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Summer 2015 – Learning, Laughing, Living

Wow.  I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of September already.  I hope you’ve all had a great summer.  So sorry for the lack of posts but I’ve been enjoying my summer activities so much that I haven’t had time to write things up. I do have a couple local activities to write up and I’ll be sharing them soon so watch this space!

I’m a major fan of all the August Festivals and filled the whole month with a huge range of events including silent discos, Tibetan Monks, circus acts, discussions. I danced; I learned; I laughed, a lot.  There were many times I was totally amazed.

I’ve also spent a lot of time travelling this summer.  My husband is a keen cyclist and likes to join events all over Europe.  Even though I’m just a spectator, I love how these events have taken us to beautiful parts of the world where we can enjoy the scenery, fresh air and good food – some of it was even healthy!  This year I saw the ‘Giant of Provence’ (Mont Ventoux) towering about the fields of sunflowers and lavender and visited Torino, Italy for the first time where an elegant, refined city sits gently below the Alps (see cover image).

So, starting with the festival – hopefully you’ve had a chance to read my post about the fun-tastic Guru Dudu’s silent disco. He had such a great response that he stayed for an extra week after the festival finished!!  This was such a great way to start the fringe – as part of a connected group; engaging with so many people as we danced as one.

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As much as I loved making a fool of myself around the streets of Edinburgh, my overall highlight had to be spending a week with the Tashi Lhunpo Monks.  During their week at the Greeside Parish Church they gave performances and held workshops teaching their dance and art.  I attended them all!  When they weren’t performing, they were spending hundreds of hours creating a colourful, meaningful sand mandala.  At the end of the week, despite the hours of work and commitment, the sand is swept away and scattered over land and water as a lesson in the temporary nature of life.  I felt so privileged to be able to spend time learning from the monks and hope that they will return to Edinburgh soon (they come every couple of years).  Here are a few pictures that I hope will give you a sense of their work.

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A little shop in a traditional Tent, I love my singing bowl!

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Printing Prayer Flags

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Butter art (but we used clay)

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Learning to make sand art – it was a very slow process, but strangely addictive and calming

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The monks finished Sand Mandala – what was amazing was the 3D texture

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after a moving ceremony the sand is swept away and dispersed, we were given a small bag to take home

Another highlight of the summer was a trip to Milan on our way to a cycling ‘GranFondo’ in Torino (sort of a race but for fun/fitness more than a competition – still long and tough though).  This year, Milan is hosting the World’s Fair – now called Expo 2015.  The overall theme for the Expo – is food; sustainability, reducing waste, feeding the hungry.  All topics close to my heart.  We only managed to squeeze in a day trip – but boy did we cover a lot in one day!  The site covers 1 million square metres and 140 countries were represented.  We saw around 30 and walked over 25,000 steps!  The UK had an amazing Pavillion where they discussed the plight of the bees and constructed a 3 story high metal beehive that we could walk around inside.  Little speakers even created a ‘hum’ in the background.  Most countries set up Pavilions (full sized buildings – with water, A/C, electricity – can’t believe they are all temporary) that either presented a story about themselves – or about their food; and most had cafes selling local delicacies.  As these are all places I’ll probably never visit in person, it was interesting to get a bit of a ‘flavour’ (pun intended!) of each.  I took hundreds of photos but here’s just a few – it’s on until the end of October.  Maybe not worth a specific trip but if you’re in the area and have a free day, I would recommend going.

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The foundation of the Expo 2015 – Food for all – worth a read!

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The Italian Pavilion celebrated the figures behind their Slow Food movement and wine – of course!

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The Hungarians package their water in clever handweight bottles

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The Estonian Pavillion was THE place to chill out – with beanbags, swings and…

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you could cycle through the streets of an Estonian Town (and work off some of your food samples)

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well…… ‘matured’ in Britain 😀

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The UK Pavilion – a walk through bee friendly plants til you reach the ‘hive’

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a beautiful man-made structure honouring nature’s builders – the Bees

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elegant, majestic and peaceful – a Temple at the Nepal Pavilion

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Korea used cutting edge technology to educate us on the ancient tradition of fermenting foods

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The Central showpiece of Expo 2015 ‘The Tree of Life’ – part sculpture, part fountain, part lightshow

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