Friday 29 June 2012

Fashion Calendar: June

It is obvious to anyone who reads my blog that I love clothes; I've been going on about them many times, sometimes with interesting discussions ensuing from my musings, such as here.
What I love most out of all types of clothes are dresses.

A dress is just the perfect item - it allows you to be ready with one single bit of clothing (not counting what is worn underneath), and all you need is a matching pair of shoes and maybe a handbag and jacket, if temperatures so require.

My dresses range from the type I only ever wear at home to the ones that I can team up or down for either business or just doing the groceries shopping, and I have a few that need a special occasion to be worn, such as a party, a ball, going to the opera or to a posh restaurant.

Not that long ago, my Mum presented me with what is currently my most beautiful dress - and waiting for an occasion to wear it:
It is from Laura Ashley and originally must have cost somewhere around 250-300 €, I guess; my Mum got it for just over 40 € from Ebay.
Now, some people say they'd never wear clothes bought Second Hand, but in this case, the lady she bought it from lives nearby and we have both been to her place and seen what an exceptionally clean and tidy household she leads, she herself being a very neat and well-groomed person. When she says she has worn the dress only once to a wedding, I believe her.

And now it is mine, and I already know with what accessories I am going to wear it - with the exception of the shoes.
In case the occasion should be a ball, I'll of course be wearing my dancing shoes. They are black and therefore do not match the dress perfectly, but they are proper dancing shoes and allow me to spend the majority of an evening on the dance floor without my feet suffering. Should the occasion be a night at the opera or ballet or something else, I'll have to think again.
The shoes I am wearing in the pictures are certainly not the ones I am really going to wear with this dress; the heels are chipped in two places and that would just make the whole outfit look somewhat shabby. So, in all likelihood, if the occasion arises to wear this dress and it is not for dancing, I'll have to buy new shoes... *sigh* :-D

Thursday 28 June 2012

A Nice Little Walk

This is the continuation of my holiday report from Lake Garda. If you have missed the previous posts or can't remember what we last did, simply click on the label "Travelling" to find them listed.

Walking regularly features on my blog, such as when I told you about a long walk I went on earlier this year, or when I was walking in the rain. So, if by now you can't bear to go on yet another walk with me, I advise you to skip this post and wait for the next one, which should be a Fashion one :-)

The place is still Lake Garda, Riva del Garda, to be more precise. The date is Friday, the 8th of June.
From the evening of our arrival, we have been looking at the ruins of a castle from our hotel room, high above us on a steep mountain slope:
(our room was at the back of the hotel; what you see here is the front with the glass-covered breakfast room)
It looked like a challenge to get there, and we were ready to face it today after breakfast.
To our surprise, we found the castle to be easily accessible by a well-paved path winding up the slope in serpentines that were not too steep even for families with children; it took us maybe 25 minutes to get to the top.
Twice, we stopped underneath large trees to shelter from the rain that kept falling on and off, and also to take some pictures, both of the view across Riva as well as of this abandoned house which - you guessed it! - very much appealed to me:

At the top, the castle ruins were open to be explored, and since it had begun to rain once again, we waited for a while in the one area that still has parts of a roof.

The sun made some brave attempts to come out, and we decided to go back down on the same path and then find our way to a waterfall I had been reading about in my guidebook. It was described as a walk along the Sentiero Ponale, a path/road leading along the lake, and sounded like a nice little walk - just what we wanted.

So we set off, water bottle and a handful of roast almonds and of course the camera in our bags, as well as the small umbrellas we'd be quite sure we were going to need at some stage.

The Sentiero Ponale is important enough to have its own website, where you can look at pictures and read up on its history - if you understand Italian, that is. If not, let me give you some background:
Giacomo Cis, a wealthy merchant who found himself without a heir, decided in 1848 to use his economic (and, along with that, political) influence in the area to have a road created that would finally link the Valle di Ledro to the rest of the world. Up until then, the people who lived in the Ledro valley had been isolated by the geographical nature of the place, and travelling across the rough mountains there had been really difficult and dangerous.
In 1851, Mr. Cis died, just when the finishing touches were given to the road. It was opened to the public shortly after his death.

The road soon became well-travelled not only for its practical use, but also for the spectacular views it offered at every turn. For a long time, it remained open to everyone, until in 1990, it was closed because it had become too dangerous, with extensive repairs having become necessary to the many tunnels and the path itself. In 2004, it was re-opened - but only to people on bikes and on foot, not for cars.
Since then, it has become a hugely popular route for mountain bike enthusiasts, something we did not know until we found ourselves faced with bikes racing towards us almost every step we took, which made it rather difficult to fully enjoy the walk and the views.

It started to rain more frequently and heavier as the afternoon wore on, and it took us a long time to get to the waterfall mentioned in my guidebook. By then, we were - in spite of our umbrellas - quite wet, and exhausted not so much from the actual walk but from the constant state of alert we had to be in due to the cyclists who were, I must say, quite inconsiderate not only of each other, but even more so of anyone else who was not on a bike, in spite of big signs along the path that warned them to reduce speed at the narrower and steeper bits and to be aware of others who had just the same right to be on the path as they did.

For about half an hour or a bit longer, we walked further up with our map, thinking we'd make it to the next small village and maybe catch a bus (or even a taxi) back to Riva from there, since we didn't really want to walk back the same route.

In the end, we decided it was too far to get to the next village, turned around and walked back all the way. It wasn't so much the distance (we estimated our whole walk to have been somewhere around 14-16 km long) but the combination of rain and cyclists that made us arrive at our hotel quite worn out. 

The pictures I have taken - this is only a small choice, there are more on my photobucket album; simply click on this picture and then "next" to see them - hopefully show what a beautiful place it actually is.
With the damp warmth it almost felt like walking in a rain forest in some tropical country.

This building puzzled us - what would you think it is (or was)? The ruins of a palace, or a monastery of some kind?
Well, I found out it used to be a hydro-electric power plant, built in 1905, to make use of the steep drop of the Ledro river into the valley.

We had a good rest at our room, showered and changed before we set out to find ourselves some dinner. And later, all tiredness was forgotten when we discovered that a band was playing on one of the smaller piazzas in town, and we danced on the square along with dozens of others until they packed up their instruments - it was, all things considered, a great day with "a nice little walk" and ended with us dancing under the stars!

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Why Do They Do This?

Like most people (I suppose), every now and then I am puzzled by why something is done in a certain manner. Usually, a bit of logical thinking can make me come up with a conclusion I find satisfying, but not always, as was the case when I wrote this post.

Maybe someone has an explanation for the puzzling way of a TV channel to deal with the airing of a series:

Some months ago, I started watching Midsomer Murders on ZDFneo. The series is simply called "Inspector Barnaby" here in Germany, and probably just as popular as it was/is in the UK, where I first watched some episodes when on holiday at my mother-in-law's.

Like all series, it is divided into seasons and episodes, and since it has been going on since the late 1990s, there are quite a few of those! In the course of the years, the recurring characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Barnaby, their daughter, the police doctor and some others have of course aged, and their circumstances changed (the daughter studying, then working; having a boyfriend, later getting married and so on). The Inspector's assistant changes, too; the first one is (I think) promoted and replaced by a second one, and currently, the series is filmed with a third man who was introduced as Barnaby's assistant a few years ago.

Imagine how daft it seems, therefore, that on ZDFneo, the series is not aired in its proper order.
We get to see a double feature every Monday night, and sometimes, the first episode is younger than the second, with - for instance - the daughter being married already and then you watch the 2nd episode of the night and find her still studying, and two different Sergeants working alongside the Inspector.

Why do they do this?

To me, there is no reasonable explanation. Yes, of course each episode can be watched independently of any other episode; none of the story plots span more than one, it is mainly the frame of the Barnaby's home life that runs a thread through the entire series. So, nobody will sit in front of their telly unable to follow one episode because it is not aired in the order that it was intended to.
But WHY the disordered way of airing them?

I imagine the procedure of buying a series for a TV channel being a normal business process. Say, for instance, the people from ZDFneo decided to buy the first season of the series, air the first few episodes and look at the number of viewers before deciding whether to buy the next seasons or not.
So, in the normal course of events, they would buy Season 1, Episodes 1-20 (that is just an example, I don't know how many episodes there are to a season) and air S1-E1, S1-E2, S1-E3 and so on, to be followed by S2-E1 etc.
Is it too difficult to keep them in order? Can't they be bothered? Have they bought an episode here and there instead of a a full "package" of a season? Or is there a secret algorhythm behind it all? Am I the only one wondering about this?

