Miscellaneous

Throwback – Polaroid 2004

I keep this photograph among my important possessions.

I’ve never personally used an instant camera–never even held one in my hand. The shot is from an event in my home town of Bratislava, organised by Kia, the car manufacturers, when they opened their first plant in Slovakia.

It was in one of the squares in city centre, where they set up a stage for traditional Korean performances (I remember we watched some cool drummers). Among the promotional material they were giving away, like key rings and stickers and bags, that sort of stuff, I don’t really recall exactly, they did Polaroid shots for people.

As you can observe, there is a Kia car in the picture and those two people in front of it are myself and my younger brother! I was 23 and he was 12. I had already left for UK by then, but was back for a visit.

So, the year was 2004. An interesting year, because that was when Slovakia (with 9 other countries) joined the EU. Here in UK, you bet they had a lot to say about that and not in a good way. But on one news program they also said that with Kia now establishing themselves in Slovakia, potential other car manufacturers will follow and the country might one day become a second Detroit. Amazingly, to this day, it was the only positive thing I heard about my country on British TV ever. Now fifteen years later, we have Brexit and car manufacturers are leaving Britain.

And that thing with second Detroit became true.

Obviously I wasn’t the one who took this pic, but I was the one who took the pic of the pic, so is it my pic or is it not my pic?

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Anne of Green Gables Photoshoot

If you’ve ever visited my blog, you might have noticed that I’m a fan of Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery. So it only made sense to dedicate a little photoshoot to the red-headed orphan that lived on Prince Edward Island.

I don’t own any of the books in physical format. As I said in my Kindle eBooks post, I have never seen them in print and downloaded them all from Gutenberg. (All of LM Montgomery’s work is in public domain, apart from The Blythes Are Quoted, which was released quite recenly–and which I very much recommend, it will surprise you!)

Well, apart from this very old falling-apart paperback copy that I found in a charity shop.

So for the photoshoot I used the doll of Anne that I got from Etsy and the book Anne of Green Gables Treasury by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson.

This book is such a delight! It is sort of a companion to the Anne books with lovely illustrations. It describes things from Anne’s time, such as tea parties, handwork, fashion and gardening, plus the timeline. I found out about the book thanks to Pinterest–someone pinned the cover image from a blog post of a reviewer. (Don’t ever tell me Pinterest isn’t useful.)

It wasn’t until I started thinking about it many years later that I realised what a great heroine Anne is. She constantly works to improve herself, she’s a good student and is always there for her friends. Despite being mistreated as an orphaned child, she remains kind (this she has in common with other popular fictional heroes, Jane Eyre and Harry Potter). She finds joy in everything around her and of course, has that famous unbeatable imagination. And not only does she find love with Marilla and Matthew, they learn from her too.

The adaptation with Megan Follows is a classic, but there is a new series on Netflix that started in 2017. I know not everyone likes that one, because it’s so dark, but in my opinion they got it exactly right. If you think about it, there is a lot of darkness in Montgomery’s work. See this excerpt from Anne of Green Gables Chapter 5Anne’s History, in which Anne narrates to Marilla how she was taken in by Mrs Thomas after the deaths of her parents and later lived with Mrs Hammond:

“Were those women—Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond—good to you?” asked Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner of her eye.

“O-o-o-h,” faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. “Oh, they meant to be—I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It’s a very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times in succession, don’t you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me.”

Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly stirring in her heart for the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had—a life of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between the lines of Anne’s history and divine the truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the prospect of a real home. It was a pity she had to be sent back. What if she, Marilla, should indulge Matthew’s unaccountable whim and let her stay? He was set on it; and the child seemed a nice, teachable little thing.

In other words, it seems that some kind of child abuse happened. And that is just one example. At the end of Anne of Green Gables, Matthews dies and all their money is lost in a bank crash. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Not to mention people dying from tuberculosis and similar. And not many opportunities for women either.

I read about Lucy Maud’s life and apparently her husband suffered from mental illness and she wasn’t always that well herself. She had a child that was stillborn. I think the showrunners got the look and feel right. And because it’s the current year, they threw in extra LGBT representation and a bit of colour. (Though from what I read, it appears that Prince Edward Island really is that Scottish and that Presbyterian.) Also, the acting is absolute top and the series is worth watching for the scenery alone.

