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KRAKOW AND AWAY!! – SATURDAY 8th SEPTEMBER.

Packing for the trip was a breeze. I’ve now collected a bundle of stuff that allows me to pick and mix. And be ready to go on my two week Polish adventure with one small backpack. Nothing to check-in and no waiting at the conveyor belt watching all the bags but mine come down.
All checked in. Easy. Security. Easy. A seat and a roll and a tea at Pret a Manger.. Easy. Flight delayed…. Lots of things are buzzing in my mind. Modern technology is great. A few emails and texts to sort out tasks for my return. There are times when the glamour of flying wears off. One is being on damp tarmac, breathing in the aroma of fumes from the plane’s engines before trooping up the stairs to your seat.
The feeling of suspended animation when flying is unnerving. What if everyone collectively stopped believing that these tons of metal etc could really fly. We were rolling over the ground below and it was laid out like an endless road to nowhere, busy going somewhere. A plane in the distance was slicing its way through the horizon. Foretelling of the soon to arrive sunset.
I watched and listened. What do people find to talk about non-stop. The stewards and stewardesses never stopped talking as they stood in their oblivious huddle. Maybe something I should learn if I am spending two weeks helping Polish business people to improve their conversational English.
The carpet lights of Krakow unfolded below and I had arrived to begin a two week volunteer session with Anglovile.
Krakow is a lovely city. The Main Square has an atmosphere and feel of its own. Lively. Busy. Friendly. A buzz without over buzzing. High quality musicians playing for and earning their keep. Gentle conversations outside the resteraunts that are placed around the Square. And off course a Starbucks. A young crowd on the move. A young man came and offered me the chance to drink, relax and watch girls dancing in a club. I think he picked the wrong guy there.

These two weeks in Poland with @angloville will be a great opportunity to put things down. The Angloville experience makes me think of my Blue Star Camps experience in America. For a period of time you can immerse yourself in it. Step away from the regular and normal day to day life.
A vegetarian meal option for the next two weeks will be great. A chance to rest my digestive system and stimulate my pallet. Especially if they stop serving such nice meat and chicken options.

K

THE BLAKKKLANSMAN

20th AUGUST 2018

The film is excellent and has a suitable ending. Hollywood likes things to end with sweet American Apple wholesomeness. This goes somewhere else. Somewhere towards the truth and reality. You have to see it on the big screen for yourself.
Images from Charlottesville, Virginia when on August 12th, 2017 a car was rammed into anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstrators. 32-year-old Heather Heyer died as a result. Nineteen others were injured. There is more to the story and the demonstrations and the plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, but any person specifically ramming a car into people…..
Former kkk grand wizard david duke quoting trump from a campaign speech. I believe the role is now called national director – looks better.
There were some good parallels to the lives of Americans of the 70’s and to now. The smirk when a white officer was pointing out the possibility of a racist supporter of the kkk as President. It would have been the same if you mentioned having a Black President. One that was more eloquent than his successor. But for some people it doesn’t matter what they get, as long as it’s not Black, Jewish, Gay or female.
A couple of times there were some wake up calls to black people. They shot towards me with the whoosh of starlight passing.
I often leave movies like this questioning my position and privilege. And my own whiteness. And my relationships with so many white people across the globe.

The Q and A…. A Spike Lee joint.
The film was beamed to 116 theatres across the country and maybe beyond. The q and a session came to use in clarity from The BFI on the Southbank, London. Looking cool, fashionable and confident he took his seat to cheers. And a few standing cheers. I experienced this as a lost moment. I wondered why a few people left our cinema half way through. The questions from the Twittersphere were focused and clear. The interviewer seemed to ask the question, then ask again, then again in a combination of words. It is as if modern interviewers aren’t sure of their craft. Parkinson and Frost got to the point. Spike well sometimes he was informative about American culture both then and now. His film career and experience. American politics and Brexit. How the film, Birth of the Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915) directly revived the klan in the U.S. and led to lynching’s, castrations and murders of AFRO-AMERICANS. Because they were BLACK! And he rambled and interrupted the people asking questions. The film was originally called The Clansman. The two questions from the audience rambled and he didn’t listen – interrupted with the thought in his head. I suppose that’s real but to me it means you aren’t listening. And people need to be advised to really focus their question so more people can speak. To write their question down. Interviews like this can be rich and more than just chances to pat each other and hug.

