All Time Favourites

The weekly photographic word prompt by WordPress has been one of the highlights of my blogging week. Released every Wednesday, (Thursday morning for Australians), it has enabled me to sort through my travel photos, forcing me to edit some and discard others along the way.  Sadly, this lovely distraction is about to disappear as WordPress has announced that today’s prompt, All-Time Favourites, will be the last. I wonder why?

Seasonal produce

If you are an avid photographer, try to imagine choosing your favourite image? Or your favourite 5 images? I am sure many would feature family snaps that capture a happy memory, photos that you’re not inclined to share generally. Others might include beautiful travel photos, memories kept alive by regularly sorting through the digital shoe box.

Hong Kong noodle maker and window cleaner, 2017

This little research project could take days, so I’m randomly choosing a few nice pics to share, some that appeal to me, not because they show any photographic skill but simply because I like them. My selection today includes a few portraits, some Chinese themes, a basket of apples and some native flora. I’ll miss this weekly challenge.

Principessa Carlotta, Winter, 16
Way out West. Native Australian plants in winter.
Girl with peach. Summer 17

Laugh Your Merry Laughter

Kookaburras by the Bay
Kookaburras by the Bay

The Kookaburra is a much-loved Australian bird, their visits always welcomed by all, their laughter copied by children from an early age. Their arrival at our beach camp and school by the sea invariably brings happiness and joy, as older folk fumble about for their cameras.

Just hold that pose, Kooka
Just hold that pose, Kooka

As the weather cools, especially if rain is predicted, their visits become more frequent. On wet days, they man each fence post surrounding our vegetable garden back at home, like sentries on duty, waiting for worms to emerge from the mud. Their call is often a seasonal indicator.

a shot of blue
A shot of blue

The name comes from Wiradjuri language, guuguubarra, onomatopoeic of its call. One can imagine the alarm and perhaps fear experienced by the early imperialists of Australia on hearing for the first time, the cacophonous laughter of the kookaburra, a bird call so exotic and alien to their English consciousness.

Two kookas in a row.
Two kookas in a row.

They are my favourite bird, not so much for their call but for their cute haircut, hints of blue feathering, and hunting knowledge, seen in their alert eyes.

Searching for worms
Searching for worms, a kookaburra comes a little closer.

 

The Lost Photos

Many people who grew up in the pre-digital age will have a stash of old photos stored in shoe boxes or worn cardboard albums, memories fading with time, rarely looked at, but treasured nevertheless. On occasion, I remember mine too-. those chosen photos that made it into albums, occasionally flicked through by the children, who enjoyed re-visiting their childhood travels, or being amused by photos of their dishevelled, long-haired hippy parents. It was their past, our past. The shoe boxes of prints and yellow Kodak envelopes of negatives were in need of sorting and pruning, a rainy day task that I never really got around to doing. In February 2009, the Black Saturday Bush fires, a disastrous fire storm that swept through many rural areas close to Melbourne, destroyed them all, along with everything else I owned. After that event, I came to value my lost photos, even those packets of negatives and discards, and developed a clear visual recall of many old photos and the events surrounding them. The past is no longer a foreign country; I can step in and out of it quite comfortably. This visual memory has been a comfort.

The Lost photos. Girls on the way to Birethani, Nepal, 1979.
The lost photos. Girls on the way to Birethani, Nepal, 1978.

Recently my brother unearthed five photographs from the past, taken in Nepal  in January 1978. He is a great hoarder and collector of old images, and has spent hours digitizing old slide negatives and black and white shots from my parent’s albums. Along the way, he found a few negatives of our children, taken when they were around 6 or 7 years old, providing them with a record of their childhood, a patchwork of images that they can then pass on to their own children one day. Other relatives have unearthed images of our old mud brick house in the bush, and the odd party or Christmas shot occasionally turns up too.

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Andrew, in Tibetan scarf, Arto and Francis Brooks in the Swayambunath house. 1978

I was quite overwhelmed to see these Nepalese photos again. That trip was a magical experience: I recall my daughter’s words as we flew over the rural countryside of Nepal, breaking through the blanketing cloud cover,” It looks like fairyland”, as Tolkienesque villages emerged from the mist, followed by tiny mudbrick cottages clinging to the sides of deeply terraced fields.

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The lost photos. Andrew meets some donkeys in the foothills near Pokhara, Nepal, 1978.

