Monday, December 10, 2007



Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The future of books...

Just like the iPod revolutionized the music market and the way we listen to music, will the Kindle revolutionize the literary market and the way we read? It looks like physical books will soon be as much a thing of the past as vinyl records and Cd's are now...

I first read about Amazon's Kindle two weeks ago, in this excellent Newsweek article. The Kindle is basically an e-book reader that is also and mainly a connectivity service (it uses Whispernet to be connected to e-book libraries and e-bookshops anywhere at anytime without the need for a computer). It has just gone on sale in America and although the price is a hefty $399, the concept behind it IS undoubtedly the future.

Anyway, it is definitely the only "book" I would want for Christmas from now on...

Read more about it here and here. Also read why the Kindle doesn't light everyone's fire...

♫♪♫ Silent night ♫♪♫

♫♪♫ Silent night ♫♪♫

Monday, December 03, 2007

Missing you...

I remember

On what would be your 55th wedding anniversary...
Hardly a day goes by that I don't remember you.

She does me proud!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Goodnight Moon

There's a nail in the door
And there's glass on the lawn
Tacks on the floor
And the tv is on
And I always sleep with my guns
When you're gone

There's a blade by the bed
And a phone in my hand
A dog on the floor
And some cash on the nightstand
When I'm all alone the dreaming stops
And I just can't stand

What should I do I'm just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door he followed me home

Well goodnight moon
I want the sun
If it's not here soon
I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say
Goodnight moon

There's a shark in the pool
And a witch in the tree
A crazy old neighbour and he's been watching me
And there's footsteps loud and strong coming down the hall
Something's under the bed
Now it's out in the hedge
There's a big black crow sitting on my window ledge
And I hear something scratching through the wall

Oh what should I do I'm just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
I just hate to be all alone
Outside the door he followed me home
Now goodnight moon
I want the sun
If it's not here soon
I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say
Goodnight moon

Well you're up so high
How can you save me
When the dark comes here
Tonight to take me up
The mouth from woke
And into bed where it kisses my face
And eats my hand

Oh what should I do I'm just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door he followed me home
Now goodnight moon
I want the sun
If it's not here soon
I might be done
No it won't be too soon til I say
Goodnight moon
No it won't be too soon til I say
Goodnight moon

--- Shivaree ---

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Proud mother

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's a small world

In one of my last posts here, I praised Andre Pipa and his magazine, Volta ao Mundo, which I used to love when I lived in Portugal. Turns out that Andre is now one of my flickr friends! Yesterday, he dedicated this photo to me! I am honoured!

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's freezing...

It'll take ages to defrost the car before I rush Ana to school... a problem I never had in Lisbon... I can't believe that they're still having temperatures in the 20's in mid-November!
Inside it's nice and warm but it's hard to get up in the prospect of facing the cold outside...
It's Friday, though! And it's also "Children in Need" day. Non-uniform day for Clara and the usual drama about what to wear.
Blessed uniforms.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The neighbours' cat

Hi! I'm your new neighbour!


My name in an academic publication! Who would have thought it?

(Click to enlarge)

Mum: that's the Omega watch you and Dad gave me!

Still, my memory's persistence...

Monday, November 12, 2007

New neighbours

We finally have new next door neighbours, and with with a touch of Portugal, too!
Mum Vanessa, dad Andrew, and daughters Samantha(8) and Nicole(6) - who are both attending Clara's school - all share the Portuguese surname "da Ponte". Vanessa and Andrew came from South Africa 10 years ago. Andrew's family is originally from Madeira.
We didn't meet Andrew when we went over to introduce ourselves and present them with a bottle of Touriga Nacional and a Best Wishes in your New Home card, but the rest of the family is lovely. The kids love playing outside and they have two adorable cats. Ana and Clara are ecstatic...
Our former, very strange neighbours left last Friday without even saying goodbye...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Top book on my nightstand

Top book on my nightstand

Thank you, Mami!

