Dancing Ladies – Going Home

Most of us have signs or landmarks that remind us when we are almost home. For me, it is this stand of trees on a hill not far from the border where Devon becomes Cornwall. I call them The Dancing Ladies and they are always a sign that in just a few minutes everything that is troubling or tiring will be neatly put to rest as we turn off the main road and point our car towards the narrow lane that leads home.

We took my sister Margaret to the airport this morning with John driving just under 500 miles roundtrip and I was delighted to see my dancing ladies on our way back. Although it was not a short trip, it is nothing compared to one she has before her with several plane changes and a long layover in Germany before reaching Alaska.

My sister and her family recently moved to a new location having lived near Anchorage, Alaska for many years. There is a bridge you drive under as you get closer to her former home and people often hang signs of welcome from it painted on large sheets with brightly colored paint making it seem like a perfect landmark.

Although we did not talk about it, I feel sure that since moving a few months ago she has likely found something that signals her new home is close by and her daily journeys are at an end.

I don’t know what new images mark her way home now, but I imagine that nothing could whisper or shout ” You’re home ”  better than the welcoming sight of her husband and children who will be waiting at the airport. It is the first time Margaret has been away from her boys for more than a week and I think after a month here with me, they will be all the landmark she needs to feel welcomed and at home.

Never Alone – Birthday Wishes For Margaret

It is a struggle to find childhood photographs of my sister Margaret taken alone as most of our childish history documents us together, sitting or standing side by side. On Margaret’s birthday today, I searched my files to come up with the perfect image of her by herself but with little success. I would suggest that the universe is sending us a message that Peanut Butter and Jelly are meant to be together while John might say it was the cost of developing film in those days that would have children always paired up in photographs.

This image of Margaret fishing at five is one I remember well. She caught her first fish and dropped the pole with the fish still on the line in her excitement. She did a little happy dance that day that still makes me smile.

She is still five in this photo taken with our first pet, a cat the adults named Useless.

This one is one of my favorites with Margaret looking straight into the camera.

Dressed as a Brownie … I don’t remember this period, but she looks pretty cute.

Here she is only nine, but she’s giving a look to the camera that I recognize still 39 years later.

I discovered this first birthday picture of Margaret blowing out a candle about an hour ago and John graciously rescanned the others so you can see them better.

I have enjoyed having this time with Margaret over the last month. It is rare that as adults we are able to take time away from our daily lives and responsibilities to spend time with a sibling and I certainly appreciate Margaret coming all the way from Alaska to experience a bit of my life here with me.

It is her last day in Cornwall as she begins her long trip back to Alaska tomorrow and I have no idea what we will do today, but I will be in the kitchen in a few minutes making a specially requested chocolate cake for her. It gives me great pleasure to be able to sing a happy birthday chorus in person to Margaret today and I hope this new birthday year brings her sweetness and joy.

A Seaside Visit Today For This Birthday Boy

Today is John’s birthday and while he would rather not have too much notice made, I have a sweet pile of presents or “pressies” as some might say here and his requested blackberry crumble with candles and ice cream for later. (Okay, he didn’t ask for candles, but he needs them to make a wish … right?)

As soon we pull ourselves together this morning, we will head south to explore several places where we can walk on the beach and touch the sea. We won’t be taking any little pails and shovels like John had in the photo above, but I expect we will have plenty of fun just the same. I was thrilled when he mentioned going to one place in particular when I asked how he wished to spend his birthday.

Cadgwith is a sweet little seaside village which looks much the same as it did in 1930 when his dad at sixteen took this photograph while the family was in the area on holiday. I plan to take John’s picture as close to the thatched cottage on the right as I can get and will edit this post to include it when we return. (If you click to enlarge this, you can see John’s grandmother on the left.)

Photo by Victor Winchurch, Age 16 - Cadgwith, Cornwall 1930

I am so pleased to be able to share a third birthday celebration with this lovely man who changed my life so dramatically only a few years ago. Happy Birthday John!

* If you are reading this through email or other subscription, please refresh to get the edited version. I had an old family photo from the wrong village and had to correct it.

Updates & Additions … I am back as I promised with some pictures from our day. These were taken 80 years after the one above and another one taken the same day 80 years ago.

Cadgwith 2010

Color Cadgwith 2010

( I added the color version of Cadgwith by special request for Dorothy I mean, Kim who wanted to see OZ * see her comment below)

I took this photograph this afternoon of John standing where his grandmother stood 80 years ago when she was two years younger than I am now. I was a little closer to my subject than John’s dad was in 1930. I also thought you might enjoy a few more from today that go with the original taken 1930.

