was to be the child of a Nazi in the aftermath of Germany's defeat, that this is a story that has rarely, if ever, been told.

She remembers the family suitcases being stolen one day at a railway station, so that she and her sisters and mother were left with "no money ... just the clothes on our backs ... " and that the following winter was so cold that Brigitte, her eldest sister, got the beginnings of tuberculosis. At one point, the family was in such need that she and a little friend sat begging in the street.
But it's the earlier stories that are most fascinating. Her other sister, Antje, recalls, for example, prisoners from Sachsenhausen concentration camp - her father worked there before Auschwitz - coming to the house to build a conservatory. One of the prisoners used to give Antje rides on his shoulders, promising to build her a playhouse one day. When Bärbel herself was born, in 1943, her mother was awarded the bronze Mutterkreuz - the Mother's Cross - a medal awarded by Hitler to women who had four or more children (those who bore six received a silver medal, and those who bore eight got gold).
But, she adds: "At the precise moment of my birth, people were being herded into gas chambers, their babies never even given a chance to live." Later, when her father had left and moved to Auschwitz with his new lover (he was transferred as a punishment for getting divorced), she quotes a chilling entry from his journal, noting the birth of another son, Hans-Dieter, in the camp hospital: the child was, he says, "a special gift from God, a new life in the midst of where so many had to die". Barbara explains that the other women giving birth that day were all camp prisoners; their babies would be taken from them immediately and never seen again.

The story of Gertrud, Barbara's mother, is also tragic: having lost her husband to another woman, she was then derided after the war as the wife of an SS officer. Her descent into mental instability is charted painstakingly, with the young Bärbel trying to understand why her mother is taking her and Antje on a two-week walk across fields and through forests from their home in Germany to their former holiday house in Austria. Eventually, Brigitte - by then 16 - tracked them down, and rescued the starving Bärbel. Brigitte and Bärbel were fostered.

In fact, Barbara never saw her mother again, and Gertrud died in 1966 in a mental institution after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
A couple of years after being rescued by Brigitte, Barbara was adopted by the sister and American brother-in-law of Brigitte's husband, giving Barbara a new father who had fought for the Allies against Hitler.
Leaving her family behind was very hard - but travelling by ship to the US and starting a new life there was hugely exciting. "Every day was a new adventure for me - I remember arriving in New York and driving upstate and how my eyes followed the road with such curiosity, imagining a whole new life unravelling around every corner. I missed my old family, of course, but having a fresh start was tremendous."
Her American family moved first to New York and then California, but Barbara's new mother warned her never to mention her father's past to anyone in America - and for three decades, she says, "I didn't tell a soul."

For Arthur Liebehenschel, too, the story ends with silence: by the time he was hanged for war crimes in 1948 he had been in prison for three years, and died without knowing what had become of the family he had abandoned.

At his trial, Liebehenschel denied knowledge of what was going on at Auschwitz, which, Barbara admits, is unbelievable. "He lied when he was being interrogated - that's pretty clear," she says. "Why he lied and how much he lied about, we can only speculate. But there were times when he seems to have gone to Berlin to try to stop the transports ... the truth is that the picture is complicated, but it's clear that he knew more about what was going on than he claimed at his trial."

It must be hard to feel sorrow for a war criminal who surely had forfeited the rights he took from so many other human beings, but decades on, and from across the world, his youngest daughter is still sad that her father's last days must have been lonely. "He didn't know where we were or what had become of us, or even whether we were still alive. In his final letter to his wife, he says how peculiar it is that there has been no news or trace of his little girls, and I find that so tragic."
Barbara's search has brought many tears and much sadness, but there is contentment, too, for her these days. Although she kept the truth a secret, she feels that every aspect of her life for all those years was lived under the cloud of her father's Nazi past. Coming out of the shadows, and naming that history, has brought her closure.
She feels that, whatever he did, she has done her best by him. Once, she says, she had a dream in which two hands extended down from the heavens towards her: but they were covered with long, black gloves, and she was terrified as she realised they were reaching for her. The moment the hands touched hers, though, she felt what she describes as "an overwhelming sense of love and peace". Liebehenschel may have been a monster, but he was also a father - and his daughter has never forgotten him.

• The Auschwitz Kommandant: A Daughter's Search for the Father She Never Knew by Barbara U Cherish is published by The History Press.

This is the link that wouldn't work;

and here is the link to another piece on the BBC's own website

A friend of mine said that the Holocaust defined Jews and I think it probably does. It is sad - the wonderful Yiddish culture, the humour, the learning, the life has vanished from Eastern Europe and in its place - pictures of skeltal figures in what look like striped pyjamas, horror stories, piles of bones in photographs, possibly even the bones of my family......

It is almost too much to bear somedays and I don't know how my father lives with the memories. I had to run away from home when I was younger. The burden was too great and the fear it might happen again too strong. I wanted to give any children I had a fighting chance in the world. That is the truth.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Winter Weekend

The weather has been so cold, and the pavements around here so icy that it has been almost impossible to venture out safely so I stayed in all weekend, apart from a walk with the dog today. I slid up and down our road to Flyns Field which isn;t so much a field as a patch of rather well used grass at the bottom of our hill, and I let Martha run around for a while to let off some energy. Sometimes when she runs, she looks like a greyhound and it does make me wonder about her ancestry!!

