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During our stay in Tarragona, we took a bus to the mountain monastery of Montserrat, a place I have been wanting to visit for some time. The bus wound its way up into the Montserrat mountains in what seemed like hours. Why would anyone want to build a monastery all the way up here?  Our guide, a pleasant and well informed young man named Victor, explained it to us in three languages, English, French and Spanish.

The Montserrat mountains through the bus window.

Legend has it that shepherds discovered a Black Madonna in 880 AD when they heard music and saw a light coming from a cave high in the mountains. The statue, the oldest Black Madonna in Europe, is only 60 cm tall but when the bishop from the nearest town came to have it removed and taken to his cathedral, it proved impossible to move. So pilgrims began coming to the cave to see it. Eventually an abbey was built around the cave.

Once we reached our destination, the view from the top was incredible.

The sanctuary is built against the mountain to include the Madonna in her cave.

 

The Bascilica of Montserrat

Montserrat is home to the Sanctuary of Our Lady and a Benedictine monastery and has, for almost 1000 years, served pilgrims and visitors to the mountain. The building has been destroyed a few times over the years, including during the Napoleonic wars, when many of the monks were killed. It was also damaged in the Spanish civil war (1936 – 1939). The building standing now was completed in 1949. Many pilgrms come to venerate the patron saint of Catalonia daily in La Santa Cava at the back of the cathedral. Montserrat has been modernised to continue attending to the needs of pilgrims one thousand years after it was originally founded.

Sculptures of monks killed by Napoleonic soldiers. Sad times.

 

Inside the chapel

Pilgrims and visitors lineup to ascend the stairs and view the Virgin.

The Virgin’s Chapel from inside the Basilica

The Black Madonna

Visitors are not allowed to take pictures while paying homage to the Black Madonna. But Victor explained that from inside the basilica, from the floor of the chapel, I could take pictures. Later by enlarging and cropping, I was able to get a fairly good picture. It is amazing to see and left me awestruck.

Saints in the courtyard of the Basilica surrounded by amazing views.
A funicular takes visitors even higher up into the mountains
It was wonderful to wander around the grounds and take in the peaceful scenery.

Montserrat means Saw Mountain, as the range looks like the serrated edge of a saw and is the name of the Mountains and the sanctuary. It is a perfect place for walkers with many hiking trails available. A place to enjoy nature and contemplate life. There is also a fabulous art museum onsite which I will tell you about in another post.

I purchased a jar of honey made by the monks. I left feeling refreshed and at peace, satisfied I could tick off another place on that long list.

I was asked to be a guest on Campbells World. Check it out and let me know what you think of my favourite affirmation.

Campbells World

Hello campbellsworld visitors.

Welcome back to WordPress Wednesday.

I’m proud to say that things here in campbellsworld are fully functional once again and in celebration I’ve got a wonderful guest here with me this afternoon. Her name is Darlene Foster, and way back in the beginning of June she answered my call for guest authors, and then when my blog, and then my computer went down she along with many others who will be featured during the next couple of days waited patiently while things got sorted.

So, without further delay I give you, Darlene and her wonderful interview.

DarleneFosterprofilepic

First, in your own words tell us a little about you.

I am a Canadian author who has written the Amanda Travels series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places where she encounters mystery and adventure.  Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one…

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Book Festivals are so much fun. You always learn something new, meet great people and get inspired. But it is not always possible to get to one. So how about a virtual Book Festival? Anne Stormont has created a wonderful Book Fest and invited me to be a guest speaker. All readers, writers and everyone else, come and join the fun.

Put it in Writing

Hello and welcome to event number eleven in the Virtual Book Festival. Today’s guest is author of children’s books, Darlene Foster, and she’s here to talk to us about her writing and to tell us about  the wonderful novels she writes for eight to twelve year olds.

Welcome Darlene, it’s lovely to have you here today. Let’s start with you telling us why and how  you became a writer.

No one is born a writer. But you can be born a storyteller. I come from a long line of storytellers and have been telling stories out loud or in my head for as long as I can remember. We were encouraged to tell stories as I was growing up on the farm, as we didn’t have a television until I was almost a teenager. My grade three teacher encouraged me to write my stories down and when I was twelve…

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Here is my entry in Stevie Turner´s August Short Story competition.

You might like to enter as well. Here is the link https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/share-your-short-story-august-2019/

A Good Day

by Darlene Foster

Erin Arnold cocked her head to one side and narrowed her eyes as she entered the coffee shop. Her favourite table appeared to be free. She bit her lip and suppressed a smile. Good days were rare for Erin. The new medication was working.

