The Girl under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming

This is a historical romance ie chick lit book I have been reading to cope with the social isolation that we all have to perform right now to rid ourselves of Corona Virus. Its in a similiar style to the Victoria Hislop books that I have read and tried to emulate.

This is a very interesting book as it documents the fictional life of Penelope Angelika Georgiou or Penny George as she goes by when in the UK. Pen as she is called in later years recounts her life as a Red Cross nurse in Athens, Greece during the Second World War. Its thoughtfully written with an accurate portrayal of what an upper class debutante would have to face going it alone with only her Greek heritage and looks for protection against an uncertain world.

It seems that the books that I enjoy most inadvertently tend to evoke my own life as Leah is in the Yorkshire Dales while writing these books which is where I originally hail from. The character Penny has for a middle name, my name in Greek and she reminds me greatly of myself. Very much like when I was reading Angelology and Angelopolis about 5 years ago. That was on my other blog as this one didn’t exist then.

Ólafur Eliasson and Bjarke Ingels

Olafur Eliasson is a very famous Danish installation artist. He looks at things with a different viewpoint to most. He examines the basics and some how comes up with something new continually. Its like he continues the ideas of the Bauhaus but in that Nordic way which we all know so well from Ikea furniture. Its cut down but evocative as it has the essence of good design distilled into them.

It must be a Scandinavian thing because as well as catching him on The Art of Architecture on Sky Arts, Abstract Design on Netflix and in a Tate Britain exhibition; his friend fellow Dane Bjarke Ingels designs tower blocks that are affordable but look more like a village. They look good as they are full of abstract design. They are unique in modular design as they all have gardens, are full of light and air while maximising the space available to create something that looks pleasing to the eye.

Bjarke has also partnered with Thomas Heatherwick British architect on previous projects as they have the same kind of mindset when it comes to designing innovative architecture.

They both focus on light, space, geometry, nature, perception and our reaction to it all. It also encompasses the elements of Meteorology with rain, sun, fog, ice and climate change.

Curious points of interest

It was interesting reading a comment once that women who have a thriving social life before they have children go back into work a lot easier than those who got pregnant and then couldn’t manage more than a book club meeting. It’s also very interesting to note that all the “when are you having children, they are the light of your life” has stopped.

Both of these points show that our world valued profit not people beforehand. No wonder we had a falling birth rate. Right now the earth is renewing itself by killing off the old, sick and those that have given up on life. It is also creating a lot of new life as there is surely going to be a baby boom after this. Now apologies for this but as Ru Paul (Charles) says in every episode of his Drag Race “Don’t fuck it up!”

Next in Fashion

This is a series that I watched on Netflix when I wanted something light and entertaining to chill out too. I love fashion and drawing so it was very interesting to see what they would come up with and what I would personally wear. Its like Dragon’s Den but for women as it doesn’t have the tension or the cattiness present in Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

The format of the show is that contestants pair up at the beginning of the series to create bespoke outfits based on the theme of the week. They have as much fabric as they desire in whatever material, colour, pattern you can think of as they also have the use of a 3D printer. All the accessories and trims in terms of ribbon, cord etc is also provided. They just need to use the artists materials provided to design and make there costumes. At the end of the week a runway show happens with the models wearing their clothes and the one that least fits the brief leaves the competition. Its not a reality show as you don’t get rewards, there are no mini challenges and once you leave you can’t re-enter.

I find this a refreshing change in amongst all of the Covid 19 updates that the government publishes a couple of times a day.

Mumbai airport

Now I know its very unusual to write about the artwork in an airport but this was covered to the extent they gave tours to showcase it all. They were not happening then but you could still take a lot of pictures yourself to document the work.

When we got to Mumbai airport there were an astonishing amount of things to look at while we were waiting to board the plane and there were no crowds. I bought a scarf as I needed to get rid of my rupees (you can’t take them out of the country) having previously only bought a hat at India – Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary, a bottle of water and later on a KFC in an airport since we flew from Jaipur-Udaipur one day, Udaipur-Mumbai, Mumbai-Goa and then finally Goa-Mumbai after a couple of days.

Now this really is the end of the India series.

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Jaipur

India – Udaipur

India – Goa

India – Mumbai

India – Mumbai

Mumbai was extraordinarily warm and humid in comparison to all the places we had been to previously. Must have been the smog which you could see for miles around.

