Best wishes to all

December 31, 2013

For a HAPPY NEW YEAR with light and colors on the horizon of your life.


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A boat in the sunset cruising on the Bosphorus strait last November. A short but most pleasant stay  in Istanbul with my family. It was a surprise trip for our eldest son and the most enjoyable experience for the four of us.

cosmos

May your New Year fit nicely in this colorful year cycle. This is how I interpreted this painting in the astronomy section of the superb Museum of the History of Science & Technology in Islam  from the 9th-17th centuries through a series of replicas of its greatest achievements and inventions (Gülhane Park in Istanbul).

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The objects displayed serve to honour a number of the sciences including astronomy, geometry, chemistry, physics, optics, mineralogy, architecture, time measurement and war technology. They attempt to show how discoveries made across the Islamic world were adopted, altered and assimilated into European culture.

Thank you to each and all of you for sharing with me your own pictures and experiences here and there, your own  beliefs, traditions and cultures. I really believe that it is in communicating with others, all over the world, that we start understanding one another better. Less fear of the unknown and more peace all around.

Bonne et heureuse Année !

Isabelle

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Third day in Portugal. En route for a one day cruise on the Douro river, 980 km long, springing in Spain and marking the boundary between the two countries for about 100 km. Needless to say we did not go to the Spanish border in one day but the short trip up-river was a fascinating and most pleasant one.The light morning fog had lifted  and  the day was  brilliant and hot.

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We are sailing at a slow pace between  low hills covered with thick forests or well-kept vineyards. Here and there we pass in front of isolated houses, some look abandonned, others may be holiday houses.Douro, 31

A few bridges  cross the landscape : here an old stone railway bridge and above it  a more modern one for the busy traffic along the Douro Valley. Most villages and towns are built in the hinterland. We passed through them as we travelled back to Porto by train in the late afternoon : white villages surrounded by orchards, large vegetables gardens, some vineyards and all kind of flowers, of course.

Douro, bridges

A flash of golden brightness in the woods. Would those luminous plants be brooms ?

Douro, genets

I was curious about the small white house on the left. A waiter on board told me it was a railway station. Little did I know I would stop there on the way back to Porto later on. A neat and quiet place between forests and rows of  terraced vineyards.Douro, station

Another village  at the edge of the water slowly waking in the morning sun. There were hardly any sounds we could hear from the boat : just a dog  barking, a few kids running and laughing, a peaceful setting. I imagine the hills getting fully alive during wine harvest. It reminded me of my own area in Switzerland, apart from the mountains.

Douro, village

The Douro river was once as a succession of rapids and the river had to be moved up countercurrent. Five dams were built  to make it safe and navigable. The Douro was the river route for the Rabelos barges which transported barrels of wine from the valley to the wine logdes of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.Douro, lock

We are just passing through one of the several  locks. Impressive high walls and heavy doors !Douro, lock 2

More terraced vineyards nested in the forest. A lovely red-roofed house,  maybe a “Quintas” ? one of those farms  and residences of the wine producers where the best wines can be tasted.

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We stopped in Peso da Régua, this is where our small cruise ended. Before our train took us back to Porto, tiime was sufficient to visit the small town which lives for and from wine. In the XVIII century it already was the point of departure for the Rabelos (barges).   Beautiful painted azulejos (tiles) depicted different scenes of the life and  work  in the vineyards.Douro, azulejosHere is a detail of one of the azulejos : the loading of the barrels onto the Rabelos as they went on their journey to Porto.  I liked this tribute to the many men and women who are working hard on the terraced vineyards along the Douro. Their way of working has changed of course, but the passion for their culture and wine making remains the same.

Douro, Regua, azulejos

Back in Porto station early evening, the eyes full of colours : the blue sky and river, the yellow bushes, the green vineyards and forests, the red tiled roofs of the white houses. Truly a magnificent day. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Porto, station 2

One week in pictures

September 8, 2012

Some weeks just go by their own quiet way and rhythm. I do not mean  a routine because there seems to be something special in each day. In some weeks though there are events out of the ordinary, people and places you will remember. The week described here was one of those.

Monday is sometimes a day when I try cooking new recipes. Pies or quiches are amongst my favourites. Some of them I find reading blogs such as Tammy’s. Her blog is not only about food but also about community supported agriculture. Well worth reading.

http://agrigirl.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/i-like-pie/#more-6508

  The recipe is about a tomato pie. Since I had a big and beautiful zuchini  waiting to be picked in the garden, I added some of it in the pie (grated and grilled a little). This is the only change I made. It tasted really delicious, Thank you very much, Tammy.

On Tuesday I had to go to town  and found a quiet lane to walk for a while with Nino-the-beagle. Guess whom we met ? Another beagle looking lonely behind a fence. What do two beagles say to each other when they meet : “Let’s escape together and go hunting !”

Wednesday morning. Brilliant clouds welcomed me as I opened the shutters. “O, beautiful golden clouds, what will you bring us on this day” ? As it happened, the warm morning turned into a stormy day. A rather temperamental weather this Summer but a rain that was well needed too.

A short break after work on Thursday afternoon. As we  were  sitting on a bench with a friend, a “school-boat” was floating down the canal. A lady was steering the little boat back to its mooring. Not as simple as it looks  and she did very well.

Friday was a rainy day. A drive over the mountains to visit long-time friends of our family. It was cold, foggy. The landscape looked  autumnal and yet beautiful in its own way.

On Saturday morning at our friend’s home, we were awaken by a ballet of helicopters. Every third minute or so, a helicopter would fly over the area, fill a big  bucket of water (700 liters) and pour it down on the forest which had caught fire during the night. It took the pilots two whole days to stop it. Nobody was injured and the damage could be stopped in time.

Sunday was a happy celebration day ! Family and friends gathered around Alima, our youngest niece. The sun shone brightly  for her. There were prayers, songs, dance and lots of African food and music. Another change of scenery in this particular week.  Alima was quite comfortable and relaxed dancing in her  proud grandmother’s arms.

Guess what I did on Sunday ? After a rest following the previous long day, I sat down on a lovely terrace between sky and earth, took my pen and some nice stationary; I wrote to a dear friend all about my recent week. Internet is not part of her world and we both enjoy exchanging letters every month.