Weekly Photo Challenge: Reward

What does reward mean to you?

Reward is filthy with possibility: it could be your third grader’s beaming smile after reading her first chapter book, a steaming mug of chicken soup after a long run in the cold, a photo of your brand-new baby — your reward for patience during nine months of construction, or your extended family gathered around the dinner table.

I waited until I was 53 to go overseas for the first time!
What utter joy and delight!
I was paid out for an accident that left me seriously injured.
No better reward!

I went over and made incredible memories with the best friends in the world!

I went to London, Oxford, Cambridge, all over the Cotswolds, Bath,
Weymouth, Wool and Corfe Castle in Dorset,
Hertford, Brighton,
Cardiff and through Wales by train to Holy Head
A Ferry to Dublin, Ireland
Toured all over Tullamore, Connemara, Cork,
visited Castles, Gardens, Abbeys and a fjord!
In Italy I went all over Tuscany for a week
Then Minori, Amalfi; Rome, Venice, Lierna, Lake Como, Milan
Took a train across France and back to England

I have gorgeous, iconic, evocative photos
of fabulous places and scenery.
I fell in love with almost every place I went
the bonds of friendship are the greatest reward!

Cardiff: Lunch at Jamies Italian with Jax and Julie

With Julie in Cambridge

With Julie in Cambridge

At Joe Allens Restaurant, Covent Gardens, London, England, with Jax, Julie and Mandy

Vonny in Viareggio

Tuscany: here with Vonny in Viareggio

Oh, and by the way, I did this all with an undiagnosed fractured ankle!
Absolute agony and ecstasy!

Want to participate? Each Friday, we’ll provide a theme. Publish a new post with a photo interpreting the theme. Include the pingback to this week’s challenge to share your post with the community. Learn More


Bloemfontein: South African Judicial Capital

Hubs had to go on a business trip to Bloem. It went on longer than anticipated, so I boarded a bus and went the loooong way around to join him.
We stayed in a Guest House on a smallholding on the outskirts of town. It was a slightly larger than normal room, with a microwave, bar fridge and sink. Along the veranda outside the door were a few tables and chairs facing the garden. In the corner of the L-shaped building was an open-air lounge with lovely sofas to lounge on. A mid-chest high wall was topped by roll-up canvas and plastic blinds. The inner side of the walls formed a bar-like ledge lined with bar-stools. This was for conferences as well as relaxing. Plug points were placed at intervals for laptops. It was a lovely place to lie back and crochet, and also surf the net. In the middle of the little garden was a picnic set. Sitting there in the full winter sun was glorious.
On the other side of the Guest House building is the owner’s property. Luxurious and huge! An enormous paddock is home to a stable block and individual paddocks for the horses. Patrolling the area are two emus. Made me grin to see it.
Just around the corner from the property, was another owned by the same people. They have lions, cheetah and other animals. I didn’t visit, but we’re woken by the roaring lions every morning! Actually, at night, they serenade the countryside too!
We returned home for the long weekend. Delicious to be back with the family, our precious Grandies, especially little Stacy not even a month old. My cat was thrilled to have me home, and so was the Parrot. It was better than any Guest House!
We returned to Bloem on Tuesday for an indefinite period. Leaving the baby was wrenching! These are precious days as a baby starts becoming aware of and responsive to her surroundings. She’d started giving tentative smiles, had expressed great delight in being in mum’s and my arms. She has me wrapped firmly around her little finger!
We decided to go self-catering this time and are totally enchanted with where we are staying! A beautiful double-storey cottage, with stunning decor. Silver vases and candelabra, huge, soft towels, percale linen, and fabulous fresh, generous and imaginative continental breakfasts. Upon our late arrival, we were presented with a sumptuous home-cooked, complimentary, meal.
Tonie has a large property divided in three parts. The Buildings are on a third, and two large encampments make up the rest. In the large encampment are a 2 Egyptian Geese and a little herd of springbok, a ram and his harem. The other enclosure has 2 duikers, a tiny steenbok and a flock of ducks. The buck are habituated, and come to the fence to greet you, snorting happily. Roaming freely around the whole property are a flock of raucous guinea-fowl, rabbits, ground squirrels and a mongoose or two.
One little fellow has completely enchanted me. A Butcher bird has become Tonie’s free-range pet. He spots Tonie and swoops down, fluttering just above his head to the wall, where Tonie places a small chunk of cheese. The Butcher bird has taken to doing this with me too after just a few days here. It is so amazing!
I love Bloemfontein! It is a very pretty place, built in, around and on top of little hills. The people are friendly and don’t appear to care where you are from, nor what language you speak. I haven’t been anywhere much. We have gone into the malls for a few meals, and browsed around. Great shopping here. I’ve also located two yarn shops and spent some money!!! I have seen a Creative Talents Shop giving workshops. An embroidery shop. Fabric warehouse. Bead Shop. OH!!!! I think I may have discovered heaven on earth!!!!
Tonie has brought me a pile of Decor and Travel magazines that have been delicious to look through.  I brought lots of wool, crochet hooks and knitting needles with me. All my patterns are on my laptop, so I am in a really great place! BUT! I miss my family, two and four-legged ones! Only a few more days and we go home!

