Travel theme: Industry

Whew, it’s been a busy week and I have failed miserably to keep up with the goals I set for myself. In the words of the late, great Douglas Adams… I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. To compensate, let’s play with industry for this week’s travel theme. First up, a funky homage to farm equipment just outside of Vega, Texas along Route 66.

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Next, sunset in the heart of Californian oil fields.

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Giant silos and a town called Concrete might offer clues as to the main industry round these parts.

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Hopefully I have stirred you up into a hive of industry. If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Industry
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

I’m going to pop off for now as I have several more deadlines to miss. Looking forward to seeing what industry means to you.

xxx Ailsa

There exist limitless opportunities within every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier. – Charles F. Kettering

In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been the enemy of the desire to create. – Raoul Vaneigem

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , | 92 Comments

Travel theme: Mischievous

The idea of mischievous courting couples getting risqué on joggling boards in Charleston got me rooting through my travel shots for other mischievous photos, starting with this outdoor privvy in NYC, just across the street from the Chelsea Hotel.

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Wandering around Snug Harbor Botanic Gardens on Staten Island, I spotted this stealthy squirrel, definitely up to no good.

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Maximón is a rather unusual deity venerated by many villagers throughout Guatemala. Part pre-Columbian Mayan (possibly a reincarnation of the Mayan god Mam), part Christian (St. Simon) and one hundred percent scoundrel, this is a god that drinks and smokes and gets up to all kinds of mischief. I visited a Maximón shrine tucked away in the back streets of Santiago Atitlán but he was in evidence everywhere. There were shelves full of mini-Maximóns for sale in Antiguan stores, dark little figures with gaping mouths waiting to receive a lit cigarette as an offering.

A group of drunkard gods waiting for a lit cigarette.

High up on Hurricane Ridge in the heart of the Olympic Mountains, this feisty deer got right up in my face demanding a piece of my sandwich. I couldn’t in good conscience give her any, because she was wild, although clearly acclimatized to humans – bad tourists! – but as I was attempting to dissuade her from her mission to de-sandwich me, a raven stole the other half of my lunch – a bowl of tomato soup – leaving a great red soupy streak across the snowy slopes. I’m convinced the two of them were working as a team.

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How mischievous are you feeling right now?  If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Mischievous
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

I hate the actor and audience business. An author should be in among the crowd, kicking their shins or cheering them on to some mischief or merriment. – D.H. Lawrence

Neverland is the way I would like real life to be… timeless, free, mischievous, filled with gaiety, tenderness and magic. – Mary Martin

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 78 Comments

Joggling Hijinks

Walking through Charleston, South Carolina, I couldn’t shake the feeling I had inadvertently drifted into another era; one filled with lace gloves, doffed hats, horse-drawn carriages and a sense of time stretching out before me. Warm sea breezes and deliciously soft, slow southern accents eased my pace, lulling me into quiet contemplation as I observed the romance slinking around every corner of this captivating city.

Every so often, on a shady porch or in the green of a lawn, my eye landed on a rather unusual bench of sorts, with great sturdy feet and a single, oddly elongated plank serving as the seating area. The lines were simple and elegant and captured my imagination.

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It is most commonly given the joyful name “joggling board” and these unusual benches are to be found all over the Lowcountry of South Carolina. The pliable board bobs up and down when you sit on it, intended to simulate the gentle motion of a horse-drawn carriage.

One legend claims that the first joggling board was made at Acton Plantation in Sumter County near Stateburg in the early 1800s. Cleland Kinloch ran the plantation, and when his wife passed away, his sister, Mary Benjamin Kinloch Huger arrived in Acton to help him run the household. While she was there, she wrote to her cousins in Scotland, telling them of the arthritis that was causing her terrible pain, and they wrote back sending her plans for a joggling board, suggesting that she could use it as part of an exercise regimen that might ease her pain. She had one of the plantation carpenters follow the plans and the joggling board was born, soon spreading across the state. Oddly enough, there is no evidence of a joggling board being made at Gilmerton House, the Scottish estate where the plans were supposed to have been drawn. However, in 2010 a joggling board was brought to Gilmerton House by a South Carolinian relative of the current owners who heard the history and felt the joggling board should revisit its roots.