Saturday 23 June 2012

Read in 2012 - 16: To Love Anew

This book by Bonnie Leon was part of the "shopping spree" I went on earlier this year after receiving a Kindle for my birthday - it is available as a free e-book on Amazon, and that's why I downloaded it, admittedly without really looking at it first.
Had I done that, maybe I wouldn't have added it to the collection of fiction on my Kindle; it is what you could call a religious novel, and since I am not part of any religion myself, the constant references to the importance of all-enduring Christian love and faith were a bit much for my liking. Having said that, it does fit the story well, since I suppose in those days for many people their faith was the only thing that kept them going, as it is probably the case for a vast number of people today, although maybe less so in what we like to call our "Western" society but more in developing countries.

We start in London in the year 1804, and meet the two main characters independently of each other. Hannah is a seamstress who, by no means wealthy, leads a sheltered and modestly happy life with her widowed mother, sharing a small rented place where they both live and work, making fine clothes for London's elegant ladies.
John is a wealthy business man, married and well established with his tool-making company, a trade he has learnt from his late father.

When Hannah's mother dies of a fever, the former customers don't show loyalty to Hannah and move their orders elsewhere. Now that she can not pay the rent anymore, she is turned out of the only place she has known as home, and wanders the streets of London, trying to find work.
She does find employment as a scullery maid with a magistrate and his wife, but after a terrible incident, she flees the house and is once again on the street. When hunger leads her to steal a loaf of bread, she is caught and sentenced in court to 14 years of deportation to New South Wales.

John's cousin betrays him, and he is left with no money, no business, no wife and almost no life - only by intervention of his attorney, who still trusts in his innocence, he is spared the gallows and sent to serve a life sentence in New South Wales instead.

The inevitable happens: Both "passengers" on the prison ship taking them on the horrible journey to Australia, Hannah and John meet, and are instantly drawn to each other, knowing very well that they do not stand a chance to anything ever becoming of their relationship.

They first have to survive the six month journey and of course there is no guarantee they will ever set eyes on each other again once arrived at the prison colony.

To begin with, live does not seem to improve much on land compared to the apalling conditions on the ship, but then the tide turns, and John and Hannah get a chance for happiness.

The morale of the story is that one should never lose faith, and leave all revenge to God; now, one can simply read this book as historical romance and still find it a pleasant read, which is what I did. It kept me company all day yesterday on the train to and from work; I finished the whole book in about five hours.

Everything the book says about how crime - even something as insignificant as stealing bread out of real need - was dealt with in those days, and how little a human life was regarded (not that this has changed much in some parts of the world). Also, how the system of deporting "criminals" to the prison colonies worked is certainly well described and researched, and I do not consider having read this book a waste of time.

My next read is going to be some non-fiction again.

Wednesday 20 June 2012


After a day of much walking (see two posts back), RJ and I were ready for something a bit less strenuous and decided to drive to Verona, which is about 90 km from Riva.

It wasn't difficult to get there; we had a map, we had SatNav and of course we had two pairs of eyes capable of looking at the road signs. RJ had been there before and knew it was nearly impossible to find a parking space really close to the town centre without having to pay a fortune, but we were lucky and found a space not too far off, maybe half a mile along a road lined with banks and caf├ęs, where at the time of our arrival, many business people were taking their lunch out on the pavement under the trees.

My first impression of Verona's town centre was this one:
A huge piazza, lots and lots of people (don't be fooled by the apparent lack of people in the pictures) - and the arena, of course.
We walked around it on the outside; neither of us felt we wanted to go in for a closer look, it was that packed with tourists and already the crowds were getting to us a bit. The arena itself is certainly impressive, as I hope my pictures can partly convey.

Off the piazza, the roads lead further into the centre. This shop-lined street had all the big names sought out by shopaholics all over the world; Gucci, Prada, Luis Vuitton - you name it, they had it. Not really our kind of place, but the worst was yet to come.

Everybody is, I believe, more or less familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet (Julia in German, Giulietta in Italian), made immortal by Shakespeare's play.
Now, legend (or history?) has it that this unhappy couple and their families lived in Verona, and Juliet's house is a major tourist attraction. We had a look through the courtyard where, between throngs of people's heads and shoulders, we just about managed to catch a glimpse of the balcony. Yes, THAT balcony. It was awful: crowds of young people were yelling, whistling and laughing down in the courtyard, and a few bewildered-looking tourists (young, female, pretty) who had paid admission to the house and were now standing on the balcony were looking down at them, clearly not wanting to kiss each other in spite of the crowd demanding it. We turned on our heels and fled.

