Exploring festivals abroad

Not the musical variety, in fact I don’t  think I’ve ever been to one of those home or away. There were Glasgow’s Big Day concerts in 1990, somehow I got into the then Copthorne hotel to watch the George Square gig and then went down to Glasgow Green in the evening (that was the time Sheena Easton got booed* for her Mid Atlantic twang); and I was at the Nelson Mandela Tribute concert at Wembley the same year,  but the full mud and music experience?  No.   The festivals I mean are the holiday ones, Christmas, New Year, Twelfth Night, Thanksgiving. The latter one first, but far from traditionally when two of MrS’s American colleagues invited us to celebrate it with them in Curacao, instead of turkey we ate curry.

curacao beach

the beach in Curacao

Then in 2016 while we were in the throes of building works we sought out some Christmas sunshine in Lanzarote

cactus tree

Festive cactus in Arrecife

And last year we welcomed the arrival of the Kings in Tenerife

three kings

waiting for The Kings

This year we spent New Year or Saint Sylvestre in France.

Of course there were still signs of Christmas



and portents of L’Epiphanie

But the main event was New Year.

Restaurants offered festival menus

st sylvestr menu

This is ours from Augusto Chez Laurent

Here are those puds

augusto pudding

and yes they all contained lobster butter!

But it seemed lots of people would be enjoying seafood platters at home

preparing seafood platters

hard at work at the fishmarket

Midnight and the arrival of 2019 was a low key affair. We headed to the Mairie


to watch the clock.


But missed the crowds you’d see in Scotland

It was a little livelier at the casino

where we could hear a party. But we just enjoyed the lights and headed back to our hotel.

Where we might* have had a kiss under the mistletoe**


of course we couldn’t fit under it here

Best wishes for 2019 and Happy New Year to anyone celebrating it tonight.

Marina xx

*and worse

**we did

***”gui” in French it appeared in the shops on New Year’s Eve

PS Almost back home I became “King” of the day when I found the bean in our pie



I’ve walked at some pivotal points my life. When I first moved to Edinburgh my Saturday afternoons were often spent walking, exploring the pages of my street map.  Yes I was really living the wild student life.  I noticed that the houses preening from the hillside beyond Morningside road reminded me of home. Even though those ones were large detacheds in Fairmilehead rather than small terraces clinging on the valley.  I plodded about the town,  plotting my routes in coloured inks,  searching in vain for Haymarket Ice Rink;  that book was out of date several years before I found it.   It paid off though, I got to know my adopted city beyond the student and tourist hubs.

It’s Edinburgh Jim, but not as you know it


Walking.  Displacement activity,  filling up the day before the  5pm Finals posting   or later walking the night away through  a break up and  I just had to be away from the house.

Walking can be sociable, even when I’m on my own, my (almost) daily walk takes me past friends and gives me a chance to catch up on news. And walking with DogS never fails to make me smile.


And who could resist that smile?

We have a local walking group too where people and dogs can socialise and explore.

Even if sometimes our feet get so wet there’s no point avoiding the puddles! (The walk which went with the snowy photo).   Walking helps me think, plan, calm down when I need to.

Three different types of walks and walkers have their left footprints recently.

The first,  walking as art  Alexander and Susan Maris’  The Well at the World’s End  a journey from Schiehallion to Iona passed fairly close by,  the second and third  pilgrimages but of different kinds came even closer. Charles Compton walking around the British mainland coastline* raising money for The Mental Health Foundation  arrived in the morning and then after lunch (and my own much shorter walk) the third group, actual  pilgrims walked and waded nearby.

So today, I’ve done my 10,000 steps and been standing a while so I’m giving my stripily suntanned feet a rest.

Marina x



*including islands linked  by bridges or non tidal causeways




My “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, and it is dear to me. It’s where I was born and spent my childhood, and it’s where most of my family still live.

I don’t get back as often as I’d like, but when I do I have a great time.  As well as family visits I try to tour about. Sometimes revisiting childhood favourites, other times searching out places we never got around to visiting  back then.

It’s curious when you go back. Memories are tricksy and places can be not quite how they live in your mind. Then there’s the size conundrum, places which seemed huge to a child have now shrunk.

And then some places simply are different.

The village I grew up in was an industrial one, though surrounded by wooded hills. At the base of the valley were the coal mines. They closed in the 1990s , and you have to look hard to find any trace of them today. The “red”river,  now runs clear and is home to fish.

One thing which hasn’t changed is the coastline. It’s as beautiful and enticing as it was back then. Those days , when we jostled over who would be first to shout,  “I can see the sea!!!”.

It’s even better these days as you can walk all along it on the Wales Coast Path.


I learned to swim in the seas off that coast, Porthcawl, Mumbles, Langland Bay, and my favourite Rhossili.  I swam every chance I had. Summer, Easter, it didn’t matter. I braved the waves; my family sat on deckchairs wrapped in layers.I had my own layers, of fat to keep me warm. but also I didn’t care. I had to be in that sea.

Lately I’ve just paddled or walk along those beaches. But never say never.

Ah. One other thing has changed. We weren’t so good at football back then.


Things that change, things that stay the same.


A welcome in the valleys. When I go home to Wales.

Marina x