Monday, April 15, 2013

goodbye isle of wight, hello vienna! - england day 12

my last morning on the isle of wight. i had packed most of my things the previous evening, so i was in no rush. one last walk along the beach - it looked like the beginnings of a pleasant enough day, though it was rather windy. i'd really gotten used to these morning walks - the wind, the cries of birds, the fresh sea air, the wet sand under my feet, the light ... i knew i'd miss this.

final breakfast at barnaby's, packing up the rest of my stuff, a last look out the window (ah! a view i'd definitely not mind waking up to every day!), and steve took me to sandown station. the little island train took me to ryde pier head, where i walked straight onto the ferry to portsmouth. waiting for my train to gatwick at the station, i sat outside, not even in he sun, and i did not freeze! it seemed that spring arrived just as i was leaving. plenty of time at gatwick airport, had a fabulous carrot & coriander soup at "giraffe" and the best ginger beer ever.

the flight was pretty uneventful. i had a window seat, which was nice, as it was mostly clear all the way to vienna. and i actually sat on the right side as we were flying over vienna ... the danube, the bridges, then i easily found the church near our home, and eventually made out our house! neat.

of course heinz came to pick me up at the airport - and i just knew that he'd bring at least part of our boy group (otto the croc, pruno the pig, heinrich the bear). i was right. otto and heinrich were perched on his shoulders. so dotty, my cute little travel companion, was reunited with some of her friends. it was pleasantly warm even at 08:45 pm. much nicer than the morning i left!

so, later than i'd thought, i was back home. despite the somewhat blah weather and missing out on several days due to illness, it was a good idea to go to england. i enjoyed being there. the hotel was nice, the owner extremely friendly, the vicinity to the beach was perfect. i loved the cream teas and it had been time for some fish & chips, too, anyway! anglophile that i am, i was happy to be immersed in the language, though there were days when i didn't talk all that much. i had some me time, and the illness forced me to slow down a bit, which perhaps wasn't so bad after all.

and now i'll go have another cuppa in honour of good old blighty, and a hobnob to go with it.

song of the day: goodbye england (covered in snow) by laura marling.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

dinosaurs and a lot of rain - england day 11

this morning it was windy but looked okay enough ... things could have gone either way. i walked along the beach after breakfast, the morning walk i've become quite accustomed to. this time, however, i didn't just walk for walking's sake, but to get to dinosaur isle, one of the attractions here in sandown.

geologically speaking, the isle of wight is extremely interesting. lots of fossils have been found around here, including dinosaur skeletons. i had a good look around, learning bits and pieces about life back then and being suitably impressed by many of the fossils on display - bones, teeth, skulls, antlers, footprints, sponges, leaves, palm fronds, snails, sea urchins, ... from tiny to massive.

i had planned to go on a guided fossil hunting walk today, to try my luck at discovering something. i guess you either find something by pure coincidence (i once sat down on a beach in new zealand only to find an ammonite right in front of my feet!) or you've got to know what you're looking for (and put in some work!). i found it very interesting to get some information about the whole research process. incredibly tedious work, but also exciting, i suppose.

when i left dinosaur isle, it was already raining. i walked back, uncertain what to do. would the rain stop? could it be nicer elsewhere? i decided to go and find out. while waiting for my connecting bus in newport, i picked up some earrings and a necklace at an oxfam shop. caught a bus to totland - it was pouring down. definitely didn't feel like walking weather, cold and windy. the pub had just closed, so i decided to catch the next bus out again ... in newport it seemed as if the rain would let up, but - no such luck. so instead of hanging around and eventually making my way to brook chine for the fossil walk, it was back to sandown. rain, rain, more rain. saw some nice shoes while walking along high street, so i did some more unplanned shopping. got me some fish & chips and enjoyed my early dinner while watching a wallace & gromit film.

it is still pouring down now at 09:45 pm. no night walk along the beach then. much cosier inside. i'm hoping for a nice morning, so i can take one last walk before breakfast.

song of the day: raindrops keep falling on my head by b j thomas.

