Month: October 2013

Reflections of Autumn

Yes, that's my shadow on the stone pillar. Careless me!

Yes, that’s my shadow on the stone pillar. Careless me!

This time of year always has me in reflective mood.  No matter how bright the sunshine, I always know that Winter is waiting, just around the corner.  But we have had the occasional sparkling day in this last week or so, and I have been determined to make the most of them.  Come stroll with me in my Durham gallery of sunshine and shadows.

And another Durham day is done.

And another Durham day has flown away.

Cee has given me the perfect opportunity this week to share a few Reflections and Shadows.  Please click on the link to see some wonderful photographs.

I’m hoping your week will have more sunshine than shadow.

R is for “rodzina”

Poland-eagle-150squareRodzina is the Polish word for family, and what an important word it is.

For many years “Polish family”, to me, meant just Dad.  My English mother, Nancy, has been dead for 23 years, and, having no brothers and sisters, ours was a small family unit.  Then came the fateful phone call.  I’ve told the story countless times, but it still fills me with wonder.

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Unknown to him, in Poland, awaited an enormous family.  Following the phone call, arrangements were made for us to visit.

From his second marriage, to Laura, Dad already had inherited quite a large English family.  Laura was a lovely lady, but she died on Dad’s 70th birthday, leaving him saddened and lonely.  My presence and that of my stepbrother, Tony, and his family, was not enough to fill the gap.  My stepsister, Lynne, though always in touch, was far distant in Canada.  That phone call changed Dad’s life.  It also made quite a difference in mine.

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

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My cousin Marysia, and neice, Kasia

Ewa in the forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right

Cousins, Ewa, forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right- Dad, centrestage!

If you’ve followed any of my Polish A-Z you’ll know that I have 26 cousins (one for each letter of the alphabet?) so it’s impossible to show them all here.  Off we went to Poland, with camera crew in tow.  Dad was featured on North East Tonight on 15th March 2007.  Watching the webcam still has me sniffling.

After a day or so in beautiful Kraków, with my cousin Adam, we drove north to meet the family.  The cacophony of tooting horns and voices as we drove in through the farmyard gates will stay with me for a very long time.  Then, in good old Polish fashion, jemy i pijemy– we ate and we drank! A drive through the woods helped Dad to familiarise himself with the place he had left behind so long ago.

Lighting candles

Lighting candles

As all Polish visits seem to do, we ended up at the cemetery.  They may celebrate life in fine style, but they never forget to honour loved ones.  And the bigger the family, the more the farewells.  Already I have said goodbyes to my much-loved Aunt Anna, and to uncle Włodek’s wife, Janina.  Cousins Gosia and Dominik were both much too young to die.  But life is seldom gloomy around my Polish family.

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Nephew Lukasz with his sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek (front)

Her brother, Łukasz, and sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery, like Wawel Cathedral

Like these fountains in Krakow

These fountains at Pałac Sztuki in Kraków

And a chess piece or two.

A chess piece or two

And cake!

And cake!

Dad has always been kind, caring and the very definition of a gentleman, whatever life has brought his way.  You can read more of his story here.  I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing tales of my rodzina Polska.  Many thanks to Julie Dawn Fox, who started me off on this Personal A-Z series, and to my good friend at Frizztext for welcoming me to his A-Z.  Please click on the links or the logos to see more.


Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-bannerTime to see RED?  Not really!


IMG_0288If you asked me what my favourite colour is, I’d probably say red.  But when I look back through my photos I find that they are predominantly blues.  Often the reds are a wine colour, like the leaves from my Virginia Creeper, above.  Or I’ve used the red as an accent colour, like my favourite dress, which is white with deep blue and red flowers on.

I can have endless arguments with my husband about colour, but it doesn’t really matter.  It’s all beautiful, isn’t it?  No need to see red at all!

Thanks for humouring me this Saturday.  Hope your weekend sparkles, whatever shade it is.  Many thanks to Cate at Show My Face.  Hope she’s feeling better this week.  Do click on the logos or the link to join in.


