Friday, 29 September 2017

September's Scavenger Photo Hunt

'A photograph inspired by a word,
words inspired by the photograph'
 As a change from my usual offerings most of my pictures were taken this month while on holiday in Northumberland.
Link  here to Hawthorn's page and see all the other entries.

1. (Open and) Shut 

We have just had a week's stay in a farm cottage in Northumberland and these two notices were on the doors of a store room, one on the entrance and the second on a door leading out of it. I could not resist entering both under the 'Shut' heading. 

2. Copper

All our Rhodesian copper is up in the attic - needs too much cleaning - but after wondering what on earth I could use I remembered I have a miniature copper coal scuttle in my greenhouse.  It belonged to my mother and I usually get it out at Christmas to do a greenery arrangement in the passage.  So after a quick clean with lemon and salt it came up beautifully.

Then a couple of days ago I suddenly realised that I wear copper bracelets all the time in the hope it will help my arthritis.  I had not even thought of them; there they were right under my nose.  


3. Wrist

This had me stumped for a while for although I have two of my own they don't photograph well, too ancient and wrinkly and then when I was in the Physio department at our local surgery I saw this picture on the wall and asked if I could take a photograph.  I  had to give an explanation.....think Physio thought I was a bit odd but anyway, I got my 'wrist' picture. 

4. Quarter

A quarter of a melon - just what was needed to end a lovely meal after spending the day on the beach. 

5. It starts with a C ... castle

Another view of the wonderfully imposing Bamburgh Castle taken from the village.  I use another view of the castle and beach in my banner heading.  The green lawn in front is part of a traditional looking cricket green, complete with wooden pavilion.  I'm sure the local ladies serve  tea and scones to the players during their tea break.

6. Foam

Taken on St Aiden's Beach near Seahouses in Northumberland.  This is Jess, our son and daughter-in-law's dog waiting for the stick to be thrown again. Jess had a wonderful time, even learnt to body surf whereas old Roxy had a gentle little swim and paddle still but loved her beach holiday.

7. Scarf (or a whole heap of them)

How can I choose one scarf when I have zillions.  I keep going through them to try and reduce the number but find I still use them all.  These are my lightweight summer/autumn ones, I have a whole drawer full of knitted or woven winter ones!!   I took them all of their hanger and put them on the bed and realised that I really do have zillions.

 Having taken a couple of pictures I hung them back neatly, colour graded, on the shower curtain rings I have on a coat hanger.

I then thought what a large amount of space they were taking up and thought of packing them away like the woollen ones, but have no empty drawers. Then a sudden brainwave.....a plastic box.

They are now all neatly folded into a box. B insisted I would not get them all in and to be honest I began to think he might be right but I managed and although they look tightly packed, being so soft and silky they easily allow my hands in to get a scarf out or put back in each time.

But I lie in bed and gaze at the empty side of the wardrobe I find I miss my lovely cloud of soft scarves but no.....they are tidy, they are all in one place I keep telling myself. :(

8. Line

As my theme this month seems to be Northumberland related I thought I would look for fishing line on the beach. Although disappointed I did not find any to photograph we were very pleased that there was no rogue discarded fishing line in sight.  I actually thought I had found some but as I untangled it with a stick I realised it was some sort of seaweed.  So here is a line of seaweed.

9. Nostalgic

I have many memories of the lovely week spent on our favourite beaches.  This one is taken on Cocklawburn beach near Berwick-on-Sea.  It is well known as the Fossil Beach but this time we did not see many, there had been a very high tide and the sand moved to cover many of the fossils in the rocks.  The distant figures are our son and his wife and their two dogs.  

10. My own choice

Many hours were spent on the beaches throwing sticks for the dogs.  Jess, sitting here, is young and strong, whereas Roxy is much older and not able to always get the stick.  So Jess has been taught to sit 'on the naughty step' while Roxy has her turn.  She sits obediently, watching everything that's happening, trembling with excitement and muttering........  It amused us so much, just watching her earnest face.

