Castle Tale

castletale

The foggy, chilly air wrapped around Orla like a blanket of hugs.  She felt anxious looking up at this monstrosity of a building but as a historian, she was in her element that she was standing in front of this castle in Bulgaria. The solitude added to the atmosphere she was feeling.

Standing, gawping and smiling, Orla felt like a child on Christmas morning, this castle was her Disneyland and she was about to see in person how people lived long ago.  She had read copious books about the area and her imagination was running wild inside her head, thinking about the workmanship, the skill and arduous work involved in building such an impressive sight, the battles fought here, the brave soldiers crossing the fortress and if they made it out alive.

A firm believer that travel broadens the mind, Orla walked on the bumpy pebble stone path towards the front door, a quote from Turkish writer Mehmet Murat ildan came to mind, instead of building castles against your enemies, build bridges for them to come to you! Orla turned the knob of the front door to be greeted by a local tour guide, Ivan, a friendly man with broken English but enough to amaze Orla with tales of how land was swapped between one army to another, families lost young men in battle and amazingly how the castle stood the test of time and has been left unscathed throughout centuries of wars.

Orla took numerous photos of dungeons, banquet halls that would have served lavish meals and spiral staircases that would have been intimidating in candlelight during a battle, “Imagine not knowing if you were going to walk into an enemy”, voiced Orla quietly to the tour guide. “Exactly”, responded Ivan. Orla finished her tour an hour later and returned to her rental car, taking one last look at the stunningly mystical setting of the castle, she smiled, and turned the ignition on in the car to return to her hotel.

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Tinkerbell Tippy Toes

tippytoes

Yasmin loved her role as the fairy, Tinkerbell.  It was the icing on the cake for her dancing career.  She had been travelling with the show, Tinkerbell Tippy Toes all around the world for several months.  “I’m living the dream” boasted Yasmin to her mum.  “The show has sold out all over Europe, we arrived in Rome yesterday, its fantastic”.

Yasmin had spent the previous day meandering through the streets of The Eternal City.  She snapped photos of the Spanish Steps, the Vatican, the Trevi fountain, the Colosseum and the Sistine chapel to name but a few. The sweltering heat was comfort to her tired dancing bones.  She enjoyed creamy mint gelato after visiting the Colosseum. “Tonight’s venue is a secret”, she explained to her mum. “The producers have told us to meet at the hotel lobby at 5pm tomorrow to be brought by bus to the venue” she continued excitedly.

Low and behold, dusk turned to dawn, a new day arrived, Italian sunshine belted down as Yasmin rested on a lounger by the hotel pool before her evening show.  5pm came and the dance troupe boarded the bus.  The entourage travelled out of the city, onto a motorway for twenty minutes, travelling northwards with the lights of the city twinkling in the background as the bus driver tackled narrow mountainous roads with treacherous cliff tops aligning the route.  Yasmin smiled as the bus pulled into a beautiful mountain top venue.  The dance troupe were amazed they were performing at a venue with such beautiful scenery.  An audience of specially invited guests sat in a semi-circle seating arrangement as twilight set in.  A chiminea illuminated the night sky so romantically as Yasmin performed a pas de boarreé and rond de jambe, her back straightened to show her poised body dance elegantly against a backdrop of glittering lights.  The monochrome dress in contrast with the shining orange light of the chiminea turned Yasmin into a mobile silhouette.

The Tree

thetree

Cassie stood in silence, her legs felt wobbly from the sheer excitement of her location, her head felt tired from the transatlantic flight she had embarked from that morning and her eyes were blurry from tears rolling down from them.  At last, she had arrived at Ross Woods.  Just six months after burying her beloved grandma Annie across the ocean, she saw for herself the ‘tree’ that grandma Annie always spoke about.  When Cassie was growing up, she would sit in awe and listen to Annie’s tales about the love of her life, her grandpa Matthew.  Cassie knew Annie engraved their initials on the tree the day before they emigrated to the east coast of America.  October 3rd, 1924.

Annie grew up a few fields away from this tree, she always went for a walk with Lily, her pet dog. “She’s the L on the tree”, Cassie remarked to Brad, her husband. Cassie explained to him that this was the tree that the children from the neighbourhood would play around, it was the tree they would swing from, it was the tree they would pick berries from, it was the tree Annie first saw Matthew.  A tall, freckled-face boy with a peak cap and deep blue eyes.  He made her laugh from that day on and for fifty-two more years, until she laid him to rest at Pine Green Cemetery in a country where they made their home and raised their family, Cassie’s mother, Helen was their first born.  Helen couldn’t travel so Cassie felt it her duty to travel in person to the spot known as ‘the tree’ and follow through with Annie’s last wish, TO GET A PHOTOGRAPH OF A FAMILY MEMBER AT ‘THE TREE’ and include it in her memorial card.

As Brad snapped the photo, Cassie felt proud that her grandma’s wishes were being fulfilled.  A + M forever.

A Flower on a Sandy Beach

Jane sat comfortably at the window seat of Flight 10 to her sun-drenched destination in the Pacific. As the plane was coming into land on the narrow airstrip, “Wow”, she remarked as she saw a flower blooming out of a hot, arid sandy beach. Her sharp eye as a photographer never let her down. She took the camera out of her bag and zoomed in at the flower. The flower reminded her a lot of herself. Never afraid to stand out from a crowd. She was after travelling solo to the other side of the world, this flower was almost like a symbol of her trip so far. Jane had just put her camera back into her bag when the passenger next to her asked what she had taken a photography of. “What could possibly be photogenic around a bland sandy island?”, enquired the curious tourist. Jane showed him the photo and to her surprise he began to explain to her that he is an editor of a Travel magazine and would love to feature the photograph on the front cover. “Of course, you can” she replied gleefully. This trip was full of surprises!!!

Poor Piano!!!

The white keys all had a name. Carl, Doug, Emmet, Filip, Gus, Anto and Bruno were the main characters.  The black keys, however, were centre stage. Very melodic. Not pressed as much but when they were needed, they were heard. The house was a better place when the two colours worked together and showed their strength and skills.  Sometimes, Lillian, the matriarch of the house would press them. Her fingers were always so elegantly maintained. The guys wondered why she referred to them as C, D, E, F, G and A though. How silly was she?

There was a bit of jealousy in the room. That bulky brown yoke up against the stool was her favourite. The guitar even had a bed called a case to keep it warm.  When she would be teaching her students that instrument, the cats in the neighbourhood would run a mile. Piano would laugh when she explained guitars names to the students, Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears. Piano learned that Ears was the top guy. He was a bit highly strung.

One day, Lillian played piano. Her friend Jessica danced around the room. Her pink dress flowed and swayed to the sound of Carl and the gang playing. There was a matching scarf with the dress. Jessica began twirling the scarf around. She thought she was on Strictly. Her ballerina days came back to her. Up went the arms, toes pointed to the floor and voila! The pink scarf went flying. All the way over to guitar. Grrr!!! That silly guitar gets everything thought piano. A stool to rest up against, a case and now a scarf. A beautiful, shiny and glittery scarf too. Its not fair.

Piano sulked and sulked for the rest of the day.  Lillian was certain she had broken it. “I was too rough playing it” she exclaimed glumly.  Guitar looked so stylish however. It is important to accessorise!!!