Sunday Salon…16 June

Snip20190515_3I have noticed quite a few book blogs participate in Sunday Salon.  I’m sorry but I don’t know who it originated with. It’s not my idea though.  It is a recap of the week of the blogger where they get a chance to sit with friends, maybe have a coffee in hand and chat about how their week went regarding their interests, mainly books, but also life. I have thought of adding it to my blog so today is the day I begin…

I arrived home from Morocco on Thursday night very jet lagged.  It is a long haul flying to Australia from that part of the world.  I slept off and on for three days and have now emerged quite refreshed. Going from a very high heat to a wintry Tasmania hasn’t helped either.

I will post photos up in the coming weeks but wanted to touch base with people who are interested in life in Tassie.

I managed to read two books during my 25 day tour. I finished off The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in audio version, mainly on long bus rides as we toured Spain, Portugal and Morocco. I enjoyed this book but if you are one of the few that haven’t read it yet I suggest you read a copy of it and not listen to the audible version.  The audio version uses quite cartoon like character voices in the narration of this story and it grated on my nerves at times. I noticed later on, when reading reviews on Good Reads the same comments were made regarding audible. I should have listened to the sample reading first. I will in future.

Author Amy Tan

It is the story of four generations of women from China as their lives evolved and followed the youngest generation as she ends up in the United States. It was mainly depicted realistically I thought most of the time. Living in multi-cultural Australia, it is obvious to see how a new generation finds it easier as they have the English language to assimilate more easily. The first generation in a new country has many obstacles to overcome but future generations are the ones who learn the language and cultural ways of the new country. This can create difficulties between the parents and their children as each learn to understand the cultural differences within their own family as this growth develops.

Magda Szubanski highlights this as well in her book Reckoning as her family get used to Australian life  having immigrated from Poland.

The other difficulty I had with the book is the way the narration jumps around. I found it very distracting. I would be well and truly involved in one character’s life then it would switch to another person in another time in another country.  It was difficult at times, especially with an audio book, where I couldn’t flip back through pages to determine whose story was being told.  The great grandmother? The grandmother? The mother?  I would have preferred a narrative from one generation to the next in sequence but after rewinding the book a few times I was able to determine who was speaking.

I don’t think it is a great book as many on Good Reads seem to think but it was an interesting story that held my attention most of the time when I wasn’t being distracted by travel. I may have rated it higher if I were at home, reading comfortably in a chair for a prolonged period of time on a rainy day.

I’ll write about the second book I read on the flight home in a day or so. I enjoyed it much more but it was a completely different type of book. More to come on that soon.

I am happy to be home and it was fun to see my dogs explode in place when they realised I was back.  Even our cats followed me around for a couple of days.  It is now time to enjoy the winter months of Tasmania and look forward to the next journey the end of September. Hope this finds everyone doing well. Camera Penguin

Street Scenes from a Bus in Lisbon, Portugal

I like taking phone photos from a bus or train when travelling. I thought I’d share a few here.

Woman opening shop for the day
Town Square
Red plus shadow
Empty building, bathtub full of stuffed toy sardines. Portugal famous for sardines
Iconic scene of clothes hanging from buildings
Tram lines.
Church side of monastery
City streets lined with trees


Best custard tarts on earth.

Book Fair in Lisbon with the Penguin and friends.

Driving into Lisbon on our tour bus we noticed a very large exhibition happening in a park. Turns out that park is five minutes from our hotel and the exhibition is a book fair. There were tents and stalls set up everywhere surrounded by beautiful Jacaranda trees in full bloom. After our morning city tour and a tour through the monastery and eating the best cream tarts in the world three of us headed out to look at what it is all about. I might add it is 36 degrees C outside and feels hotter.

This book fair has been held for 89 consecutive years in Lisbon without fail. Thank goodness that most books are in Portuguese so I was not tempted to buy any. Most stalls featired new books but we did see a couple of places selling antiquarian books. Many educational resources also for school children. We spent close to an hour looking at everything but without much shade and too much cement ground cover the intense mid afternoon heat won out and we headed back to the hotel about 15 to 20 minutes away. It was certainly a fun experience. I enjoyed seeing the different covers on familiar titles. Here are the photos. The fair goes from mid May to mid June. One month of books!

Walking across the park to fair
The setup


Interesting cover
Cute poster
Book seller
Another different cover
More covers
Children being read to and practising language lesson
More books
Another poster
One book seller liked the Penguin and pulled out books with a penguin for him. I had to laugh.
Games and books
Another penguin book for guess who.
Yes, he’s on a roll.
Welcome cold beer back at the hotel.

Coimbra, Portugal

As  expected this trip has been full on and not much time to post anything. Also very tired at end of today. We are at Coimbra, Portugal on the way to Lisbon. You will need to google it if inerested. Today we had free time from 12 :30 through the evening. I actually got to sleep 2 hours this afternoon so feel good enough to pop up a post.

We did a city tour this morning. There is an old (1700s) university here and we got to visitt the library. So fascinating. A couple of floors of very old books but no photos allowed on upper floor but could take some on the lower floor.

They have a first edition Shakespeare copy of Hamlet. The walls are 2 meters thick and to get rid of silverfish eating these old tomes they have a couple of openings in the wall to let in tiny bats that live here. I saw them flying around my hotel window last night. The bats fly into the library and eat the silverfish. All the old wooden tables are covered up nightly and a cleaner comes in each morning to clean up bat droppings. The library is still used by researchers and PhD students.

After that we walked around the touristy area of the city, heading down hill towards the river and back to our hotel. Here are a set of miscellaneous photos.

Knick knacks
Man at the table next to us at cafe
Loved my hot chocolate cup.
Street art.
Street entertainer. He was hilarious.
Founder of university. Didn’t catch his name but like his scholarly look.
Penguin found some stationery at the university
Library where photos were allowed.





Barcelona..Travellin’ with the Penguin

Sunday 19th May

This morning I met Glynnis, ftom Perth, who was at breakfast and participating in our small tour. Our meeting drinks are tonight when we meet the others and the guide.

I woke at 4:00 am as young people poured out of clubs, drunk,  singing sporting songs as loud as they could, fully lubed. Sporting songs sound the same in any language.

I fell asleep very early last night and felt rested. Once it got light, around 5:45 I walked around the block and took photos. Several people with their well oiled mates stopped and posed for me. It was very funny.

After breakfast my Florida friend and my new friend, Glynnis and I set out to explore Las Ramblas street. A popular tourist destination. We walked a long ways down the street until we hit water. Overall I walked 10 kms today. I will leave you with some of the photos.

Markets, families, tourists, balloons
Colourful cafes
Art and statues
Street entertainer, Don Quixote
Penguin and I share a beer.
When Mr P and I travel I always take a photo of his first beer of the trip. He’s home with pets so I had to do it for him. Here’s to Mr Penguin.


Have Arrived in Barcelona

Those who live in Australia will understand the no man’s land that is “travelling to Europe”. One hour from Hobart to Melbourne, 14 hours to Abu Dhabi, a couple more airport hours then seven hours to Barcelona. It does seem never ending but I did watch three movies, read some of The Joy Luck Club and dozed a bit.

My bags stayed right with me and Penguin jumped out completely unscathed.

I met up with my Florida friend who arrived a couple of hours after I did and waited in my room while the hotel got her room ready.

We were a bit hungry so walked across the street and found a nice bakery with beautiful pastries, sandwiches and pizza. They also had nice coffee. It feels like it should be midnight but is only around noon.

Next door to the bakery is a beautiful book store. We noticed it immediately. No flies onnus. We headed straight into it. Too tired and flaky to notice the name of it but we are in this hotel until Wednesday so might remember to look at it. Our tour group of no more than 20 people begins Sunday night with a welcome drink. I’m having fun teasing my American friend who joined us from Florida who will be amongst all the Australians.

I will put photos at the end of my posts as I’m using my tablet and it doesn’t seem possible to configure images. You might have giant images with little writing. Here are a couple of photos.

The camera bag and home for Penguin are ready
Hobart airport
Leaving Abu Dhabi
The beautiful little journals I found in the book store. Penguin got right onto them.
Yes, this photo is fuzzy. It’s how we are seeing things at the moment.

Don’t believe all those glossy, glorious photos you see of people travelling on Instagram. The reality is not that fresh. Until later…

The Joy Luck Club for Travel Reading

I leave for Europe on Friday morning for approximately one month.  I’m catching up with two women friends travelling to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

I wanted something

Although I travel with Kindle books I do love this Penguin cover of all of the covers I’ve seen of this book.

big but not too heavyweight to read on the plane and in my hotels.  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is a book I have always wanted to read. I remember reading the wonderful book Wild Swans years ago by Jung Chang. What I loved about that book was not only learning much more about China and the politics of the Cultural Revolution but I loved the families involved. I never forgot that book and the Joy Luck Club seems a similar type of novel.

Good Reads describes it as:

Amy Tan’s beloved, New York Times bestselling tale of mothers and daughters

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.Snip20190515_2

Wikipedia describes:

Amy Tan (born February 19, 1952) as an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese American experience. Her novel The Joy Luck Club was adapted into a film in 1993 by director Wayne Wang.

Tan has written several other novels, including The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement. Tan’s latest book is a memoir entitled Where The Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir (2017).[1] In addition to these, Tan has written two children’s books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series that aired on PBS.

Despite her success, Tan has also received substantial criticism for her depictions of Chinese culture and apparent adherence to stereotypes. (Hmmmm…We’ll see.)

I downloaded a Kindle Read/Listen copy of this book and began it a couple of days ago. It has already drawn me into it a bit. As I seldom sleep well on a plane,  I look forward to settling on my long flight with my headphones and tablet, ready to disappear into another realm.

This book was developed into both a play and a film also, neither of which I have seen. I’ll let you know what I think of this once I finish it.

I hope to put up a few travel photos and stories of my trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.  I will be more focused on photography than book stores but if I come across anything interesting about either I will be sure to save and hopefully share it.

I do find travel exhausting and night time often has me stretched out on a lovely hotel bed with my tablet, books and reviewing the day’s activities. I don’t like television in hotel rooms as at the end of the day I prefer silence.

I return home about mid June. Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll produce a few things on this blog but it will be basic as I’m not taking my laptop and my tablet does funny things with photos on Word Press.

PS-  Penguin is leaving the page tomorrow and getting in the suitcase to share the experience. I will send photos of him as it is always fun to travel with a Penguin.

Camera Penguin
Looking forward to snuggling in my case.