Tag Archives: Friendship

Today’s the Day

Granny on computer

Procrastination – well, it’s alive and well here in Wellington New Zealand.

Every day since I wrote the blog on Continuing the story on 23 March I have planned to live up to the promise.  Good intentions but so much gets in the way.  So two weeks later I am continuing the story.

You will recall that we left our ladies in confusion following the visit of Thomas Anthony William Fotheringham known as Billy AKA the Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat.  The fellow had arrived at Maisie’s door unannounced a couple of days ago and then had returned at an agreed time, to present Maisie with the claim that he was related to her husband.

So to continue…

As the three friends were quietly contemplating what he had said., the door to the room burst open and there stood Maisie’s daughter Julia.  Knowing her and how she acted, Juliet and Imogen decided to leave and decided they would catch up by telephone later in the day.

“Whatever have you been up to now, Mother?” demanded Julia in that voice so like Reggie’s.  “Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to hear that one’s mother had been away from home for two nights and nobody knew where?”  Oh, how truly tedious her daughter was, thought Maisie.

“What have you heard that has upset you so much?” enquired Maisie, making no attempt to answer her daughter’s questions.

“Oh Mother,” said Julia.  “I do wish you would act responsibly and see rather less of that Juliet Drummond who is such a bad influence on you.”

Julia had never really liked her mother’s close friend Lady Juliet Drummond, after whom she had been named.  Julia being quite a different person and having a totally different personality to her mother, found nothing attractive about her mother’s closest friend.

She discoursed at length about how unseemly it was for these two women to have been missing over two nights.  Gossip as to what they had been up to was rife and Julia felt strongly that any hint of scandal, should it fall upon her mother, should not be allowed to fall upon her.  To Julia, being in the right ethically and morally was paramount.  Any hint of impropriety was abhorrent to her.

Oh, she liked her mother well enough but she considered her weak and easily led.  It was to her father that she was most drawn.  She shared his puritanical outlook on life.  She looked up to him as a paragon of virtue and hoped that her betrothed, The Hon Toby Grimshaw, would turn out to be as upright as he.

She strongly disapproved of the new trend of women smoking and drinking cocktails in public.  She thought that once a lady was married she should be content to remain at home, running her household so that her husband and children would be totally comfortable in their environment.

Julia was aware that her mother smoked both in public and at home and also drank cocktails every day and was quite convinced that her mother would do neither without the unsavoury influence of Lady Juliet.  She also knew of course, that Juliet had been her mother’s friend and confidant for many years, ever since they had met at school and that nothing would break this friendship.

“You haven’t answered my question” she railed at her mother.  Whatever could you have been doing that you can’t even tell me?  And have you told Father yet?”

Her daughter was unaware that Reggie had moved out to the house in town, so of course, Maisie hadn’t had the opportunity to tell him of her adventures,  She knew that he would be strongly disapproving of her having been to the cinema without a proper escort.  And the only proper escort in his considered opinion would have been himself or one of his brothers.  And she knew how he would react to the rest of those adventures, with supreme disapproval.

So “No I haven’t had the chance to discuss it with your father yet.” She told her irate daughter.  “He has been in town for a few days, but I shall, of course, do so at the first opportunity.”

When Julia looked as if she would then burst into questions about opportunities, Maisie thought it time to change the subject.  She and Reggie hadn’t discussed the issue of telling their offspring about the separation.

In Maisie’s estimation, Julia had always been a difficult child and as she grew up her proselytizing became more marked and to Maisie, very infuriating.  Just how she would react to the news was something Maisie dreaded to even think about.

“Now let’s talk about your engagement and the plans for the wedding, shall we?” asked Maisie.  There followed a pleasant 30 minutes when mother and daughter discussed these plans.  And no thank you, Julia declined the offer of a cocktail when her mother asked Jackson to bring her a Gin and tonic.

And Maisie had more important things to worry about than wedding plans.  She knew her overbearing daughter would arrange everything with little or no input from or discussion with her mother.  But how and when would she tell Reggie about Billy Fotheringham and his claims of relationship?

Friendship

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another
“What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

This was posted by Darlene Foster on her Facebook page yesterday.  I have known and used this quote for many years.  And recently I have been thinking long and hard on the power of friendship.

