Vignettes Revisited: P-T

P is for Photos

There’s a hole in my life.  I have lost all photographic evidence from several amazing places I’ve had the privilege of visiting.

I’m ok up until 2007 – before then,  photos were usually printed after trips.   And I’m ok from 2015 when I finally got my act together.  But,  in between – a void – nothing.   I can account for a few gaps – in Jordan in 2010,  I turned on my camera to take a photo at the Dead Sea – and deleted everything from the previous few days – Petra,  Wadi Rum,  Madaba…. I cried for an hour.   In 2012,  In Laos,  the camera fell into the Nam Song river – we’ve just a few photos from Luang Prebang.

Apart from those two cases,  the rest I blame on technology – photos saved onto laptops that died and were dumped,  memory cards that must have been wiped.  I’m regularly told – ‘Ah – they’ll turn up – they must be somewhere’.  But I don’t think so.  So I’ve nothing for Newfoundland,  Wyoming,  Rajasthan,  Varanasi,  Sri Lanka,  Krakow,  Mosel Valley,  Black Forest,  Ravenna….  I’ll have to go back!

And speaking of photos – something else has cropped up.  Since starting this blog,  our ‘capsule’ travel wardrobe is beginning to show up rather frequently!!  It never mattered until I started putting up photos because no one ever saw them.  I’m just saying it in case you’ve noticed!!  I want you to know that I know!! (Of course,  now that I’ve drawn attention to it,  you’re going to examine everything I wear from now on!!!)

Someone buy that guy a t-shirt!!!

And before he seeks revenge….!!

(My favourite t-shirt should have its own passport!)

(P – first published Sept 8th, 2019)

Q is for Quetzal!

No – I wasn’t stuck … I’ve been to Quebec and Queens and I’ve tasted quail (and quiche!!)!  But I’m lucky to have had the privilege of spotting what must be one of the most beautiful birds on the planet.

The Resplendent Quetzal is actually the national bird of Guatemala and they’ve named their currency unit the Quetzal.   But its easier to find the elusive and threatened bird in Costa Rica where there’s been a effort to protect habitats in national and private parks.

The bird with its brilliant reds and iridescent greens is surprisingly well camouflaged in the forests.  The males are more brightly coloured and during the mating season they grow 2 very long tail feathers.   The birds were revered by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs who used the tail feathers in headdresses.

It was early morning in the cloud forest of Monteverde,  Costa Rica (2017) and we were coming to the end of our escorted tour without success.   Of course we’d seen lots of birds on the trail but everyone in the small group was hoping for a glimpse of the Quetzal.   I don’t know who spotted him first – but it was just great – such excitement!!!  Word spread quickly and other visitors arrived.   No one spoke.   It was one of those very special moments.

All I had was my phone and I took this photo through the guide’s telescope.   I decided that morning to buy a camera.

(Q – first published Sept 18th, 2019)

R is for RYANAIR

No – this isn’t a diatribe against staff conditions,  or customer relations,  or a certain chief executive’s massive bonus.  Its not even about the baggage policy which nobody I know has mastered to anyone’s advantage bar the airline itself!

No indeed – this is a positive story about the impact of a budget airline on the population of a small island nation (so please don’t pull out your carbon footprint calculator for this one!!)

By the late 70’s /early 80’s,  we Irish were beginning to spread our wings for reasons other than emigration – we were beginning to discover the universe!   Package tours dominated the scene of course,  particularly to Spain.  But destinations like Greece were opening up – warm,  exotic and cheap as chips once you arrived….

And therein lay the crux!   In order to get there,  we first of all had to get off our own beautiful island.   We had a national airline and some international carriers were operating out of Dublin and Shannon airports.   Honestly though,  no one could really afford to fly from here – it wasn’t the ‘done thing’.

So when I headed to Egypt in ’81 and Greece in ’82,  there was no question of flying to London to make the connection.   Such a flight would have cost me around £200 I’d say – (about €450 today allowing for inflation).   No – getting to London meant traveling by boat from Dublin to Holyhead in Wales,  taking a train to London,  and staying overnight with relatives before heading to the airport (one didn’t really stay in hotels in London now that I think about it!!).   Such a trip cost about £40 – £50.  The bus from Holyhead to London was worse – but cheaper still!   Remember Magic Bus anyone??

Ryanair started up in 1984 and began competing with Aer Lingus and British Airways for the Irish-English routes.   Then in 1990,  it relaunched itself as a European low budget airline and the rest,  as they say,   is history!

We were skeptical and mocking at first but once we realised that the planes would stay in the sky,  we were off!

For all its faults – and yes,  they are many – Ryanair opened up opportunities for us that our parents could never have imagined.   We now think nothing of hopping off to European destinations for weekend breaks.  We are flying to places unheard of in the 80’s – Krakow,  Bergamo,  Porto – and we’re over and back to England all the time.