Friday, April 12, 2013

monkeys & owls, sunshine & rain - england day 10

i felt much better this morning. took a walk along the beach - it was terribly windy. i so enjoy watching the waves and the birds, and get a kick out of the patterns made by sand, wind, water ... the rivulets, the colours, foot/pawprints, and of course the ever changing light. breakfast time then, full english breakfast (minus the sausager), just as it should be. this is, after all, england. and when in rome, do as the romans do, right? though i must add i won't go so far as to walk along the beach barefoot in this kind of weather!

i made my way to the same area where i visited the butterflies yesterday, but today it was for quite different animals: mainly monkeys and owls, but also some other birds. the owl & monkey haven is an award-winning attraction that is home to rescued primates/monkeys and birds. i heard a few stories about some of the animals - they included accounts of neglected monkeys, one rhesus macaque that simply turned up in someone's garden on the mainland, owls that were ignored by their owl parents and were lucky enough to find human parents at the haven, monkeys that were "mobbed" by their own kind, etc.

i got to see a two year old male eagle-owl named ketch close-up, and to actually touch it. fascinating creatures. i must say the way they swivel their head around always slightly freaks me out - i swear i can almost hear the "snap!" sound of a broken neck! apparently owls are fairly lazy and won't leave their trees for days after they've eaten. there they sit until they start to feel hungry again ...

i had a good look around at the colobus monkeys (odd creatures, with their long whitish tails that fan out when they jump), rhesus macaques (such fun! and the noises they make! smelly though ... ugh), capuchins, marmosets (too cute!), langurs, gibbons, siamangs, eagle-owls, snowy owls, barn owls, tawny owls, the two buzzards, and the kookaburras. i learned something, i laughed, and took lots of pictures ... and (according to "when in rome ...) treated myself to some delicious clotted cream tea.

after a walk along ryde pier, i made my way back to sandown, where i went to the glassblower's round the corner and then had a pleasant chat with steve, the owner, in his overflowing gift shop. it looked like a pleasant evening, so i decided to go for another walk along the beach, grabbed my cameras, and ... as soon as i reached the beach (all of a minute away), guess what ... yep: rain! it's been like this all day today ... get on the bus: sun comes out; get off the bus: cold and windy or rain. but i didn't want to be beaten. i thought it might only be a two-minute shower. i was wrong. wrapping my big camera up like a baby, i marched on. and after only about 15 minutes, the rain stopped. yay! beautiful light, so clear, filtered by the clouds ... gorgeous. well worth it.

indian veg curry & garlic naan well deserved then! i was thinking about going out again to take some night-time pictures, but i think i've had enough rain ... ;) here's the only pic i have so far:

those eyes!

song of the day: l'anno che verrà by lucio dalla.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

butterflies & a seaside town - england day 9

the i felt worse when i woke up this morning than i did yesterday, so i stayed in bed reading and writing postcards for a while. then, despite my too-high-temperature, i decided to go to the isle of wight butterfly world anyway.

i spent some very pleasant - and very hot - hours in the company of butterflies from all over the world: the tailed jay, the blue glassy tiger, the malachite, the common mormon, the tree nymph, various swallowtails, various longwings, the giant orange-tip, the blue morpho, and others.

some of them would sit still for a long time, while others are the fluttery creatures we all know ... the giant blue morpho, which is the size of a small bird and reminds me of something out of some animated film, has bright, iridiscent blue wings. they do sit still - but then they immediately fold up. and on the underside the giant blue morpho is nowhere near as bright. it's brown, with what looks like differently sized eyes. so it's extremely hard to get a picture of it ... i think i managed two slightly blurry ones, that's all. one actually sat ON me for a few heartbeats though!

some were frightfully hard to see - i am sure there were at least twice as many butterflies as i saw. one - not sure which species - seemed to have overdosed on banana: its wing got stuck to the banana slice, and it could not get away anymore. a staff member had to pick it up and put it on a leaf.

there were also rows of chrysalises - bright yellow, bright green, blackish, brownish like leaves ... some of them looked like jewellery! i was hoping to see a butterfly hatch, but no such luck. a green one twitched a couple of times, but i was told they do that occasionally. apparently they even react to being tickled!

of course i took lots of photos, here are the only four i have edited so far:

orange meets pink



black & yellow

i stopped in ryde on the way back, walked around for a while, sat by the beach as it was quite pleasantly warm and sunny, and then went in search of food - which i found in the shape of a pizza at michelangelo's restaurant, just across from the pier. and now, at 10:30, it's time for bed.

