MEMORIES OF AN OLD FRIEND

This time I am sharing a tribute to the man I was married to for 31 years and also the father of our lovely daughter Tjorven and grandfather of our five wonderful grandchildren. Ron died from cancer on Monday the 11th of May. He became very good mates with my husband Ian and he was a regular friend to our house, Ron and I remained friends.

I would like to share a tribute from the West Cork Chamber Music Festival team, I quote;

“We are sad to hear that one of our earliest supporters and volunteers, Ron Victor, has passed away after a long illness. He was an integral and much-valued part of our team for many years.

In the early days, he and his then wife Agnes were generous supporters of West Cork Music and Ron then became the man who took care of moving all heavy equipment at the West Cork Chamber Music Festivals. So much goes on behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the Festival concerts and Ron’s contribution was vital. He made sure that everything which was needed in Bantry House, whether pianos, chairs, box office tables or boxes of wine, was there. Everything he did was with enthusiasm, energy and a smile which we all remember with great fondness.

Ron had a deep love of Baroque music and he spent so many hours listening to it while driving thousands of miles in his removal van, that he developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the repertoire by ear. It was his passion for Early Music which influenced Francis Humphrys’ decision to include it in the Festival programme.”

For a number of years, the Cork County Council harpsichord was transported to ten schools for a week of Baroque workshops in January and it was Ron who made this possible, moving the instrument carefully from school to school while seeing the music he loved being played for a new generation of music-lovers.

Ron was introduced to early music by his friend Antoon Tandt at age 18. The first composer he became familiar with was Heinrich Schutz, and especially his ‘Psalmen Davids’, during our time together it is what we shared most of all, our love of early music, it was a huge factor in our relationship and our daughter was brought up in a home resounding of music by Bach, Buxtehude, Schutz, Ockegem, Tallis, and many other fine composers.  Eventually Ron became involved with West Cork Chamber Music Festival and later with the East Cork Early Music Festival which he enjoyed very much. His love of beautiful music knew no bounds, he listened to it until close to the time he died. 

The team at East Cork Early Music Festival were also greatly saddened to learn that Ron Victor passed away. They said he was a great lover of early music, always smiling and was so helpful to our festival over many years.

Ron’s grandchildren also contributed some memories of their grandpa, I will just give a flavour of their thoughts. Hazel who is 13 years old said that she remembers her grandpa as an amazing, kind and funny person. Alice who is 11 has memories of all the gifts and sweets that her grandpa would bring back from his travels. Ruben who is aged 9 thinks of his grandpa as a superhero, he recons that he made the world. Jasmin aged 8 thought grandpa was funny and nice, she also thought that he was wise and she remembered his 70th birthday party and all the nice cake. Willow is only five and she remembers grandpa as being ‘young’, she also remembers that he took a lot of photos. It is lovely to hear the tributes of the grandchildren for their grandpa.

Ron ended up living in the Philippines where he had a new relationship towards the latter part of his life. He loved the life there, the natural world and the climate. He returned to Belgium for a visit and to organize some things. He was subsequently diagnosed with cancer and he remained with family who very kindly looked after him while he was undergoing treatment.

So we have been busy organising the funeral service in this time of Corona virus when people cannot travel or indeed when funerals are very private, that is no problem in its own and we were able to attend and all be together during Ron’s funeral service at the crematorium in Kortrijk via live video. I had the privilege of picking the music and choose some lovely pieces by Bach and Purcell. Many family members wrote beautifully worded farewell pieces. It was a beautiful service. A good send off to Ron and a solace for the family.

Rest in peace Ron, there will be many people who will miss you.

FAREWELL GOZO, for the moment.

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A beautiful Red Admiral butterfly came across my path the other day, or was it I that came across its path.

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It is no wonder that we see bees and butterflies these days, the abundance of flowers is breathtaking, such a joy for both insects and humans.

Both in the wild and cultivated the delightful colours of flowers greet one, every inch of towns and village are made beautiful by these displays.

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In another day we are leaving Gozo for the summer months, we are already looking forward to coming back though I must say that we are also looking forward to spending the summer in Ireland and seeing everyone again.  Most of all we are just grateful for everyday we can live in peace and in beautiful nature among family and friends.  Living in the moment is the best way to enjoy life.

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We will leave some friends behind and the many people we interacted with the last few months have been lovely and very generous with stories, information and their time.

I’ve had a lovely and interesting time with my Gozitan bobbin lace making class, my great teacher, and fellow students, it was very enjoyable and I learnt a lot, and discovered that making lace can become addictive.

Ir-Rabat has been a wonderful place to live in and explore, all the artistic corners and the lovely ambience that is tangible in this great town have been top class, and the Citadella has been top of the list as have the little alleys around St.George Basilica and St.Francis Square too, and of course the library there.

Gozo has had so much to offer us, nature, people, art and culture, all much enjoyed.

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We are very grateful, that is Ian and myself, for having found a flat in Ghajnsielem for next winter, the view from the place is incredible, more and new adventures await, all being well.