Q is for Quinta


“Quinta” is the Portuguese word for a country home or farmhouse.

It’s something I’ve long aspired to, though I’m more likely to end up in a beach hut!  This place on Armona would be fine, with bougainvilea tumbling over the walls, and a pot or two of welcoming hibiscus on the doorstep.

I might go for this tropical look

Isn’t it wonderfully tropical?  Imagine those palms rustling in the breeze.

There’d be a lemon tree and a fig tree.  Maybe a lime too, but no oranges.  I’ve never liked oranges, though the blossom is very pretty.  I have no idea how long it takes to produce a decent vintage of grape, but the notion of a few vines and their dangling temptation is very appealing.

A little grape trampling anyone?

A little grape trampling anyone?

A Portuguese house isn’t a home without an azulejo panel.  Maybe even two!

There's those tempting grapes again!

There’s those tempting grapes again!

And a barco rabelo!  What more would I need?

And a barco rabelo! What more would I need?

And this view of the Douro might come at more than I can afford.

This view of the Douro might come at more than I can afford.

Especially with the swimming pool!

Especially with the swimming pool!

The Vintage Hotel, Pinhao

And I could live with wooden ceilings and floors! (The Vintage Hotel, Pinhao)

But I’m getting a little carried away now.  It easily happens, doesn’t it?  You know I’d never want to be too far from my salt marshes.

When I first visited Portugal I read my “Rough Guide” from cover to cover.  One of the Algarve recommends was Quinta de Marim – a nature reserve with a tidal mill.  It wasn’t far away, just 2kms east of Olhao, but finding it was a different proposition.  I seem to have the ability to blatantly disregard directions in a guide book, while still being convinced that I am on the right track!

Eventually we got there, and I loved what I found.  Nothing very fancy.  A few nature trails.  Wild flowers thriving quite happily in the salt air.  The gentle lap of the water flowing through the tidal mill, itself just an old quinta.  I need to go back, and soon.

The salt marshes at Fuzeta

Salt marshes at Fuzeta

The tidal mill at Quinta de Marim

The tidal mill at Quinta de Marim

This post hasn’t gone quite the way I thought it would, but this is my Personal A-Z Challenge, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far.  My customary thanks go to Julie Dawn Fox for conceiving the challenge, and to Frizz who daily inspires and entertains me.  This week his A-Z has reached QQQ.  Follow the links and logos for a little inspiration yourself.


“Marionette” by T. B. Markinson

Something new for Restlessjo.  I can’t imagine life without a book, so I’m always interested when a blogging friend is about to self publish.  It’s a whole lot of work, in addition to the talent it takes to actually write the book.  I feel very privileged to be involved in this process, even in a small way.  The cover reveal is today and it hits the shelves in December.


Title: Marionette

Author: T. B. Markinson

Cover Designer: Derek Murphy

Publication Date: December 2013


Paige Alexander is seventeen and has her whole life in front of her. One day her girlfriend comes home to discover that Paige has slit her wrists. Paige isn’t insane, but she acts like she is. Why?

After the incident, Paige agrees to go to therapy to appease her girlfriend, Jess. However, Paige doesn’t believe that therapy will help her. She believes she’s beyond help. Paige doesn’t want to find herself and she doesn’t want to relive her painful past in order to come to terms with it. What Paige wants is control over her life, which she hasn’t had since her birth.

During her childhood, Paige is blamed for a family tragedy, when in fact, her twin sister, Abbie was responsible. Abbie doesn’t come forward and Paige becomes the pariah of the family.

To add to Paige’s woes while attending a college in a small town in Colorado, the residents are in the midst of debating whether or not gays and lesbians should have equal rights. Tension is high and there’s a threat of violence. She isn’t out of the closet and pretends to be straight at school since she fears what will happen if her parents find out she’s a lesbian. Will she end up dead like her best friend, Alex?

About the Author: T B Markinson

T. B. Markinson is a 39-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling around the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. Marionette is her second novel.  A Woman Lost was her debut novel.

Sign up to TB’s New Release Mailing List here. Your email will never be shared and you will only be contacted when a new book is out.

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Travelling “My Way”

Don’t worry, I’m not about to burst into song.  Well, I might, but you won’t have to listen.  This is simply my entry for the Travel Your Way photography competition being hosted by Rhino Carhire.  Lovely Lucy nominated me.  She’s on holiday in Portugal right now, recovering from her honeymoon.

I have to post four shots (or more!) depicting travel by air, sea, road and rail.



I have to admit to being one of those people who sit with their nose pressed to the window on a flight.  Kindles and iPads are wasted on me, though I could do with a large map upon my knee.  I’m forever trying to work out which bit of coastline or land mass I’m flying over, while all around me people snore or follow the plot of the latest thriller.  The balls of fluff below and the occasional snowclad peak are all the thrill I need.

The photo above is one of many taken on the journey back to the UK from the Algarve.  Well- you recognised it, didn’t you?  The sun was just setting, touching the lakes with flame.

Traditional barcos rabelos at Peso da Regua

Azulejo panel of traditional barcos rabelos at Peso da Regua

Impossible to capture the boating experience on Portugal’s beautiful Douro with just one photo.  The traditional way of transporting the barrels of port, the winding and weaving river, the terraces of vines- all combined to give me the experience of a lifetime on board with Tomasz do Douro.

Plying a different trade now.

Plying a different trade now.

Yet still remembered on our dining room wall

Yet still remembered on our dining room wall

And culminating in beautiful Porto.

And culminating in beautiful Porto.

Road trips for me usually mean a few days outing from our Algarve home, and always, always result in a lot of walking.  One of my favourite places, ever, was the Spanish city of Cordoba.  We started off on the embankment with this alluring view.

The sky was mean and moody but the sun shone

The sky was mean and moody but the sun shone

A place to rest the feet- the lovely gardens of the Alcazhar.

A place to rest the feet- the lovely gardens of the Alcazhar.

I love everything about travelling by rail, from the clickety-clack of the tracks to a belch of steam on the North York Moors.  I thought that I would probably post a shot of the wonderfully restored and nurtured steam engines, idling on the platform at Grosmont or Goathland.  But in the end I opted for a tram shot.  Nothing quite beats the thrill of these sleek beauties, chugging up and down inclines in Lisbon, and probably my favourite ride- along the shoreline of the Foz do Douro in Porto.

The tram trundles past Foz do Douro

The tram trundles past Foz do Douro

Fortunately for me the deadline on this competition was extended to 31st October or I would never have made the cut, so many thanks to Rhino Carhire for that.  It just remains for me to nominate 5 people who could use a spare £1000 for travel.  And quickly!

Bespoke Traveler has some great tales to tell, and some great shots to go with them.

Hope, the happy hugger – how lovely a name is that?  I’ve just been looking at some stunning bougainvilea shots on her page.

My guilty pleasures  Viveka?  Well you ALL know what a treasure she is.  She’s already got me singing on this grey English day.

Dear Bliary has been one of my favourite blogs for a long time.  Innovation is Gemma’s middle name.  Or was it Marie?

Janalines world journey is a terrific read.  I just hope she has time to take part.

You don’t need a nomination to join in, so if I’ve missed anyone who was desperate to be there, please don’t hesitate.

Hope you enjoyed travelling along with me.  Did you sing?

Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-bannerUplifting YELLOW – the colour of sunshine.

The Autumn colour in Richmond

Autumn colour in Richmond, North Yorkshire

Even a sunshine bird like me can’t help but thrill to the colours of Autumn.   Crispy days, with the water running dark and the sun shining bright…

And glints through the leaves in Autumn

And glinting through the leaves.

Here is my gallery of yellow for this week.  Click on a photo to roll with me.

My kaleidoscopes of colour have brightened my Saturdays over the last few weeks.  I can’t resist the opportunity to add this one to the Weekly Photo Challenge, the hue of you.

Join Cheri’s challenge, or simply stay here, nice and comfy with Cate at Show My Face.  The world’s your oyster!


Boats, and more boats!

I always wanted a houseboat!

I always wanted a houseboat!

Do you know, I think I know what it must feel like to have your name up in lights on Broadway!  Or, maybe Shaftesbury Avenue?  Not once, but twice this week I have found my name in a blog!  Fame, notoriety, or just really lovely friends?  I think you know the answer.

First I’m invited to go Split-toning with Sonel.  Now you know, and I know, and even Sonel knows that technique and me are strangers when it comes to photography.  But I have been known to mess about a bit.

Whilst I was thinking how best to approach this, I suddenly found myself a sparkling diamond on Paula’s  beautiful Thursday’s Special.  What’s a girl to do but slap on some powder and paint, add a few spangles, and step onto the landing stage.  Ahoy there!

The marina transformed!

The marina transformed!

Of course, I have no idea what I’m doing.  I’m like a child with a paintbox- a splash of this, a dash of that!  I only know what I like, and am limited to Ulead Photo Express 4.0 to effect the changes.

I like a working boat too, don't you?

I like a working boat too, don’t you?

I could have sketched this myself? Maybe not!

I could have sketched this myself? Maybe not!

I’m not at all sure that this is appropriate but I really like the effect.  I used a variation of “Oilpaint” in Ulead Photo Express.  I think it looks a bit like a negative, or a picture in a child’s colouring book.

I don't mind a boatyard either

I don’t mind a boatyard, now and then

Sonel knows I like sepia. It's kind of my era!

And Sonel knows I like sepia. It’s kind of my era!

Such an exotic name for a tiny boat!

Such an exotic name for a tiny boat!

This is a watercolour effect

This is a watercolour effect- unsure if it’s appropriate, but I really like it.

I like the reflection on this one

I rather like the reflection on this one

This blue effect seems to bring the photo alive to me

But, for me, it comes alive with the blue effect.

Talking of reflections, this one I really like

Talking of reflections, this one I really love

Another one I love

And with a pink tint, too.

This little wooden craft is a favourite of mine too

This little wooden craft is a favourite of mine

Or a blue tint?

Do you like the blue tint?

And in the harbour mighty PSS Wingfield Castle

And finally, in the harbour, mighty paddlesteamer PSS Wingfield Castle

Sepia takes this right back in time

Sepia takes it right back in time, don’t you think?

I have to humbly apologise to Sonel if this wasn’t quite what she intended.  Do, please, visit Sonel’s Corner to see how it really should be done, and maybe try it yourself.  She is an expert in my eyes, and also the loveliest friend.

Meantime, the star of the show is Hartlepool marina.  I have spent many happy hours there taking photographs of boats.  Paula knows I love them.  I’d like to say thank you to her for making my Thursday very special.  Do you have something special you’d like to share?  Thursday’s Special is the place to do it.


P is for Pope, Piotrek and Przemek!

Poland-eagle-150square Poland is, by and large, a Catholic country, and one of the images that stays in my head from my very first visit is that of Pope John Paul II (or Jan Pawel, as he’s known in Poland).  I already had enormous respect for this very human and vital man, but I hadn’t fully realised the reverence for him in his homeland.  When I began to look into the story of his life, I understood why.

Pope John Paul II in 1993- courtesy of Wikipedia

Pope John Paul II in 1993- courtesy of Wikipedia

Karol Józef Wojtyła was the head of the Catholic Church from 16th October 1978 till his death on April 2nd, 2005.  Born at Wadowice in Southern Poland on 18th May, 1920, he was to become the first non-Italian pope since 1523.

He was the youngest of three children born to his parents, though his sister Olga had died before he was born.  In reality he should not have been born himself because his mother, Emilia, had been told that she had no chance of giving birth to a live child.  A devout Catholic, she refused an abortion, and the child did indeed live, though Emilia herself died in childbirth when Karol was just 8 years old.  An athletic boy, he loved football and sports.