For a moment I thought it was a bad idea to come here, but then RJ suggested we walk towards the river and then along it on the other side (I told you, he had been to Verona before).

We did that, and as soon as we were just a few yards off the most badly beaten track, things quietened down (as much as they do in an old town centre, lived in and worked at by many people), and it became a lovely afternoon.

Here are some of the sights we saw; I could have taken a picture every few yards, really! If you want to see more, you can go to my photobucket album and browse it from this picture onwards.

We had a meal at a tiny osteria, where we were the only guests; it was way past lunch and way before dinner time, but the kind lady still served us in the most friendly manner. The drive back was uneventful, and we were not even fined for having overstayed our parking space by several hours :-)
We both agreed that the next day, we would be going for a nice walk away from lots of people. That will be, of course, another post.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Read in 2012 - 15: Neben der Spur

A German book for a change, written by Ella Theiss, a German author who is an email friend of my Mum's and sent her this, her latest work, with a personal message for her in the front:

"Neben der Spur" is crime fiction against a backdrop of a topic of current interest for many German readers: biological (vegetarian) food, how it is produced, and the ethics and morals behind it.

Set in and around the German town of Mainz, with an excursion to the Czech Republic, the story starts with the 100th birthday of Hermann Hepp, whose company has been producing bio-vegetarian soups and condiments since before WWII.

Journalists gather for the celebration, one of them being young Karoline Rosenkranz, and it does not look as if any exciting story could come out of this, but then a bomb explodes and a chain of events is set in motion that leads to said journalist investigating the matter on her own accord, nearly resulting in her being murdered.

Both the past and the present bear many secrets, some of them just very sad, others really dangerous, and while for a long time Karoline's suspicions are partly wrong, in the end she does manage to uncover the plot and finds love along the way where she never sought it.

I must admit I would not have read this book had it not been lent to me by my Mum, and while it is a pleasant and fun enough story, I wouldn't call it a "must read". The story is well told, with the chapters jumping in perspective mostly between Karoline and old Hermann (with some other characters getting their own chapter every now and then), but I always find it difficult to get "into" a book when I can not really relate to the main character which is, in this case, Karoline. I am not very fond of her with her silly obsession about dieting and her rather chaotic approach of life in general and her work in particular, but I am sure a lot of readers will like her exactly for that.

Early into the story, it becomes obvious who is behind the strange goings-on, but that person's relationship to another character in the book is only revealed at the end and came as a surprise to me.

The whole setting is well researched, and the author thanks those who helped with her research into such varied topics as preparing for a piano concert, living with an autistic child, and communication in and with the Czech Republic.

It had its gripping moments, and some funny bits, and there is a recipe for home-made vegetarian condiment by Ella Theiss herself.

Now it will go back to my Mum's, and I'll decide what book to read next - I have so much choice these days with my Kindle and the books I was given while in England.

Monday 18 June 2012

Arco (Lago di Garda)

Earlier this year, thanks to Graham, I learnt the term "Gabion Walls" (see this post for the context), and here I mentioned that stone walls have almost the same tugging appeal to me as doors and doorways.

Therefore, you can probably imagine how much I enjoyed the climb up to the Castello di Arco, in spite of it being quite steep in places and there for us at the end of a walk that had already been at least 7 km long, most of it in the bright sun at temperatures of around 27 Celsius or more.
The sight of these olive orchards with flowers and stone walls was so beautiful, I wasn't even that interested in getting to the actual castle anymore.
We still did, of course, and were rewarded with magnificent views across the small old town of Arco, which sits right next to Riva, separated from it by Monte Brioni, a nature reserve.

Already around the year 1000, the castle was mentioned in documents, but most of what is visible today received its characteristic shape about two centuries later. The castle was abandoned in the early 1700s and made accessible to the public only in the 1980s.

On our way back from Arco to Riva, we decided to walk a different route... which took us longer than expected and wasn't quite as pleasant as the way there, because it wasn't on foot paths but along roads which, although there was not much traffic, were a little dangerous at times with their many curves and drivers of the few cars clearly not expecting any walkers.

Had we not chosen that route, though, we would not have come across this unusual house, partly built into and onto the rock; it is a restaurant, and we would have certainly gone there one evening for dinner if we had stayed longer than the one week.

Does anyone know what this beetle is?
It was about half as long as my thumb, and just as thick, and we were very careful not to step on it.

