Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fashion Calendar: September

Where do you get your clothes from? Is most of what you wear tailor-made (lucky you!), comes from a charity shop (sensible you!) or is a mixture of items found here and there, sometimes more, sometimes less expensive? Do you shy away from buying clothes at the supermarket because you are convinced it can't look and feel good when it is that cheap?

Well, I don't have any such qualms. Not for the first time, this month I bought a few items at my local supermarket, Aldi. Both the skirts and the dark red jumper came at 9,99 Euro each, and I think they look alright. The jumper is nice and soft, and warm enough to replace a jacket when it is not quite as cold yet as to require a coat. Of course, these are but two of many ways I will be combining the skirts with various jumpers and sweaters or blouses as well as different tights, plain or patterned.
That is, by the way, one of the few things I like about the colder season: I love the variety of patterns, colours and textures tights come in nowadays; they can completely alter the look of a dress or skirt.

This adorable handbag with matching key bag was a gift from my Mum. She found it on Etsy and instantly thought of me, and got it for me as a surprise. Thank you, Mum!

Speaking of Etsy - it is definitely cold enough here now to wear woolly socks at home instead of slippers, and my Mum's Etsy shop is well stocked; if you can't find the colour or size you'd like, just get in touch :-)

Friday, 28 September 2012


Two DVDs I recently watched and found memorable enough to write reviews about: "Trust" and "The Ghostwriter".

They do have in common that both of them are "quiet" films, and both end in a way that is not your typical Hollywood-style ending.

First, "Trust":
A misleading DVD cover if I ever saw one! For the cover alone, I would have never watched this, but the description on the back made me curious (plus I like Clive Owen).
The story is simple - and sadly, common - enough: 

14-year-old Annie strikes up a friendship to what she believes to be 16-year-old Charlie in an internet chatroom, and while at first she is very open about this to her parents and they have no reason to be worried for their daughter, as time goes by, "Charlie" reveals first to be 20, then 25, and when he finally manages to convince Annie into meeting up, he turns out to be in his mid-to-late 30s. Annie, shocked at first, is cleverly persuaded by Charlie to go to his hotel room where the inevitable happens: "Charlie" forces himself on the girl, who at the same time wants to be grown up enough for this as much as she is scared and hurt.

The consequences of those few hours in the hotel room not only on Annie's life but for all around her are drastic to the point of nearly destroying the entire family.
Annie is torn between knowing that she has become the victim of a crime - and sees her own fault in it - and wanting to protect "Charlie", trying to convince herself that he truly loves her and feeling (like so many teenagers at some stage do) that the whole world is against them because they don't understand.
When her parents finally find out what happened, they react very differently: her father, played by Clive Owen, wants nothing more than find the guy who has done this to his daugther and punish him; her mother wants to do everything she can to help Annie to come to terms with this.
Annie's siblings, friends and grandparents all suffer one way or another, but the story focuses mainly on how her father's thirst for revenge starts to take over in his private life as well as business and poisons every relationship: to his wife, his business partners and colleagues, and to Annie herself.
In the end, the father does not get his revenge, but he and Annie manage to establish a new closeness, based on forgiving each other and themselves for having allowed this terrible thing to happen.

The cast is excellent: Clive Owen's portrait of a father who becomes obsessed with wanting revenge is as credible as is Liana Liberato's totally realistic "Annie"; the actress was really the same age as her character at the time of filming, which hugely adds to her credibility and makes her performance so much more astonishing; Catherine Keener and Viola Davis (Annie's mother and the psychiatric nurse/counsellor who Annie talks to after the rape is found out) come across as entirely real, too. Not to mention Chris Henry Coffey, who is a convincing "Charlie" and knows exactly what to say and how to treat Annie.
Director David Schwimmer's involvement with the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica, specializing in helping victims of date rape and child abuse, means he is very familiar with the subject. Both he and his actors (Clive Owen has two daughters) state in the interviews on the DVD that they hope this film helps making parents aware of the importance of knowing what their children are doing and who they are talking to when they are online - a wise advice indeed!

There is a chilling part of the film when Annie's father, certain he has found the guy by means of a sex offenders register, is told how that man came to be on the register - chilling, because it makes clear how dangerous such registers can be, if the public has access to such information, and once a "witch hunt" is on its way, it soon carries its own momentum and things can so easily get out of hand.