song of the day: broken butterflies by lucinda williams.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

english weather & italian food - england day 8

the nasty little buggers inside my chest are still quite well, it seems. better than i am, at any rate. i've still had a bit of a temperature all day, and i tire easily. breathing is harder than usual, and the sounds that emerge from my chest area alternately make me chuckle and worry.

i took a short, very slow walk by the beach before breakfast, and after breakfast went to look at the sunny day from my window seat, watching the tide go out and, later in the day, come back in. i love, love, love the sea!

i edited some of the hundreds of photos i have already taken (probably a blessing in disguise, this sickness, huh?), read some poetry, talked to heinz, dozed off a couple of times. thicker clouds moved in by mid-afternoon. it was quite cosy inside, and i was tired, but nevertheless - sick or not - a girl's got to eat.

i'd been craving italian food for days, so i checked the area for italian restaurants on the www. shanklin! practically just down the road. so i dressed nicely and ventured out. it had been dry since morning, but of course, as soon as i set foot on the street, it started to rain. not very nice, so i didn't walk around much in shanklin, but made for the restaurant (mamma mia, run by actual italians). delicious food (veggie lasagna and a huge serving of garlic bread), and for entertainment i watched two of the young employees putting up the last part of a huge wall poster.

when i made my way back to sandown, it was pouring down ... though it has gotten worse since. makes it all the nicer to be in my neat little room.

i'm glad i decided to change my flight back, because i probably would have passed out from fatigue somewhere along the way from here to vienna tomorrow, what with the luggage and flying and all. better this way, although i am missing out on a long overdue meeting with a former business english class and the psychotherapy fair on saturday.

i hope to feel good enough to go out for a few hours tomorrow. nice as it is in my room, i am beginning to get cabin fever!

song of the day: mamma mia by abba.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

naughty bacteria, the iron lady & a poetry acceptance - england day 7

so, a trip to the sandown health centre this morning for my 09:40 appointment. the verdict: chest infection. nasty little buggers in my chest had to spoil my well-deserved, much-needed holiday! for the second time this year i am on antibiotics. the last time i took antibiotics before 2013 was in the early 90s or even in the late 80s! crazy. apart from antibiotics - rest. i asked about flying out on thursday: not recommended. well.

pharmacy, breakfast, www to do something about my flight. eventually found a rather cheap flight back, cheaper than changing my ticket at any rate! so i will be here till sunday. i hope by the end of the week i will be fit enough to venture out for some hours or i'll get a different kind of fever - cabin fever!

i rested, then went for a 15 minute stroll before getting something to eat. the short walk and a trip to the shop left me more tired than my 14 km walk on saturday! but then, i still have a temperature.

broken sun

the good news of the day is that after a couple of rejection notes, i got a "yes" from red fez magazine, accepting my poem inspired by the element magnesium. i am glad it has found a home - and red fezes look stunning on poems. ;)

of course, the big thing everybody is talking about here is the death of the iron lady, margaret thatcher, who passed yesterday. there are reports of street parties, of people rejoicing in her death. i understand where some of them might be coming from (though i believe many of them are too young to actually remember, or were not even born back then), but i still think it is wrong. (i'd actually like to ask them a simple question: let's say your mother is a controversial public figure. or let's just say the neighbours didn't get on with her. let's say she dies after a long struggle with cancer or a demented old woman. how would you feel if the people in your street had impromptu parties, singing songs about the wicked witch being dead?)

the margaret thatcher who died yesterday was not the margaret thatcher of the 1980s, she was an old and very sick woman. and yes, thatcher steered the country into an entirely wrong direction, from my point of view - and obviously from the POV of many, many british people - but she did not do so single-handedly, and those who have come after her ... well ... they haven't exactly helped, have they, to put things right. thatcher might have started it, she might have messed up a lot of things ... scratch that, she DID mess up a lot of things for a lot of people, but what about her successors? will partying in reaction to the news of an old woman's death change anything, anything at all? 'fraid not. what it would take is for people to get organised instead. have they got that in them?

still, i had to chuckle at the typo on some media website: "margaret thatcher died after a strike". if it was a typo, that is ... it might also have been cleverly sneaked into the article ... ;) and - i don't believe in an afterlife, but ... if there happens to be one, perhaps margaret t. can get stuck in a neverending miners' strike. *g*

and okay, i can't resist choosing the following as my ...

song of the day: stand down margaret by billy bragg.