Memories of a lovely holiday.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

August 2017 Photo Scavenger Hunt

I must say I found this selection quite challenging at first but eventually found relevant photographs. 

I am once again joining in with Hawthorn's photo treasure hunt - to see her blog and links to other people who are taking part click  here

1. Relaxed    

What can be more relaxed that a hot cat sleeping in front of a fan?  Our old cat Jak always lay this way in front of the fan and gas heater on cooler days.  I had so many pictures of him in this position I had a job to select one.  We would position the pouffe with his bedding on top in front of the fan for him.  

2. It begins with an M

In April this year I was horrified to find this leather handbag that had belonged to my mother absolutely covered in Mould. I hurriedly googled how to clean the bag and after following the instructions and then hanging it outside in the sun it was completely cleaned.  It is a lovely old bag from the 1950's  that I have kept but never used. It is beautifully lined in calf leather and I was so relieved when I managed to get it back to its normal look. No idea why this happened as it had been stored in the same cupboard for years.  I will keep a closer eye on it in future. 

3. Time for... Tea  (with a difference)

Last August we made a birthday tea for our daughter-in-law Jenn but instead of the usual scones and cake we covered the table with platters of fruit, all cut up and ready for eating and served it with two tubs of delicious icecream, one each end of the table. There was even a token cake candle in the centre of the arrangement on the cake stand in the foreground.

The sunny tablecloth had been painted by Jenn's mother whilst we were all in South Africa. Nice to use it in memory of Marian. 

It was a fun afternoon and although it looks a lot of work Jenn and I only spent time in the morning cutting and arranging it all.  It was a great success.  Last August was hot and sunny and this was a very suitable tea party not a cool month like this year.

4. Tangerine 

I must admit that when I first read this title I was immediately taken back to the music played by Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra from 1942 musical - The Fleet's In.  
My father played it on his piano in my youth and we would have heard it on the radio.  For those who may remember or curious hear it the link is here 

We have not adjusted to the English names for all the different 'easy peelers' in the supermarket as we have stuck to the Southern African name for the fruit - naartjie.  That is why fruit was not my immediate reaction to the word.  Anyway, I finally got it right and here is a bowl of lovely tangerine coloured Clementines. 

5. It begins with an O...  for overkill!

This is a picture taken of my paternal grandmother Annie Eliza.  Not only is she wearing the height of fashion of the times possibly 1920's but obviously flapper fashions had not reached her in Eastbourne. Then to crown it all she is wearing a fox skin cape, complete with head and tail.  Definitely Overkill.

6. Whiskery

Sorry to use dear Jak again but he had such a splendid set of whiskers that I had no option. He is sleeping on the apex of our garden shed, a favourite place of his.

7. Lace

This category gave me a lot of trouble. I don't own anything lacy, not clothing, table linen, nothing.  Then whilst searching for inspiration amongst our old photographs I found this. 

Again it is of Annie Eliza but this time looking younger and far more glamorous, holding my father and both her blouse and my father's dress (those were the days when all babies wore dresses) are covered in lace.  This I know was taken in l907 as my father is obviously a few months old.  Poor chap, that is a splendid curl on top of his head.  I love the way these old photographs are always mounted on embossed card, maybe because nobody owned cameras in those days and they were always professionally taken and as for that is gorgeous, obviously belonging to the photographic studio. 

8. Bridge 

This picture is of Abbot's Harbour Bridge, West Martin, Lancashire.  It is a favourite place of ours as it has a lovely old tea room/restaurant and lovely walks along the Leeds/Liverpool Canal.  I love the way the new bridge was just built over the old.  I see it was taken in 2011, when eldest was still only a little guy with long blonde hair.  He is walking with B, his proud grandfather.

