A ‘Good’ Match : WPC

This week’s Photo Challenge gave me too much choice. I scrolled thru my photos and mulled over my choices for a while. ‘Good’ is such a loaded word.

The colour of my neighbour’s ‘Tilly’ (Utility Truck) is pretty close to the blossoms on my Illawarra Flame Tree. Reds are hard to match.

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Last year I was keen to get a photo from the train going over my favourite railway bridge. These two road bridges across the river Forth seem to make an agreeable match.  The new one, farthest west, is called Queensferry Crossing and isn’t scheduled to be operational till May 2017.

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And there’s nothing nicer than having restorative tea ( and maybe, a little cake?) from a matching cup, saucer and plate. Do you have a ‘special’ cup and saucer? I spotted these in a second-hand store.

img_9551I spy a few ‘matches’ here.

Marriage is a different kind of ‘match’ – as unique as the people involved.

Flora Annie Webster accepted Henry Steel’s proposal made by mail and married on New Year’s Eve 1869.The couple sailed for India the following morning. Henry Steel ‘Hal’ had been a friend of her brothers’ and was newly appointed Chief Magistrate for the Indian Civil Service in the Punjab. Flora had had no formal education. While her 8 brothers all went to Harrow School, Flora had read her way thru her father’s eclectic library.

As a 22yr old, she insisted she accompany Hal to the remote villages where he conducted hearings. Other Anglo wives were shocked to see her riding, wearing trousers. Amongst other things like swimming, she learned Punjabi and began to write down the stories she heard told to the village children who gathered to inspect the newcomers. The first of the 30 books she went on to write was a collection of folktales (published in 1894).

Flora said this of her marriage –

Why I married I cannot say: I have never been able to say. I don’t think either one of us was in love. I know I was not. I never have been.

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I’ve been re-reading Flora’s fascinating biography by Violet Powell so as to tell some of her life story as part of upcoming International Women’s Day celebrations. Hopefully, I do her justice because …

She was an ‘unconventional memsahib,’ a human dynamo who put her energy into the welfare and education of the people in her husband’s district and beyond: an individual who was bold in her battles with the Indian Government when she thought its actions were unjust and unwise. After her success teaching English, she was invited to establish a girl’s school and was later appointed as the first Inspector of Schools throughout the Punjab.

She uncovered a corruption scandal in the university there. When her husband was suddenly given a remote posting, Flora refused to go. The girls’ school had 400 students! Hal left behind yet another garden ( He was an avid gardener.) and set off north. On arrival, he received an official letter asking him why he hadn’t made his wife comply (and get out of their way, I’d say). His message by return was “You take her for a month and try.”

She lived alone in Lahore for a year then, despite several assassination threats, till the corruption she’d uncovered was proven and her claims vindicated. When Hal finally ended his term of duty in 1889 (after 15 transfers in 16 years) and they were leaving for England, she was farewelled at the railway station by 300 veiled women.

Home in England, Flora began to write in earnest and continued to be involved in many social issues. She did return to India alone to research what turned out to be her definitive novel about the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-58. Considered ‘Kipling’s only serious rival’, she called herself a ‘vehement suffragette’ and was President of the Women Writers Suffrage League at one stage. Some think her a contradictory woman of her (Victorian) time – she always stressed that there be co-operation between men and women – a good match.

References

COPPIN, Liesbeth. The British-Indian experience: Flora Annie Steel as an unconventional ‘memsahib.‘ Masters Thesis. Ghent University, June 2010.

POWELL, Violet (1981) Flora Annie Steel: Novelist of India. London, Heinemann.

STEEL, Flora Annie (1983 ) Tales of the Punjab: Folklore of India. New York, Greenwich House.

… (1897) On the Face of the Waters: a Tale of Mutiny. London, Heinemann.

(Titles are still available for purchase online)

Text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up Against the Odds

It’s always interesting to spot another person taking photographs. My curiosity gets the better of me. What are they looking at?

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Yes. I was there to see the wooden lighthouse at Katiki Point, still standing on the edge of the wild Southern Ocean since 1878. But I had to keep an eye on that photographer.

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Couldn’t catch the birds flying past + the waves breaking!

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My Zoom wasn’t as big as his.

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What are the odds he’d get this close to a big seal? Just look at the expression on its face. What is it thinking? Get back. You’re too close? Oh my goodness, not another nosey beak!