Monday, April 08, 2013

sweat, sleep & the NHS - england day 6

hot & sweaty night. (not what you think. get your mind out of the gutter!) woke with a temperature of 38°C. not a promising start to the day. a trip to the pharmacy across the street then, to get some paracetamol, cough relief and vicks vapo rub. grocery shopping. i didn't even bother with breakfast, just had a pain au chocolat - the kind of pain that is actually sweet. ;)

back to bed - a little reading, a little lexulous, a little looking out the window, a little listening to my "the name of the wind" audio book. then more sleep. talked to heinz, who i'd asked to contact my GP in vienna. the thing is, in austria, if you get sick during your holidays, it doesn't count as a holiday, because holidays are for recreation, and being ill clearly isn't. so if you get sick on a holiday, you need to see a doctor to get a certificate or confirmation of being ill. my GP told heinz that i needed to see a doctor here in england to get some confirmation to take with me to vienna.

so i rang the sandown NHS health centre. after getting disconnected three times, the lady i finally got on the line wasn't terribly friendly or helpful. she said they could not give me any confirmation or anything, if anyone in the UK got sick during their holidays, it was "just one of these things". sorry. great. i decided to call my GP in vienna. he was surprised at the reaction of the NHS person and said if i could bring a bill or confirmation of an appointment, that would be fine. i tried a different health centre, in shanklin, and they were much friendlier. they said i could get an appointment card, certainly, but i would have to go to the health centre in sandown, because i was staying there, not in shanklin. so, another call (looking forward to my phone bill! not.) to sandown health centre, and fortunately i had a different person on the line. she gave me an appointment for tomorrow morning, to see a nurse. i hope that will get me what i need.

due to the paracetamol, my temperature has gone down, but i feel very tired and weak. i guess the sweating is actually very good, but i am running out of clothes ... i hate being ill away from home, and this certainly isn't the way i pictured my holiday. i'm quite upset and disappointed, and i think i am also unhappy with the way i went about it all ... i should have taken it easier the first couple of days, perhaps found some indoor activities instead. will i never learn?

i am feeling quite anxious this afternoon. i already dread going back to work, especially now that i won't feel rested at all. i am trying to be kind to myself and not to be angry with myself for overdoing it and falling ill, but it's not easy. i sat down to write this blog post, because i was beginning to feel panicky. and that's about the last thing i need.

song of the day: fever by elvis.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

feverish bird-watching - england day 5

i slept until 08:30, with a few minor interruptions. i still had a fever and felt lousy. i dragged my body into the shower, then to the co-op for some groceries and a packet of nurofen. at the supermarket i felt as if my knees would buckle any moment, and i would faint. blah. had a rather small breakfast today, then crawled into bed. found out that nurofen should not be taken while on SSRIs and/or anti-depressants, but i decided to take one anyway. i'm still alive and fairly okay 8 hours later ... but might get something else at the pharmacy tomorrow. just as i was about to put my laptop away, heinz called. it was only a brief talk, as i was almost falling asleep. i slept (and sweated) for three hours. did me good.

i spent the afternoon reading, blogging, sitting by the window wrapped in blankets just looking at the sea, watching people and, especially, birds. it just fascinates me how they ride the wind, the currents, how they do as little as possible, just shift a little, adjust the angle of a wing now and again, move their heads here and there - and i found myself comparing them to kids on swings or water slides or merry-go-rounds or simply spinning, arms outstretched, doing the same thing over and over again, happily squealing with the excitement and joy of it.

my temperature has gone down, though i feel rather tired now, and my eyes are aching. i will try to get as much sleep as possible after my dinner of coleslaw, cheddar, cucumber and bread (guess where i am, lol!).