Of course the connection between the film's title and the topic is obvious; all relationships are based on trust, and undermining that trust is disastrous. A serious film with a serious message, but not too painful to watch - it still is a good story, an entertaining film, with (in my opinion) outstanding performance. 

This review has become longer than I expected, therefore, I'll leave "The Ghostwriter" for another post.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Read in 2012 - 29: The Beach House

A library find, borrowed from my Mum, I found "The Beach House" by Jane Green a good book to realx with and can imagine it very well as the perfect paperback to take along on a holiday.

A group of people who, under normal circumstances, would have never met each other, let alone become friends, end up being B&B tenants for the summer at a beautiful old house on Nantucket.
Each of them has a very good reason for being there: Daff needs to find herself again after her divorce, and welcomes a break from her difficult teenage daughter; Daniel has decided he can't live a lie any longer and has separated from his wife and children, Michael (whose mother owns the house) has just quit his job in order to get away from an affair he should never have started, and then there is of course Michael's mother, Nan, who had the idea of transforming her house into a B&B because she wants it to be filled with life again, how it used to be in the old days.

As their stories unfold, the threads of their lives begin to intertwine. There is romance and drama; there are misunderstandings and tears, shoplifting and unethical deals among estate agents, and someone's turning up unexpectedly at the house puts everything into question those principal characters have believed to be true for more than 35 years.
Someone dies (not who I had expected), and sad as it is, their death enables several of the others to make their dreams come true.
All ends well - maybe a bit too well, was my impression when I closed the book last night.
It was quite "And they lived happily ever after" at the end, and although such an ending is nice when you read it just before going to sleep, it was quite sugar-coated - probably done on purpose by the author after having brought so much drama into her characters' lives before.

There is a lot of cliché in the book: gay men are all neat, stylish and excellent cooks; wifes that are left by their husbands all need to "find themselves"; unfaithful spouses all think their affairs are "true love", and elderly people wish to be surrounded by children at all times (believe me, they do not).

Regardless of that, I enjoyed the book for its beautifully described setting and the atmosphere, and don't regret having read it; some of the "surprises" took me by surprise, too, and that's a good thing :-)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Read in 2012 - 28: The Things Your Father Never Taught You

"What every man needs to know - about life, love and the perfect necktie", says the subtitle of this fun and sometimes certainly useful little book by Robert Masello.
It was one of the left-overs from our book sale (if you missed the post, you can read about our sale here), and will be part of next year's sale, I suppose.
A good, light-humoured read, with some useful information for me even though I am not a man :-)
The subtitle is somewhat misleading in that there is not much talk about love in it, but there certainly is plenty about daily life, how to manage one's household (there are tips on how to make the bed, clean the house, what kitchen utensils the author deems indispensable, and more), what to keep in mind when buying a suit, how to behave during a job interview, and so on.

It was quite entertaining, sometimes almost making me laugh out loud, but one thing I found quite annoying was the basic attitude underlying the entire book: that all the things a man should know and do were put together so that he'd be better able to impress his boss, impress other guys and impress the ladies.

This is not an attitude I share; while I do of course acknowledge the fact that nobody is an island and we are all part of a complex network of social relationships, both in business and private, and should always take into consideration that our freedom ends where the next person's begins, I do not agree that something like a well-cut suit should be mainly chosen so that the boss, the colleagues, the customers and the ladies are impressed. Instead, my point of view is that these things should first and foremost be done and observed because they make you feel better about yourself - and the rest will follow.
On the back of the book, the description reads:
"...scores of other indispensable social skills designed to thrill your date, impress your boss, and surprise your family. Inside is enough information to transform any father's son from a walking faux pas into a perfect, respectable gentleman."
 Still, as I said, it was an entertaining read; the book was written in 1995 and certainly offers some rather timeless advice, not only to men.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Mallorca: What Happened

Well, I have been hinting at the rest of the story more or less openly already, and here is what happened on the Thursday of our week on Majorca:

