Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - the last instalment

On our return from the Negev Desert, we found ourselves with nothing much to do. To a certain extent, we needed a quiet day. In our last few days in Israel, we were more inclined to take it easy. We remembered Reuven, the taxi driver who had taken us around Jerusalem on our first day, and decided to contact him and ask him if he would take us to Tel Aviv, to see the daughter of local friends, here, and her family. Mobile phones were not too effective, with the exception of texts, but our hotel receptionist eventually managed to get through, both to our friend, to invite ourselves there, and to Reuven.

One of the places that Reuven took us to on our earlier trip around Jerusalem was the Protest Tent outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem. This was to remind people of the imprisonment of Gilad Shalit. You can read about it here: Since then, Gilad Shalit has been released from captivity.

There were three days left. We arranged with Reuven that he would take us to Tel Aviv on the following day and also that he would deliver us to the airport on Thursday, 24th June.

In the meantime, we strolled around Jerusalem, took a photo of the Irish pub, and had a meal in a kebab place, opposite, where the waiter was very keen to talk to us in English to practice his use of the language. We had been eating a lot of vegetarian or dairy meals and it made a change to have some meat.

On Tuesday, 21st, off we went to Tel Aviv. Looking back at my photos, I am disappointed to find that there are too many where we have intruded into the main picture. Reuven was very keen to take photos of us, unfortunately.

We drove alongside the promenade at Tel Aviv, seeing the rows and rows of people on the beach with their umbrellas or shades. We also went along the high streets, filled with expensive shops. The most interesting visit, though, was to the artists' quarter at Jaffa, which was fascinating. Here are a couple of websites, where you can find out about what we saw, in the absence of our own photos: or try

Reuven was insistent that we go into the Frank Meisler galleries, filled with unusual, or idiosyncratic sculptures, made from materials such as bronze, pewter, silver and gold plating, some of them very amusing. You can carry out a virtual tour here - - and be sure to read the separate pages about the Kindertransport and Frank Meisler's three major sculptures, commemorating this - the one at Liverpool Station, London, depicting the arrival to the safe haven of England.

I have one photo, which I think is also at the artists' quarter of Jaffa, and shows a bridge, which we later crossed. Reuven told us to make a wish - I wished that Tainted Tree would become a best-seller, but it hasn't worked yet.

We lunched at a café overlooking the sea, before going on to visit our friends, where Reuven left us. Later, he called for us to return us home.

Reuven wouldn't take our money then, having negotiated a fee for that day and the trip to the Airport. He told us he would also throw in a trip to the Israel Museum - - on the following day. Alas, this was not totally successful, as we found it difficult to navigate around the place and got lost, finding our way eventually to the modern art section. This made the OH very grumpy and unreceptive to the rest of the exhibition. I think if we had started out at the Jewish Art and Life section, which showed reconstructions of synagogues from India, Germany and Italy, and artefacts, such as menorahs, mezuzahs and candlesticks that would be found in a Jewish home, he would have enjoyed it much more.

Much of our time in the last couple of days was spent in Ben Yehuda Street, watching the world go by.

There were no problems with our journey home, and looking back now from the chill of an English winter, it seems far away. Soon though I'll be back to blogging about what's going on here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Books - mine and others

Since, as always, I am bogged down with things, I'll just give a quick resume of what's happening on the books front.

The Goldenford team have been active in the last couple of weeks; we held the second of our writers' workshops at Cranleigh. The first had a disappointing number of recruits, but we decided against cancelling and our attendees said that it was very good. The second, last weekend was very well attended and enthusiastically received. We also sold a number of our books, there.

Following that, we had a book sale at St Peter's School, Merrow, and were very satisfied with sales there, too. I advised one young woman not to buy my autobiographical book, The Fruit of the Tree, telling her it was about cot death. Later the others asked me why I'd said that to her.
'She was pregnant,' I replied. But no, the others thought that the smock she was wearing is fashionable now. A lesson to me. Don't judge from appearances, and let people read the blurb for themselves.

We have also been at a meeting with Guildford Library about an event next year for World Book Day, when we will be there all the evening, talking to callers-in about our books. There will be other authors, and it will be promoted by Surrey Libraries.

I have been very successful in the last couple of weeks with my Kindle version of Tainted Tree, which has had good sales following a plug in and the American site of the same name. I should receive some good royalties during the next three months.