i have also thought about this fever/cold. i guess it's just another lesson in the ongoing tailor-made-for-michi programme "taking care of myself". i suppose i should have taken it easy and not walked quite so far on days 2 and 3, what with the chill wind and all, and not having walked so much since last autumn. i guess i should have listened to my body on day 2, when it seemed to try to tell me at the arboretum near newport that perhaps it was enough, that perhaps it was okay to take the bus back instead of ploughing ontowards east cowes, no? i remember telling myself that it was fine to go on, the exercise would do me good, make me tired, make me sleep well. but my body had a point. i really need to listen to it much more carefully. on day 3, at bembridge, i did that. i caught the bus back instead of trying to prove something to myself or whoever would care to watch or listen. looking back, i should have done less on day 2. walked along the beach, perhaps. and instead left longer hikes for a little later. i came here to relax, too, and of course, that's the first thing i neglect, because i always want to make the most of everything, forgetting that sometimes less is in fact more, is better for me. so yes, body, i got the message: you, we needed a day of rest. it hit home, and i might not forget so easily, because i really regretted having to stay indoors today, as it was such a lovely, sunny day.

as for the drugs: i still feel dizzy and nauseous in the mornings, though better during the day - not sure if it's because of the exercise and fresh air, or because the side effects are beginning to disappear. my eyes still seem weird at times, but it's better, too.

i'm hoping to get plenty of sleep and feel much better tomorrow! for now, i'll just watch some more birds.

song of the day: i like birds by the eels.

needles, cliffs, the sea, tennyson & half a dead fox - england day 4

what did i wake up to? a blue sky! so i decided not to go to london after all, because i didn't want to risk missing out on a hike on what might possibly be the only sunny day during this holiday. instead, i took the bus to revisit a couple of places i'd been to in the 90s, starting at alum bay.

alum bay is famous for its multi-coloured sands and the fact that, due to geological folding, you can find vertical layers of rock instead of horizontal layers - younger rocks to the west and older rocks to the east. quite stunningly beautiful. until recently i did not know that guglielmo marconi moved here at the end of the 19th century and experimented with radio, communicating with ships offshore.

i did not go down to the beach, however, but instead walked to the needles battery and the needles viewpoint. the needles are three stacks of chalk rising out of the sea just off the shore at the isle's westernmost point. they don't actually look like needles at all, but that is easily explained: there was actually one shaped like a needle, called lot's wife, but it collapsed ages ago. the name, however, stuck. the needles lighthouse is iconic - just walk into any souvenir shop on the island, and it will greet you a hundred times.

queen victoria may have been the most famous resident on the island, but another VIP, so to speak, spent many, many years here: alfred lord tennyson, poet laureate. he owned a house on the island and was a permanent resident for one and a half decades, before he "fled" from the starstruck tourists who kept pestering him, returning to the island during the quiet winters. it was up the hill named after him (tennyson down) that i walked to the memorial erected in his memory, up on a clifftop 147m above the sea, silently reciting lines from his "lady of shalott". i inwardly groaned when some folks up by the memorial were wondering what the "poet, wasn't he" had written and came up with "i wandered lonely as a cloud" ... call me a snob, but - ouch. poor wordsworth, poor tennyson.

it was so beautiful up there, and though it was quite windy at the top, the more than welcome sun made such a difference! i walked on towards freshwater bay, where i stopped for a hot drink, then walked on along the coastal path towards brook. ah, the sea! if there is one thing i would change about my home country it is the fact that it's landlocked. i have always loved the sea. it has never scared me, always drawn me to it. there's something about it that is healing, comforting. i also love the fact that its mood can change like a person's ... from calm and inviting to turmoil, fury and bleakness. it's as if it reflected a person's emotions, inner life.

i walked past tucked away little bays, among gorse bushes, encountered the first two bumblebeesof the season, saw a lot of smiling faces, took plenty of pictures, enjoyed the views all around, and - almost stumbled over half a dead fox. the first thought was "oh, brilliant!" what does that say about me? ha. it looked quite bizarre - only the front half of the animal was left fairly intact ... the rest ... well ... don't ask. i'll post a picture later.

not far from the fox, a bloody wing. above me, seagulls and crows circling and screeching, riding the currents. life and death.

i got to brook chine much sooner than i'd expected, so i went down and sat on the beach for a bit, soaking up some good sea, sun & sand vibes. at the bus stop i stretched out on the bench, face tilted towards the sun, listening to the crows making a racket in the adjacent field, and i could have fallen asleep there, it was so peaceful!

