Triumph! Photo101

I feel quite triumphant to have made it to the end of the four week long photo101 course. And one of the reasons I have often struggled to find the time to post that day’s picture has because I have been working hard on the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide – the book whuch gave birth to this blog. It’s nearly done, I am expecting a proof copy next week. Of course I have no idea yet how it will be received but I certainly feel proud that I have got this far. So, to mark the last day of the photo101 course – with the theme of “triumph” – I present a specially created collage of the book:

Book 4 collage

And that’s it folks – the end of the photo101 course. It’s been fun, I feel like I have learnt (quite) a lot and met some great new bloggers. I hope to continue exploring photography – but for now, I’m off to have a coffee!

Photo101: Seeing double…or is that triple?

Today’s photo assignment – nearly the last – asks us to focus on something that you have two of. These fellow’s have a little story behind them.


Known as Cat1 and Cat2, we bought number one (and no I don’t know which one is which) as a cheap  toy for our youngest daughter on our return from being evacuated out of Islamabad. We had to wait a while for our worldly goods to catch up with us, so a quick trip to IKEA was needed to buy some of the essentials. Cat was a bit of an after-thought, but rapidly became one of those favourites all parents dread losing. So much so, that we decided to buy a second – just in case number one went missing….

So there were two.

And then, there were…


Oh yes, so paranoid were we of losing those wretched cats that we bought another. And she didn’t lose any of them! So now we have Cat1, Cat2 and Cat3. The triplets.

Photo101: The eclipse through a glass window

I was struggling to see the eclipse from my back room on Friday morning – but managed to snap a few photos using my camera phone. I joined neighbours out the front and we were lucky enough to have the lend of some proper eclipse glasses and had quite a show. But it was only when I looked back at my photos that I realised I HAD managed to get a picture of the eclipsed sun – reflected on something in the glass. It’s a rubbish photo but it’s got a little special centre!


Treasure: Photo101

Today’s task for the photo101 workshop is to photograph something you “treasure”. This wasn’t going to be easy – there were so many thing I could have chosen! As a typical traveller, I have collected little “treasures” from around the world all my life. Should it be the jar of shells from the Philippines? Or the beautiful carved wooden bowl from New Zealand? So many little treasures in the house, with their own tale to tell. And that was before I started considering the treasures the children had collected, which range from old pebbles to dusty conkers…

In the end though it was my youngest daughter who decided it for me. I found her playing with some of my jewellery, a couple of pretty necklaces I keep inside the little purple velvet pouch they originally came in. I don’t really wear jewellery, much to her dismay. However, I have held onto these pieces because they have a special place in my heart.

treasure collage with frame

I bought these two necklaces (and a third, wherever it’s gone) in Thailand in 2005. I was there on my own, I had flown all the way from Jamaica – where I lived at the time – to help out with the UK government’s post-tsunami asssistance. It was a pretty harrowing time, as I am sure you can imagine. I was working as a press officer but you’re never completely shielded from the awful human tragedy at a time like this.

But in the middle of it all, I discovered I was pregnant with my first daughter. To say I was shocked was an understatement. It wasn’t unplanned, but it was a lot quicker than we had been expecting! I certainly wouldn’t have volunteered to fly to the other side of the world had I thought for a moment I was carrying another little person.

So I have held onto these necklaces and whenever I take them out and look at them (and very occasionally wear them), I remember that strange period in my life when I was surrounded by the most horrible suffering but had discovered my own, very precious little treasure inside me.

An interview, some questions and a giant spider on top of the Eiffel Tower.

Merging three short posts again this morning….

First of all I want to thank The New Diplomat’s Wifefor featuring me in her fabulous Notes from the Field series. I wrote about my time in St Lucia and you can read all about it here: Notes From the Field: St Lucia. I really enjoyed doing this interview, sometimes it’s only when you look back that you remember some of the things you went through in a particular posting. I also really love The New Diplomat’s Wife’s website as it is so beautiful and elegant. Plus, she was training to be a diplomat but ended up marrying one herself. Sort of like me, although I did actually manage to work as a diplomat for a few years before becoming the spouse.

So on to the questions. This is in response to another award nomination, this time from Hong Kong – A Teacher Abroad who nominated me for a Liebster Award. Time dictates that I won’t be nominating others but I always think it’s nice to acknowledge the person who has gone to the trouble of nominating you, and I like to answer the questions they pose with the nomination. So here they are:

1. What made you start a blog? This is easy as I already have the answer in my About the Blog section. Basically to accompany the book, somewhere I can add to and update information in the book and just because I love to write.

2. How do you decide what to blog about?  I constantly come up with ideas, but don’t always have time to write them all down! Many of my blogs are based on the themes of being an expat partner, but I also like to write about travel generally. I get ideas from my own experiences, reading about other people’s experiences, news items, discussions in forums…..

3. Do you plan your posts and if so how? A bit. I try to plan ahead if I can but things change so this isn’t always possible. I like to intersperse guest posts with my own and try not to have more than one post from a particular series per week. I also try and do at least one really relevant to my blog’s theme every week.

4. Where is your favourite place to visit and why? At the moment it’s probably Florida just because of the ages of our children and that we have got to know it well. We don’t just go to Orlando though, we love travelling all over the State. My brother-in-law lives there which is why we go so often. We’re also really looking forward to exploring South Africa and the other countries in the region, including Mozambique.

5. Is there one thing you are particularly proud of? Writing the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide and getting it very very nearly to the point of publication! I have always wanted to write a book.

6. Favourite book As a child it was Watership Down. I am very sad my own children don’t want me to read it to them 😦

7. What 5 people -famous or otherwise, dead or alive, would you invite for dinner? It would have to be my grandfather who was murdered in Hong Kong when my mother was a young child – I would have loved to have met him and for him to see that his only daughter went on to have four children and seven grandchildren. Then I would also have to invite my granny (who died in 2003) and my parents. I would make the fifth person be a really good chef so they would do all the cooking. Mary Berry maybe as she was at school with my mum and my granny knew her!

8. If you could ban/get rid of one – celebrity, tv show, band or food (delete as appropriate), what would you choose? Fresh coriander (also known as cilantro). The devil’s food.

9. If you could travel back in time what period of history would you go back to? So long as I didn’t have to actually live there or stay there for very long, probably the Tudor period. It’s one period we all study in such depth it would be fascinating to find out what it was really like.

10. Who is your biggest influence in life? I don’t think I am really influenced by anyone. I am myself and drive my own ship!

Thank you again to Hong Kong – A Teacher Abroad for the nomination. And now the bit I know you have all been waiting for – a giant spider on top of the Eiffel Tower…

giant spider on the eiffel tower

Don’t worry, there is a point to this! The photo is the latest in the photo101’s theme for the day which this morning is: Scale. Enjoy!

Beautiful Clearwater

I’m cheating a bit this morning and combining two events – photo 101’s theme of the day “moment and motion” and Tiny’s Expat’s weekly Show Your World. [edited to say: I have now added a third event: Monday Escapes]

Clearwater is on the Gulf coast of Florida, about two hour’s drive from Orlando. We visit Florida a lot – my husband’s only living relative, his brother, lives there so we try and get there as often as we can. But while we all enjoy the theme parks and the roller coasters, there is so much more to this beautiful state than just Disney and Orlando. One of the things we love more than anything is getting AWAY from the Brit tourists and discovering the “wilder” side of Florida. Of course Clearwater isn’t exactly wild, nor is it getting away, but it does have the most beautiful beach.


Here my two daughters are running with pure joy across the cool, white sand – joy at the space and the feeling of the soft powder beneath their bare feet.

Later we walked on the splendid pier that stretches out into the sea, watching the fishermen being dive bombed by pelicans and the groups of friends and families waiting for the sun to go down. I managed to snap this picture of a seagull passing – looking, no doubt, for any tasty morsel dropped by bird or man.


We’re going back to Florida soon, for one last trip before we head to South Africa. I can already feel the heat of the sun on my shoulders, hear the sounds of the children squealing in the swimming pool, taste the first beer as we salute the evening,  smell  the fried hash browns of the diner breakfasts, see the huge ocean and the bright sky. I can’t wait.

Have you been to Florida – and if so, have you managed to escape from the maddening crowds? Do you have any suggestions for special places to visit?

show your world

My Travel Monkey

Architecture – look around you and what do you see? Photo101

Another of my attempts at taking some snaps – this time the theme is Architecture – with a tip to try out using black and white or monochrome. I live in a beautiful town full of gorgeous Georgian houses, so this shouldn’t have been as hard as it was. But a) Georgian houses are beautiful but do not necessarily make dramatic pictures; b) the light is what I think is technically known as very “flat” today and c) I have injured my back so finding it hard to walk very far or for long.

However I valiantly stepped out with my camera and ignoring the curious looks from students at the local University campus just over the road, snapped away. I’m not massively proud of my efforts but thought they looked better once I had turned them black or white. I’ll keep this one in mind though next time we go somewhere with any really dramatic architecture! In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, I give you – my photographs!

The duck house

The duck house

The house behind the trees

The house behind the trees

Spooky post

Spooky post

Detail from the local church

Detail from the local church

Spooky house

Spooky house

Solitary – Photo101

Today’s theme was meant to be solitude but as I was thinking what to shoot I got it wrong and thought it was solitary. I liked this little scene in the childrens’ room – one of the dollies (Raimi) looks like she’s been put into “solitary confinement” or what we might call being sent to Coventry, while all the other teddies huddle together and whisper about her.

Raimi left out too

Bliss: A Moment in Time

Today’s photo101 challenge is to capture our idea of ‘bliss’. I was tempted to take a picture of a box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates because obviously that is the most blissful thing I could think of. But I came across this picture of my youngest daughter, M, on a swing in our garden in St Lucia and I love the double meaning. It’s bliss for her, swinging in the garden, mastering something she’s just seen her older sister do. But her little baby chubbiness is also blissful – you forget this stage so quickly, when you’re trying to cope with endless tantrums and fights and mounds of washing…don’t you just want to go and squeeze her?

Martha on a swing in St Lucia

She’s got it!

I’ve also just noticed her shoes are on the wrong feet!



Seychelles Mama