Life, photos but not the universe

Snigger. Yawn.

You know a few days ago I posted about ‘not starting any computer stuff which will only take a few minutes if you only have a few minutes because……’

Well last night Eldest pointed out that if we kept all Barney’s ipod tunes on the computer as well as on the ipod, when the ipod dies (for whatever reason like maybe Barney dropping it off a roof) we’ll still have them all available to put on  a new ipod.

Then he said of course you can’t really take the tunes from the ipod and put them on the computer because it’s not designed to do that.

Then he said  well actually you can if you download a programme do do it.

Then he said it’ll only take a few minutes actually.


After a bit, Lovely Northern Lass went to bed as they had to be up early the next morning (Barney was long gone).




Some hours later (very later) Eldest showed me how to put photos on the ipod and adjusted a lot of settings to make it all automatic and introduced me to Chrome* (which I quite like) and we both went off to bed feeling very very tired and quite pleased with the results though by that time I was getting very hazy about what we had actually done.**

So now I’m putting some photos on the ipod (it’ll only take a few minute, honest) and using Chrome to do this post and occasionally checking the ipod which seems to be doing its thing quite peacefully – and Oh look!  It’s finished and turned itself off!

I’d never thought before, but when Barney’s uploading stuff, there’s no reason I can’t use the internet on his bit of computer.  After all it’s the same browser.

Yawn! (again)  And some bits of Arabian Nights fantasy.  Was it real?  I’m not sure now : )DSC_3290-1Our bedroom in the Alsisar Mahal.  Mmm 🙂

DSC_3324-1And the swimming pool.  (I could do with one now!)

DSC_3333-1View from the bedroom door.

DSC_3398-1And the loo window 🙂

DSC_3414-1Somewhere to rest on the way down to breakfast.

Well I think I shall go to bed now.  It seems to be quite late.

Sleep well all : )

*Google’s nice new web browser.

**And lets be fair, I hadn’t done any of it, Eldest did it all.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Back from another world and another time.

Eldest and The Northern Lass are coming to stay tonight, on their way to somewhere.

Consequently, we are feeling quite happy and excited and have made plans for a very nice veggie meal.  Then I thought, actually, Eldest might prefer meat!  We could have a mixed starter : )

And then we spent most of the weekend with Youngest and Mr Youngest and the Three GB’s.  Camping, following morris dancers and enjoying, somewhat incredulously, the best weather of the year so far!  (You have to bear in mind that the last two years of this event have involved howling gales, vertical rainstorms and the sound of zips – tent zips, waterproof jacket zips, bag zips and random zips which nobody had even thought about*.  Also flattened and blown away tents and wet sleeping bags)  (You also need to know that two years ago was Mr Youngest’s and two of the three GBs’ first time at Bampton so they were convinced that it always rains there)

Anyway, now I need to see Mr and Mrs Middle to complete the set : )

I dunno.  Camping, sunshine, dancing, singing, music, drinking and lots and lots of good companionship.  What could be better!

dance, dance, wherever you may be

dance, dance, wherever you may be

The Grange, Bampton, Oxfordshire

The Grange, Bampton, Oxfordshire

The Grange courtyard

The Grange courtyard

Reg, the morris fiddler

Reg, the morris fiddler

Nymph and  - shepherds?

Nymph and - shepherds?

The Rose Tree, my favourite dance

The Rose Tree, my favourite dance


DSC_8639-CS_filteredThe Morris team dance all day, whatever the weather, from 8.30 in the morning till dark.  They dance all round the village, in the streets and in gardens that are opened for them.  The Bampton team have been dancing every year since 1802** and are only one of the four traditional teams in the country who’s tradition is unbroken for all that time. (It’s also possible that it’s been going for 400 years).  It’s believed to be all about fertility and is most definitely about the survival of a community.  Once, the literal survival against starvation and bad weather, now perhaps against the gradual disintegration of families and villages being subsumed into a large and impersonal way of life which does not sit well in the hearts and minds of people who need life to include intimacy and friendliness.  People still come from all over the country to witness this event and to be included in the generous friendliness of the villagers.