MY HOMETOWN
The Showroom cinema in Sheffield is a clean, comfortable, welcoming venue. Good food and good service. I like sitting by the window and watching the world groove by. It’s a great example of a truth – Northerners are friendlier.
This is a hard-hitting film that flows across a sweet soul soundtrack, beautiful afros and beautiful black faces, moments of intense fear, intense hatred and anger from black and white characters, confusion, silent audiences and clapping audiences. See it for yourself. Take your friends and children. It’s not about being good or bad. It’s about being ALIVE in one of the most challenging but exciting times in history. And being part of that history. The story isn’t over but its truth can be avoided.
WALK OUT TO SEE THIS FILM WITH YOUR CHILDREN (15 PLUS) OR FRIENDS OR FAMILY OR ANYBODY.
DARE TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE UNCOMFORTABLE BUT TRUE.

@spikelee @klan @showroomcinema @bfi

GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY!! – DECEMBER 2017

​There are 3 core quotes to the soundtrack of my life at present – 

Kenny Loggins – “What you learn when you jump” (from the album Live at the Redwoods”.

Joseph Campbell – “Follow your bliss”

Muhammad Ali – “I know who I am”

It’s 5 months since I “started following my bliss”. It has been true that doors, experiences and ideas have appeared where I did not think they were. And they are just for me. Some days I am 100% happy and other days less than 100%. And that is o.k. Never below 80% because I have a blessed life. I have a resting state of joy. Being happy is really bliss. And bliss is joy. And joy is what I swim around in. Joy and bliss are emotions that I can take control of and direct. Therefore, I am not dependent on others for my happiness or joy. If you are only happy because I am – that’s up to you. 

I have changed and am changing my relationship with lots of things and people – directly, indirectly and organically. I was initially worried and unsettled by not having a “home”. The physical thing. Possessions, doors, keys, my…. Then I realised that I could be my “home”. And now I recognise that the reason I feel at home here in Perth. Or loved Berlin. Or feel settled in Sheffield is because I am my home. And therefore home goes where I go. And I create home anywhere. My life is not valued or judged against anyone else’s life. I don’t have to keep up with the Jones’s or worry about them. I set my goals and values.

MY AIM IS TO LIVE A LIFE FULL OF AUTHENTICITY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE AND EMPATHY.                    TO GROW AS A DISRUPTOR.

WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR life when you unhook from some of the things the capitalist system has and needs you to log into. No car. No Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, xmas? New Year, Valentines Day, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Bosses Day – every day. Rewrite YOUR relationship to them. Each year there is something more to buy because your children won’t wear the same Halloween costume each year. And it won’t be long before that three meat bird becomes four. Something more to buy and stress about. 

https://youtube/FJKQS_p9q5k

INCOGNITO – GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY.

‘LET PEOPLE DOWN OR LET YOURSELF UP!!’

JUMP, FLY, SOAR – has allowed a new freedom. Where do I go? When do I go?  I can change the plans if I want to?  What if Australia/Asia is just my winter spot? Or actually it’s summer now. I could spend three months here in the sunshine. Volunteer at the Perth Festival, meet people, write, sleep, read and join in events. Every year.

Stresses – the stress in my life now is around physical travelling – planes, buses. But once you learn the route. The stress level lowers. I have discovered Airport Lounges and for £40 a go reduced my stress levels. Wi-fi – I discovered how to turn of mobile data and turn on wi-fi in coffee shops like this. Stress level lowered. Banks/cash cards/pin numbers etc. I have more than one card with me – levels lowered

Meanwhile – the lifestyle here in Perth is sunny. Lots of space. No crowds – except at xmas – outside of the city or shops and malls. Clean streets. Relaxed. Newness of the housing estates. Seeing the sun flashing on the sea from the train window. The experiences are new – my accent is of interest to some people. Bus and train staff are helpful and smile. Air con on the train. Everywhere, everywhere serves good coffee!

Black people – women too – smile and say hi. Just like Berlin and not like London or Brighton or Sheffield.

Stickys – that fly that won’t go away. I see very few convertibles. Finding great t-shirts. Wearing flip flops. The humidity and heat. Lots of water to drink – cucumber/lemon to taste. Less use of skin creams and sprays. The temperature – what is it? 

Today Wednesday 20th December is 27° centigrade and 36°humidity.

I can tick off Asia from my list of continents to see. I visited Bangkok and Bali. Well if they can have a show called “Asia’s got talent” – I can tick my list.