Yesterday I threw out several bags of rubbish from my upstairs study and intend to do the same tomorrow. I have read a novel. I haven;t cooked as I felt totally out of sorts with myself and just couldn;t be bothered so we had an Indian takeaway this evening.

I booked our flights for Abigail's wedding party in France in July. I hope it all goes well. We fly out on the 21st and come back on the 24th, and we fly directly to Avignon (sur le pont d'Avignon ....there apparently is a bridge there) but coming home we have a three hour stop at Southampton - unfortunately.... I also booked a car for the time we are there and my account is now denuded and I will have to be careful until February which isn't a problem as I really don't need anything at the moment. I will be glad when its all over and they are married and everything is done and dusted. I don't usually wish my life away but this time - I think I will be happy to know that Abigail and Eric are finally married . I am dreading going and meeting his parents and feel very self conscious about that part of it, also they will have family present and I will have Cris and then a couple of friends, which is nice but really points up the lack of people around me that are family. Oh well.

Joseph is finishing the article he is working on - hopefully it should be done by the end of this week. We have had words this weekend and that saps my energy. Once this piece goes to print maybe things will be easier!!

Snow is forecast here tomorrow.....I think I will spend some time tidying the study, I will clean the kitchen, do the ironing, and sit down and write my piece for the writing group. There. Thats a plan.

So I need to get to bed as its midnight!! And maybe I will have the creative impulse tomorrow and be able to work on something like this beautiful quilt I saw in Birmingham! Carole Thomson made it click on it to enlarge and look at the details,) I am not sure whether I should post it here, but I want to remind myself that its important to keep going and put myself out into the world, and not retreat into myself and the house again.......

Friday, 8 January 2010

Friday evening.

I am listening to Tchaikovsky on Classic FM, I have the Shabbat candles lit, and have just finished reading"The Clothes on their Back" - which was another holocaust novel in disguise! I seem to read so much about this subject, its like a wound that needs to be picked at and doesn;t heal.

I am also wondering why I lit the candles - I have never done this before.

When I married Glyn in 1975 and was so disowned by my parents for marrying out of faith, I took on their hard line view on religion. All or nothing.....but in so doing I allowed them to not only estrange me from my brothers and sister, but also to push me away from my heritage, and I find that I would now like to reclaim some of it.

I don't honestly know what I believe in  - I certainly don't believe that each religion has a right to claim their version of God is correct, and I am not sure I believe in God either. Be that as it may, I have a right to be counted as a Jewess, and I want some of the good things back, the sense of community and belonging, the intelligence and humour, and the Yiddishness of Yiddish people. Hence the candles. A small gesture, and a way to show my grandparents who died in the Holocaust that I have not forgotten, will never forget, and to say to my father that it is possible to go through the world with dignity and honour without being a fundamentalist with a perverted world view. In fact not being one makes it all the easier!!

I do not pretend to have led a blameless life or that I did not make a lot of mistakes when I was younger, but time slows us down, and mellows us. It is also like a spiral to me, you come back to the same place but in a different elevation as it were, looking at the same thing from a different view point.

Thats how I think of life - as I giant helter skelter from which we see the world rushing by.....same view and -oops - its gone again, but so fast.

I have had a bad day today with the neuropathic pain in my left arm which is driving me mad. I don;t know what to do with it at the moment, the cold weather is making the pain much worse, the medication I take slows me down so that I don't feel creative, and the ice on the roads is making it impossible to get out which is my usual coping mechanism - distraction therapy. Also we came back to Wallasey for my reading group and Crop - which have been cancelled due to the I haven't even had those to enjoy.

Even Martha Dog looks fed up......!! She has been on my lap most of this evening - a bit of a big lap dog, but MUCH loved, she has such a sweet nature and is so affectionate. Love comes in all sorts of shapes!

Maybe I can stay in bed late tomorrow, and the pain won;t be so bad. Its the only other way to cope other than distraction therapy....

Thursday, 7 January 2010

My reading blog.......

can ben found in my personal profile - I am not sure yet how to link to things here on blogger. I need a book to explain it all!!

Living in a frozen world

A reminder of Autumn in our white and blue world.

I have over 1000 photos on my camera and need to get them downloaded so that I can blog the snow colours and views that we have been having this winter. Not unusual in other parts of the world but totally unusual here, so that it has become headline news - not enough gas, not enough salt/grit for the roads, transport disrupted, people panic buying food (? why?) and so on and so on. The road here is so steep and covered in ice and - wimp that I am - I am terrified of falling and hurting some other bit of me. I live in so much pain I don't think I could bear anything else to go wrong!

We arrived back in Wallasey yesterday. The house here was cold - very cold. It had been empty for nearly three weeks, but it is nice and cosy now, and I am sitting here, twinkly lights in the hearth, radio playing softly, dog at feet, and a pile of books, magazines and a couple of stitching and mixed media projects waiting for me so I have no need to go out if I don't want to. I don;t mind snow, I don;t mind getting wet or cold, but I am so scared of there is plenty to keep my mind occupied and there is plenty (oh yes always plenty) of housework to do here.

I have joined a book challenge online - to read 100 books this year, and I am on number 3 already. I have started a blog to list them as I need somewhere safe to keep the list. I did have a little red book, and it keeps getting mislaid so online seems safer, and there are vast numbers of people with reading blogs. When I looked I found them overwhelming.

I love reading - my friend Sue said she thought that it was more important to live than to spend too much time reading, but I think I do my fair share of living as well. I read 8 books whilst we were in Nerja and we went out every day and explored new places. Joseph and I go out all the time, we visit and travel and see people and experience many different things all the time, but I need to read the way some people need to breathe. My fantasy was always that I would win a lottery and move into a bookshop and have all my worldly needs met whilst I just gorged myself on literature. I almost live in a bookshop - our house has more books in it than some libraries!! I have set myself the task of reading all the books I have bought at charity shops and book sales and GIVING THEM BACK!! However, we keep visiting charity shops and finding little gems...

What I need to do:
1. Upload my photos.
2. Do some stitching and I have an idea for a mixed media piece based on something I saw in Somerset Studio - so I should really have the courage to have a go.
3. Housework - yuck.
4. Finish my book.....

Friday, 1 January 2010

Some holiday snaps.......Spain December 2009.

1. A picture of Frigiliano, a so called "white" village just 1 euros drive away from Nerja in the hills outside the town. It was very beautiful, even though it was touristy and seemed to be full of expats having very loud conversations about the need for pairs of trainers in the UK as well as in Spain! That was not the fault of the place though, and we visited it twice, the first time sitting at the very top of the village to enjoy the view and then going to a local bar for gazpacho and coffees and the second time to have a drink in the little bar outside the ruined sugar mill and a wander through the cultural centre.

2. Just a picture of one of the beautiful sunsets that we witnessed whilst on holiday - I love taking sunset photos!

3. A photo taken in the Cuevas de Nerja  - full of incredible formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and so large that there is a concert auditorium in the caves, a place used by pre-historic man, but that remained undiscovered until 1959 by 4 young men.

Finally a photograph - just one of many - taken in Malaga and showing some of the incredibly detailed plasterwork on the Cathedral. I had very mixed feelings about this building - as I inevitably do when I come face to face with religious buildings of this nature. I abhor what the Spanish Church stood for, in terms of the Inquisition, but the buildings themselves, although representative of enormous power and abuse of power remain stunningly beautiful and moving. The Caves in Nerja were also very moving but in a totally different way - they showed the power of nature and of the passage of time, without the haunting overtones.Posted by Picasa

Last morning photographs

These two photos were taken on our last morning in Nerja. The previous evening which had been the evening of my 58th birthday - the hotel had provided a bottle of something sparkly and a special dessert as well. This photo, taken early as we had to leave for the airport shows dawn beginning to break over the Mediterranean from the window of the dining room. The photo below shows the table laid with its Xmas decoration. Christmas was just about to arrive full scale as wel left Nerja, but two weeks away from the UK and our homes here was quite enough  - an "adequate sufficiency" and I was quite happy to get back even though the temperature dropped by almost 20 degrees almost immediately!!

A good holiday is one that leaves you happy that you went, but quite happy to return home as well. And as long as I am with Joseph and have Martha Dog with us, I am quite happy to be in the UK....

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December and Xmas in Leeds 2009

I could not resist photographing this exquisitely sweet angel who was hanging from a Xmas tree in a cafe in Masham that we visited. She has such a lovely face and I fell in love with her and also the cafe in which she was so lovingly living. She had been made by the mother of the owner of the cafe and was one of many objects lovingly placed around the building. I was enchanted both by the pieces themselves and also by the love that the owner of the cafe had for her mother and her mother's creations...

This is a photo of Martha hoping against hope to chase a squirrel that has escaped up a tree - as usual....Poor Martha - she'll never learn. Maybe that's what I love so much about dogs, their indescribable optimism and refusal to grow up, because learning one's limits is certainly one of the features of growing up and then, sadly, growing older. I would like to stop learning about my limits, and just keep hoping against hope that all things remain possible - a recognised piece of writing, a beautiful and original piece of textile art, a unique altered book, a composition or book of pieces for children. I can live in hope - can't I? This picture says it all - keep trying!!

This was just a chance to take a photograph of trees in the snow. I love trees in winter, stripped of leaves, their true essence on view, and in this picture they are clothed in snow making them even more beautiful.
And here finally is a picture of Joseph on Christmas day taken in Harrogate against an incredible blue sky. I rebelled this year and we had no Christmas lunch, but went instead into Harrogate and then had some friends round for a Yorkshire High Tea in the evening - much more enjoyable than slaving over a hot stove, especially when the weather was so glorious, albeit cold.  Here he is, my true love, my lovely husband, lover and best friend. I hope and pray that we have a long and happy life together.
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