Clara's Autumn project

Clara's Autumn Project

Clara has been having themed projects as homework every weekend. This was the poster she (and the whole family with her) came up with for the Autumn theme. Doesn't it look great?

Quote of the day

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand." - Bertrand Russell

Thursday, November 08, 2007

For my daughters

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

* Happy *

I got my camera back and it's like new! Big happy smile on my face!

November kitchen windowsill

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Garden corner

Garden corner
Clara's playhouse is currently being used as a greenhouse to protect some of the potted flowers from the early morning frost (yes, around here temperatures have already dropped to freezing point...).

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bonfire night

The amateur fireworks going off outside are driving me up the wall, so much noise and smell for such little and ephemeral beauty...

For the past four years, the 6th of November has meant cleaning up after my neighbours' [sometimes reckless] fireworks extravaganza.

And then again, this might all just be a clever plot to get alienated folk like me into joining in the collective hatred for Guy Fawkes, a fellow with a pointed hat and beard who - all those hundred years ago - didn't blow up the houses of parliament and went down in history for it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. -- Rick Cook, The Wizardry Compiled

If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside. -- Robert X. Cringely, InfoWorld magazine

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it. -- Ellen Goodman (1941 - )

[Rear] Window

I love to drop by this blog every now and then...

Reality is something you rise above... Liza Minnelli so accurately put it in her autobiography.

Looking down

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Missing my camera

Taking pictures has become second nature to me. It is therefore with no surprise that I feel so utterly handicapped since my camera went for repair two weeks ago! I could not put this dreaded separation off for any longer however... some months back, my Sony DSC-W100 - whose guarantee ends soon - was involved in an accident. Although it survived it and was still taking pictures, its overall condition was very poor.

Can't go back to using the Canon camcorder... can't find the SD card... and it's not the same...
I'm catching up on my reading and on my piano playing, though...

Reading spot

Music of the hemispheres

Article in today's Guardian about Oliver Sacks' book "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain". Fascinating stuff. Must read.

It is a remarkable fact that if I merely type "the Mission: Impossible theme tune" or "Beethoven's Fifth", you will probably start humming to yourself. We take it for granted, but how is it possible? What is going on in our brains? Oliver Sacks, the neurologist author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, here devotes a book to the cognitive miracles of music. "It really is a very odd business," he muses, "that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads."

Sacks's deeply warm and sympathetic study is about pathologies of musical response and what they might teach us about the "normal" faculty of music. It reports on fascinating new findings from anatomy - a musician's brain is easily distinguishable on a scan from those of others; and the passage from ear to brain is not a one-way conduit but works both ways, the brain being able to tune the ears, as it were. But mostly Musicophilia is about the more mysterious, and currently inexplicable, ways in which music affects the brain, for good or ill. And when it affects the brain, it affects the whole person, as Plato knew, seeking to ban some types of music from his Republic for the health of the citizenry. Shakespeare's Richard II, meanwhile, could have provided an epigraph to Sacks's book - the King at one point complains: "This music mads me. Let it sound no more; / For though it have holp madmen to their wits, / In me it seems it will make wise men mad."

Sacks tells some very moving stories about those with terrifyingly profound amnesia, or Alzheimer's disease, for whom music can "restore them to themselves". People with aphasia can be taught to speak again through singing. On the other hand, previously healthy people begin to have "musical hallucinations", blasted by intrusive ghostly music during every waking second; and others have seizures in response to music, or "musicogenic epilepsy" - which, intriguingly, can be selective. One woman Sacks cites "had seizures only in response to 'modern, dissonant music,' never in response to classical or romantic music" - and her husband was a composer of the type of music that gave her seizures, which one suspects may be a hint. But such a violent response to certain music might be more common than suspected: "Many people, [one researcher thought], might start to get a queer feeling - disturbing, perhaps frightening - when they heard certain music, but then would immediately retreat from the music, turn it off, or block their ears, so that they did not progress to a full-blown seizure." Indeed, certain styles of free jazz have always made me physically nauseous.