back in sandown, i once again found that nothing beats a long, hot shower after a 14 or 15 km hike. bliss! i felt like dining out, so i put on some decent clothes for a change, no muddy boots or hiking gear. in celebration of me i even put on lipstick! ;) i went to the indian restaurant for some kadai paneer and tandoori roti, and i actually allowed myself the first half pint of cider in ages.

i barely drink alcohol anymore - i went teetotal in 2007, because i did not want to mix my psychotropic drugs with alcohol. i didn't actually mind all that much. when i went off the pills, i found that wine didn't do me good anymore - unfortunately, because i had always enjoyed a glass of shiraz. wines tend to make me anxious and slightly paranoid now. funnily enough, i am alright with some bailey's or even a small caipirinha now and again. anyway, so i thought i'd see how cider agrees with me these days. i spent an hour eating and reading "being alive", being particularly struck by simon armitage's "Not the Furniture Game".

back in my room, i had another video chat with heinz. i had felt hot and my eyes had hurt after my hike, but i'd put it down to the sun, wind and exercise. however, by about 10:30 i was convinced something was wrong. well, 38°C body temperature, that's what was wrong with me. aaaaarghhhh! so, off to bed. i went from burning up to teeth chattering cold until i eventually fell asleep.

here are some photos!

view of the needles

gorse - south england's light

alum bay

freshwater bay

tennyson memorial

half a dead fox

reflective bird

song of the day: the lady of shalott by loreena mckennitt, based on the poem by alfred lord tennyson.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

of marshes, detours & clotted cream tea - england day 3

not so windy in the morning, a hint of sun. i set out towards brading by bus, then attempted to walk towards the coast ... due to a lack of signposts in some crucial spots that was a bit more hit and miss than i'd expected. i walked across marshes, encountered several chattering but shy geese, and emerged on the other side looking like a piggy, at least my feet to well above my ankles did! instead of being some place near bembridge down, i ended up in yaverland, not all that far from sandown, where i'm staying. ah well.

up the first ascent towards culver cliff. bunnies galore, snow flurries again, and the wind had picked up, too. and then, of course, the path was closed. i was greeted by a red DO NOT ENTER sign. sigh. back again. diversion number 1. along the road, too, and no idea how long it would take. but i marched on. eventually ended up back on the coastal path. i enjoyed the views as i hiked on uphill towards culver cliff and the earl of yarborough monument. up there the wind was definitely an issue, so i had a hot drink before descending towards whitecliff bay. fields, some wooded areas - those were nice, as they meant shelter from the wind. happy hiker girl, until ... diversion number 2. path closed again. there had been no notice of that part being closed back at yaverland, or i would have found some other walking tour. double sigh.

again, country roads, then across the village, on to foreland, by the sea. there the wind jumped at me like some icy beast that wouldn't let go of me again. as there was no way i would have made it all the way to ryde as planned, and i dreaded more detours, i ventured to the nearest bus stop - and i was really lucky in that the bus showed up about three minutes later. back to sandown then. with all the detours, i have no ideas how many kilometres i walked, but certainly no less than 13.

which meant, i really deserved some clotted cream tea, right? right. after a stop at the co-op, i sat happily munching my scone with cream and strawberry jam - and actually drinking tea the english way! it had been my hot drink of choice for many, many years, until i heard that caffeine was not good for me when i started having panic attacks in 2007. so i went cold turkey back then and didn't drink any tea with milk for nearly five and a half years. and i'm only having a few cuppas while here in england. because, well, it's all part of the experience, eh?

here's a pic of dotty trying to pinch my scone:.

dotty-d cream tea ;)

speaking of the UK - there are some things i really love about it:

so many houses have names here. that's so neat. if i had a house in austria, i'd name it, too.

even in the new millennium, people still queue up. i often wish austrians had more of a queuing culture - especially at tichy's ice cream shop on a hot summer day. ;)

passengers thank the bus driver when getting off the bus. and the bus drivers thank the passengers.

friendly and helpful bus drivers who shout out your stop.

salt & vinegar crisps. to. die. for.

strongbow cider.

original source tea tree & mint shower gel

galaxy bars.

clotted cream teas.

the light.

