The first elephants I met in India were in Karnataka, at Dubare Elephant Camp. Nowadays it seems to be a holiday lodge destination with added elephants, but when we visited, it was still largely home to elephants who’d given years of service to the state’s Forestry Department as log-hauliers.
As we arrived, the elephants were being a good old scrub in the River Cauvery, It was clear they relished having their hard leathery hide scrubbed, their hard bristly hair scratched. And it was obvious their minders were enjoying it too. After that – breakfast. Here’s a picture of a cook in the cookhouse. He’s boiling up an appetisng concoction of jaggery (dense dark sugar), millet and vegetation before rolling it into giant balls which the men feed to the expectant animals.
And here’s feeding time. And that was it really. A short but memorable experience.
I had a very different time about ten days later, at Kumbakonam, where my new American friend had taken me to visit some of the eighteen – EIGHTEEN – temples in this small town. I’ll take you for a tour another time. This time I’ll introduce you to the elephant who, at one of the temples, was available to bless visitors in exchange for a few coins for the temple’s finances. Gwen took me to meet her. As I stood before her, she lifted her trunk and laid it gently in my shoulder. I did indeed feel blessed.
Temple elephants are a common sight – here’s one in Thanjavur.
But only once did I see one in the wild, a youngster crashing through the undergrowth and feeding at the edge of a forest.
My grandchildren look nothing like me, or anyone in my past. One looks like his dad. The next one looks like his uncle. The next one’s the spitting image of his granddad. And then along came Zoë. A few weeks back, my son found this photo of me at about the age Zoë is now, and thought he detected a resemblance. Two of a kind? You decide.
This week, Jude’s Photo Challenge invites us to use empty – negative – space as part of a photo.
I thought that Becky’s Perspective Squares Challenge provided a perfect tool to consider the value of this space. Is it empty – as in vacant? Or does it tell us more about what’s going on?
So I’m going to show you each shot twice. Once with the negative space I originally included, and then again, cropped to a square illustrating only the subject. Which do you prefer, in each case?
This is a whistlestop tour to the bird reserve at Slimbridge, to the Farne Islands, and for the last two sets of shots, to Dallowgill, a lonely, beautiful moor in Nidderdale, only a few miles from home. Click on the images to bring them up full size
It’s time for Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge again, and this week, she’s asking us to focus on the vertical. It’s not surprising that I’m heading for cityscapes on the whole: though not entirely. I wanted to have something for #15 Squaretops too – so look out for a topsy-turvy image at the bottom of the post.
Here are two riverside skyscrapers: quite similar. But I like the way that in one – in Seville, on the Guadalquivir – the upward sweeping lines are emphasised by its reflection rippling on the waters beneath: and in the other – in London, on the Thames – it’s the contrast with the blocky cranes that does the job.
Then I chose a couple from Cádiz. Palm trees. In one the tall palms lead your eyes to the – rather small – moon, and in the other, two wayward palms making an impromptu arch contrast with the properly upright trees they’re next to.
Back in London, Greenwich actually, the standing figures echo the massed skyscrapers of modern 21st century London.
And I liked this shot from Warsaw. The vertical lines aren’t all that pronounced, but still lead you up to those precariously perched window cleaners.
Finally, an image (square of course) taken on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal near Gargrave. Have you noticed it’s upside down? Topsy turvy? That’s the water up above, and the trees and sky down below.
An extra post today. Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know about my daughter Ellie: about her husband Phil who died from cancer, four years ago tomorrow, and about her twin boys, then aged 10. About her own cancer diagnosis and treatment more or less immediately after. I re-blogged several of her posts, and you followed her story through her own treatment, surgery and recovery. Now she has something to say about living in this strange new world where coronavirus and the fear of it dominates our lives. Please read it.
When my husband was dying, one of the things that bothered him the most was that people stopped bothering him. We were always the last to find out about our friends’ separations, pain in the arse teenagers, or warring families. And when we did find out, we’d always get the same response:
“But our problems are nothing compared to yours.”
To which my husband would reply:
“And my problems don’t suddenly make yours go away.”
He was right. Yes, perspective is a wonderful thing, but it usually grows from trauma. I’m a better person now than I’ve ever been before, simply because I value all the things I used to take for granted. Like being alive. Or having a cuddle with the man I love. Or owning a full set of tits. So, it felt completely wrong to find myself struggling with the impending fourth anniversary of my husband’s…
Yesterday, Malcolm had a Very Significant Birthday. No party, he said. Definitely no party. Instead, we travelled by train in style – First Class – to Edinburgh and back.
We nearly missed the train. Thanks to Storm Ciara, an hour and a half was almost not enough to travel the 18 miles to Northallerton Station. Our first major diversion was a mere mile from home, and things didn’t get better.
