Saturday, 9 July 2005

Old News - Newsletter July 2005

First of all, I am fine, I was not in London during the bombings. It is very upsetting, but could have been worse I suppose. In fact it is surprising how swiftly people have shrugged it off and gone back to normal – the Brits are very good at enduring hardship!

A very boring email from me this time, as I have only been overseas once! I have to say though - if you are only going to go to one place then Venice should be it ;-). What a gorgeous city. K and I went for a long weekend at the beginning of June, and were lucky with the weather – it was well into the 30s every day, but had been cool up until then so the canals did not smell at all.

Venice is made up of little islands in a lagoon which have been linked up over centuries by manmade “landfill” comprising layers of tree trunks and stone, leaving canals in between. There are no roads for cars, bicycles are illegal, and everything is transported by boat or on foot. It makes for a very intimate and fascinating place, with high buildings looming over tiny alleyways and narrow canals, and little bridges enticing you to explore. Sadly it is falling into disrepair, as sea levels are rising and the city is subsiding, and will probably not be around for that much longer. Plaster is eroding and crumbling as repeated floods take their toll, but every windowsill is a blaze of colour and jewel-like shops of exotic goods abound. It is a curious juxtaposition of wealth and decay.

We stayed in a lovely hotel with an enclosed shady courtyard with fountain, where you could recharge after a day of tourism before heading out again for dinner. We were close to the Grand Canal, but far enough away to be quiet. The weekend is now a blur of boats, gondolas, churches, palaces and piazzas, but we also took plenty of time out to sip wine in canal side cafes and indulged in plenty of ice-cream!

I strongly recommend Venice, although take lots of money – it is the most expensive destination I have been to!

Hmm, what else? I took part in a charity walk (pub crawl) for Starfish again this year (thanks to those who sponsored me). We had more girls taking part this year, a longer distance and fewer pubs. Although we raised around £2000 (R25000), which is excellent, it wasn’t as much fun as last year… I’m not sure I’ll do it again.

The dancing continues. K and I went along to a “dips and drops” workshop a few weeks ago which was excellent. 4 hours of taking my entire bodyweight on one bent leg or the other, or being lowered to the floor by my arms and having to pull back up again! By the end of the day I had stiffened up so badly that I could barely get down a flight of stairs, and it took days to ease up! Hilarious fun though.

We had our dancing 1940s Ball this past weekend, which was brilliant! Everyone made an effort to find costumes and get their hair done, and the venue was done up with flags, camo netting and sandbags. There was a live big band playing period dance music, and a two of the top UK dance couples gave us lessons and a demonstration. It wasn’t just a jive/ceroc do, there were ballroom and lindy-hop dancers there too, which made it a little hard to just ask a stranger to dance as usual, because you had no idea what you’d find yourself doing! K and I hired old-fashioned dresses, and my hairdresser had a ball with my hair. We “scrub up nicely” as one chap put it! Most of the guys were in uniform (sailor, soldier, airforce, navy whites) or formal, and the women were mostly glamorous with a few landgirls and sailorettes thrown in!

And last, but by no means least, my Aussie crush… Milord and I have continued our long distance thing – we email or sms every day and talk on the phone a couple of times a week. At the end of May we finally agreed to meet up in August! We decided on Mozambique as it is halfway and has world class diving, and then as luck would have it a couple of days later his Mom was diagnosed with throat cancer. She is very ill, might not last the year, and Milord is covering her medical bills. He is kind of unable to come halfway around the world to meet me now, so I have now decided to go to Sydney! I will be heading off there for the last week of August. As my cousin J said the other day: “You never do things the easy way, do you?”. Well no, I guess not! Where’s the fun in that?!

Apart from these things, life trundles on. I visit my friends, do the occasional club walk, and enjoy the English summer to the full in my garden with a jug of Pimms whenever the sun deigns to shine. We had a stunning week of weather a little while ago and I was bbq-ing for lunch and dinner for several days straight as it was just too nice outside and too hot indoors! I even camped out one night in a nest of duvets and watched the stars (and I’m sure I had a hedgehog come through the garden at 3am). Made me feel about 10 years old!