A Camera Is A Save Button For The Mind’s Eye

When it comes to photography I am no Rhonda, Gunta, Rebecca, Marianne or Madhu. I’d hoped that over the past four years some of their skills would have rubbed off on me but regrettably the photography fairy has failed to sprinkle a little pixie dust on me. I’ve been privileged to work with some of the very best WordPress photographers on joint projects but I still lack the fundamentals when it comes to capturing a great shot.

In honour of Pet Fostering week I thought I’d snap a couple of photos of Milo one of our failed fosters to help promote how worthwhile it is taking an animal in to provide them with the best possible chance of finding their furever home. I mean, after all how difficult can it be photographing your beloved pet, my blogging friends Animalcouriers do it all the time!

Two hours later, I’d broken out in a sweat, got through two bags of cat treats, a stiff glass of wine and still hadn’t managed to get a good shot of Milo; well one that didn’t make him look like yellow fang evil psycho cat. Eventually my perseverance paid off or either my subject was tiring and decided to submit gracefully to my bribery. You can see Milo’s close up here in which he’s a great ambassador for rescue cats and we succeeded in getting our message out there that fostering saves lives.For those interested in fostering head over to your local rescue where I’m sure a warm welcome awaits.

I have a true appreciation for the talents of all my photography blogging friends and their endeavours to provide the sleek glossy pictures that regularly grace their blogs but I realise that a lot of work goes in to providing the completed article. So I’m curious, tell me what’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done whilst trying to capture that perfect shot?

"Enough already"

I’m the reason my family couldn’t put out the nativity scene this year as I ate the three wise men – Milo”

I drink out of the toilet - Hobo

I’m not ashamed that I drink out of the toilet – Hobo

I steal the neighbour's Koi Carp from his ornamental pond

I steal the neighbour’s Koi Carp from his ornamental pond – Chloe Hellcat

This is me after I stole a bag of cat nip & I'm too stoned to move

This is me after I ripped open a bag of cat nip & I’m too stoned to move – Charlie

The Quiet Place

Each of us has a quiet place, somewhere where we go to write, reflect, create or just be alone. Of late I seem to have lost the key or forgotten the combination to the door of my secret place. Overlooked or misplaced either way I am struggling to find my way in where previously the door had somehow always been left ajar.

I envy my father in that way, that the second he plucks at a weed or picks up a shovel he becomes blissfully immersed and emotionally invested in his joyful occupation whilst the worries of the world just slip away. I seem to have lost my way to my own happy place and writing no longer beckons me or offers me solace in the way it has before. I envy those that find comfort in much-loved pastimes but I have always struggled to write if my soul is in disquiet.

Maybe all I really need is a little faith, trust and pixie dust but there again it might be that old familiar thief called time has stolen away my happy place when I wasn’t looking. What will help me find my way back? I’m not sure but when I find that magical road map, I’ll let you know.

So wherever you are today, I hope you find your quiet place and spend it doing just what makes you happy.

And then there were four!

And then there were four!

Bridges

This is another of my collaborations with the stylish and very elegant Rhonda over at 50 Shades of Gray Hair. This one was more of a challenge for me as Rhonda supplied the pictures and I wrote the story around them. I have loved working with her and not only is she a great photographer and a perfectionist but a generous spirited soul too. So on behalf of myself and my team-mate we hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

I opened the letter with trembling hands; the one that I had been waiting weeks for. It had arrived in the morning post but I had crumpled it into my pocket and delayed reading it until my Mum had left for work. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share it with her but I just didn’t want to feel guilty either.

Mum and I had always been close but after Dad died Mum had worked hard cleaning houses nevertheless she’d made sure that I had never gone without and she always found the money to send me on school trips and for other small treats somehow. Both my parents had never hidden from me that I was adoptedbaby in fact Mum used to say I was a special gift from the angels and there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t feel secure or loved.

So when I reached eighteen I decided to try to contact my birth mother which I knew must have been hard on Mum. I’d always been able to talk to Mum apart from those difficult teenage years when I was permanently angry and would have started a fight in an empty room. Mum hid the hurt that my harsh words caused and ignored my unreasonable behaviour.

So I was surprised a few years later when a letter arrived out of the blue from my birth mother; from then on we exchanged letters regularly until the day I suggested that we meet up. It was a few agonising weeks before she wrote back recommending that we meet in a popular café bar in town.

