Hastings Carnival 2017

Unfortunately, due to reasons I can only imagine – rising costs, austerity, people working harder for their buck – the amount of people putting time and effort into Hastings Carnival seems to diminish year on year. Or, maybe, there are so many dress up events in the town’s social calendar (bonfire night, Mayday, pirates day….) that this event, that predates all of them, is no longer ‘trendy’.

Thankfully, there are still those that value it and here are some of them:

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St Michael’s Hospice Moonlight Walk

Having cared so well for both my dad, and then my mum when her time came, I rushed to volunteer to take photos of any marketing event held by St Michael’s Hospice – it’s not much I hope it helps a little.

So, I got an email for my first assignment – an open garden afternoon might have been a little easier that their Moonlight Walk… But, hey, I got on with it. Unaware of the poor camera settings at the half way point (ISO VERY high), I’m not so proud of those taken with the flash. And, next time I MUST take a torch a) to actually see what I’m doing and b) to highlight my subject so the camera can focus. Every day’s a learning day.

Here are a few of some of the local people who also believe St Michael’s Hospice is very worthy of their free time:

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Mayday 2017

Posts are pretty random at the moment as we have had a disjointed house move that saw us sell one without having secured another and therefore spending a couple of months in temporary accommodation. However, we have now completed the purchase on a new home and are expecting Open Reach to come and install our phone line and therefore our internet at the end of the week – we will have only had to wait nearly 4 weeks. Ggrrrrrrr!!!!!

Anyway, just because I have only been posting randomly from various open Wifi spots across town, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out and about, taking photos.

This first set were taken at daybreak up at Lady’s Parlour near Hastings castle on the West Hill where some of the dancers, the bogeys and some members of the public gather to watch the sun come up and have a jolly good dance about.

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Then, from 10am, starting at the Fishermans’ Museum, the procession passes, loudly and joyously, through the narrow roads of the old town and back up the hill towards the castle where Morris Dancers from all around the world perform in some sort of Folk dance off before the Jack is slayed around 3pm.

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Bodiam Tractor Rally

Warning – Post of many photos

Lots of tractor owners got together in Bodium today to rally through the countryside, raising money for the excellent local cause that is St Michael’s Hospice. There was a huge variety of modern, vintage, big and small tractors that made for an interesting, bright and colourful parade.

Probably not the right platform to dump all these photos but I want them in a public space for others to view. Does anyone have any recommendations for a suitable platform for placing large volumes of event photos?

Images have been uploaded at low resolution – get in touch if you want a better quality image, Click on images to see them full size.

Juggling for the camera club

Well, so far, January has failed to prove very productive on the photography front. So luckily, the local camera club arranged for the local juggling squad to join us this week.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to experiment with a style of photography I’d seen before and admired when used to photograph dancers. I wanted to explore if it would work with the jugglers.

These are handheld (probably would have been better if on a tripod but there were a lot of us with cameras and I couldn’t direct the jugglers) 1 – 2 second exposures with the flash firing at the end of the exposure – rear curtain sync. Let me know what you think.

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Alleppey, Kerala, India

We took ourselves down to Alleppey (or Alappuzha) with a view to spending a couple of nights on a rice boat in the back waters. Little did we realise that it was a national holiday in India and the place would be heaving. After elbowing our way through the other tourists along the quayside where the houseboats were moored and speaking to a couple of captains, we agreed that it may not be quite the unique, romantic, enlightening experience the guide books would have us believe and therefore, opted out.

The host at our homestay had said he could organise a day with a backwater village guide and so we arranged that instead. And, what a pleasurable experience it was. My only regret is to not have spent more evening and morning time on the water when the villagers are going about their daily chores on the rivers.

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Taking his human for a walk
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Lucky goat
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Going about their business
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Local
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Converted canoes for the tourists
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Waiting to be hired.
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Houseboats converted from traditional rice boats – Kettuvallams
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Choose your houseboat.
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The pollution from boat motors is a little disquieting.
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Footpaths and waterways through the villages – away from the tourist trails
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So many butterflies but mostly too quick for me.
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Our guide and his canoe
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Traditional Keralean banana leaf meal at the home of our guide.
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The grandchildren of our backwaters village host and his wife.
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The grandson having his lunch
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canoes in all shapes and sizes
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Bathroom accessories
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Sheltering from the midday sun.
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Family of water buffalo
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Local wildlife – kingfisher
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All life happens here – quietly.
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Serene and calm
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Local transport
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Washing up.
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But I feel they are playing.
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Should be bathing…
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Daily chores at the riverside for villagers
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Bathing for all
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Loads of river traffic on this national holiday.
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Traditional house boats in a queue.
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A big responsibility for a small boy.
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Late afternoon on the canal in town.
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Boats to service the tourist trade
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In town, the bustle is intense.
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Retro cast advertising figurines.
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Recycled rice bags.
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Retro shop mannequins.
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The electricity system frightening.

Lakshadweep Islands, Indian Territories

WARNING – LONG POST!!!

For the second main stage of our travels to India, we found ourselves heading out into the Arabian Sea with a boat load of middle-aged, middle-class domestic tourists. And I make this distinction because I feel it impacted greatly on the impressions we were left with – still the same kindness and friendliness yet totally different to the fishing community at Cherai Beach.

Leaving from Willingdon Island near Fort Kocki in Kerala, we were embarking on a five night adventure which would include a day visit to 3 of the 39 islands of this archipelago located to the north of, and a geographical extension of the Maldives. The ship that would take us out was, primarily, the ferry and service boat for the locals of the island. And, to help finance the running costs, 200 berths have been made available to tourists. The islanders, generally, are not wealthy people and many of their young depend on jobs on the mainland. Using tourism to help finance this facility that keeps the islands in touch with the mainland seems good business.

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Luckily, there were only 200 tourist class passengers
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Many of the initiatives are still a work in progress.
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Please do not spit here & on to the lifeboat – wonderful curly, friendly font of the characters in the Malayalam alphabet
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Off into the night in the rain.
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The Kavaratti ship seen from Kalpeni Island

On this trip, our first stop was Kalpeni Island – I believe the itinerary may change depending on weather, tides and the needs of the islanders. Here, I had a very brief conversation with a man about how more tourism could help improve the lives of these people. I was quite surprised, from a gender perspective, to be approached; it seems still a very patriarchal society where men talk to men. I’m not sure of the motivations of the SPORT people and their promotion of tourism on the islands; it was quite complicated to make this booking  and spaces are limited; it would seem that, rightfully so, access to the islands is being kept in check.

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Local fishing boats were used for transfers from ship to island.
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All tourists were required to wear life jackets… The locals fended for themselves.
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Just because I liked the colours.
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Morning water activities.
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Beautiful corals and sea life
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Snorkelling was very easy in these shallow waters.
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Off to experience scuba diving
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Barely above sea level
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Pre-dinner activities – hermit crab racing.
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Chickens on the beach
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Goats on nests
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Local folk dance
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Not so different from our Morris Men
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The coconut industry
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There is no shortage.
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Disused textiles factory – no longer viable
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Tourists checking out the textiles for sale

After a comfortable nights sleep in our bunks on the ship, we awoke on the second day to find the ship had already moored off Minicoy island. After a basic but nutritious breakfast, we were again loaded into the local fishing boats and ferried ashore.

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A visit to one of the many lighthouses left behind by the British – Hari and Christine were the only other Europeans that had found their way to this trip.

 

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A handsome devil
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Salt water lover.
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Entertainment laid on.
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We preferred to spend our morning snorkelling – there was so much to see.
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I cannot do the vibrancy justice.
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Shy.
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Magnificent corals
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Nature’s washing line.
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Traditional racing boat.
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The very little exclusive tourist accommodation that was on the islands was way beyond our budget.
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Cliches are cliches for a reason – someone said that to me recently.
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The locals on the top deck.
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Getting the land-lubber tourists aboard – there was a bit of a swell this evening which meant the leap had to be well timed.
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Watching the loading process. Love how their boats are shaped like fish.

The final island we had the good fortune to visit, Karavatti like the name of the ship, is the capital of the Lakshadweep Islands and therefore a little more populated, but not visibly any wealthier. I should have liked to talk more with the locals but they seemed quite shy, keeping away from the hoards of tourists. And, I was surprised the Indian tourists didn’t try to engage with them – again it made me think about the class system in this country and wonder how things work.

We did get a little insight into the psyche of our upwardly mobile travelling companions on this day. Having had a drink in a paper cup, my other half wandered towards the rubbish bin, on his way collecting a few cups, as you do, that had been dropped on the beach and, having placed them all in the bin, thought no more of it…. until. After lunch, a woman came up and said how she had noticed him collecting some of the litter and explained how it ‘almost’ made her consider doing the same. Later that evening, on the boat, after dinner, a couple of the men came over and there ensued a huge discussion on why they could never be seen to be picking up litter. And it was that conversation that, for us, clarified a little the class system in the country and how closely linked it is to the huge litter problem they have.

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The population of Kavaratti swells for a few hours.
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Firstly, a swim to look at the sea life.
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Just as great a selection here as on the other two islands.
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An option for non-swimmers – lazy us.
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Cows on the beach.
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Lakshadweep
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Goats and boats
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Washed away.
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Dried fish industry
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Luckily, they don’t have the seagulls we do.
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Older local lads making their own amusement on the beach
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I’m of more interest than the lesson
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School children
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The same the world over.
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Smart phones and shark tanks
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A very good display of preserved sea creatures – not supposed to take photos
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Selling it by the chunk
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Beach combing at low tide.
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A quick selfie whilst waiting for something to happen – Bollywood style.
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Locals leaving the island
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To make sure we go or make sure they stay?
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Alone on the dock
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The farewell committee
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Another lighthouse
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Locals on the top deck – again, mostly male.

 

 

 

 

Hastings’ Pram Race 2016

It was another great evening in Hastings’ Old Town with teams of people dressed up and racing their carts and prams around the pubs to make money for charity. Not sure why I didn’t get so many good photos this year – it certainly wasn’t because I was spending too much time in the pubs. Haha!

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