9. Letters

This was another category that had me puzzled but then last week as I was walking through the village of Earby I saw this child's set of numbers and letters in the window of a second hand shop.  Eureka ....there were my letters.  Sorry about the reflection in the window - it was difficult to avoid.

10. My own choice

Last month I shared my secret garden which is down below on the left, between the flat and this upper garden.  We are lucky that we are the end flat so do not block anyone's access to their parking area and we have just added a few pots, then a few more, a greenhouse, trellis, a 'alittlement' (opposite of allotment, Hawthorn's description), trees in large pots, a couple of Topsy, it just growed!! (quote from Uncle Tom's Cabin) The picture below is a panorama picture I took but is rather small on this page so I have put it into a collage for more detail.  We get much pleasure out of our garden though it does take a lot of watering.....all 115 pots of varying sizes)

Friday, 28 July 2017

July 28th Scavenger Photo Hunt list

I gather Eldest had a hand in choosing these words with more than one meaning.  What a challenge some of them were.  Had to think far out of the box this time. Very far in some cases.   Well done!
 I am once again joining in with Hawthorn Spellweaver photo treasure hunt - to see her blog and links to other people who are taking part, click  here

1.  Crane  

Meet Herpes.  She was a very handsome crane that lived on the jetty on one of the islands in the middle of Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe/Zambia.  She was so named as, like herpes, she never went away!!   She sat waiting for the fishermen to come back in their boats rather than go fishing for herself!! 

2.  Ring

This red lifebelt stands sentinel on top of the hillside overlooking a vast beach in Northumberland. Officially known as Cocklawburn  but we call it the Fossil Beach as it not only has many fossils in those rocks you can see below but also at the base of the hill, especially after a bit of a rockfall.

Looking at the weather-worn post holding the lifebelt makes me wonder how long it has stood guard there and how often it has been used.

One of the many fossils to be found when the tide is out.  This is a small example of a fossil but one of my favourites.

3. Set

In 2015 a friend gave me a large shopping bag full of crab apples and as you can see I made a lovely lot of Crab Apple Jelly.  I did not know the fruit as it is something we did not grow in Africa (I was more used to making guava jelly) but it set beautifully.  Did not last long unfortunately. 

4. Light   


This is a picture of Berwick-on-Tweed lighthouse taken in 2008.  The boys have grown a bit since then, they now tower over their father! The lighthouse has also taken on a much smarter appearance as it has had a coat of paint.  It is located at the end of the pier from where there are tremendous views down the gorgeous Northumberland Coast.  It was built in the 19th Century and guides shipping to the entrance to the River Tweed and Berwick Harbour.  

You may have guessed from my banner picture, the Northumberland Coast is a favourite of ours and where we go each year for a stay in a farm cottage.  We wait till the summer school holidays are over then have the beaches to ourselves - not  that they are that busy in the holiday season.

I must confess to not being the photographer in this case, it was our son - the other tall one in the family!! 

5.  Bow

Strangely enough I don't have any pictures of a bow in my huge selection except this Christmas decoration which is one of my favourites.  He looks edible but perhaps fortunately is not.

6.  Spring    

Many years ago, when clearing out some branches to give more light to my Secret Garden, B cut down a dead tree but left the stump as the roots were helping hold the sloping heavy clay soil from slipping further.  I then found this car spring in amongst the rubbish there and remembering how Hawthorn uses odd industrial finds in her garden,  I put it on the stump. It has sat there for years, only really showing when the branches of that large fern next to it die back and the new branches unfurl.

7.  Open  


I must be honest and admit I did not take this photograph, it was sent to me by my good friend Lynette. She and her husband are taking a year long caravan holiday in their home country of South Africa before moving to their retirement flat in Scottburgh on the South Coast, near Durban.  They are moving around according to the weather, exploring the Rand area till it got too cold then moving to the South Coast for the mild winter there.   What bliss!

They check out many of the farm and road stalls and cafes wherever they are and came across this one near Bela Bela (previously known as Warmbaths) north of Pretoria. Lynette often sends us pictures that she thinks will catch our fancy and this certainly did, we found it very amusing.    