but this time around i am also shocked at the number of people who are not only badly / inappropriately, but also shabbily dressed: faded colours; jumpers that have gone baggy with age, overstretched wristbands; tracksuits that have seen much better days; worn-out trainers, or even only slippers that look like they were intended for indoors. along with that goes unwashed hair and a general impression of negligence. i'm not saying this does not exist in austria, but it really strikes me here this year. sign of the times, i suppose.

some photos:

two geese

low tide

view of sandown bay

knock knock! - who's there?


blackbird scanning the sky for sun?

song of the day: on my own from "les misérables" by original london cast.

snow flurries & seven minutes of sunshine - england day 2

it looked rather promising in the morning - but sometimes promises are broken. the weather is topic number 1 here, too. i believe i've spoken to about two dozens strangers about the weather - at bus stops, in shops, while out walking ...

and out walking, i was. after a hearty breakfast i took a bus to newport, and on to carisbrooke, where i checked out the churchyard of st mary's and then walked up to the castle, but didn't feel like going in (for nearly 8 pounds). i had printed out one of the walking tours from the official isle of wight website, the champions & churchyards trail. it took me around carisbrooke, newport, and then along the river medina.

my companion dotty was shocked by the behaviour of her british relatives at carisbrooke pond - they bit her in the beak! ;) the swans and ducks all seemed to want feeding, but i had absolutely nothing on me that's part of swan/duck diets ... along the trail i came across some seriously old trees, among them an impressive cedar and a magnificent weeping willow. it was windy again, with snow flurries throughout the day, though it also often looked as if the sun would beat the clouds, but it only did for less than ten minutes, while i was in newport. of course i couldn't pass by waterstones ... and i managed to only buy ONE book! mainly because i only had my camera bag with me. ;) it's "being alive", the poetry anthology edited by neil astley.

once i'd reached the river medina/ arboretum i was quite determined not to return to sandown just yet, so i walked on. eventually, i met a woman walking her dog, and i asked her how far it was to some bus stop. she suggested walking on to east cowes - 30-40 minutes. it got seriously chilly then down by the water, and the sun was well hidden now behind thick layers of clouds. even the birds looked uncomfortable. nevertheless, some people were wading to their rowboats ... i felt my toes freezing even only looking at them!

on the road towards civilisation i saw a dead squirrel ... interesting, in a way. it looked almost intact except for a small hole in its belly, through which some guts were spilling, and the broken eye and a little blood around the mouth. i took some pictures of its tiny paws that looked as if it were trying to ward off whatever was coming its way, and the face.

i just missed the bus back to sandown by about 15 seconds. so i pushed on. the last bit was a drag, and i actually had to run to make it to the bus into newport. now that felt like some major achievement after my approx. 12 km hike! i had to hang around the bus station for a while, but made it back to sandown tired, hungry, and a bit cold. and of course an indian curry is one good way of warming up a girl!

highlights of the day:

the old woman at the bus stop who let a strange dog lick all over her face and then moved away, disgusted, from the young men standing about a metre from her, smoking: "nothing worse than having smoke blown your way!" um, disagree. ;)

the girl on the bus who kept coughing into her friend's face (until her friend moved to another seat).

the few minutes of pure sunshine.

the dead squirrel. (i know that sounds strange.)

feeling tired but very much alive.

i don't have many photos of day day 2 yet, but here are some:

flawed daffodil


cleanly swan

dotty meets the swans

leafy greens

my red-breasted model


song of the day: seven seas by echo & the bunnymen.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

from snow to sea - england day 1

long day yesterday: it began in my bed at 04:00 am. it ended around 22:30 local time in room 5, montpelier guesthouse, sandown, isle of wight, england. it was snowing like mad when i left vienna. the pilot made "quote of the day" when he - a german - said: "we have to remove the plane ... uh, from the snow." not entirely unlikely in this neverending winter, actually. i'd never been inside a plane that needed to have snow removed. interesting. it looked as if they were washing blood off the roof ... some chemical, i suppose.

frankfurt airport. i had not been there in ages. the wrong gate was printed on my boarding card - the same gate that was announced on the "connecting flights" screen as i got off the plane! tracking down some staff wasn't as easy as i'd expected, but i made it to the right gate in time. on to london gatwick. cornish pasty while waiting for my train. portsmouth, ferry across to ryde, cute little island train to sandown station. plenty of helping hands along the way, my bag was too heavy (again). steve, the owner of the guesthouse, picked me up. i settled into my little room with its stunning view of the pier and the sea. what it must be like on a bright sunny day - the kind of day i'd hoped for. for the first time in my life english weather has really let me down. steve says this time last year people were hanging out on the beach in shorts and t-shirts ... time travel would be nice sometimes!