Photo By Victor Winchurch – Cadgwith, Cornwall 1930

My image from today is below.

Cadgwith, Cornwall 2010

Here is a last image before I say goodnight, It is one I took of John while he was photographing from what is likely the same spot his father did when he was still only a sixteen year old boy. I bet his dad would have loved digital photography. Remember you can click any image to enlarge. Click twice to make it ginormous.

John Winchurch – September 27, 2010

Are You Missing The Big Moments

Yesterday it was if Paris knew it was our last day and showered us literally with gifts all through the day. We felt as if we both received personal messages (I may share mine later) as we spent our last morning in Paris at Pére Lachaise visiting and photographing some of the graves there. I finally managed to find the graves Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, and Moliére after having searched without success on past visits.

Later when the rain sent us running for cover, we made our way to the Metro and found ourselves on a rooftop overlooking Paris just as the sky went wild with a light and cloud show that had everyone within viewing range watching in amazement.

Everyone, but the young woman you see in the photograph above. I took a series of shots as the clouds shifted and rolled and she never looked up … not even once. If you look below, you can see where her attention was so completely focused.

I know whatever was on her phone might have been really important and she may have been dealing with a horrible emergency or hopefully reading some good news, but to not even notice that this was happening all around her  … what a thing to miss!

It made me a bit sad when I reviewed these photographs because I remember when I was that woman and I can’t help but think about what I might have missed when everything else seemed more important than just sitting for a moment in awareness and appreciation.

Cornwall is calling us back and we will be leaving Paris today with some new memories and gratitude for having had a chance to walk its streets again.

Goodbye Paris!

To Carolyn From Paris

I have said this before and it is still true that one of the best things about blogging are the friends you make online. If you are lucky, you may have a chance to meet in person and tonight was one of those magic nights where once you get past hello, you laugh and talk like old friends who have been sharing secrets forever.

Kim and I have been reading each other’s blogs and corresponding through email for longer than I can remember and I have always enjoyed her blog, Sassiland where she writes mostly about her life in Paris.

I was totally enchanted by her romantic heart when she went to the gravesite in Paris where I’d left my wedding bouquet when John and I were here on our honeymoon and I loved how she took the time to send me a photo showing me that my flowers were still there several weeks later.

Back in April of 2009, I was pleasantly surprised to see a message on another blogging friend’s site directed at me. While on a trip to Paris in 2009, Carolyn, who blogs at My Sydney Paris Life had chance to meet Kim and together they sent me a little message that you can see here.

Tonight after being treated to a lovely dinner at a Paris café by Kim, we snapped a photo for Carolyn who is home in Australia. Well, we think she’s home in Australia now. Carolyn is such a woman on the move it can be hard to track where she and her partner Clive might be and although her blog is about more than just travel, if travel tips are what you need, her space is loaded with great planning ideas.

I took the photograph below in the evening light of the café so it’s not my best work, but I think the message on the map is clear and that’s what is important. (Hello Carolyn, wish you were here)

Elizabeth & Kim

I have to say too that Kim very thoughtfully remembered my birthday with a sweet-filled cup that I loved at once. If you followed the extension posts I wrote about John giving me a room of my own for a writing studio then you will understand her reason for choosing the one she did.

It was a wonderful way to bring our Paris visit to a close. Margaret and I will be seeing the last of the sights tomorrow and then we’re off to Cornwall to rest up for John’s birthday followed the next day by Margaret’s. Thanks for following us around Paris this week. I hope you’ve had as much fun as we have.

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

~ Virginia Woolf



A Picture And A Promise

I’ve no time to blog much for the next few days as we try to pack as much sightseeing as possible into our trip so it may be just a photo or two each day until after our Saturday return to Cornwall. Here is a quick look at one place I promise to share with you later along with some things we discovered there. Can you guess where these photos were taken?

There is a hint in the photo below.

Painting The Town Red In Paris … Almost

Painting the town red has had different meanings over the years. From spilling blood to drinking and rowdy behavior none of which we did during our travels yesterday, but we did stay out too late to ride the Metro home and had to take a taxi after seeing the sights below.

This shot could only be obtained by taking it from the middle of the cross walk when it turned green for about thirty seconds which did not seem to matter to drivers who kept going anyway.

