Sketches in ink - 51-52 My landlady gave us these objects of her work and creativity. They are lightly roasted dried figs and almonds. It seemed a pity to cut them up and eat them, but we did. We know what they taste like, you see. I make a mental note to factor in time;... Continue Reading →

Breathing space

Sketches in ink - 44-50 For me, being a freelance translator means I know what the date is, and certainly what the time is, but I often forget what day it is. It made so much more sense to me to enjoy a relaxed lunch with João on this day called Thursday than it did... Continue Reading →

Strawberry Exchange

Sketches in ink - 43 My grandfather, born this week in 1908, retired from his position as underground manager at one of the copper mines on the Copperbelt, Zambia at the age of 45. He spent some time thereafter as a caretaker of an apartment block, for which pleasure he and my grandmother got to... Continue Reading →


Sketches in ink - 42 I learned a new word today. This is not unusual for a translator. This is not unusual for anyone who reads, for that matter. The word, as arbitrary as any other, looks harmless on the face of it: metanoia (from the Greek μετάνοια deary, in case your education in this... Continue Reading →

This too, is sky

Sketches in ink - 41 When first they fell on the concrete at my kitchen door the pale pink and white petals of the almond blossoms danced as I passed and fluttered about as the wind gathered up its gustiness. Is spring on its way? Now rain-sodden and forlorn, they are nothing more than a... Continue Reading →

Live things

How utterly absorbing it was to delve into the web and the weft of the words woven by another.

Old things

Sketches in ink - 39 My sheepskin slippers are an essential part of my translation toolkit. Occasionally, they wear out. Invariably, I take months to replace them, despite a gaping hole in the toe of one, and the resultant lack of warmth. I suppose I should be embarrassed, but I am not. I was, however,... Continue Reading →

Almost there

Sketches in ink -38 It has been 28 years since I did exercises of any kind in a group. I kid you not. If you are a gym junkie and good at mental arithmetic and historical trivia, you will realise that I am making vague references to Jane Fonda workout tapes, and similar. The warm-up... Continue Reading →

Looking out

Sketches in ink - 37 The first few hours of this day constituted what I call a perfect morning: rising early without the aid of the alarm, immediately followed by several hours of work in utter peace and quiet while my partner sleeps. This brings on - as if it were the most natural thing... Continue Reading →

Making my own

Sketches in ink - 36 After six years of practice, I am no stranger to hacking through an overgrowth of weeds during winter in the Algarve. In fact, doing just that was an integral part of my embarking upon the journey of learning the Portuguese language; a kind of grassroots approach, if you like. Our... Continue Reading →

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