Ragtag Saturday: Gone fishing

This fisherman is trying for his daily catch on Valencia’s River Túria. I found him on the staircase of the Horchateria Santa Catalina.

Horchateria? Yes: it’s a café where you go to drink horchata, a traditional Valencian drink made with dried and sweetened tiger nuts. It’s rather good, if a little sweet.

Anyway, we were just leaving after our break when we spotted this bucolic scene. And it reminded me that we haven’t yet gone for a walk along the Túria, Valencia’s river-that-is-not-a-river. More of that tomorrow.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge is ‘River’.

 

Ragtag Saturday: Abstract moon, abstract bubbles

We travelled to London for Christmas quite late in the day on the 22nd.  The moon was all-but full as it rose, at first barely peeking over the tree tops before eventually soaring high above us, in a clear black sky. I tracked its progress.   Only my phone was to hand, but rather than lamenting the poor quality of these images, I liked the somewhat abstract quality they had.  Here they are.

Then the next day, off we went, with Tom, Sarah, William and Zöe, to the Natural History Museum.  More fool us for assuming it would be nearly empty so near to Christmas time. Outside though, was a man with a bucket of soapy water, and a couple of sticks linked with string, intent on play.  He made bubbles.  Lots of bubbles.  I loved the abstract play of soft pinks and blues and sinuous curves set against the clean lines of the museum buildings beyond.

Here then is my contribution to today’s Ragtag Challenge: Abstract.

Click on any image to view it full size.

Ragtag Saturday: The Lie of the Land

I’ve got two daughters who have the acting gene: who’ve often performed and entertained on stage over the years.  Where did they get this gene from?  Not me.  I was a servant once in a school play, and spoke two whole lines.  That’s my Drama CV.

Yet apparently,  Malcolm and I will be part of a troupe appearing on stage for one night only at the Frazer Theatre Knaresborough, to perform an improvised drama about … well, what else?… Brexit.

It was Phil’s idea.  He’s a professional theatre director, and he’s one of our People’s Vote team.  He thought we needed something to entertain the campaigning troops all over North Yorkshire and  bring us and a wider public together for something a little different.  Adrian, also part of the team, offered practical and technical expertise.

And suddenly … there we were, rehearsing, about a dozen of us.  Most of us had never met each other before.  No script.  No lines.  No clear idea where this might go….  yet.  This was to be Improvised Theatre.  We played games.  ‘Think of one thing you like about being part of Europe.’ (Just one?) ‘Now make a statue of it.’  We’ve made more statues, taught our poses to others, worked with them to make vignettes.  We’ve played ball games, word games. We’ve told stories about our own experiences of Europe and  of the-Brexit-to-be, and with Phil, woven these into scenes and tableaux .  We’ve sung a sea shanty, improvised ‘Question Time’.  Phil and Adrian persuaded someone to confect a video. All this weekend, we’ll be working solidly to pull everything together.  Well, Phil will.  He’s got an eye for when there’s a nugget worth mining for, a gem worth polishing.From the latest North Yorkshire for Europe newsletter.

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt is ‘Play’.

Bevies of birds

On my way to yoga last Friday I was stopped in my tracks.  There, high above me was that unmistakeable raucous calling that only flying geese can deliver.  I watched, as ever transfixed by the cooperative and graceful weaving flight of these birds.  They maintained their traditional V shape as they journeyed on, but I realised they weren’t constantly following the same Top Goose.  First one, then another would fly forwards, only to be succeeded by another, only moments later.  Always, however, they remained connected, a purposeful team.

 

 

I saw these geese at Marfield Wetlands exactly this time last year. Disobligingly, they did not formed perfect Vs for me.

Later, lying on my back in the yoga group, I glimpsed a red kite, wheeling and diving directly above the skylight.

Red kite (Wikimedia Commons)

A Good Morning.

These photos were taken this time last year.  I still have no camera….

Ragtag Tuesday.  It’s  still there.  As is Ragtag-every-other-day-of-the-week. Have a look.  But I’ve moved to Saturday’s Ragtag Daily Prompt.  

Ragtag Tuesday: Walkies…..

