Reading My Way Around the World

Sunday 28 February 2016


Have you ever gone back to somewhere you lived before?  It's a strange experience.   In a previous lifetime I lived here in Dubai - for over 2 years.   I was young and naive, inexperienced and gormless as they'd say at home.  But I met a lot of lovely people and had an amazing experience that was very unusual for someone in their early 20s.

So we've stopped off here for a few days on the way to Australia.   My friend that we've stayed with was one of the people I met when I lived here and we've stayed in touch down through the years.

But it has been strange - such changes.

Dubai World Trade Centre
as I remember it in the 80s
This city only really started to be built in the 1960s and 70s - I was here in the early 80s and worked in the Trade Centre which at the time was the tallest building in the area and sat proudly out on its own, surrounded by desert.  Now it's dwarfed by all these huge buildings ...including the Burj Khaleefa, which at present is the tallest building in the world.  (Photos courtesy of the DWTC website)

And now, with the Burj Khaleefa in the background

But not only the workplaces have changed - where my friend lives is in a huge modern complex about half an hour out of the city centre. The mix of modern and old is overwhelming.

Dubai Marina lit up at night like a jewelled necklace

Isn't this a lovely idea to brighten up rubbish bins?

Burj Al Arab and the Emirates Hotel
Part of an old Portuguese Tower now housing Dubai Museum

In the Spice Souk

A Sunni Mosque

A Shi'ia Mosque with its Iranian style turret

An Abra crossing the Creek

Indian Wedding Jewellery in the Gold Souk

At Jumeirah Beach today with the Burj Al Arab in the background

Kite surfers at the Beach

And this is the house that I used to live in... wow!!
Couldn't believe it was still standing  well it nearly isn't - the whole road
is being demolished making way for new buildings
And it had been added on to several times in the years grown considerably since my days in it.
I have to tell you it was a very unsettling experience.  

Anyway, tomorrow we head to the Southern Hemisphere.  The workshops are pretty much booked out for later in the week - family will be waiting for us on Tuesday night and it's on to the next stage of the adventure.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Last minute

Getting ready for a trip is a bit like the start of a New Year for me - I like to try and get things finished up so that there's not a heap of unfinished work waiting for me when I get back or worse still, cluttering my mind while I'm away.
So right now, I'm rewriting a choir arrangement of a song for a workshop, finishing a jumper for myself (if it's still on needles when I come home, it'll never get finished), reaching out to people for folk club bookings in the UK for April 2017, making loads of Skype calls to the friends we're visiting in the next few weeks, getting the house organised for visitors staying while we're away (we had a leaking pipe which had to be fixed yesterday) and getting publicity material printed and sent out for our German tour coming up in May.  I still have a few days left, so whatever gets done will have to be enough.

All this is keeping me away from packing which if I could have gotten away with it, would have been started 3 weeks ago.   When I was 10 I went to boarding school.   There was a whole list of things had to be bought - blankets, sheets, etc etc as well as new school uniforms and all the paraphernalia that went with that.   It was all packed into a trunk that stayed in my mother's bedroom.   Every time something new was bought it was packed away, but not until I had taken everything out first to look at it all again before adding the new item.  I can still smell all that lovely new linen.

Packing still gives me that thrill.  Especially the opportunity to buy and wear summer clothes that have barely seen the light of day these past several years.   Just looking at all that lovely colour sends shivers of delight through my whole being :)

Now that my cold has finally been drugged into submission (although now Tom has picked has been floored by it) and the worries about not being able to sing last weekend are no longer on the horizon, I am finally free to thoroughly enjoy the sheer excitement that comes in waves thinking that in just 4 days time WE WILL BE IN THE SUN!!!  And for nearly seven weeks of it .... oh sheer joy.   If there is even one drop of rain in that time, all contracts are off lol

Have a lovely weekend


Friday 12 February 2016

Seeing music in colour

I was reading about a woman recently who sees music in colour.   I've often seen it in patterns, but never in colour.   She said that she chose a piece of music for her mobile phone because the colour of the song would match the colour of her phone.   Isn't that simply magical?

Her name is Melissa McCracken and this is one of her pieces... Such wonderful colour.
You can read more about her here.

The phenomena is called sound-to-colour synaesthesia or chromestesia and apparently quite a lot of people are like that - 1 in 3000 according to this article recently in the Daily Mail.