It works both ways of course and has made us accessible too,  bring tourists and immigrants from all over Europe to our shores.

And what of my boat/bus ticket for £39 in 1982?   In July 2019,  I flew to London with Ryanair for €44 return!

(R – first published Nov 2nd, 2019)

S is for Standing on THAT Corner!

Parents are an embarrassment to their kids – that’s just a fact of life.   But there’s no rule stating that we can’t take malicious pleasure in it on occasion!

In 2007 we drove Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles.  One early morning,  the road brought us through Winslow,  Arizona.   Long past its hay day,  the town achieved fame in 1972 with the Eagle’s hit single ‘Take it Easy’.   And there it was – THE corner!  The statue of a young guy in his jeans and boots casually standing with his guitar was not yet surrounded by the dozens of daily visitors!   There was absolutely nobody about.   As we parked and walked to the corner,  the song was being quietly piped from somewhere close by.    What could we do??!!!  We stood on that corner and sang away in our tuneless voices as our teenager squirmed in disgust and embarrassment.

We didn’t linger for long – the Mother Road was calling and we had many miles to travel.  But it was one of those feel good moments that always bring a smile – at least to two of us!

♫ Well I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow Arizona

Such a fine sight to see

Its a girl my lord in a flatbed

Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me ♪♪


(Mother and son,  August 2007.  Notice the reflection of a flatbed ford in the window?)

Take it easy y’all!!

(S – first published Nov 28th, 2019)

T is for Tent

It must be January – radio and TV commercials for holidays,  flights,  travel expos  – and camping.  There was an ad on the radio this morning promoting air tents that can be set up in minutes …..  Now that brought me back…..

I can still remember the excitement of heading off on our first real camping trip.  Barry,  I’ve just about forgiven you for pawning that horror of a tent off on your little brother all those years ago.

In true boyscout style,   the poles had been colour coded with masking tape.   It was downhill from there.   Two of the original poles had vanished and been replaced with pipes that never quite fitted but still had to be wrestled into the frame.   There was a massive hole in one corner that had to be bandaged with plastic bags and tape every day.

We didn’t travel light – the Renault was packed from floor to roof in both back seat and  boot.

It took at least 2 hours to unpack and erect the tent and about 90 minutes to pull camp.

That summer of 1986,  we went to Italy for 6 weeks.  Thinking back,  I reckon we pitched tent 14 times,  grappling with ill fitting poles inside the canvas in sweltering heat.   We got faster at packing the car but never mastered that tent!

(En route to Italy,  July 1986)

I don’t know where we got the money to buy a new tent the following year but even back then,  we reckoned life was too short to face another summer with that monstrosity.  Over the next few years our camping skills evolved into quite a slick operation.  We bought a 2 man tent which meant we had something handy for the transit nights instead of putting up the big tent.  We bought a nice picnic table,  2 cool loungers,  matching ice boxes…. we had it mastered!

And then along came baby!!

Car seat,  buggy,  travel cot,  clothes,  toys ……

Time for a roof box!

(France, 1991)

Our camping holidays were rejuvenated on several occasions over the following years – various tents,  caravan,  trailer tent,  RV…..

To this day,  my favourite trips are self drive and without a doubt that’s a throw back to the freedom of those wonderful camping holidays.

Its been a while but I don’t think our camping years are behind us – I look forward to heading back to Lazise on Lake Garda or maybe the northern Spanish coast.   Can I face pitching a tent again?   Well… maybe I’ll have a look at these poleless options before deciding!

Wow…. look how far we have come!!!…….

Scan_20200120 (3)

(Glamping in Tanzania,  2006)

(Oman,  2018!)

(T – first published Jan 21st, 2020)

Before you go…..

Have look at these:

Vignettes A-E

Vignettes F-J

Vignettes K-O

36 thoughts on “Vignettes Revisited: P-T

  1. I’m with you on losing photos Marie. I once was not paying attention when I blew away almost all my 2010 photos and videos. The file was too big so when it asked do you want to permanently delete, I stupidly clicked YES. Since then I back up all photos onto two or three different portable drives, one of which sits in my Bank safe deposit box. I may have too many copies, but, I can deal with that. Have you ever tried to turn the laptop hard drives into portable drives with a kit? I have done that to 3 and rescued all my files that way. Ha Ha. Embarrassing your children is in any parent’s job description. I can hear my sons rolling their eyes from here. Stay well. Allan

    1. I blame technology for everything – In the good old days … we took our holiday photos, sent the rolls of film off in the post and awaited the wonderful morning when the postman dropped the prints through the letterbox. Of course about 80% had to be dumped straight away – all those images of pavement and sky that were snapped in error – not to mention all the blurred rubbish…. But at least there was an end product…. 😅 😂
      PS — you’re speaking to a Luddite here….I’ve absolutely no clue what that sentence means -turn the laptop hard drives into portable drives with a kit -breaking into a sweat just reading it… is it even English 😅 😅 …..