Feeling very grateful and appreciative to avail of this opportunity.  So for now it is back to Ireland and to West Cork.  I must have taken thousands of photos while here and in the coming months will still be posting stories about Gozo, that is for sure.  But for the moment I am taking a week off from blogging, we will be with family in UK for several days, I will not be near WiFi perhaps.  So I wish all my dear friends and followers a good week, thank you for reading my blog, and see you soon.

TWO EGGS AND A LEMON

Today started just like any other day, with the sun shining into the bedroom window showing us that it was going to be another blue sky, and sunny day. Though the temperature has gone right down in the Maltese islands, there is always the sun to warm you up. Something else has been very warming today, it has warmed my soul rather than my body. The story goes as follows:

After my morning walk and as I approached the entrance to our flat, our neighbour woman came walking across the street with a tin in her hands, in it she had some eggs laid by her own hens whom she keeps behind a wall in our street. We got talking and we must have stood there in the sun for half an hour. Then, with a smile she handed me over two of her precious free-range eggs, here she said for you and your husband, one each. I thanked her and was touched by her kind gesture.

Later on today I again nipped out to go to the shop, and this time from across the street, out of the house where Rita lives (another friendly neighbour who has connected with us)came Tessie. Now I’ve never in my life met someone as generous in her approach to a stranger as Tessie, she chatted and told me all about her life, and brought me into her home, as she lives only around the corner, to show me the huge nativity scene that her son had made. We immediately hit it off with each other and talked ten to the dozen about life here on the island, how very interesting! When I left it was with an invitation to come and visit, and then she ran out into her garden and handed me a home grown, beautifully scented lemon.

It is not about the lemon or about the eggs, but it is about the friendship that these local women are generously offering us. It is exactly what I wanted here, to meet the people of this land, and to hear all their stories, stories about their lives on Gozo.

For me this is a perfect ending to 2016! and a great beginning to 2017 – the year in which I would like to give the gift of my time and attention to new friends, and to friends from the past.

A hearth warming way to end the year!

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My feeling about seeing the world is that it’s going to change you necessarily, just the very fact of being out there and meeting people from different cultures and different ways of life. Ewan McGregor

YEAR 2015 ENDING

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

End of year 2015 in nature
End of year 2015 in nature

But in the ending of one year is the beginning of another, and I’m spending these last days of 2015 to reflect over the last few months, and to make goals for 2016, it’s exciting, and it’s wonderful. Saying goodbye to some things that I’m leaving behind and looking forward to plans for the months ahead.

2016 is hopefully going to be a year of friends for me, making time for my friends, meeting over coffee, making a point of giving them a ring.
And it’s going to be a year of yoga, back into my yoga practice on a daily basis, and enjoying. It’s also going to be a year of more walks. Because during 2015 I got my life back, the condition that I was diagnosed with three years ago and that robbed me of so much energy I’m now able to manage and has quietened down so much, yes I’ve got my life back and I’m so thankful for that.

And I’m looking forward to a lot of blogging, and reading lots of interesting blogs of all of you, and so much more.

So much to be thankful for.

YOUNG ROBIN AND PLANTING OUT FOR WINTER

For some weeks now we have a new friend, and she is becoming more and more familiar with us, coming inside and exploring, hovering up any crumbs under the table. When I am in the garden she comes very close. Nice to see wildlife in the garden, it’s such a joy.

This morning it was already 20C in the sun and the day has not disappointed, if we get an Indian summer this will be very much appreciated by both humans and plants!

In between some showers during the afternoon I found some energy to plant out 10 salad plants for the winter months, and some rocket also. Hopefully the slugs will only take one or two. The garden is very full up with all sorts of vegetables and it is a pleasure to see it all grow so well. Ireland is never sort of rain water and even while we get much less sunshine than everywhere else, there is still good enough growth. The winters are mild also. Several vegetables, herbs or flowers will give a second crop during the long growing season. For example, my lemon balm, nettles, dandelions and comfrey plants are on to there second show of lush leaves. Flowering broccoli also is giving a second show, and the marigolds are flowering fully again too. I put lots of my dried leaves into jars today and labelled them with name and date. Used up last years dried nettle in the soup too today.

It is reassuring to see the profuse harvest of all sorts of foods coming in from such a small garden.
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MAURITIUS NATURE Part 1

On a wet and stormy Sunday, what better to do but to look at photos of a wonderful holiday I had in 2008, staying with a friend and his family in beautiful Mauritius. What an interesting, and most beautiful country, lovely people, delicious foods, amazing landscapes, and genuine traditions. We resided on the East coast, but we rented a car and travelled right around the island, this can be done very easily as the island is not so very large. Along the roads a lot of Sugar Cane is growing, but we also saw potato fields. And more towards the West of the island there are Tea plantations.  One of the highlights as far a nature was concerned was a day-long visit to the botanical gardens at Pamplemousses near Port Louis.  I am still appreciative of my friend who showed me around his island home, and made me part of all the beauty.
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The rocks at the beaches around the coast are volcanic.

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