CWI on Tour

I am delighted to be back on home turf for a few weeks, promoting Vine Lives: Oregon Wine Pioneers and hanging out with my family.

Here’s a few snapshots from the journey so far..

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Poem of the Month: O Me, O Life! by Walt Whitman

October flew – here I am on the 30th only just adding my poem of the month. Work. Moving. Family. Love. What good, amid these, o time taken to memorise poetry? Answer: that the enrichment outweighs the effort.

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Oh Me, O Life!  by Walt Whitman

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring – What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer:

That you are here – that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse

Share your favourite “city” poem in the comments.

How To Be Creative: Vino y Co

Creativity isn’t the exclusive privilege of so-called creative professions. You can be a creative retailer, waiter, mechanic, teacher, or botanist.

To see this in action, step inside the sliding glass doors of Vino y Co in Sant Jordi, Ibiza. Behind the counter are the shop’s yin and yang: Jeroen Hamersma and daughter Rosa. He sports Cuban shirts and black-rimmed specs that snap together at the front; thick dark hair styled in a wind-tunnel. She is cool and elegant, with freckles and a showstopping smile.

Rosa & Jeroen

Rosa & Jeroen

Jeroen got into wine thanks to his brother Harold, one of the Netherland’s top wine critics. Indulging his interest wasn’t easy after he and his family moved to Ibiza, so he started shipping over the odd pallet for personal consumption. Friends asked for bottles, then cases. In 2009 Jeroen went pro and opened Vino y Co. Later persuading Rosa, a successful print designer in London, to return home and become a partner.

Rosa and her dad prove creativity is about how you do what you do. Invest your work with Curiosity, Relationships, Ethos, Aesthetic, Time, Integrity, Value, and Expertise and it will be creative.

Curiosity: Amidst the shop’s wall of white wine is a book nook. Among them, cloth-bound wine almanacs Jeroen bought in the ’80s in Amsterdam. He read, bought and drank teaching himself vintage, varietals and terroir. These days a laptop sits on the shop counter, poised to answer arcane questions about anything from geology to recipes.

Jeroen and friends

Jeroen & friends

Relationships: “Wine sellers are story-tellers,” is one of Rosa and Jeroen’s favourite sayings. Like all good story-tellers, they are adept at making relationships between people, places, and things. Jeroen can take someone looking for “Rioja, I guess” and deftly connect them something they would have never thought to try. Rosa can glance at a bottle and tell you what restaurant will sell it, who will order it and what they’ll eat.

Ethos: A wine shop is a wine shop, unless it’s
Vino y Co. Then it’s a crusade. Jeroen and Rosa’s passion is fruit-driven, expressive wine made by inventive, idiosyncratic, often downright eccentric oenologists. It’s what they drink, buy, sell, and tirelessly promote. They scorn drinking (much less buying) wine based on fashion or reputation.

Aesthetic: Vino y Co is part of an anonymous retail strip on a busy road. But inside is a chapel. Its rosé collection is shelved along the all-glass shopfront, turning it into a glorious stained-glass wall of wine. The zinc-topped counter is faced with wood Jeroen salvaged from packing crates. Tables run lengthwise between shelves of wine, artfully arrayed with books and bottles.

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Time: It took 25 years for Jeroen’s oenophilia to blossom into a business,and Vino y Co is the better for slow ripening. You feel it when you step inside: they are efficient but not hasty, prompt without rushing. Jeroen can talk for hours to curious customers; Rosa doesn’t begrudge gift-wrapping or pouring lemonade for kids while their parents browse.

Integrity: Vino y Co operates at a level of transparency rare on an island whose operational principle is that corners were made to be cut. It is over-the-counter, on-the-books legit. “That’s how I do business,” Jeroen says. Integrity is essential to creativity. Without it, creation lapse into imitation.

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Value: After tasting a superb Casa Cesilia Sauvignon Blanc-Macabeo I checked the price – seven Euros and change. The memorable Gran Cerdo Rioja is about six-fifty. Fabulous Suriol Cava is under a tenner. They could charge more but their priority is to make good wine accessible, and win repeat business. Properly valued work is an excellent way to earn both respect and a living.

Expertise: It is hard to leave Vino y Co as ignorant as you arrived. In the course of a few casual visits I sample Spain’s rising-star grape (Mencía), learn about native fermentation, and discover what ‘sans dosage’ means on a Champagne label. Rosa and Jeroen are equally adroit with restaurant recommendations, saké lore, island gossip, politics, geography, travel, books, design, and fashion. This is the stamp of a creative: never bored and never boring.

Vino y Co
Address: Carretera Ibiza-Sant Josep, 60 (km 1.6, Can Bellotera)
Web: vinoyco.com
Phone: +34 971 305 324
Opening hours: M-F: 10:00-14:00, 17:00-20:00, Sat 10:00-14:00, Sun closed

Cheers!

Cheers!

Ibiza Writing Challenge

Blogging daily in August for my Ibiza Writing Challenge was incredibly rewarding.

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It was a pleasure to go through old photos, choose favourite quotes, and connect with new friends. Massive thanks to all of you who liked, followed and joined in the conversation and inspiration over the past month.

I’d like to do something special to thank everyone who’s read the blog over the past month, so I’ll put it to a vote. Would you like:

A) Another article in the ‘How To Be Creative’ series?
B) A downloadable PDF of the highlights of my ‘How to Write Non-Fiction’ series?
C) My Top 5 Writing Craft Guides as a PDF?

Please vote in the comments!