After visiting the historic towns of Turin, Pavia, Cremona, and Mantua and totally filling up my mind’s cultural capacity on grandiose churches, cathedrals, palaces, frescoes and other art, Lake Garda was a complete contrast.  It was time to slow down. I found a cheap little studio which had a fabulous view of the lake from its balcony and it seemed like I had arrived in Paradise. The lake stretches beyond one’s sight and the backdrop of the closely surrounding mountains makes the whole vista spectacular.

Completely by chance I had picked a little stretch that was unspoilt and quiet, unlike so many of the other locations on the lake front that were bustling with tourists even in May.


The Castle at Riva Del Garda

There is one road that runs around the lakeside and it was quite busy even when I was there, with long hold ups at certain times and places.   I cannot imagine Lake Garda in the high season.

I was staying in the tiny port of Brenzone Sul Garda, part of Brenzone commune which has around 2,000 residents but over 20,000 ‘inhabitants’ over summer. Hard to believe.


Brenzone Sul Garde – my port

Also difficult to imagine is what life was like before that one road was constructed after the Second World War. How isolated the villages, ports and people must have been before then. The informative lady in the tourist office told me that in her parents’ day there was just a stone road around the lake and locals travelled a lot by boat. Her father used to cycle to Verona. What an extraordinary lifestyle that must have been and what changes her parents have seen in their lifetime.


Brenzone calm


Blueness Boat & Bird

So, back to the slowing down. The tempo changed, I had time to walk beside the lake and just look at nature – the lapping water, snowy-topped mountains, ancient olive trees, ducks and … CLOUDS. It is time to reveal that I am a signed-up Friend of the Cloud Appreciation Society, which I have been a fan of for some years. This society, started by Englishman Gavin Pretor-Pinney, believes that we would all be more content if we pressed the pause button on our busy lives and looked up to the skies more often. Clouds are “nature’s poetry”, “expressions of the atmosphere’s moods”, and “all who consider the shapes they see in them will save money on psychoanalysis bills”.   It bemoans the fact that clouds get maligned in our vocabulary when we talk about ‘a cloud on our horizon’ or “a cloud hanging over us” when of course they add beauty and diversity to our world.


Hope after storm

The society was a rather quirky internet phenomenon when it started (evidently named by Yahoo as “the most weird and wonderful find on the internet for 2005”) but it has since become hugely popular even with scientists and meteorologists and publishes wondrous photographs sent in by enthusiasts like you and I, as well as information and news about clouds (www.cloudappreciationsociety.org).    In an increasingly frenetic world of to do lists and bombardment by electronic messages and input, cloud-watching “legitimises doing nothing”. There is a joyful TED talk link at the end of this post if you are interested.

I was delighted to find this, dare I say it, uplifting organisation some years ago when I fell upon their little book called “A Pig with Six Legs” (sadly now out of print). Since then my cloud-spotting has intensified. I am still not adept at naming cloud varieties, but I love being surprised by an identifiable shape.

I have a number of happy photographs of cloud imagery and some below are JUST the ones I have seen on this journey in the past few weeks alone. It just shows what is up there if you stop, sit or lie, empty your mind of the daily rubbish and worries that tend to fill it, and gaze upwards in wonder. It is, I can assure you, very good for the soul.

“O! It is pleasant, with a heart at ease

Just after sunset, or by moonlit skies,

To make the shifting clouds be what you please.”

 Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Two old favourites :


Tug Boat


Phoenix rising in glory

And three just from this Journey so far :

Feather Quill & Line

Quill drawing line / Angel feather



Owl in flight



Dragon & puffs


 Happy Cloud Spotting!

TED talk link :  Gavin Pretor-Pinney : Cloudy with a chance of Joy


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