I have waxed lyrical (well, I hope t was lyrical) about all the help my friends gave me last year when I was incapacitated.  Friends who offered physical help, driving, shopping, cooking but also the friends and family around the world including the many I now have through our blogging community who offered support.

We are so lucky in this age of technology where we can communicate instantly by email, messages or my favourite, Skype.  In fact, I have a regular Skype call with Chris at Bridges Burning and now we have arranged that on our next call Joss at The Wise Woman in Me will join us.  How great is that!

And then I looked on Goodreads to see what other words of wisdom Lewis had shared and I came upon two more

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….
It has no survival value;
rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

And I think my favourite is

“What draws people to be friends
is that they see the same truth.
They share it.”

So there you have my thoughts for today.  Thinking of the many friends I have both physically in Real Life and in the Blogosphere.  Thank you all for caring and sharing.

And now, as we haven’t seen this for a while, I offer you my waterfall.  The photo was taken at McLaren Falls, Tauranga several years ago but I still love it.

Waterfall

And in case you are interested in my weather comments.  Today there is no rain, the sun peeked through for a very short time and there is no wind.  Maybe the summer isn’t lost; it’s only been resting.

MIA (Missing In Auckland)

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It was a beautiful night for an open air show.  We arrived early and sat in the sunshine with a glass of wine and a platter of finger food.  And then into the theatre.  This took me back to a visit to The Globe in London several years ago.  It felt just the same. Where we were seated was covered but those standing in the area immediately  in front of the stage in the pit, (The Groundlings) were not.

This was the first night of the Pop Up Globe Season 2016 and the first performance was Romeo and Juliet as we have never seen it performed before.  Such enthusiasm that I am sure even William S himself would have been impressed. Each of the actors was well cast.  Of corse, in true tradition, there were no microphones but we had no trouble hearing the well enunciated words from the cast.

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It was a truly magical pairing of actors as the young lovers.  Juliet was played by Christel Chapman and Jonathan Tynan-Moss was Romeo. Each was so well suited to their role and they really had us believing that what we were seeing and hearing on that fantastic stage, was happening in real life.  And the magic wasn’t restricted to them.

We are told the play is “Performed by a cast of professional actors brought together into a new, specially-formed ensemble repertory company and working with world experts to bring you the authentic shock of the old: the effect of Shakespeare’s plays performed in the space for which they were written.” and

“Pop-up Globe Auckland is a full-scale working temporary replica of the second Globe Theatre originally built by Shakespeare and his company in 1614, the result of groundbreaking international academic research. With a steel frame ‘skinned’ in plywood the Pop-up Globe fuses cutting-edge scaffold technology with 400-year-old designs and superb contemporary performances to create an immersive 360 degree experience unlike any other.”

At the end of the performance, the actors all sang and danced around the stage, obviously enjoying themselves as much as the audience.

In all, a great experience and I thank my very generous friend for the gift of a night of Shakespeare.

The next day I returned to Wellington and my friend and our hostess, enjoyed Twelfth Night that evening.  Another great performance from all accounts.

Then on Sunday I went to the airport to meet the friend in whose house I lived after leaving the house I shared with The Architect and while I was having this small apartment spruced up.  He is the brother in law of The Architect and has been a true friend to me.

From the airport I took him to his father’s house.  Father is 100 years old and always greets me as if I were one of his family.  He is an amazing old man who still lives alone in his own house .  He has a series of carers who come in to make food, clean the house etc but he is absolutely capable of looking after his personal needs himself. He is an avid gardener and takes every opportunity to go out and pull weeds or whatever small job needs attention.

And wonder of wonders, on Monday morning the furniture arrived.

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Waiting to find a real home

So yesterday was spent moving furniture around in this small living room.  And now that I have the furniture, I am pleased with it. Just have to decide where to place it and what else will have to go.

And my generous friend who took me to Auckland for the show, and whom I help on occasions with her Real Estate business, has taken a quick trip “across the ditch” to Sydney for a couple of days.  So today I acted as her gopher, delivering contracts and brochures for her.

So apologies to my Daily Blogging Buddies.  I have been missing for the past few days.