As all the shops were shut we couldn’t go shopping although we had lost interest in that by now. The hotel offered very high end shops so my father in law bought a couple of shirts. My husband had a chat with a member of staff who said there was a nice bar round the corner but we didn’t venture outside of the hotel since Corona was starting to bite here.

To entertain myself having read the hotel magazine since it was the 4th Taj hotel we had stayed in; I picked up Parsis and Zoroastrians. There was also an artists corner at the hotel but it was too warm during the day to engage in this. There were many artefacts in the hotel to admire instead and of course the daily newspaper which was much more extensive than in Goa. All of the usual activities that you could engage in like having a tour of the kitchens being taught how to make Indian food or learning pilates in the gym were cancelled as was the art tour of the local area and the trip to nearby Elephant Island. I had to console myself with a picture of the Gateway to India through the window.

Our hotel though was filled with all manner of objects that I could admire and they even had a tour which you could undertake as they had so many. It wasn’t on but they were still willing to show you round the place just like they would organise a city tour because your tour operator had cancelled there out of safety precautions. All about the money like everywhere else in the world. Regardless here are some pictures of things that I walked past while I was there.

I also have included a special treat in that Mumbai airport was covered in artwork so I took pictures of that and wrote about it. Stay tuned to check it out.

So concludes my Indian trip but if you have enjoyed this please leave a comment, follow my blog and buy my books.

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Jaipur

India – Udaipur

India – Goa

Mumbai airport

Strategies for working through problems like Covid 19 quarantine

For me I find complaining/voicing my opinion about a problem to another person or writing about it on here seems to unlock the answers for me. It’s almost like the thoughts need to be given tangible form for them to coalesce into something recognizable. I think I’ve just lost most people now by using words that are infrequent but I do like precise language where possible.

Watching Netflix/tv/YouTube also works as well for thought formation as does practicing art. Distraction and focusing on something else allows the other parts of the brain to focus its creative juices on finding a solution to a current problem. Then there is the race to write it down when it turns up as there always fleeting. As soon as I try to record them there gone. Such is the ethereal nature of thought.

After a period of free time when my brain has got to the point where I feel like I’m going to go insane because I am so bored, it all of a sudden snaps into creative, problem solving mode.

I need to make a schedule for the next couple of weeks at least. Since my husband is in the highly vulnerable category I will most likely be hiding out in the country for quite a while. Infinity is a scary concept to minds that like order, rhythms and structure.

I have spent plenty of time here at the in laws before in the past but we had many visitors then and we could go to other places before too. Now that it’s a lockdown and one with an indefinite and probably lengthy duration. It makes things rather difficult to cope with. I have been practicing mindfulness and not using the phone immediately upon waking. I find it helps enormously if I don’t use my phone /tablet/ laptop for a while after waking. Reading isn’t a thing I do well upon waking despite the fact I adore it and I’m often a compulsive reader. My ability to take in words is being increasingly hampered as I get older.

I’m becoming less able to turn my attention to everything but I’m becoming more specialised. I am however becoming less autistic in that I’m becoming less selfish with more social skills. So in that way I’m becoming broader minded.

Autism means self in Greek so by developing yourself this is the only way you can become less autistic.Your autistic neurology remains. This is how you can seem like everyone else yet not be like everyone else at all. It’s also how others can be like you but not autistic themselves.

In an article I read recently it mentioned the changes that happen to the brain as it ages. Fluid intelligence decreases but what is left crystallises so it is like the essence of what makes you tick is being distilled. You are refining a fine whiskey to release upon the world. You have matured for many years in a couple of different casks by now so you are full of unique flavours. Few who come across you will appreciate the taste but for those who do they are worth there weight in gold.

Just beware of those that see your value only in monetary terms and try to sell you off to make the most profit for themselves. They are often the sneakiest as they are charming and entertaining but also deceiving as they only reveal parts of themselves. They keep there true self hidden for many years.

India – Goa

So now we are coming to the tail end of my trip. As we were all pretty exhausted from trekking across India we were all pretty glad to have a couple of days with nothing planned.

