Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I have to thank Maht of The Moon Topples for running phoctober. I don’t think he can ever possibly imagine just how much phoctober has given me. It has, for one, given me a huge boost in getting back into photography, something I used to love but simply gave up on when development costs became too high. And although I’ve dabbled a little since getting my new camera there hasn’t really been much aim or objective to that playing around. Phoctober, however, gave me the purpose that’s been missing. And in going out and exploring and finding things to photograph, I’ve learned to see again, as it were. Photography, I remembered, makes us look at the world with fresh, observant eyes – everything becomes an opportunity to find the beauty or the dramatic not just in the wonder of the natural landscape and changing seasons but in the ordinary and often the overlooked. I find myself driving and walking around looking at all sorts of things and thinking “Ooh! That would make a great shot!” Or “Yes, that could be the start of a brilliant series!” Or, “There is a chance for some photojournalism, a story to tell, that must be told.” But more than that, Maht has given me the opportunity for something else; to look at my own surroundings and realize how incredibly blessed I am to live amidst such amazing beauty. And in doing so, I’ve come to gain some balance to my perspective of the country I live in. Yes, of course the crime and the violence and the corruption, the greed and the poverty and the AIDS pandemic are all still here (I have taken shots that reveal some of those aspects too). Yes, the insecurity and irony of living here remains – but, and this has been critical, it has been given symmetry, been equalized by the sheer beauty that is this land. I remember long ago saying that if South Africa could resolve its people problems this would indeed be paradise. Perhaps once it was the original garden of Eden - given that it is said to be the cradle of mankind as homo sapiens and humanity spluttered and bumbled its way into being.
And so, Maht, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you’ve given me in hosting phoctober. And yes, fellow bloggers, this means I will probably continue to post photographs on my blog and on Flickr - though perhaps with less intensity!
And so to the final phoctober post… Continuing the theme of beauty, I thought I might show you my more immediate surroundings. Now try not to be too envious when I tell you that these shots were taken at a location which is but a five minute drive from my doorstep… Yes, this is what I live amongst, and you’re right, I am indeed very blessed – both to be able to “see” it and enjoy it!
And a special note to Verilion who seems concerned about these things - yes, the wine is very good! Come along and try some, one day.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
There is something evocative, I find, about doorways and windows and shop façades…the prospect of a glimpse into another (or another’s) world. I remember when I first lived in the UK gazing in wonder at the brightly lit windows at Christmas time…trees and tinsel sparkling behind the glass, families gathered together, manikins dressed up doing Santa’s work in faux snow – it was like looking in on a story. No, it wasn’t “like” – it was looking in - on multiple stories. I remember too, walking along the street on the Ile de la Cité in
And so, continuing the phoctober theme, some glimpses through doorways, of windows and façades all rich with a promise of story… The photos, once again, were taken in that little corner of
Sunday, October 28, 2007
These are scenes of pavement cafes and restaurants along the main street of Franschhoek - called Huguenot Street. If they look a little empty it's because most had finished munching - it was about three in the afternoon and a Thursday. On the weekend, if you don't make a reservation, the chances of finding lunch anywhere are slim and diners are known to linger until four in the afternoon! It's that popular. We had lunch at La Petite Ferme, just a little way out the village, perched on the mountainside looking out over the valley. No photographs of the sublime views, I'm afraid, as elderly ladies, I've learned, like to eat and run. Time is, I suspect, too short to linger...
The weekend fun continues... Sameera has very kindly given me a "Thoughtful Blog Reader" award. Thank you, Sameera!
She said, "I felt an award should be there to celebrate not the writers alone, but the readers as well. Reading is not a passive process as most people think it to be; it takes great depth ofmind to understand the true essence of what the writer wants to convey". The award is "for those people who have constantly motivated me with their opinions till now, each in their unique way."
As with all bloggy awards, the idea is to pass this on. I, however, have a slight problem with this... I know there are many who read my blog and think about what I've said but they don't leave comments, which means I don't really know who my most thoughtful readers might be. So, here's what I'll do - I'm passing this award on to each and every one of you who reads my blog. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, thank you to those who add a few words and thank you to all the readers of this blog for sharing my blogging journey with me. This one is for all of you. Please put the award up on your blog and please, in keeping with the spirit of the award, pass it on.
And now.... THE BREAKING NEWS!!!
We have babies...!!! Yes, spring is definitely here! The guinea fowl, who've been displaying the most bizarre mating behaviour are finally starting to see the er... fruits of their um... labour...
This particular family of guinea fowl have nested in my neighbour's garden and the shots are taken kneeling on the composter, hanging over the garden wall with a 300mm zoom lens! I'm guessing the chicks must be about a week old. In another two weeks or so they should be big enough to flutter and flap their way over the six foot wall and into our garden where there's always a feast waiting.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
For now, we need to get on with phoctober and on one day out I managed to get some half-decent shots in a small village about an hour's drive from Cape Town. Called Franschhoek, which literally means "French Corner", the village is an absolute delight and thusly generally overrun by tourists. Additionally, most of the farms - all vineyards - in the area have been bought by wealthy Germans, French and a few others besides. Unsurprisingly, as the village has come to life, property prices have skyrocketed... But it's not all "bad". Franschhoek boasts some of the best restaurants in the country and generally, it is very laidback and extremely beautiful - even if it does have a small element of the chi-chi about it with a preponderance of beauty spas and restaurants that might seriously dent all but a tourist's pocket. (Your money is worth considerably more than ours...)
Franschhoek was originally settled in 1688 by pioneering French Huguenots who fled their homeland when protestantism was outlawed - when the Edict of Nantes was revoked. The Dutch government of the time gave many of the families land in what was then known as Oliphants Hoek - Elephant Corner (named so because of the herds of elephant which roamed there). Farms such as La Motte, La Cotte, Cabriere, Provence, Chamonix, Dieu Donne and La Dauphine were among the first established. Most still retain their original farm houses and have grown into renowned wineries. The French heritage no doubt also goes a long way to explaining the superb food to be found in and around the village.
Take a look at either of these two websites (Franschhoek.org or Franschhoek.co.za) if you want to know more about a truly lovely area which I'm afraid my hastily snapped shots simply don't do justice to. Given that I feel the need to go out and do better, I suspect I'll be gadding off there again in the not too distant future - after all, no one can argue with the prospect of a good day out with beautiful scenery and fine food and wine! As we always say when we go there, "Oh shucks, another hellish day in Africa..."
Since I'm enjoying phoctober so much, I thought I'd run the shots over a few days - if you'd like to see them - would you? I thought I might do pavement cafes, shops, town vistas, scenes and almost aerial landscapes - i.e. shot from the window of a speeding car! That will no doubt take us into November and I'm not sure what I'll have to call phoctober then! Any suggestions? Photember? Novephoto?
But let's get on with some initial views - we'll step through the door and see where we go...
The NGK developed amongst the Boers - the people of the Afrikaner nation, who included Dutch, French, German, Scottish and other Europeans. The religion is fundamentally Calvinist and given the isolation of these settlers they shut out influences of the Enlightenment. Plantation slavery was often seen as a form of evangelism and ultimately the Dutch Reformed religion came to be closely associated with apartheid policies as the religion became increasingly nationalised. You can read more here.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I yearned for you
and you were there
I called out to you
and you came to me
I danced with you
in that place inbetween
We held each other close
and my soul sang
Merged with you
the universal energy surged
and joy flooded my being
Joined and separated
now joined again
you are me
and I am you
that’s really all there is to it
Phoctober is proving to be sooo much fun!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
These shots were taken when we went off to see the whales in Hermanus a couple of weeks ago. As we sat munching lunch at a street side restaurant, these guys struck up - what a pleasure!