When we pop over to Bolton to do an overnight babysit for Ellie (er, not babysitting. Thirteen year old twins require a taxi-service rather than child-minding), dog walking is part of the deal. Here’s Sunday’s walk….

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Today’s Ragtag Prompt is ‘walk’.

Ragtag Tuesday: Touching the past

Nothing makes me feel older than looking at these three photos does.  They seem to be illustrations from a history book, but they’re not. I can reach out and touch them, because every one of them features my mother.

This is her christening.  And here are people I never met: her father Charles, the curate, who died long before I was even thought of.  Her mother Annie, from whom she became estranged. Annie’s mother and father Arthur and Elizabeth Pickard, long long dead.  Her sister Blanche and brother-in-law Jack who took themselves off to live and work in Swansea, so I never met them either: though my mother inherited almost all that Blanche had when she died in 1964.

News of my mother’s birth would have travelled by word-of-mouth or by letter.  I communicate with friends in four continents in an instant, by the click of a mouse or a quick call on Facetime.

When my children were small in the 1980s, we went to an exhibition featuring the future – a fax machine.  We got very over-excited sending drawings to one another down the phone line. Who uses fax machines now? They’re nearly as dead as the fountain pen. But even the telephone barely existed for most people when my mother was born. She lived to see her grandchildren use word processors, computers and mobile phones – but she was happier with what she knew.

I guess this photo was taken during World War One. Over the last few weeks our attention has been so taken up  by the horrors of trench warfare that it’s hard to imagine that in a small northern coal-mining town, life would have gone on much as usual.  Clergymen and miners were all exempt from conscription. Though my mother remembers food difficulties. It was her job to run to the shop and get a supply of golden syrup, and then to sit fishing the flies before it could be used  in cooking.

I have little grandchildren  of the same kind of age as my mother and her little brother Arthur in this photo (and for those of you who’ve been asking, Zoë is doing well thanks.  She should now be just under a fortnight old, but she’s three months old instead).

Theirs is a world of babygrows, disposable nappies, easy-care T-shirts and jumpers and the constant background whirr of the washing machine. My mother remembered the dampness and drudgery of Monday and its all-day washing as the worst day of the week.

Here’s another from the war years:

How could life have been so very – well – Edwardian?  Those floor-length clothes for my grandmother in the previous photo! That sailor suit for Arthur and a mob-cap for my mother!  Imagine getting Arthur and Betty along to the photographer’s studio in their Sunday-best, clean, tidy and with immaculate shoes.  These days, family portraits are all about getting out into the countryside with tousled hair then running barefoot through the heather.

I find it unsettling to look at the images.  

I feel strangely unconnected, as though my mother is from some strange unknowable place with which I have no relationship: ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’ L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge is ‘past’.

Ragtag Tuesday: Toussaint – the Day of the Dead

No, I’m not talking about the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, that life-affirming joyous celebration of life that happens in Mexico at this time of year.

I’m remembering our life in France.  I’m remembering how, from early October and for the rest of the month, shops and markets would be crammed with pots and pots of chrysanthemums.  It’s hard to know where they could all have been grown.  Or how they could all find buyers.  The Hard Discount supermarkets would sell them for a euro or two, while high-end florists expected a great deal more.

On All Saints’ Day, November 1st, all these chrysanthemums – white, russet, yellow, mauve, crimson – would suddenly appear in the cemeteries, jostled and packed onto family tombs .  And those cemeteries weren’t just crowded with plants.  Family groups make it their business to visit their deceased relatives in the season of Toussaint.  The day itself is a public holiday, and so those family members who’ve died provide an excuse for a family get-together. Here’s a day when, out of respect, there’s no opportunity to air old grievances or argue over the family silver.

Foreign visitors can make a big mistake when coming to see their French friends at this time of year.  ‘There were such a lot of lovely chrysanthemums in the shops, I couldn’t resist buying a pot for you’.  It doesn’t go down well.  There’s only one place for these flowers once they’ve left the shop.  The graveyard.

What HAS happened to all my photos taken in France of Toussaint chrysanthemums in shops, markets, cemeteries?  Who knows?  I’ve had to rely on Unsplash, a brilliant collection of copyright-free photos, offered by the world’s photographers.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge is ‘Dead’.