Diane Mackey's blog


I love having guests, each new person gifts some new thing in the places I live ... it's always been that way and ML and Al have been no exception. Yesterday I saw Brussels in a new way. We began at the famous Atomium . You haven't heard of the Atomium well ...

Amsterdam ...

And so we returned to Belgie only to be back out on the road within 24 hours ... The 150km drive to Amsterdam turned into a 200km trip due to a closed piece of highway and a road lacking signage. We travelled about 60km without any kind of reassuring 'Amsterdam' indicators ... ahhh like Belgium, it seems the Netherlands runs light when it comes to marking the way. We arrived at the hotel and caught the train into the city.

Homesickness ...

You know when you're travelling on a flat road somewhere in the Netherlands and you look out across farmland and see a massive cloudbank where the Southern Alps would be if you were driving the Canterbury Plains back home in New Zealand ... and your heart misses a beat?

Black Forest

I forgot the Black Forest part of the journey ... perhaps it is that we covered so much ground in so few days. We travelled from the lowlands of Belgium up into the Ardennes and on through a little of France, Germany and the Netherlands in 30+o celsius heat, with the temperature staying that high until our return to Belgium last night ... it doesn't make for clear-minded thinking.

A little wandering in Europe

So, we began the journey with lunch in Vianden, Luxembourg - filling the car with the cheaper Luxembourg petrol (1.24euro per litre versus 1.43euro here in Belgium). Fuelled we headed for Strasbourg. After a night in a place best not written about we ate breakfast outdoors in an old Strasbourgian square near 'the' cathedral where our travelling companions, Mary Lou and Al, exchanged birthday gifts. A delicious moment that was...

Stats from Di's 'Road'

1 New Zealander, 1 Belgian, 1 American, 1 ex-Israeli now American 2 castles (visited) 3 cities 4 days 5 countries 6 ice creams (eaten by ML) 7 border crossings 20 castles seen from the car while travelling in the Rhine Valley (approximately) 1500 kil

Taksim Shoeshine Man, Istanbul

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The Taksim Shoeshine Man, Istanbul, originally uploaded by - di.

I took the prints of a series of photographs I had taken of this lovely man and although we couldn't speak, we exchanged smiles ... his surprise as I handed him the photos and my delight in surprising him.

What Clare and Di Did Today ...

Clare and I wandered over to Brugge today ... all of my guests are taken to Brugge. Clare was toting her Canon EOS 350D. She shared it with me ... I took some photos and have added Canon EOS 350D to the 'things I must have when I am working list. It is a stunning piece of machinery. I had hoped it would be too complicated but no, it was impossibly lovely. I used to adore my Canon EOS 300 but my ongoing incoming immigrant status has caused me re-evaluate film processing costs and unsurprisingly, I want to go digital.

Antwerp with the Australian

What do you do with a London-based Aussie who arrives here in Antwerp, laden down by bottles of New Zealand red wine? Invite her to stay, but of course. So it was that Clare, an old Istanbul friend, landed in Belgium Friday night. So we've test-driven the Kiwi reds and found them more than adequate ... (it has been SO LONG since I enjoyed good New Zealand wine). We spent Saturday wandering in Antwerpen ... and I realised again how much I love the way that each guest gives a new view of this city I live in. The photos will prove it. We photographed cockroaches as big as my hand and all kinds of other fascinating subjects .. via graffitti.

The Brutal Reality of High Altitude Climbing

The Telegraph published an interesting article by climber Stephen Venables, the first Briton to ascend Everest without oxygen. It is very hard to explain to non-climbers the paradox of high-altitude climbing. It involves great discomfort and danger but is also an intensely exhilarating, joyful experience. Knowing that things can go horribly wrong reinforces the sense that, morally, as well as physically, you are entering a different world - a world with different rules.
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