As mentioned in my previous post, due to changing rooms because of the ants we "lost" the entire morning, which wasn't too bad considering that the weather had not been that great; it was still rather windy with some rain every now and then.
But by the time we had made ourselves at home in our new room and were ready to go out, the sun had come through, and we decided to take it slow today after yesterday's long walk, also considering that there weren't that many hours left before it would be dinner time.
So we just went along the beach in the opposite direction of the day before, walking for no more than two hours. Afterwards, we went for a swim, and RJ enjoyed the waves so much, he stayed in the water twice as long as I! It was fun watching him from the edge of the water, splashing about, diving, jumping, throwing himself into the waves and generally just having a great time.
No wonder he was tired after that, and laid down for a nap. We agreed on a certain time when I should wake him so that he would still have enough time to get changed for dinner, but when that time came, I almost couldn't wake him up; he was extremely tired and at first thought about staying in the room, not going down for dinner. But he did get dressed and go downstairs with me; we both thought he'd feel his energy return once he'd have eaten something (we'd had a big breakfast and no lunch, so it seemed plausible that his leaden tiredness came from not having eaten since the morning).

We were wrong.

Shortly after dinner, still sitting at the table opposite me, he started sweating profusely and his face went all grey, his eyes went to one side and his upper body started leaning towards the table.
I quickly pulled his (now empty) plate out of the way in case he should fall face forward on the table, got up and asked one of the waiters to come back to the table with me, which he promptly did.
By that time, RJ was only dimly aware of what was going on, and he later said he was never totally "out" but was wondering why all of a sudden there were so many men around him, first helping him up from the chair and then telling him to lay down on the floor, when all he wanted was getting to the room to lay down again.

Let me tell you, it is rather scary when a tall, heavy guy such as RJ (1,94 m, 130 kg) crumbles like that - and I knew I stood no chance in moving him or helping him on my own! Good job we not only had some strong waiters there, but at a nearby table, one of the guests saw what was happening and came over to help; he was a nurse from Austria.

With his feet up on a chair and me applying a cold wet cloth to his forehead, RJ was soon able to talk again and said he just wanted to go to the room and rest. But the nurse and I insisted in having him checked out at the hospital, which was luckily less than 2 km away from the hotel. A taxi was called, and RJ was taken there in a wheel chair and helped into the taxi.

After half an hour or so, a doctor came for a first examination, and it was determined he was to stay over night and put on a drip.

RJ was installed in a room at the hospital, and I helped him wash and undress for bed (not easy when you're on a drip), hunting around for towels and blankets, and waited until he had been given some medication. Shortly after midnight I felt confident to leave him and walked back to the hotel.

The next day, straight after a quick breakfast, I walked to the hotel again, bringing fresh clothes and all the other things RJ would be needing. The doctor came and told us that the test results had showed that it wasn't a virus, nor salmonella or any other food poisoning, but (to me) most important of all, it had not been a heart attack or a stroke.
Instead, he explained it as a case of toxines; these are the waste products of bacteria that live everywhere on the planet, in the water, the air, the soil, the food, everywhere. Normally, our bodies can handle them, but sometimes our "guard" is down, especially when we are exposed to a different environment from home, with different bacteria to the ones our bodies are used to, and on top of that, we are more active than usual (which can certainly be said for RJ during the first days of our holiday), swallow sea water and so on. The doctor also said that this happens a lot (which explains why the people at the hotel were so efficient in their reactions), and I remembered that a GP here in Germany had explained pretty much the same to Steve, when he first came over from England and constantly felt tired and unwell, like having the flu without actually having it. Some people are more vulnerable to this than others, and apparently RJ is one of them.

Imagine our relief - just toxines, nothing more serious! Now all that was needed was getting RJ's system back to normal, which was done with the help of a drip, some medication and a strict diet plan (which he is, to an extent, still sticking to). RJ spent another night in hospital and was released on Saturday afternoon.

 Inner courtyard at the hotel

When he returned to the hotel with me, everybody was so sweet to us! They had all been asking me how he was when they had seen me at breakfast on my own, and now RJ was greeted like a long lost friend.
We spent a quiet Saturday evening and equally quiet Sunday with (short!) walks on the beach, sitting in the shade under the trees, watching the world (and the other tourists) go by, no dancing, no cocktails, not doing anything strenuous, and on Monday, RJ felt so well the journey back home was no problem.