How about you?  Fancy taking this quiz and seeing how you fare?

Following on from my article about practicing, I'm still finding it a chore to sit down and do any consistent instrument practice - and weeks of a cold and laryngitis haven't helped.   However it feels like loads has been achieved already.   I'm still doing daily journalling ( on target to journal daily for a year) and it's giving me unexpected pleasures and aha moments.   And Colour is one of the most consistent ones that returns day in day out - this happens every time I write consistently.  Last time I did a long bout of morning pages, I painted the entire house bright colours.  I suppose it's natural to want colour during the dull days of Winter when everywhere we look we see blacks and browns and greys (thinking of my clothes' drawers with this!).

For years I've followed artists blogs and drooled at their beautiful work just to get some sunshine coming through my own computer screen.   I've taken a few courses and played with doodling and more recently with the very basics of art journalling - that's really liberating.  I'm not much further along than scraping paint onto a page, but oh what satisfaction it's giving me and everything feels clearer as a result.   For years I've fought this impulse to play with crayons and paints, but in the last few days I've finally decided to stop fighting it and just get on with playing:)
I wonder what the coming weeks of daily writing will bring?

How about you?   Any secret childish pleasures?

Monday 8 February 2016

The week that's been.

It's been a most interesting week here.

For the first time, I've met a fellow blogger :)

The lovely Denise, from Denise's Planet, was in Dublin for a while and we met for coffee and a chat. It felt like we've known each other for years and it made me feel the sense of community there is here among bloggers.  A lovely day out.   Great to meet you Denise:)

Are you losing followers?

And at the start of the week feeling very energised and getting my newsletter out quickly, (if you'd like to sign up for my almost monthly news sheet about our work, please add your email address over in the column on the side),  I noticed that I'd lost some followers and thought oops... I've not been doing any entries, people are leaving.  Then I spotted this post from Inge at Desert Canyon Living which explains it and explains the fact that lots of people are having the same problem.   I don't know what if anything I can do about it but I wanted to pass the information on to you.

Exciting plans

With excitement rising, our plans for Australia are coming together nicely.  We will be stopping off in Dubai for 5 nights with a good friend whom I met when I lived in the Emirates many (many) years ago.  It will be very interesting to revisit the place after such a long absence.  The temperature out there is a scintillating 21 degrees C at the minute - it'll be up a wee bit from that by the end of the month - *heaven* - and among other outings planned, we're going to a garden party where a few musicians will gather with us for a bit of a session.   Cannot wait.    I want to start packing my case now.

But in the meantime, I'm dosed with the cold and have practically lost my voice.  With 2 concerts looming next weekend here at home,  I'd better get back to the sage and honey tea and some gentle exercises before panic really sets in.

How's your week been?

Friday 5 February 2016

Scavenger Hunt January 2016

A huge thank you to Greenthumb from Made with Love for hosting this monthly Scavenger Hunt - it's a great way to reflect on a month passing and to get a peak into the lives of the other participants.   This month is a free choice of photos - much easier than trying to link to words, although I love that challenge.  

Here the weather has been really mild for January - we've seen the tail-end of various storms and of course the tail-end of Christmas and the new year parties but as yet nothing really cold.

So here goes.

The New Year's Party in Clare and Matthew's - generations of songs and tunes

I love the shadows thrown by this star
 we brought it home from Germany many years ago
and it's still a favourite Christmas decoration.

Only a smattering of snow yet
but doesn't Finn McCool look magnificent covered in a white blanket?

Flo had a big birthday and one of her friends
brought a long a mad selection of hats for us all to wear.
Here's Flo modelling one of them 
Tom modelling his lol

And I got the silly glasses too

The tailend of the American snow storms last week brought us howling winds
This poor bird was really struggling

Kettles on the Lough
The mountains lie at a strange angle here - like a T -
so an American airman told me once.  As a result,
when there's a wind, it whips up the water - the spray is called a Kettle.
They seem to dance across the water.
This isn't the best photo of one, but the best I could do!

All churned up - loved the light this day

Trying to capture the moon - this one at the end of the month

But finally got a passable shot of the stars and Orion's belt.
The lights of Carlingford across the water are giving that lovely glow. 

How has your month of January been?   Now that we're past Brigid's Day and the start of the Celtic Spring, Imbolc, there feels like there's a new ness in the air.