Now, I feel bad for talking about Anne so much when I enjoyed almost everything else LM wrote. Emily of New Moon series is just as good as Anne but my favourite book is The Blue Castle. I wonder if we ever get an adaptation of that one, but I’m not optimistic. It’s a bit like with Arthur Conan Doyle, there has been so many Sherlock Holmeses that people don’t even realise he wrote other books. Sigh

There is something I have to mention when talking about Montgomery’s work, which I think is important. She was, to put it bluntly, kinda racist. There is a short story in Further Chronicles of Avonlea collection titled Tannis of the Flats and it’s awful. Not because of the story–the story is great–but the prejudice, oh dear. It concerns Native Americans and it’s just… bad. That’s all. Yes, I know she lived in a different time and all that, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be acknowledged. So there.

Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.

Miscellaneous

The Not Christmas Post

Yeah, I had to go there.

But at least I’m doing this on the 23rd, not on any of the Christmas days. Reality is… well, reality, even at this time of year.

So first of all, I had to make a Brexmas card, because of course.

brexmas card1

Open it!

brexmas card2

UK seems like it’s very sick and needs some good care. Just check this out.

uk not xmas card

It also looks like an England flag, which was not my intention–just a coincidence. Moving on to:

You know how the word snowflake has gained a completely different meaning to what it actually is. Used by people who can’t get over the fact that the world is changing to describe mostly liberals and/or socially conscious (aka woke) people. Snowflake? I give you snowflake.

snowflake card

Bonus – a not Christmas throwback

I found this anti-Christmas card I forgot I had among my Christmas drawings and cards (I have this thing I call the Christmas Book, where I’ve been drawing Christmas scenery and stuff since I was very young and in the last few years been saving cards in it, but that’s not what I want to talk about now). I should say I’m not the artist of this brilliant piece–it was done by a coworker. It’s from 2014 and I think it’s hilarious:

not xmas card

The point is, some people just hate Christmas, or can’t handle it. And that’s okay. It’s not an easy time for everyone, whether it’s for mental health issues, having lost a loved one or working in retail, you are all valid. One can also enjoy some aspects of Christmas and not the others. So maybe you like the food but are not thrilled about having to spend time with annoying relatives. I get that.

I have received shit from someone earlier this year when I said Santa Claus wasn’t real. I said it by mistake. (I think I meant to say something else but my communication skills are so poor I’m glad I can express myself on most days, also remember please that I’m not speaking my native language.) But as a result, I ended up hating that figure. Pass me those anti-Santa rockets, by all means. Ironically, the person who gave me the said shit is exactly the type who says “people are too touchy these days”. She’s not called anyone snowflake only because she’s not familiar with the term, but she got so offended by me suggesting a black actor, Idris Elba, should play James Bond, she stopped speaking to me. (You can’t imagine how much I want him to get that role now!) But then Idris Elba got named the People magazine’s sexiest man alive, so nyah nyah nyah.

Let’s just be good to each other, not just at Christmas, but all year round.

Unless you’re a bigot or a horrible person. Then you don’t deserve to be treated nice.

Merry Christmas.

Or not.

Outdoors

Blogging Or What?

Ooh, it’s looks like it’s been a while since I last posted. Though, in fairness, this time last year it was much dryer here.

Here is a picture that I named “The Autumn Days Of Yore”. I don’t know why exactly. It sounds nice, it was taken in autumn and it was in the past (like two weeks ago) and that is all the reasons I can come up with.

So, this is it:

daysofyore

Sooo, it’s November. Which means we’re closer to the end of the year, which is where I do that “where has the year gone?” thing.

So, really, where has the year gone?

Miscellaneous

Happy 3rd Blogoversary

Today marks three years since I started the blog.

I have had phases when I posted very little, but overall it turned out quite well.

The only reason why I hadn’t started blogging earlier was that I worried about running out of ideas–or indeed having ideas in the first place. It was when I came across the word “photoblog” somewhere that I was finally confident to set up one. Because I could just post pictures and nothing more and I had lots of pictures. I have since bought a new camera and got my own domain. And did a dystopian series.

Here’s today’s picture, taken yesterday:

september berries

I still worry about running out of ideas, I admit. I want to know, how do other bloggers feel? What made you start your blog and what about the blogging process do you find is the hardest?

Animals, Outdoors

Ducks Are Awesome

Ducks are awesome.

Let me tell you.

ducks r awesome3

ducks r awesome1

I have posted ducks before, as part of one of Cee’s challenges. In the linked entry, I mentioned a Tumblr post that went something like this:

Humans from 150 years ago would be very confused if they suddenly found themselves in our time. Not so ducks. Ducks would be like, still have lakes? Okay.

Most of my duck pictures come from the same place–the little pond in the woodsy area of Heaton Park (which was hit by algae occupation on the day the above photos were taken–it’s not normally like that).

Apart from this pond, Heaton Park has a boating lake, but that one is usually inhabited by geese and swans. Geese can also be spotted in the canals of Manchester city centre, but they deserve their own post.

So, ducks. The first time I started appreciating these animals was when I went to Heaton Park sometime in October 2013. It remains a very memorable trip, as I narrowly escaped from getting soaked in a short, but very intense shower. Luckily there in the woodsy area, next to the pond where the ducks hang out, is a little shelter. You can see it on the below picture, on the left:

ducks r awesome2

So on this day, it started raining and I, being in its vicinity, quickly hid in the shelter. The little pond was full of ducks then, but were they bothered? Naah. They didn’t move a feather. Unlike me, a loser human who had to run from a bit of water.

ducks 1 – 0 me

See it here (this was shot with my old compact, hence the low quality, but you can see the raindrops falling in the water):

ducks unbothered
Rain, what rain?

That particular trip was a surreal experience, because it suddenly got very dark and I lost the network on my phone and for a while it seemed like I was the only person in the whole park, but that is a story for another day.

Water off a duck’s back.

~an old saying

Here they are sharing their pond with a heron.

ducks with heron

On this occasion I observed that ducks, when they land on the surface of the water, look like they’re surfing–and what’s cooler than that?

Now, check this one out:

duck in the city

I snapped this one with my phone on the way from work. I remember it was one of those freezing cold days we had at the end of March. The area in the middle of the picture is called Cathedral Gardens and far on the left side, not visible on the picture, is National Football Museum. The terracotta-ish coloured building on the right is Chetham School of Music. Behind me is Victoria Station. What’s a duck doing there? I thought that maybe it got lost; there’s an arm of a river not far from here, where I have seen ducks before, so I just thought it lost its way. People were smiling and laughing at the sight and the duck actually quacked as if to say, wot you lookin’ at? 

Then, not long ago, one evening I was coming back from the city centre where I was taking some pics and was passing Cathedral Gardens again, when I saw them:

ducks in fountain

There’s a fountain and that’s where the duck was going!

Of course, I should have known that a duck wouldn’t be so stupid.

I guess for ducks, any pool of water will do. Or, if you’re Joey and Chandler from Friends, a bath is fine.

duck chandler joey
image credit: Coolspotters.com

I’m glad I found an image of them which features rubber ducks. It just proves the awesomeness of ducks, because if ducks weren’t awesome, why would we be making toys of them? For kids to play with while they bath?

I also have a pencil sharpener at work shaped like a duck.

duck pencil sharpenner

Being the boss of the canal.

duck swimming

Conclusion:

Ducks are awesome.

Bonus: a video of ducklings

So–how you feel about ducks? Love, hate, indifference? Do you like photographing ducks or other waterfowl? Share your thoughts in the comment box.

Miscellaneous

My Godson is a Cat

Yes, you read the title correctly. My godson is a cat.

If you think it’s too late for an April Fools’ joke, you are quite right. It is not the 1st of April and it is not a joke, because I’m serious. I also dislike April Fools’ tradition, I hate pranks and I find majority of jokes I hear desperately unfunny and lame. Now that’s out of the way, let me tell you about my godson Anthony and why he’s a cat.

godson

This boy is now between 18 months and 2 years old and is also a half-brother to the boy whose hand is in this picture. I thought it would be better to post a photo of him where his face is not visible, even though his parents gave me permission to post about him.

Why is Anthony a cat? Well, I came to this conclusion when I visited his home last Christmas Eve Eve.

  1. I brought some presents with me in a bag. When I put the bag on the coffee table in the living room, he immediately went to the bag to look inside and inspect the contents. Just like a cat.
  2. Then, with one sweep of his small arm, he knocked down everything from the said table. Just like a cat.
  3. He is very agile, easily climbs the furniture without falling down. Just like a cat.
  4. His mum went to do her cooking and instructed us not to let him into the kitchen, to prevent him getting burned but he insisted on going there anyway, even as I kept picking him up and carrying him back to the living room. Just like a cat.
  5. Following on from the previous point, he wanted to go into the kitchen because he was so nosy about what was going on there. Just like a cat.
  6. He knocked the Christmas tree down. Just like a cat.

Any further questions?

IMG_1728WHAT

Peace out.

 

 

Outdoors

Silence

Well it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! Late to the party but here it is:

Prestwich Clough
No noise allowed

The hardest thing about this Weekly Photo Challenge has been choosing the right picture–I have so many that would qualify. In the end this one won. This little piece of woodland is Prestwich Clough in Manchester and I discovered it in April 2017.

It’s amazing how quiet a place in a city, that is not even very far from a main road can be. It must be the trees.

I remember reading a children’s story back in my home country about a guy who collected silence and he had this big house with many rooms and every room had a different type of silence. Forest silence, beach silence, field silence, cave silence and so on and so on. Anne Shirley in Anne of Windy Poplars also talks about different types of silence in her letter to Gilbert.

I’m sure if I were totally blind and insensitive to heat and cold I could easily tell just where I was by the quality of the silence about me.

So it’s never a total silence then. I imagine that would only be in space.

Break the Silence

I’ve been going back and forth with this paragraph, typing and deleting, typing again and deleting again. This is only a photo posting challenge, nothing more but even Cheri asks at the end of her post whether silence can be a negative thing. Because I believe it can (in a different sense than my photograph) and I was thinking about the #MeToo movement and other horrible things that have been happening and are happening, so I just want to add this: if you see a case of injustice happening, please do speak up.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
~Martin Luther King, Jr

 

 

Silence

Miscellaneous, Outdoors

Be Your Own Hero

IMG_20171102_161922887copy

Because the others are not all that.

If you disappoint yourself, you change it and un-disappoint yourself. If someone else disappoints you, well, it’s… disappointing.

So, be yourself. And every once in a while, if you’re unsure how to carry on or you feel somehow hopeless, take inspiration from the fictional ones. Be Xena Warrior Princess. Be Tony Stark. Be Hercule Poirot. Be Brienne of Tarth. Be someone amazing.

I’m not saying that holding up two autumn leaves and taking a picture of them with your smartphone is being a hero but hey, it’s a start. #IHeartMe

Miscellaneous

The Brexit Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the Brexit referendum.

The past 12 months have been a rollercoaster of negative emotions, from anger to disappointment, to sadness and helplessness and rage so intense, it made me want to break things. That sick feeling when I woke up on the morning of 24th June 2016 to the referendum results? I never, ever want to experience that again, ever.

It’s exhausting and I’m tired of it.

So–what now? This now.

It was the song.

You know when you listen to a certain song and it, like, does something to you? I’m sure most of you have experienced it. So, I was listening to The Beatles–which is unusual for me as I normally favour 90s to present music, but I bought a ticket to see their museum in Liverpool, so I thought I should play me some of their tunes. Now, I’d known this song since forever, of course, but this is the time I fully and completely and 100% appreciated it.

This was back in April and I was thinking about how it would be a year since the referendum in two months’ time and I should mark that anniversary somehow; I don’t remember exactly how it came about, I just know it had something to do with the song. Then I’ve been coming across some quotes about forgiveness and how holding a grudge is like letting the person live rent-free inside your head and all that and I made a decision.

So today I want to say this to the Leave voters: I forgive you.

You really had no clue what the fuck you were doing. And even if you did have a clue, I still forgive you anyway.

Let it be

Paul McCartney wrote the song after he had a dream in which his late mother spoke those words “let it be” to him. His mum’s name was Mary, so mother Mary is actually her, but he said if you want to interpret it religiously as Virgin Mary, then you can. I see her as a very wise mature lady who knows better. I should probably listen to her more often!

IMG_2033letitbe

Some things I want to add:

  • at times when I felt so hateful towards the whole of UK, I took a few deep breaths and repeated to myself, the 48%, the forty eight percent, THE FORTY EIGHT PERCENT and thought of everything I liked about this country or that came from here (English breakfast, Agatha Christie etc) and I thought of the children, who have lost their chance at being EU citizens before they even knew what it was
  • my line manager at work has been an absolute rock
  • the Facebook group for EU citizens in UK and Brits in EU has been massively helpful to me. I’m prone to anxiety and sometimes I think I’m the only crazy one, so to read that other people are as much worried as me (while the outside world keeps saying oh, but you’ll be alright, they can’t send you back) certainly made me feel better. So much blame is thrown on social media but positives are overlooked.
  • there was a hilarious article in a Swiss paper (link to translation). Switzerland is not in EU and keeps neutral, so I think I can trust their judgement

 

Over to you, Fab Four:

 

I wonder, if anyone would like to share in the comments: is there a song that has made an impact in your life or is important to you in any way?