Have you ever – lived your dream?

Wow! Where does the time go? So much for all my promises and intentions to post more regularly on this blog! But I have been putting the time to good use – I promise!

Paris at last - realisation of the first dream!

Paris at last – realisation of the first dream!

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Time does fly by so fast and before we know it, we have put our teens well behind us, some have reared families, some have carved out great careers. But do you ever stop and think about what you would really LOVE to do with your time?

Do you have a dream that you work on in your mind, but it well….. never seems to be quite the right time? Are you sure about that? :-) Or is this an excuse not to put the effort in and make the dream into reality?

I will have to raise my hand and ‘fess up to having had an ‘excuse’ for many years not to pursue two of my dreams. I have always wanted to go to France and be fluent in French. I was lucky to have got a bit of a taste of the language at school, then it slid into the background for many decades. Then family responsibilities interfered and the cost of the trip was a consideration …..

Sunshine, bicycles, lots of time to speak French with the locals :-)

Sunshine, bicycles, lots of time to speak French with the locals :-)

When we finally decided to cycle in France in 2009, it was a realisation of my first dream and a major step towards the second. I will never forget the feeling of thrilled anticipation as my plane landed in Paris that first trip. I had spent some months ‘brushing up’ on the few rusty bits of French I still remembered, but I had still not ever really spoken to someone in French! By the end of the trip, I was no longer too shy to use the language, but I realised I had quite a job ahead of me to become fluent!

Pic-#01

Chateaux – something we do not get in Australia!

I had no idea why France was such an attractive place to me, or why my desire (of all the languages to choose from) to learn only French. Then last year while in South Africa, I found out why. Meeting up with long lost relatives, we all went to visit (for the first time ever) the grave of my great grandfather.

Researching the story of this man’s life was a delight. Born near Calais in France, he had a French mother and a Scottish father. His father died when he was very young, so the French influence in his life was considerable. We don’t know a great deal about him, but we do know that he spend his childhood in France and was fluent in French. He and his English wife moved to South Africa in the early 1900s.

So it has to be genetic, doesn’t it? Not only that, but my second cousin (same great grandfather!) also has a great passion for all things French. And we had not ever met or spoken to each other before my trip to South Africa! She has been to France many times and returns often. I am convinced she and I each have a dominant ‘French-gene’.

Heaven is - waiting for a train at French station!

Heaven is – waiting for a train at French station!

So, my new year’s resolution this year, was to get serious about developing my capability to speak French. And that is what I have been doing. With all the new apps and online tools that are around now, it has been a lot easier to study than ever before. Who knows, one day I may be able to make a pilgrimage to the place where my G-Grandfather was born and grew up, and may find some descendants of his mother’s family still in the area. What a thrill, to be able to speak to them with using reasonably good French!

So what about you? What are you going to do (today) to start realising your dreams?

Posted in Europe & UK, France, Have you ever..., Musings, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Capturing and sharing photo-stories

Have you ever had to sit through someone’s slide night and feign interest in their last trip to wherever? Images one to 20 were great, 20 – 40 were getting a little tedious, and by number 50, someone was making noises about coffee?

In this wonderful digital age, when taking photos is so easy and cheap, it is also easy to snap away  and end up with thousands of photos from the last trip to wherever. I am particularly bad at this, and blogging does not help, because I see something and think that there may be story in that – click! I madly catalogue and tag, and also delete, but still, I have so many photos. And sometimes, I wonder why I keep so many, because it takes a lot of time to organise them.

Hand-built railway bridge

Hand-built railway bridge. England 2010

Yesterday, someone showed me a fascinating ebook. It held my attention to the last page and was chock full of stories of travel and adventure, mostly told with images, with very few words.

It is a cycling book, but for the non-cyclists amongst you, please do not let this put you off, because the story telling technique could be used by anyone! The authors have included only one or two photos from each country they have visited. Each photo has been carefully selected because it tells a story or gave some insight into the country. Because the authors were cycling, their bikes formed a common theme throughout both books. Having said that, not every photo had a bicycle featured, it was very well put together.

Tough climb with a loaded bike. England 2010

Tough ‘climb’ with a loaded bike. England 2010

We are going to attempt to select our most favourite two photos from each of our trips and compile them into a similar book. I have already looked at many of my photos and few tell a story – most are just images. So here is a challenge for anyone reading this post, who has also been somewhere or seen something special – why not compile your very, very best ‘photo-stories’ into a series of blog posts, or even an ebook?

The photos should ideally tell a story without needing any words other than a place, date and maybe a short paragraph. Perhaps you could post the best 5 or 6 for each topic and ask your readers which one(s) they think tell your story best. Maybe for your next trip, like me, you could look out for opportunities to take a photo-story, instead of just a photo!

If you would like to experience the book which I so enjoyed, you will be able to download it from Bicycling Around The World.

Posted in Favourite things, Odds & ends, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Dancing on the wild side!

I recently read a beautiful post titled “Wanna dance?”

What followed was a wonderful recount of a pause in time – to simply soak up the present and enjoy the beauty that nature had on offer. Yet the main feature of the post was not a peaceful event at all! In a modern world where ‘busy’ reigns supreme, nature too, can be very busy!

Seldom stopping still for a second, changing shape, building up, scattering away to nothing, clouds are the epitome of busy-ness.

I wanted to respond to this post with a recount of something I had seen a few weeks ago, but could not capture on camera. We had an unexpected sudden summer storm. It forced its way along the landscape with a hint of anger, a promise of drama, and teased with an occasional large raindrop. The wind tore the clouds apart and forced them together again – big, dark and ominous. On the ground, the trees swayed furiously as they were blown about in the unpredictable winds. What a dance that was!

