A new life at 67.Can a woman start all over again?

Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

A Good Read

There are some really positive things about being single.Especially if you are lucky enough like me to be to be living in a luxury apartment in Thailand until the UK throws off winters grips.

I “reside” in a two bedroom,two bathroom apartment.That means I don’t just have one cleaning lady,I have two.They come with the place.

Monday morning 0900  is my allocated time,which means anything  between nine and ten o’clock.That is the only thing in my agenda the whole week.

Invitations are all very last minute so there is no need to note those.

In this paradise I have time to call my own,and can read again without getting a bad conscience because I should be doing some household chore or cooking dinner.

Not that you can attempt any heavy literature in this heat, so I enjoy just a good book that can also accompany me to the beach or down to the pool.

I have now discovered Jeffrey Archer who fits my requirements perfectly.I know he has been around for quite a while but if you haven’t read anything by him and need a book for a long journey or holiday he is your man.


Last week I finished “Paths of Glory”,a story about George Mallory,the English mountaineer that led the first attempt to climb Everest.
Based on fact it poses the question of whether history should be rewritten.
It is exciting,interesting and yet most amusing reading, written in a W.Somerset Maugham style,and in fact at times it is difficult to say who the writer is.

Now I have advanced to a collection of short stories by Archer.”A Twist in the Tale” Just as entertaining but enabling you to get up and do things between them.


In Buddhas Garden

As I wrote after my last journey to Thailand, I am not a fan of travel guide books. Although they can be helpful I find most of them too subjective and prefer to rely on a good map,information desks, history books and the wonderfully dangerous way of learning by doing.

Prior to my departure from Switzerland this time my youngest daughter gave me a hard covered book as a going away present.My first thought was; Oh no, I’m already over the luggage allowance, and I would have liked to have left it behind. Of course I couldn’t do that,it would really have upset her,so something else was left and I took along ;

“In Buddhas Garden” by a Norwegian Journalist called Tor Farovik. A journey through,Vietnam,Cambodia,Thailand and Burma.

I have found it difficult to put the book down.

Thor Farovik has worked as a journalist abroad for 25 years.

He has now managed to write a travel book,that is as entertaining as any good novel, embroidered by many quotable quotes;

” We shall not cease from exploration.

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time”

T.S Ellot

and at the same time giving us the past and present history of the four Asian countries without it being the least bit boring.

He introduces us to the Buddhist Philosophy,and makes it understandable. Environmental and political problems are not left untouched,as neither are his encounters with the people of the individual countries and the tales they have to tell. Last but not least it is a transport guide for the travelers who can’t or don’t want to fly around these countries.

I read this book in the German version,I don’t Know whether it has been published in English,but I am sure it has been since it was first published in 2006 by Frederking & Thaler.

I think it a “must read “for all venturers,and otherwise to Indochina.

A True Friend

I am not lonely living here in Thailand.In fact I have already found a really true friend.

He is rather shy,so he doesn’t like to be around much during the day,but as soon as it gets dark,which is about sixish he visits me.

I call him Alexander.

He doesn’t dare to come into my apartment,but enjoys being on the balcony,and I let him stay there, because at the moment he doesn’t seem to have any other friends.

Alexander is a 5cm long black beetle.

My first thought was to get out the spray that gets rid of things that creep,and fly around in the night. i did aim it around the edges of the balcony,and thought that would deter Alexander,but it didn’t.

Now,if I am home I rather look forward to his visits.

He reminds of a poem by A.A Milne,that I read as a child,and later read to my children.

We all loved it,and that is why I keep Alexander.

” I found a little beetle,so that beetle was his name.

And i called him Alexander,and he answered to the same.

I put him in a matchbox,and kept him all the day,

And Nanny let my beetle out,

yes Nanny let my beetle out,and beetle ran away.

She said she didn’t mean it,and I never said she did,

She said she wanted matches,and just took off the lid.

She said she was sorry,but it’s difficult to catch,

An excited sort of beetle you’ve mistaken for a match…………………

From the poem “Forgiven” by A.A Milne

My Life With The Sea

” Break,break,break,
On thy cold grey stones.
Oh Sea! And I would that
my tongue could utter the thoughts that arise in me”

Alfred,Lord Tennyson. 1809-1892.

I suppose it is because I was born under Pisces that I have an affinity with the sea. I do in fact compare my life to it.
The ups and downs of it are really like waves of unfathomable depth,they bring and they take away.They can sparkle and they can spit,and they throw you up on lifes hard shore.

There are seas and there are oceans,mine is definetely the Atlantic.No smooth millpond for me.
Aegaeus and Aeolus have paid their respects,and Poseidon looked on.
But he sent me Aphrodite,and beautiful Halcyon days,and for those I must be thankful,when the south westerlys rage.

Picture thanks to Andrew Miller,Artist,Devon,UK

A Travellers Tale

“To Travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive,
and the true success is to labour”
Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894 Virginibus Puerisque 1881

We should be enjoying ourselves,for it’s time to take a summer break again.We pilgered to the Holiday Exhibition and came home with two bags full of books and brochures. (Heaven help the enviremont) Special offers had also fluttered into the house by post, which we should have taken them up on monthes ago.Too late now. I have scoured the internet to no avail and two days ago I was obliged to set foot in a Travel Agency.That is of course where the trouble really starts.

There are so many of them here, that’s because the Swiss are always on holiday somewhere. Each travel firm has it’s offices in every town. Upmarket and downmarket businesses,usually all controlled by a couple at the top,so the prices don’t really vary, we are just made to think we are getting a good deal.