View from our balcony across the pool (where we never went - we were at the sea, weren't we!) and through the trees to the Mediterranean

All things considered, our holiday was good - and strange as it may sound, even the time in hospital was somehow relaxing, because we were not even thinking of work. We now know a great deal more about the Spanish health system than we ever cared to find out, and are both immensely grateful that it wasn't anything more serious than that!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Mallorca: Walking

During the previous evening, we had become aware of not really having the hotel room to ourselves... we shared it with a small group of tiny ants, which were coming out from behind the large headboard behind the bed. The board was fastened to the wall, so we could not remove it to have a proper look, but we called reception and reported the problem. They quickly sent a maid with a can of spray - good for the moment, but not good enough for us to stay in this room, since the ants were most likely going to send reinforcements through their secret tunnel in the wall.
Our room had been on the first floor (ground floor from the main entrance, above ground level when you went to the back of the building), and with the trees growing close up to the hotel, it was certainly not a hygiene thing but merely nature demanding access.
We were given another room in a different wing and higher up in the building, again with our balcony offering a view of the sea, and saw no more ants for the rest of our stay.
All this changing of rooms and getting settled in there consumed the entire morning of the next day, so we decided to go for "just a little walk" to the hill we had been seeing at the other end of the nature reserve (not part of the park itself).
It didn't seem to be very demanding, but it turned out to be rather difficult to get there and not very nice at first: no proper foot paths were there; instead, we had to walk right next to the relatively busy road (it wasn't dangerous, just unpleasant) until we finally reached the track you see in the above picture. It lead us to the hill and on a path going round it, but never up.
So we contended ourselves to enjoy the green and quiet, only interrupted every now and then by a bird's call and by the soft clanging of bells from a herd of goats somewhere in the distance. The only human being apart from us was a lone mountain biker on his way back to town.
We did not know how far (and where to exactly) the path would lead, so after a while, we turned and walked back to where it started, and across the road and in the direction of Alcúdia, where we intended to walk through until we'd come up to the water front, and then back to Playa de Muro along the beach.
Before reaching Alcúdia itself, we came across a wooded area with abandoned roads and an equally abandoned place: Cova Sant Martí, St. Martin's Cave.
Sadly, there was a high iron fence around it, and the gate was padlocked; otherwise, I would have climbed down the steep stone steps to the bottom and explored the cave. A withered sign told us that this had already been a place of worship in ancient times; then, in the late 13th century, during a severe draught on the island the desperate people congregated there to pray for rain. Shortly after their fervent prayers, it started to rain, and out of gratitude, two chapels were built into the cave.
In 1996, the site was renovated with new roads leading there (said the sign), but when we were there, all we saw were clearly neglected, partly overgrown roads where no cars and almost no people had been travelling for years.
If you have known my blog for a while, you will also know that I do have a thing for abandoned places, and so of course this one held quite some fascination for me.

But we walked on, through the outskirts of Alcúdia and up to the beach, separated from the town by a rim of pine trees on dunes, just like in Playa de Muro.
The beach was full of people, but everyone was content just enjoying the sun (some had, of course, overdone it and resembled freshly cooked lobsters rather than humans) and the sea, and at no time did we come across any of the rambunctious louts, drinking sangria from buckets through long straws, what German (and other) tourists are so infamous for on Majorca.
By the time we reached our hotel and would have been ready for a dip in the sea, the weather had changed; a strong wind was blowing, and the waves were higher than before. We thought it wise not to go for a swim under these circumstances (and indeed, later we found that a red flag had been put up at the life guard's stand) and even opted to have dinner indoors instead of out on the patio.
During the night, a thunderstorm with plenty of rain kept us awake, and it was raining again by the time we got up the next morning.
After breakfast, though, the rain stopped, and the sun bravely tried to get through.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Mallorca: S'Albufera

S'Albufera de Mallorca is the Catalan name of the largest nature reserve on the Balearic islands, and we were just across the road from it, which had been one of the reasons why we had chosen the hotel: the beach on one side, the nature reserve on the other, that was surely going to keep us happy for a week!

