The Reindeer who was Left Behind on a Balcony in Barca

Looking up in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter I saw a luminous reindeer.

This was a first for me, which made it memorable.

Had it been mid-winter, this wouldn’t have been unexpected.  But this was early September on a swelteringly hot evening.


Luminous Luminous Reindeer humour Barcelona Gothic Quarter
Luminous Reindeer


I often look at this picture and smile……. and wonder…….

(There’s a children’s story here just waiting to be written).


For more OddBalls from bloggers around the world, why not head over to Cee’s OddBall Challenge:

cameras photographers Happiness is.... Fuji camera coffee smiley donut

Happiness is….. a camera, a coffee and a donut

The topic for this week’s Black & White Photo Challenge from Cee is “Any Camera or Photographer


This first picture sums up perfection for me, especially when Mediterranean sunshine is added into the equation:

Happiness is  ….. a camera, a smiley coffee and a donut. (although my coffee was an espresso with no facial features whatsoever).

cameras photographers Happiness is.... Fuji camera coffee smiley donut
Happiness is…. ©HelenBushe


A photoshoot on a local beach is always fun too, even without the Mediterranean sunshine! :

St Annes, jetty, monochrome, black&white
St Annes’ Jetty Photoshoot ©HelenBushe


I took this next picture on a photography course I did a few years back. Whilst I enjoyed learning about studio lighting, still life and portraiture, I came to the conclusion that all that faffing about with light-meters, flash-guns, lightboxes etc is not for me. I definitely prefer to be out in the open air.

To each his own.  I’ve always maintained that people enjoy doing what they’re good at: I wasn’t much good at studio photography.


I love old cameras. This isn’t mine though:

RolleiCord camera monochrome black&white


And so do these enthusiasts at a weekly local market:

Camera Enthusiasts Preston Market monochrome black&white
Camera Enthusiasts ©HelenBushe


Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter: a few more Doors

Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter: a few more Doors

For this week’s Thursday Doors hosted by Norm, I’m revisiting my photos from our trip to Barcelona last September.

How I am looking forward to wandering through the winding alleys of Barca’s Gothic Quarter again, but that’s not for a few months yet.


This magnificent door is, I think, the street door to some tourist apartments:


Delivery Man Gothic Quarter Barcelona doors
Delivery Man ©HelenBushe


Shops, restaurants and clubs pull down their shutters when closed. The shutters ALL display graffiti; it is a recognised art form in the Gothic Quarter and you never see an outside door without it:

 Blue RollerBlind gothic quarter Barcelona
Blue RollerBlind ©HelenBushe


After dark the clubs open:

Gusanos Club Door Gothic Quarter Barcelona
Gusanos Club Door ©HelenBushe



 This picture was taken by flash after dark when all the trendy shops remain open till late. 

A shop door and an apartment door:

8 Bis Door Barcelona gothic quarter doors
The Door to No. 8 ©HelenBushe


For more Doors in The Gothic Quarter why not visit my other posts:

“Doors: Graffiti in the Gothic Quarter”

“Thursday Doors: An Old Brown Door in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter”


For more doors from bloggers around the world, head to Norm’s Thursday Doors.

Looking Down with some Degree of Nostalgia

The Kyles of Bute in Scotland’s Cowal Peninsula is one of my favourite places in the whole world. 

 In Glasgow when I was a child (in the olden days) it was a tradition  to take summer day trip on “The Waverley” paddle steamer. This annual treat was called “goin’ doon the watter“, though my English mother never allowed such Glaswegian dialect to be spoken in her presence!

 The steamer left from the  Broomielaw dock in the centre of Glasgow, sailed down River Clyde out to the Firth and over to the Kyles of Bute.  A kyle (in Scottish Gaelic, a “Caol” or “Caoil”) is a narrow strip of water; this one separates the northern end of the Isle of Bute from the Cowal Peninsula. 

When I was teaching, we used to bring  kids here for a week’s field studies trip every year for about 10 years.  We stayed in an education centre, formerly a Victorian millionaire’s house,  in the village of Colintraive. When I look at this photograph I can pinpoint exactly where it was;  it’s tucked in behind the trees on the shore of the bay on the left, by the wee white buildings you might just make out.

The house was called “Caol Ruadh” which is Gaelic for “Red Kyle” as legend has it that the waters once flowed red with the blood of warring Scottish clansmen.

This photo was taken from Queen’s View looking down the Kyle.


Kyles of Bute Scotland Scenery landscape Cowal Peninsula
The Kyles of Bute ©HelenBushe


This second photo was taken from the cenotaph outside Clitheroe Castle in Lancashire, not too far away from where I live now.

Watching over the Town
Watching over the Town ©HelenBushe


It’s back up to Scotland for a view of the interior of The National Museum of Scotland:

National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh
National Museum of Scotland ©HelenBushe


Lastly, over to my home city of Glasgow for a picture of the the entrance hall of Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art.

GoMA Gallery modern art glasgow gallery
GoMA ©HelenBushe


You’ll always be assured of a welcome here

Welcome to GoMA glasgow art gallery

I’ve enjoyed sharing this post as it contains some of my special memories.

Looking down seems to have turned into looking back.

All these places can be visited again, so I think I’ll look forward instead!

Thank you Cee for your Fun Foto Challenge: Looking Down at Things

Rock-Hewn Graves and Nettle Tea Bags

A Visit to Heysham

I’m hoping that “Rock-Hewn Graves and Nettle Tea Bags” is the only post in the whole of cyberspace with this title. 

If it is then that should make it especially OddBall for Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge this week.

Why am I thinking of an unused title? No particular reason other than how many combinations of words can there be?  And will we ever run out?  Probably not in my lifetime!

The graves and the tea bags are closely connected as we saw both of them within half an hour of arriving in Heysham on a day-trip last year. It’s only 40 minutes up the road.

Heysham is a large coastal village on the Lancashire coast. Whilst it is a ferry port for ships to Ireland and the Isle of Man, and has a nuclear power station nearby, the old part of the village is very quaint and set apart from the newer developments. It could be the setting for a 1950’s TV drama. 

Rock-Hewn Graves

Around St Patrick’s Chapel are the remains of eight rock-cut graves hewn from the headland, several of which are body shaped and have rock-cut sockets, possibly for wooden crosses. It is thought that the graves were created around the eleventh century and were used for burying very high-status individuals Heysham Coast, National Trust


Rock-Hewn Graves at Heysham
Rock-Hewn Graves at Heysham ©HelenBushe


In googling these graves I’ve found various theories about when they were built and who they were for. 

Some experts suggest that they are too small for corpses and perhaps held bones and artefacts. They can’t be carbon dated as there were no trace elements in or around.


Nettle Tea Bags

I also googled “Nettle Tea, Heysham” and was totally surprised to find that it’s fame has spread around the world.

I knew that it was a localised speciality, but since the owner of Bells Cottage Tea Rooms had the idea of putting it into bags its sales have gone from strength to strength (pun intended).

The Tea Room sends tea-bags to Alaska, Barbados and China…….ABC….. don’t  know about the rest of the alphabet…only those three were mentioned in the article “Selling Tea to China” which I read here.

This charmingly old-fashioned advert was outside the tea-room.

Granny Bell's Nettle Tea Bags Heysham
Granny Bell’s Nettle Tea Bags ©HelenBushe

It’s only in looking for oddities in my archives for this post, and doing a bit of research, that I’ve discovered this worldwide thirst for nettle tea !

Had I known that it was so internationally sought after I might have been tempted to try some.

I definitely will next visit. Perhaps along with a “Hidgy-Pidgy” scone.   “Hidgy-Pidgy” is an old name for nettle. Yes the cheese scones have nettles in them too!

Hmmmm….I wonder if Granny Bell also makes ice-cream……..



Perspective: Looking up, Down or Sideways

Getting a different perspective on familiar things for me usually involves some kind of physical contortion.

I approached this iconic Scallop on Aldeburgh beach with camera already set.  Since I could see people approaching, and wanted a shot without them in it, I flung myself down flat on the pebbled seashore in front of it and clicked the shutter. It was an “all-in-one” sequence of actions. One second I was on my feet, next second I was splayed flat out, clicking.

I did this so quickly (I’d been rehearsing it in my mind on the walk towards it) that  the others nearby thought I’d collapsed. I did feel a bit silly but it was good of them to check out that I was OK.  Getting back up afterwards wasn’t quite so easy. It never is these days.

This shell is dedicated to composer Benjamin Britten . It is almost 5 metres high and is made of stainless steel.

It was designed by Suffolk artist, Maggi Hambling, and bears the words :

I hear those voices that will not be drowned  (from Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes”)


The Scallop on Aldeburgh Beach Maggi Hambling Benjamin Britten
The Scallop on Aldeburgh Beach ©HelenBushe


Getting the next couple of shots involved me cricking my neck:

Lytham Windmill perspective monochrome
Lytham Windmill ©Helenbushe


Salts Mill Chimney Saltaire
Salts Mill Chimney ©HelenBushe


For this one I supported myself on a slimy bit of concrete :

The Shoreline perspective monochrome
The Shoreline ©HelenBushe


And for the last two I was down on my knees :


Aisle Kettlewell Church
Down the Aisle in Kettlewell Church ©HelenBushe


Lytham Jetty perspective monochrome
Lytham Jetty ©HelenBushe


How I suffer for my art (?)!  Ha!  And what fun I have doing it. 

That’s my take on Perspective for Cee’s Black & White Challenge this week.

The Causeway RSPB

Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve: The Path to the Lower Hide

Although the weather forecast threatened rain and poor visibility, we took ourselves up to Leighton Moss mid-week. Its about an hour’s drive away.

We had to return a  bird-feeding station for the garden we’d bought there a couple of weeks ago. It was a very nice one in natural wood but would have been far too big for its allocated space.  The hangers for bird food look just fine where they are now on the trees.  The garden birds aren’t complaining at any rate, judging by the rate they’re getting through their suet blocks and peanuts.

So much for the weather forecast!  It was a lovely day: quite warm and sunny.  And that’s not a usual combination for NW England in February.

Leighton Moss is an RSPB reserve (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). It is situated on the edge of Morecambe Bay and in the Arnside and and Silverdale  AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

The reserve contains the largest reedbeds in North-West England and is home to some rare birds such as breeding bitterns, bearded tits and marsh harriers. All of which we have seen at various times.

On this visit we took the path from Lillian’s Hide along The Causeway and through the woods  to the Lower Hide:


The Causeway RSPB
The Causeway ©HelenBushe


A Wee Bridge Leighton Moss RSPB
A Wee Bridge ©HelenBushe


A Pile of Logs
A Pile of Logs ©HelenBushe


Lower Hide 100m RSPB Leighton Moss
Lower Hide 100m ©Helen Bushe


The Lower Hide RSPB Leightin Moss birdwatching
The Lower Hide ©HelenBushe


Binoculars RSPB Lower Hide birdwatching
Birdwatching ©HelenBushe


View from Lower Hide Leighton Moss RSPB reserve birdwatching
View from Lower Hide ©HelenBushe

We saw marsh harriers, cormorants, herons, teal, shovelers, pintails, gadwall and loads of coots. Once again we did NOT see an otter .   Otters seem to appear whenever we leave the hide. Maybe next time……


For Which Way posts from bloggers around the world, why not head to Cee’s Challenge…

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