Archives for posts with tag: Holidays

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On our backpacking holiday, we allowed ourselves one luxury item each. Mine was my camera and my son, Nicholas, brought Brick. An intrepid Lego man who experienced Italy from a new perspective – from BIG pizzas to the scary heights at the Duomo. Brick borrowed my Vespa on the Spanish Steps and peeked into Vesuvius – luckily he wasn’t lost, dropped or stolen on his travels.

I enjoyed taking my own photos of Brick – a quirky take on Italy and Nicholas loved creating Brick’s blog – go visit it on



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What a pleasure to visit Florence which made a change from the dynamic but run-down southern Italy. We stayed at the same youth hostel that I stayed at 18 years ago as a student. Either it had grown shabbier or I had grown up – but it was clean and safe and we enjoyed the faded glamour of an 15th-century villa. The girls made friends with the carved elephant banisters which they named ‘Elmer and Ellie of Florence’. I was delighted to see the Duomo which appeared like a dramatic black and white ink drawing and I loved its clean, sharp lines which contrasted with the colour and excitement in Florence whether it was the carousel, the ice-creams or the exuberant albeit slightly sickly pastries. It was fantastic to climb the 463 stairs to the top of the Duomo: its dome is made of two ‘skins’ (or domes) and you climb in a narrow space between the two domes to spectacular views.

Florence was our final destination before heading home after our adventurous holiday with many memories to process.

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We caught a train down to southern Italy which was  very run down and the train station looked a bit like Pompeii. Vesuvius, however, surpassed all expectations as there is something very raw and primeval about climbing a volcano and looking into its crater. We travelled up in army-like jeeps and then climbed the last 30 minutes to see spectacular views with the whiff of sulphur and hint of danger. The children kept wondering if it would erupt but we reassured them that it was monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there was an evacuation plan for the area. (Most of the 800 thousand inhabitants don’t know the plan and without a great infrastructure how it would work in reality is debatable). I certainly wouldn’t live permanently under a live volcano!

Pompeii was interesting to visit as it was something I had always longed to do but it was so very hot and dry that we all wilted. All the artifacts are in the Naples Museum, so you only have half the story when walking around the site. I liked the fact that there are stepping-stones across the road so that when the roads were sluiced down of debris, the citizens could still cross without wetting their feet. You can also see the ruts between the stone made by the waggons and their width set our current day railroad gauge. Twinkling quartz stones set into the road acted as cat’s eyes. It was certainly a very advanced city.

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August holidays: and we went backpacking with the children to Italy, taking only what we could carry in our rucksacks we headed off for Rome, the Bay of Naples and Florence.

I’ve a kaleidoscope of impressions of age, grandness and decay. The English romantics went to see Rome’s glorious decay in the eighteenth century and 300 years later, it has progressed further. It was a shock to wander out of our apartment and look down our street to see mammoth pillars that are 2000 years old at The Forum and to marvel at how enormous they actually are. We rushed off to see the Sistine Chapel suitably attired as men, women and children have to cover their knees and shoulders. It was very sweet to see Isabel, aged 8, in one of my skirts. As we stood in the queue being harassed by touts, the realisation hit us that it really was a four-hour wait in the baking sun. It was a bitter pill to accept but I had to admit defeat and that I wouldn’t be able to see Michelangelo’s paintings. Water fountains are situated through the city and run with fresh water, courtesy of the Romans, so we cooled down and found a street cafe to eat delicious pizza which brought back the sense of contentment. I gloried in the colours and drama, graffiti and mess of this crazy city although Isabel took one look at the Colosseum and dismissed it, “It’s broken.”

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First day of the holidays - 'suping' in Sweden (surf upright)

First day of the holidays – ‘SUP’ in Sweden (surf upright)

Early morning swims

Early morning swims

Canoeing, exploring and picnics

Canoeing, exploring and picnics

A dream treehouse with pulley system to kitchen

A dream treehouse with a pulley system to the kitchen



An arty sessions

An arty session with Granny Lin

We have recently returned from a fantastic visit to Sweden to see my brother, Anna and their children after three long years. It had been such a hectic and emotional time with the end of the school year and when we got there we could stop, breathe and unwind. When my children woke up early they crept out into the dappled sunlight to find a dream treehouse built by Andy for his girls. They climbed up and explored. Elva woke up and called out, “Papa, papa there are people in my treehouse.” “They are your cousins!” Nomi who is only three then asked plaintively, “Papa, papa where are MY cousins?” The children reunited and we all relaxed in beautiful Sweden enjoying the incredible sense of clear blue skies, open horizons, outdoor living and our wonderful family.

window1 window2Looking in surreptitiously, looking out expectantly – windows act as the boundaries between worlds. I walked into a darkened apartment in Bruges where the light glowed greenly from the windows and when they were flung open I delighted in the beauty and sounds of bells from a medieval city.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Each week WordPress provides a new photographic theme for creative inspiration. We take photographs based on our interpretation of the theme, and post them on our blogs anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme is announced.

souvenir1 souvenir2 souvenir3 souvenir4What would a holiday be without a souvenir? You can buy a lock and leave it at the Love Bridge in Paris (Pont Des Arts) and of course you throw away the key into The Seine to symbolise your love lasting forever. You can buy a clog from Amsterdam – there were barrelfuls of these – or you can buy a Manneken Pis from Brussels in any size and any colour! We couldn’t help placing ‘Brick’ next them. Brick is a Lego man who travelled around Europe with us and has his own dedicated blog.

