Tread softly

This week, Ailsa asks us to share images which fit the theme, ‘Soft’.  I have never touched a cloud, but they always look to me, as soft as a pillow. When I was thinking of clouds and sky, the beautiful poem, “The Cloths of Heaven,” by W.B. Yeats, came into my mind. It was set to music, by the American composer Z. Randall Stroope and I spent many hours practising it, when I used to take singing lessons.

“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”  ~W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

This soft little angel is my 3-year-old granddaughter. 🙂

To see Ailsa’s lovely soft images, and other entries for the theme, click here.

Can you believe I was once a toad?

I was wondering the other evening, how I ever managed to pluck up the courage to play the piano in public. As a child, when mom’s friends came to visit, and she wanted me to perform my simple little pieces for them, I was frozen with fear. She insisted however, and I obliged, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it.

Now acting was a different kettle of fish altogether. My earliest memory of being in a school production of sorts was when I was very young, maybe only eight. Our class put on a short play, in which we all had to dress up as children from different countries. We could choose which country, and as my Mom possessed a beautiful blue silk dressing gown with a silver dragon embroidered all the way down the back, I went as a Chinese person. My hair was tightly braided in a long plait, but being very blonde, I guess I didn’t look very Chinese. The only line I had to say was, “Velly nice party,” which I had practised ad infinitum. Mom, having lived in Hong Kong for a few years, taught me how to say it with a Chinese accent. 🙂 I was in my element when the parents and teachers applauded at the end.

My real “stage debut” came when in my last year at junior school, we did a production of “Toad of Toad Hall,” a play adapted from A.A. Milne’s “The Wind in the Willows.” I was Toad, the wealthiest character, and owner of Toad Hall. Although good-natured, Toad is impulsive and conceited, and is eventually imprisoned for theft, dangerous driving and impertinence to the rural police. He gets a twenty year jail sentence for stealing a car, and escapes disguised as a washerwoman. I had a quick change in the wings and donned an over-sized flowery dress with a lace cap on top of my toad head. Maybe this is where my love of beautiful cars, and my expertise as a laundry lady and ironer of note, stem from, although I do draw the line at wearing flowery dresses and lace caps. 🙂

I can vividly remember my costume for the play. A pair of tights, a blouse, and very large bloomers, all dyed a brilliant emerald-green, in a large saucepan on mom’s hob. The bloomers were stuffed with newspaper, and I had a cushion tucked under my blouse and into the waistband of the tights, which as you can imagine, was extremely uncomfortable. To top this creation, was a huge papier-mâché toad’s head, which fitted non too neatly over mine. It had holes for my eyes and also for my mouth, and was most cumbersome and difficult to keep straight, so I spent most of the play pulling and pushing it into position. The play was presented in the church hall over the main road from the school, and on the day, our teacher got the lollipop stick, and stopped the traffic whilst I waddled across in all my greenery. I bet those motorists had a giggle, but I was well disguised and too intent on not losing my head, to notice. I loved every uncomfortable minute of the performance.

This starring role did whet my appetite for the stage, and at Grammar school, where a production of Gilbert & Sullivan was a yearly event, I was an eager member of the chorus, along with my sister who went on to study singing and ended up in the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. I think we just loved dressing up in those old-fashioned long dresses, and singing our hearts out. It was so much fun, and I especially enjoyed the applause and the curtain calls. Here is an ancient Polaroid photo of me in “Trial by Jury.” I am the 5th from the right in the front.

The next school play I took part in, was when my son was at junior school. The parents put on a 1949 one-act play called “The Crimson Coconut” by Ian Hay. I was a blonde Russian spy and the only line I can remember having to say was, “Eet iss ze crimzon coconut.” The rest of the time, I just had to stand around looking blonde and mysterious. I got shot at the end of the play, and of course had to fall down. Never having been taught how to die painlessly, I would thump down on the wooden stage, always landing on my left hip bone. Thinking back, I’m wondering if that’s why, a year later when I had a genuine fall and landed on the sharp corner of a concrete kerb, my femur snapped. Thankfully it healed with no lasting effects. I think that sometimes participating in school productions can have a profound influence on the rest of your life. For example, I saw when looking at my school site on Google, that one of the guys who sang in the Gilbert & Sullivan with me, went on to become an internationally acclaimed operatic bass singer, and was awarded the CBE. My sister also sang with The D’Oyly Carte Opera and did TV and stage work in England.