The villages of Bagni di Lucca

The most beautiful places in the world!

Bella Bagni di Lucca

It is 2 years since I began Bella Bagni di Lucca. In that time I have tried to visit all the villages that make up Bagni di Lucca. They are scattered along the Lima River and in the mountains on either side.

Here are the villages I have visited so far, in alphabetical order. Click on the name to see more of the village.

























La Villa.














Monti di Villa.




Pieve di Monti di Villa.


Ponte a Serraglio.




San Cassiano.


San Gemignano




Vico Pancellorum.


I hope to make my way to the villages I have missed over the next few months. I know I must see Crasciano, Mobiano, and a few others. Let me know of any more you want to see.

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Dinner with the huntsmen of Casabasciana

This is the village I stayed in

Bella Bagni di Lucca


The name Casabasciana probably comes from the Roman settler called Bassius, who built his house here. The town is perched on the side of the hill about 4 kilometres up from Fabbriche di Casabasciana on the SS12.
My friend and I were invited by Heather Jarman from Sapori e Saperi to join the dinner put on by the Squadra di Cacciatori , the hunting team from Casabasciana, an offer too good to refuse, especially since the proceeds of the evening are to be used to renovate a building in town to provide help for some of the older residents.
We went up to the village in the late afternoon to discover the delights of Casabasciana.
The streets of the village are narrow, winding and steep.




There are lots of lovely old buildings to see.









I spotted a small statue of the Madonna in an alcove opposite the main church.


She was…

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Craft Mania

The trip to UK and Italy has lit a fire in me!

I haven’t stopped crafting since getting home 22 May.

I’m having a ball!!

I’ve made hats and earwarmers

3 hats and 2 earwarmers (1) (640x427)

4 pairs of fingerless gloves

2 scarves

made 2 diaper cakes

IMG-20140226-00346 IMG-20140226-00350

3 pairs of booties

DSC_3029 (2) (640x427)

a faux-fur throw

a baby receiving blanket

Potchefstroom-20141004-01178 (2)

a Taggie Teether, or more

20140217_134508 Taggie teether

a Bear Cumfie Blankie

Teddy Cumfie

2 stuffed toy rattles: a car and a train

4 Altered Bags

a Cable knit bag

Cable-knit handbag with leatherette band

produced a 30 page photo-book on my travels

made baby clothes

crocheted baby clothes

made toys and baby accessories

made Christmas presents and decorations

and I’m still busy :-)!
I’ll be posting photos soon

Bath, Somerset

Tuesday 18th September 2012 BATH: Jax and I headed off to Bath by car, passing through some gorgeous scenery. The problem with taking photos from a moving vehicle is that just as you get your photo composed and focussed, there is a Bloody Tree! Or Bloody Car, or Bloody Bus. It became, somewhat, my “Mantra”! You get the picture … er, or DON’T, in this case! Leading to lots more laughs! My photographic journey was thus interrupted and hijacked very often! Ah well! I still managed some great memories.

We were COLD! So our day started off with us buying something warm! Thankfully at 40% off a gorgeous jersey. The wind blew mightily, and it rained, but while we ate a very yummy lunch, very contentedly in the cosy Patisserie Valerie. The Hop on Hop off tour was just great, and I love Bath and all it has to offer too. I couldn’t get over the extent of the allotments. These are tracts of land given over to individuals for rent, to plant their own veggies and flowers. They’re astounding! Bath has a HUGE area in the middle of the city for this. Amazing! Once again the buildings were gorgeous and fascinating. The sense of history pervades everything. It was wonderful.

The queue to get into the Roman Baths was very long, and we gave it a miss. Opting instead, to check out some specialist shops and the cathedral. We went into a little bakery for some bread to take home and I spotted the biggest meringues I’ve EVER seen! I bought 3 for us to have as pavlova with our figs etc. The foot was again a problem, and we elected to make our way home a little earlier. But we were utterly content, and very pleased with our purchases too.

Jax insisted I lie down with my foot propped up on my pillowed suitcase and an icepack perched on top. I had such a good snooze! Bobby and Betty came over for a lovely Chicken Pie dinner and we had a wonderful time. I fell in love with them, and I am now an honourary daughter. So fantastic!



NAILSWORTH: My train ride from Oxford to Stroud, the nearest station, included one change at Didcot Parkway. So I disembarked happily; and was left standing alone on the platform. Oops! I found a strange object saying HELP. I pressed “dial” and it rang, and rang, and rang. I glanced anxiously at my ticket which told me my train was departing in about 3 minutes. There were 2 trains at platforms other than mine. The HELP object continued ringing as I began to feel somewhat more anxious! The operator was all concern and sweetness when she answered and said, run for it, but I’ll let the conductor know you’re coming. So off I hobbled, with my giant 25kg suitcase, little suitcase and handbag! Down the lift, along the corridor, couldn’t see my WAY OUT at first. But finally went staggering up a very long ramp, regretting every item in the case! The conductor smiled broadly and helped me aboard, wishing me a pleasant journey. It was lovely! The countryside entranced me, especially the quaint villages we went through! We seemed to be travelling through a series of valleys and the views were lovely.

Finally, it was my stop! I approached the train door wondering where I would find Jax with all 8 carriages discharging passengers. Would you believe she was standing at the right spot, right at my door! It was wonderful to finally see her face to face and give her a big hug! We talked non-stop! It was as though I hadn’t seen her for a while and we were catching up like old friends do! Comfortable, natural and wonderful.

We took the scenic route to her home, stopping at Coaley Point to view the countryside all the way to the Severn! The farms and villages looked like miniatures. I couldn’t believe the vibrancy of the green! Or the multitudes of trees!

Arriving in Nailsworth was amazing! There were flags and bunting strung across the streets and from one building to the next. Cheering people lined the streets waving flags. I was told there was to be an open-topped bus with a brass-band oompahing soon. No, not for me, alas, but for Nailsworth’s very own 2 x Olympic Gold Medallist Ian Reed, a rower from Team GB. We decided to walk down and cheer along a little later. Jacky’s parents live over the road from the Town Hall where the Bus ended its tour. We saw the young Olympian close-up and we even made it on to BBC World News later that night! Exciting! Yes, wonderful and simply the best!

The other Minxes, and their hubbies, were invited for a fabulous dinner party that night. Jax pulled out all the stops and served up masses of fabulous food, wine and 2 really excellent puddings. We all laughed, and ate, and laughed, and drank, and laughed some more. I brought out the beautifully sequined, feathered and netted, bright red, mini-hats and the sparkling, jewel encrusted Minx brooches and issued my challenge: To Cardiff and the Minxes Roar Tour! Purple tops, red hats and minx brooches de rigueur! The hats and brooches were promptly donned in all their feathery finery and glittery glory, Then, because the boys felt awfully left-out and rather under-dressed, Jacky produced some wacky wigs which went down a treat! It was a magical, perfect night!

4 month old Miss Binky made us laugh even harder with her kittenish antics. She challenged herself to several circuits of the L-shaped sitting and dining room. Without touching the floor!! She was into everything, smelling the wine, attempting to taste it. Wanting the nibbles before and after dinner, sitting on everyone’s lap, so none were offended. Mandy is her favourite person in the whole world and she disappeared up Mandy’s trademark maxi dress a few times, amidst much squealing and giggling! She and Skye the Westie eventually curled up together in blissful sleep.

It was the most awesome night! I felt completely relaxed and at home. Certainly none of these people were “strangers”. Amazing since it was the first time I’d met any of them!