Morris is still often mocked – men skipping in circles with bells on and waving hankies.  Look again and you see men leaping strenuously, flashing white handkerchiefs and ringing out a song of defiance and endurance while keeping perfect time with the sharp, slithery tunes played by musicians who have learnt their music by ear as the dancers have learnt their steps by example.  I am reminded of the Masai warriors leaping and the Peruvian guides running and the Himalayan Sherpas climbing.

Morris represents something we are in danger of losing as technology moves people around faster and further than ever before.  I think it represents the small communities that make up the larger community of people on earth.  And, amazingly, young men and small boys still join the team and learn the dances and spend their bank holiday Monday leaping and jingling and flashing their whites around the village.


*I made those up.

**I can never remember how many hundreds of years – when I’ve checked with Him Who Knows Everything, I’ll let you know too.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It’s later than you think***

Well it will be if you don’t follow this simple rule.  Never, never (unless you are confident, geeky and highly competent) start anything you’re not used to doing with a computer when you have “just a minute or two to do that little job”.

Because it will take many more minutes than you bargained for.  In fact if you haven’t done it for a while or especially if it’s a completely new thing (like downloading a new programme), it’s probably best to leave a whole day free.  (This of course means that you may never get round to doing it at all).

Because the machine will tell you it takes less than a minute to download/update/renew/change/etc.  But only if you have all the relevant passwords, usernames, nicknames, email addresses and other random gumph to hand.  And only if what you mean by these things is the same as what them what wrote the programme what you are essaying to do stuff with, mean.  A username for instance, may look like an email address.  A nickname may be the same as a username. A  username may or may not be, your name.  And so on.

This is a rule I have learnt from many hours spent, late at night when I usually do computer stuff, feverishly poring over baffling screens and cursing as more and more unfamiliar messages appear and more and more unknown information is demanded of me.

Although I’m quite handy with the stuff I’m used to, I’m not actually geeky.  In other words I can’t make an educated guess at what’s required working from first principles as my son, f’rinstance, could.  I can run through all the possible passwords, usernames, nicknames, email addresses etc but this tends to be confusing.  And although there aren’t so many of them to try out, the combinations are, of course, multiplied enormously.  So downloading a new version often goes on long into the night, accompanied by more and more frantic cups of tea and coffee and glasses of wine and hastily rolled cigs (resulting in more and more bouncing up and down, animated cursing, confusion and befuddlement and typos and increasingly desperate moments when I daren’t go to the loo in case I miss the next simple instruction!)

Actually I haven’t done any of this recently but today, I did politely decline to learn how to change and renew my insurance online.  I have to go out soon and I just know it won’t be as simple as it sounds.  Also, once I’ve done it, I’ll be committed to yet another set of passwords, usernames, nicknames, email addresses and all and since I will only need them once a year I’d really need to write them down somewhere and I’m reading Cryptonomicon which is an education in geekiness, hacking, security and cryptography, as well as being a very entertaining novel/thriller*.  Also it engenders a certain amount of paranoia about these things.**

Sadly, it was almost as difficult to do the thing on the phone, since our insurance company seems to have gone overseas so I couldn’t understand the nice foreign lady I spoke to and had to keep fielding offers of other insurance services (like online management of the account)  that I didn’t want to deal with just now, Thank you very much!  (See, I’m polite about it.)

So here’s a photo.  I seem to have abandoned India as a subject …Life does go on and things do happen after holidays!  but photos are just icing.  Or cake.  Or something.

The Alsisar Mahal Hotel

The Alsisar Mahal Hotel

However, one can’t quite forget staying in a place that was somewhere between The Arabian Nights and The Alhambra and was also utterly beguiling and beautiful.DSC_3258-1

Also a bit like staying in a birthday cake.

Also a bit like staying in a birthday cake.

*The thrilling part comes later in the book, at the moment it’s just fascinating and slightly alarming/amusing.