There is, of course, a continuum between the pathological states that Sacks discusses and everyday experiences of music. The phenomenon of "brainworms" - irritating tunes and jingles that get lodged in our heads - is only one step away from full-blown musical hallucination, and Sacks also compares it to the obsessive ticcing of Tourette's syndrome. It is intriguing, too, to wonder where on the continuum certain historical figures could be placed. Here, for example, is Tchaikovsky as a child, weeping in bed: "This music! It is here in my head. Save me from it!" Was he suffering from vivid musical hallucinations, which he learned to manage by writing them down? Here, too, is Shostakovich, refusing to have a piece of shrapnel removed from his head, because when he tilted his head in a certain way he could hear music, which he incorporated into his compositions.

At the other end of the continuum are those Sacks describes as "amusic", who do not seem to understand or feel music at all. He considers with pity the case of Vladimir Nabokov, who famously said he experienced music merely as "an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"; he also wonders about how little music is mentioned in Henry James's work.
And yet even profound amusia might be just an exaggerated form of a dysfunction, or adaptation, that affects us all. We might be drawn to this conclusion in a roundabout way, by seeing that, contrastingly, other people are awakened to profound musical powers after some kind of brain injury. A 42-year-old man struck by lightning suddenly experiences an unquenchable thirst for music, learns to play the piano, and starts to compose. In a wonderful footnote, Sacks offers his own wry confession that "in 1965 ... I was taking massive doses of amphetamines", and experienced a heightening of his powers of musical memory and transcription, although his abstract reasoning was shot to pieces. This, he suggests, might be the effect of suppressing the work of the temporal lobes. And so the intriguing hypothesis develops that we might all have such latent musical talents, if only we could find the spigot and turn it.

Sacks also describes a rare congenital disorder called Williams syndrome, in which people never develop mentally beyond the abilities of a toddler, but have an extraordinary musical facility, playing back any piece on first hearing. Though he never exactly spells it out, the melancholy supposition arises that a repression of musical potential is the price we pay for our powers of ratiocination. Some might think the price is too high.

The old piano

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hubby's b-day

It's a double-hatter: the 31st of October marks both Halloween and Hubby's birthday on the calendar. Double party, double fun... especially for the girls. This year they dressed up as a witch (Clara) and the devil (Ana). As usual they looked gorgeous. We've been having spectacular weather for this time of year and it was a very mild and clear night. There were lots of kids trick-or-treating without misbehaving.
It's a shame that our next-door neighbours believe that trick-or-treating is rude and never participate... even our Japanese front door neighbour joined in the fun and took a picture of every single kid that came calling.

41 anos do Michel

41 anos do Michel

Halloween 2007

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Paris 2007

Monday, October 01, 2007


On Saturday we drove to Stoke Bruerne but didn't stay long as it was really chilly. Stoke Bruerne is a village in Northamptonshire on the Grand Union Canal. It has been described as "the best example of a canal village in England".

The Canal Shop

Sunday was the last day of this year for enjoying a steam-engine powered ride on the Leighton Buzzard narrow-gauge railway (it's diesel engines from now on until next Summer). Good family fun.
Abandoned line

Leighton Buzzard narrow-gauge railway, Bedfordshire.
Abandoned part of the 2 foot (610mm) gauge light railways built in Britain for industrial use.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quote for today

Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.

- Robert Frost -

Stealing the show

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Late night waffling

There's a full moon outside. It shines on us as it has for millions of years...

Its ubiquitous cold light is perceived as magical, ethereal, mystical and powerful.

I've just recently realised that most of the people in my family were born during a full moon.

Old wives' tales are not to be dismissed lightly...

I am the Autumnal Sun

Second Life

Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature
-- not his Father but his Mother stirs
within him, and he becomes immortal with her
immortality. From time to time she claims
kindredship with us, and some globule
from her veins steals up into our own.

I am the autumnal sun,
With autumn gales my race is run;
When will the hazel put forth its flowers,
Or the grape ripen under my bowers?
When will the harvest or the hunter's moon
Turn my midnight into mid-noon?
I am all sere and yellow,
And to my core mellow.
The mast is dropping within my woods,
The winter is lurking within my moods,
And the rustling of the withered leaf
Is the constant music of my grief...

Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, September 26, 2007



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy 70th Birthday!

Happy birthday to the greatest father anyone could wish for! My only regret is not to be there with you today. Instead, I send you a video of the most beautiful and talented soprano of the moment, Anna Netrebko, singing an aria from Puccini's La Boheme. She's fabulous!

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's kind of windy

This morning, it was very dark, windy and rainy outside while the girls were getting ready to go to school. When Clara said that she was afraid that a tornado might be coming (some documentaries kids watch on TV are pretty traumatizing), I told her that tornadoes were very rare in England and even more so at this time of year. Imagine my surprise when I heard on the lunch time news that this region had been swept by tornadoes at the very same time Clara was voicing her fears!

"Tornados tear through the early morning calm to turn Middle England upside down

Tornados tore through neighbourhoods from the South-East to the Midlands this morning, plucking off chimney tops, peeling back roofs and upending trees.

In Hampshire and Bedfordshire, residents saw a twisting vortex of cloud advancing through gardens and over rooftops.

In Warwickshire and Derbyshire there were further reports of tornados, and widespread damage to property. In Cambridgeshire a motorist reported seeing a car lifted off the tarmac and blown across the road.

The tornado research group Torro said that seven other neighbourhoods – in Ilford, Northampton, Lincolnshire, Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire and Nottingham and Ollerton in Nottinghamshire – may also have been struck by tornados. Related Links

At 4am a weather centre in Exeter had registered a cold front moving inland, carrying with it rainstorms and squalls. Three-and-a-half hours later, as it passed over Farnborough in Hampshire, Terry Parrott, 55, awoke to hear his two dogs howling and “a tremendous rushing noise”. He said: “I looked out of my bedroom window and could see this huge whirling thing come through between the two houses and it lifted the garage roofs up.”

On the corner of the same street, Hayley Stroud believes that the tornado passed straight over her house, pulling up her chimney pot and dropping it in her neighbour’s garden. “We saw the tail end,” she said. “It was like a twister . . . the branches of the trees were swirling around. It was like something out of The Wizard of Oz.”

Some trees were uprooted entirely and crashed into the road. A bus stop was also plucked from its concrete foundations, its roof coming off and hurtling into a neighbouring garden.

Two streets away Brian Denton, 73, found his caravan parked on its roof. About 30 houses were damaged in the minute and a half it took the tornado to pass through. Tim Vile, of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said that the area looked like a battle zone.

There had been similar scenes in Nuneaton. Marilyn Davis, 56, was preparing to go to work when her roof disappeared. Fifteen houses in her street also lost parts of their roofs, the tiles rained down on the road and crashed through car windscreens.

In Luton at 7.30am, Ruth Spall noticed it appeared to be raining horizontally. Mrs Spall, a committed “weather-watcher”, was delighted to see “a funnel about 4m (13ft) across”, spinning round a tree five gardens away. She was less delighted to see that it was travelling towards her house. “It split the tree in half,” she said. “It came over my neighbour’s roof and made a large hole. Then it went across my garden. We have a 10ft trampoline. It took it up into the air and deposited it next door. By that time I was a bit frightened.”

Terrence Meaden, deputy head of tornado research at Torro, said: “The tornadoes appear to have been of a T2 rating, which means wind speeds of around 70-80mph (113-129km/h).”

No injuries were reported and insurers said claims would be a fraction of those from this summer’s flooding.

Britain’s biggest
–– The biggest tornado outbreak in Britain was on November 21, 1981 – 105 in five hours
–– The longest tornado track was on May 21, 1950, when one extended 107km from Little London, Buckinghamshire, to Coveney, Cambridgeshire
–– The widest, on September 22, 1810 at Fernhill Heath, Worcestershire, stretched for 1,609 metres
–– The most intense probably was on September 22, 1810. It tracked from Old Portsmouth to Southsea Common, Hampshire, and demolished houses
–– The deadliest struck on October 27, 1913, in Edwardsville, Glamorgan, and killed six people
Source: Torro (the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation)

Taken from the Times Online

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Welcome Autumn!