We were at the station in time. Just. But the train was late. Never mind. Beyond Newcastle, this is one of England’s finest train journeys. The coast near Alnmouth, distant views of Holy Island, Berwick-on-Tweed, while enjoying a late breakfast, and unlimited coffee at our table – that stressful journey to the station had been worth it.
Gateshead from the train.
Alnmouth from the train.
Berwick on Tweed from the train.
Once in Edinburgh, this is what we were faced with.
We put our heads down and made straight for the National Museum of Scotland. And there we stayed. All day. It was no hardship. We had an interesting morning in the fascinating if not photogenic gallery devoted to Scotland’s twentieth century of social change. A very light snack. And in the afternoon, we followed no plan. Every gallery had something of interest. So we each followed our noses, and visited far flung Inuit territory in Canada, plunged into the oceans, watched the Millennium Clock strike three, wondered at unwearable clothing in the costume gallery … We know we’ll be back – so much to see, and it’s so beautifully displayed and interpreted.
That’s why we didn’t leave the museum.
On arrival, a taste of what’s to come.
So much to see, so little time.
The Natural History Gallery.
The Natural History Gallery.
Reflections observed from the Balcony Cafe.
So many bicycles..
The Millennium Clock – worth a post on its own.
The main hall, viewed through an elk.
A pac-a-mac? Or an inuit parka made from seal gut?
Yup’ik spirit dance mask, Alaska.
Court Mantua. British, 1750s
Back into the blizzard for the train home. Here’s something to smile at.
And here’s our journey home on the train.
Edinburgh Castle from the train in Waverley Station.
Nearly forty years ago, we lived in Sheffield, next-door-but-one to Bryan. He was and is a carpenter. His wood never came from the woodyard though. It was always scavenged. You’d find him investigating skips or nosing through derelict buildings. Not for him IKEA generation pine and MDF. No, Bryan looked for weathered oak, warm-toned cedar, maple, cherry, iroko. He’d pick up a walnut floorboard or a broken mahogany cupboard door. He’d squirrel away a fragment of marquetry or a shard of polished ebony. Who knew when they’d come in handy? Everything was carefully organised next to his workshop: it might wait years and months for its moment of glory, but every piece of wood would find a use … one day.
He wanted projects he could put his personal stamp on – no identical sets of anything for him. And he liked to try things out and experiment. So he made a deal with us. We’d get the dining table we wanted if he could try a few techniques that might or might not work. No money would change hands. In exchange for being guinea pigs, we would get a table – for free – that might fall apart within the year.
This table was horribly difficult to photograph. Standing unsteadily on chairs hardly seemed to help.
Forty years on, we’re still using it. We still enjoy the almost-game-of-chess to be played on its surface. We fondle the dome of wood rising gently along one side. We smile as we remember the small marquetry lines that punctuate one of the legs: they show the knee heights of Thomas, then four, and Ellie, then two. We invent tales about the stick-man water carrier and enjoy the pretty mother-of-pearl buttons embossed into the surface. Look at the legs. Each is different – one made from pillars of the checker-board assembly scattered on the surface.
The stick man.
The exploded chess board.
That sensual polished nipple of wood along one side.
Tom’s leg height.
Another detail from the side.
… and another ….
… and another …
One of the table legs.
A small detail.
Crawl underneath. The table is dedicated to everyone in the family. There’s a further notice: this one.
We’ve called in one 10,000 meal service, as promised on the dedication notice. Sadly, Bryan now lives in Wales, and we have moved north from the Sheffield street where we once all lived. Bryan and I each have a different partner now, and we’ve rather lost touch. But that table ensures that he’s never forgotten. And when I go, will it have to be chopped in three? Each of my children wants it. Perhaps it’ll be a Judgement of Solomon moment for them.
I’m an indifferent housewife and Malcolm is worse. What’s the point of dusting until you can actually see a result from doing so? Malcolm would probably say ‘What’s the point of dusting? All it does is re-arrange the dust.’ Hoovering happens when it has to.
So last week it was a terrible shock when I decided to have a really good spring-clean, hoiked the edge of a rug out from under the radiator where it’s normally firmly wedged, and found this…..
…….. the corner of our Persian rug chewed to a fragment. By clothes moths. Of whom I could see not a single sign.
Well, we cleared up the mess and left it at that. Until today. Malcolm had a little sort out of the jumpers in a drawer, and found this….
….. and this ……
Well. Spring cleaning it is then. With a vengeance. We’ve ransacked the shops for nasty chemicals, packaged for the most part in plastic (so much for our eco-credentials), and set to with the vacuum cleaner, dusters, scrubbing brushes, mops. It’s either that or face the world with every item of clothing interestingly decorated with a filigree of little holes.
Will it make us less indifferent housekeepers? Probably not. It’ll take more than that to change the habits of a lifetime. But then, it turns out that both Harrogate and Ripon are suffering from a serious Invasion of the Clothes Moth. Even Houseproud Housewives are not exempt.