That weekend, I’d spent forever getting myself ready, selecting and discarding countless outfits until I realised that I was going to be late if I didn’t leave straightaway. Walking into the almost empty bar with my family photos tucked away inside my bag, I spotted her almost immediately, glamorous, elegant and perched on the edge of a leather Chesterfield sofa drinking Chardonnay. We introduced ourselves and hugged awkwardly. After ordering drinks we settled down to getting to know each other better. She showed me pictures of her and her husband in their imposing house, in their sleek sports car and exotic locations around the world and I couldn’t help but be impressed and think “what if”. As we talked she said that she had lived in the locality for quite some time and had married her husband a short time after giving birth but having married young they both felt that they needed a fresh start and a baby would have been a burden that a young couple starting out simply didn’t need or want.

When the afternoon became early evening she continued to boast about her gold credit card and their next Caribbean cruise, I realised that this stranger was clearly incapable of making the inevitable sacrifices that is a fundamental part of being a parent. She confided in me that her husband had an important meeting in the city and subsequently, had been unable to accompany her.  I sensed a deep loneliness and I suspected that she was frequently unaccompanied. She ordered another Chardonnay but despite her half-hearted protests I made my excuses and bade her farewell leaving her sitting all alone; a sad forlorn figure. I understood then that my expectations had been impossibly high and I wondered if I had disappointed her as much as she had me. collage 2 I left the cafe bar with a lighter heart knowing that any further meeting would be unlikely and glad that I didn’t share more than genes with this outsider. My parents had never once made me feel like I was a burden and I had always known that I was the sun, sea and stars for them. Sure I didn’t live in a palace and there were very few holidays and other luxuries over the years but I wouldn’t have swapped a single precious second with them.collage 1 It was late when I returned home and as I opened the kitchen door, Mum was sat at the kitchen table hemming a new dress I had bought the other week. I noticed that her hair seemed a little greyer and her laughter lines a little deeper; she jumped up when she saw me “Fancy some cocoa, Love?

rhonda 4 I rested my hand lightly on her shoulder and said “I’ll do it”. As I busied myself making the cocoa, Mum carried on sewing. As I placed two mugs on the table she looked up and said nervously “Everything go all right, Angel”?

I grasped her work-worn hands across the table and saw the concern in her tired blue eyes. “Mum, I really don’t tell you often enough but the angels knew what they were doing when they gave me to you and I am truly grateful for the love I have received because I know that wherever you are, I am home”.

One of the hardest things to know is which bridge to cross & which to burn rainbow

The Other Woman

Today it’s the turn of Team Gunta. Gunta over at Movin’ On and I have been following each other since I started blogging and living in a fishing community I was naturally drawn to her wild seas pictures & stormy skies with the briefest suggestion of smugglers on the beach. She’s provided me with some great advice and laughs over the past twelve months or so and I loved the pictures she selected for this post but the last one I think is pretty amazing. Let us know what you think!

She’d lived in the small fishing port all her life and had never spent more than a couple of nights away from home when she’d broken her arm as a small child and had to stay at the local hospital. Her father and brother were fishermen as were her uncles, grandfather and their ancestors.DallasX-1240Their daily routines revolved around tides and weather forecasts strongly interwoven with old wives tales and superstitions. One of her earliest memories was running down to the harbour to welcome her father and his crew home, when her father would pick her up and swing her onto his shoulders to carry her home. If she closed her eyes she could still smell the sea and engine oil from his old jersey.

Unlike many of her contemporaries she had never yearned for far shores, big cities and bright lights. She was content living in their small cottage with her parents and brother and waking up every morning watching the boats in the harbour from her bedroom window. It was always a good day in their small village when one of the trawlers appeared on the horizon surrounded by swooping gulls and then sailed into the quay to unload their catch. An abundant haul could mean the difference between paying the rent and having to seek work for the winter with a road construction gang.

Her childhood sweetheart, Jan, lived a few cottages behind them and he had skippered his own boat ever since his father was tragically lost at sea. As children they had played kiss chase and the pigtail tweaking had progressed into stolen kisses under the apple tree followed by moonlight walks along the beach as they became older and shared their hopes and dreams under a starlit sky.

She had always known, in the way that women do, that he had a first love that she would never be able to competeDallasX-4823 with and as her love continued to blossom and soar so did his obsession with his mistress. The intoxicating rush of adrenalin that he felt when he was alone with his lover was addictive and he failed to heed the many warnings. He became reckless in a way that young men could, without giving any thought to the consequences.

It was fate that his mistress had taken him in the end leaving her with just empty promises and broken dreams. She was bitter no doubt about that; he had been dismissive of her heartfelt pleas in the cruellest of ways. They’d never found his body although the broken hull of the trawler had been retrieved from a nearby cove. Dallas-0917The storm the night he was taken was one of the worst that their region had seen but he insisted on taking the boat out despite the weather forecast of impending squalls. The magnetic pull of the sea had been irresistible and the desire to fight destiny too seductive.