K.S. – 20th DECEMBER 2017

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/143093-follow-your-bliss-if-you-do-follow-your-bliss-you
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/389529-i-know-where-i-m-going-and-i-know-the-truth

FOLLOW YOUR BLISS AND DONT BE AFRAID – SEPTEMBER 2017

​NERVOUS AND READY TO GO.

Do you ever worry about dying?  I don’t.  If heaven or whatever you call it exists then death means I might get to see my mum again. Which means this world is just a series of stops to enjoy. And when we put our “first world” problems in perspective life becomes more manageable. The bus is late versus a gunman just shot my family. 

Sunday, six a.m. and my lovely friends dropped me at Doncaster airport. Twenty minutes later and I am enjoying a fried breakfast. Small airports are so sleek. And I love to get all the paperwork done and chill. The plane was an Embraer 175. Small with two cabin staff. And I had a front seat all to myself. I travel with two rucksacks. The larger for clothes, wash kit, etc and a smaller day sac. Both are carry on bags = great. No hanging about. As the plane rumbled along the runway and powered into the blue sky my nerves lowered. And that immense feeling of joy bubbled up. Like when you hear that your team has won the cup. And as this light plane sliced through the clouds on its descent to Berlin Tegel airport. The bumps and shudders are no worry.

Great to arrive. Disconcerting at first. You walk out into this new airport, country, people, sounds and excitement. Which way? No faces that I recognise. It is all new.

Once I was settled in my accommodation I went to explore. I love Berlin already. Not just the interesting buildings, colours, there’s a marathon today, the tram but many shops are closed on Sunday. Aldi, a good British institution, and other supermarkets are closed. Some smaller shops are open. That’s refreshing. I walked out and chose the first left. It was also election day, so there were lots of posters around. Especially anti-nazi ones. This part of East Berlin doesn’t welcome them. Posters and graffiti say it. As was proved in the past, silence is a good friend of hate. I found the Mauer(wall in German)market. A ginormous flohmarkt (fleamarket) with so many things old and new from food, clothes, furniture, cakes, books, crafts to eating places. Most shocking of all is there are more vinyl record stalls than you could shake a turntable at. For a vinyl record fan, Berlin is heaven. Hell for the travel budget. The street I am staying on has about four vinyl record shops. Almost as many as the whole of Brighton. I don’t have a home. Everything is in store. So not buying more “things” has been one of the greatest releases of this adventure. I flick through the boxes but I won’t buy. It’s just more stuff. More stuff to carry. On one side of the Park, near the basketball players and their game, there’s a great street performer. Juggling, laughing and making the crowd buzz. I grab a coffee and a seat by the entrance to the park. This is where The Berlin Wall stood. Along this line. The street exhibitions tell the story. And now I sit here safe and free.


There’s a D.J. playing some chilled music and improvising. Setting a nice vibe and atmosphere as the evening steps in. He’s not a trump fan he tells us with a few too many expletives. But it all adds to the colour. I sit and watch the carnival of Berlin life cruising by. All sorts of locals and tourists brushing past and through. I wonder, is this the spot where if you sat long enough all the people of Berlin would walk past you?

I woke with joy on my first Monday in Berlin. Excited. Sparking. Buzzing. Thinking, feeling and knowing that this is the right thing.

I am doing a German language course. There are people from eight countries on my course. All beginners who are learning in order to work and to live in Berlin. They are from Japan. South Korea. U.S.A. France. Iran/Belgium. Norway. Canada. Vietnam. We are friends. Have lunch, good conversation, learn about Germany, each other and our countries’ and enjoy our time together. Great company. 

A friend likened learning a new language to the first week at the gym. Exhausting but after that it gets easier. And this second course is just that. A great brain workout but I am not so tired this time. My brain is expanding. It is making new and restarting old connections. The two teachers also have a great style and only speak in German. Challenging. Stimulating. Just fun.

I went for a walk to the area near Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm (a 368 metre high tower). To explore. Take some photos. This is the first city that I could find my way with a tourist map. The city has a young feel but it is not exclusive of ages. There are so many places to eat. So many places to shop. And few chains. Lots of independent cafes, resteraunts and stores. Berlin is an ecclectic fashion mix. It feels like if it works for you wear it. You can have a hair out of place. I am thinking I need to get some new clothes.

I saw a woman begging by the door to a church. Ignored. We chatted and she pointed a building across the way to visit. I saw the same in Valencia.