The following day, we were in the mood for slightly less walking and drove to Verona, but that is certainly worth its own post :-)

Sunday 17 June 2012

Riva del Garda

Although I have been travelling the whole length of the Italian "boot" many times (see my Souvenirs from Sicily), up until very recently, I had never stopped in the northern part of the country before.
A week ago today, RJ and I returned from our holiday in Riva del Garda, and I am going to show you some pictures of the town and tell you about the time we spent there.

When I told people that we were going to go to Lake Garda, they often said I was going to find it rather "German", compared to those parts of Italy I know better (namely Sicily); "German" not only because of my co-nationals being the largest group of tourists there, but also in terms of how tidy, neat and organized everything is.

Now, when I travel, my aim is not to spend my free time among crowds of other Germans, nor to eat German food in a foreign country and speak only German; I am fluent in Italian, I like Italian food (who doesn't?!) and am glad to report that, in spite of there really being many, many other German tourists in the area, it did not really "feel" like Germany.

But let me get back to the original intention of this post: to tell you a bit more about Riva and show you some pictures.

According to the guide book my sister kindly lent me, Riva is the third biggest town on Lake Garda at about 16.000 inhabitants. It is also its northern-most town, with the mountains right up to the rim of the lake, surrounding the town so closely that, once the heavy clouds are there, they stay put for a while... as we were to find out during the 2nd half of our week.

When we arrived, the view was beautiful with blue sky and the evening sun across the lake.
Already a settlement in Roman times, Riva gained some importance in the 11th and 12th century. Some of the buildings from that time are still there, such as the Torre Apponale (Apponale-tower), built in 1220, and the Rocca, a sturdy castle surrounded by water on all sides.

The medieval town centre is full of more or less narrow, curved streets, most of them cobbled and paved, and there are many restaurants, bars and shops to choose from; really something for every taste and every budget.

Just a bit further out, newer and larger houses, private residences as well as palace-like hotels, show that this used to be a popular place for European aristocracy and celebrities when they were in need of a rest; many well-known German names from art and literature have once been inscribed in the guest books of hotels. pensions and sanatoriums.

Many of these places are now empty; if you have been reading my blog for a while, maybe you know that I have a thing for abandoned houses and neglected, overgrown gardens. It was sad to look at them but exciting at the same time, trying to imagine what they once were like, and what I would find there now if I went inside to explore.

We did not stay in Riva during the day but usually went somewhere else, either on foot or by car, and returned to the town in the evening.

More about our excursions will follow in the next posts. 
Since I won't put all the pictures on my blog, if you are interested in seeing them, simply click here for my photobucket album.

Friday 15 June 2012

A Proper Holiday

At the end of this post, I mentioned looking forward to mine and RJ's holiday in Italy, and this innocent little remark caused some comment and discussion (mostly behind the scenes).

It made me think about what constitutes a "proper" holiday for me.
Let me try and explain - or else, skip this post and wait for the next one.

England - and by that I mean mainly Yorkshire - is not a holiday for me, but a necessity. It is necessary for my wellbeing, for my mental health, if you want, to spend some time every year in the country I consider my second home, seeing the people that are just as much family to me as the blood-relations here in Germany, even though technically speaking we are not related at all, and our original link - my husband Steve - died 2 1/2 years ago.
In England, and with family and friends there, I feel so much at home, so welcome and so at ease that it simply does not feel like "being away" from home, even though I go to places I have not seen before every time.

A "proper" holiday is something else for me; it means (again: for ME! It might be entirely different for other people)  really going AWAY from familiar surroundings, discovering different places, different sights, sounds, smells and tastes, speaking a different language (not always) and then, at the end of it, enjoying to go back home and return to the "at home" feeling that I love about both my town here in Germany and Ripon in Yorkshire.

The holiday RJ and I went on together was spent in Riva del Garda, a small town on the northern edge of Lake Garda. We had booked ten days in a hotel and stayed only a week, deciding to break off because of the weather taking a turn for the worse as well as the hotel staff and service going continuously downhill in the course of the second half of the week.

We did a lot of hiking and spent a day in Verona and one in Sirmione; we went dancing on the piazza at a huge street party in the heart of the old town centre of Riva, had delicious meals and generally a really good time - and we wanted to leave while we still had more good than bad memories.
There will, of course, be pictures of some of the places we explored and accounts of what we saw, did and ate.