So on the first full day of our holiday, after a delicious and rather opulent breakfast, we left the hotel. Our first stop was the tourist information, where two very friendly people didn't quite understand what we wanted, in spite of speaking English - all we wanted was a little map of the surrounding area, so that in any case we wouldn't get lost on our walks. No matter with what simple words and how clearly we explained that we did not want a rental car or a bus tour, but really just to WALK on our own feet straight from where we were standing now, they seemed confused and offered all sorts of maps showing the whole island, being no use to us. Finally, a doubtful looking lady handed me a colourful map of Playa de Muro, showing all the hotels and restaurants along the beach - plus the roads and streets leading along and from the beach, with the nature reserve showing well on one side. Exactly what we wanted!
Another bit of confusion arose when we asked whether this (pointing at the corresponding dot on the map) was the only entrance to the reserve or could we reach it also by walking down the road the tourist information was on; the helpful colleague of the map lady nodded enthusiastically, which we took to mean "yes"... but it wasn't; we ended up at a dead end in a residential area, only being able to look at the park through the fence:
The residential area was nice enough to walk through, and so we didn't complain and simply walked between the quiet villas and gardens, with almost nobody else in sight, until we reached the gate to the nature park.
Everyone who enters the park has to get a (free) visitor's permit at the information centre, where they also hand out a useful leaflet; you can look at the leaflet here. It is in English and gives information about the many species of birds, fish and plants as well as general info about the reserve, as well as a map with various walking routes well marked. The longest walking route was stated to be a bit over 11 km long; we wanted to save that for another day (but never got round to do it, for reasons you will see in future posts). Instead, we went on the mid-length walk of about 5 km, which nicely covered the most interesting parts of the area.
The park was very quiet, only a handful of people walking in there; we saw and heard many birds, observed the fish, met the buffalos (but not the Camargue horses that are also roaming the park) and enjoyed the whole day very much.

In the afternoon, we went back to the hotel for a little rest, then changed into our swimming clothes and had a first dip in the Mediterranean before we showered and changed for dinner, which was just as delicious and opulent as breakfast had been.
After that, a cocktail at the outdoors bar, a romantic little walk to the now empty beach under the starry sky, and our first day was over.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Mallorca: Arrival

Last year, for the first time in my life I went for a holiday on the island of Mallorca (Majorca) - which, for many Germans, is THE holiday destination and place for retirement. I wrote about my reservations here; we did end up having a really good time, but I also found most of my preconceptions confirmed, and didn't think I'd be back anytime soon.

This year, I have been away already several times; England in May, Italy in June, France in August, plus a few fairs to work at such as Düsseldorf in February and Cologne in August.
Now, me working from home means I am never really stressed, but RJ works a LOT, and since he's only had the week at Lake Garda (which wasn't as good as it should have been), he was well and truly ready for another break. We both didn't want to go on a long flight for merely a week off; we wanted to go to a place where we'd have sunshine almost guaranteed, plus it had to fit my budget - therefore, we ended up travelling to Mallorca again.

This time, we chose a small town in the North of the island, Alcúdia (to be more precise, Playa de Muro); last year, we were in the East.

We arrived in the late afternoon with enough time to get settled into our room and then go for a nice first stroll along the beach before dinner.
Our room and the view from our balcony.
We met this turtle upon our arrival on the beach. 
Oh, and the Sea! This is the view towards Port d'Alcúdia.
The sun was already quite low. Almost time for us to head back to the hotel across the dune and get dressed for dinner.
These two were on high alert; RJ spotted them, and I wonder what they were waiting for. Are there mice among the dunes? Or small birds and lizards in the grass? Or were they just having an eye on the few tourists that were still out on the beach at that time?


That had to do for our first glimpse of beach and sea and sun. We'd have plenty of time to enjoy it all during the week - we thought... Things turned out to be a bit different, but more of that later.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Read in 2012 - 27: Bessie Bradford's Prize

Actually, I should make the headline of this post "Read in 2012 - 27 and 27 1/2", because I did not only read Bessie Bradford's Prize, but also about half of a book called "Jugend" (German for "Youth"), a collection of novellas written by Dora Duncker.
I decided to break off the latter because it was just too depressing, and I was reading this while on Majorca, with RJ in hospital (more about that later on - let it suffice for now to tell you that all is well again), which certainly called for something more cheerful.
Of the three novellas I read, two ended with a heart-broken woman leaving behind an equally heart-broken man, while the third one ended with a suicide. Lovely, eh?
There is not much information about the author; basically just that she lived from 1855 to 1916, was married once for a short period, had one daughter, knew (partly because she grew up in an intellectually rich family) many writers and other artists, and wrote, wrote, wrote. Her list of published books is quite impressive, but although the language of "Jugend" (which was published in 1905) is beautifully old-fashioned (of course it wasn't old-fashioned when she wrote it), nothing in "Jugend" made me want to read more of her works. It was - you guessed it - a free Kindle book, and therefore all I wasted was a bit of time. Looking at Dora Duncker's picture maybe gives you a hint of that she wasn't the most happy, cheerful person on earth!

