Local Heart, Global Soul

April 12, 2014

Not Water From Wine, But Renewal From Wine Warehouses…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Big cities all over the world are regularly faced with the dilemma of how to upgrade  former industrial areas.

In European cities that have grown substantially over the centuries, industries that were once on the outskirts of the city  now find themselves in prime residential and commercial  areas as the city and it’s population expands.

Inevitably the encroachment means that land prices rise and industrial use is not longer as profitable, transportation of industrial sized goods become difficult in now more densely populated areas and the industries start searching for cheaper land out of town where transport is easier and land prices are cheaper.

This eventually leaves old historical inner city areas run down or derelict and local councils have to decide between demolition or incorporating the old buildings into the regeneration project.

In the Bercy Village area in Paris, France there were long rows of wine warehouses that presented just such a problem  but luckily the solution found was to turn this into an artisan shopping area. The renovated warehouses now house cafés, restaurants and a large variety of shops, I will admit that it is rather touristy, but listening to the languages spoken as I walked past the outside tables of the eateries, it seems to be a popular place with locals too.

I like that some of the original features such as the railway line in the street have been kept, even if they have been filled in and are just symbolic.

The metro station is close by so I passed this every day at various times of day but took the photographs early on a Sunday morning when things were quiet and I could walk and take photos without the jostle and bustle of the crowds. I did try and take photos at other times but it was so busy the views were obscured.

On the Saturday I shopped there buying a long rainbow coloured ribbon on a stick (like the ones rhythmic gymnasts use)  for Kiwi Daughter to play with in the park and a wind-up torch for LittleMr. who was busy at home trying to waste as many batteries as possible with his obsession with torches at the time. Himself  scored some handmade chocolates and a bottle of the very alcoholic type.

The metro station is on the other side of the wine warehouses but instead of getting the business park and office worker commuters to walk around the long row of warehouses, one of the warehouse buildings was left empty, exits made in the back and is now a covered passageway that short-cuts though the line of buildings without changing the style, line or character of the buildings very much at all. It’s the kind of sympathetic solution to solve a practical problem whilst still keeping the history that I love. Ingenious!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

December 23, 2010

Going Potty, being Silly and International Sign Language starts with a smile.

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following up on yesterdays post, where I mislaid and then found a camera chip and wanted to tell you about two more sellers I met in the medieval market in Vila Nova de Cerveira.

Yesterdays post was about a man who faces his impairment head on and works hard despite his disability and he is truly an inspiration to me.

Today’s post was about the genuine friendliness and fun of people despite language barriers.

This gentleman sells pottery items that he has made, I saw his stall and I love pots so went over to have a look. He asked me some questions as he saw my interest and we quickly worked out that my few words of Portuguese and his few words of English were not nearly enough for a conversation.

That didn’t deter us, he clearly wanted to know if I was interested in buying something.  In spite of feeling silly,  I left inhibition behind and with a smile and outstretched arms mimicked an aeoplane  (my arms being the wings) and tried to let him know that we were flying home and that our bags were already full.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

His reaction made it clear that it was a pity, and with a smile he mimicked driving a car, so I got the idea that he meant that next time we should drive to Portugal instead of flying.

Then he noticed that I was smiling as I looked at a chamber pot that had a face on the side of it… he laughingly picked it up and made some more serious arty poses with it as I took photos, then he posed with it upside down on his head.

I left him after a fit of giggles and felt that the world was a better place for having had a good laugh, a good conversation in international sign language and where a little bit of humour and a smile goes a very long way.

It reminds me that meeting the locals is the best bit of travelling abroad, that  being willing to make a gesture to show that you appreciate and admire the goods even if you are not in a practical position to buy, is often appreciated by the seller.

He’s been standing there all day, no doubt many people just averted their eyes and walked on past… a smile was appreciated and we both had a good laugh. This is typical of the down to earth friendliness of the Portuguese, but you know what? Give most people and opportunity to be friendly and in my experience 99.9% of them will.

So… make eye contact, have a laugh, communicate with people, even if you do speak the language, don’t let formality get in the way, smile and go on… dare a little.

These are the true riches of not only travel, but of Life.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 22, 2010

Living your Best Life, an Inspirational Man…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m being a bit haphazard here and skipping back to an earlier post today… I misplaced a camera chip that featured a two more of the artisans who were working and selling at the medieval market that took place on the weekend of the 27th August in Vila Nova de Cerveira.

Today I found the chip at the bottom of the side pocket of my camera bag (looked before there but missed it the first time)  so I’m taking the time to re-visit these two artisans because both were  friendly and delightful and because they made a real impression on me.

Neither spoke more than three words of English and my ten words of Portuguese didn’t go particularly far but sign language and smiles are international and we made do most excellently with both.

Himself has taken the kids and his excellent Portuguese language talent to the tapas restaurant  restrooms for an urgent kid pit-stop, and they wanting to take the short route back to the car afterwards, this was my opportunity to negotiate the one side street full of market stalls that I had not yet seen, so I nipped off to have a look around and will meet up with them at the car.

Two stalls in particular stood out… and this post is about the broom seller.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was instantly clear this this man  suffered from a substantial learning problem, his words came out  slurred and with great difficulty,  but he had a very willing (and very noticeably toothless) smile and when he wasn’t attempting to engage with potential customers he was sitting  on a stool constructing a new brooms before my eyes.

The process is swift, his hands dexterously show that he has done this before, probably thousands of times and the head of the broom takes shape with a speed and ease that makes it looks easy.

I know enough about handwork to know that when it looks that easy it definitely isn’t… if I were ever silly enough to try this, I’d be all fingers and thumbs and people would br cracking up with laughter.

He made a great impression on me because in spite of a clear and profound communication disability, he had found a skill and was attempting to make the very best of it in spite of it.

If you could only have heard him attempting to speak you would understand how painful it must be to put yourself  “out there”  on full show and in full view the market place and public with this kind of impediment. I’m not one brave enough to stand and speak in public willingly at any time, so this man earned my utmost respect for doing this and you know what, his handcrafted brooms were amazing too.

Bravo to this man for not only learning a skill that hopefully helps him to make a living, but for also having the courage to actually set up a stall and do the selling himself.  He is a wonderful example of someone who’s trying hard to look at all the positives in life and not just dwelling on the negatives.

He might have every reason and excuse to use this profound communication problem to not participate fully in life or work,  but it’s clear that he has no intention of letting his difficulties hold him back, and for this he earns my utmost respect.

Sadly even a very beautiful a broom wasn’t going to fit into our bags for the flight home or I would have seriously been thinking about getting one.

I  wanted to make a blog post about him as soon as I found my “lost” photos of him because he is the sort of person who should be an inspiration to us all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 24, 2010

Ants… like you’ve NEVER seen them before…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think that the artisan at the Medieval weekend of 27th August 2010  in Vila Nova de Cerveira,  who made the biggest impression on Family Kiwidutch was George… 

George makes puppets. not glove puppets or rod puppets but Marionette type of puppets.

And what’s special about  George’s marionettes? Well, they are special because they are all Ants.

George hand-makes all his puppets himself and they are a very colorful array of eccentric looking characters.

What’s more they can produce an amazing  amount of movements… and George is an expert when it comes to demonstrating their possibilities.

We had seen George and his wife the evening before, but photography was impossible as it was seriously dark by the time we discovered his stall.   By “we” I mean Kiwi Daughter and I, since Little Mr was rapidly tiring  and fraying around the edges so preferred to sit  with Himself by the restaurant we had eaten at whilst daughter and I had a quick scout around the remaining stalls.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter loved the Ants. so I said to George that we could come back for a proper look the next day to check them out in daylight, and  when I said mentioned this he probably assumed that such a comment was a way of a passer-by to escape  buying something.

When we turned up next morning  he remembered us and was delighted that we had returned as promised.

We got talking, and from what I gather, George worked in the field of  Entomologist in a former career, and has a fascination for ants. In fact he expressly asked me to mention in my blog that most people would not know that ants make up 20% of the earth’s biomass and are very very important  creatures in the world ecosystems. (and No…I didn’t know that, either)

George also asked me a question: Do ants work or survive? I said that they work… “wrong!” he replied,  “people work, work is done for money, ants survive because that is their simple instinct”   So… I’m learning a lot about ants today, as you are too, I assume.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I personally love low-tech toys that use imagination so I was immediately drawn to the Ants.. and so were my children, they fell in love immediately and yes, I was most happy to buy some to bring home.

Now, even if I do have to blow my own trumpet here, my dexterity skills in maneuvering these is better than that of my children.

But when it came to making a small video to show you, it quickly became clear that operating the puppet and filming it at the same time was never going to be a success, so I roped in the kids …  the results are ok, but I can assure you that you can make these walk and dance with a very smooth movement and it looks wonderful.

I can do it “OK” ( better than the kids, but still just “OK”).

Georges did it brilliantly and if I had any sense I should have made the video with him whilst we were at the stall.

Needless to say that at the time I didn’t have any sense. Now I only have 20/20 hindsight.

There is a trick to winding these up and storing these and Little Mr. hasn’t mastered it yet, resulting in me sitting untangling his puppet a lot, but Kiwi Daughter has it down to a fine art and delights in showing off her skills.

We hope in time to get as skilled at working these as George is… Ah ha.. more practice is needed, and with  each practice I can assure you are many squeals of laughter and delight.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 23, 2010

A Rymthic Tap that Rings though the Ages…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the most rewarding parts of the Vila Nova de Cerveira medieval festival is that some of the artisans were on hand  in the streets so that you might actually see them working their craft.

This gentleman was sitting on a very low stool, rhythmically tapping away at a piece of metal with  little hammers,  shaping and embellishing by tapping out patterns with additional little patterning tools.

Passing members of the public stopped to look and asked questions (in Portuguese) and he chatted away, answering them as he worked.

He had a stall close by where examples of his work were displayed for sale.

Like all the other stall holders he was dressed in medieval style clothes and with what he was doing he probably looked much the same as artisans did for centuries before him as they crafted items of beauty like these.

The dexterity of his hands showed years of practice and a true love of  handcrafting the metal.

I can only hope that these aren’t dying arts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Blog at WordPress.com.