And for no reason other than it is one of my favourite quotes, I give you

“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine,
freedom, and a little flower.”

Hans Christian Andersen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Separate Ways

 

Sandy was relieved when she received the response from Barbara. She really did want to speak to her and to find out more about her.

They agreed to meet on Saturday at the same café as before, which was the first time that Barbara could be there. So they both had several days to wait before the meeting.

For Sandy it was a time of reflection. She thought about her past and about the child that she had adopted. She thought of all the reasons she had given herself for not following up on that.

She was sure the child was in a good family; the child would be disturbed if she found that her birth mother was looking for her; Ian and Val and the boys lives would be disturbed and if the child was not in a good family, what could she do about it and on and on. Many times over the years she had told herself these reasons for not seeking out her daughter or her whereabouts.

But she knew that the real reason she hadn’t tried to find her daughter was because she was afraid. Afraid that if she did see her, if they did meet she would regret her decision about the adoption.  

She never discussed this with Greg or anyone else. Greg knew about the child but never once had he questioned her about whether she would try to find the child. And now she found that the child had been searching for her.

Now, all the hurts and secrets and questions she had hidden from herself were brought out into the open. And she didn’t know how to cope.

*******

Meantime, Barbara was also reflecting on what she had done and why. She knew that she had envied the other Barbara the life she had. Her own life had not been good, a series of foster homes one after the other and at none of them did she really fit in or feel loved. She left to make her own way as soon as she could.

And now, she had to face up to the hurt she had caused Sandy in opening up the old wounds and bringing her secrets out into the open. How would she convince Sandy that she meant no harm? She just hadn’t considered the ramifications of her actions.

She spent the next few days berating herself for being selfish and thinking only of herself. 

******

So both women were a little apprehensive at the forthcoming meeting.

Barbara was there first and she was sitting waiting when Sandy appeared. She was heartened by the fact that Sandy smiled and waved her hand when she saw her. So, Barbara thought, this isn’t going to be a confrontation.

Sandy came over and sat down at the table with Barbara. They ordered and then each looked at the other to see who was going to start the conversation. Barbara got in first “I’m really sorry for deceiving you Sandy. I didn’t think of the effect it would have on you. So I apologise. And if you tell me to go, I shall just get up and leave.” With which she stood and picked up her bag.

“No, no. Please sit down again. “Said Sandy. “We can talk this through. There has been no real harm done. And probably it was time for the secret about Barbara to come to light. It certainly is something I should have told my son about years ago.

You knew my daughter and I didn’t so we can maybe talk a little about her and her life. But first please tell me about you.”

So Barbara spent some time telling Sandy about the orphanage and the foster homes. She did tell her how unhappy she’d been as a teenager but she didn’t tell her why. Nor did she tell her how many times she had run away and each time she was brought back she was placed in a different foster home.

She told her how she finally left home to make her own life. She had taken a series of jobs working in offices until eventually she had ended up working in the same solicitors’ office as the other Barbara.

She told Sandy how they became friends, initially sharing their lunches and then going places after work together. She told how she had no experience of theatre, music or any of the arts and Barbara had introduced her to these. They had little money so they spent time at the museum or art galleries where entry was free. And on the occasions that they went to the theatre they bought the cheapest seats.

Sandy could tell from the tone and the lightness in her voice that she really loved the other Barbara as a surrogate sister, and had enjoyed the time they spent together. Sandy was pleased that her daughter and this Barbara had each other as friends.

Once Barbara had finished they sat in silence for a few minutes.

“I think I understand why you tried to impersonate Barbara” Sandy said. “And I accept that you didn’t intend any harm. We can get over that. As I said it was probably time for that particular skeleton to come out of the closet. “

She looked thoughtful and then said “I don’t know if you would like this idea but I suggest that we tell the others that you made a mistake. You are not my daughter after all. We can meet from time to time and you can tell me more about Barbara.

I do know that she was tragically killed with her parents in a car crash. Maybe later on, I might want to look up her relatives but not for some time. I have a lot to digest as it is.”

She looked at Barbara who was looking pensive. “Do you really mean that?” she asked. “I would so like to keep in touch with you. But what will you tell Cathy, your husband and your son? How will they react?”