In addition, Untreed Reads have just published my fourth short story - The Green Girl - a bit different from most of my down to earth writing, a fantasy, in fact. You can find it at, and they are currently having a sale of many short stories and other works, so pay them a visit.

I'll be returning soon to my Israel blog, but not today.

Finally, here's my latest book review:

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibin

Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis, the younger daughter of an Irish Catholic family, just leaving school. Her older sister, Rose, has a good job, and the impression given is that the family - that is, the two sisters and their mother - are not flush with money and it is important that Eilis and her sister are both in work to maintain the family. Their brothers are already working in England. Despite the difficulties of getting work, there is no feeling that the family are on the breadline. On the contrary, they have a happy life and a great deal of laughing goes on. Eilis is on the cusp of adulthood and involved with dances and meeting young men. Nevertheless, more or less without her agreement, it is arranged that she will go to Brooklyn to live in an Irish community where there is a much greater possibility of finding work. During the course of the next year, Eilis has to overcome her sadness at leaving her family and adjust to a new life.

This was an unusual book in that it was written in what I felt was a rather formal, old-fashioned way. I felt that the heroine was slightly detached from me, the reader, whereas we tend now to get into the mind and thoughts of the main protagonist.

I also thought the book hardly had a plot at all, although it was a story. As such, it was full of detail - interesting at that, but not all the events that happened would necessarily have an outcome later on.

Brooklyn gives an insight into America in that period, but in the end, I came to the conclusion that this was the story of the immigrant experience, specifically the Irish/American experience. Travelling on an ocean liner, far away from friends and families, living as a paying guest with strangers, and having to adjust to the pain of homesickness must have been what many young people did in the 1950s, when they left Ireland in search of success.

Friday, November 11, 2011

At the 11th hour

I went to London today and arrived at the ticket barrier at Waterloo at just on 11 o'clock. Although a few people were milling about, I joined the many people who stood there on the concourse for two minutes. A moving experience.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ben Gurion’s resting place

The owners of our B & B had made a magnificent attempt to build a garden with sun-loving plants and stone rockeries. This was not a good time of year to judge it. Just as an English garden, starved of sun may not be at its best in winter, so perhaps a desert garden may show off its colours to greater advantage in a cooler time. Certainly June was a very hot time of year to be there.

We were to leave the area on Monday afternoon, 20th June. In the morning, we joined our cousins for breakfast. (The owners of the B&B were away, and we didn’t want to use their cooking implements and raid their food cupboards, so apart from a cup of tea, we left everything as it was.) I took another photo of the local environment, and can almost feel the heat, as I look at it now.

It was decided to go to the Ben-Gurion’s Tomb National Park, which was a walk away from our cousins’ home. Two of the children had gone to nursery, but we took the youngest child and went with our cousin, while her husband was at work at the college.

We were able to sit beneath a tree, and there were other mothers and babies sitting around too. We also watched the ibex - a kind of goat, grazing on the grass in the park. Despite the desert conditions, here at least, grass did grow and vegetation grew in amongst the stones.

It was tempting to stay under the trees, doing nothing, but the park is the home of the graves of David Ben-Gurion - the first Prime Minister of Israel - and his wife, Claudia. To have travelled all that way and not visited them would have unforgivable.

Ben-Gurion and his wife had settled in kibbutz Sde Boker on their retirement. As Wikipedia says: ‘He saw the struggle to make the desert bloom as an area where the Jewish people could make a major contribution to humanity as a whole.’ It was also his wish to be buried on this spot over-looking the desert.

Looking at this view is like looking at a landscape on the moon.

After lunch, our cousin took us and one of the children in the car to the bus station at Be’er Sheva, where we caught the bus. It was a pleasure to travel in this air-conditioned, comfortable vehicle, particularly without having to worry about the driver’s problems, as in our trip out. As we neared Jerusalem, which felt very much like home by then, we were able to watch the scenery change.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Trip to the Negev Desert

On Sunday morning, June 19th, we’d been offered a lift to the Jerusalem bus station, but we had to be up early. We travelled light, with all but an overnight bag left at our hotel. I wish we could say all our behaviour was sensible, but in fact, the next bit of our journey was not as simple as I’m sure it should have been.