Of course, that was many years ago now and her parents were long gone along with most of their neighbours and friends. There had been many changes in the village; restaurants and cafes teeming with tourists now line the quay where once the trawling fleet used to line up waiting for their crew to fire up the engines and cast off.DallasX-008 Hard to imagine looking at the crowds of visitors that this had once been a thriving fishing community; well, that had been another time. The only remnant of the village’s history remained in the small museum on the quay next to the church where the book of remembrance documented all the lives lost at sea.

She didn’t need any cheap trinket or memento to remind her of Jan; he was always in her heart and there wasn’t a day when she didn’t think about him and what might have been. As she sat on the bench with sunshine warming her face, she smiled secretly to herself. She knew that he was waiting for her as she had waited to join him and it wouldn’t be long now before they were reunited. She’d lived a good life albeit a lonely one but she knew that she could no longer fight this debilitating disease and she was ready now. As she sat there dozing she felt a calloused hand in hers; he’d come for her, just as she knew he would.

DallasX-1946

Footprints

When I asked for volunteers for the story/photo collaborations, I was delighted when Suzanne over at the travelbunny stepped up as I have long been an admirer of her work, particularly her Turkish pictures which remind me of sunshine days and happier times. In fact I have one of her pictures as a screen saver on my laptop to lift my spirits on blue days. I’m grateful that she agreed and I hope you like her pictures as much as I do.

On one of my forays into Didim shopping centre, I decided to browse the Saturday morning market on my own. Not always an easy task, as most of the stallholders spoke little English. This particular morning as I was struggling to understand a wizened old lady selling chillies; an American woman seeing my discomfort translated for me in fluent Turkish. She was a stunning looking mature bohemian lady who exuded style and joy. I’d seen her a few times weaving around the market in her big floppy hat and designer sunglasses, stopping for a chat and smile here and there, or to make a purchase. Her laughter was musical and infectious which matched her sunny disposition.

“Call me Nia” she said “Back home it’s actually Lavinia, but that’s not so lovely is it” she giggled “But then that’s the beauty of being an expat, you get to start over. I’m guessing you’re not a holiday maker judging by your purchases so if you live here I’m guessing………….it must be for a Turkish man.Let’s catch a çay over there in that café and you can tell me all about it. I’m a romance junkie so I’m dying to hear your story”.

Over çay I learned that she had lived on her own on the outskirts of Altinkum for several years tending to her animals and garden. She was an American with a family back home but divorced and to her regret, she said that she’d never had any children but as she had travelled the world so much, she’d never settled down long enough to start a family. She had flown to Turkey after the breakdown of her last marriage, become enchanted by its magic and somehow never left.

 

“Dallas, life isn’t all about playing safe, but of course, you already know that or you wouldn’t be here. It’s about finding what makes you happy and doing it; and if you happen to find someone along the way that you love and loves the same things you do, then you’ve found the secret to happiness. Even if it’s only for a short while but grab it with both hands whilst you can and when it’s over move on with thanks in your heart for the love you’ve received”

I thought then that perhaps that was a maudlin thing to say but didn’t dwell on it too much as Nia soon had me laughing with tales of her Turkish neighbours. She told me that she lived on the outskirts of Maveshir on the sea front and suggested that I visit her.

So a few days later, Ahmed dropped me off at her house on his way to the Cash & Carry. We stopped en route once or twice for directions and when we pulled up, I was amazed to see that she lived in one of the whitewashed beachfront villas that I had so admired. The surrounding gardens were also lovingly cultivated and full of the colourful Mediterranean flora and fauna that I had become accustomed to. As I opened the gate I was greeted by two street dogs that Nia had adopted and as with many a rescue animal, I never failed to be amazed by their trusting natures despite their often poor treatment at the hands of humans.

Nia was gardening and shouted a greeting so I made my way to the front of the villa to where she was tending her plants. The view was breath-taking and I felt that I arrived in a Mediterranean oasis and each time a breeze blew past me, I caught the heady fragrance of the surrounding flowers and citrus trees. I envied Nia her little Turkish paradise and as she finished up weeding her little vegetable and herb plot, her face was aglow with pride and contentment. I could tell that she was completely at ease with her surroundings and had clearly found the secret to her joy.

I followed her inside where she suggested we sit down and indulge in some of her homemade lemonade. The villa was every bit as stunning and stylish as the outside, framed pictures filled the walls of her villa, which was simply but tastefully decorated. She seemed to have had her picture taken with nearly every Head of State over the past twenty years not to mention a few celebrities. One of her ex-husbands had been a diplomat she explained and they had travelled extensively. She laughed when I enquired about ex-husbands and explained she had three but the real loves in her life she had somehow never got round to marrying. She admitted she was a free spirit and had married to keep her old Bostonian family happy but regrettably it hadn’t worked out and neither had any of her other marriages but she remained on good terms with all the men that had been an integral part of her life. She confided in me that she lived here alone but she said that although it had taken her a lifetime she had at last found real peace and didn’t miss her old lifestyle at all.

I saw her frequently over the next year or so; often we’d meet up for a çay and a chat. She had a way of making shopping expeditions so much fun and I was grateful for her continued friendship. As summer rolled into Autumn she cancelled a few of our outings claiming a migraine but the next time I saw her, I knew that it was something far more serious although she laughed it off with her usual charm. I noticed that she tired easily when we did meet up and our days out would be cut short as she excused herself on some pretense or other. As we took leave of each other at the end of another successful shopping trip, she hugged me fiercely and said

“Remember Dallas, we pass this way only once and life is far too brief to spend one moment being bitter or regretful”.

Of course, I didn’t know it at the time but that would be the last time I saw my good friend. A short while after she disappeared from my life as quickly as she had swept in without fuss or ceremony. I heard that her family had come and taken her back to Boston; her phone was disconnected and her villa deserted with the “For Sale” sign hanging forlornly outside. All traces of my vibrant friend were just an echo now and I wondered whether the next owner would cherish it as much as Nia had. Hellos and goodbyes are such an integral part of life in Tinky Town and many friends pass through and touch your lives for such a short time but with such heart which makes them hard to forget along with the lessons which they taught you.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same

― Adlai E. Stevenson II

turkish garden

The Nanny

This is the second of my collaborations and my second with the lovely Rhonda over at Fifty Shades of Gray Hair and I think she’s possibly outdone herself this time! It has been a joy working with her on both projects and I have loved how each time I have given her a story she just creates these amazing pictures. So thank you Rhonda, you’re an inspiration!

Jen smiled indulgently across the breakfast table, over the heads of 6-year-old Jake and his sister 4-year-old Emily, at a bemused Richard, and mouthed “I love you”. Their secret smile that they saved for one another, and said that all was right with the world. Jen quickly set about clearing up the breakfast debris when Anna joined them – no matter how hard Jen tried, she just couldn’t warm to this woman. There was an air of detachment and aloofness about her that appeared to be impenetrable. Jen thought it strange that Anne had chosen a career in childcare when she appeared so uncomfortable around them. No Anna, was definitely not what you would call a natural with children. So why then had Jen chosen her, the answer was simple really, she felt that Anne had needed her and coming from a large noisy Irish family, Jen relished being needed. It was as essential to her as breathing, Richard had understood this when they first met and maybe it was the cornerstone of their relationship.

Jen started to load the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher whilst Richard departed for work. Anna sat down at the breakfast table and refereed a squabble between Jake & Emily whilst sipping coffee. Jen sighed thinking it was another morning when conversation would be minimal. Not that she minded the uncomfortable silences but once in a while it would have been nice to start the day with a few pleasantries. Jen didn’t dwell on this too long as it was her morning to take the children to school and she enjoyed the brief stroll and spending time alone with them.

Wrapped up against the chilly morning they set out pausing only to exchange words with their regular friendly lollipop lady. Once the children had been taken inside the school by their respective teachers, Jen started out for the local supermarket where she needed to collect some essentials. Anna had a day to herself today so Jen wasn’t sure whether she would be at home when she returned to start the washing.seagulls 2 Another glamorous fun-filled day Jen thought to herself. She wondered when she and Richard would manage to grab sometime alone again. It was strange but even after these years, their mutual passion still surprised her. With thoughts of their previous night’s lovemaking, Jen decided to treat Richard to his favourite meal and set about picking up the ingredients from the supermarket shelves.

Jen was pleased, when she got home overloaded with shopping bags, to discover that Anna had gone out. After putting all the shopping away, Jen sat down at the kitchen table over a coffee – she smiled, there was nothing quite like freshly brewed coffee to raise the spirits. Five more minutes, she thought, before tackling the rest of the household chores for the day. Whilst savouring the last sips of her coffee, she contemplated where Anna had gone. Anna wasn’t the type of person Jen would choose to spend an evening with, but she had taken a couple of calls for her from friends. Maybe, Anna was the type of person who loosened up after a couple of drinks and lost that cold reserve of hers. She had appeared pretty secretive this morning and one might say even a little pleased with herself. Afterall, she had even worn a cheeky little dress suit in a bright fuchsia colour and splashed on a little channel – totally unlike her. Could there be a man? Jen chuckled and thought that highly unlikely.

Still Jen pondered over Anna’s liaison whilst she unloaded the dishwasher, sorted out the remainder of the washing and prepared the evening meal. Before she knew it, it was time to collect the kids from school.

Although it was a really wintry afternoon, Jen and the children spent some time in the park on the way home and finally arrived breathless and red-cheeked. rhonda 3 That was strange; Richard’s car was in the drive. Still it was nice to have him home early and maybe they could catch five minutes together whilst she deposited the children in front of the television with some hot chocolate.

Once inside the house, the children called out to Richard and it was a few minutes before he ambled into the kitchen. Smiling Jen handed him a mug of hot chocolate whilst ushering the children into the lounge. The smile must have frozen on her face when she noticed Anna stealing down the stairs. Gone was the fuchsia suite and in its place was her usual trademark bland casual wear. Jen secretly thought that Dash would go bankrupt overnight if Anna stopped shopping there.

Jen returned to the kitchen to find that Anna was loading her pre-prepared meal into the oven whilst Richard was sat at the kitchen table, listening intently to something she was saying. At some point, Anna must have said something really amusing as Richard threw back his head and laughed wholeheartedly. For some reason this made Jen very uncomfortable and she felt that she was an intruder in this intimate scenario.

Jen bustled into the kitchen and started to fold the washing which she had taken out of the tumble drier earlier. Anna stopped in mid-sentence and the bonhomie moment she was enjoying with Richard, evaporated. Anna busied herself preparing a salad and Richard joined the children in the lounge and judging from the whoops of delight, Jen guessed that they were playing some rough and tumble game. What with the noise from the children and the blender, Jen was happy not to have to engage in conversation with Anna. Although she had to admit she was curious about what she had been discussing with Richard earlier and if honest, she felt a little jealous that he had sat there mesmerised as if she was the most intriguing woman in the world. Did he still look at Jen like that – the truth of the matter was that Richard had the knack for making every woman feel like they were a priceless piece of porcelain. Even his eighty year old spinster aunt with an aversion to all things masculine was not immune to his charms.

Richard suggesting bathing the children early and putting them to bed before the adults sat down to eat. So whilst Jen mopped up a semi flooded bathroom and picked up a trail of wet towels, Anna started to serve the meal. By the time Jen returned to the kitchen, Richard had uncorked the wine and was pouring out three glasses, whilst in deep in conversation with Anna. Again Jen felt like the intruder when the conversation stopped abruptly. She laughed nervously and went to help Anna, making a mental note to ask Richard later what they had been discussing.

Settling down to enjoy her meal, Jen was shocked when Anna started talking about a wonderful job opportunity that she had in a town about fifty miles away. “Well the thing is Jen; Richard and I have been discussing this” as she grasped Richard’s hand “and we have decided to relocate and as it’s so close to my parents we won’t need a nanny anymore I’m afraid. Richard and I will give you an excellent reference; you do understand don’t you?”

rhonda

Coming up next a Turkish themed collaboration with Suzanne over at the travelbunny

Every Picture Tells A Story

Whilst I was reading through some of your blogs on Sunday, I came across a post by the human picture regarding creativity; the pictures along with the thoughtful narrative just drew me in. I have always loved monochrome pictures as I find them enigmatic and atmospheric not to mention very old Hollywood. There’s something about certain pictures that just speak volumes to me and before I know it, I’m already weaving a story around it. I love the idea of a fleeting moment in time captured for all eternity. Whilst I am not at all talented with a camera, I most certainly admire those with a natural gift and I can appreciate the amount of patience and hard work required to produce some of the spectacular pictures that I see daily in your posts.

There are so many gifted photography bloggers on WordPress and as I’m not one of them, I am hoping to hook up with one or two of you who are happy to provide the pictures for a couple of my stories. So over the next few days I hope that I can bring you a joint project. Why don’t you give it a go but don’t forget to ask first for permission and link back to the blogs concerned. I’d love to see any of your collaborations so please let us know and maybe this might be the start of many. Oh and don’t forget this is just for fun and because you can ……

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much more.
Helen Keller

kindly provided by my diva photographic side-kick who only "does" landscapes!

kindly provided by my diva photographic side-kick (My Dad) who only “does” landscapes!