**I know, I ought to be reading tractors but unlike computer stuff, I know I can read a couple of books in a couple of weeks even if one of them is a Neal Stevenson which takes a bit longer than a couple of days.

***And since I’ve been away since writing all this it’s now even later than that : )

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Camping again.

It must be that time of year.

I’ll be away for a few days and hey!  the weather forecast isnt suggesting howling gales or torrential rain or even floods!

See you all soon


Sleep well : )

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Let’s do it again

Actually, let’s not.

Whenever I go through all the agonies and anxieties of replacing something or even of buying something completely new and different, I have at the back of my mind a secret faith, or a folorn hope at least, that this has now been done and will not have to be done again.  In this age of built in obsolescence it’s a sad and futile hope but there you are.  I may no longer have a belief in my own mortality but I still retain a childish trust in the immortality of objects.  Even though we habitually run our cars into the ground and my computers into their final crashes and our washing machine is still leaking (not in any dangerous way, the washing machine man assured me) nearly a year after the leak was pronounced fatal.

Worse, I am not keen on maintenance.  I do not like repainting, cleaning, rustproofing, repairing and getting my hair cut because it has become clear to me over the years that these activities are always only temporary in effect whereas I feel that once done they ought to stay done.  It infuriates me that the tidied room becomes untidy within anything from five minutes to a day, that the cats and dog replace the hair I hoover up and that there are always a hundred dirty glasses in the sink even though only yesterday I washed them all.  I completely sympathise with women who won’t let their families walk on the freshly washed kitchen floor or eat at the nice clean dining room table and if I could be bothered to keep on top of it all, I suspect I’d be the same.  (In fact I might refuse to let anyone in the house at all if I actually kept it clean and tidy).  The oft heard platitude that ‘it’s much easier to keep clean if you do it regularly‘ drives me to internal, metaphorical, hair-tearing, foot-stamping rage!  Gaah!  Bah humbug!  I don’t want to do it regularly!

And while we’re on the subject, why is it that the cats, eating swiftly and efficiently, with their heads down and no unnecessary movement, scatter cat food stickily all over their eating shelf while the dog, gobbling noisily and gulping like a pig, wagging his tail the while, leaves a clean shiny bowl and nothing whatsoever on the floor.  Even, he sometimes slurps a bit of water and licks the dinner bowl clean with his wet tongue!

I know that there are still people who believe cleanliness is next to Godliness.  I hope none of them ever come to our house because our ungodliness would be instantly revealed as the door opened – perhaps even while waiting in the porch for us to open the grubby, peeling door and let them in to the hall where a dark stain disfigures the carpet right in front of the door.  (For some reason, rugs won’t stay on top of the stain – and we have tried to remove it – it’s permanent)

Meanwhile, I’m listening to the news with half an ear.  I’ve heard a number of wordy denunciations of the British MPs who have been defrauding the public of vast amounts of money for such purposes as cleaning their houses (!Wish I could have been in on that one) and having their moats cleared.  (Yes, really, one of them owns a splendid old manor house with a moat and he claimed for its clearing on his expense account.  So that his constituents could reach him more easily perhaps?  I don’t think so.)  The most outrageous fraud it seems, was to claim for mortgage payments on a second home in London so they could do their duties more efficiently and then to claim for a third home after selling the second one with huge profits*.  Neat.

Most of the denunciations I heard should have been cut down to “he/she’s been corrupt and dishonest and should be banned from all politics and public responsibility, of any kind,  for life.”  I have no sympathy or feeling that ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ because no way in a million years would I ever ever put myself in a position where I might be responsible for behaving well in spite of multiple temptations and lots of bad examples.  I do not trust myself to keep my nose clean if I go out to the shops.  These people promised to keep their noses clean in front of the whole country.  Did they think they’d never get caught out?  Are they mad?  For sheer stupidity they deserve to be hauled over the coals and thrown out still steaming onto the nearest shitpile.  and also for being dishonest and corrupt and pretending they were representing the rest of us who have to keep within some bounds of decency or we’d get what we deserve and then some.