  2. Just before reading this I looked on my gallery on my phone and couldnt believe photos were gone from a week ago! Thank the Lord for Google I just put them back, so bizarre though
    I have the t shirt problem too Marie, you realise how old your clothes actually are

    1. I get very very attached to holiday clothes – they literally disintegrate before I dump them. I think its part of the ritual… packing the same stuff means I’m heading off on an adventure….

  3. Great read Marie. I guess we are prevented from travelling in these strange times but at least we have time to reflect on the past, gather old photos and do a bit of decluttering.
    A pity that you’re missing a block of photos but it gives you the excuse of revisiting those places, or then again maybe not. Regarding that fine specimen of a tent ,you must appreciate it was the first tent that one could actually stand up in. Now back in the day that was posh especially on wet dreary days. None of this glamping stuff just pure “delight” at having to figure out how to erect your “divorce in a bag” accommodation.

    1. It might have been posh when you owned it Bar but you’ve never explained the missing poles and the massive hole…. I hope there was a generous discount….. To be fair, you’d obviously a very impressive selection of masking tape because your colour coding was impeccable! Divorce in a bag is right!!! If we survived that ……..😅 😂
      Lets hope we get going again soon …. I’m sure you’re dying to pack up the RV and head off….. XXXM

  4. I have to say I’m wishing you’d post one letter at a time, I have comments to make on all of this 😂 On P for photos, I feel your pain. We’ve thankfully not had a major issue like that, I would be bereft if I lost so many 🙁 These days I back up on a hard-drive I keep mostly in a well-hidden spot (we’ve been burgled twice) as well as keeping my best shots on another hard-drive and backing up to One Drive AND loading favourites up on Flickr – trying to cover all bases 🙂 We did once lose a load of shots in California, when my husband dropped the camera – we thought it was still working OK but the film had jumped off the spools and wasn’t advancing so we took every photo on top of the others! We only got suspicious when we realised we must have taken far more than 36!

    And you’ve made me realise that I too am wearing the same top in many years’ worth of photos. Luckily I post so few of myself that I think I can get away with it 😆

    On Q, I can simply say how jealous I am – Costa Rica is on my wish-list for a post-COVID trip and I want so badly to see a quetzal! I understand where you’re coming from with your R – I’m not a fan of Ryan Air but I think I would be very grateful for their services if I lived in Ireland. We live only 20 minutes from Heathrow by Tube and it’s such a boon when it comes to travelling, especially coming home. If passport control and baggage reclaim work smoothly, on a good day we can be in our house around an hour after landing 😀

    We drove through Winslow too, back in 1994, but I don’t think they’d marked the corner or erected the statue back then so we just sang in the car as we drove through – which would be a great relief for the inhabitants of the town given my total lack of singing ability 😂 And on T, we’re not really campers. I haven’t done it properly since I was 17, on a school trip – I loved it then but I want my creature comforts if possible these days. But we’ve glamped on safari in Africa a few times, in the Thar Desert in India, stayed in a yurt in Uzbekistan and glamped in Oman. Your photo of the latter looks like it could be where we stayed – 1,000 Nights Camp???

    1. Gosh Sarah – I’d say your word count has surpassed the blog post😅 😂! I love the way bits of these particular posts are resonating with people – triggering their own memories….
      I can’t believe there’s actually a place you haven’t been to yet!!! You’ll love Costa Rica – hope you get there…… XXXM

      1. Oh there are plenty of places we haven’t been and the list of where I want to go seems to grow faster than we can tick places off, especially at the moment of course. But I’m sure we’ll make it to Costa Rica one day!

  5. What a fun blog post, Marie and how many amazing travel photos. I can easily relate to you when it comes to lost travel photos. In the days before digital cameras and hard drives, if you lost a photograph, it was gone for ever. I thought that I was immune to this worry, given all the newest technology devices and photography storing options, until a few years ago when I accidentally dropped my external hard drive and in the process wiped out all photographic evidence of our trips from approximately three years, including all the photos from when Ericeira was born. I spent the next two hours in a state of denial, checking and rechecking every folder on my computer, Dropbox and iCloud with no luck of finding them anywhere else. I have no one else to blame but myself. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva xxx

    1. Well losing travel photos is one thing but baby photos – that’s a disaster…. hopefully you’d enough shared with family to compile some sort of record of those baby years….
      Reading here the efforts that people are going to with back up options, I really must do a bit more ……. now is a good time to sort it when I’ve time on my hands…..

