OWPC : Doll

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Meet Elfy our new House Elf, inspired by the Elf on a Shelf book. He arrived a bit late for the party this year but he’s settling in quite nicely.

This week’s One Word Photo Challenge gives me the opportunity of wishing all my lovely viewers and readers a very Happy Christmas. Thanks for all your support and comments through the year. I really appreciate you being there.

The Lone Piper

The Lone Piper

As we left the North of England and headed towards the Scottish Borders, the grey skies turned increasingly sombre and heavy. My wife and I looked at each other and glanced towards the sky. I grimaced but she concentrated on the road ahead and just smiled.

Behind, our daughter and her husband were silent, numbed by the voyage and half-asleep.

The road winded up a hill that wanted to be a mountain pass and we crossed the border into Scotland. The first drops of rain splattered onto the windscreen and the automatic windscreen wipers jumped into action.

We didn’t stop at the lay-by that sits right on the frontier between England and Scotland. It’s a popular tourist attraction and stirred memories of the times we had stopped there in the past to take photos of the rollings hills of the Scottish Borders and listen to a Piper who plays there and sells his CDs most days.

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We’d driven up from Humberside the day before and had stayed overnight at a nice hotel in a small village to break up the five hour trip into two. I’d bought tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and didn’t want us to be too tired in the evening.

As we entered the forest south of Jedburgh, the rain became fierce and insistent and we looked at each other in silence, sharing our foreboding and anguish for the evening ahead. The Tattoo is an all-weather event and come rain or shine the show would go on. The prospect of having to watch the spectacle under the pouring rain was on all our minds but we avoided talking about it in the car for fear of provoking fate.

I had lived in Edinburgh when I was a teenager, and each year in late Spring and early summer the Castle Esplanade would host the tattoo and seats would spring up for the thousands of spectators that flocked to the Festival every year. It is so popular that I would recommend purchasing yours well in advance, to avoid disappointment.

The rain seemed to increase in intensity the nearer we got to Edinburgh and at one point the windscreen wipers, even at maximum speed, could no longer cope with the downpour. My wife slowed the car and the sound of the rain on the roof of the car was deafening.

She pulled over to the side of the road and we waited, hoping the rainstorm would desist.

When we set off again there wasn’t much difference in the intensity of the rain but the tattoo would start whether we were ready or not and we still had to find somewhere to park the car and walk to the Castle.

As we left the car park, armed with plastic ponchos, and blankets to keep warm, the rain slowly stopped. Above us the sky was heavy and laden and all around us was drenched. Where the ground could no longer absorb any moisture and where the drainage had failed, large puddles had formed and we treaded daintily to avoid them.

We joined the throngs of people converging upon the castle and waited patiently for the doors to open.

Everyone seemed to have an eye on the sky and although it looked certain too rain any minute we began to wordlessly hope that perhaps some of the spectacle would be dry.

The Tattoo is organised in military manner as you might imagine and it wasn’t long before we were led to our seats.

Then, on time as always, the show began. I’d seen it before and had even been once with my wife but my daughter and her husband were seeing it for the very first time and I was excited for them.

We listened to the massed marching bands and the invited performers from all over the world but just before the firework display and the end of the evening came the most moving moment.

A lone piper, high above on the castle ramparts, played a solitary lament that soared into the Edinburgh sky and echoed all around the castle.

It’s a spectacle that always brings a discreet tear to my eyes and reinforces my attachment to Bonny Scotland and to the city of Edinburgh; a unique and marvellous city that I can never really leave behind.

I will always carry a part of them with me.

Haste Ye Back!

Careful – Geisha Games : The Daily Post Photo Challenge

© 2014, Graham Lawrence
© 2014, Graham Lawrence

The subject of this weeks Daily Post Photo Challenge is Careful.

This photo was taken in Tokyo last year where we were fortunate to attend a Geisha Ceremony.

After the song and dance segment of the ceremony, the Geisha’s partook in party games with the spectators.

This particular game consisted of launching a fan to knock down an object on a pedestal. Here the Geisha is demonstrating how it should be done. It requires precise and delicate movements in order for the fan to fly towards the object without overflying or falling to the floor.

After both participants have been ‘coached’ they have three attempts each to knock down the object. The winner receives a silk square and the loser has to drink a shot of Sake in one go. (So both participants win!)

The Poya : Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday is Photo Fiction Day! Around 200 words inspired by a photo prompt.

Here is my attempt for this week. I’ve drawn on my many years spent living in Switzerland.

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© A Mixed Bag, 2014

The Poya

As day broke, Luca snapped to attention the moment his eyes opened. With blurred movement he was already sitting on the edge of his bed grappling for his clothes.

“Mum, I’m ready”, he shouted from the bedroom tripping over his shoe laces as he skipped from the bedroom and headed, almost without breathing, towards the front door.

“Luca! Wait!” His Mother intercepted him, taking him into her arms, smiling.

A bowl of hot chocolate and a warm buttered toast were ready on the kitchen table.

“Take these”, she said lovingly.

He scoffed the toast and slurped on the rich milky chocolate.

He shot a pleading look at his Mother and she grinned.

“Go! Enjoy yourself. Take care!”

“Bye!”

He left the Wooden Chalet as the first cow passed, decorated with flowers. The rhythmic clanging of the cowbells could be heard echoing in all the valley.

It was the day of the Poya when the cows were led by the Armailii from the lowlands to their summer pastures, high in the alps. An age old tradition.

Skipping and dancing he joined the procession and was far too enthralled to see his mother waving.

Here are some extra pics that illustrate the Poya.

© Wynn Anne's Meanderings: The Long Way Home wynnanne.blogspot.com
© Wynn Anne’s Meanderings: The Long Way Home
wynnanne.blogspot.com
The Poya
The Poya
© Photos de la Gruyère du site LYOBA - Petit armaill
© Photos de la Gruyère du site LYOBA – Petit armailli
Armailli et dzakillon de la Gruyère - © Delcampe.net
Armailli et dzakillon de la Gruyère – © Delcampe.net