We went in the pool until it was closed because of Corona virus concerns. My mother in law had a pedicure but the next day the Spa closed along with the gym because of Covid 19 precautions. Me and my husband went to the beach but were pretty much set upon immediately by hawkers wanting to sell us massages. Unlike like in Lefkas where there all Chinese women with boards saying what they can do; these are locals with only a bottle of coconut oil in their pocket so you can’t pick them out at all and avoid them. After a 2 minute trial which was in fact a 15 minute leg massage I retreated to my hotel.I paid him but not what he was asking as it was too much and he couldn’t enter the hotel to argue. I got the impression that he frequently gave massages to people on the beach who didn’t have money on them and later they gave him money as they felt bad.

The next day we went to a cafe that was halfway between the beach and the hotel with some Americans we met that we had discovered had mutual friends with us. They were much more adventurous than us so had been checking out the local area but they hadn’t found much besides a pizza place. It was as the hotel said in its documentation, a resort they had created out of nothing. Since there kids club and activities like archery had both seen better days and closed for health reasons they were unsure what to do. They had initially planned to tour southern India spending a lot of time in Kerala but since this was hit bad and Goa didn’t have any they had decided to stay put for the time being.

I also tried to find out where the nearest shop was and was told that they would need to organise a taxi to take us the 10 minutes to its location, wait while we shopped and take us back again. I decided against this with my previous experience of shopping in a service station being full of unpriced items so you never know whether your getting a good deal or not. I could also wait until Mumbai which was a much bigger town. I was surprised that the hotel didn’t have a shop selling items it didn’t provide. In Mexico there was and in Berlin there were corner shops but no such thing in India.

After a couple days of reading the newspaper at breakfast and checking social media as you do, we left for Mumbai having explored the rest of the resort and had drinks on the beach.

For the rest of the posts in the series look here:

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Jaipur

India – Udaipur

India – Mumbai

Mumbai airport

India – Udaipur

When we got here we stayed in the same place that Octopussy was filmed at. The interesting thing is that the Palace of the movie is in fact 2 different palaces that are very close to each other. They have patched it together so well that unless you have visited the 2 locations you wouldn’t know that they had done that. Roger Moore named the pond the Lily Pond when he was doing the filming.Pool with fountain

Pool with fountain
Hotel grounds
Hotel grounds
Hotel shrine
Hotel shrine
Sunset panorama
Sunset panorama
Local dancers and musicians
Local dancers and musicians

While we were staying in the Lake Palace we would get the boat over to the shore to visit another City Palace Study

Study
Inner courtyard
Inner Courtyard
Courtyard
Courtyard
View over Udaipur
View over Udaipur
Inner Courtyard decoration
Inner Courtyard decoration
Courtyard gate
Courtyard gate

and to attend a Hindu temple Hindu temple carvings

Hindu temple carvings
Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple statues
Hindu temple statues

which had a service going on. We also visited the gardens that were very beautiful, shady and calming. Udaipur had a lot of construction work going on to build roads but it was still cleaner and quieter than Delhi. People didn’t tend to blow there horns anywhere near as much. Holi is celebrated over several days because there is the initial holiday then the policemen and so on so all members of society participate in all regions eventually.

There are always so many sellers of everything on the streets everywhere you go so its rather overwhelming trying to get anywhere or do anything. By being in a private tour you don’t get to see the real India but its close enough for my liking. I don’t like being hassled so India is not a place to go if your rather sensitive like I am. Which is why my parents had always told me not to go but my in-laws convinced my husband so we went.

This particular City Palace is all about coloured glass as its very vibrant. Its filled with many panels and designs through. Blue stained glass window over Udaipur

Blue stained glass window over Udaipur
Multicolored stained glass window
Multicolored stained glass window
Mosaic multicolored stained glass window
Mosaic multicolored stained glass window
Flower stained glass window
Flower stained glass window
Peacock stained glass window
Peacock stained glass window
Mirror stained glass window
Mirror stained glass window

There are lots of temples, palaces and tombs through India all created with marble and inlaid with precious stones which are magnificent to behold but the input gets too much. I was quite ill the day we arrived here.

There are also many fabric and clothes shops as well as those selling tourist souvenirs. There was a tour that we could have gone on to see the local women and the crafts that they make but we were getting rather tired after our extremely long bus journeys around India. The early mornings and the flights were getting to us.