  6. Bringing back memories of when I was a kid, the only holidays we had were camping which I really enjoyed. Now though I prefer a bit more comfort, I don’t like walking through a campsite at night for the loo.

    1. Ah so true – and of course the more you’d think about it…….by the end of the hols it was a nightly habit!!!😅 😂

  7. Technology has lap doesn’t accept disks..but my hubby has 6 laptops old and new so I am asking him to move them to my backup hard drive drive..
    We saw alot of Resplendent Quetzals in Costa beautiful .
    Hoping to get back to traveling soon.

  8. Feeling much envy towards you spotting a quetzal. I remember reading about them in my Childcraft Annual 1974 – Animals in Danger. I didn’t see one in Guatemala in 2009 but I did buy a pair of quetzal earrings to remember the trip.

    1. I hope you’ve got them!!!!
      It was brilliant to see it … I’d have been very disappointed to be honest if we’d finished the walk with spotting one…. They’re even more beautiful in the flesh…..

  9. I’m like everyone else — so much to comment on with so many different subjects. Losing pictures sucks in a big way. We’ve all been there that’s for sure. But it used to happen with film as well — I have an entire summer that was one over exposed roll used twice. My kids were little and I was so sad that I had missed capturing lots of stuff.
    All of your travel photos are amazing and don’t worry — you aren’t the only ones that wear the same shirts trip after trip!

    1. Ah those days with film! – you’d be lucky with a half dozen decent shots at the end of a holiday. At the other end of the spectrum, Jordan was the last summer trip thon which our son travelled with us – so I was doubly disgusted to lose those photos. As for the t-shirts… they’ve been well rested by now and will definitely see a few more trips!!!

      1. Same here!!! They’re so bad at this stage that I couldn’t do anything in the front garden with them in case a neighbour sees me😅 😂

  10. Thanks for the memories … we had a tent like that, a car like. Sometimes it’s good to see the paraphernalia that’s all part of the package that doesn’t usually get recorded.
    As for losing photos – our worst experience was walking the length of the long neglected Welsh Highland Railway in Snowdonia, across broken bridges, forcing through overgrowth, and so on. My husband got to 36 on the roll. Then 37, 38, checked it, yep, the film had never wound onto the spool. The following year was our last chance so we repeated the walk, and got the photographs. The year after was to be the start of restoration.
    We have so many slides and negatives going back to 1972 that it’s been one of our projects in lockdown to digitise them. We make screensavers of our photographs and it’s fantastic to relive the memories.
    You’re in good company with the holiday clothes. I heard Attenborough once say that he always wore beige trousers and pale blue shirts as it was good for continuity. X

    1. That was one of my lockdown projects also – but alas haven’t even begun to think about it!
      That certainly makes sense from a TV production point of view – must simplify things a lot for the wardrobe supervisor….

  11. I can sympathise with you over lost photos. I’ve done it so often I am sure I’m jinxed. Once it was in Hungary when I was using Kodak Ektachrome (the slide version you could have developed yourself) and the developing firm I used treated it like normal film and destroyed nine rolls of film). I think I cried in the shop. I was distraught as I knew I had got some really great photos and some I would never get again. Then apart from losing films, breaking cameras etc., a few years ago my computer got corrupted and everything went and as my backup drive was plugged in to the computer, the backups went too! I spent over £100 trying to recover them but although I got some back they were not in order, were totally mixed up, had no dates or captions, so I was unable to fix the country or the town/city in most of them. I never realised how much one place resembles another until that happened. Now I’m more careful but as I can’t carry fancy equipment my images will never really satisfy me. Never mind, life goes on etc. I haven’t done much this week as I’ve had a bad reaction to my second vaccination and just about coping.

    1. Ah Mari – I’ve heard a lot of stories re the 2nd jab – hopefully the bad reaction will pass quickly. Most people seem to recover after 48 hours.
      I’m laughing here at your mixed up photos ….. I’m totally dependent on them being in the correct sequence! Nowadays, I can come home from a trip with literally a few thousand photos….I snap everything so I don’t forget details – so I’m there looking at yet another fish dish or cute back alley which looks just like another 5 from the same trip….

      Mind yourself ….. hope you’re out and about again soon…..

      1. If you’re like me, you’ll never have time to caption them all, so do put them in folders at least. I do that now and it’s a (small) help, like street scenes, food & flowers, people, landscapes, architecture etc. in a folder of the town or country. That doesn’t take too long. Plus when I get home I back them up to My Passport add-on hard drive. I used to make a DVD as well but I’m trying to wean myself off the belt and braces lifestyle, Feeling better today but still tired and keep falling asleep!

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