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101 Reasons To Visit Kos Island

Kastri Island viewed from the ruins of Agios Stefanos

101 Reasons To Visit Kos Island

Pictures speak louder than words, so I have 101 photographs that I believe will speak directly to your hearts on the beauty and appeal of this fascinating Greek island.

My piece of advice to you all this week, as part of the WordPress Discover Challenge, is to believe what your eyes see through my images of Kos and not what the world’s media would have you believe! Visit Kos and other Greek Islands, they are affordable, welcoming, enthralling and perfectly safe. You won’t regret it!

All these photographs were taken between June 21st and July 5th 2016. Most were shot on the Sony a6000 mirrorless camera, NFC transferred to my Sony Xperia Z5 smartphone and edited in Snapseed and Adobe PS Touch Apps.

Part of WPC: Look Up for the wonderful birds of Greece!

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Purple Friday

#PurpleFriday

Purple Friday – Part of Worldwide Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week

For any of my followers who don’t already know, I have Crohn’s. I was diagnosed nearly twenty years ago and have since undergone four major abdominal operations including having an ileostomy created; developed secondary Fibromyalgia, psoriasis, vulvodynia, ocular disease, dental disease, kidney stones, foliculitis, skin ulcers, allergies, abscesses, strictures, hair thinning and reflux; I’ve had countless colonoscopies, ileoscopies, barium meal x-rays, transfusions and blood tests; I’ve taken pretty much every medication ever used in Crohn’s, plus several more experimental treatments; I am now taking Azathioprine and Humira (adalimumab) injections which reduce my immune system, along with numerous other medications for symptoms of all my conditions and to counteract side-effects. I have a GREAT life; brilliant family and friends, two lovely cats, art and photography, poetry, music, travel, the great outdoors, the RHS, lots of children who aren’t mine but I love them all to bits, oh, AND next year I’m getting married to my wonderful man, Simon 🙂

For #PurpleFriday, patients, their families and friends have all been wearing purple and taking selfies to tell their stories and raise awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis all over the world. Instead of a selfie, I decided that sharing some of my favourite purple floral-photos was a much better way of telling people about myself. After all, Crohn’s is only part of my story! It’s also a great way for me to say thank to Crohn’s & Colitis UK (CCUK) for all they have done for me over the years and to send a big hug out to everyone around the world affected by these illnesses.

This is a gallery of posters shared by CCUK this week to raise awareness, please feel free to share them!

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NaBloPoMo and Travel Theme: Colourful Comforts

NaBloPoMo and Travel Theme: Colourful Comforts

It was wet and horrible outdoors today but I made a quick stop into our local gift shop, Apples & Pears, and was confronted by all the wonderful colours and scents of Christmas! I found one or two ideas for presents but mostly I just enjoyed browsing in such a comforting atmosphere.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

Salvation

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

The Last Post is a mass participation project that has seen communities across the UK playing the Last Post on a variety of different instruments to remember lives of World War One.  In Woking, our event was organised by Andy Mabbutt from The Phoenix Cultural Centre and hosted by Eddie Jones at The Trench Experience shop and Upcycling Centre.

The Trench Experience shop was the ideal setting for our event. The Charity was founded by Eddie Jones in 2005 and has just started work on a permanent base for the educational project, on land beside Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey. The site will be developed in real-time to the events of the First World War, leading up to a Victory Celebration in 2018. The charity has chosen The Artists Rifle Regiment to illustrate trench conditions. The Artists fought as a battalion and were in the thick of the fighting with the Royal Naval Division at Passchendaele and Ypres. I’m really excited about this open-air, living history museum!

Cllr Tony Branagan, the Mayor of Woking, opened the event and welcomed us all. We honoured the memory of the Artist’s Rifles with prose and poetry from Greg Freeman, of the Woking Writers Circle, and also from me. Wilfred Owen is one of the best known members of the Artist’s Rifles and his poetry was a huge inspiration to me from my school days. I felt it was fitting to read a number of his poems including, Beauty and Anthem For Doomed Youth, two of my favourites and incredibly moving pieces. I also read my recently penned homage to Blood Swept Lands.

Vic Cracknell took us on a journey through the music of the era which brought back memories for many of us, young and old. My Great Aunt Jo was always singing with us when we were children and I was probably one of the most vocal members of the audience during the sing-a-long when Vic launched into She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain! Voices rose all around the shop for It’s A Long Way To Tipperary and Pack Up Your Troubles. One of the most moving moments of the event came as Vic read an actual letter from the Grandfather he never met, back home to his family about having been wounded in action and losing an arm. It was full of reassurance to loved ones and gratitude for all the help he was receiving. Such an upbeat letter considering such dire circumstances!

A great achievement bringing several of Woking’s community groups together to put on such a successful and moving event!

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NaBloPoMo and Travel Theme – Belonging at The Lovely Music Night

Andy Twyman

NaBloPoMo and Travel Theme – Belonging at The Lovely Music Night

Every month a Lovely Music Night is held at The Phoenix Cultural Centre in Woking. Tonight was that night and it was truly lovely! There’s such a feeling of belonging for both audience and musicians at these events. Thank you to Dave Lambert, Ciaron and Alan, Lisa Von H, Dave Salsbury, Dan Shears and The Velveteen Orchestra, Andy Twyman and Cardboard Carousel for the wonderful music!

All photos taken on Sony Xperia Z phone and processed with Google Photos App.

 

Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red

Blood Swept Land And Seas Of Red

Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red

This extraordinary installation at The Tower of London was created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper. 888,246 ceramic poppies have progressively filled the Tower’s famous moat over the course of Summer and Autumn. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the First World War. To the crowds who have flocked to the Tower, from all over the world, each poppy represents so much more; the lives lost on all sides of all the wars that have followed, whether combatant or not. Inspired by the installation and with excerpts from The Blood Swept Lands by Unknown Soldier; Beauty, Asleep and Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, I have written this poem of remembrance, accompanied by photos from around the Tower and views of the installation from The Shard.

Through blood swept lands
And seas of red
I saw him stumbling.
Bent double with age,
The old soldier
Treads softly through
This field of mud
To place his marker.
His hanging face, lost
In some smothering dream
Of another field,
Where he once marched
Through sludge and filth,
Deaf to the shouts
Of those he left for dead
In a war that never
Should have been
Had lessons been learned.
His marker for the
Father he never met,
The friends he left behind,
The son who died too
Far from his fathers arms,
The grandsons who now
March through desert sands
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags.
Their mother cries
“Come home boys, come home”.
His tears are lost
In the falling rain.
Crowds watch on as
The lives long lost
Seep from the Tower Walls.
Hands reach in, again and again
To plant another fallen angel.
Here lie the flowers of our people
Filling the ancient moat
Each a boy who fell back
To fill some forgotten trench
With their aborted lives.
Regard this beauty,
So fair and elegant
That pleases and delights.
In these flowers we see hope.
All stand in strength to
Remember the glorious dead.
One hundred years since
That war to end all wars,
Yet thousands more have
Killed and died and bled
For naught but the ancient lie,
The struggle over territory
To seize a scrap of this land
That belongs to no one, and everyone.
In time when these blooms are gone
And verdant grass heals
The tortured,trampled land,
What will remain in the minds of man?
And later on will we hear
Of some canker that worked
Itself into the misted memories
Of those crimson flowers?
And laid vile, incurable sores
On the innocent minds of our children,
Ardent for some desperate glory.
Who knows, who hopes, who troubles?

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NaBloPoMo – Coffee Break

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It’s been a wet and miserable day here in South East England but I had to visit the village for supplies. The leaves still hanging on the Maple always put a smile back on my face though, no matter how grim the day!

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To lift my spirits further, and prepare for a night of music photography, I’ve paused at Taylors for a coffee break. Dark chocolate, mocha coffee! A hug in mug 🙂

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Travel Theme: Bountiful

Grapes

Travel Theme: Bountiful

This bountiful harvest of grapes seemed to me to be the perfect thing to photograph and share with you for this week’s theme. I didn’t find this in any vineyard or garden though! No, this heavenly sight is right outside my favourite coffee shop in West Byfleet, a lovely little place called Taylor’s. It’s a joy to sit outside with the Autumn sun glowing on the vines, sipping a dark chocolate mocha!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

Apples & Pear 1960's Window Display

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

It’s been a tough decade for independent retailers in the UK! The recession hit small, local businesses in villages and towns hard, forcing many closures. Even now that we are coming out of the recession and economic growth (GDP) is rising ahead of many other countries, our high-streets are still littered with empty shops and office buildings.

With that in mind it is my absolute pleasure to share with you all a story of success from my own village, West Byfleet! Apples & Pears (formerly Heather Forster) has not only endured the recession but are celebrating 50 years of trading with a 1960’s Party this coming Saturday the 27th September. With fancy dress, a bring-and-buy charity sale, 60’s DJ set and the original owner Heather Forster in attendance, it will be a great way for the community to show their support, not only for this family run gift shop, but also for all our local independent shops!

Christine and John Morrison took over the shop 10 years ago, around the time that I moved into West Byfleet. They’ve kindly allowed me to photograph many items in the shop, mainly to create abstract images for this blog. Last year during my 365 photography challenge I often turned to their eclectic shop for daily inspiration! I do, of course, buy many gifts and cards from them too, and maybe the odd little treat for myself 😉

They always have an interesting and well-crafted window display but I really have to congratulate them on their current 1960’s themed display that is a part of their celebrations! It’s so fascinating and fun that I decided to create some vintage-styled photos with my phone camera and the Google Photos editing app.