As was the fact that despite staying in 5 star hotels you still get Delhi belly. We started to avoid milk in all forms, dairy, meat even fruit because you most certainly can’t drink the water. We were wary about ice in our drinks too as it was starting to get hot on the west coast of India. Curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner does take its toll.

Its better than the international options when they were around but you just want some plain food occasionally. You do however realise how unsatisfying pastries are for breakfast as its just carbs. Also nobody ever eats the cereal in hotels abroad regardless of whether its India, Prague, Berlin, Tenerife, Mexico or Morocco.

Time for a beach break in Goa which is the next stop.

To check out all of the adventures see here

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Jaipur

India – Goa

India – Mumbai

Mumbai airport

India – Jaipur

This city was founded by its ruler Jai Singh. He was a Hindi which is why its a pur and not a Muslim abad as I first mentioned in my post on India – Delhi (part 1). Singh means lion or warrior depending on how you translate it. Lots of people are called Singh as its a symbol of strength not a family name which you might think given its popularity.

I really enjoyed the orderliness of Jaipur. It was one of the first cities to be organised on a grid fashion. I think it was the first in India. Jai Singh was into maths, physics and astronomy. To do this on a regular basis he built the most amazing astronomical equipment. These utilise the sun as opposed to the moon which makes it different from anything else that I’ve seen or heard of before.

Indians also seem to enjoy playing chess as there are an amazing amount of chess boards about in the hotels that we have been staying in. Fancy chessboard

Fancy chessboard

This was one of the best that I have come across. It was very confusing though with elephants and camels instead of the usual pieces. Life size fancy Chess board

Life size fancy chess board

I went to the City Palace in the town centre and learnt that Polo that most English of games actually came from India. Jodphur which is nearby is where the trousers come from for playing the game. There are also 5 different types of pyjamas which is another Hindi derived word. I also learnt that while the Sari is Hindi, the shalwar kamneez which is the other outfit that you often see women wearing is of Muslim (Persian) origin. It’s a lot simpler to wear and requires a lot less cloth so is better for children. Jaipur has lots of places you can go to like we did to get clothes custom made for you. My husband got a shirt and my father in law did too. Our driver had recommended that Jaipur was the best place for shopping and it certainly seemed a good option from the limited time I spent there.

We also went to the Amber Fort on the hill which is built on 4 levels each with increasing privacy and seclusion. The courtyard at the Amber Fort

The courtyard at the Amber Fort

There are 12 apartments for each of his wives that he could visit separately without the rest of them knowing so that kept harmony. The wives apartments

The wives apartments

There was also a harem of about 200 women hidden from view behind a screen that allowed them to see court proceedings without being observed themselves. The Harem cloisters

The Harem cloisters

There were gardens to appreciate nature without going outside the fort which is always good for your mental health.The Amber Fort gardens

The Amber Fort gardens

The architecture with the designs on the tiles and the artwork is phenomenal wherever you go in India as they really had some good artisans in those days.Tiles

Tiles
Arches and wall decorations
Arches and Wall decorations
Intricate wall carvings
Intricate Wall carvings
White Marble inlaid with Turquoise
White Marble inlaid with turquoise
Symmetrical precision art
Symmetrical precision art

They also have an art gallery inside that me and my husband wanted to visit but my in laws were quite hungry by this point so we left. There is always many salesmen that you have to avoid so photo opportunities have to be carefully managed.A view of the Amber Fort

A view of the Amber Fort

While I was there I participated in Holi which is the Indian festival to celebrate the Spring. Happy Holi dessert place

Happy Holi dessert plate

A bit like our Easter. Holi is known as the festival of Colours as they get hold of them very cheaply and they are extremely bright. The red is the worst to get to get out of your skin as it takes a couple days. Water is also part of the festival so expect to get wet if you are a young girl. I got absolutely mobbed and needed my husband there to protect me as they like to give out hugs and take selfies with you. The hotel warn you that it isn’t safe and when you still want to go out, they tell you the wrong direction to protect you. A taxi driver found us and corrected this. He took us to the main area and waited while we proceeded to walk and become living artworks.My Holi outfit

My Holi outfit

 They really like peacocks over there as they turn up everywhere.Peacock displaying

Peacock displaying
Peacock arch and artwork
Peacock arch and artwork

To look at all my Indian Adventures see here

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Udaipur

India – Goa

India – Mumbai

Mumbai airport