Street furniture and shop windows interest me and I loved all the signage on the brick wall especially the reminder to be quiet! It was very quiet when I took the photo of Foss Street except for the joyous choruses from the blue chapel which sounded so welcoming and uplifting. The shop window of Signature may well be the inspiration for my son’s new bedroom décor as nautical flags and a lime green feature wall are acceptable to both of us.

Our family holiday to Dartmouth to celebrate my parents’ Ruby Anniversary was an outstanding success and we left with happy memories.

The weather was grim on one morning but that is par for the course when holidaying in England. I wondered if it was worth dragging myself from bed to photograph a wet Dartmouth but I was rewarded by seeing the sun shimmer through the rain transforming the views to duotone. I enjoyed revisiting the fleet of yellow boats on a rain-pocked river which remind me of shiny plastic bath toys. And I had the fun of photographing the incredible view from our house in morning light and at night.

I have designed a card based on the artwork ‘Eighty Years Later’. I love its nostalgia of happy beach holidays in childhood when simpler things gave great satisfaction. The back describes my grandmother’s memories of her family holidays. Cards retail at £2.00 (plus p+p if required)

The artwork is complete save for a trip to the framers.
“Father had one week of holiday a year at the beginning of August and as a family we would go to West Bay each day to camp in our tent. Every day, Mother packed delicious food for the day and we would set off for our destination, 1½ miles away. Father cycled while Mother and we four girls could choose to walk or catch the bus. If we walked, we had enough money to buy chocolate, which we made last by eating one square of chocolate per field. Father spent time fishing on his boat and even taught us to swim in the harbour. Our expectations were different then and yet not so much has changed. Children still love the sun, the sand and frolicking on the beach. The sounds of seagulls, waves and excited high-pitched voices are the same.”

Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

Detail - It is hard to see on screen but I love the way the photos melt and blur into the paper

Detail of 'Eighty Years Later'

I have glued most of the images and textures onto the artwork although I will add a few at the end if required. The next stage was to add the text. For the heading I used my letterpress wood type and after a little practice, I tackled the real thing praying I wouldn’t make a spelling mistake. I used coloured ink and allowed the colours to blend, keeping a palette of blues, greys and lilac and I will live with the slightly wobbly letters. For the main body of text I considered using a computer font and rubbing it on using artists’ thinners. In the end with encouragement from Lin Kerr, I bit the bullet and wrote in my own ‘fair’ hand. I took the view that this isn’t a computer generated image and what seems like imperfection provides the character. Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

Placing the first layer (feather monoprint) and preparing the photographic images

Sticking the first layer (feather monoprint) and preparing the photographic images

I have printed the photographic images onto Chinese rice paper using a laser printer – and almost destroying my printer as the rice paper is soft and not designed to be fed through it. So that the ink won’t dissolve when glue is applied, the images need to be fixed by spraying layers of Lascaux. I started gluing layers onto the base paper working very calmly and slowly when no children were around. As soon as you apply glue to the paper it becomes like wet tissue paper, is very difficult to handle and almost impossible to reposition, so learn to love the odd crease. I found that photographic images can’t be realigned at all because the ink starts to seep through even though I used fixative. I worked slowly but as efficiently as possible and then put it aside to dry. Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

Working at my desk on a rough composition

Time to stop conceptualising and start designing. To create original art works, I use a combination of designing on the computer to create a rough composition but nothing beats printing out the components and playing with them on a sheet of paper. I will make use of monoprint textures of nets and feathers. Feathers create a delicate texture and are also reminiscent of the flotsam and jetsam found on the beach. Rope and net-making was one of the chief industries of Bridport and in fact my grandmother’s first job was in Gundry’s office at the age of 14. Gundry still supply ropes, nets and twine and are still based in Bridport. I am also using holiday photos (then and now) printed onto Chinese rice paper which softens and dissolves the image.

To find out more about holidays in the 1920s I read a book called ‘Just a line from West Bay’ which is a collection of post cards of West Bay. I learnt that a Fishermen’s Regatta had been revived in 1922 which provided entertainment with its booths and trade stands. There were water polo matches and it was quite normal to swim in the harbour, in fact part of it was enclosed for a swimming club. There would have been musical concerts and visits to tea rooms but I know that my granny’s family most likely enjoyed picnics and walks. The children would do much the same things as we do today – paddle in the water, catch crabs, make sand castles, bury their feet in the sand and collect pebbles. Did they whine a little if they were chilly? I understand that my great-grandmother was a battle-axe so probably not!

I wanted to use photos from the book and after contacting the author, I realised that he was one of the experts on The Antique Road Show – Paul Atterbury. I really appreciated his prompt email saying that it would be fine to use the images and did I know he had also written a large coffee table book called ‘On Holiday’? I immediately ordered it and am soaking in its nostalgic images.

Researching for this art project has enriched the experience while liaising with Paul Atterbury added to the adventure as I learnt about holidays of yesterday. Wondering what this is all about? Click here to find out more about this project.