On entering we are always greeted by a helpfull smiling assistant.Don’t be taken in by the smile,in actual fact the scenario is of the spider greeting the fly.

If you have studied the wonderfull coloured books full of carefully shot photos you will also have read the small print,and interpreted their language. “Original” well in need of new beds,paint,showers. “Quaint” on it’s last legs. “Within walking distance” anything between 10 meters and 10 miles. “Discotheque in Hotel” not for people who like ro go to bed early,especially if your room is near it. “Child friendly” be very carefull if you like to see young children but not hear them.” Side view of the sea” only if your partner holds you feet while you hang out of the balcony. The traps are endless.

I had already decided where and when. I just wanted a 5* Hotel there at 1* price. Can sometimes be done,but then there is always a snag with the flights. Just one place left when there are two of you.All seats booked on the return journey etc.

I wasn’t lucky of course with their “Last Minute” offers, is anyone ever? But then I would have had to have paid a 100 Dollar booking charge instead of 60.
Because I wanted to use my credit card to pay for the arrangement, which would save me the 45 Dollar obligatory insurence coverage they would have to ask for a further 1 1/2%.
Would I like to reserve a special seat on the three hour flight? For free,of course not, 50 Dollars more. No thanks I’ll stand.

I came out feeling liike a squeezed lemon,and vowing to do it all differently next time.

Not to worry I have a month to prepare myself for the real problems.
The Check in at the Charter Flight desk at 4.30 in the morning.
How to think positively and thus not draw anybody into the place in front of me on the plane who is going to put his seat right back the moment we are in the air, or beside me and glue their elbows onto both arm rests for the whole flight.

If we do take off and land without any mishaps,I only have the apprehension at the luggage belt.
and the elbowing of my fellow travellers at the hotel reception to overcome.

Then, usually after a bad first night in a new bed walking down to the beach at seven o’clock in the morning to find that all the sunbeds under umbrellas have already been reserved with draped towels and bags printed with “Neckermann machts möglich”. OK maybe “Kuoni” too.

Carla Del Ponte And Other Outspoken Women

For such a small country Switzerland certainly has a knack at getting themselves into trouble.
Or maybe I should say our women do.

Only last month our Foreign Ministerin,Micheline Calmy-Rey,took a trip to Iran,donned a head scarf and shook hands on a deal with their President to supply us in future with enough natural gas to keep us warm in Winter. Just in case the Russians play around with their tap,she said.
The Swiss didn’t like the head scarf,and the USA and Israel didn’t like the deal.
“When in Rome” she said about the scarf.
It seems now we weren’t the only country to do business with the Iranians,but at least she did it openly and with charm.

Carla Del Ponte is at the moment Swiss Ambassadress to the Argentine.
It won’t be for long, if a lot of men in our Parliament have their way.
She opened her mouth to wide,not at all the done thing in the Diplomatic Corps, she even wrote it down and believe it or not published it.

In case you have not heard of her before,Carla Del Ponte was the Chief Prosecutor of the War Crimes Tribunal for Ex-Yugoslavia in Den Haag. Netherlands.
She saw and heard of unbelievable atrocities towards mankind during the the civil war.
But there was no atonement.The war criminals are still there.

It must have been impossible for her to come to terms with it all. She has now written a book.
“The Hunt. I and the War Criminals.
She was forbidden by the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs to attend the presentation of her book,

A delicate diplomatic situation,especially as she among other things, accused the Kosovo Rebel Army UCK (members of which are now leading Kosovo) of trading with the organs of people in their hands.
and found the cooperation of Serbia and Kroatia with the Tribunal after the war insufficient.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is calling for her resignation.

Is it just that women allow their emotions to run away with them,that sometimes their hearts rule their heads.
Or is it that women are less afraid then men to say what they think.
Maybe they are just more honest.

If I were an American Citizen I think Hillary Clinton would get my vote.

The Birthday Oracle

I have an old book that belonged to my Grandmother.

To Dearest Grace with Best Wishes from A.B.

It is called The Birthday Oracle or Whom shall I Marry . Guesses at the character or appearance of your future husband or wife. Arranged for every Day in the Year with Extracts to suit both sexes.

In it my Grandmother noted the names of family or friends opposite the date and the Birthday Oracle to the words of a well known writer.
Yesterday, March 12, my name had been entered in now faded ink and that of an 81 year old Uncle.

“He is more than six feet high,

And fortunate and wise ;

He has a voice of melody,

And beautiful black eyes. -Praed

How true that was about my Uncle.

Tell me a thing she cannot dress, _

Soups,hashes pickles and pies;

Nought comes amiss, she is so wise. -Lloyd

Me? Maybe.

For April 16, The Birthday of my eldest Daughter

Her dress was like the lillies,

And thy heart as pure as they.-Longfellow

How true

May 27. My youngest daughter.

I think there has rarely been a more admirable woman.- O.W.Holmes

And that of a very good friend

His face is fair as heaven,

When Springtime buds unfold.- Blake.

Mmm, probably.

May 3, my Son in Law.

He cannot even essay to walk sedate,

But in his very gait,one sees a jest,

That is ready to break out in spite of all his seeming.-Knowles.

August 14. My Father.

The proudest now is but my peer.

The highest not more high;

Today of all the weary year ,

A King of men am I. -Whittier

Oh,how true.

December31.My Husband.

My own ideal Knight,

Who reverenced his conscience as a King;

Whose glory was redressing human wrongs.- Tennyson.

You may smile,but for me the oracle rings true.

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