Art, Creativity, Photography, Travel, Writing

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Farewell to 2018

2018 has been a difficult year for me starting off with having to place my 95 year old mother and 98 year old father in a care home, selling the family home and culminating in the loss of my mother a couple of months ago.

You will already have noticed that I have not posted much this year.  I have therefore decided to take a break from writing this blog to concentrate on improving my photography and Photoshop skills and following some online courses. Of course I hope to do some travelling too.

I will maintain my photography blog although my posts there tend to be sporadic too.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019.

Indian woman with nose ring

Water is life


“Water is life” proclaim the advertising slogans.

It’s ironic then that one brand of bottled water, Hayat (which means life in Turkish), together with all other bottled waters, should be responsible for so much pollution.

A couple of years a I took a series of photos of marine litter for a photography competition on this subject. Ultimately it is, of course, the human race which is responsible for marine (and terrestrial) pollution. You have only to walk along any of the beaches on the island of Cyprus to see that this is a problem. Rubbish thrown into the sea at sea from small fishing boats to huge liners or container ships ends up being carried with the currents on to the shore, to add to the accumulation of all the rubbish already dumped by so many care-less people visiting the beaches.

On a beautiful, sunny, autumn day I was the only person on this beach, which stretches for miles and would be so beautiful if it weren’t for all the rubbish – plastic bottles and bags by the thousand, fishing line, shoes, pens, food containers, medicine bottles, glass, piping and a dead dog – to name but a few, polluted the beach of Akdeniz, one of the few remaining beaches where caretta caretta turtles come to breed.





In the rock pools where only seaweeds drifting in the current or small fish darting in the shallows should be seen, also drifted swathes of plastic.


“Message in a bottle” – it was sadly only too obvious that bottles were the message …. It took me less than 15 minutes on a small stretch of beach to collect enough bottle tops to spell out this message:


At the end of my walk I was appalled and depressed by the mess. It’s no wonder people don’t want to use the beaches. It’s all very well putting up noticeboards encouraging people to keep our environment clean but where were the rubbish bins? Children and adults too, need to be educated to take their rubbish home with them. It’s not difficult to do. Perhaps if we lived in Singapore we would all think differently – littering of any sort there is a punishable offence ….

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series really brought home to thousands of people the damage we are doing to our seas, galvanising people into action – organising beach litter clean-up days, refusing to use plastic bags, re-using water bottles, rejecting plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables, refusing straws in drinks in their local bars, etc. Please do your bit to help the planet. We only have one life.

In the name of …..

Once upon a time, on a sun-kissed island in the Middle Sea the people worshipped different gods. In spite of their differences they lived and worked together, married and brought up families in an atmosphere of peace of goodwill.

One day, in one of the more remote villages, a group of people decided that their god, a newer one than the old god worshipped by most of the older people in particular, should be the one and only god and that everyone should henceforth worship that one.

They decided to build themselves a new place of worship. In the meantime, because they didn’t think the original place of worship was right any more, they decided to change and adapt it to their new way of thinking.


They also had radically differing views on suitable decoration. It was time to get rid of the angels, birds and animals that originally adorned the place. In future only geometric designs would be permitted. They tore the carved peacocks and angels off the wooden screen and disposed of the pulpit, removed the altar and seats and laid bare the floor. They dragged a set of steps into the gap in the screen. The (probably) beautiful windows were smashed. Little remained of its former glory. In the grounds they erected a small building to serve as a wash-room.





Work on the new building continued apace while they used the adapted building until the new one was completed. Then they abandoned it.


Today the walls and window embrasures are still there and it is home to the swallows, sparrows and pigeons.

The youngsters of the village have found a new use for it …..


Perhaps their games will re-unite them once more.

I have walked in sacred places

photo composition by me

I have walked in sacred places
Seen colours never seen
Awake have dreamed of mysteries
Of things that ne’r have been
In trees heard music never writ
Of chords that are unknown
In those hidden sacred spaces
Where I journey all alone

Last night my life was woven
Within that sacred knot
Of ages past, forgotten mists
Of nature’s sacred lot
As the mysteries of life unfold
A tie that has no end
Enlightened by that mystic light
Of mysteries veil to rend

On darkest moor, high stones stand
My spirit is set free
As they speak to me of ages past
Touchstones of eternity
They rise upon those mystic lands
If only we might see
That in each secret stone is hid
A gift of nature’s memory.