Autumn officially arrives today. It's already windy and cold but it will take yet another few weeks for Fall to reveal itself in all its multicoloured splendour. Trees and shrubs are predominant around here and, as such, this is undoubtedly the most beautiful time of the year.

Welcome Autumn!
I'm feeling a bit better this morning and the rest of the family went for their Sunday swim at the Leisure Centre's swimming pool.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Influencing Influenza

I'm trying to persuade my flu to flee...

Nothing like going to the doctor's to become ill. I went for a mere routine check last Wednesday and had to sit next to an old scruffy man that couldn't or wouldn't stop coughing. I guess now I'm having whatever he was having...

By the way, if I really am a "mother hen", as some people claim, can I be described as having come down with "bird flu"?

Friday, September 21, 2007

It's 13 years already?

Thirteen years ago today, I saw Ana for the first time. It was on a b&w monitor during my week 8 pregnancy scan. She was about the size of a bean inside my womb and her heart was loud, clear and racing like mad. She was perfect. Even though I didn't know her gender at the time, my guts already knew that she was a she.

Seven months from now, I'll be the mother of a teenager...

backlight abstract

Thursday, September 20, 2007


So much to say and do and so little time and availability to do so... maybe when the days are even shorter and colder than they already are I'll once again find solace sitting in front of a computer screen. Meanwhile... life is too short!

A change of direction
Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, England

La movida nocturna de Salamanca
Plaza Mayor, Salamanca, Spain

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The door

Blue on red
Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, England

Looking forward to reading Margaret Atwood's latest poetry book, "The Door". Read the Guardian's review.


Alvor, Algarve, 13th August 2007

Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
Of what is true or right or real,
But forced to qualify or so I feel,
Or Well, it does seem so:
Someone must know.

Strange to be ignorant of the way things work:
Their skill at finding what they need,
Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed,
And willingness to change;
Yes, it is strange,

Even to wear such knowledge - for our flesh
Surrounds us with its own decisions -
And yet spend all our life on imprecisions,
That when we start to die
Have no idea why.

---Philip Larkin

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Road not Taken

Anglesey Abbey, England, 15th September 2007

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference

-- Robert Frost --

Saturday, May 12, 2007

To Maddy

Dear Maddy,

Today is your 4th birthday and all I wish is for you to be safe and soon reunited with your mum and dad. I firmly believe that you will and I really hope your mum keeps up her strength for your sake, as you'll need her to be well when you're finally reunited. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your parents, little Maddy. You are their greatest treasure just as my own children are mine. I just hope that whoever separated you in such a ruthless manner has a change of heart and sees to your safe return to your mummy and daddy.

God bless you, dear Madeleine.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On British media

I feel that the coverage of Madeleine McCann's disappearance by British media is just short of appalling. The Portuguese authorities have been labeled clueless, Portuguese policemen have been compared to clowns, Portuguese investigation methods have been called inefficient, slow and right out wrong when compared to British ones and finally, to top it all off, Portuguese Law has been ridiculed because of the infamous secrecy of justice by which Portuguese police has to abide and which has been responsible for the news blackout that's starving the ever so eager British media.(*)

I can understand that when times are desperate, desperate thoughts and actions tend to surface but in my view there is no justification whatsoever for this aggressive and irresponsible campaign of defamation. And, by the way, weren't the ill fated investigations into Holly Wells, Jessica Chapman and Sarah Payne's disappearances wholly British?

Allegations have been made in major British newspapers that Portuguese authorities have failed Madeleine and her parents. Meanwhile in the Internet and in everyday conversation with normal people everyone seems to agree that the first to have failed - hugely and unforgivably - in this whole dreadful affair were Maddy's parents: it was their duty to put their children's well being and safety above their own need for leisure. It turns out there was even a good babysitting service available at the resort. Why on Earth didn't they use it? Why did they repeatedly leave a couple of tiny 2-year-olds and a wee 3-year-old on their own at night in a foreign country??