In 1938 he and his Dad moved to Kraków, where he enrolled at the Jagellonian University.  He took philosophy, and developed a talent for languages (he learned 12, which puts me to shame!).  He had to take part in compulsory military training, but refused to fire a weapon.  In 1939, the German occupying force closed the university and he had to find work to avoid deportation.  His Dad died of a heart attack in 1941, so that, by the age of 20, he had “already lost all the people I loved”.  It was then that he began to think seriously about the priesthood.

Statue of John Paul II in the grounds of na Skalce

Statue of John Paul II in the grounds of na Skalce church, in Kraków

In 1942 he knocked on the door of the Archbishop of Kraków and asked to be admitted to the clandestine undergound seminary.  He had some narrow escapes, but survived the war years to spend a year as a village parish priest, before being transferred to Kraków.  He taught ethics at the Jagellonian University and gathered a little group around him that became known as “Rodzinka”-  his “little family”.  As well as prayer and charitable works the group went kayaking and skiing with him.

You have to remember that these were now Communist times in Poland.  The Faculty of Theology was disbanded at the university and priests were forbidden to travel with students.  Father Wojtyła asked his students to call him “Wujek”- the Polish word for uncle (which I love very much), so that it would not be obvious he was a priest.  The name stuck, and to Poles he would always be their beloved Wujek.

The museum dedicated to Pope John Paul. a beloved local

The museum dedicated to Pope John Paul. a beloved local

At just 38, Wojtyła was appointed Bishop of Kraków, and from there it was a steady rise to the papacy.  His mission was “to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great [religious] armada”.  He was to travel the world like no Pope before (129 countries in total!) in an effort to do so.

In June 1979 he made his first trip back to Poland as Pope.  His country was still completely under the Soviet thumb but he encouraged them to adhere to their faith and affirm solidarity with one another.  The Communists were not to relinquish power for another decade, but it was with the Pope’s encouragement and “soft power” that Solidarnosc was born as a movement.   In 2004 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his lifelong opposition to Communist oppression and for trying to reshape the world. The full story is in the Wikipedia link at the top of this post.

Beside Wawel Castle in Kraków

Beside Wawel Castle, in Kraków

I was in Kraków in 2007 on the 2nd anniversary of his death, and the crowds and emotion were overwhelming even then.  Candles flickered as his voice was broadcast into the night.  Since then I have always been aware of his presence whenever I am in the city.

P is for Piotrek and Przemek

Piotrek is the English equivalent of Peter, and a popular name in Poland, so of course, I have a cousin of that name!  He’s the carpenter son of Lodzia and Zygmunt, and a lovely man with whom I have danced at a wedding or two.

Within the family we also have a diminutive Piotrek (Piotrus) who is a proper scene stealer, as small boys are.  He is the son of Krzystof and Ilona, whose wedding I went to in April 2008.

That just leaves Przemek!  He is the son of my cousin Adam’s sister, Basia (also my cousin- no wonder I’m confused!).  His English is impeccable.  He and fiance Marta were house-hunting when I was last there, so who knows if there’ll be yet another wedding in the not too distant future.

Przemek and Marta

Przemek and Marta

Well, I’ve bent your ears enough for one post so it’s time to say thank you to Julie Dawn Fox for hosting the Personal A-Z Challenge, and to lovely Frizz for also letting me tag along on his A-Z.  As always the links and logos will take you there.


Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-bannerWhiter than white- the theme continues.

The frock in reverse

Will I ever tire of seeing this frock?

Lisa tells me that she’s worn it three times so far, including once at Carnival in Venice.  That’s not bad going for a wedding dress, is it?  I’ve been dusting off a few white memories myself.

How lovely is this dahlia?  It's a huge bloom!

How lovely is this dahlia? It’s a huge bloom!
If you click on a photo below it will start the gallery rolling.

I’ve become a person of few words on Saturdays.  Have you noticed?  My husband loves the peace and quiet, but more than that, it seems to fit better with Cate’s challenge.  Thanks for indulging me.

Visit Show My Face to share your six words and read a few others.  It won’t take long!  Just click on the header or the link.