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I’ve been looking through some of my less immediately loved photos from Cuba. There’s always a subconscious hierarchy to a big batch of photos from a trip, there are the ones which you fall in love with at the time, they just look so good on the screen that you instinctively know that they will make fabulous prints. When you get home and see them all on the big computer screen, there are dozens which thrill straight away, all they need is a bit of a tweak and polish and they’re ready to go – all those happy memories in a perfectly saleable print-sized bundle. Then when the first enthusiasm has worn off and other shoots have moved to the top of the list, you pop back to resize something every so often and in a bored moment, you scroll through to remind you of the blaze of colour and the mojito flavoured views and there are always some images which you somehow missed before. And when you’ve done all that, when you’re feeling very dull you might start at the beginning and go through one by one to see what you’ve missed, if your eye has changed something will pop out which didn’t previously. That’s what happened today. I’ve rediscovered two photos which have been passed over countless times and have now left the Lightroom Catalogue to see the light of day.
So, here are my new Scenic Decay in Havana pictures.
First a glamorous streak of slightly battered Art Deco style vintage American automobile cropped tightly as to be almost abstract. This one is in my Etsy shop here in a variety of sizes and finishes.
Next is this battered staircase in the entrance to a residential building in Havana. It has undoubtedly seen far better days, but there’s always something charming in decay……
Find the print here.
While we were in Crete back in June we stayed at a small seaside village called Plaka, a nice but largely unremarkable place on the North coast apart from it’s nearness to the exclusive hotels at the beautiful Elounda Bay (I am a sucker for exclusive hotels, even if I don’t actually stay in them!) and the historically fascinating island of Spinalonga. Spinalonga is best known for being a leper colony from 1903 until 1957 where a full and functioning town was built with stone houses, churches, streets of shops and hospital and by all accounts the residents had a good life there. The colony is now somewhat ruined, there have been renovations but the majority of the island is a very scenic ruin with Venetian fortifications which are impressive as they are ancient. I confess, unashamedly, to being a terrible snob when it comes to mass tourism and generally like avoid the busiest destinations as I really don’t want to share them with thousands of others, they get in the way, look horrible and spoil my photos – I really don’t like people in my photos. But we headed to Spinalnoga anyway, it was too close to where we were staying and looked too interesting from the shore and pretty when lit up at night not to have a look around.
It was already baking hot by the time we arrived at 10ish in the morning, and not too busy. It’s a fascinating place especially as there was an interesting island wide art exhibition by Greek artist Costas Tsoklis, called ‘You, the last leper‘ involving in-situ music and interesting use of mirrors in unexpected places. We wandered the dusty streets getting hotter and hotter as the crowds grew larger and noisier with tour guide thundering down the narrow rough streets blocking all view and getting in the way. I gave up trying to take nice artistic picture fairly early on and was just enjoying the view when I started to notice the outrageous posing going on. Girlfriends posing on walls and rocks, hips jutting and lips pouting looking adoringly at their men folk who were dutifully snapping away, groups posing en-mass, couples taking photos of themselves with swivelly lenses.
I stated to take photos of the posers and their photographers which kept me very happily amused for the remainder of our visit and I think I came away with an unusual set of pictures. It’s a project which I’d like to continue, but as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I really don’t like to be in the busy places which means that this type of image is hard to come by, and one good use of a crowd is that the sneaky photographer remains nicely hidden. Perhaps I’ll have to change my itinerary on future trips and go to the big and busy monuments to see if I get lucky again.
Our week in Crete is almost over…..Luckily though we have a late flight home so we have plenty of time for a last leisurely swim in the beautiful sea. Here are a few more photos:
We’ve been in Crete for a few days and having a splendid time. We started off in the big town of Heraklion and yesterday drove south through very big scenery to end up on the coast in the little hippy village of Malata which was fab and we had a delicious lunch, then a short drive to Kalamaki. Heading east to Myrtos in a bit.
It’s been scorching hot here in the UK for the last few days and I’ve been thinking about my trip to Crete which is coming up in a week or so and how nice it will be for the heat to feel familiar rather than a total shock! While pondering such niceties I was looking back through photos I took a couple of years ago at one of my favorite places to visit when there – the beautiful Arkadi Monastery on one of the sticky out bits of the North West coast. It’s a warren of honey coloured stone paths, courtyards and steps, bougainvillea floats on the breeze in a wonderful range of colours, cats laze in shady corners and mysterious looking monks glide by in their black robes (they must get very hot!). Here’s a happy memory of a beautiful spot. (Available as a 10×8″ print in my Etsy shop)
I’ve been working on the stock for the Chorley Contemporary Crafters event on Sunday. My printer’s still not working, so I’ve sent all of my artwork to my lab of choice for prints in three sizes, so I should have those very soon. I now have four bags full of Mini Picture photo blocks which is an awful lot of photo blocks for the good people of Chorley to choose from, I’ve worked out the pricing for my cards and have started to write lists – which I’m sure is a good thing.
While doing all of this, I’ve made some good progress with my pictures from Cuba and here’s one for your viewing pleasure – shot in the pretty town of Trinidad on the south coast.
Daily Food 17/365
When we arrived at Jibocaoa beach for our eight days of Caribbean paradise, the skies were grey, the wind was howling and the trees were waving around rather alarmingly. We, being thoroughly British, put on a brave face and dutifully sat on our sun loungers fully clothed, reading our books and drinking our watered down, all inclusive, drink as many as you like Mojitos. Ironically, it was on one of these days that my lily white skin succumbed to sun burn, the small are of my skin which was exposed to the elements and not covered by my cardi and it’s still faintly red today, a whole ten days later. Still, it was better than Manchester. On the third day, the sun came out and the wind ceased and we were rewarded with the freshly felled coconuts which were expertly hacked open by the ever willing hotel staff, down on the beautiful beach for us to have a few mouthfuls of the oddly refreshing and faintly coconutty water from within.
Daily Food 18/365
It took a couple of days for me to get bored of white beans for my breakfast and to wait patiently in line for the egg man to do his thing. Omelets, scrambled and fired, just how you want them, all for a wait in a queue where the nice man will do exactly as you ask, if you give him a CUC, he’ll even smile for you. Very nice they were too. Two real, fresh, white eggs, cracked and scrambled just for me and served on the strange and slightly briochey white toast (toasted by me in one of those odd conveyor belt toasters which never work the first time round), none of that horrible liquid egg juice which we had cooked for us at the smart breakfast at the smart hotel in Havana. I kept trying the cheese to see if it would eventually taste of anything. It didn’t.
Daily Food 19/365
We had heard about ‘lobster night’ purely by accident so we made sure to be there and to be hungry and we weren’t disappointed. I love lobster and will eat it whenever the opportunity presents itself, which isn’t too often. So imagine our delight when we found the tasty crustaceans to be plentiful and perfectly cooked – plain boiled and there for the taking again and again and again. All they needed was some little pats of butter from the bread station and some damp salt to make a deliciously simple feast.
Daily Food 20/365
When this appeared in front of me, it was the most delighted I had ever been by one of the most bizarre plates of food I’ve ever eaten. That’s what a seven hour coach journey will do to me. By the time we arrived in Trinidad on the south coast of Cuba we were so exhausted from the seemingly endless coach trip (including one broken fan belt incident resulting in a nice shady sit down on the side of the motorway for the passengers while the driver took his stockings off to make the repair) that I feel we would have eaten anything. In fact, we did what we never ever do, and that was follow a tout from outside the bus station to his restaurant which was all of ten paces away. He was such a charming young thing, that we really didn’t have the energy to say “no”. When we sat down in a cool, lofty ceilinged prettily decorated room with tables laid with proper sized wine glasses and white table cloths, we could have married him. The fact that the food was so horrible was made totally immaterial to the kind welcome and chilled wine. I couldn’t even bring myself to photograph the other dish which was four halved cold, hard boiled eggs with the yolks removed and mixed with something tasting like Shipphams Fish Paste and then creatively put back into the eggs. I think it would have cracked my lens, mind you, we did eat it. The spaghetti had that weird taste of Heinz tinned spaghetti with what was actually a decent tomato pasata and sprinkled with the typically tasteless Cuban cheese. We ate every last mouthful. They were so nice to us that they even looked after our overnight bags for us while we explored the town before collecting them later on the way to our hotel for the night. The establishment was Sr. Juan’s, opposite the bus station which doesn’t seem to get a mention on one single website!
Daily Food 14/365
This was our first supper at Breezes Hotel in Jibacoa, on the coast an hours drive north west of Havana. It’s an all inclusive hotel and a new experience for me. We ate in the buffet restaurant which had horrified us at lunchtime and we approached supper with some trepidation. Thank goodness it wasn’t as terrible as we had feared. Not exactly a gourmet feast, but there was enough to choose from to make a nice meal. There were roast chickens being carved to order and I had a tasty leg, some nice plain brown rice, some rather strange but delicious hot papaya and some other fruit which I think were meant to be sweet and sour, some totally tasteless pumpkin and some nice cauliflower. I had tried the white wine at lunchtime and it was undrinkable so had a bash at the red for supper and it was okay, so a couple of glasses of that helped with the shock!
Daily Food 15/365
By the second day at the buffet, we had sort of settled in to it and this was lunch. Plain rice (which I subsequently had almost every day), some very nice white fish which although it looked as if there were lots of herbs and seasonings, didn’t actually taste of very much other than fish. Delicious super ripe tomatoes, cucumber, a bit of tuna and some pasta salad made a tasty salad which I dressed with some gentle oil and wine vinegar. The slice of sausage in the top left corner was presented as ‘chorizo’ but tasted of nothing and I think it was exactly the same spam like sausage which turned up hot and cold and in many dishes and I made a point of avoiding at all costs!
Daily Food 16/365
I foud the breakfasts to be the most successful meals of the day as they were pretty much the same every day and the dishes I found palatable were the most simple and least difficult to spoil. Each day I started with a plate of fruit which looked pretty much like this each time. Some papaya which was served an copious quantities although I’ve never really liked it, to me it always tastes somewhat off, pineapple, a little dried fruit and some tomato slices. I became quite fond of the little glazed pastry disc biscuity things too.
I am currently on board a Monarch flight to Chania, on the North coast of Crete for my week of yoga, sun and honey. It’s rather sardine like here and the magazine rack in front of me is broken so I have a rather painfully sharp metal bar drilling into my kneecaps. Not a good thing. I have managed to pad it out with a scarf and hope that no damage has been done, I need my knees to be in good working order for this week! It’s a quiet plane, mainly older people and no kids at all which makes the whole journey somewhat less stressful. I’m sitting next to a nice couple who have not bought a single book or magazine between them, no iPod, puzzle book or game which I find very odd. I’ve started ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ in my quest to read all of the Smiley novels, it’s on my Kindle along with a pretty good selection for the week. I’d like to get through the books in order including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy before seeing the film which is out on the 16th. Lunch is over, mum and I had smoked salmon with prawn cocktail, brown bread and lettuce which was immeasurably better than the foul smelling cooked breakfasts whose aromas are now wafting through the ventilation system. We’re landing iv about an hour in the Greek sunshine – hurrah!