I ended up as a school singing teacher, giving several ‘performances’ a day in front of my young captive audience. This also gave me the courage to play piano in public at various venues around Johannesburg,  and to play the church organ for many weddings and funerals. You only get one shot at weddings and funerals, so you have to get it right the first time. 🙂  I’m sure that being encouraged to perform in front of others at school, really helps to build a child’s confidence. What school experiences have influenced your life as an adult?

I hope my stories have given you a few smiles. Wishing you all a great weekend.

Thursday’s Windows – week 8

Every Thursday, Sandra Conner of the “By the Book” blog, invites us to share our favourite photos of windows.

This week, I’ve chosen the beautiful rose window in the west end of the ‘Santa Maria del Mar’ church in Barcelona. This imposing example of Catalan Gothic architecture, was built between 1323 and 1389. In 1428, the original rose window was destroyed in an earthquake, and it was replaced by this one in 1460.

Now for something completely different. 😉

We are doing some alterations here, and hubby decided to start on the destruction a couple of days ago, so with hammer and other various tools, he set about wrecking this window. Thankfully I don’t know how to use such instruments, or he might have enlisted my help.

He made a pretty thorough job of removing that window.

Thankfully, he had a plan in mind, and in no time at all, had installed a pair of French patio doors.

Still lots more work to do, as he’s going to pull out all the kitchen cupboards next. Oh bliss!! 😆

To see more Thursday’s windows, you can visit Sandra’s post here.

Travel theme: Bright

Ailsa has challenged us to come up with some really bright photos this week, in contrast to the darker image of Halloween last week. Her first pic is of vivid, cheeky hummingbirds, so not to be outdone, here is the brightest and cheekiest little bird I’ve ever come across. He posed for me when we were visiting the Kuranda Birdworld in Cairns.

In the downtown Chinatown district of Singapore, we came across the amazing Sri Mariamman Temple. This richly embellished Hindu temple is a national monument, and one of the main tourist attractions. It was a cloudy day, so doesn’t look so bright in the photo, but can you imagine how it must gleam in bright sunlight?

The ‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’ in Bangkok is so brightly and ornately decorated.

The Reclining Buddha was crafted to celebrate King Rama III’s restoration (1824 – 51). At 150 ft (46 m) long and 49 ft (15 m) high, it is the largest Buddha image in Thailand. It’s totally covered in gold leaf, and the eyes and soles of the feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

The temple’s official name is ‘Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangklaram Ratchaworamahawihan’; quite a mouthful, so it’s known as ‘Wat Pho’, which rolls off the tongue much more easily. 🙂

See how big these brightly painted statues are. I look like a little pixie down at the bottom. 🙂

I think this temple complex was the brightest and blingiest place I’ve ever visited.

Interestingly, Wat Pho, is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, and courses are offered at a school just outside the temple complex.

To see more entries for Ailsa’s bright theme, just click here.







Wonderful Machu Picchu for Jake’s theme

Jake’s Sunday Post challenge this week, is ‘Wonderful’, and he has shown us some of his own wonderful images.

I asked myself, “What is the most wonderful place I’ve ever visited?” and Machu Picchu immediately sprang to mind. I have it as my blog background, but just in case you never noticed, here it is again.

I’d heard and read about it, but nothing could have prepared me for actually seeing this most sacred place of the Incas, in real life. It has such a peace and quiet about it, that you just want to stand and breath it in, and an aura of mystique which I’ve never felt before, even when I visited the pyramids of Egypt.

I don’t think it’s possible to take a mediocre photo of this most photogenic of places,

even when hiding from the heat of the midday sun, under one of the thatched shelters there.

For more details and pics of my most wonderful trip ever, you can click here.

To see other bloggers’ interpretations of the theme, visit Jake’s wonderful Sunday post.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

This week’s WordPress photo challenge, ask us to share a photo that means “Geometry to us.

Geometry is found everywhere; in art, architecture, engineering, robotics, astronomy, sculptures, space, nature, sports, machines, cars, and almost everything you see, so the options for this photo challenge were many.

At first I thought that I would share a pic of our car park at the golf club. It’s really inspiring and interesting. 😆

Then I noticed that the keys on my piano, are also in a  geometric sequence.

However, I scrapped both these ideas, in favour of something far more beautiful and exciting. This is the facade of the Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, in Andalusia, Spain, better known as Seville Cathedral. It’s the largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest church in the world. Its other claim to fame, is that it is the burial place of Christopher Columbus.

The bell tower, known as The Giralda, is 150m high, and is the city’s best known landmark.

This cathedral was built to demonstrate the city’s wealth, and according to oral tradition, the church council, when deciding to build it, said, ““Let us build a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we we’re mad”. Construction began in 1402, and continued until at least 1903, due to various mishaps, such as the collapse of the dome, which happened on two occasions. first in 1511, and again because of earthquake damage in 1888.

It certainly is a massive structure, which has geometrical features too numerous to count, and just look, a geometric pedestrian crossing has even managed to creep into the picture. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my entry for the challenge. To see more interpretations, just click here.

CBBH Photo Challenge: Blue

Marianne of ‘East of Malaga’ blog, has challenged us to post photos of something blue.

I think the most common sightings of this beautiful colour, are when we look at the sky and the ocean. Many of my travel photos show beautiful blue water, so that is what I have chosen. If you get a bit of blue sky thrown in, then that’s an added bonus. 🙂

“Blue color is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight.” — John Ruskin

The Great Barrier Reef, off the east coast of Australia is one of the wonders of the natural world.

Snorkelling in the Coral Sea, was an amazing experience.

The deep blue of the Pacific Ocean, viewed from the island of O’ahu in Hawaii.

Flying in to the island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia; so many different shades of blue.

In the Bahamas, the turquoise blue of the Caribbean is matchless.

The sparkling, icy blue of Lake Titicaca, surrounded by the snow-capped Andes mountain range.

The greeny blue waters of San Francisco Bay.

The warm waters of the Andaman Sea in Phuket.

Last but not least, is the Atlantic Ocean. This photo was sent to me by my son, from Bermuda, a place I have yet to visit.

So many blues, so little time.

To view more shades of this beautiful colour, pop over to Marianne’s post.

Here are links to two blogs which I follow. Please go and have a look at them, they’re well worth a visit.

It’s always fun to visit Amy at “The world is a book.”

If it’s African wildlife you want to see, then Bulldog’s blog is the place to be. That rhymes so nicely, doesn’t it? 🙂






The odd couple

A friend sent me this video today. It’s so beautiful that I had to share it.

A goose named Maria.…..

I watched it a few times, and then into my head popped that wonderful song from West Side Story.

“Maria, I just met a goose named Maria.” 😀

PS:  Please can some kind soul tell me how to put the video in so that it shows the youtube front page rather than just the url? According to the instruction I read on WordPress, it’s supposed to come up automatically. Am I being blonde again?

Thursday’s Windows – Week 7

It’s strange how one can pass by something beautiful, almost every day, without really seeing, or noticing it. Yesterday, as I was just about to swipe my access card, at the gym here, I looked at the door I was about to enter, and thought, “How gorgeous is that!” The  three glass panes are so lovely. I passed my iPhone to hubby, as he was much more likely to get the photo straight, so the reflection which you see is his.

I love this gym. There’s no-one there under fifty, and some of the people may even be in their eighties, but they are all having fun, keeping fit, and socialising like crazy. There was a Zumba class going on in one of the studios, several tennis games in progress just across the way, and a steady stream of golf carts passing the window. The best bit for me, was when the manager called across, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it, because you’re looking great.”  What an energy booster! 🙂

To see more Thursday’s windows, visit Sandra’s blog.