Does a person forget the face of a loved one? His smell? Her touch?
I have been selecting photos from the many boxes in my cupboard stuffed with prints from past years for a family event that is taking place this summer. There are images of those no longer on this earth and the site of those familiar faces cause my heart to swell as I yearn for a chance to hug them just one more time.
The sense of achievement of my toddler’s face when she walked a few steps and the excited face of my child as she opened her chocolate advent calendar at the age of four cause memories to come hurtling back.
Soon she will wear a fabulous dress and pose for many other photographs and I know that these images, like those in my boxes, will have the power to move me like no other form of art.
I am writing my second novel and using Scrivener to ease the word processing side of things. As I am a collector of things, I have discovered another benefit of the package. Instead of paste, copy and print pages filling my files, I now insert the information (or even better, a link to a webpage) in the research area of my project. HOWEVER, Scrivener does not stop me being distracted by my research.
For example, today I wanted to find out where the police station in a famous city was located during the early 1960’s and also what it looked like when a visitor walked in to the entrance. I found a wonderful website of old press photos. It is now 2 hours later and I have yet to discover the police station but have had a grand time browsing the old images and picturing life in the past. And that is the problem with research – it’s too interesting.
Most of us will have seen the iconic photos of Chinese wonders and so, I have decided to put up some different types of travel photos. The panda is loved by the Chinese and in Chengdu I was able to witness them munching their way through the bamboo that is the mainstay of their diet. Cute until you see the size of their teeth!
Above is a picture of one of the many temples I visited, each different and beautiful in its own way.
They took my breath away. The Terracotta Warriors are a must on any trip to China and I couldn’t resist showing you why.
The hotel rooms were well equipped with everything a visitor needed.
The sight from Xian City Walls includes the local barbers at work.
Not a portrait of Chairman Mao but Tiananmen Square nonetheless.
What they don’t tell you about walking the Great Wall is that the steps are uneven in depth and it is steep!
Read about the Forbidden City in Pearl S Buck’s great novel, ‘Imperial Woman’. It is a good read and brings the experiences of the inhabitants of this amazing complex to life.
Boats on the lake at the Summer Palace.
If you go to the Summer Palace, time your trip on the dragon boat to cross the lake at sunset. Our guide, Lillian, kept us together like ‘sticky rice’ and surprised us with this experience at the end of an amazing day. Watching the sun set behind the mountains with the lake and bridge in the foreground was magical.
The Chinese are fit and supple as seen at the Temple of Heaven park in Beijing.
The Tai Chi master tried to teach us westerners how to move with grace and strength.
I hope that you enjoy this short summary of a country too big to capture in words and pictures.
Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday which seemed to prompt my loved ones into a competition amongst them of who could purchase me the most wayout present. When I first read this one I thought that I would be jumping out of an airplane for a skydive and my heart fell as my daughter reminded me of my fear of heights. However, this was not the situation and instead I was lifted up into the air in a wind tunnel. The instructor had me down as a troublemaker when he was unable to exit the room at the end of the briefing due to my many questions and concerns. He sounded quite shocked when he passed me my certificate at the end with a number of achieved levels ticked off and an evaluation that I was awesome. The video soundtrack is overpowered by the laughter of my family as they observed my experience and so I have settled for a still picture to show you what it was like.
A word of advice – do it if you can. What fun it was and we can’t wait to book the next trip so that the entire family can try it out.
Rhodes Island is a land of contrasts. The main town is an ancient walled town containing beautiful buildings, cobbled roads and lots of tiny alleyways which lead to unexpected delights. Nearby are congested beaches full of tat and holidaymakers misbehaving themselves. Down south is Lindos, with its ancient ruins and winding alleyways between white buildings clinging to a hillside and looking as though they will commence a slide down if pushed a little too hard. Some of the touristy villages and towns rival some of the worst and others are a delight. In the mountains we found a hotel built by Italians in chalet style and local tavernas with some of the best country food that I have ever tasted. There have been the Shirley Valentine moments in restaurants full of Brits with great people watching opportunities. However, by far the most bizarre thing that we came across was on an early morning walk behind the row of random hotels which line the beach-front of Falaraki.
There was no warning as we climbed the hill to look at a small chapel which perched on a viewpoint overlooking the bay. After admiring the frescos we meandered further along the path and then a cartoon picture of a tiger appeared pointing to the right. Down the steps and Mr. Tiger awaited us with two friends. Glad to be on the outside of his cage were numerous goats, llama, peacocks and, of course, lots of horseflies. At first I was distressed by the sight of these magnificent creatures imprisoned in such circumstances however they apparently are housed here under the direction of the government as part of a breeding programme. My husband did say that he thought the goats may be dinner for the big cats but I prefer to think of them as providers of cheese and milk.
Travelling off of the main tourist route did lead us to unexpected sights on this occasion.
A man had a vision in the early 1900’s to build a dam.
This gorge narrows in a valley in the beautiful Costa Blanca area of Spain; a country where the value of water is high and rights of possession are fought over. Throughout the country’s history, powerful men have controlled the allocation of water from impressive buildings in city centres.
The dreamer hoped to create his own pool of liquid riches. High up the sides of the gorge the visitor can still see the abandoned path which accommodated the men, their donkeys and their equipment. In the tunnel walls it is still possible to see the impression of the sharp ends of the chisels which chipped out a passage through the rock face. Years of hard toil went in to creating the dam and it has stood the test of time. However, when the first water fell, rather than collect behind the stone wall the precious fluid seeped into the ground. Nature was not ready to be harnessed and another of man’s follies remain on the earth to remind us.
For many years men have walked along this coast. No hotels, no pavements, no roads; all that existed was the land and the sea. The coastline was made up of tosca stone; now eroded by builders harvesting decoration for the arches and windows of their homes. Ancient buildings once existed here; palaces at the side of the Mediterranean Sea. Now we are left with the ruins, disappearing into the sea as it encroaches on the foundations. Soon the shadow of man will blend into the waves as the sea buries our past.