The joggling board also earned itself another name; a courting bench, because it was used to the advantage of astute courting couples under the strict supervision of prim and proper chaperones who insisted they keep a respectful distance. The boy would sit at one end; the girl at the other, and during the course of their conversation they would shift around and the board would bow in the middle, causing them to slip towards the centre until at last they would meet in the middle. Legend has it that no house with a joggling board on the porch would ever have to worry about having unwed daughters.

I want one.

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Posted in Photography, South Carolina, Travel, United States | Tagged , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Travel theme: Laughter

This has been a tragic week. For the reasons my last post has mentioned, I choose to embrace laughter for this week’s travel theme. I hope you will join me. Here’s my favourite laughing donkey carved with a chainsaw near California’s Lost Coast.

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The only sensible thing to do when you are handed an octopus is to laugh. You never know what’s going to happen next in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

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Colourful glee celebrating the Holi Festival.

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What makes you laugh? If you would like to join in (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Laughter
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

I wish you all a year filled with laughter, compassion, kindness and joy.

xxx Ailsa

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. – Mark Twain

Laughter is the closest distance between two people. – Victor Borge

A wonderful thing about true laughter is that it just destroys any kind of system of dividing people. – John Cleese

 

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Laughter as a Political Act

Satire has been around for a long time. In Rome there is a statue called Pasquino that has been used for centuries as a billboard to post anonymous comments in the form of satirical poems, lampooning ruling classes and more often than not, the Pope du Jour. For more about Pasquino see the Congregation of Wits.

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From the plays of Aristophanes and the novels of Mark Twain to television’s The Simpsons and The Colbert Report, satire has been civilization’s constant bedfellow. While it usually serves to entertain, its more valuable purpose is one of social criticism. Charlie Chaplin understood the power of humour and satire when he turned his little Tramp into The Great Dictator. If you can hold a harbinger of terror up to ridicule, if you can mock those who seek to oppress, if you can laugh at the ugliest of human behaviours, conventions, beliefs and traits, you diminish their power to terrorize, control and censor.

The barbaric attack on Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday was the work of savage, primitive, uncivilized zealots. They didn’t represent a race or religion; they represented ignorant, brutal unenlightenment. They wielded Kalashnikovs against people armed with pens and paper. They shot to silence, they shot to instill fear, they shot to destroy freedom, they shot to polarize society, they shot to stifle free speech and they shot to still laughter.  They deserve to be contemptuously laughed out of existence. Remember the boggart in Harry Potter – that nebulous monster lurking in the darkness, waiting to take on the form of your deepest, darkest fear? The only spell to defeat a boggart was one that turned it into an object of derision; something utterly laughable. Remember the spell?

Riddikulus.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Travel theme: Sparkle

The fizz and sparkle of fireworks and champagne is such a thrilling way to launch into a brand new year, but once the fireworks have fizzled out and the champagne has been drunk, January slopes in with its resolutions and responsibilities like a well-practiced party pooper, telling you to clean your room and do your homework; you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your greens. No wonder phrases like ‘January blues’ and ‘January doldrums’ abound. But not this year. Instead, I  have determined to capture a great big handful of that New Year’s sparkle and intend to sprinkle it liberally throughout the rest of my year like mood-enhancing fairy dust. So for this very first travel theme of 2015, with January looking disapprovingly over my shoulder, I am revelling in all things sparkly.

My first thought was this photo of handheld sparklers on Guy Fawkes Night; it is hard to out-sparkle sparklers!

sparklers bonfire lighting old-fashioned

Then I remembered sunlight sparkling on the ice blue waters of Lake Atitlán.

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My recent wander around Waterford Crystal’s showrooms was definitely dazzling, but the piece that made me stop and stare was a giant, glittering crystal globe of the world. Travel and sparkles, what a fantastic combination.

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And to round things out, a deliciously sparkly carnival mask on display in Rome. Ahh, the romance.

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Take that, January! Now, hopefully my sparkles have sparked a few ideas for your own interpretation of this week’s theme. If you would like to join in (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Sparkle
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

Let’s make 2015 the sparkliest year ever.

xxx Ailsa

To the dull mind, nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand… and melting like a snowflake. – Sir Francis Bacon

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 72 Comments

Winterval

Ireland’s Waterford City celebrated its 1,100th birthday last year. Founded by the Vikings in 914AD, the city lays claim to being the oldest area of continuous urban settlement in Ireland. It occupies a strategic spot at the confluence of three rivers which is probably why Strongbow turned up in 1170 determined to conquer the city “by hook or by crook“. In more recent times the city became known worldwide for its exquisitely crafted Waterford Crystal. Waterford Crystal craftsmen created the 2,688 crystals that make up the ball that dropped in Times Square this New Year’s Eve. Waterford is a city steeped in history and well worth a visit at any time of year, but around the Christmas holidays the city gets an extra sprinkle of glamour as the Winterval Festival hits town.

