An upward glance or two; in black and white

Upwards is not an angle I shoot from often (though I don’t know why not … I’m not exactly tall). Maybe I just haven’t figured out how to make the composition work for me … yet.

Thanks to Sonel for a challenging black & white theme for this week.

Here are some other posts I like on the theme:

Black and White Weekly Challenge: Upward


Masterpiece: a harmony of taste, craft and simplicity

Home-made marmalade on toast, and a good coffee. A breakfast masterpiece.

Home-made marmalade on toast, and a good coffee. A breakfast masterpiece.

Ok, so it’s not the Sistine Chapel, but there is a perfection in producing simple food from good ingredients.

I didn’t bake the bread, but I did make the marmalade from grapefruit grown in my backyard. I made the coffee; and now that I’ve learned to drive our expresso machine – and fluff the milk – it’s just like a bought one!

Last spring we planted our first proper vege garden. All summer and well into autumn we harvested tomatoes, peppers, herbs, courgettes, radishes, beetroot and a few others bits and pieces. Every perfect red tomato, each sprig of thyme or bunch of spring onions was a masterpiece; grown in soil we’d prepared, fed with compost we’d made, watered with rainwater from our roof, and ultimately eaten a few metres from where it was picked.  Perfection!

A response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Masterpiece.

Here are some other masterpieces I like:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece


Amazing what you see on the neighbour’s roof

The view from my bedroom window. Gayhurst House, Buckinghamshire, 1998.

The view from my bedroom window. Gayhurst House, Buckinghamshire, 1998.

Sue’s Word of the Week is roof, and – well I just couldn’t resist. This really was the view from the flat I lived in in Gayhurst House, near Newport Pagnell in England.

I’ve blogged about Gayhurst elsewhere, so I’ll be brief here. The building in the picture was originally a servant’s toilet block, constructed in the 1840s by a former tenant of Gayhurst, Lord Carrington. Somewhat eccentric, Carrington was apparently obsessed with plumbing. This led to the installation of an unexpectedly large (for the time) number of toilets around the house including this –  highly unusual one for his male servants. A History of Gayhurst describes it thus:

… the male servants were provided with a remarkable five-seater lavatory in a circular building which still stands behind the house, surmounted by a carved figure of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades.

This building is now fully attached to the main house and is the living room of one of the apartments.

Thanks to Sue Llewellyn at A  Word in your Ear.

Here are a few other roofs I like:

Black and white: not in my life

If we really do eat with our eyes, I'd be a lot skinnier in a black and white world

If we really do eat with our eyes, I’d be a lot skinnier in a black and white world

food 3

food 4This week for Sally’s black and white Phoneography Challenge, I thought it would be fun to experiment with photos of food.

TV chefs keep telling us we eat with our eyes first  – and if I ever needed evidence for that – I found it trying to capture any sense of the pleasure of eating in black and white food photos.

For me, the only one that works is the coffee shot; and that’s hardly surprising since we order coffee on this spectrum. Luckily for my photographic endeavors, my partner drinks his black, I take milk.

I guess I could have spent some time in the kitchen and constructed a salad of feta cheese and kalamata olives, or bought some licorice allsorts, but that kinda seemed like cheating (and I’d only end up eating all the sweets).

All of these photos were taken on my iPhone and edited with Ultimate Photo Editor Lite.

Fresh from the oven

Fresh baklava; La Cigale, Auckland

Fresh baklava; La Cigale, Auckland

The boy-child and I are back on early morning photography trips; only this time he’s interested in deserted urban landscapes so we don’t have to get up quite as early.

Just as well really because our new favourite breakfast stop – the French Market at La Cigale in Ponsonby isn’t open until 8am and that’s well after sunrise.

Pretty much everything we saw there yesterday looked fresh and appetising, but the tray of baklava really stood out.

for this week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge the prompt is fresh.

Here are some posts on the theme that I enjoyed:

La Fraîcheur of Southwestern France

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

Weekly Photo Challenge – Fresh Basil

Morning Fresh-Weekly Photo Challenge-FRESH

Black and white: not how I’d describe my family

If family is a community of love and caring, my son is at the centre of mine.

If family is a community of love and caring, my son is at the centre of mine.

It’s kind of ironic for me that Sonel’s black & white photo theme this week is family, because in my life, family is certainly not “black and white”.

Dad, Mum and two of the three kids.

Dad, Mum and two of the three kids.

I grew up an immigrant; half a world away from any extended family.  For most of my childhood it was Mum, Dad and the three kids. I had aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, but they were represented in my life by Christmas gifts  of The Broons and Oor Wullie annuals and tubes of Smarties that usually arrived in February.

I envied the neighbourhood kids that visited grandparents or got to spend summer holidays with cousins “on the farm”. Although my parents were active in our community and both seemed to have lots of friends, I was a lonely awkward child who probably needed the security of a large family; the sense of people that loved me unthinkingly – because we had shared ancestors.

In my twenties, I moved back to the UK where the majority of my extended family live. I got to know a couple of aunts and my grandmother really well and I’m forever grateful for the time I was able to spend with them. Over the years, I’ve built tentative relationships with some of my cousins – and more recently their children.

These are loose connections though, and although I’m extremely fond of these men and women who share my ancestry, often my facial features and in some cases my name – they are still half a world away. So too are my mother and brothers, all in England these days. The only blood relative I have in New Zealand (apart from my son) is my father, with whom I’ve long had a difficult relationship.

On a day to day basis, family pretty much means my partner and son.

My son's Naming Day; surrounded by those we chose to be an on-going part of our child's life. the babies are teenagers now.

My son’s naming day; surrounded by those we chose to be an on-going part of our child’s life. Those babies are teenagers now.

Yet I do have a sense of belonging to a group that is more than community. It’s made up of my friends, sometimes neighbours and some relatives. These are the people I’m close to; those I call when I feel like shit and need advice or a shoulder to cry on; the people who’ve looked after my son when I’ve needed them to – and more often because he likes being at their house anyway. The people I want to be with when I have something to celebrate and even more when it’s their turn to triumph.

The Maori word for this is whanau – which means family, but not merely or even necessarily in a biological sense.  It’s about the communities of care that we construct – whatever their basis. Whanau is the group of friends, second-cousins and god-parents that gathers for dinner sometimes. It sends me out gift shopping for an old friend’s grandchildren, allows me to embrace my partner’s nephew’s half sister as my niece and my son to regard a friend’s young child as a cousin too.

My son is an only child, and in many ways I worry about his lack of family. Yet I’m confident that his whanau – the people we have chosen and who have chosen us – will love and support him. I’m confident too that he will create his own whanau as he grows older.

Thanks to Sonel at Sonel’s Corner for this week’s Black and White Weekly Photo Challenge : Family