It’s amazing how much a sky – and a beach –

Can change in the space of a day or two:

From cloudy drama


To the joyfulness

Of dogs frolicking

In a glorious sunset.


For more joy, please visit: Skywatch.

The walled town

Óbidos in Portugal is famous for being

A perfectly preserved walled settlement.


The castle and its walls date back

To Roman times

Walls looming

But as you walk the narrow and steep cobbled streets,

You meet all kinds of buildings ranging from Gothic

To Renaissance and Baroque standing shoulder to shoulder.

Church and wall

The city gate is a gorgeous

Blue tiled balcony.

Tiled balcony

The town was very much geared for tourism

So my favourite parts of it

Were the secret alleys,

Secret stairs

The quirky old stone houses

Blue striped house

And far-away glimpses

Of purple splashes against old tiled roofs.

Purple splash

For more historic sights, please visit: Our World.

What I learnt from Venice

Tired of all my Venice photos? Good – neither am I!

What I learnt from Venice:

When we give people (or nature) the space and love they need

They can go their own way and create something wonderful.

Go your own way copy

Going off the beaten path

Leads to new wonders and perspectives.


Handle with love —

A philosophy that makes life more beautiful.

Love handle

And, sometimes, in the midst of ruins

Treasures can be found.

Old door copy

For more beauty, please visit: Our World.


The Isle of the Dead

Since the 1800s, Venetians haven’t been allowed to bury their dead in Venice.

Instead, they come out to Isola di San Michele — two islands joined together to form a floating cemetery.

The first thing you see as you arrive

Is one of Venice’s first Renaissance churches.

(I took the photo through the ferry window.)


You can find graceful courtyards

And hidden-away sunny spots

Full of graves.

Pretty courtyard

The rich families could afford

To honour their sleeping beauties in marble.

Sleeping beauty copy

Even the more humble resting places

Are taken care of with love.


There are crosses as far as the eye can see —

A sobering reminder of what awaits us all.


The cemetery island is the burial place of many famous people,

Including Ezra Pound, Doppler, Stravinsky and Diaghilev.

Our visit there was both life-affirming and moving.



For those of you who want to know what happens when the cemetery gets ‘full’: the bodies are allowed to lie here for about 12 years, and then they are taken back to Venice and kept in an ossarium to make room for more burials.

For more histories, please visit: Our World.



Wide horizons

Part of the joy of life

Is broadening our horizons, seeing new skies

And experiencing new things.

Here’s a London view:

London view

Travel is a great way of doing this —

And of discovering that our little part of the world

Isn’t the centre of things.

Travel helps us discover that there isn’t only one way of doing things —

But many ways.

Here’s a New York view:

NY sky

For that reason, my daughter and I

Are leaving the cozy horizons of Stockholm —

Known as ‘The Venice of the North’ —

(See photo below)

For the real Venice in Italy.

Can’t wait!

Moody Stockholm skies_copy

(Back next week – so I might not be able to visit you all.)

In the meantime, please visit: Skywatch for great skies

And Our World, for a glimpse into new discoveries.

Finding rainbows

Sometimes you can find beauty in the most unexpected places.

Entering the interior of Paris’ oldest church, Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres, once so mighty but now eclipsed by Notre Dame,

I was struck by the beauty of a humble set of chairs next to some ancient chipped pillars.


The light from the stained glass window behind them

Transformed the chairs into miracles of colour and form

Rainbow chairs copy

And the floor, worn by centuries of visitors,

Became a dazzling thing of rainbow beauty.

(I have to say that out of all my Paris photos, these are some of my favourites.)

“The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen.”
G. K. Chesterton

Rainbow floor_2 copy

For more everyday miracles, please visit: Our World.

La lumiere d’oree

That golden evening light

Painted a lovely picture of tower and sky

Eiffel skies copy

And lampposts that seemed to throw back

Golden orbs into infinity.

Golden light

For more golden light, please visit: Skywatch.

Breathing Paris

According to Victor Hugo, ‘Breathing Paris preserves the soul.’

It is a city full of unexpected sights and surprises:

Like a vintage merry-go-round

La belle epoque

Or the exquisite stained glass window

Of the Galeries Lafayette.

Galeries Lafayette

It is a place where you turn a corner

To find history towering over you —

Old spire

And love being locked forever

On bridges while the ancient cathedral,

Notre Dame, looks on.


It is a mix of the old and the new,

History and modern day,

Light and life.

Concorde copy

For more historic stories, please visit: Our World Tuesday.

Creatures in Paris

As you probably know, I’ve just got back from a trip to Paris.

Parisians love their dogs and you can see them following their owners off the lead in even the busiest streets.

Owners and dogs enjoy life along the banks of the Seine.

Dog and man

The pigeons on the many bridges of Paris

Are remarkably tame and pose willingly for photos.

Tame pigeons

This bird has one of the best backdrops in Paris —

Notre Dame.

Bird ND

My favourite animals, however, have to be

The stone gargoyles that decorate the many churches.

(This one is smiling at me from Notre Dame.

Like me, he seems happy to see some spring blossoms.)


For more animals, please visit: Camera Critters.

Strange Shores: edition number … heck – who’s counting?

Welcome to another blog carnival! The one – the only: Strange Shores! I do believe this is number five, but can’t be sure. I rely on my co-conspirator Paddy to keep count – at  least until he runs out of fingers. Just in case you’re new to Strange Shores: this is a blog carnival where we take a look at the world from an ex-pat’s point of view.

treesAs you can see from my photo, spring hasn’t actually got to Sweden yet. Luckily, we got a break from the headlines about snow when Princess Victoria, who will one day be the Queen of Sweden, announced her engagement (at last!) to a regular guy. PaddyK brings you the good news with his tongue in cheek. (Where else would it be? Wait a moment – don’t answer that!)

Someone else who suffered at the hands of the weather gods is the charming Louise of Carmine Superiore. This story shows that she and her family are made of sterner stuff than … say, sugar!

A new friend of mine is the very funny Honeypiehorse. (What is a honeypiehorse anyway?) She’s a Californian transplanted to the chillier climate of Bavaria. Here she takes a look at the four phases of the Oktoberfest – complete with photographic evidence.

Another American is Kelli, who lives in Denmark. She has just started working at Herning High School and this has given her the chance to ponder the differences between education in Texas and Denmark. This will give your little grey cells some food for thought!

An ex-expat is Expateek: an American who lived in Poland but has just moved back to the USA. Trying to give stuff to charity in Poland requires muscles of strangec003steel. One way of getting those muscles – or dying in the attempt – is to go to the gym. However, if you’re Po from South African visiting a gym in the UK, then anything can happen!

And talking of the unexpected, Brenda in Paraguay takes an entertaining look at driving in Paraguay. In fact, her story reminded me of living in Fiji: the driving there was so exuberant that the buses would drive up onto the pavement and chase us poor pedestrians!

By the way, what do you listen to when you’re riding public transport? This is what Planet Nomad has to say about the music of her adolescence

Last but not least – my good self. This is how I get buns of steel... on my kick-ass sled! If that doesn’t work, then I just throw myself on the ground and have a good tantrum.

So, all you have to do my friends, is to sit back, grab a cup of your favourite beverage and enjoy these posts! They’ll be up for a few days so that you can always pop back now and then to savour these literary delights.

As for that three-faced horse – it’s been bugging me for weeks. I don’t see why I should be the only who is bugged by it: so here you are! Well, you know what they say about sharing a joy…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,453 other followers