Calm Crossings

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #157 – Getting Away 

Thank you, Rusha & Bert for this challenge which reminded me of the feeling of a lovely holiday.

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


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)


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 blue 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 fortitude, despite terrible times.

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: a daily
All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

© Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright under Australian Law

Windows: Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #14

Taking a good photo is a challenge. Sometimes I see things that aren’t there.


Image taken Balmerino Abbey ruins, one grey day.

This abbey has been in ruins since the Reformation in the 16th Century.  First it was the English who attacked the monastery, then it was the Scottish Protestants.

 I heard  Judy Small sing her ‘Walls and Windows” in Brisbane years ago.  She wrote great songs but gave up folksinging and is now a judge in the Family Law Court.

Here’s the last verse from that song-

Oh may we live to see the day when walls of words and fear
No longer stand between the truth and dreams
When walls of windows rise into the darkness and we dare
To look into the mirror and see peace.
   from Judy Small's song "Walls and Windows"

All text (except quote) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

Rocamadour: Ritual Wanderlust

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have stopped in this gorge on their way through France to the Santiago Di Compostela. There’s a shrine to a Madonna here.

DSCF0597 (1)

When we’ve come this far, we may as well keep going along the only street.


Buildings cling to the canyon walls, while a castle crowns the crest.


How do we get up there? Where are we?


Climb more stairs at the castle, past the clock tower which begins to toll the hour. Shakily, step out onto the ramparts to get a better view: a sense of where we are in the world.

DSCF0593Looking down, there’s the Sanctuary with its basilica and chapels. Put one foot in front of the other. Go in and light a candle. Sit. Go back in time. Read the words on a mural ” Aimer, Evangeliser, Servir.” (To love, to proclaim, to serve.) Sit still in the space.


Later, we followed the sheltered path, down past the 14 Stations of the Cross, where millions have walked before.  We talked of history and how fortunate we are to live now.


I’ve taken a while putting this post together. ‘Wanderlust’ doesn’t seem the right word to me. I’m more of a WanderLuck person.  Now, especially with my camera, I notice good fortune more that ever.

When I was travelling in 88, setting out as a storyteller for the first time, I was given a copy of an Armenian story by New York storyteller Diane Wolkstein. She wanted me  to write it out again in my own way. It felt like a test. I did a fearfully poor job of it then. Years later I realised what a significant tale it is.


Here’s a shortened version of what I read then in Virginia Tashjian’s collection “One There Was And Was Not.” Like most stories, it’s so much better told, face to face –

One there was and was not, a man who walked off in a temper one morning to find God. He was a poor farmer who’d struggled all his life. He wanted to tell God, once and for all how unfair his life had been.

On the way he met a ravenous, skinny wolf who wanted him to ask God why he was always so hungry, then a beautiful, rich woman, who was so lonely and next, a huge tree by a riverbank withered and thirsty. Each listened to his complaints, without judgement, and requested that he ask a similar question of God on their behalf. The man agreed and went on his way.

He met God sitting on a rock in the middle of nowhere. The man asked for answers for those three he’d met on the way. When God heard his complaint, he agreed with the fellow and gave him the gift of luck.

On the journey back, the man reiterated the solution to each character as he had been told … but was in too much of a hurry to dig up the treasure choking the tree roots and rejected the rich woman’s proposal. He had to get back home for he had been given the gift of luck.

And the wolf’s god-given solution ? ” Soon he would meet a very foolish man and once he had devoured him, only then would his hunger be truly satisfied!”

(I’ll leave you to imagine the ending.)

Thanks for your time.

All text and photos by Meg©2017

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.


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


 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.

Feeling harmonious: WPC

I first saw Mount Taranaki (formerly Mt Egmont) over ten years ago. “Awesome!” I thought.


I love seeing this “ ever-fixed mark.” It helps me get my bearings and draws me in like a magnet, every time I go back to NZ to visit friends. Mt Rainier, near Seattle, has the same effect on me.

 Once, at the end of a NZ holiday and feeling wistful, I had this view out the aircraft window. Just one look and I was on “Cloud Nine!” MtTartop (2)

Human beings, vegetables, cosmic dust, all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player. (Albert Einstein)


Text (except quote in italics) and photos by Meg Philp

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

Roses called Victory : Weekly photo challenge


In the light of those terrible events of November 13 in Paris, I started thinking about victory … winners means losers.

This has been going on for ever.

When I was a child in Britain, there was a popular rhyme chanted around bonfires on Guy Fawkes Night.  Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot … When I look at the rest of the verses, the words are chilling.

Right now, the only saving grace in this challenge using the word ‘victory’ that I can find,  is that there is a type of flower called Victory Roses.

This photo isn’t one of them. These not-long opened buds are just one of Nature’s everyday surprises in someone else’s garden  – each one beautiful, growing together, like friends.


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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

Making Peace

The Boy, his Sisters and the Magic Horse is a Tibetan tale retold in a collection by Gioia Timpanelli. The story opens with the father digging a hole and telling his son to get in, because his son refused to hunt and kill animals for food. He inscribes “Open or not as you please”  on the slab he slides on top of the boy. I have always been in awe of the son’s compassion for his parents at the end of this tale.

Folktales are full of warnings about fathers who trade their daughters, abuse, or imprison them, or worse. Some children get precious little from their fathers. And I’ve been thinking about mine.

 My father had good timing, at odd times.

 Waking us three kids up, to stand in our PJs and wellies below our big coats, in the knee-deep snow of the back garden to wonder, open-mouthed,  at the flickering Aurora Borealis in a velvet sky, late, late one January night.

Accompanying him on each Sunday walk as a child, taught me patience and to enjoy the peace of nature, as we crouched waiting for native finches to be caught in the traps he’d set. I still like bird-watching. Here, at last, is a close-up of the shy Buff-colured Rail from one of my daily walks.

Buff-coloured Rail

 On occasions he has surprised me with simple gifts, like this letter in response to a book I sent him (“The Cunning Little Vixen, illustrated by Maurice Sendak). It’s the only evidence I have of his handwriting. (“Hen” is a Scots form of familiarity with a woman)


One time when I was visiting, he was very proud of a large white shell he’d picked up on the island of Coll in the Inner Hebrides. “You can have it,” he said.


On another visit back home, he slipped this to me.


“It’s a Penny-Spitfire.”

During WW11 he and his pals in the RAF workshop near Reykjavik, used to make them, on the fly, from a copper coin, and give them to the WAFs they liked, to pin to their uniforms.

When I was younger I fought a lot with my father … arguments, tantrums, name-calling. The last fight was in my twenties. I stormed out of their sea-side caravan, fuming into the gloaming for a good long walk and got back hours later. The caravan was dark. They’d gone to the pub … and by a park light, I saw pinned to the door was a torn, brown envelope, and written in my father’s hand.

“Come home. Meg, ALL is forgiven.”

Well, that did it. Peace ever since.

All photos and text by Meg

Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.