In our time there, the children played simple games with the Nepalese children as we trekked in the mountains beyond Pokhara, children who had so little but seemed happy in their home on the roof of the world. We ate the daily Nepalese staple meal of Dal Bhat, rice served with a lentil soup and a few green vegetables or potatoes on the side, (still one of my favourite meals), frequented tea shops and smoked bidis. We met colourful Tibetan families and wild mystic sadhus, circled the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath and had a wallet stolen by wild monkeys. We wandered through the medieval city of Bhaktapur, now severely damaged by the earthquake of 2015 and attended a Puja, a Nepalese house blessing ceremony in Patan.

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The lost photos. On top of the world, with Machapuchare ( fishtail) in the background. 1978

There were hundreds of photos taken on that trip, back in the pre digital age when photos were expensive to print. Some were enlarged and graced our walls in the old home. I am happy that I now have five. Like a time traveller, I am back in the late 70s, wandering through my past, and am enjoying the trip.

Travel Theme: Doorways in Kerala

I love to wake up on Saturday mornings to find Ailsa’s weekly travel theme from Where’s My Backpack waiting in my inbox. Today it’s doorways, so let’s go to Fort Cochin in Kerala, India, for 50 shades of Blue.

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Travel Theme: Freedom

I am envious of surfers. The ultimate freedom is to spend a day on the sea, waiting for the perfect wave, to ride that wave to the shore, then to spend the rest of the day with a perfect companion, a dog. Bliss.

I'm going surfing: you wait here
I’m going surfing: you wait here.
surfer boy on west coast of Victoria
Surfer boy , Bells Beach, Victoria
Freedom is surfing.
Freedom is surfing.
Now we can play.
Now we can play.

 

See Where’s My Backpack for more pictorial thoughts on freedom.

 

Travel Theme: Slow

In a season noted for frenetic activity, socialising and end of year parties, it’s nice to take a week out and slow right down. Koalas have the right idea. In order to conserve energy, they sleep for 20 hours a day. The rest of the time they eat.

This Koala woke up for a few minutes.
This Koala woke up for a few minutes.

Koalas can be seen in the wild on Raymond Island, near Paynesville, Victoria. This is an idyllic spot for humans to slow down too, especially in the early weeks of December before the busy holiday makers arrive.

Thanks Ailsa for another engaging travel theme, Slow

Achievement: A Sunday Reflection

Who built this little castle of driftwood on the sands of the 90 Mile Beach, silvering limbs sought of equal length, to create an airy teepee? A thing of beauty, an achievement, an installation made by man or sea? Moulded and shaped by a king tide on full moon? Today it is here, tomorrow gone. Achievements, like possessions, are transient.1-IMG_4215-001

Camogli on the Italian Riviera: Sunday Stills, the letter ‘C’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACamogli is a small but popular tourist town located on the west side of the peninsula of Portofino, on the Golfo Paradiso at the Riviera di Levante. The name means “house of wives” deriving from casa delle mogli.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the guide books suggested it was a small fishing village; this is definitely a misnomer. The town is small, but well touristed, being so close to Genoa, the harbour filled with prosperous pleasure craft. Once we managed to find a spot to park, a tricky business in Camogli, we happily joined in the busy evening passeggiata then read every menu along the lido, much to Mischa Bella’s hungry frustration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks to Ed, of Sunday Stills for his letter C prompt this week.

Travel Theme: Horizons. Cape Reinga, New Zealand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week, Ailsa from Where’s My Backpack has set horizons as the travel theme. After a  quick scroll through the digital files, I was surprised to find that all my big horizons shots were taken in New Zealand earlier this year.  It’s not surprising really. Although a small country, New Zealand has 14,000 kilometres of coast. It borders the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean and one is never far away from a spectacular horizon . This also means abundant fish and seafood, but that is another story.

The Tasman and the Pacific oceans meet off the tip of Cape Reinga.
The Tasman and the Pacific oceans converge off the tip of Cape Reinga.

Cape Reinga, Te Rerenga Wairua, is situated at the northwestern tip of the North Island of New Zealand. It is a magical 100 kilometre roller coaster drive to reach the tip, and well worth the effort.

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According to Maori legend, the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga on their journey to the afterlife to leap off the headland and climb the roots of the 800 year old pohutukawa tree and descend to the underworld to return to their traditional homeland of Hawaiki, ( Polynesia)  using the Te Ara Wairua, the ‘Spirits’ pathway’.

The spirituality of this place can be overwhelming.

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