I’m reminded of something that happened on an earlier trip to New Zealand over twenty years ago –

My friend and I expectantly trotted down the track, through low scrub towards the beach on the edge of nowhere. We couldn’t see the sea but we could hear it. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sign had said that the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins could be sighted at this time of the afternoon.

On this driving holiday of New Zealand’s South Island, we were free as birds to stop, explore and move on when we felt like it. We were having a good time. We didn’t need binoculars. This landscape was large.

The Hide which ended our trek was small and dark, but with a step up and a viewing gap where we might scan over the low trees to the beach below. I swung myself up and in, surprised to find another person already inside.

Arms folded, she was leaning against the wall with a cigarette in her right hand. We said hello. She raised her eyebrows in a nod, and exhaled. I stepped up to the wide view. She sat down on the plank, along the back wall. When asked about any sightings, she replied that no, she hadn’t seen any. We waited. She lit another cigarette.

We waited. I was happy just to watch the sea move. Time passed. She suddenly stepped up beside us and looking out said, “They’re late!” I was speechless.

“The sign said they get here at 3.30pm every afternoon, and it’s past that now.”

My ‘compadre with total recall’ sprouted some of what we’d read on the sign – the hundreds of km adults swam every day to bring back food for their young, how small the colony was, the size of the birds, how much fish they caught …

She sat down again. We waited in silence: motionless; just smoking.

“I’m not waiting any longer,” she suddenly muttered, as she screwed the butt into the ground with her foot. Relieved to see her go, I said, “Hooray!” ( No …truly, it’s an Aussie way to say “Cheerio!”) and settled back into the chin-on-hands position and stared down at the surf crashing onto the shore.

No ‘parcel of penguins’ landed on that golden crest. But we did, finally, spot one dark shape flounder thru the foam – only to be hurled unceremoniously onto the beach. This solitary Yellow-Eyed Penguin, picked itself up and, after staggering a little like a drunk waiter, made its way up the steep sand, head down. It was awesome to watch each determined, tiny step. The bird was gone in about ten seconds. We stayed on for a while longer but saw no more penguins.

……

Today, these “rarest of penguins in the world” are more endangered than ever. The latest challenge has been outbreaks of avain diphtheria … amongst other things. For more info see the highlighted link.

Nature really is up against the odds. We humans are the oddest creatures.

Now, having written this down, I wonder what that woman was really looking for.

—-

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Re purpose: WPC

This week’s photo challenge is about repurposing? …”discovering an object for which you’ve discovered a clever new use.”

Like Phoebe Anna Traquair?

Painted in 1920s by Scottish Artist Phoebe Traquair for the Great Hall of Lympne Castle, Kent

Painted in 1920s by Scottish Artist Phoebe Traquair for the Great Hall of Lympne Castle, Kent ( National Museum of Scotland)

Art galleries and museums ‘repurpose’ objects all the time to engage visitors, of all ages; to make them inquisitive; puzzled; challenged to compare, and contrast; to critique and make recommendations: to appreciate differences and similarities; to remember images of what they treasured; to open up to wonder. It’s more than just labelling and classifying – they want to get people talking and reflecting on what was most memorable for them.img_1035-1Most Scottish museums and galleries are free. We visited Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum last year for a special (ticketed) Mucha Exhibition. I’d last been in the building when it was a dusty museum/storehouse last century.

fullsizerender Caught a glimpse of some refurbishment and wondered why they put these objects together – a Spitfire behind an elephant? Did you have to guess which is heaviest?

Our tour guide was very informative but I didn’t get time to ask these objects which caught my eye, so I nipped back and took this photo to look at later.

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The curators must have a sense of humour. What do you reckon? These are twice the size of tennis balls and thought to be pre-Viking.

One ‘repurpose’ – You stirred them in the cauldron to help tenderise the meat being cooked.

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PS. An adult elephant can weigh up to 4500 kg. This 1944 Spitfire’s max. weight is 3565 kg. For an image of the completed display, click here.

PPS. Yes. The Mucha Exhibition was pretty. But I got fed up looking at so many draped, ornamental women on posters … time to move on. Spent a more engrossing, enlightening time in the galleries upstairs. I’d go again any day.

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Graceful Nature: Weekly Photo Challenge

When I wonder about ‘graceful,’ images of dreamy movement and soft curves come to mind.

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Sometimes graceful movement is so fast – like a butterfly. I have to follow till it rests. Standing very still, I hold my breath and ‘click.’