“Well Cathy has met you and Greg found out that you are not my daughter. Greg might take some convincing that it’s all right for us to keep in touch but both he and Cathy are good people who want to see me happy. The only reason they each made enquiries about you is because of that. So I’m sure all will be well.

As far as my son is concerned, well that’s a different matter. He is unhappy that I didn’t tell him about the adoption and I don’t think I can lie to him about you. I think I will tell him the truth. I will follow up the phone call with a letter in which I can put my feelings about you and about why I think we should keep in touch.”

They both thought they had said enough for this time and decided that they would meet again the following Saturday. Sandy was concerned that Barbara was going home to be on her own, but she felt happier when Barbara told her she was meeting a young man later.

So with that, the two women picked up their bags and with a brief hug, went their separate ways.

“Friendship,” said Christopher Robin, “is a very comforting thing to have.”
― A A Milne

To be continued….

 

Another Day, Another Lunch, Another Pool

The third and final day of this holiday weekend found me driving over the Rimutaka Hill with a friend for lunch at yet another friend’s house.  What a social butterfly I am becoming!

The sun was shining brightly when we left but before we reached the Hill the weather became overcast and really looked as if it would rain.

Rimutaka Hill Road

The Rimutakas Range is one of several mountain ranges in the North Island of New Zealand that form a ridge running parallel with the east coast between East Cape and Wellington.  The narrow and winding State Highway 2 crosses the ridge from the Hutt Valley** to Featherston. At the summit is a lookout point where there was a cafe, but after disputes over toilets and land ownership between the Greater Wellington Regional Council and a series of tenants the building sat empty and was severely damaged by fire in April 2009 and later was demolished.

So we wound our way over The Hill with the steep drop on our left (our driving side) and as always we were  glad to reach the summit and to know we are on the way down.  The steep drop is still there on our left but somehow going downhill is not as scary.  Of course, the same thing happens on the way home but this time the drop is someone else’s problem.

 

Greytown

Our destination was Greytown, best known for its collection of beautifully restored Victorian buildings and boutique shops, one of the most complete collections in the entire country. The main street lined with trees and impressive examples of colonial architecture is also home to a wide selection of cafes and restaurants. For those in the mood to shop, the quirky local stores and designer boutiques feature everything from jewellery to gourmet chocolates and antiques.

Westwood

And then to the house.  

Another day, another pool, another lunch.  Of course, my friend, the owner of the house, greeted us warmly and as always, made us feel very welcome.  This friend established a bed and breakfast operation in the house when her husband died very suddenly several years ago.  Westwood is a boutique, thriving operation.

Lunch was a beautiful smoked chicken salad eaten beside the pool, complemented with a bottle of Moet provided by the friend who accompanied me today.  And as I wasn’t driving, I had a glass or two.

How lucky I am to have the opportunity to visit friends and family who live quite close but in different parts of the Wellington Region. 

“Friendship is a rainbow between two hearts”
Judith Baxter, Mother, Blogger, Friend
1938-

** Note – The Hutt Valley is where I used to live with The Architect. It’s approximately 37km NE of Wellington City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note – The Hutt Valley was where I used to live with The Architect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Strength to Strength

“You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity”
You Needed Me sung by Anne Murray

Today’s post is all about me.  I heard Anne Murray singing this song on the radio and these four lines jumped out at me.

Family, friends both in the real world and in the blogosphere have given me the “strength to stand alone again” after the sudden death of the Architect.  So thank you all.

Have you read Sara Henderson’s “From Strength to Strength”?  It and the follow up “The Strength in Us All” were given to me  by my sn on his father’s sudden death some 18 years ago  

Sarah tells of her early marriage to a gung-ho American entrepreneur in the 1950’s, his infidelities in Hong Kong in the 1960’s, and finally, upon her husband’s early death, discovering he has left her virtually bankrupt on a million acre property in the Australian outback with 3 young daughters to raise alone. The book delves into her struggles to prevent the bank foreclosing, but much more than that, it tells the story of one woman’s courage and will to go on.  So with this example I picked myself up and went on with life.  And I’m doing so again now.