To stand in dreams on hill top high
To soar above on eagle’s wings
Where visions are no longer hid
And spirits soar as nature sings
Above those lesser things of life
Above its woes and care
As dreams and visions are fulfilled
As we at one with nature share.

As lightning rends the sky at night
And thunder roars in angry swell
As nature groans in agony
Its song of loss – a tale to tell
Within such wondrous beauty there
Where stars are hidden from our sight
The seeds of dawn are gently sown
To bring new beauty with dawn’s light.

To gaze into life’s deep, dark wells
As though into the deepest grave
Of shadows cold – life’s blackest seam
Where hope seems lost – no hope to save
But from within those darkest deeps
New life springs forth in sweetest span
And flows to quench the longing thirst
That dwells within the soul of man.

Or stand beside a river clear
And gaze in wonder as it flows
A myriad of crystal lights
As to its journey’s end it goes
To hear in nature’s gentle breeze
As willows sing in harmony
As nature’s healing gently flows
If only we would hear and see.

Words by © Les Cruttenden, from Insights into Meditation

Lest we forget

Today is Armistice Day, a day whose memory is celebrated in the UK and Commonwealth countries. Poppies have become a widely recognised symbol for those who lost their lives. The world as we know it now bears no resemblance to the world when they were fighting and events are now shaping ours in ways that were unthinkable until recently. We should give thanks that we have enjoyed peace for so long here in Europe and pray that it will continue.



The published version of the poem reads:

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By John McCrae

“The reproduction of the autograph poem is from a copy belonging to Carleton Noyes, Esq., of Cambridge, Mass., who kindly permitted its use.”

I couldn’t decide whether I preferred the version with the black or white writing so I have included them both.

Where bloggers create – announcement

Have you ever wondered what a blogger’s creative space looks like? Here’s your chance to find out. On 11 July Karen from My Desert Cottage will host a bloghop to a creative spaces around the world. Each participating blogger will create a post about their space, will post it on their blog on 11 July and will add the link to their blog at a specially created page on Karen’s blog. From there you can hop, skip and jump around the world. It doesn’t matter whether your space is small or large, is a space cleared on a cluttered dining room table or is a dedicated space. It’s yours and that’s where you feel comfortable. Most importantly, it’s where you generate the posts that keep your readers entertained, inspired, delighted, amused, …..



Photoku: whisper-sparkle


diamond sparkles
on winter’s frozen landscape
Spring whisper’d melting

my first attempt at creating a photoku (a visual representation of a written haiku). This week’s haiku had to contain the words ‘whisper’ and ‘sparkle’. The images are all mine.

modern families – shocking

The Daily Post recently provided us with this prompt: “If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?”

“Marianne Colston is coming to dinner”
“how’s she getting here?”
“I don’t know; she’ll probably get herself driven over”

Marianne arrived in a chauffeur driven car. The journey hadn’t been too exhausting, she said, unlike many others she’d made in the past.

Over dinner, served in my parents’ living room-kitchen-dining-room-all-rolled –into-one, she regaled us with anecdotes of her travels. She and her husband had set off on a European grand tour the day after their wedding, in November 1819, and her daughter had been born whilst they were travelling in Italy.

She was a keen and curious traveller delighting in meeting new people and visiting all manner of monuments which she described in her journals. She was also an accomplished water colourist, as so many ladies of her generation were and published two volumes of her illustrated travelogues.

Whilst she admired the speed and comfort in which it was now possible to travel, she lamented the fact that so much green space had disappeared and how large cities and towns had become great anonymous sprawls inhabited by too many people less fortunate than herself. She also deplored the fact that nobody today dresses for dinner.

At the end of the evening she said, “I have enjoyed myself enormously and the food was delicious. Please give my compliments to your cook”. “We don’t have a cook” I replied, “my husband cooked the meal”. There was a stunned silence.

Marianne Colston nee Jenkins was born in 1792 and died in 1865. She married into a wealthy family and would have lived a life of comfort and privilege surrounded by a number of servants.
She died a few years before the birth of Emmeline Pankhurst whose campaign for votes for women would change the lives of women forever.