Margaret and I went back and forth more times than we probably should have and finally when I felt I had enough to pull a good image from several, I stood off to the side and watched Margaret stand her ground in the ” green for go ” cross walk. She’s the blurry person in the center with her arms up to snap her photo. Note the traffic does not really stop unless they have to avoid hitting you. I found this a bit scary when I was out there as drivers kept coming regardless of right of way.

Table (steps) for two at the foot of the Eiffel Tower .. you can just make out Margaret finishing her crêpe in the bottom right of this photo (ham, cheese, and french fries with a hotdog thrown into the mix) while sitting in the light of the famous landmark. I enjoyed a dessert crêpe with chocolate, banana, and ice cream. I know most people wouldn’t call that dinner, but it did contain several food groups with some sugar mixed in for energy.

Every so often throughout the evening the Eiffel Tower lights up for ten minutes at a time with sparkly lights which make it look even more festive. A boat near the bottom of the image crept into my shot while I was trying to capture the tower with her extra glow.

We waited in long lines to go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and did so with people who all seemed patient and well-behaved until the two women below broke into the line that we had been in for about forty minutes.

This was on an upper level after having stood for about an hour already in the first line at ground level. They pushed past two smaller and slightly older ladies and seemed intent on pushing past us when Stonewall-Margaret had enough and became an immovable rock. First Margaret made a small space for the two nice ladies to get in front of us and then she planted herself in front of the two pushy women and held her ground moving forward when necessary, but not allowing herself to be rushed.

The women as you can see thought it was quite funny and the older women kept pushing and touching Margaret so much so that at one point Margaret said to me, ” I wonder if she could scratch my left shoulder-blade for me … I don’t think she’s touched that spot yet! ” It was both exasperating and funny at the same time.

Here is Margaret looking pretty well over it just before we reached the elevators to go up to the last level and the pushy woman as you can see was trying to avoid my camera. Other people were watching her poke and push at Margaret and were making faces that showed their surprise at the woman’s bad behavior as well.

After a good look around I snapped a ton of photos some of which you see above and then we stood in more lines before touching down safely on the ground.

Earlier in the day we paid a visit to the Arc de Triomphe where once again we were not content to just gaze up from below, but had to make the climb to the top to take in the view.

I took this one of us myself so it is a bit off-center.

Once the heat drove us down, we saw that there were preparations underway for a remembrance ceremony.

There were members of the military and soldiers everywhere.

This female office was advising a women who was about to try to cross the dangerous looking roundabout to use the underground tunnel instead. After snapping a few more photos, we headed for the tunnel ourselves as we were not allowed to get too close to what going on under the arches.

Posing for glamour shots at a place for remembering the dead always surprises me.

Once we were through the tunnel we saw more activity related to the ceremony happening on the Champs-Élysées.

I don’t think this gentleman minded my taking his picture. Most were willing to pose for us.

The children were waiting so patiently for everything to begin.

Here is a little cafe scene that one always associates with Paris.

And a last one for today. If you click on this you can see the drivers are all talking on their cell phones on their way home after work.

Notre-Dame … Pretty In Pink?

Aside from our feet which are covering miles it seems each day, Margaret and I have found the Metro to be a good mode of transportation although a bit more difficult in ways than the London Underground.

Notre-Dame is the grand cathedral so many come to Paris to see. I had talked with Margaret about my trip in 2008 up to the tip-top of the left tower and she did not mind the wait of about an hour or so to get inside. Once inside we climbed about 500 steps to reach the top and moved briskly up a staircase that became more narrow as we went up. Margaret snapped the image below to show you how worn the steps have become using the person ahead of her to illustrate.

She took this of me on the way back down.

Margaret snapped this tourist shot of me with some of the famous gargoyles in the background. They have wires up to keep you from falling, jumping, or getting carried away trying to get that perfect shot while you’re walking around the upper levels.

I know this shot has been done a thousand times or more but I just love having one to call my own.

If you squeeze in through here and climb up some wooden stairs, you can see the bell that rings in the tower.

When you climb the rest of the way up the stone steps to the top of the tower, you are treated to long distance views like this one and the two below.

While we were on this first upper level, Margaret was graced with a blessing from above while shooting over in the far left between the two gargoyles you see there. A pigeon perched high above her let go with a shower of poo hitting her right on the top of her head with enough force to go everywhere including her camera. She laughed it off with more humor than I would have and after a quick cleanup carried on with her photo shoot.

Safely back on the ground we went inside for a walk around the massive interior of Notre-Dame. We were a bit put off by all of the cameras flashing and people posing especially when flash photography was banned and some people were clearly trying to pray. People seemed to forget that this was a house of worship first and a stop on the “must see”  list for visitors second.

This priest seemed bothered by the behavior of the masses as well.

This is a slightly crooked view of the altar cross from behind.

Some places need a bit of repair.

I must have touched the wrong button as this pink was unintentional.

We left as they were lighting the candles for the evening service.

Here is a last look at the inside.

Outside there were more folks dressed for a big day.

And color choices which left me wondering how he  … yes he, managed to find shoes to match those pants.

I’ll be back with more about this bridge and what I saw there later as well as a story from the bookstore below.

Here are a few night shots of Notre-Dame.

Notice the moon in this photo and how pretty Notre-Dame looks in pink.

* Margaret just read this post and said that she had some pink interior shots as well and she was using two different cameras so it must be something (lighting we didn’t notice) that made some images look pink.

A Brief Look At The Louvre From The Inside Out

I have been fortunate to be able to visit Paris several times in the past and it is a bit different coming in September than during the December – February months as on previous trips. While the weather is certainly prettier in many ways with blue skies and no rain, there are loads of tourists and it was so hot in the Louvre yesterday that both Margaret and I felt sweaty and uncomfortable for most of our visit even though we were wearing cotton shirts and lightweight jeans. Not that I want you to think we don’t appreciate a chance to be here and see this together, but I know the next time I visit Paris I’ll choose cooler month when less people are traveling.

I tend to prefer images of the Louvre taken from the inside looking out.

Turning my camera to the inside, I want to give you a glimpse at how huge everything is in scale.

I always love to visit this room to see the famous painting on the left. I could sit and look at it for hours. I was sitting on the seat across from it for a few minutes when a tour came through and the guide encouraged everyone to take a seat and I swear they practically pushed me off my little spot on the end. Just as I was giving up my seat, they all jumped up and hurried off to the next painting. I find most small groups or individuals were very considerate, but the tours I had to watch out for because they were on a mission and if you weren’t part of their tour, you were just collateral damage if you got in their way.

I loved this guy and I’m not sure why. I think because he looked so real to me … more like someone who actually drew breath than some of the other figures. He had a good spot for viewing the room too.

I wondered if he worried about his double chin the way I worry about mine.

He was protected in a case so I have a bit of a reflection.

I shot this when we arrived and Margaret photographed it at the end of our day and the same two men (only one you can see) were still there sketching when the Louvre was closing.

I took this because I wondered what this woman was thinking. There were tons of people photographing this sculpture from it’s most photographed side, but I was more interested in her story.

This was an enormous sculpture and it was his outstretched hand that drew me in at first.

So I photographed his hands and then noticed that he had a mustache, which intrigued me as it is something you don’t often see on sculptures of this kind.

Does that look like a mustache to you?

Look who showed up for a wedding shot.

In the History of the Louvre section there were paintings throughout the ages of artists capturing the looks of visitors as they viewed the museum. Two caught my eye. This one above because of the outrageous faces people are making and the one below because of the neat uncluttered look of it. We are off in a minute for another full day. I hope to be back with more images tomorrow.

What Does Your Garden Say About You

Gardens are a form of autobiography.

~ Sydney Eddison

On our first walk through the Paris neighborhood where we have leased a studio apartment for a week, Margaret and I saw a great many things we found interesting. Some were prettier than others and some made us uncomfortable. (Like the young woman who tried to pick my pocket – my neatly folded tissues looked like money and she looked surprised to be caught.)

Getting back to the prettier side of Paris … we passed by an apartment building that overlooked a busy street where someone clearly wanted to see something more from their windows than people and cars. I was impressed by the way they had created a garden right outside their windows. If you click on the images, you can just about make out how they did it.

While I would not want to block our view back home in Cornwall, I think it might be an interesting way to modify a bland fence using old picture frames and pots with plants. John is the gardener in our family and although the view from my studio space is lovely, he is waiting for me to make some decisions about what I would like it to look like when it is complete as in, ” It’s your garden view … let’s build it together.”

While I have always had trouble keeping even a houseplant alive, I’m hoping to add a new level of skills (okay, maybe only design) to what I already know. With that in mind I am always snapping photographs of appealing gardens and this one got high marks for both beauty and creativity. If you have a favorite garden spot (hopefully your own) and send me a photograph in an email, I will include them all in one big garden post later.