My heart cries for Maddy, poor innocent and trusting child, who probably went to bed and fell asleep with not a care in the world and woke up to find her unquestioning trust in her parents shattered and her life at the mercy of someone who's cunning and ruthless enough to plan and commit a crime like this.

I'm still hoping that she's alive and well... somewhere...

My heart is with you sweet, sweet Maddy.

Latest news links: Reuters, Guardian, CNN, BBC

(*) see this opinion article in the Telegraph, for example, written by the appaling journalist creature Jan Moir.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My heart is with you, Maddy McCann

My heart aches for you and I'm praying that you are safe.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The power of beauty

In spite of it all, beauty exists and its uplifting power is immense... Venice was a wonderful experience! To "see Venice and die", the saying goes...

Like in a fairytale...

The magic of Venice

Farewell to Venice

Parking space

Hanging out

See my Venice shots here.

Living with Death

The past three months have been marked by Death.

Friends or friends of friends have passed away prematurely, in the prime of their lifes.

One of my favourite writers, Antonio Lobo Antunes, is fighting death, having just found out he has cancer. He wrote a shattering article about what he is feeling. I dare not translate it into English, it's so personal, heartfelt and poignant...

The Virginia Tech massacre, the Baghdad bombing that killed more than 100 people...

So many silenced voices, some of them dear... and life goes on... until, abruptly or not, it doesn't.

Sorry IKEA... that I've met you, I take it all back.

Turns out that IKEA flat packs are easy to assemble and the final product, even when put together by a klutz like me or Hubby, looks great.

I guess that all our previous flat pack experiences have been disastrous because most retailers trying to hitch a ride on IKEA's success don't met the Swedish giant's high standards when it comes to flat packs.
That said, two beautiful new pieces of furniture now attest for our aptitude to put together IKEA flat packs... we don't feel so clumsy anymore!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shakespeare for kids

After school conversation with Clara:

"Mummy, did you know that Shakespeare was born on April 23?"
"No, I didn't know!"

"That's right, and he also died on April 23, many years later!"
"Wow, I really didn't know that, sweety, well done for remembering!"

"Yeah! He was a very famous person. When he was born he didn't know what he was going to do and when he died he didn't have time for anything else."


Sunday, April 01, 2007

As I Walked Out One Evening

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror?
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

W.H. Auden

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Song of Enchantment


A song of Enchantment I sang me there,
In a green-green wood, by waters fair,
Just as the words came up to me
I sang it under the wild wood tree.

Widdershins turned I, singing it low,
Watching the wild birds come and go;
No cloud in the deep dark blue to be seen
Under the thick-thatched branches green.

Twilight came: silence came:
The planet of Evening's silver flame;
By darkening paths I wandered through
Thickets trembling with drops of dew.

But the music is lost and the words are gone
Of the song I sang as I sat alone,
Ages and ages have fallen on me -
On the wood and the pool and the elder tree.

poem by
Walter de la Mare

A moment of reflection...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring is here!

Today was the first day of real Spring around these parts. The smell of freshly cut grass, the sweet scented air, fresh greens and yellows everywhere, thermometers rising up to 19ºC, short sleeves, a fantastic sunset, it was gorgeous! I just hope the weather stays like this for the next 2 weeks, during the holidays, as I have loads of gardening chores for the girls: they need to earn some pocket money and I need the help. After the trip to Venice (for which proper preparation has yet to begin...), I also want us to start enjoying this year's National Trust membership. There are just so many things to see (with Stowe Gardens on top of the list)!

Meanwhile, there's a real party feeling in the air: tomorrow Clara is having a disco party at school, both girls have been invited to birthday parties this Saturday and today they were allowed to just play and have fun during swimming lesson. I guess that the old formula

Last week of school + Warm and sunny weather = Happiness

still holds for kids.


Swimming 2

Thank you very much dear Dad for the Subway Maps link. I've already added it to the sidebar.