Weekly photo Challenge: Quest In the Footsteps of Vincent



I have always been an admirer of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork.So when I had the opportunity to visit St Rémy  where he spent two years in a mental hospital in his quest for mental health I jumped at it.

The idea was to follow his footsteps where he walked and worked during those two years.  The trail starts in the town of St. Rémy and is about two kilometers long ending at the mental hospital which is still an operational hospital today.  Along the trail one finds 21 copies of artwork which he had done during that time, accompanied by letters he wrote to his family . The letters contain special insight in his psyche and how he experienced his illness.

It was a cold rainy day but we were determined to walk the trail. We set out from the centre of town armed with cameras and raincoats. Due to the weather my friend and I were the only ones brave, or maybe stupid enough to follow the signs on the pavement marking the trail.

The experience turned out to be emotionally very touching. The letters written by van Gogh was insightful giving just a glimpse of his suffering and as it was accompanied by his beautiful artwork it touched me deeply.

His quest became my quest to try and understand a little about the suffering of a person with mental health problems.

The starting point of the trail with a self portrait by the artist 


Along the way


The entrance to the monastry which housed the hospital



Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror, The Art of Reflection.

When I saw this sculpture piece in black granite, I marveled at the skill and precision with which it had to be excecuted in order to create the perfect Mirror image.The sculpture is by Anish Kapoor (2007) and was can be seen in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice.


Mirror images of fisherman’s homes and boats on the island of Burano Italy.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Frame

For this week’s challenge with the theme Frame I chose this photo. It was taken in the early morning on St. Mark’s Square Venice. This view of the column with a statue of St. Theodore, who was the patron of the city before St. Mark, holding a spear and with a crocodile guarding the entrance to the ancient city framed by one of the arches on the           Doge’s Palace caught my eye.
IMG_9897 B&W


Weekly Photo Challenge:Fun, New Experiences


Fun is to experience the world anew through the eyes of a child. To a young child everything is new. My grandson is 18 months old and every new experience is in his words “wow wow wow!”

Here he is having fun on a slide for the first time.

This gentleman provided much fun to bystanders during the Paris Marathon.

I am sure he had fun too.

Parys 3 fun

A new experience for me in Marseille.

Provence 7

Why Swallows Build in the Eaves of Houses.

“Do you know”  Peter asked, “why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories”  – Peter Pan.

Bedtime  stories told by a loving parent or grandparent while children listen and become sleepy eyed. That is why swallows build nests in the eaves of houses.

Poor swallows they must be very disappointed for in most houses today the I-pad, the TV or even the smart phone is the story teller.

Storytelling is one of the earliest ways of communication used by mankind. People are essentially social creatures, created to live in communication and emotional contact with others. Listening to a character driven story together with others  creates an emotional bond due to the fact that the brain produces oxytocin under these circumstances. On the other hand if a story is told by a technological device, less oxytocin is produced and the brain is less active in the interpretation of the story.

Paul J. Zak    https://hbr.org/2014/10/why-your-brain-loves-good-storytelling

So let me tell you a story,going back about 50 years.

In a small town called Lyttelton lived  a family. A father, mother and two girls. The father was a busy man running a business, the mother was a stay at home mom, but also the father’s righthand. They worked very hard to make the business work and to provide for their two little girls aged 3 and 6 years old.

They lived just outside the town on a small farm bordered by a river. Everyday the children played in and around the garden while the mother and father worked.As they were living on a farm, nature and its creatures were part of their lives.The girls learnt to love and respect nature as their father was passionate about caring for the world around them.

Night time found the little girls tucked into bed, waiting with anticipation for their favourite time of the day………storytime.

Each night the father told them a story. He created the most wonderful characters from their environment of whom the favorites were Kiekie and Wiekie. Kiekie and Wiekie were two plovers. Their names are derived from the Afrikaans word Kiewiet, (afrikaans for plover).These little birds lived and nested in the veld right next to the garden and their sometimes comical habits, provided the material for a series of stories involving daily activities and life lessons.

Whenever the family experienced a particular event of importance, Kiekie and Wiekie also experienced such an event. Kiekie and Wiekie became part of the family. Their stories transported the girls into a wonderland where anything was possible, where problems could be solved and fun could be had, where life’s lessons could be learnt.

Needless to say, the swallows returned each year to build their nests and raise chicks in the eaves of the family home.

By now you might have guessed that I was one of the two girls. Yes I grew up with a story telling father, one who could bring to life the animals and creatures around us giving them the ability to be almost human.

Later when I married and had children of my own, I continued with the  tradition of storytelling and so my children grew up with Kiekie and Wiekie. Now I am a grandmother and I would love my grandchildren to know Kiekie and Wiekie too.So I started writing the stories down. After many editions and help from an editor, the book is almost ready for printing. By writing the story of Kiekie and Wiekie I came to love them even more and when I saw the illustrations created by Alex van Houwelingen they looked just as I had imagined them.


Today I saw a the final manuscript of the book. It filled me with joy and good childhood memories. I am sure my brain became overactive producing loads of oxytocin.!

Although I wrote the book  mainly to preserve the stories for children in our family, I trust that other children  will also  be enchanted by Kiekie and Wiekie.

Do the swallows return to build in the eaves of your house?

If not,  become a storyteller and help the next generation to learn the art of communicating and connection.

Another sneak peak.

Kiekie and Wiekie as chicks



One of their many adventures. 22