In the meantime, I am still officially on vacation and will take up work again on Monday.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Read in 2012 - 14: Afoot in England

Another free ebook found its way to my Kindle during the time when I downloaded over 80 books in the space of a few weeks in March and April. 

This one is "Afoot in England" by W. H. Hudson (the initials standing for William Henry) and is certainly NOT a guide book - something the author explicitly wants the reader to understand from the first page on.

Originally written in 1909, Mr. Hudson describes walks, buildings, people, villages, paths, trees, animals - most of all birds - he saw, observed or met during the early 1900s. 
There is mention of places we can actually see for ourselves, such as Calleva (now Silchester), which at the time of the author's visits was just beginning to attract public interest and a lonely place free of tourists, or Stonehenge, where he spends some very cold, dark hours along with several hundred men wanting to observe the sunrise, only to go back at a later date to repeat the experience on his own, which he then finds very rewarding.
Some rivers and villages are named, but by no means all of them, and so it would be quite a difficult undertaking if anyone wished to walk on Hudson's traces.

At one point, he despairs of the weather - "has there ever been a June as cold and wet as that of 1906?" - something that made me think of what I have been hearing from my relatives and friends in England as well as reading on some of the blogs I follow.

Everything he writes about is neatly wrapped up into a chapter; some chapters talk about a particular place (such as Salisbury Cathedral) or a particular person (such as an elderly lady who told him the story of his life over the weeks he stayed at her cottage), while there is another chapter entirely dedicated to Robert Bloomfield's novel-length poem "The Famer's Boy", with many quotations.

As an ornithologist, the author knows and writes a great deal about the birds he observes during his walks, but this is never boring. The book does have its lengths (for instance, the aforementioned chapter about "The Famer's Boy"), but it is entertaining, interesting and not without humour. If nothing else, it shows how more than a 100 years ago, people dealt with early forms of tourism, from the mass to the individual kind.
Some of the words the author uses are naturally different to how a writer would express similar ideas now, but that only adds to the charm of this book.

From the variety of topics Mr. Hudson covers in the 25 chapters, I guess he'd be a well-read blogger if he lived today.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

International Street Music Festival

This festival is firmly established in my personal diary as something I will attend in any case, provided I am not travelling or ill or the weather is really, really awful.

It was held for the 9th time in Ludwigsburg on the last weekend in May, from Friday to Sunday.
What makes this festival so special?

For one thing, it is the setting: the beautiful park and gardens surrounding Ludwigsburg palace. You've seen pictures of it several times on my blog already; for instance here and here. The whole grounds are practically turned into one big party for three days, filled with cheerful people and music, music, music!

Then, you have about 40 groups and solo artists, almost all of them playing very different styles of music. One simply strolls through the park and stops at those stages where the music is according to one's taste and passes by those who are less so.

The mood is usually great, especially as it gets later and people have "warmed up", so to speak; not so much for the beer or sparkling wine etc. they can buy at various spots throughout the park, but simply because it takes a while for many people to come out of their usual reserved state and before they start clapping, singing along and dancing.

The festival's website is here; I'm afraid there is no English version of the site, but you can look at videos (and listen to the music, of course) of all the bands when you click here.

We were lucky with the weather this year, and even more lucky to find our favourite for 2012 very soon into the festival: The Dapper Dan Men.

I took some pictures while they were on stage:
Bluegrass is a style I much like, although I'm afraid I would not want to listen to a whole album at home or go to a venue where nothing but this kind of music is played all evening. But it was great there and then; the band were really good with their instruments and the singing, and we enjoyed ourselves very much.

The Dapper Dan Men were of course not the only band we were listening to, but I only took a few more pictures elsewhere; it was getting too dark then and besides I was trying to avoid anyone feeling "stalked" by me taking pictures (impossible to take any without people on them).

Years ago, I befriended some of the musicians; we are in touch by email throughout the year and I bought this painting from one of them in 2009 as a birthday present to myself.
Unfortunately, out of the 40 artists to perform during the 3 days of the festival, the festival committee never allow the same group or artist to play for more than two or three consecutive years, so as to give new groups a chance to enter the festival. This means that a lot of people, including myself, miss their favourites; after a gap of one or two years, they are usually allowed back and I am already looking forward to next year's festival, with hopefully my two favourite bands being back on stage there.

PS: I will post about our holiday in Italy soon; in the meantime, if you want to look at the pictures, my photobucket album is here.