The camel was probably laughing at the tourists who were trying to bribe the owners of the few horses that were there to help those who couldn’t walk through the old city in the heat. I won’t disclose the nationality of those who had disembarked from a cruise ship and thought to buy their way on to a horse, but they all seemed overweight to me. Surprisingly, in this poor country, the horse owners insisted on first come firsdt served. Or could there have been someone overlooking overlooking the situation, who wasn’t obvious to us?
Another reminder from that trip. One in our group asked the guide if he could stop the sellers of jewellery from pestering us. He just quietly said., “No, Madam. Your buying a small trinket from him could mean the difference between his children eating tonight or not”. Something I’ve never forgotten when I’m feeling under pressure from itinerant sellers.
Like many people, I hesitate to photograph people without their knowledge. Sometimes, if the mood is right, I ask permission, but then the people invariably strike poses or give an embarrassed smile for the camera. So, the few I have are usually street scenes or action scenes. Some I feel I couldn’t display publicly as they could be misinterpreted, have vulnerable children in them, or are otherwise not suitable. Below are some I hope fit the challenge and I have captioned them.
A misty morning on the pedestrianised bridge over the Lake of the Restored Sword in Hanoi, Vietnam.
They assured me I could walk in safety here but I chickened out when I saw the railway line running down the middle of the street. Unfortunately, it also started me humming The Railroad Runs Through the Middle of the House, which my grandfather used to sing, and it stayed with me for days.
Both my ‘texture’ pictures come from Bratislava, a lovely city where old traditions are still honoured, lace making is still practised by ladies who sit in the square with their spools of white cotton, and where the coffee house is an institution.
This first picture definitely reminds me of texture. Before visiting I had read about the fabulous Bratislava chocolate and couldn’t wait to try it. It was a cold, rainy day and I was looking forward to some hot drinking chocolate with a dollop of cream on top. No one had told me that it is a liquid chocolate eaten with a spoon. Texture.
My second texture is also nostalgic. This was a sweet-shop in the centre of town with an array of boiled sweets, caramels, toffees and chocolates, that so reminded me of my childhood. I could taste the texture of the clove sweets, the bullseyes, and the fruit caramels but I ended up buying some delicious chocolates. You guessed it, I’m a chocoholic.
I couldn’t resist this one. I also saw it printed in very large white letters on a wall in the downtown area but it was in an area in which one felt uneasy taking photos so I didn’t even take my camera out.
It reminded me that we once had notices all over the place, including buses and trains, that said: “Do Not Spit”. How times have changed.
Just literally bridges. I thought of all sorts of ways in which to interpret the challenge, but when I started looking through my photos I decided to go with the obvious. It’s too hot for serious thinking today, so here is a selection of some of my favourite bridges.
Above – Sur le Pont d’Avignon
Amsterdam, Triana Bridge Spain, and Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy
Rome, Italy: Pisa, Italy: and the famous painted bridge at Lucerne, Switzerland
La Somail, France, Linked houses in Strasboug, Williamstad, Curaco from our cargo boat.
The Daddy of them all – the bridge at Avignon, France.
Shine can have many meanings: a high gloss polish, a brilliant lacquer finish, a light on a mirror, moonlight on water, a child’s freshly washed face before bedtime any or all of these can be offered. I’ve found one or two that fitted these categories but they weren’t my favourites, instead, I’ve gone for the photographs below.
The first ‘Shine’ is the colourful and exquisite marble floor of the covered-in Galleria Emmanuelle in Milano, the trendy, upmarket shopping area that stretches from the famous Duomo to the Opera House. All the top-named brands have shops here (dare one call them shops, I wonder?) and apart from the gloss of the beautiful marble, the whole place has a ‘shininess’ that seems part of this monied world.
Exquisite marble floor of the Galleria Emmanuelle in Milano – Mari Nicholson
And now for something completely different. The photograph below was taken when I visited a workshop outside Hanoi where dedicated instructors were teaching children who had been injured by landmines in Vietnam, a trade that would eventually enable them to work in the world outside. The glass jar on the table is full of wafer-thin sheets of gold leaf and this young girl is painstakingly applying it to parts of a picture.
Vietnam, Applying gold leaf to a picture to make it shine.
On on the same trip in S.E. Asia, in Cambodia, we came across a school .with something of the same idea. A group of young students were being taught how to use gold leaf on religious icons, how to make Buddha statues, how to do intricate woodwork etc. To me, it seemed incredibly difficult and needing great patience, but the ever-smiling children assured me it was easy for them and better than working in the rice fields where they never had enough to eat.
And what is nicer than a sunset with the falling sun shining on the water, the rustle of palm trees, and the lap of the waves.
And lastly, probably the best shine of all, the moon on the water, in this case a silvery moon that turned the sea a shiny gunmetal grey that could have been anywhere but was actually in a tropical land.
“Any place I hang my hat is home”, or so the old song goes and this is almost true for me. I seem to be able to settle in any location and feel instantly at home – even on holiday. Feet under the table, a few friends around, some olives and some wine to keep the conversation flowing, and I’m happy.
That’s not to say, however, that certain places don’t take precedence, one of which is my permanent home now and has been for many years, the Isle of Wight, and the other is my childhood home in Northern Ireland. These definitely represent home to me.
Starting from childhood:
Now I live near the sea, in this town, a favourite of many people many of whom visited it for the first time on a school trip. The weather is usually good, we seldom see snow, the beaches are clean and safe, and the walking is superb.
It’s a place of thatched cottages, thatched pubs and even a thatched church Photos Mari Nicholson
No rain promised in my area for a while so I’ve looked through my photos to see what I could come up with and here are two. Both of these were taken in Thailand, one in Koh Samui, the other in Hua Hin on the Gulf of Siam just a couple of hours drive from Bangkok.
This little boy was having the time of his life on his polystyrene box lid which served as a raft from which he was trying to catch fish. I don’t think it mattered whether he caught any or not, the fun was in trying, and in having such a marvellous float to carry him along the seashore. Don’t worry, Dad was trawling the near water keeping an eye out so that he didn’t drift off. They had little money, it was obvious. Mum was digging in the sand for tiny little sandfish and crabs for supper and his sisters were gathering leaves from the hedges around. Tech toys were unknown to him and even though I am sure he hankered after them, I confess I hoped he could continue to enjoy the childlike life he was having at the moment I took this photograph.
Oh dear, it wasn’t supposed to rain in Koh Samui, but it did, and heavily. Two days of torrential rain rendered the hotel’s umbrellas unusable, the decking awash, and the grey sea a hazard if one wanted to swim. Day and night it pounded the beach, the noise like thunder at night. Room service was needed but by the time food got to the rooms it was cold – and sometimes very wet – so everyone waded through the water to the restaurant where the staff did their best to serve us with hot food.
Two days later it was all over. We woke up to sunshine, dry decking, dry beaches and a placid blue sea. Had it really been as bad as I remember? As the locals say, “TIT” – This is Thailand”.