but ... overcast skies and the chill wind couldn't stop me from taking a walk along the beach / seafront towards shanklin. i was very glad i'd brought my warm hat and my gloves, but regretted not taking my thermal tights. seriously, that wind was freezing! i took lots of pictures of cabins and birds riding the wind, it was definitely a good idea to finally buy that 70-300 mm lens before this trip! i took the coastal path (clifftop walk) back to sandown, stopping for a hot chocolate along the way. frozen, but i felt very much alive.

of course i had to have fish & chips, vinegar and all. yay! and heinz ketchup, so that in a way my dear man was with me. ;)

i was exhausted, but couldn't sleep for a long time, because i was soooo cold! i don't remember any dreams, so i won't be able to find out if they come true or not. maybe tonight.

here are a few pictures of day 1, some featuring my travel companion dotty.

fish & chips with dotty

dotty enjoys hot choc


blue & yellow

riding the wind


wild water

song of the day: black by danger mouse & daniele luppi feat. norah jones.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

pills, pains, poetry & pictures

i've been on the full dose of 20 mg citalopram and 150 mg trittico retard for two days now. i haven't had any more of those early mini migraine attacks, but there is still plenty of nausea and dizziness, especially after getting up, no matter what time it is. i feel leaden, very tired and subdued in the mornings, as if i were wading through molasses or some such. i sleep well, but after taking my trittico ret. i still need an hour or so before i fall asleep. today i set my alarm for 07:15, got up about 25 minutes later, the earliest (by between one hour and six hours) in quite a while, and now, at 09:20 i still have problems keeping my eyes open, and i feel as if i'd just crawled out of bed after a particularly late night. my eyes, now, they still feel weird. i am no longer constantly conscious of them, but still frequently. and there are times, like this morning, when it's as if i were looking through mist or a dirty window (and no, it's not my glasses!). very unpleasant, that. i am trying not to think about it too much, but if this doesn't change (the tiredness, the problems with my eyes), how will i ever manage to get up at 06:20 and be fit for work at 08:00? they might as well employ a zombie!

but now, of course, i am on holiday! i am leaving for the isle of wight tomorrow - the plane leaves at 06:20. don't ask me how i will go about staying awake long enough to get up, let alone get ready! the neighbours might object to blaring music at 04:15 a.m. ... also, i may have been a tad optimistic about england in april. but from my experience it had always been much nicer there than here around easter. this year, however, most of europe seems to still be firmly in the grip of winter. more snow is on its way to vienna, looks like i will be leaving home in subzero C temperatures! at least i take it for granted that the south of england will be warmer than THAT! i just hope it will be dry. and if not, well, perhaps i should just take another plane to somewhere warm once i arrive at gatwick ....

the good news of the day are mostly poetry-related:

stone highway review has recently accepted a previously published poem (a rare occurence), one that has always been very special to me, "Open Letter to a Poet". it's very personal, and i remember reading it at vienna lit festival in 2008. it was perfect, i think you really would have heard a pin drop, the audience was so attentive - i really "had" them.

yesterday susan yount of arsenic lobster poetry journal told me i was top of her list of nominations for best new poets 2013, asking me if i qualified - and i do. so, i am now a best new poets 2013 nominee! i am very grateful to susan for her support, and whatever comes of this, i am honoured to have been nominated!

i've arranged to meet a dear old friend - my girl in istanbul, özge - in passau later this month, and i'm looking forward to that.

i've also finally edited the photos taken in venice in november 2011, my 40th birthday mini-break! editing pictures seems to be a perfect task for me at the moment, keeps me focused, and my hands busy. here are a couple of pictures, you can find more over on flickr.

ghost gondola

ghostly sun


winter cabins

reverence (s. diaghilev's grave)



feline-human contact

a different kind of tricolore

h&m in burano

candy colours & ubiquitous tower

tabletop bird

song of the day: wasteland by woodkid.