Tuesday 27 September 2022

I'm Off My Beaten Track in Egypt...

Nile Valley from Beni Hassan
... and wandering through some of the villages close to the monuments.  I was more than halfway through my journey down the Nile when I took time to reflect on the sights and sounds of the places we'd been travelling through...


We left the temple, and a short walk back through the village took us to the coach. In some respects, this was almost as fascinating as the temples.  The village was a single road of no specific definition with other similar roads or tracks off it as was convenient.  On either side of the road were houses built of mud brick.  

Some were painted on the outside, some remained their original dark grey colour.  They were crammed together without any concern for level or height.  The roofs were draped with the drying leaves of cane, palm or maize.  On some houses, there were rugs and blankets hung over the edge, and in some instances, washing was strung across from one wall to another.  The chickens and geese were kept up on the roof.  It was in this space that the women worked grinding the maize and tending their hens and other livestock.

The windows of the houses were tiny and contained no glass.  The doors were old and seemed barely able to swing on their hinges.  As we walked past, children called to us, and women came to their windows to look out.  Then a camel laden with cotton plants appeared on the road in front of us.  It towered above me.  As I and the others stood aside, I realised that there was some order to the building after all.  The road was sufficiently wide enough for a fully laden camel and no more.

We all stood back to let the imperious creature through.  As I did so, I became aware of a door opening behind me.  I turned, and a woman peeked out from behind.  She smiled instantly.  I returned her smile and looked past her into the house.  It was dark and appeared to be completely empty, with the exception of a long bench that could have come from the Cairo museum.  Its design was so similar to those on display from the tombs.  She spoke.  I couldn't understand.  I smiled again and looked away to find everyone else had moved on.
Farmer and oxen at work

I turned back and waved goodbye.  She nodded, smiled and closed her door.  Despite her obvious poverty, she wanted nothing and offered only her welcome and sincerity.  Or at least that was how it appeared to me.

The camel gone, and the moment lost, I continued along the winding street to catch up with the others.  Girls were carrying water, children played, and men went about their business on donkeys whilst others stood on the street corners deep in conversation...

Later, back at the boat, I received a very polite 'telling off' from our guide.  It was made quite clear to me that I had to keep up with the whole group.  The reasons?  I was a tourist, but more importantly, as a single straggler, I suddenly became an unaccompanied female...

You can read more about my time in Egypt Cairo Giza and the Solar Boathouse by clicking the links.  There will be more from my Egyptian Journal next month...

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Come stroll with me...

... through the village of Ancy-le-Libre...

I'm camped at Lézinnes, and it's good to see that not much has changed since I was last here. As it's Sunday, I thought I'd go out for lunch but set off early so that I could get some pics of one of the many tiny villages around here.  From Lézinnes, it's a right out of the village road onto the D905 and then first left after the bridges across the canal and river onto the D200 to Ancy.  The road brings you to the edge of town and Mémé's - which is where I will be having lunch.
Ancy-le-Libre is a tiny little place with around 160 inhabitants - which makes it even smaller than the tiny place in which I live in the UK.  And that's fine by me.  Some of the smallest places have some of the biggest histories.
And Ancy does not disappoint.  As I stroll down rue de l'Église, my first piece of history is a plaque on the exterior wall of a house at the edge of the village.  During the 1939/45 conflict, France was divided, the northern area and western sea-bord were occupied, and the remainder of the country became Vichy France under the control of Maréchal Pétain.
The plaque tells me that Jean Chapelle (1924 - 1981) lived in the house during the war.  It also tells me that he was Commandant Verneuil in the maquis.  Verneuil was the leader of the resistance in the Yonne.  Under a plan referred to as Hérisson du Morvan, Verneuil had to regroup the available forces that were dispersed in the south and east of the departément into a massive single force that could take control of the whole of the Morvan - an extensive wooded and hilly area that stretched to the east of Yonne.  At barely twenty years old, Verneuil requisitioned vehicles and arms and recruited men for his army of maquisards.  In 1944 during the route of the occupiers, Verneuil and his men drove gradually eastwards and were instrumental in freeing town after town until they reached Dijon in September.  Joining forces with the 1st French Army on the Vosges, Verneuil went on to command a battalion and fought in the Vosges and Alsace.  Post-war, Chappelle enjoyed a brilliant career as a senior Civil Servant.  He died in Paris.
I continue my meander along rue de l'Église.  The village is almost silent in the bright sunshine.  But as I pass number 33, the gates are open, and a beautiful courtyard is revealed. Decorated with hanging baskets of bright flowers, I look around to see if there is someone about so that I can ask permission to take a photo.  Unfortunately, there was no one around.  So, if you happen to be passing this way, do have a look at number 33.
The road leads you up to the heart of the village and the Mairie.  A typical and imposing 19th-century building.  The sun is getting hotter, and I decide to head back to the edge of the village and have lunch at Chez Mémé.  As I draw closer, I notice a piece of paper pinned to the door. Hoping it might be today's menu, I quicken my pace.  I'm disappointed to find that the note tells me that the restaurant is closed today.  A car, an old Citroen, draws up.  I shrug as I tell them the restaurant is closed.  Monsieur and Madame turn their car around and drive away.
I decide to come back on another day and meander my way back along the canal.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

I'm reviewing Hymn to Equity...

