This blog began on a more personal level than it now is; it was a way both to diarise for myself and to share with friends and family my various life adventures. Over the years, given the more sinister turn the online world of social media has taken, with the capturing and misuse of our personal information, I have become wary of sharing the more specific and intimate details of my life and so this blog has morphed into something that, instead, reflects some of the things that interest me. As the heading indicates, sconzani now contains ‘sprinklings of history, a smidgen of genealogy, a dash of art & a dusting of architecture, all mixed together with my eccentric fascinations’.
Still, as the decade comes to a close, I, like many other people, have been reflecting on the changes the last ten years have brought and I’ve found this blog invaluable for meandering through my own memories. I’ve chosen a blog from each of the last ten years as an example of where life has been taking me.
Way back on 2 November 2010, when I still lived in New Zealand, I began this blog with a post entitled ‘43 more sleeps’, about my forthcoming return to Cambodia, to spend – for the second time – my Christmas holidays volunteering as an English teacher at a local NGO. As we shall see, those volunteering stints changed my life.
|2011: leaving behind my fabulous Auckland city view|
By 10 April 2011, when I blogged ‘Dream. Plan. Do!’, huge changes were afoot: I was just days away from leaving Auckland to move to Cusco, Peru, where I lived and worked for the next 18 months, as Project manager for a British NGO operating in South America. As well as blogging about my very rewarding work, I wrote a lot about work trips to Colombia and Argentina; border runs to Bolivia to renew my Peru visa; and holiday time exploring much of Peru and Bolivia, and a little of Chile.
It’s been a joy looking through my 2012 blogs – so much exploring, so many lovely people, such fun times. Here’s just one example of the amazing festivals that seemed almost continuous in Peru: my blog from 21 July 2012 ‘Inti Raymi II’, about the local mid-winter solstice celebrations in Cusco.
I left Peru at the end of 2012 but continued to work, for several months, for the same British NGO, as Development manager based in their Siem Reap office, in Cambodia. And then the need to sort out some financial issues in New Zealand drew me, unexpectedly, back to Auckland. I summarised that year in my blog ‘The year that was: 2013’, published on 31 December.
2014 began in New Zealand and ended with me living in Cheshire, in England, lodging with a friend I’d worked with in Peru. In the months between I’d enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Morocco, a country that had long been on my wish list; visited friends in England; returned to New Zealand and, not able to settle down to life back in New Zealand, quit my job to return to England, with an amazing holiday in Tanzania on the return journey. On 24 October I published a blog entitled ‘Tanzania: Meeting the Maasai’, giving a taste of the incredible experience of spending time in a Maasai village.
|2015: exploring Chicago|
You might by now be forgiven for thinking I have very itchy feet! During 2015, I decided I wanted to move (perhaps) permanently to Britain so, by the end of the year, I had returned to New Zealand, sold my apartment, packed up my belongings, and moved to Cardiff in Wales. And, never one to waste a journey, I had spent a week visiting my lovely friend Trudey in Wisconsin, burned shoe rubber exploring Chicago, and enjoyed a volunteering holiday in Nicaragua. Here’s a snippet from my time with Trudey and some of her women friends, ‘Wisconsin: Road trip to Washington Island’, published on 14 August 2015. What a hoot that day was!
|2016: 'Walking with Mary' in Draethen woods|
And so to a more settled life in south Wales. It may not be as exotic as some of the places I’ve lived but, as a newcomer, I have found a great deal to explore and learn about. Early in 2016, I began a two-day-a-week two-year volunteering stint at the local environmental records centre, helping to extract and digitise the biological records of naturalist extraordinaire, Dr Mary Gilham. Our team of volunteers also created a website documenting Mary’s life and achievements, and helped organise various public engagement events. Published on 4 April 2016, here’s one of my first Mary-inspired blogs, ‘Wherever I turn, there’s Mary’.
For me, one of the major attractions of living in Britain is the sense of history that abounds here. Castles and cathedrals, Roman ruins and Iron age hill forts, even some of the houses I’ve lived in – there is so much that is old, full of characters and stories, and I delight in exploring, researching and writing about the historic things I see. Here’s an example from 30 April 2017: ‘Roman Wales: Caerwent’.
Another wonderful thing about living here is being able to visit local friends: I particularly enjoy visits to my friend Jill, who lives in East Sussex and who shares my interest in the historic and in wildlife. And, of course, I blog about the amazing, fascinating, beautiful places we visit. In March 2018, one of the stunning places we explored was ‘Beautiful Bodiam’.
I continue to find new and interesting objects, buildings, graves, ruins, and more in south Wales to explore, photograph and write about. Here, for example, is a piece from April this year about the opening of the pier at my local beach, ‘Penarth : the opening of the pier’.
It’s impossible to know what the next decade will bring. The political and societal turmoil that has followed the 2016 Brexit vote seems to me to have diminished Britain and its people, and has led me to question whether I want to remain here. And reading through the events of the past ten years has certainly made my feet feel a little itchy again, so ...