Talent versus the overrated amateur

Caravaggio rules!!!

Have We Had Help?

Many consider Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid) to be a literary genius, and continue to do so even now in the twenty-first century. Having read his Poems of Exile, I came away with the feeling that his was a childlike approach to writing. Hardly the pen of a competent adult writer. Judge for yourself:

For you no purple slip-case (that’s a colour 5 goes ill with grief), no title-line picked out in vermilion, no cedar-oiled backing, no white bosses to set off those black edges: leave luckier books to be dressed with such trimmings: never forget my sad estate. 10 No smoothing off your ends with friable pumice — appear for inspection bristly, unkempt. And don’t be embarrassed by blots. Anyone who sees them will sense they were due to my tears.c

Ovid. The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters (p. 3). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

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The City Where Narcissus Blooms

More from Justin in Malta…

The Champagne Epicurean

A flowering cathedral

The full name of Florence’s Duomo – or cathedral – is the Santa Maria del Fiore. It is one of the most imposing buildings you’re ever likely to see in Europe. It feels like a Herculean Tetris puzzle crowned by the red-brick masterpiece of Brunelleschi.

Beauty tends to attract beauty. Or at least, the seekers of beauty. And this can be a bittersweet burden.

The Duomo is a photogenic church. You will be taking photos of it from every angle and at various times of day. It is particularly eloquent during sunset. In fact, when I went to visit the interior of the cathedral, one of the resident guides said that the church bells ring one hour before sunset, during sunset and one hour after sunset. It’s almost as if the cathedral knows how good it looks in the soft hours of sunset.

And most of the…

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Ponte Vecchio Poems

More from Justin in Malta…

The Champagne Epicurean

The process of appreciating a city doesn’t always follow a love-at-first-sight model.

First impressions are not always the most lasting. Florence needs some time. It can be hard to love a city when you’re surrounded by group after group of tourists using their Yoga experience to bend over into odd positions to take the fifth perfect shot of the duomo.

The grandeur of the buildings can be diminished in the peak times of day. It’s like seeing a beautiful, attractive woman dead drunk.

Luckily, Florence is a schizophrenic city. I mean that in the best possible ways. If you’re adventurous and dedicated enough to wake up as early as you can in the morning, preferably at the hour of sunrise, you will see and appreciate what all the hype is about. And you will fall in love.

It happened to me specifically on the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge that’s withstood…

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The Four B’s of Budapest – III – Buda Castle

Justin on Budapest 😉

The Champagne Epicurean


A Medieval castle built in the 13th century that was renovated into a Baroque behemoth in the 18th.

Buda Castle is the landmark that is most prominent on the banks of the Danube. It controls an eye-catching hill, just across Chain Bridge, and at night is a fortified beacon of soft pride.

Nowadays, the building no longer serves as a castle. Once a royal castle and the main bulwark protecting Buda and Pest, now it houses the Hungarian National Gallery and History Museum. The times have converted the palace into a centre of art and culture.

When I was there, I was happy to learn that an exhibition of the major works of Frida Kahlo was on display.

I had decided to walk to the castle from the Jewish District. I crossed Elizabeth Bridge, walked long stretches of leafy Buda, then climbed the gardens, elevators and…

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Glacier Country

Do you fancy deliberately freezing your rocks off on holiday?

The Champagne Epicurean

20180714_120044 And we’re off. Taken care off by the staff of the Hotel Lago Grey, we entered the frigid domains of the icy lake.

20180714_120049 This truly is mountain country. And we were fortunate that, for the day, the clouds had lifted, revealing the full splendour of the mountains.

20180714_120054 There it is, the first view of the first of the three imposing glaciers.

IMG_3873 The peaks of the Torres del Paine – those blue mountains, the giants of the lake, and a sight forever etched in our humbled memories.

IMG_3875 Pieces of the glaciers making a run for it. The lake was filled with ice, making navigation here a scientific work-of-art.

IMG_3876 Hauntingly beautiful; the lake was surrounded 360 degrees by imposing, white-clad mountains. A landscape of absolute dreams.

IMG_3877 You could not take a bad shot out on deck. No matter how badly your hands froze!

IMG_3881 The glaciers, behemoths millions of years old, incredible, silent…

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Artist Friend Joyce Eide

A little something from our Christine 😉 xx

Before Sundown

Sad news! Joyce Eide, age 87, passed away on December 13, 2017 after a long illness. She was born on September 21, 1930. Rest in peace, my good friend. She leaves an afterglow of smiles for us. Let the memory of Joyce be a happy one.

This is a repost from 8/10/2014 introducing Joyce and her art work .

In the late 1970s, I met artist Joyce Eide in the town of Lindos, located in the south-east of Rhodes Island. Lindos was famous for its white cubist houses packed tightly around winding cobblestone streets, and for its community of artists. I loved Joyce’s art work and we continued contact while we both lived in Greece, and then in California.  But we lost touch for many years. Luckily, I found Joyce on a Google search through Artexchange.com. Part of that write up is in this blog post. I’ve also posted a…

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Don’t Tell Me I’m Lucky

Its never easy dealing with fools!!!

Lucy Brazier

“Oh, aren’t you lucky to be doing the thing you love!”

A well-meaning yet slightly irritating woman pronounced this to me the other day and I bristled at her words. Of course, being unfailingly British in my inability to express the more robust of emotions (unless I’ve had a couple of gins, obviously) I simply smiled politely in response. But, actually, inside I was quietly incensed. Luck has played the most minor of roles in the continuing chronicles of my becoming a writer.

Without wishing to delve too far into the more personal aspects of my life, I can assure you that the sacrifices I have made in order to chase my dream have been substantial. In fact, to even give the dream a glimmer of hope of survival, I gave up pretty much everything I had – personally, professionally and materially. For reasons best left in the past, I…

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Thursday Doors

More from our Jean 😉 x

Jean Reinhardt


I just couldn’t resist taking some photos of this wee cottage for Thursday Doors. It’s near where we parked our car on our last visit to Killykeen Forest Park in Cavan (featured in last week’s post).


Nature is slowly reclaiming the space, as you can see from the image. I wonder where the descendants are now, of the people who originally lived there. I peeked inside the door but it was too dark to see anything clearly and I wasn’t adventurous enough to brave the creepy crawlies I knew would be lurking within, ready to pounce on me, at any moment. I could feel their eyes staring at me through the darkness – okay, so I’m exaggerating slightly, it’s the writer in me coming out.


The house we are living in now, and still renovating, wasn’t quite as bad as this one but it was getting there. You might have…

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