If you haven’t read these books I suggest you get copies.  Both are available at Amazon in print and kindle form.  Enjoy.

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel,
stride down there and light the
bloody thing yourself.”
Sara Henderson

Thanks

You Are Beautiful

In Other Words

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful
than the belief that she is beautiful.”
Sofia Loren

This is the challenge this week from In Other Words

Use the quote or the author as inspiration;
post a story…fiction or non-fiction, a poem, a commentary, opinion or a picture.
Add your post’s link to, In Other Words.
Somewhere in your post add a link back here.
The link is open from Wednesday until the following Tuesday.

Thank you Patricia at patriciasplace  for bringing us this quote as our Wednesday challenge.  The Wednesday challenge is an event open to all fellow bloggers.  Check it out.

——–

“You are beautiful,” he said, holding her gently and kissing her face where her tears fell freely.

“How could this be?” She asked herself. “How could I be this lucky again? To meet somebody when I’m in my 70s and find love again?”

During the years following the death of her husband, she had made a life for herself but had quite convinced herself that she would continue the rest of her life alone. Oh she had plenty of friends with whom to go to the movies, lunch or dinner, the theatre, museums etc but always she went home alone to her small dog sitting on the window seat, waiting patiently for her return.

And now she had reconnected with a man whom she had known many years ago and he thought her beautiful.

Did he have rose coloured spectacles or was it wishful thinking on both their parts? They had enjoyed meeting for lunch and/or dinner over the past couple of months since they reconnected but she thought they were friends. His wife of many years had been dead only a couple of years. But here he was telling her she was beautiful not only to look at but inside too. He loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Could this work at their age? Were they each too settled in their particular ways to make room for a new love? And how would they merge the two families? Would their children accept them? So many unanswered questions but the main and most important one was did she love him and could she imagine spending the rest of her life with him?

She didn’t have to ponder the question for long. They had a history together (albeit a working relationship), they liked the same things – music, theatre, old buildings (he was an architect) travel, reading – oh so many interests in common. And they had many friends in common. Although this was the Capital City it was quite small so this was not unexpected. But then she realised that over the past months she had come to love this man. So very different in all ways from her late husband but this was to be expected and she wasn’t looking for somebody to replace him. This was a new and different love. Not the heady love of youth but the mature love of two older people.

He waited for her answer. She gave it to him with a smile on her lips. “Oh yes, I will come and live with you and we will grow old together” she said as he wiped the tears of joy from her face.

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Six Word Saturday and Five Day Challenge Day 3

Today I am covering two things – Six Word Saturday and Day 3 of Five Day Challenge,  So here goes.


  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.
And the Five Day Challenge is

Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

A SWEET TREAT FOR THE ARCHITECT

Choc cake

I had lunch yesterday with two friends, leaving the Architect to fend for himself.  Well of course, he is perfectly capable of doing so.

It was a lovely lunch in a newly opened restaurant in town.  The owner is Louis Sergeant a French-trained Chef de Pâtisserie born in Lille, Northern France.  So aside from delicious savoury dishes there is an array of sweets to satisfy the most sweet-toothed among us.

I had the Caesar Salad which was perfect while my two companions each settled for the tomato Tarte Tatin.   They both said how much they enjoyed it.

Then on the way out of the restaurant I stopped to look at the goodies on display.  There were so many to choose from but I settled on the chocolate mousse with salted caramel.  I can vouch for the fact that it was delicious as my generous friend agreed to share it with me.

Thanks once again  to Cat at caterel  for setting me this challenge. She says nice things about me so do go over to see what she is up to.
Today I nominate Darlene at Darlene Foster’s Blog.  She is a talented and published author and I am sure you will be interested to read of her settling into her new life in Spain.

Sharing

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness;
it has no taste.”
Charlotte Bronte

Sharing with seagulls

Sharing with seagulls

Awake and  sharing

  • The early sunshine peeping around the curtains
  • That comfortable feeling of knowing you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right person
  • An early morning walk along the beach to get the weekend newspapers
  •  The almost deserted beach with four seagulls
  • The ocean with four surfers
  • The holiday feel in the air – Waitangi Day weekend*
  • The buzz as I pass the surf club, its members getting ready for competition
  • The smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the barbecue when I return from my walk
  • Conversation and jokes with friends visiting for the weekend
  • Memories of my sister who visited from London 12 months ago and

SHARING our corner of Paradise with my friends in the blogging world.  Wish you could all be here with us to share.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi

* Waitangi Day held each day on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, on that date in 1840.