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When I visited, wooden stalls lined the cobbled streets of the city centre; the enticing aromas of mulled wine and gingerbread carrying me along winding, fairy-lit streets. I opted to travel around town on foot, but there were plenty of other transport options available – including horse-drawn “sleigh” rides with horses straight out of that Budweiser ad…

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…and a twinkly Winterval train that ran in a loop between the main locations.

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It was a grey and rainy day, even by Irish standards, when I visited, so I ducked into the Waterford Crystal showrooms for a brief respite from the cold. Even those talented craftsmen at Waterford Crystal seem to have been carried away by the holiday spirit.

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Back out on the streets again there were all kinds of market goodies to buy, eat and drink, ice skating, choirs singing, storytelling sessions and a light show that animated an entire building.

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There was a Ferris Wheel and a Helter Skelter and everyone’s favourite, a Christmas carousel, filled with bright eyes and smiles and joy and wonder.

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Here’s some festive footage from my visit.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Europe, Ireland, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Travel theme: Minimalist

Around this time of year I start looking for ways to simplify and de-clutter everything from what I eat, wear or own to what I photograph. Perhaps it’s a response to the usual excesses of the holiday season or a preparation for the New Year’s resolutions to come, but this week I’ve been leafing through some of the more minimalist of my photos – those with cleaner lines, fewer elements, strong on structure and somehow easier on the eye. My first choice was this partially ploughed field in the Columbia Valley.

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A chink of light through a window on a foggy day in Arches National Park.

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Walking along the rainy streets of West Seattle this flower was a welcoming illumination on an otherwise grey day.

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Watching a glass-blowing demonstration in Tacoma, I was fascinated by the delicate outlines of the glass against the red-hot furnace.

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The top of the spillway at the New Croton Dam in New York; I was mesmerized by the frothiness of the water as it began its descent.

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This cat has got it going on – I felt just like this after Christmas dinner yesterday.

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So if you’re ready to get into a ‘less is more’ mindset, join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome). Here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Minimalist
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

Happy Holidays!

xxx Ailsa

Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something. – Nicholas Burroughs

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , | 92 Comments

Travel theme: Golden

This time of year puts me in mind of all things golden – from fizzy bubbles in glasses of champagne to baubles and tinsel and flickering candlelight. It also reminds me of the amount of money that gets frittered away on gifts that are either unwanted or will get used a handful of times and then forgotten about. Wherever possible I try to gift experiences rather than objects –  theatre tickets, a spa day, a skiing lesson or cookery class. Experiences live in your memory for ever and there’s even a chance you’ll come away with a new skill. Of course, the gift of adventure is my favourite; I would quite happily go without the latest, greatest iteration of phone/computer/tablet in exchange for a hot air balloon ride, wouldn’t you? And while I would be thrilled that you thought enough of me to buy me a diamond necklace, would you mind awfully if I swapped it for a ticket on the Trans Siberian Express? With that in mind, here are some golden moments from past travels.

A stunning exhibit at the Tacoma Museum of Glass.

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A golden pig in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

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Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge en route to the Lost Coast.

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These gorgeous, ruffled, puckered, golden hills of California.

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Last but not least, this cheeky European Goldfinch outside my window in Ireland.

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If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Golden
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze. – Carolyn Gold Heilbrun

You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.  – James M. Barrie

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 112 Comments

Travel theme: Freedom

My last post about the Cadillac Ranch has me yearning for the freedom of the open road once more. To quench the wanderlust that is starting to flood my senses, I have been looking through photos of past travels for shots that embody the spirit of freedom. Of course I began with the open road, this one under the big skies of Montana.

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A different type of freedom now, the freedom of expression, represented by this glorious stack of books at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, CT.

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To escape the hustle and bustle of New York’s concrete jungle, I would head out to the Far Rockaways where the crashing waves released feel-good ions to soothe my soul and free my spirit.

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Last but not least, beautiful wild horses roaming freely on the slopes below Mount Leinster.

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What does freedom mean to you and what makes you feel truly free? If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Freedom
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Just living is not enough; one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower. – Hans Christian Andersen

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 67 Comments