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Not only Zentangle, but....

It's true that Zentangle has sort of taken over my life recently - not that it wasn't always a big part, but since lockdown on 15th March this year, I seem to have done little else.

Well, on Thursday last week, I went out! I met a friend for a coffee and the regional speciality breakfast of 'tostada con tomate' - a big chunk of toasted baguette smothered with fresh tomatoes, generously drizzled with olive oil and dusted with salt. It has to be one of the most delicious ways to start the day...albeit at 11am..(second breakfast time in Andalucia).

We were allowed to remove our masks for the purpose of consuming said delight but I can report that just about everyone we saw in town was suitably hidden by blue, white or homemade masks. It made the expedition feel a tad safer, even though we have had no cases in the past 15-20 days or so. Definitely better safe than sorry. It felt really good to be out and about again...even bumping into some good friends just as it used to be before.

We are hoping our son will be able to return to Spain in a week as well. He has had three flights cancelled so far since the beginning of April and the one that we had hoped would happen today. Just another six days to keep our fingers crossed!

How many of you have maintained good habits? I started pretty well, with lots of exercise and healthy food. We ate our meals altogether around the table in the kitchen. It hasn't lasted. We have become more and more hooked on the technology that links us to the outside world...each to our own different communities, different interests, different circles.

OK - enough of other stuff! Do you know that it is exactly two years since I began my journey to Provicence, Rhode Island!?? I have to celebrate that, along with Debbie, Jane, Kristi, Pinito, Jeannie, Karin...and oh so many more. It was exciting from the outset for me because I travelled first to Edinburgh, where I met my sister and my wonderful friend, Sam. We had a great time with an amazing meal out together, lots of laughs and a pre-birthday celebration for me.

It was such a great time. I'm just so sorry I took hardly any photos! I was so immersed in the whole event that I never really looked at my phone. YES! It was that good!

I shared this little story at one of my online classes when Kristi joined me, so maybe it will be OK to share it with the rest of you now...

My journey to Rhode Island had been wonderful. I travelled from Malaga to Edinburgh and stayed there two nights before catching the flight to the States - on a plane that looked far too small to do that sort of a journey, I have to say - and arrived late on...well, I have no idea which night but it was late and so I stayed in a nearby hotel, where I was upgraded to an enormous room with the biggest bed I'd ever seen. I ate crab cakes for supper - amazing!

The next day, I took a bus to Providence which went around all the houses and Spanish-speaking neighbourhoods and picked up folk that must have travelled that way every day because everyone knew each other! It was great fun...I loved that trip!

On arriving in Providence, I was crossing the road to get to the impressive Biltmore Hotel, when someone called my name. I swear I was never more surprised in my life! I turned to find Debbie Raaen and Jane Goddard who had seen me in the CZT30 Facebook was a wonderful start.

I won't go through the whole seminar day by day and hour by hour because I would never finish! And you wouldn't read it all in less than four days...every minute is both etched on my memory and at the same time, like a strange dream.

The story I will now get to is that at the end of the seminar, literally as people were leaving, I decided to check my flight details again. The plan was to leave immediately to catch a plane back to Edinburgh and then take the flight to Malaga within 2 hours of that. Home by ...whenever it was. It took some time for my brain to work out that I had seriously miscalculated. Anyone who has tried to understand international time zones without success will be sympathetic, I am sure. To anyone else, I must have seemed like an incompetent fool! My flight wasn't that day - it was the following afternoon. I would not arrive in Edinburgh in time to take my connecting flight to Malaga. I was stuck in Providence with little or no financial resources, huge guilt already on me for spending so much on myself when our family doesn't have a lot of extras....

I tried to stay calm and think of possibilities. I called home...husband was not impressed but shocked into a sort of helpful silence. I told him I'd let him know when I'd found a solution but not to come for me at the agreed time...

Long story a bit shorter...couldn't afford Biltmore, no obvious AirBnB options, no flights to Malaga from Edinburgh at short notice...huge self-control required not to go into meltdown. In steps the lovely Kristi. I don't know if she had seen my quiet distress but popped over to say goodbye and good luck, etc. but I had to explain what my problem was. And without a second thought, she offered me a night in her room with her. No argument - she had an enormous bed, was leaving in the early hours for her own flight back across the States, no problem. I cannot express my relief and gratitude enough.

It wasn't that simple, of course! Some little time later, Kristi received a call to say that weather conditions meant that her flight home was cancelled. Not postponed cancelled. We both spent rather a lot of time rearranging our travel plans that evening and didn't see much of each other. However, it was clear that we had been put together for a reason. Finding a friend, someone you trust and feel comfortable with is a special thing. And Kristi is a special person! I count my lucky stars to have met her - not just because she saved my bacon that day but because by the time we had spent most of the next day together wandering and enjoying Providence, visiting the local library and walking miles, chatting away and then travelling to the airport together, we parted as good friends. Indeed, parting felt very emotional for me.

We've stayed in touch over the past few years but it has been one of the unexpected pleasures of lockdown, online Zentangle classes and Zoom that we have reconnected and shared some facetime together again. There really is always something to be grateful for. And amongst others, this reconnection is something I feel grateful for.

So I guess it does sort of come back to Zentangle, doesn't it...

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