We got the impression we had to go to the enquiries hall at the bus station, whereas in fact, had we made straight to the bus, it might all have been a great deal simpler. Then again, it might not. At any rate, we did not go straight to the buses, but went up to the next level which was vast, and jam packed with people, most of them soldiers returning to their bases after the weekend. Marooned in a sea of people, we looked around frantically for a kiosk or a person to ask where to go. A person approached us - did we want help? I knew immediately that he was touting for business; sure enough he was a taxi driver, and within minutes we were agreeing to go with him, rather than search for the correct bus. When he initially asked where we were going, I said - Be’er Sheva, because that’s where we were catching the connection. We agreed a fee of about 600 shekels, and to start with, he had to take us to draw cash, because I didn’t have enough. Of course, once we were in his taxi, I told him we wanted, not Be’er Sheva, but Midreshet Ben-Gurion, 60 km beyond that town. My understanding is that this is part of the Ben Gurion University, which is at Be’er Sheva, but our taxi driver got, I think the wrong impression about the length of this journey. Consequently, as he drove further and further from his home territory, he got gloomier and gloomier. We heard that he was not a well man, the details of an impending operation - and that his wife would kill him if she had known he was going so far away. He hinted he would want a very big tip in addition to the additional 4 or 500 additional shekels we had negotiated for the extra journey.

It was miles from Be’er Sheva before we began to see signposts to the college, and we had to put the driver on to our relation who we were visiting, for final instructions. In the meantime, our cousin had privately texted, ‘Don’t give him any more than 700 shekels.’ Too late for that. We’d agreed a figure, but when we finally arrived, we didn’t add to that. Consequently, I felt guilty just in case all his angst was genuine, even though I feel that taxi drivers who purport initially to be helpful strangers deserve what they get.

The journey took us further and further into the desert to the settlement of 1200 people, which Wikipaedia rightly describes as arid. The college itself specialises in the study of solar energy and waste water. When we collected the children from their nursery with our hostess, the heat was intense and unbearable, even walking for less than ten minutes. But building is going on, and more people will come to populate this area.

It was a relief to get to the house, which with its high ceilings was quite cool. Our hostess showed us how they used ‘grey water’ pumped from baths, etc. to irrigate the garden. A pergola was attached to the house, over which grapes grew in abundance from a vine which weaved its way through it. The children played just outside in a paddling pool, shaded from the sun.

Overnight, we stayed at a nearby B & B, and once again, high ceilings and cool, spacious rooms were welcome. We had no problem falling asleep that night.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sabbath in Jerusalem

This is a continuation of my holiday blog, which has taken back seat to several book reviews recently.

Sabbath in Jerusalem: Because we were going away for a couple of days on Sunday, we chose to stay where we were in Jerusalem for the Sabbath. Anyone who wants excitement should avoid doing this. Almost everything was closed and we were pleased to find a café where we could have a sandwich. Actually, it was the same place where we had been for our evening meal the previous night, having walked to Ben Yehuda Street, which is a very lively spot normally, to find it completely dead. So we did little during the day, except stroll around. We also chatted with the bride’s brother for a while, as the café was opposite his hotel. He told us about an event in the Old Town, which he and his girlfriend were going to, and we and another wedding guest joined them.

As soon as night fell, the character of Jerusalem changed. The cars were flooding the streets to get to the Son & Lumiere entertainment in the Old City. First we went through the Mamilla shopping mall, which has only recently been opened, following a throng of people, as we walked together past the shops and past the sculptures which line the arcade. Check this site for a virtual tour: At the end of it, we got to the Jaffa Gate, and here you could hardly move for the body of people occupying the area. . This is another view of the area, once we arrived at the Old City. We walked from one quarter to another, each one marked with its own colour, and there was an air of excitement around. Whatever their differences, it seems it’s possible to have some sort of co-operation for this sort of attraction. There were coloured lights all around and light shows on the walls of buildings. However, much as we would have liked to have stayed, our companions were leaving Jerusalem the following day, and we were going to the Negev desert, departing early. So reluctantly we left, but at least it made a climactic end to our day.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Miss Garnet's Angel

At first sight, the latest book circle read - Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers seems comparable with another book we read, Miss Pettigrew lives for a day, another story of an elderly or middle aged lady whose life we hope is going to be transformed.

It seems immediately like a feel-good book, and in fact, initially, things go rather too swimmingly for Miss Garnet. She seems to make friends so easily in Venice, one begins to wonder why she couldn’t manage it so well in the UK.

Perhaps this is all down to the magical qualities of Venice, which is a character in its own right in the book. Not having been there for a very long time, decades, in fact, I felt that a regular visitor would derive more enjoyment from the book that I did, for they would recognise more places, the churches, the restaurants, the bus numbers even, and so would feel they were there.

After the idyllic beginning to her trip, things begin to fall apart, and Miss Garnet experiences a number of mishaps and disappointments. She becomes interested in a guardian angel, which appears in various forms as she visits different parts of Venice.

Apart from Miss Garnet’s story, there are, in addition, two parallel stories, one, the biblical one of Tobias and the Angel and his eventual bride, Sara, and also that of Toby and Sarah. The similarity of the two sets of names rather heavily signposts the relationship between the two stories, and to add to it, there are some rather contrived episodes allowing misunderstandings to occur, which I found rather unsubtle.

Although very readable in parts, I thought that, like a recipe with too many ingredients thrown in the pot, there were too many stories, too many coincidences - too many flavours in fact, that did not always gel.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Ghost by Robert Harris

With serendipitous timing, my book circle read ‘The Ghost’ by Robert Harris, this month. Serendipitous, because the main character of the book is someone engaged to be the ghost writer of the ex-Prime Minister of the UK, who resembles to a certain extent our own ex-Prime Minister, Tony Blair. In the novel, he is accused of crimes relating to extraordinary rendition, which, of course, has been in the news again quite recently. In addition, we have just observed the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the day which triggered off all such events in the last ten years.

The narrator - the ghost - had a humorous self-deprecating voice, which made the book very readable, even though the book, in time, developed a darker edge to it. He, as befits a ghost, does not have a name. It is suggested that the ghost writer takes on the identity of the person who he is ghosting, and in the case of the narrator, he does take on some aspects of his subject’s life. He also, in this particular case, follows the path of his dead predecessor who has been killed - either in an accident, or by design.

The ex PM who bears a different name from our own ex, and has a different background/upbringing/university and also a shaky marriage with sexual liaisons going on both on his part and his wife’s, quite unlike (one assumes) the marriage of TB and CB. Nevertheless, one cannot help finding resemblances to TB, and wondering, therefore, how the author got away with this piece of chutzpah.

The book then, is on the whole, a thriller, but the political aspect is interesting and gives food for thought. I haven’t read any of Robert Harris’s novels before, but it was definitely a page turner, and I enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Noontide Owls - a fantasy

Ahead of the launch of my friend, Irene Black's novel next week, I thought I'd include my review, which is quite genuine and not influenced by friendship:

Noontide Owls

The story begins when the Conquerors, the brutal occupiers of Shoogmunimera, formerly and latterly known as Ambamar, leave the country, having plundered its riches and reduced it to a barren land. Originally united in adversity, the various tribes whose home it is soon begin to split apart, each trying to get the best of what remains. Within these tribes, brave individuals struggle to reunite the warring factions. This story runs concurrently with tales which describe how each of the tribes had originally found their way to Ambamar.

Irene Black is skilled in the art of description, and in her two earlier novels, she uses this to great effect to capture the character of the Indian subcontinent, which is featured in both previous books. I am not normally a reader of fantasy books, but I read Noontide Owls, having read these other two books, and I was not disappointed.

In fact, this genre has allowed Irene Black to give full rein to her imagination, without the restriction of a factual background. As such, a fantasy world has been created with ordinary and extraordinary mythical creatures inhabiting it. The book is enhanced by a number of black and white drawings illustrating some of the chapters.

With appealing main characters, Maara and the brave Trumpeters, Arolan and Elin, Noontide Owls is an intelligent and beautifully written allegory for adults and a fantastic adventure for young readers. I strongly recommend it.

These are my granddaughter’s comments, as told to me:

‘I enjoyed reading Noontide Owls, and I would read it again. It was really fantastical and adventurous. My favourite characters were the two trumpeters because they were such fun to read about. As far as the ending was concerned, I liked the way it was resolved.’

Asked if she found it difficult, 10 year old Eve said, ‘It was the perfect age for me, but I do read books for people older than my age.’

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

I put off reading ‘Freedom’ the latest book by Jonathan Franzen, because I had failed to finish 'The Corrections.' Once I got started, however, I started to enjoy it. This substantial book describes a marriage which has difficulties. It concentrates on the main protagonists, the wife, Patty, the husband, Walter, the children, mainly Joey and to a lesser extent, Jessica; some extra marital problems.

Franzen does this with a certain amount of humour, even though he is documenting the breakdown of a marriage. This is not a book you read for the plot, even though you want to know what is going to happen next; it’s really a case of getting to know the characters. I thought the autobiographical part, seen through the woman’s eyes was extremely perceptive and contained the sort of truths I would never write in my own fiction. Just too revealing. I also thought that as a man, he got under a woman’s skin in a remarkable manner. However, I felt that the story from the son, Joey’s perspective was really too coarse for me. Yes, it was funny, but just a bit too OTT.

There was some complicated stuff about the organisation that Walter is involved with and a bit of politics, and Franzen made some points about the environment and companies that pretend to be environmentally friendly while ripping everyone off, but I didn’t feel this was the main point of the book.

Towards the end, I got a bit impatient. Franzen started bringing in the relations of both and Walter and telling me things about them I wasn’t really interested in. Why did he come back to these relatives so late in the book, when their first appearances were so long ago, I had forgotten all about them. He was still readable, even then, and then, as we wound our way to the end of the story, I found it completely satisfactory.

I may even return to The Corrections.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A visit to Bethlehem

The UK wedding guests were to be around for a couple more days after the wedding and Gil Zohar ( offered to take us in a minibus to Bethlehem on the following day. He told us that Israeli citizens cannot cross the border to Bethlehem, as the authorities do not want to risk them getting kidnapped, but as he had a Canadian passport, he would be able to take us. I am not normally an intrepid traveller, but I felt very confident that all would be fine, and we and the rest of our little group agreed.

Across the border, the first stop in our travels was to an Arab shop, where we were offered juice and coffee. I stuck to juice; I’m not a great lover of coffee and I guessed this would be strong and bitter. While there, I bought key rings made of olive wood for the grandchildren, and at a second little shop, bracelets for them. Michael was very tempted by a beautiful carved olivewood chess set, but we knew we had nowhere to put such a thing. One of the shopkeepers called Gil, his brother, and told us, ‘Politics is shit.’

From there to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. There are probably better photos than these to be found. Unfortunately, on mine, you cannot see the impressive main altar at the east end, which is the property of the Greek Orthodox Church, and which according to wikipedia includes an Orthodox iconostasis, crowned with gilded angels, icons, gilded chandeliers and lamps. Nor can you see clearly, the colours of the exposed Constantinian mosaic floor, revealed beneath the wooden floorboards of the nave, because despite the flash, there was insufficient light for my camera.

Most of our party did not descend to the Grotto of the Nativity, as there was a queue of an hour. Just one of us particularly wanted to go down there, and she was quietly shown down a different staircase; possibly a tip was called for, but none of us asked how it was arranged.

Next, we went to the adjacent Church of St Catherine’s (above) which is built in a more modern Gothic revival style, and apparently has since been further modernized.

I had to look long and hard to find the name of the Church of the Milk Grotto, and the article shown at this website ( describes exactly what the Franciscan Brother told us, when we were there. I found it very moving to hear him speak about the women who had come there hoping to become pregnant, some of whom were subsequently successful, and people who had contacted him and told him they had been cured of cancer following their visit. Who can explain the mysteries of faith? It was a very peaceful place and we stood and looked below at the chapel, where there is always at least one nun praying, and moved quietly along corridors ornamented with religious icons.

Out into the Bethlehem street past the Peace Centre to the car park, where, with assistance from the locals, we managed to get the minivan out of a tight corner. From there we went on to Herodian, a fortress described as one of Herod the Great’s most ambitious building projects. (See I decided I did not want to climb, and sat under shade, until the others returned. Gil, our guide, pointed out which of three water butts was drinking water, and it was reassuring to know that we could take from this butt, and not have to rely on bottled water. The photo is the view from the car park.

From there to Shepherds Field, (also known as Ruth’s field) where we viewed a small but lovely Catholic chapel, where a feature was the roof specially designed to let in light.

We were very hungry by now, and in Beit Jala, Gil took us to an Arab restaurant, where we partook of chicken, charcoal grilled outside in the street. I had eaten a lot of dairy meals, during the past few days, and thoroughly enjoyed the chicken, served with an array of dishes, as you can see.