I’m surprised that the office responsible for ratifying these claims hasn’t yet been hauled out, dressed in a goatskin and dangled by the scruff in front of the public for a bit of scaping.  It’ll come.  Democracy hasn’t looked so shabby for a while and it’s all a bit sad.  But even more sadly, not at all surprising.  Bill Clinton’s sex life was bad enough.  Nixon’s conniving was shocking.   Whatever it was that Archer did was pretty depressing.  Now it’s the whole British government, our elected representatives, come home to haunt us.   Why did we elect these venial, self-serving dumbos?

I’m not going any further on that one because it’s possible the reason is that the ‘majority’ are venial and self serving too.  Rats!

I am amused to learn that the Good Burghers of Ghent** are giving up burgers for one day a week.  I wonder what the bad Burghers are going to do.

Middle Girl’s bookclub is doing me a power of good.  Having obediently read ‘Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver, I’ve embarked on an exploration of Lionel Shriver’s other books.  She’s good.  And we read “The Shadow of the Wind”.  That’s good too though in a quite different way***.  And next we’re reading “two caravans” by Marina Lewycka who wrote ‘a short history of tractors in the Ukraine’  which, if nothing else (I haven’t read it) has a brilliant title.  For a novel.  After that it’s my turn to choose.  I really want to get them to read something huge and powerful and magnificently ironic  by Neal Stephenson but maybe that’s not fair.  For one thing it takes quite a while to read even if you’re a book gobbler like me and for another, well it’s fantasy.  Or SF.  Or something that doesn’t quite fit either genre.  Historical SF?  Anyway not an easy read.  (Oh but oh well written and so interesting.  If you like that kind of thing)****



We went to the Bradfield MayFayre a couple of weeks ago  and watched some sheepdogs herding geese.  Geese being, as they are, quite intelligent, I rather got the impression that the geese knew where to go and the dogs knew how to run round and round in big circles.  I wasn’t hugely impressed with the shepherd’s (gosherd’s) skills but I’m so ignorant about the whole thing that this shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Spring rain and rape seed

Spring rain and rape seed

On the way home from the shops

DSC_7127-1I’ll take the dogs out said Mum and you get them into their pyjamas and ready for bed.  So some of them got into their pyjamas and all of them sat on the tractor and one of them started it, one of them took his foot off the clutch while the third experimented with  the gear lever.  It was ok though, they only hit the washing line prop and they were almost ready for bed when Mum came back with the dogs.

*I may have exaggerated a trifle – like by one house.

**Is that from Childe Rolande?  Byron?  Some clever person enlighten me, please?

***It powerfully reminds me of something else I’ve read and infuriatingly I can’t remember what.  I’m getting flashbacks from this other novel and it’s driving me mad.

****And anyway, it ought to be new to me too.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Taking a break – sort of.

From India.  Seeing as how real life goes on even when you are reliving exotic and unreal memories.

So today I had to take the car in for a service and I thought, I’ll walk home.

This is not a very big deal.  Really.  It’s only about a mile and a half and there’s only one slightly steep hill.  and it was a gorgeously sunny (if windy) day and I need to be thinking about walking up mountains in Skye in the summer.

So now I’m wondering, how on earth does a photographer get fit.  I am quite unable to walk more than about fifteen feet without stopping to consider a leaf or a branch or even a whole treeDSC_6207-1 and now and then a bit of a view.  Sometimes I have to stop and meditate upon these things while rolling a cig and wiggling my feet.  Occasionally I veer off into the woods to see if there’s something wonderful round the next corner or three.  (Which brings up the question, how does a photographer, on a photographing holiday, ever get to anywhere that they planned to go?)

I could go to a gym I suppose and walk up a treadmill for a while.  But this would be so incredibly boring and anyway, it would be a sin to shut yourself into a sweaty hall with a lot of machines while the sun is shining outside and birds are singing and the washing needs hanging out. Too.

Well it took me about  two and a quarter hours to walk the mile and a half.  Plus detours and an interesting conversation with a horse rider.  To whom I have now sent several photos of a horseDSC_6217-1

Also, the bluebells are out.  I am a happy bluebell bunny.Bluebells





On the digestive front, great news – for me anyway – probiotic yoghurt works.  The digestive system now also works.  All I have to do now is think seriously about how much nicer it feels to carry half a stone* less around with me all the time and whether I ought to resist the siren call of food, glorious food – cream, cheese, curry, roast dinners, mounds of pasta, crispy, tender fish and most especially COFFEE!  Freshly caffetiered with hot frothy full cream milk!!!!!  And of course wine.  Hear those sweet sizzling, bubbling, slurping, sloshing food and drink noises?  I was hearing them in my sleep.  Now it seems like maybe I ought to resist them.

A little bit.



*I thought it was rather a let down that I only seemed to have lost half a stone.  But maybe I weighed a bit more than I thought I did when I left for India?

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

India-home and catching up bit by bit

An odd thing.  Remember I forgot to pack my knickers?  Well now I’m home I can’t find them.  Somewhere there’s a carefully counted, neat little pile of  tattered M&S knickers but I can’t think where.  Perhaps they really did get packed and are now somewhere in India?

Something way out and funny – sheep will never seem the same again.

One morning in Shimla, we were hurrying a bit after breakfast – moving on again in half an hour – I left Barney with his coffee and wandered past a couple who seemed vaguely familiar.  What with there being 37 on our group I still occasionally got confused about them and I was vaguely trying out names on this couple as I passed them.  Funny, I thought, it looks a bit like JC and actually that could even be Mrs JC from behind.

Ok, you guessed.  It was JC and Mrs JC,  a couple of friends who live here in the next village to ours.   If we’d been leaving half an hour earlier we wouldn’t have known they were in India, never mind in the same hotel as us in Shimla!

On the uneasines of the intestines, there’s not much change.  The doctor assured me that a barrage of tests showed that there was nothing in my gut that shouldn’t be there.  I pointed out that it was beginning to look unlikely that there was anything at all in there any more.  She smiled politely.  She suggested that I try immodium again and that might reset the system.  Well, it works up to a point.  The point being the end of the effectiveness of each capsule.  So each capsule keeps food in the system until the capsule  has, presumably, been used up and then whoops!  Off I run again!

I gather the next path to be investigated is cutting out dairy foods as I may have ‘acquired a temporary dairy sensitivity’!

We’re going out to dinner tonight so I went for one more immodium.  (take one, eat, drink and be merry tonight for tomorrow I may have to give up – an awful lot of things!)  I was so impressed when Middle daughter gave up meat and alcohol for Lent.  Shortly I shall probably be even more impressed!  I shall probably have to give up alcohol too – Sadly, I’ve never heard that it’s good for the innards!

One a completely different , virtual, hand.  Some time ago, Eldest, bless his little cotton socks and all power to his computer experience, suggested that I ought to get a USB2 hub and fix it to the USB2 port on the computer and everything might go a little faster (and I’d stop getting those irritating messages that this gadget could work much faster if it was plugged into a USB2 port).

Oh me of little faith!  I thought that might just mean it would all be a little less slow.  But the idea stuck and finally I did it.  To my astonishment, all the uploading of photos actually now goes a lot faster!  So today I tried one of my absolute bugbears – backing up files to an external hard drive.  Astonishing!  Instead of saying it was going to take anything from twelve days to twelve hours to transfer a few small folders (while actually taking at least two hours)  it said ” estimated duration 25 minutes and forty seconds” and then got on with the job.  Not once did it stop and say “file not found”, or “file name incompatible – cancel, skip or give up altogether“.  All the files appear to be in their right places and that was a whole folder of about twenty five subfolders, transferred intact!

Remember I mentioned the Maharajah’s Well and the two big silver pots of River Ganges water brought by the Maharajah of Jaipur to England?  Well it wasn’t the same Maharajah.  The one who built a well for the people of  Stoke Row in England was the Maharajah of Benares.  Small evidence that great tragedies can bring small rewards – though  quite a big reward for the people of Stoke Row I should think. It’s a very nice story : )

Just a few odds and sods from Ranthambhore, somewhere on  the road and Jaipur.

Black faced monkeys

Black faced monkeys

Flame of the forest and Samhur deer

Flame of the forest and Samhur deer

A dream of roots

A dream of roots

Hanuman the Monkey God

Hanuman the Monkey God

Stained Glass in the Amber fort

Stained Glass in the Amber fort

Feeding time on the wire

Feeding time on the wire

And a few trailers – things still to come.



train full of tourists

train full of tourists - just like us

Our train

Our train

Feed the monkeys

Feeding the monkeys

It seems that Barney now wants to use the computer!  This is worrying.  But anyway, I’d better let him or he’ll be sad.

More soon.  (If you haven’t had enough already.  Oh well, probably even if you have : )

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

India-into the interior

Well, into deepest rural Rajasthan.  We had lunch at the Laxmi Niwas Indian Heritage hotel (once a minor palace) dsc_2423-1and then caught the train from Bharatpur to Ranthambhore which is where the tiger reserve is.

The Lodge at Ranthambhoredsc_2710-1 was delightful, being smallish, clean and cool with lovely gardens and a swimming pool but  not over the top.  The service was pleasant and friendly but didn’t come in overeager swarms.  The food was nice but had no pretensions and was nearly all Indian and mostly vegetarian.  A bit of a rest in fact from the excesses of the big city hotels : )  No turbaned or liveried ushers and no security guards.  The lady of the house could be approached if you had any needs and you got the feeling that she had her eye on what went on in the kitchens if she didn’t even do a good bit of the cooking herself.dsc_2444-1

And this was waiting for us when we arrived – together with garlands and cold fruit drinks.

Well I’ve shown you some of what we saw in the reserve already.  It was magical to me because it seemed an embodiment of  Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books.  I felt as though Mowgli was looking over my shoulder and I might meet Kaa or even Bagheera and though we didn’t see any wolves I could imagine Grey brother and the four, watchful of us.  And of course we saw Machli who was clearly a much nicer person than Shere Khan, the Lame One.  (You have to have read the original books to understand how this would feel – the Disney film has absolutely nothing to do with Kipling’s India and conveys nothing at all of the jungles there.dsc_2466-1

This was the Ranthambore Fort.  There’s a temple up there which is sometimes used for festivals and worship but otherwise I don’t think it’s visited a lot.

After our tiger viewing there was an air of celebration (did I say we were all convinced that there would be no tigers this trip as we didn’t see Machli till half an hour before the reserve closed for the night?) and we had a lovely meal served at long tables in the garden with lots of (much needed) anti mozzie sticks burning and candlelight and a perfume of jasmine in the air.  While the swimming pool reflected it all.   Heavenly : )

And then next morning we were off at 7.00 for the five hour journey to Jaipur.  Not heavenly!  But interesting as the scenery changed from flat miles of busy roads and villages to flat miles of fields and increasingly, dunes with the weirdest solitary mountains rising out of the plains, here there and anywhere shimmering in the heat and distance.dsc_2859-1 It got hotter.

We eventually arrived in Jaipur, the pink city, and were tipped out of our orange coach at the Golden Tulip Hotel which was another of the posh shiny places.

Actually, now I come to think of it, we didn’t get to our hotel until after we’d had lunch at a restaurant nearby and gone to visit yet another AFT. This time, the City Palace which is the home of the current Maharajah of Jaipur.  We got to see a number of portraits of various Maharajahs of Jaipur.  There was the one who was 7 foot tall and weighed 240 kilos.  We saw his enormous trousers.  There was the one who came to England to visit King George 6th bringing with him two silver pots full of water from the river Gangesdsc_3005-1 because this was needed to make his visit auspicious.  (we wondered if this was the same Maharajah who swopped wells with an English Lord who lived not far from here – I’ll find a link to the story later).  Barney got his photo taken with the matching moustache guys.  And that’s one of the silver pots behind them.  Did I mention they were quite big?

There were four fabulously inlaid gates for each of the seasons in one courtyarddsc_3011-1

Peacock Gate (Summer I think)


dsc_3014-1Spring Gate.

dsc_3017-1Another gate being refurbished.  Winter?

and in the entrance courtyard, brightly dressed elephants on which you could have rides.  (Or was that at the Amber fort?  I’ll have to check).  I checked – it was the Amber Fort.

Well then we went to see the Jantar Mantar, not only easy to remember but quite amazing and fascinating.  It’s basically a huge observatory and astronomical calculator built in sandstone and marble.  There are giant sundials, things for finding the positions of assorted heavenly bodies (including the moon and its phases and the north star) and a whole set of structures to find the astrological bits of the heavens.  All the structures are perfectly calibrated and totally accurate!  Wow!  Designed in 1728 by the Maharajah Jai Singh.dsc_3025-1Sundial.  Where the shadow crosses the white marble curve, is the time.


That’s our shadows, admiring this rather marvelous 18th Century calculator.  (I can’t remember what this one did)

We went back to the Golden Tulip.  We had a lovely barbecue (Indian style) on the roof top restaurant and were allowed to smoke and enjoy the night breezes in peace.  And, as we were staying two nights here, we even risked getting some laundry done!  Coo!  Clean, pressed and immaculately folded shirts and trousers.

The following day saw us wandering a trifle wearily, round the Amber fort dsc_3076-1Gate.  Big gate!

dsc_3084-1Elephants.  We didn’t ride up to the Fort on them as we’d been told they aren’t very well looked after and anyway there wasn’t time.  We bucketed up the steep hill to the fort in jeeps.

dsc_3096-1Val, letting some indian ladies have their turn at being photographed in front of the splendid arch.


Me, looking a bit hot.

the Amber fort was a bit like one of those carved Chinese balls where each shell has another within it.  Sections for the guards surrounded sections for the court, surrounded sections for the eunochs surrounded sections for the harem.  Somewhere in there, there would be a section for the King as well and all his retinue.  Each section was a little higher up the mountainside and from each part, you could spy on the lower part beneath it.  It must have been quite interesting for the ladies of the Harem.

And outside it all, a huge wall climbing over and vanishing beyond the mountains.  Naturally we nicknamed it the Great Wall of Indiadsc_3132-1

And then a carpet shop.  Now the rule about shops on tours is you all stand in the heat and watch local artisans (who are always descended from the original artisans who, centuries ago, made the exact same treasures you are looking at now) making stuff in the time honoured way, by hand and using ancient tools (possibly the very same tools used by those very artisans who made this very same stuff all those centuries ago).  Then when you’re tired of oohing and aahing and standing and suspending disbelief on the matter of the originalness of the tools, the artisans and their methods, you get ushered to a cool, softly lit room where you can sit in comfort and sip cold fresh drinks and listen to the entirely ancient and genuine  sales pitch of the shop manager as his underlings swish cloths around and lay carpets out in elegant swirls.

Then you try and find out how much one individual item costs.   Then you try and get them to show you – not, no not, a bigger one or one made of the infinitely better Kashmir Wool but a much smaller and cheaper one.  There’s a bit of a battle of wills as they try to lead you back to the better quality, larger items and you ask about the ever smaller and lower quality stuff.

There was a bit of a cheer for Graham and Pat when they made the first purchase of a small rug : )

I can’t see any reference in my diary to lunch on this day.  I supose we must have had some. We certainly went for a wander round the bazaar which, like English markets often are these days, was disappointing.  Lots and lots of very modern looking tat and although the prices were tiny, the goods were of matching quality.  We did pass a ladies underwear shop but  I felt quite unable to go in and ask for large knickers!  So we bought bangles for the granchildren and left the bazaar.  There was a shoe shop.dsc_3221-1

For people with very big feet?

I’m exhausted just remembering all these places.  It’ll take me years to get it all properly in my head.  I hope you can bear with me while I try and get some of the memories and images in a sort of order : )

Now I’m going to sleep – perchance to dream of brightly coloured places and hot courtyards.

‘Night : )

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments