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First trip to the UK

Sheep in a very green field in Yorkshire with a hedge in the foreground

We finally took B to the UK for the first time after two forcibly cancelled visits. Just got back on Wednesday night quite late. We had plans pretty much every day we were there, which was pretty nuts, but we got to catch up with so many people.

There were a lot of firsts: B’s first birthday, B’s first steps, B’s first time meeting his cousins and so much other family, B’s first time on the moor, B’s first time in a carrier backpack, our first night away from B (a fancy dinner + hotel in the dales, we’ve never done something like that before), our second night away from B (we got to have a party! with lots of friends!), B’s first cake (and second and third… there was a lot of cake). B’s first time in over 90-degree weather. Would have expected that to be in Brooklyn, not the north of England…

And of course, B’s first transatlantic flights. All things considered, he did really, really well. He doesn’t like three-hour customs lines, but frankly, who does.

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First trip to Michigan

A large, iridescent bubble with a faint reflection of a house floating in front of a leafy green tree

We took B to the cottage for the first time. The weather was a bit grey and cool, but it turns out we were lucky. A huge storm ripped through right after we left which took down a tree and made it impossible to reach, also knocked out the power for two days. Followed by temps in the 90s, and B hates heat like that. So it worked out!

Lots of sitting on Great-Grandpa’s bench swing, massive bubbles, sunsets, good food, playing with balls bigger than he is. And we got two afternoons at the beach on the lake. Turns out he absolutely loves cold water. He would crawl up to it, be shocked by a small wave, and then hastily crawl away laughing his head off. And repeat, for 30 minutes. The only things that would distract him was trying to eat pebbles, and shoveling sand into his mouth.

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More plans cancelled

We were supposed to go to the UK for Christmas so that B could meet his Nana and Grandad, his Great-grandma, his auntie and uncle and cousins. So that he could meet Billy and Rae, and our friends. So that we could go for walks on the moor and sit by the fire and visit the Stanza Stones and cook with family.

We’ve had to cancel it, with the new variant.

When will this end? I’m so tired.

At least B has no idea what’s going on.

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Sandsend → Whitby

Walking from Sandsend to Whitby

This new year, we stayed in a cottage in Sandsend with a bunch of close friends. On the 30th, we walked to Whitby along the beach while the tide was out. Top-notch dog watching. It was gorgeous, sunny and around 50F/10C. We all had to take our coats off. Shame it wasn’t so warm on the 1st, we ended up chickening out of a new year’s dip in the sea.

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Gogo Penguin + Koyaanisqatsi, and the memory of a tower in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Last night I went to a live screening of Koyaanisqatsi at EartH in Hackney with GC. I knew Gogo Penguin would be playing live, but I didn’t realise they’d be playing their own re-scoring! Pretty impressive, both the execution and to even take it on considering the epic proportions of Philip Glass’s original score. The synchronisation of the rhythm and the visual was maybe not quite as intricate as the original but it was expertly handled, particularly for a live performance. Most of the time the pace was frenetic, frantic. There weren’t quite as many despairing moments as in Glass’s score, but the overall vibe was very similar.

I need to listen to more Gogo Penguin and definitely need to watch the original film, before this I’d only seen small bits of it.

The derelict facade of the Ljubljanska Banka Tower, or “Sniper’s Tower”, in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Photo taken 15 April 2009

The second half of the film includes many clips of derelict housing projects and other buildings. Those clips unearthed a ten-year-old memory of a tower I’d seen when visiting a good friend in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The angular concrete structure loomed over the playground in Park Zrinjevac. It was an inanimate casualty of the catastrophic conflicts that consumed the region in the early 1990s, abandoned but clinging to a few remnants of glass and insulation.

That much I knew from the pocked concrete, but I didn’t know the specific role it played in the war until today. Once called the Ljubljanska Banka Tower, it’s now known to some as the Sniper’s Tower. It was used by gunmen targeting people below during the 1993–1994 Siege of Mostar. The multiple sieges led to the widespread destruction of the city, and almost 100,000 people fled.

I searched everywhere online for pre-war photos of the tower but couldn’t find any, just this photo taken a few months after I was there. The photographer captured it in much better light than I, the photo hints at the building’s formerly mirrored, golden facade. It still stands from what I gather, but the exterior structure has been removed and the entries have been blocked off. Graffiti artists use it, and urban explorers try to have a poke around. It looks like a skeleton in the more recent images I’ve seen. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable going in.

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A few days in Ceyreste 🇫🇷

Sunrise in October in Ceyreste, France

Spent a few days in Ceyreste (FR) recently with new and old friends to celebrate our dearest GC’s 30th. Lots of good food, time in the sun, swimming, etc, just what the doctor ordered. These are a few things I’d like to remember.


Calanques national park is beautiful. It can also involve some serious walking. I’m glad we brought a proper map, glad that we’d brought enough water between us, glad that we’d just missed peak tourist season, and really glad that GC bought some snacks!

We drove to Cassis and parked as close as we could to Calanque de Port Miou towards the west end of the town. This ended up being the metered parking on the corner where Avenue Révérend Père Jayne turns into Avenue des Calanques, the rest of the way down to Calanque de Port Miou was marked “sauf riverains” or residents entry only. After that we walked down Avenue des Calanques till we hit Port Miou, then we walked southwest on the main gravel path marked white/green/red running parallel to the calanque. We paused where the white path looped north and the green/red path continued southwest, and that’s where LM and DP peeled off with the littlest one in the buggy to head back in to town along a reasonably flat path.

The rest of us continued on the green/red path to Calanque de Port Pin which was slightly rougher going. The rocks got particularly slippery right before the beach. We paused at Port Pin for a swim and to wait for some later arrivals to join us. The water was beautiful, and chilly! It was sunny, but the heavy wind probably contributed to the chill.

Swimming in Calanque de Port Pin in France

After Calanque de Port Pin, KB, SC, and their little one headed back to Port Miou on the white path heading north. The rest of us headed uphill on the green/red/blue path just as some dude with a carbon fibre alphorn showed up… The going was slightly rough but not too bad. The top of the hill was a sort of crossroads with another path running flat along the ridge. It marked the beginning of our descent towards Calanque d’en Vau.

The sign at the crossroads indicated tough terrain, and the path was marked with “danger dots” 🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴 on the map. It was rough, incredibly steep and involved a lot of shuffling around on your butt. It was also super windy. We eventually reached the bottom unbroken and joined a reasonably flat white path leading the rest of the way to Calanque d’en Vau. A 4×4 ambulance blasted past us on this stretch, apparently some hikers had tried to go up the steep cliffside of the calanque and got in to a sticky situation. Unfortunately we got to the beach too late in the day for any sun, but we took a chilly swim anyway. Tons of fish! I’d love to come back to go snorkelling, I’d probably take a different path in though or at least wear much sturdier shoes.

To get back to where we had parked, we had to head back up the danger dots path. It was daunting but way easier going up. We then took a left at the crossroads to head north on the level white/blue path. When we hit what I think was a church, we took a right on a descending white path heading east which merged with the brown/yellow path about halfway down. Eventually Port Miou came in to view, and then the path switchbacked down to where we started.


Learned about a few new cocktails from the masters themselves. Boulevardier = 1 oz bourbon + 1 oz Campari + 1 oz sweet vermouth w/ orange peel to garnish (basically a Negroni w/ bourbon instead of gin). Paper Plane = ¾ oz bourbon + ¾ oz amaro + ¾ oz Aperol + ¾ oz fresh lemon juice. No amaro to be found at the hypermarchet sadly, but they still gave it the old college try and it was pretty tasty.

The ultimate moderator also led us in Werewolf, a game that was new to me. We played a simplified version w/ just a werewolf and a doctor which was perfect for a big group of beginners. It’s pretty similar to Mafia w/o cards.


The plants and landscape in Provence reminded me so much of southern California, and the dry stone walls along many of the smaller roads reminded me of Yorkshire.

There was wild rocket along all the highways just outside of Marseille, but unfortunately not where we were staying. There were a bunch of strawberry trees around the house and a lot of thyme and rosemary which was super useful for cooking. In retrospect I think there might have been savory as well, but I’m not totally sure what that looks or tastes like.

Not sure if I encountered many mosquitos outside but we definitely had 2–3 trapped in our room. I have some gnarly bug bites.


There was so much good food. Definitely glad I remembered lactase pills because it would have been super sad to miss out on the cheese and NB’s excellent carrot cake. Will definitely be referring back to that recipe, particularly since it works well with GF flour as well. And pizza! The place had a pizza oven which was excellent, particularly since the two Italians in the group were kind enough to lend their brains to the operation. Dinner on the last night was a use-up-all-the-things meal, see recipes / descriptions.


It had been far too long since I’d seen so many of these people.

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a dreamy, foggy place

“The way I remember growing up in Venezuela, for instance, it has nothing to do with the reality that is the country right now. I think I’m from a place, but that place doesn’t exist anymore. When you have to integrate into a new place, you are forced to mix so much information that it becomes unclear who you are. You create a new scenario for yourself. I like to think that it’s some sort of utopia, and to see how I can transmit this sort of dreamy, foggy place.”

Sol Calero in a Tate artist interview describing some of the motivation behind her work (source). I’ve felt something similar at times, though certainly not as intense. It’s a “glass half full” description of the feeling, and her work shares that vibe.

Her commission El Autobús 2019 is at the Tate Liverpool until 10 November 2019.

Side note: I think she’s got an old school Indexhibit site. <3

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Val d’Orcia landscape

Tuscan landscape from Borgo di Castelvecchio

This is the view north from Borgo di Castelvecchio in the Val d’Orcia. The poppies were blooming while we were there last weekend. We missed the last bus back to La Foce from our friends’ wedding and ended up walking back 4.8 miles in the early morning along the white roads and SP40. We saw lightning, shooting stars, a dead snake, and a few very lonely fireflies. I’d love to go back, particularly to eat and drink at Dopolavoro La Foce again.