Our final visit was to Hebron, to The Tomb of the Patriarchs (called al Haram al Ibrahimi in Arabic and Ha Ma'rat Ha Machpelah in Hebrew) which is the main religious site in the city. Abraham's burial place and the main holy site in the city, is on the border between the Palestinian and Jewish sectors. We went to the synagogue and saw the shrines to the patriarchs. There are better photos on the internet. However, you can see the many memorial candles left by people who have visited. You can read about it below:

Quoted from this site: The Muslim side of the Cave contains the only known entrance to the Cave below (it is locked by a marble door). And as well, the tomb-markers of Isaac, and Rebekah, with the tomb-markers of Abraham and Sarah lying on the border of both the Muslim and Jewish section of the cave so both have access to Abraham and Sarah's tombs from each side. The Jewish section contains the tomb-markers of Jacob and Leah. Most of the time, half of the building is used for Muslim and half for Jewish prayer. On a few predetermined days each year, each religion gets to use the entire building.

We had to pass through a passport control, to go to the mosque, but we were not allowed in, because it was Friday and people were at prayer.

Although we understood it was a good thing that mosque and synagogue were side by side and both used for prayer, nevertheless, this border area of Hebron was almost deserted - except for some small boys selling trinkets - and a grim, tense atmosphere pervaded the area, which seemed poor and down at heel. I was not surprised to read in Wikipedia of violent incidents that have taken place there, and I was happy to get back on board the minibus and leave the area.

Arriving back at the border, we were held up for about 15 minutes while they examined our passports. We began to wonder if they were ever going to let us back in, but all was well.

It was the end of a very full and memorable day. The next day was the Sabbath, when we would certainly be resting.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Walking tour of Jerusalem

We had no definite plans for the 16th June. The wedding was to take place that evening and we needed something to occupy the early part of the day. Walking out into Shatz Street, (which leads into King George V Street,) where our hotel was situated we saw the bride’s brother and girlfriend in the nearby street café. We joined them and found they were intending to go on a walking tour, at which Gil Zohar ( would be the guide. Most of the wedding guests from the UK, who had shared the minibus journey to the Dead Sea, were on the walk, along with strangers, but we already felt as if we were friends.

The couple marched off at great speed to the rendezvous at the Jaffa Gate, with us puffing away behind. The Jaffa Gate, says Wickipaedia, is a 16th C Ottoman gate which is located on the western side of the old city (facing the direction of Jaffa). It is the main entrance from the western section to the eastern (old city section). It is worth looking up just to see the photos of the gate. Here several guides were to take people on tours. The walking tours, were free, although it was expected that one would produce a tip for the guide. They were regarded as a ‘taster’ and one would pay for a more detailed and extensive tour of the city, where one would go inside some of the historic buildings. However, on a walking tour lasting about three hours, in the blazing hot June sunshine (30 deg C?), we felt we had covered a great deal of ground – much of it, in and out, up on rooftops and down narrow steps. Unfortunately, because I was trying to keep up with the party, I took photos on the hoof, as it were, and some of them were no use at all. A few, however, give a flavour of our trip.

Since The Jaffa Gate is where the old city begins, this is where our tour of the old city began, taking us through the Christian, Jewish, Arab and Armenian quarters of the city, each leading into the other, and presumably cohabiting side by side. For inside the walls of the city, they do seem to live together, despite the continuing wars on the borders of Israel.

Someone asked me if I was worried about going to Israel, and yes, I was quite apprehensive. The unrest in Egypt and other middle eastern countries could have had an effect on Israel, and the present problems on the border with Egypt illustrate that. But I am a natural worrier; I even worried about the injections which were suggested on my e-ticket – though in the end, our local surgery recommended only Hepatitis, and discounted polio and rabies. Once we had set out, my worries dissipated. The lengthy interview by Israeli security, at Heathrow, was reassuring, and after that, I was quite relaxed.

To return to our walk, that day, as shown in our photos, we went on a roof top to see a much better view of the Dome of the Rock than on our taxi tour; we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and we saw the Western (Wailing Wall). This we had also visited with our friendly taxi driver, two days before. Men and women are separated and go to different parts of the wall. I had the camera, but I didn’t take photos of the people praying there. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me a bit of an intrusion to do so, even though many people do. Neither did I post a message there. We also walked the Stations of the Cross, albeit, in the wrong direction. It was fascinating seeing the different cultures in each of the four quarters of the old city, and we rounded it off by having coffee or juice in the Arab quarter, before the OH and I took a taxi back to the hotel.

The wedding took place in the evening at Ein Yael - another magical place. The bride and groom looked wonderfully happy, and we shared the experience with about 300 other guests. Once again, I was chilly. Be warned, visitors to Jerusalem. You really do need your cardy in the evening.