As a matter of interest Toeka Se Dae is Afrikaans and translates as 'Days of Yore'  as it was a very rustic road stall. 

8.  Grand  


Firstly I must apologise for the quality of this picture but as I know many of you enjoy my African stories I thought this one of this very grand dry cleaners in Giyani, in the far north of South Africa, would make a very grand story.

B was transferred to be manager of a psychiatric hospital in Giyani and as always I was guaranteed a job there in the Occupational Therapy Department.  

One of the first things we were told about by the African matron there was to be very careful using the local dry cleaners.  Only take clothes in for cleaning at the beginning of the week we were warned. Seemingly the proprietor of the shop had a second business running from his premises.....he hired out clothes for the weekend from the suits and posh frocks that came  in for cleaning!!   Needless to say we never used that dry cleaners.  But the picture on their window always amused me.  Bearing in mind it was supposed to be a dry cleaners it was strange that the lady in the picture was washing clothes in the traditional African way, on the rocks at the side of a river!!  Another reason we chose never to take any dry cleaning there!! 

As I said above, I apologise for the quality of the picture.  I had to enhance and adjust it tremendously just to get it to look this good or should I say grand.

9. Park  


Our local park in Sough used to have the most wonderful playground until 'elf and safety' decided it needed a new 'safe' one.  Not only did it have this fabulous helter skelter but a rocking horse on a spring that could really rock, a old fashioned see saw,  a long rocking horse that seated about 10, a roundabout that you could jump on and off, old fashioned swings that would go really high and then you could jump off and those double swings rather like a little boat.  There was also the skate park you can see in the background of the picture.  Now all that is gone and it is a very safe, boring modern playground.  So glad our grandsons are long past that age.  Below you can see B watching Youngest coming head first down the helter skelter.

10   My Own Choice

So many of you had such complimentary things to say about my secret garden I thought I would share this picture with you.  It is not a very pretty one, I must admit, but it makes me feel good when I see how far B and I  have got making our Secret Garden. 

When I stand admiring the cool greenness I deliberately shut out this part of the lower garden behind me.  As I have said before, we are last flat in a group of four.  Nobody else has bothered to do anything to theirs although we do occasionally cut back the ivy in the next door garden before it smothers the trees there. If I turn round and look under our bridge and our neighbour's decking, this is what our garden looked like in 2002 when we started working on it. 

Hawthorn helped us terrace the top bit and put in steps down the centre. B put up a fence to make me feel more secure working down there. There is an 8ft drop down over the edge to what we call the moat.  Together we cleared enough rubbish to fill just less than 200 black bags, 144 of which we found in the garden. (It is very windy higher up at road level and bags had been left by the refuse collector and blown down there).  It was filled with dead shrubs smothered by the wild honeysuckle that grew there, dead pot plants, 7 very dead Christmas trees, many still in their stands, nappies, toys and of course beer bottles and cans. Lovely!  

Our son and daughter-in-law gave me flag stones for my birthday that year so we laid paths. B dug out blocks of clay so we could make beds filled with compost and grit to improve the soil.  He also laid a sprinkler watering system as part of the garden is very dry under Leylandii trees.  Our grandsons, now they are older, help with odd jobs down there during their school holidays. Hawthorn has given us many shade plants from her garden to help fill it.   So it has been a family effort. But worth it. 

 Just a reminder of how my secret garden looks now. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Friday 30th June's Scavenger Photo Hunt list

Another interesting list of topics reflecting June's 30 Days of Wild.  Not been out much this month so have again had to rely on old photographs. 

1.  The setting sun

Contrails reflecting the colours of the setting sun.  Picture taken from our lounge window.

2. Your local wild place 

(anything from a dusty corner with spiders to nature reserve covering acres of land!)

I'm cheating here.  This is no longer my local wild place but was some years ago.  We lived a few kilometres from the nearest gate into the vast Kruger National Park and we spent many happy days there.  We would book into a rest camp for a few nights.  

The picture below is of a group of young Impala females standing in some welcome dappled shade of a thorn tree.

3. Mug of your favourite drink in the garden

We love sitting in the sunshine having an afternoon far this summer that has not been as often as we would have liked as our garden is a 'wind tunnel' and the wind makes it unpleasant sitting there.  Hopefully in July summer will come  back again minus the wind.

4. My kind of beautiful

I love peonies.  They are not something I grew in Southern Africa but always associated with  an English summer.  So I am thrilled that mine flowers each year, even though they grow in a pot.  I never get many flowers, not enough to pick anyway, so I treat myself to some from the supermarket each year. 

5. Look to the skies

We live under the flight path of planes to and from Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Liverpool airports so on a clear day have lovely criss-cross patterns made by the contrails. I often wonder who is aboard; are they going on holiday, or perhaps on a business trip.   Then recently I read in the paper that the clouds that form from the drifting contrails have an official name....homomutatus or cirrus aviaticusI looked it up and found the following which I though interesting. 

 Persistent contrails are of particular interest to scientists because they increase the cloudiness of the atmosphere.The resulting cloud forms are formally described as homomutatus, and may resemble cirrus, cirrocumulus, or cirrostratus, and are sometimes called cirrus aviaticus. Persistent spreading contrails are suspected to have an effect on global climate

6. Mini beasts

A Bulgarian Tiger Moth looking for a garden perhaps.

I could not resist using this picture too. 
A bee recharging it's batteries on a solar rock in a tub on our neighbour's decking.

7. Rain

I don't like grey days but the rain does not bother me.  Perhaps because it was so special when it only fell in our  short 'rainy season' in Central and Southern Africa from November to April each year. 

8. Something summery

I love this section of my garden......really summery. Since taking this photograph a week ago (when the sun was shining!) the lilies on the right of the picture have come into bloom. B very kindly made wooden staging on three levels so I could get this effect. 

9. Urban wilderness

We have an unusual garden. Our flat is the last in a row of four so we are able to have a greenhouse, shed, two large compost bins and a garden made up entirely of  small trees, shrubs and annuals in pots of various sizes on the tar driveway without restricting access to the other three residents. But as the building was constructed in the side of a hillside which was cut away and our driveway goes up the hill and round to the back of our flats. our driveway and front door seem to be on  ground level even though from the front we live in a first floor flat.  There is a bridge from our driveway to the front door which crosses over the gap where originally shrubs and trees had been planted but most had been strangled by wild honeysuckle.   We opened up a bit of the railings to make a gate and with the help of a step ladder we are able to access a sort of hidden garden, all green and shady. We had to bring in masses of soil and compost as it consisted of heavy clay and subsoil.  It was on a steep slope so it had to be terraced as well.  Here is a collage picture of our 'urban wilderness' with the bottom right picture showing our bridge and the sheer drop down another eight feet to ground level.  B put up a wooden fence to keep me from falling down that last drop!!  With the help of B and Hawthorn I  have now got a lovely garden with winding paths, steps and an arch that earlier this year was covered by a lovely yellow honeysuckle all irrigated by hidden mist sprays. This is my hidden urban wilderness.

10 My own choice

Keeping with the wild life theme this picture was taken outside the side window of our lounge.  A large Goat Willow (Salix caprea) tree had been growing there and we hung bird feeders from it.  We had regular visitors from a variety of birds and the squirrels would come to the window demanding nuts.  The mother squirrel used to bring her babies here and they would nibble the bark, I liked to think they were after the salacin from which Asprin is derived  to  relieve teething pains as the adults never chewed on it. Sadly the tree was damaging the fence around the school playgrounds so the council came and cut it down.  It is regrowing again at great speed. Perhaps one day we can hang bird feeders up again.