Writing 101: Your Voice Will Find You

This is the assignment I have been putting off because I really don’t know what I am being asked to do.  The assignment from October 2 is:

Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

How does that make you feel?

Today’s twist: While writing this post, focus again on your own voice. Pay attention to your word choice, tone, and rhythm. Read each sentence aloud multiple times, making edits as you read through. Before you hit “Publish,” read your entire piece out loud to ensure it sounds like you.

The plaque at the entrance to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum

The plaque at the entrance to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice

For several months I didn’t write a post.  As John Lennon said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”  But what exciting and fun filled months they were.

I did pen a post when I was in Italy. We had been to Venice and were looking forward to going to Spain with our Italian friends who live in Como.  We started in Madrid and just happened to be there when the two local soccer teams played each other in the  football Champions League semi final.  Real Madrid won but we were assured by almost everyone we met that the other team Atletico de Madrid was the better team and should have won. Anyway, the excitement was felt by all even those of us who are not soccer fanatics.  I made the mistake of buying a Real Madrid scarf when our guide took us to see the stadium – my son quickly put me right on that score;  but my soccer mad grandson graciously accepted the scarf on our return to NZ.

Then the next day we went to Toledo a fantastic town built on several levels and dating back to Roman times.  We saw mosques, churches and synagogues and were told that the three cultures lived peaceably side by side for many centuries.  We wondered aloud what has happened to our world to make this impossible today.  Are we all too caught up in ourselves to consider the next person?  Is it possible to return to those more peaceful times or is it too late?

We went to the Prado museum and saw a wonderful display of modern and ancient art.  Here we saw the Hieronymus Bosch “The Garden of Earthly Delights” – truly amazing.  This is a tryptich with so much in it that I stood transfixed until my companions called to move me on to the other fantastic paintings housed in the   I hadn’t heard of Hieronymus Bosch until I started reading the books by Michael Connelly with Harry Bosch as his protagonist.  Good reads by the way.

We saw many other paintings including Diego Velázquez’ ‘ “The Family” that I had seen shown in books but here was the original.  Obviously, it was so much better than any reproduction I had seen.  I now have a mouse pad at the side of the computer showing The Family.

After lunch we went to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which is very close to the Prado..  More art. We were told that this was the collection of the Baron’s wife.  With over 1,600 paintings the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection was once the second largest private collection in the world after the British Royal Collection.  Here was a dazzling display of Old Masters, 14th and 15th centuries Italian, Flemish and Dutch painters, and among other things  a collection of North American art from the 18th and 19th centuries.  This last we were told is unique in European Art Galleries.

We spent several hours there and I could have stayed all day.  I wanted to return but we had only a few days in Madrid. We really enjoyed our time in Madrid.

 The next stop was Seville. We took a boat ride on the river on a lovely spring evening and oohed at the sights. One afternoon we  spent several hours  wandering around the old part of the city, getting lost and found again.  We came across an old market where all sorts of fresh food was on sale and we stopped for coffee and chocolate cake at a very small bar inside the market.  The owner came and insisted that my partner try a Spanish wine from a local winery and I had to try Manzanilla (?).  Very pleasant half hour was spent there talking with the owner and his son.

We went to Cordoba and again marvelled at a town that had been in existence since pre-Roman times.  And again we saw how the three cultures managed to live side by side in peace and harmony.

Then Granada which has to be my favourite of the cities we had visited in Spain.  Of course we had to visit the Alhambra – a 3 hour walking trip that wasn’t nearly long enough to see everything.  We managed to get left behind the group as my companion was busy doing what he does on holiday, taking pictures.  Never mind we managed to connect with the bus before it took off for the city again.

And then when our friends had to go home, we left for Barcelona.  But this has to have a post to itself.  The buildings, the food, the people all were exceptional.