 ...a fabulous new collection of poetry, dedicated to Wordsworth and written by Aria Ligi...

I'm very privileged to have received an arc copy of this collection of poetry for me to read and review.  Any views expressed here are solely my own.

Aria has visited my blog before, and you can read that earlier post Here.

Hymn to Equity is Aria Ligi’s tribute to the life and work of William Wordsworth - the greatest Romantic poet, in my humble opinion.  I’ve recited many of his verses, and I studied his work for exams.  I still have my books of his poetry on my bookshelves, and I do refer to them from time to time.  So, to be asked to provide this review is a great honour.

Practicalities first.  This is not a slim volume of work.  There are 120 poems to be read and pondered over.  And I have certainly taken my time over them all.  Helpfully, Aria has divided the complete volume into 12 sections of 10 poems each – so it is easy to dip in and out of the book as and when you wish.  Along with the words are some stunning pieces of art at the beginning of each individual section.  I was provided with an arc for this review, but rest assured, this book is so beautifully put together that I will be buying an actual print copy when it is available.  In addition, Aria includes details from Wordsworth’s life.

In each section of the book, a particular aspect of Wordsworth's life is considered in poetry.  Aria often taking on the voice of one of the key people within his circle or speaking through the persona of the poet himself.  These poems cover loss, love, relationships and many other aspects of human existence between birth and the grave.  In that respect, this volume of verse is deeply thought-provoking and questioning.  There were many times when I found myself re-reading a verse or two only to be lost in the thoughts created in my mind by the words and the imagery used.  Throughout, there are poems for and about those precious to him – his sister, his wife, his other siblings, and his fellow writers.  As with Aria’s previous volume of poetry reviewed on this blog, the language is a joy to read and the vocabulary extensive.

It’s hard to imagine an exploration of Romantic poetry without Wordsworth being a focal point.  It is also difficult to confine Romantic poetry to Wordsworth only.  Luckily, I can tell you that Hymn to Equity is just the very first book in a number of volumes entitled the Romantic Series.  Aria intends to add more volumes which will feature other poets such as Blake, Keats, Lamb, Byron, and Coleridge, to name but a few.  I am particularly looking forward to all of those future books, and I can thoroughly recommend Hymn to Equity as an excellent starting point. 

You can follow Aria on her Amazon Page, where you can find Hymn to Equity as soon as it is released.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

I'm very pleased to be able to reveal...

 ... the cover of the second collection of stories from the Seasonal Collective. And yes, that does mean another book is on the way...

Round about this time last year, I introduced a new anthology of stories - Autumn Paths.  In the months that followed, some of my fellow writers from the Seasonal Collective appeared on the blog to tell the story behind their story in that first collection. And you can check out those posts Here  Here  Here  and  Here

Way back, when I was first approached and asked if I was interested in contributing a story, I had no idea that I would be doing so again for a second book.  But here I am, still slinging words together in the hope that they might make sense to someone somewhere.

The follow-up anthology to Autumn Paths is Winter Paths. We have a brilliant cover - see below left.  The stories are all finished and edited.  We have a blurb for the back, and we are almost ready to go to print.

As for my story, well, France is a feature, of course.  There's a bit of mystery in it, too - and why wouldn't there be?. And it's a story about family, secrets and lies.  I can't say much more than that at the moment, sorry.  But do look out for another post once the book is launched.

about the book... 
Nine writers - Seasonal Collective - from both sides of the Atlantic, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have created a second miscellany of stories.

From the frozen north, across continents, space and time, these stories will mystify, enlighten, intrigue and perhaps bring a tear to the eye. With a linking theme of winter - in all its guises - experience the warmth of friendly hearts, find companionship and place, encounter battles, uncover secrets, meet ghosts and witness the strength of maternal love.

There’s a story for everyone in this thrilling new collection.

The authors are :  

Allan Hudson, Monique Thébeau, Chuck Bowie
Yours truly, S C Eston, Angella Cormier
Pierre C Arseneault, Sandra Bunting, Jeremy Thomas Gilmer