Sunday 16th September CHEZ BOBBY AND BETTY: NAILSWORTH: Jacky’s mom and dad graciously invited us to lunch at their home on Sunday. They live in a beautiful semi, with a magnificent, colourful garden. Another perfect day. The most excellent food, followed by an amazing Strawberry crumble and 3 kinds of cream! Oh very stuffed and extremely happy was this lady from Africa! How humbling and beautiful to be so readily and embracingly accepted into people’s homes and hearts. They are a very special bunch!

Cardiff, Wales

CARDIFF: Jax, Julie and I took for Cardiff wearing purple tops, and our gorgeously sequined, feathered and netted red hats perched on the sides of our heads; stone encrusted Minx brooches dazzling just below our shoulders, and grins plastered on our faces! People grinned right back at us, and many asked what we were up to, delighted at our story! I was introduced to all and sundry as “Charlene, of Africa”. We had strangers offering to take photos of us together, joining in the giggles and fun. We behaved ourselves, but the morning did start off with a breakfast of fantastic blueberry muffins, delicious croissants … and red wine! We had a ball!  I was stunned to hear a seagull cry out at the station! I thought we were miles from the ocean! It made me laugh with joy!

In the Old Arcade, our first stop, Jax bought a beautiful post-box red handbag that I really envy! I bought two camera memory cards as I had battled to download any photos from my camera to my tablet. I think I had too many on there!

We then headed for the Market just a short way up the pedestrian mall. The fish were just gorgeous, and the variety fantastic! I wish we had that here. I bought 6 large black figs, possibly my favourite fruit. The Market was wonderful, with crafty bits, vintage all sorts, clothing, all kinds of media bits and bobs, and all kinds of edibles – fresh from the farm, sea and ready-made as, in baked, cooked, sweets, etc. Walking past a butchers stall, I spotted what I thought were turkey breasts; then I saw the sign saying they were chicken. “Those are huge breasts!” I announced in surprise. Jacky turned around, thrust out her very ample bosom, with a fair amount of cleavage showing, and wickedly said, “Pardon?” The butcher turned all shades of red and purple as he tried to contain himself! We nearly collapsed with giggles at his dilemma, and he blurted out. “I got rather excited then!!” with a glint in his eye.

We posed for photos with George Clooney, in a coffee shop! Then with Elvis strumming his guitar. We invaded a Barber Shop to take photos of all his vintage stuff. We browsed through old records and CD’s, and took so many photos! Of course we laughed and laughed all our way through! Negotiating the stairs down was a nightmare for me. My legs and feet weren’t working properly for starters, and they were awfully steep! I got full blown vertigo, and Jax planted herself firmly in front of me and I gazed at the back of her head all the way down. We spent far too long in there, and it was 13h30 when we left. But every moment was a joy!

Lunch was at Jamie’s Italian. Really delicious, and a great atmosphere too. We somehow had a minor flood on the table from a cracked finger bowl and were treated to an array of breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar that was fab!  Shopping was next on the agenda, but we didn’t get too far as Jax discovered her credit card was missing, and realised she’d left it at The Old Arcade. We were recognised immediately and warmly welcomed back and asked to hold on, as the dear man went off to collect it for us. we stopped in at Wally’s, THE MOST EXCELLENT Delicatessen I’ve ever seen! Tasty tidbits from all over the world! Including Biltong, dry wors and boerewors! These are South African favourites! Biltong is similar to Beef Jerky. But ours is made from long, thick strips of meat, spiced and specially prepared and left to dry. Then it is cut into thin slices, or sticks and is FABulous! The Dry Wors is dried spicy sausage, and boerewors is a spicy sausage best cooked over the coals, or “braaied” as we call it. I bought biltong and dry wors for us.

By this time my ankle was ballooning and very sore, so we elected to go home. No, we did not see the castle, main road or the Millennium Stadium! We probably walked only 1km from the station! But we had a marvellous time! Mandy, darling, you were sorely missed! But we toasted you with every sip or mouthful, and wished you were not sick with every giggle!

The Senior Conductor on the train back, was a lecherous leech, and would NOT leave us alone, slightly spoiling things, but we decided to add it to our experiences and laugh at it. We enjoyed yet more wine and edibles on the trip home! We seemed to have spent the whole day looking at and eating food and drinking wine!

BTW Miss Binky fell in love with biltong. She followed me all the way upstairs and tried to break into my suitcase where it was hiding! She was very determined, and very disappointed! She took in a tour of the cupboard instead, making faces, arching her back and stepping sideways at her reflection in the mirror! She entertained me for ages!