There is a thoughtful, sometimes serious vibe that is able to relax in this city. Without taking itself seriously. And it has a creative essence. David Bowie was inspred by the city. It feels like a great city to write. So I booked a second week of German lessons. I want to see some museums, hang out with friends and catch up on my blogging. Sometimes things happen around me and I need to take time to put it all together. There are four blogs that I want to write about the adventure to date. I wonder, how will it feel to complete them all?

Well, this is the fourth one.

K.S.
Follow your bliss by Joseph Campbell.

HERE COMES THE SUN – VALENCIA SEPTEMBER 2017.

YouTube is a great invention. Marvin Gaye’s greatest hits playing in the background. A chilly but light Berlin day is pouring through the windows. Over an excellent coffee and a flapjack I finished reading Wuthering Heights. Berlin is that sort of city and why I find myself spending longer here. I am in the mood to be creative. My blog ideas about Valencia fill my mind now.

The city has long been on my list. Ever since I saw the magnificent 1961 Hollywood film, El Cid. Charlton Heston and a stunning Sophia Loren. It is the story of Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, known as El Cid, and his military successes which played a great part in uniting Spain in the 11th century. Three hours of drama, battles, lovely outfits and real armies battling not CGI. El Cid is a Spanish hero. Charlton was portrayed as a gun crazy, old man in the Bowling for Columbine film. But I was surprised to read of his part, alongside several white Hollywood actors in supporting the Civil Rights movement. But something changed.

https://youtu.be/VrkqD7JKDcA

Valencia is a port city on the South Eastern coast of Spain. It is known as the City of Arts and Sciences. And the modernity is engaging. And its history is stunning. Great history and culture in the buildings and streets. On every corner. Superlatives abound and are not out of place. Churches that look small from the outside but when you enter they are cathedralesque in their style, beauty, grandeur and perfectly maintained. Loved with the spirit of their God. The history of the Christians and Moors seamlessly standing beside the modern and imaginative buildings. I love walking around cities. Exploring. Getting lost. It gives you a flavour of life there, especially if you are away from the tourist spots. Valencia has streets built for this. Just wandering. Safely. But also its fair share of shops. All shapes and sizes. The men and women of Valencia are fashionable, stylish and always immaculate. In a city bathed in sunshine, history and great fresh orange juice they seem serious, unhappy and in some ways stressed. Or was that just me?  There is also a universal sight – homeless people and people begging.


I did a one week Spanish course. To pick up bits of the language, learn about the culture and meet people. It worked. Travelling alone can be good. You move at your own pace but can be lonely. The structure of a course is good – arrive for 9 a.m. No sleeping in. It was exhausting because of having to concentrate, focus, listen, translate Spanish to English, understand it, find the words and most of all not speak English. From the start the tutor only spoke Spanish. A great way to immerse yourself in a language. But tiring. Of course google translate helps. It was part of my little win one morning when I found the place to buy stamps. The course was a good move.  The other people on the course were all interesting, friendly, welcoming and good fun. Eight of us from Germany, Holland and England. Chats, laughs, stories and chilling out together. All of us in holiday mode. It was good to have company to go to the beach, have a drink or meal. And then find our own time. The hot sandy beaches of Valencia are a joy. Warm, inviting blue seas with waves to knock you about and ease the muscles. And sufficient eye candy walking by on a regular basis. Some distractions are a good thing.

The main site for filming El Cid is the town of Peñiscola, which is about 90 minutes from Valencia by train. I was so pleased I went there. Using my “Spanglish” I got a train and a taxi to and from the nearest station. The Castillo de Peñiscola is a splendid 13th century castle built by the Knights Templar. The views across The Mediterranean and the town are beautiful when the sun is pouring out. Stunning. I am always impressed by the skills, strengths, knowledge and commitment of those who built these buildings. Precariously perched on very strategic points. But the inaccessible is made accessible. I spent an hour just looking, enjoying and moving around on the battlements. Taking it all in. The castle and area have a real sense of place. The story I have about the place, plus it’s history, the experience of touring the castle and its information combine with my imagination and emotions to give the building a life. I can feel and sense soldiers or the film crew moving about the place. There is a strong sense of place as I move around these places. The spirit and essence of its inhabitants is all around. The steps, the walls, the corners. Each curve shares a piece of its story. 

And as the sun and I begin our journey, home the colours and reflections add a new beauty to the grandeur of the castle.

K.S.

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