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Other times, a curve catches my eye. As I stare, I sense some infinitesimal movement within … an unfolding.

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and then … there’s my own, walking times, when what I see makes me feel infinitesimal … and my heart leaps!

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Sometimes I go about pitying myself, And all the while I am being carried across the sky by beautiful clouds. (Ojibway poem)

Here’s another graceful image from a story that I tell –

Out in the cattle kraal, a silver cord descended from high in an African night sky, down, down … to its dusty centre. By the light of the moon, a crouching man keeping watch behind the thorn-bush fence, saw his black and white, speckled cattle move apart. Hearing singing, he looked up and there, round the shining cord, he spied a line of beautiful women floating down, one after the other. Singing softly, they spiralled down till they touched the ground. All wore wondrous clothes and ornaments which flickered in the moonlight and carried a calabash held against one hip. Then they walked silently, gracefully, to an animal and murmured soothingly as they sat. Sing together again, they steadily milked his black and white cows.

As a child, Laurens van der Post was told this story about women of the sky by a black woman –servant. It’s on pages 132-4 of his book “ The Heart of the Hunter.” If you want to hear my version of the whole story, you’ll have to come to Storytelling Unplugged: the Meetup group I organise, next first Friday of the month!

Graceful

All text (except those in italics) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Kelpies : WPC Names

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Since 2013 these 30m high sculptures have attracted thousands of tourists to Central Scotland. Their creator, Andy Scott, sought to celebrate the mighty horses which pulled coal barges along the tow paths of the Union Canal, more than two hundred years before. He didn’t name them Kelpies, but this is the name remembered from old legends which has caught the public imagination. I wonder why?

Perhaps you haven’t heard of them –

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Long ago, folk tales about Kelpies warned children not to go near deep, lonely water, or untended horses, lest they be carried away. These legendary creatures were said to feed on human flesh. Children, young women or weary travellers, once they mounted, were held fast, to be carried off, drowned and devoured.  William Stobbs’ cover illustration captures the underlying mood of such stories.

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There’s one gruesome story of a school child who laid just one finger on a Kelpie. When it was held fast, he knew from the look in that horse’s eye that this was a dreaded water horse. Only iron could save him, so he quickly used his penknife to cut off his own finger . All the other school children on its back were carried off and never seen again. He was the only child left in that village for a long time.

In Australia today, a ‘Kelpie’ looks like this.

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 It’s a breed of smart, hard-working dogs: almost an icon of Outback life. This one’s a Red Kelpie.Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Red Dog, based on a real kelpie’s story. There’s a sequel out in cinemas right now.( I’ll have to take hankies if it’s anything like the first one.) There are also Black & Tan, Chocolate and Smokey Blue Kelpies. They make faithful family pets – that’s more my kind of Kelpie.

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Names

Anticipating an Aussie Christmas:WPC

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I noticed these blossoms on a gum tree beside my car,  as I was dropping off presents this morning. Took a phone snap. When I checked the shot later, looks like even the trees are getting excited!

Merry Christmas to you, too.

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All text and photos by Meg. Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Scanning new horizons: WPC

In 2017, let me really appreciate where I live, decide where I’m heading, and take more memorable photos.

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I reminder snapping this on the wall of  the Grille Cafe, Transport World, Invercargill, New Zealand …

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 Here’s to a peaceful, respectful and creative New Year. Thank you for reading my blog posts.

New Horizon

All text and photos by Meg.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Calm Crossings

There are some timeless places, where we can escape the often harsh reality of the world. Fine weather can help. We caught the ferry across Loch Linnhe from Corran to Ardgour one autumn Saturday.

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I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept. (Robert Frost)

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Worth revisiting – Frost’s poem I could give all to time.

  • The moving novel Wallace Stegner wrote, aged 78, his last – Crossing to Safety, reviewed on the ABC’s ‘Tuesday Bookclub.’ (Click the green link for the 11 min segment)
  • A.B. Facey’s unforgettable autobiography, ‘A Fortunate Life‘ is a much-loved, Australian classic about hardship and loss, friendship and love. Published in 1981, when he was 87, it shows his extraordinary attitude, despite terrible times, not so very long ago.

Sea and sky help remind me that I lead a fortunate life, in a world where so many, millions?, cannot cross to safety.

It’s good to have time to relax and read and think about life … but of course, it’s actually what I do that makes a difference … so I better get on with it.

………….

Relax
All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

How Mary Medlicott “twigs” on her Storyworks Blog

Here’s a great example of how Story “twigs” your imagination.

Mary is a longtime storyteller and author of several  compilations of stories and more. I have been following her blog for over a year now … and I learn so much.

Reblogged here with permission. Thanks, Mary

Thursday night, we went to see King Lear in the Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Barbican. It was hard and long and brilliant and Anthony Sher was a completely believable and utterly moving Lear. As his three daughters responded to his request to tell him how much they loved him, it was immediately clear…

via Storytelling Starters ~ Dear as Salt — Mary Medlicott’s Storyworks Blog

Edinburgh Revisited: To see ourselves as others see us

I visited Edinburgh with friends recently and have revised my knowledge of part of its history. The Old Town looked the same…

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As ‘unofficial tour guide,’ in the Thistle Chapel of St Giles Cathedral, I pointed out the defiant, Latin motto of the chivalrous Order of the Thistle which means,  Who dares meddle with me! (Such fighting talk! I had to put such defiance into a historical and military context – See Sources at the end of this post)

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I regularly had to explain signs or spoken expressions or customs that I have long taken for granted. Not only the Scots accent, but words themselves baffled my American friend. However, songs often work where speech fails, so I sang a favourite Burn’s song ‘John Anderson, My Jo’ and explained what it meant.

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Brought up surrounded by Lowland Scots vernacular, at school I had to be careful not to use it. The Scottish Education Board insisted that children like me, from a working-class family, had to  be taught to speak, read and write ‘Proper’ English. It wasn’t till high school that I was given my Lowland Scots dialect in print, to study.

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796) was one of the significant literary figures of 18th & 19th century Scotland. He wrote literary forms, crossing his local dialect with English – a ploughman with more education than most and a way with words. He reinvigorated our Scots’ national identity at the time and continues to do so. A contemporary of Voltaire, Goldsmith and Goethe, he wrote poems and songs which became, and are still, a expressive part of Scottish culture.

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Here’s my friend Naomi striking the pose in The National Portrait Gallery. (She too has a prodigious memory for songs from her childhood.) The success of Burns’ first compilation, Poems, Chiefly in the Scots Dialect, made him the darling of Edinburgh society in 1786. He lived here for two years before returning to his native Ayrshire.

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Before he died in 1796 aged 37, Burns had written hundreds of songs and set many to old tunes. These made him even more feted across Scotland and internationally. He was the ‘Pete Seeger’ of his day and thought, for example, ‘There is a certain something in the old Scots songs, a wild happiness of thought and expression.’ (Letter to Mrs Dunlop of Dunlop 1790)

Many of the poet’s ‘pithy’ phrases had that certain something, are still used like proverbs. I’ve heard conversations closed with a summary quote from Burns like “Aye – the best laid plans o’ mice and men …!” Auld Lang Syne is sung the world o’er.  Many think of Burns still, as ‘Everyman’: a typical Scot, working-class, humanist, lover of Nature and Freedom: a champion of common sense, astute and yet romantic: always imagining a better world.

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One of the bard’s gentle rejoinders comes from the poem To a Louse“Oh would some power, the gift to give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” (i.e. The first line of the last verse in English … for the complete poem in Lowland Scots, click here)

As a saying, it pulls me back to reality. It’s a hard phrase to beat – as is my fellow traveller’s blog post about her Edinburgh experience.  Please click “A Guid Crack” to read Naomi’s impressions of a first visit to Scotland’s capital city.

Blogs really are a good way to express different points of view and entertain readers at the same time. They are a gift that can help us see ourselves as others see us.

Thanks, Naomi. Here’s to Wild happiness and more singing!

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All text (except links) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Sources : For more info, click these links

The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle ( Wikiwand)

Mull, Brett, “Construction of Culture: Robert Burns’ Contributions to Scottish National Identity” (2012). Undergraduate Honors Theses. Paper 271. University of Colorado.

Nemo me impune lacessit ( Wikiwand)

Robert Burns“. Poetry Foundation. Chicago, 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Scots Language (Wikiwand)

Todd J. Wilkinson, Robert Burns and Freemasonry. Alexandra Burns Club, 14 November 2016. Web

Allan Woods, Robert Burns – Man, Poet and Revolutionary . 22 January 2009. Socialist Appeal International Marxist Tendency 14 November 2016 Web.