- - -
Now off to Bessie Bradford and her prize. Only a meagre outline of biographical facts are known about the author, Joanna H. Mathews. There seems to be uncertainty about her middle name; I've found "Hooe" and "Hope" as well as "Hone", but mostly Hooe.
She and her sister, Julia A. Mathews who wrote under the pen name of Alice Grey, were daughters of a Reverend Mathews of New York, who helped found New York University and became its first Chancellor in 1831. Nine years later, he stepped down for health reasons and took up writing, at the same time taking an active interest in the cause of education and welfare of young men until his death in 1870.
His daughter Joanna was born in 1849 and raised in New York, where she attended a girls' school. We know little more about her than that she never married and lived with family members in Summit, New Jersey, until she died in 1901. Her first book was published in 1866, and she was involved in charities in other "benevolent enterprises", as one source states. 

Apparently, the "Bessie" books were her most popular; they feature Bessie Bradford, her family and friends, in various adventures, where the good, faithful and pious always win. I have read somewhere that this kind of book is sometimes classified as "Sunday School Fiction", and that pretty much fits the bill. But don't be fooled - the reading is still quite fun and cheerful, and the heros and heroines are by no means always good or superhumanly perfect.

In "Bessie Bradford's Prize", a 17-year-old student gets himself into trouble, causing a lot of grief for his younger sister and his old nurse, who - each unknown to the other - are torn between wanting to help Percy out of his difficulties while at the same time they know he has done wrong and should face up to it and finally start taking responsibility for his actions. All ends well with the help of friends and family, and the author leaves sufficient clues for the reader to hope that Percy will reappear later on in the series with his character strengthened and bettered by the experience.

In spite of it being part of a series, it was not necessary to know any of the other books. Overly sweet and sentimental at times, I won't go and find more of the "Bessie" books, but I don't regret having read this one.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Books! Books! Books!

Once a year, in one of the oldest parts of town (centuries older than the actual town, the small village of Hoheneck eventually grew together with Ludwigsburg and is now a suburb of it), a book market is held on the narrow streets and alleyways, some of them cobbled, between the old timbered houses, around the church and on the village square with its fountain. It is not only a picturesque place well worth a visit on its own, but the market is very popular for all kinds of book lovers - professional collectors of first editions, avid readers or simply people like us who want to make room on their shelves but do not chuck out books like other unwanted stuff.
View across the street from the back of our stall
The annual book market has been going on for 25 years now, and for a few years, my family used to have a stall there. We usually took turns in manning it and quite enjoyed it, but then for one reason or other, we didn't go for three consecutive years.
This time, though, we registered for a 3 m stall, and prepared for the big day!

Here are the two crates of books that were my contribution; all in all, we had six or seven such crates full, about half of them English and the other half German.

The market means an early start; setting up of the stalls begins at 7.00 in the morning, and it was still very cold at that time (9 Celsius at most!), so I was covered in several layers of clothes and quite glad of each and every one of them.

As the day wore on, it warmed up rather nicely, and in the afternoon, when the sun came round the corner, it became so warm people were looking for shade.

We sold relatively well (about half of what we'd brought), and everything at really low prices; we let go most of our books for 1 Euro each, or 2 Euro if people chose three paperbacks. Only some of the large format coffee table books went for a bit more, but nothing at our stall was expensive, since that wasn't the point of us going to the market.

People were friendly and chatty, we exchanged recommendations for books or shared our views of what we'd read same as they had, and even met a man who came to the market only to find antique books "of the right size" - he doesn't read them, all he wants for them is to sit on his shelves decoratively! My sister later said she would have liked to tell him that, in fact, one can actually read books, you know...

Our parents came to the market at around lunch time and brought food, coffee in a thermos flask and wonderful home-made raspberry muffins, which were most welcome!

After such an early start, a long day out in the open and talking to so many people, we were both quite knackered when at 5.00 pm the market officially ended. We packed up our remaining books, the table and chairs, and my sister drove us home.

It was fun, though, and I think we'll go again next year :-) 

PS: I forgot to mention that I'll be away for a week from tomorrow onwards; RJ and I have booked once again a week on Majorca, hoping to find better weather and friendlier hotel staff than when we were at Lake Garda in June...!