Keeping her eyes on the seat by the window, she clutched her handbag and cautiously made her way. She dusted off invisible crumbs from the chair before settling down. Erin removed a wet wipe from her purse and gave the already clean table a swipe. She ordered her regular mint tea and chocolate macadamia biscotti and stared at the people walking by the large front window. The china pot of tea arrived and, after steeping for the full three minutes, she began to pour into the white porcelain cup. She set the pot down abruptly when hot liquid slid down the spout and onto the table.

“Damn, why does this always happen? When will they invent a teapot that doesn’t drip?” Her face burned crimson.

She sopped up the drips with a paper napkin. With a fresh napkin, she dabbed the sweat off her upper lip and began to pour again. The tea continued to dribble. She could feel herself losing it. She clenched her fists and then unclenched them. She wiped the table once more and took two deep breaths. The third time she poured the tea without a drop on the table.

She sighed. A minor glitch in an otherwise good day.

Erin dipped the biscotti in the tea. Biscotti was perfect as it didn’t immediately disintegrate in the tea. She savoured the combined taste of mint, chocolate and macadamia nuts. She felt vaguely happy and satisfied.

The blast cut through her pleasant thoughts like a volcano erupting in a tranquil mountain scene. The teapot jumped from the table to the floor, shattering as it hit the tiles. The biscotti followed, dissolving into mush as crumbs mixed with the brown liquid. The window shattered showering flakes of glass throughout the coffee shop. People shouted and screamed, a child cried.

Erin put her hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. She felt tea running down the side of her face. She lowered her hand and opened her eyes. Blood dripped onto the pristine table.

She knew something like this would happen.

The day had been too good.

I was invited to be a guest on a great blog called Loving The Fifty Something

Read what I have to say about getting older and check out Sam’s interesting blog where she features other over 50s. 

Amazing Over 50’s – Darlene Foster

Amazing over 50’s

I am inviting and featuring ‘Mid-lifers’ who are enjoying life over 50 and who are happy to shout out about great health, fitness, lifestyles, work or their achievements etc, but more importantly who are embracing this time of their lives with pride and open arms.

This month I’m happy to introduce Darlene Foster as my seventeenth guest.  Darlene is an author and blogger.

Welcome to Loving The Fifty Something, Darlene

Can I ask you to tell us a little about yourself  

Of course, you can, but you might be sorry. I’ll try to keep it to the Readers Digest version. I spent a lot of time daydreaming and making up stories as a child. I dreamt of becoming a teacher, writing books, travelling the world and meeting interesting people. But as the saying goes, life happens when you’re making other plans.

Read more here https://lovingthefiftysomething.com/2019/07/25/amazing-over-50s-darlene-foster/

I’d be interested to learn your feelings about being over 50 if you are, and how you feel about becoming a 50 plus person if you aren’t.

A great post on the importance of reading, that made me think of the books I read as a child and how they influenced my life.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

In celebration of the imminent release of Jessica Norrie’s new book on July 22nd, I will be sharing her literary column posts again every fortnight over the summer. More about The Magic Carpet later in the post.

Reading from the very start

What is the beginning?

Before I wrote fiction and blogged, I was a translator, teacher and teacher trainer, with students ranging from 3 – 80+. I learned if a child learns young enough to appreciate different points of view through reading stories, the habit ebbs and flows but is never quite lost, with huge repercussions for how their lives develop.

Non-fiction can be told as stories too. The beginnings are usually clear, the plotting goes all over the place, the ends may be murky, but there’s always a story in there somewhere. It may be obvious – Henry VIII and his six wives, Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Ghandhi. Sometimes…

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My talented daughter lives on the beautiful west coast of Canada where she makes pottery and communes with nature.

Here are a couple of examples of her pottery.

More of her pottery can be viewed on her website https://madmudslinger.com/

She recently had an opportunity recently to observe first hand an Eagle family. She sent me pictures of this amazing nest where the Eagle parents are raising their adorable Eaglet. This is what she had to say about the youngster –

“It’s so cute, ever since he’s been big enough he peaks his head over the side while waiting for his parents to come back with food. Interesting that only one hatched this year.”

She also included some information about the nest.

“The nest has been there for years, maybe decades, but 2 years ago a series of storms crashed it to the ground. The site was abandoned until last year when the Eagle couple decided to rebuild. Building is a lot of work, it went into the season so they waited until this year to hatch another family. It’s very exciting. A celebration!”

“An Eagle nest weighs one ton and a VW Beetle can fit inside it. The adult wingspan is 8 feet so they need some room with all the comings and goings.”

She is fortunate to be able to witness this marvel of nature. I’m so happy she shared it with me.

Have you ever had a chance to view wild animals in nature?


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