“Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something.“
From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming
Our first view of Saint Petersburg (pronounced Sankt Pyterborrg or just Pyterborrg by Russians) was from the window of the Meteor (hydrofoil vessel) from Peterhof. A cheerful, high pitched woman’s voice shrieked and crackled over the loudspeaker in Russian – no doubt telling us the mysteries and wonders of Saint Petersburg. However, the Meteor was packed full of Chinese tourists and we three auspicious caucasians squished like sardines in among them.
Nobody had any idea what she was saying. Continue reading Russia part 2: Saint Petersburg
“If so, better let him be named after his father. His father was Akaky, so let the son also be Akaky. Thus it was that Akaky Akakievich cam about. As the child was being baptised, he cried and made such a face as if he anticipated that he would be a titular councillor.”
The Overcoat by Nicholai Gogol
It seems that Putin and Zuma have formed an unholy alliance. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I hear your groans. I see your rolled eyes.
But there is a silver lining.
As of 31st March 2017, South Africans have visa-free travel to Russia and Belorussia. If you itch to travel the world and experience different cultures, now is your chance. Go! Go to Mother Russia! Continue reading Russia Part 1: Pavlovsk, Pushkin and Peterhof
“Q: Where shall we go? A: To the railway.”
The Railway Children by E Nesbit
In French grammar we learn a present progressive form of the verb to be, describing an action you are doing, an action on-going: en train de.
I’m sitting on a Virgin Train rushing headlong in a northerly direction, bound for Kingston upon Hull – UK City of Culture 2017. I’m going to see my little East Yorkshire family. Continue reading En Train de
“Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?”
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sitting on my bottom, edging my foot onto the boulder and trying hard not to look down at the 3200ft abyss below, I had one of those out of body experiences.
On the one hand, a more sensible Nyama looked on from a safe distance wondering almost out loud whether anyone had ever fallen to their death on this spot. She also seriously doubted whether in fact the Nyama on the rock really did have it in her to stand on the Kjeragbolten. Continue reading Norway: Nyama, the King and the big boulder … and the VOH
“We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
In summary, Arthur Miller’s play is a classic parable of mass hysteria drawing a frightening parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 and the McCarthyism Cold War fears of 1950s America.
Set in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts, the townspeople are stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and hatred, culminating in the wrongful sentencing to death of 20 people for the crime of witchcraft. Continue reading Salem and Boston: American cultural saturation, witches and baseball
“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again.”
Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson
I walked into a small steamy room next to the cow shed. “Should I pack wellies?” I’d asked Hubby a week before. “No they’re having a drought,” he’d assured me.
I glanced down at my muddy shoes.
Two women looked up at us. One old, the other a young trainee. Both wore headscarfs and large aprons, their sleeves were rolled up to their elbows and they carried wooden paddles in their chapped, reddened hands. Continue reading Moldova: a little country with a big heart, lost in another time and place
“Today, given a 35mm camera and a built-in exposure-meter, anyone can be an expert photographer, but it was not so easy fifty-years ago…. Clicking the shutter even once was a serious business that had to be carefully thought out beforehand.”
Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl
I’m eavesdropping on a table of paint-spattered construction workers in my local cafe. As they hungrily devour their ‘full English’ they are cross-examining one another’s attempts so far at keeping to their new year resolutions.
Have you made some new years resolutions? After examining my own year in photos, the mantra, ‘get back into my photography’, seems to ring out boldly and would appear on my list if I had one. I have long neglected my photography and sadly my big Nikon and expensive lenses have spent a shameful amount of time in the spare cupboard. The curse of the iPhone – so very small and convenient – sadly the results are somewhat disappointing. Bear with my poor efforts as I take you through my year in pictures:
We saw the new year in (2014/2015) with a group of special friends in a cottage on the cold Yorkshire moors doing a murder mystery dinner – in full costume and character. “Such fun!” (Miranda voice).
Continue reading 2015: my year in pictures and snippets