You can read more about her here

Daily Post: bookworm and books

Response to the Daily Post’s prompt ‘bookworm’ of 14.09.2013

bookworm – Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

I chanced upon a book in French and the word was rêve (dream). As I counted out to the tenth word I couldn’t help reading the first sentence; it was about the fulfillment of the author’s dream, that of purchasing a house. As soon as I read it I forgot about ‘Googling’ the word to find an image as that sentence had already evoked memories of a dream.

Twenty years ago we were house hunting for our own dream too, in France, as it happens. Tired of living in the UK, we wanted to move somewhere with a better climate, a better standard of living, and one where food was considered important and worth taking time to prepare and eat according to the precepts of the Slow Food movement.

We’d abandoned the idea of living in Spain – land registry laws were non-existent at the time, there was no logic to the pricing of properties for sale and life there just seemed too chaotic. Besides, I didn’t like the odd (to us) late eating hours.

In France Paris or rather some Parisians made it clear that we weren’t wanted there either so we went south. We spent a couple of holidays driving around different areas, marking each area on a map into a grid so that we covered it systematically. Then we arrived in Provence.

In a provincial town about 50km from Avignon we wandered around, stopped for a cup of coffee and idly looked in the windows of some estate agencies. We thought we would go and have a look at some of the properties. We weren’t entirely sure what we were looking for – a pied à terre (a temporary base) or somewhere more permanent. We visited hamlets where the houses were all joined at the hip (no privacy) but had an attractive fountain. We climbed down into the dusty depths of old village houses with cellars and beautiful vaulted ceilings which were crumbling into disrepair. Other places we could have moved into straightaway but none of them had a garden or off-the-road parking. Finally we came across an advertisement for an old property in need of some work. Of course, in the best traditions, when we saw it we suffered the invariable ‘coup de coeur’ (instant falling in love). We imagined ourselves sitting under the lime tree in the garden enjoying wonderful food with the most beautiful view in front of us, stretching as far as the eye could see.


After some wrangling with the owner we bought the place and over the years carried out various improvements. The first thing we did was construct a swimming pool on the lowest terrace. It’s 70km to the coast and we thought we would need respite in the pool in the heat of the summer while we carried out other building work. Like the main character in Marcel Pagnol’s novel ‘Jean de Florette’ (made into the film of the same name starring Gerard Depardieu) we had problems with the natives over – you guessed it – water. In our absence water was being stolen in vast quantities and we had to pay the bill. We were also reported to the authorities for supposedly using black labour for the construction of our swimming pool. Although advised by our neighbours to the contrary, we did everything by the book knowing full well that as foreigners we would receive no mercy should we fall foul of the law.

Next we knocked down the chicken house and built a pool house in its place. We dreamed of having a sign painted, along the lines of an English pub sign, depicting ‘the chicken shack under the lime tree’ as the place became affectionately known. We dreamed of running a B&B and planned to convert the old, falling-down-place-without-foundations-and-a-rapidly-collapsing roof into something more attractive and habitable, with masses of potted geraniums in the area in front of the house where breakfast could be taken. But, like many dreams, this one foundered when it became clear that my husband’s health would not allow us to run a B&B with all the hard work and maintenance that would entail. So we took a step back. Now we use it for the occasional holiday, as do close friends of ours, and one day in the future we hope it will have a new owner whose own dreams for the place will be fulfilled.

Photographers: show us BOOKS

old book for sale in a flea market in Arles

illustrated manuscript/book in Pisa’s Museo dell’Opera

a page from a book of music in the same museum

a book spine poem

Friday finds: netsuke

I have just finished reading Edmund de Waal’s The hare with amber eyes: a family’s century of art and loss; it’s neither a biography nor an autobiography but a family memoir, a genre with which I was unfamiliar until I read the book.

The author traces the story of a collection of 264 netsuke – from their arrival in his family in Vienna during the height of the rage for Japonisme to their return to Japan with his uncle – alongside the story of his family from their starting point as grain merchants in Odessa, then to being rich Jewish bankers in pre-war Vienna, to their end, in much straitened circumstances in post-war England.

Netsuke are small, tactile miniature sculptures usually made of ivory, box or fruitwood depicting fruit, animals or humans engaged in a variety of activities (often sexual). They were originally designed as toggles for clothing and have a couple of holes in the back through which cords were threaded.

A friend of ours has a small collection of his own. These are some of his netsuke.

netsuke group

Kim Klassen came up with the idea of sharing Friday Finds.