Clouds starting to build up

Clouds starting to build up

Then last week, we had a repeat performance! A bit further away, this time, so that I could get the photos I needed to respond to Peregrination‘s post! The clouds were amazing and as the storm got darker and the wind blew harder, it was stunning. There was so much lighting, which went on until well after it was dark. Each flash lit up the sky and the ground as if it was day. Incredible!

Flash of lightning in a brooding sky

Flash of lightning in a brooding sky

Nature dancing one of her unpredictable, wonderful, exhilarating, wild – flashdances!

Posted in Favourite things, Image Gallery | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #166


Do you want to write too? Click below:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week166/

This week’s prompt is … checking in proved to be… +100 words

100wcgu-72

Night ride

She sighed.

It was hot and the platform was crowded – the last train to Lyon was delayed. The announcement in French had been too fast for her to understand.

At midnight, she pushed her bicycle back into the waiting room.

Apparently the service had been cancelled.

She approached the tired man dealing with annoyed travellers. He looked up and handed her a ticket.

“The train will stop for you. There are no seats, but you will manage”.

Lyon was deserted as she cycled to the hotel.

Unexpectedly, checking in at 3am proved to be the easiest part of the journey.

—————————————

I promised a fellow blogger I would attempt this challenge. So here it is Tess!

For anyone who is interested in some beautifully written 100 word stories, check out Tess’ blog “How the cookie crumbles“.

Posted in France, Travel, Weekly challenges | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Do you need a gun for your mailbox?

Ned Kelly mailbox 1

Ned Kelly mailbox 1

Strange and bizarre it may seem, but two of our latest mailboxes have guns!

Not real guns of course, but if one is to have Ned Kelly standing at your gate, he would look a bit out of place without his gun!

Ned Kelly was an infamous bushranger who used to frequent the mountain ranges in northern Victoria in Australia. A much feared highwayman and murderer in his time, he was known to all by his rather bizarre armour.

Ned Kelly (image from Wikipedia)

Ned Kelly (image from Wikipedia)

Getting about with the equivalent of a tin can on his head, he managed to frighten a lot of people as he went about his life of crime.

Ultimately, the law caught up with him and he met his end while incarcerated in a gaol. For more information on Ned and his life of crime, Wikipedia has some interesting facts.

Ned Kelly mailbox 2

Ned Kelly mailbox 2

Ned Kelly mailbox 3

Ned Kelly mailbox 3

A rather odd person to have as a national ‘hero’, Kelly was famous well before he died and his fame has not diminished over time. The fascination with this man and his amazing life is evident in these photos – some of his more modern fans have their own Ned Kelly mailboxes! These three different versions were spotted in the same district (nowhere near where he lived!), all on the same trip.

Would you create a mailbox which celebrated a villain or do you think it would be rather bad taste?

The makers of these mailboxes have done a great job. There is no doubt that they are all outstanding Ned Kelly tributes!

Do you know of any unusual or quirky mailboxes? How about posting an article about them and adding them to our collection. You will find all the others listed on the Amazing Mailbox Quest main page and some instructions on how to link your post to the collection.

Posted in Amazing Mailbox Quest, Travel | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Laughing at ourselves!

My Dad is awesome. And he has the most amazing sense of humour!

Just a Scottish laddie!

Just a Scottish laddie!

I was recently sorting out some old photos for him and came across this little gem. It was so perfect for Ailsa’s travel challenge: Laughter!

And it seems that he is not the only one who gets up to these silly antics :-) 
This photo was taken before the age of digital photos, on my first trip to England. I can still remember this lovely pub in Shere.

Now I'm in trouble!

Now I’m in trouble!


They tell us that laughter is the best medicine for all ailments. What makes you REALLY laugh? Have you laughed like that lately?
Perhaps it should be on everyone’s New Year’s resolution list – I resolve to have one really good laugh each week!!! :lol:

Posted in Weekly challenges | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Have you ever…. had issues with photo sizes?

I live in an area on the edge of a medium sized city, where many ‘in town’ inhabitants have good access to the internet. However, despite many political promises, it seems that our district is stuck with inadequate online capability and will be for some time.

Those of you who have ‘unlimited’ internet upload and download access – and more critically, have FAST internet, please know that I am extremely jealous :-)

Which brings me to the subject of this post. I am interested to know how many bloggers cut down the size of their photos before uploading them to their blog? I have just tried to upload a 3.5MB image to my WordPress site and it uploaded with no problems, however, it took a long time. Most of the images I use on my blogs are approximately 100kb in size, which seems to be quite suitable for internet viewing. Has anyone had any issues with the quality of the images on my posts?

98 kB image (500 x 375 pixels)

98 kB image (500 x 375 pixels)

228 kB image (800 x 600 pixels)

228 kB image (800 x 600 pixels)

If I had to upload all my photos at full size, it would take forever and I am sure I would be cursed by readers who similarly, have slow download rates. I have frequently found wonderful blog sites which I would love to follow, but due to the size and quantity of the photos on each post, I simply gave up.

I have recently found some software which watermarks and downsizes (to a user defined size) images rather nicely (“Photosizer”, by Giant Moose). This will save me quite a bit of time, as I previously had to do each step individually.

What does everyone else do/use? And if you don’t downsize your images, do you limit the quantity, bearing in mind that some of us internet users have issues with large downloads and you may be turning away potential followers? Do you post images directly from your phone or tablet without resizing?

I have never used a poll before, but it would be fun and interesting to see how everyone approaches their image management.

Posted in Have you ever..., Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments