With the emotional suppleness of a child, I adapted to the new country that had suddenly, and with no preparation, become my home. It did not seem strange anymore that our Sundays would occasionally be spent driving to Mondorf, a small spa on the border of three countries that were foreign to me, here to wander in a lush park of flowers, small lakes and streams. Art Nouveau houses sat sedately behind thick privet hedges, roofs steep, windows eerie and round. Colorful tiles, floral and of another time; ornate French-style gates marked the entrances to these miniature palaces of pre-War wonder. It feels in my memory as though it was perpetually summer there, with tulips and roses in full bloom, heady nectarous scents, musky and intoxicating. Sometimes I played skittles, placed on a wooden table, with my father, enjoying the last few hours of Sunday’s freedom before the nagging torment of homework was raised, before the tension rose like mercury. Sometimes we rowed on the stream, a deliciously exciting treat, laced with the sadness that it was fleeting. The park had a mulchy quality to it too, where pine trees began to close in and where fibre glass gnomes and toadstools added to the gloom, a mock witch’s house enthralling me. Cars from Germany and France parked along the roads, their owners keen to buy cheap petrol, alcohol and cigarette. Sometimes we had lunch too, meals of half chickens, roasted and succulent, piped mashed potatoes, and the smell of white wine from my parents’ green stemmed glasses. And always the headache-inducing hit of cigarette smoke that rose in thin wisps and hung like a miasma from the ceiling. The work used to illustrate this blog is for sale at the link above.


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