featured, It's a dog's life

Changes…


For a number of years my blog was called Quite Simply, but I came to the realisation that just as I had grown and changed over the years, my blog needed to also.

I knew the new name needed to reflect the true loves of my life, and it also needed to be flexible and not limit ways in which I could document and share those loves: animals, photography & plant-based eating.stanleybear (1 of 1)-21

So just who are Stanley & Bear? They’re dachshunds, and incredibly special ones at that.

Stanley is the 2nd of my four dachshunds that have come into my life, following the passing of my beautiful Kiri. He is loyal, loveable and the silent leader of our sausage pack.  Oscar aka Bear, arrived into our home not long after Stanley, and like Stanley he is a wire-haired dachshund with a gentle nature and loving soul.

Simon & Eddie complete our foursome, yet unlike S & B, they are of the smooth-haired variety and came to us as fosters with sad backgrounds. We chose not to re-home them with strangers and instead adopted them to complete our Sausage family.

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When it came to re-naming my blog, using Stanley & Bear seemed to fit as the name enables me to encapsulate what I love most in life. Animals, photography and plant-based eating.

You may ask how photography and plant-based eating falls under the Stanley & Bear umbrella. Firstly, S & B are simply incredible ‘models’ from a photographic perspective and they are always willing to help if I’m setting up a photo shoot. That’s Bear on the left doing a spot of quality assurance checks on a batch of freshly made vegan mayonnaise: recipe in a post soon.

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Secondly, they are sentient beings whose right to live a life free from harm is of the utmost importance. Just as it is of the utmost importance for me to eat a healthy, wholesome plant-based diet.

And lastly, it would’ve been a mouthful to have included all the boy’s names in the title, so hence, Stanley & Bear was born.

I hope to take my blog to a new place: sharing images, plant-based recipes and the antics of my beloved Sausage boys.

Enjoy…

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Simon, Oscar (aka Bear), Stanley & Eddie

 

 

 

featured, photography

a little glitter…


Some time ago I photographed the beautiful Isobella in a milk bath.

Yesterday I revisited those images and used a graduated filter and some dramatic cropping in Photoshop to produce the image below.

Capturing an idea in camera, then manipulating that idea with PS: a creative’s playground…

 

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featured, travel

The kindness of strangers…


Travel affords wonderful experiences and at times, unfortunate ones.  And it is the latter that often allows the true spirit of human kindness to shine.

In the last few days I have bathed in that kindness and I’m so very thankful.

Last week I started to feel those tell tale signs of a cold and sure enough within a day, I was reaching for the tissues and beginning to look like Rudolph’s long lost sister.

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Cambodian workers opposite my hotel who wave and smile as I walk by

Even though I felt a little more lethargic than usual, I simply put it down to environment and whilst I did feel lousy, I pushed through. But as the days progressed, my lethargy and fatigue levels increased to the point where I could barely stand.

Alone in a hotel in Siem Reap with a raging fever, I realised I was very ill and needed to see someone.  I went to the reception desk and instantly Paulo the manager was at my side.  Without hesitation he called his tuk tuk driver and took me to hospital.

My simple cold has manifested into pneumonia, which although debilitating at least it’s now clear as to why I am feeling so ill.

So even though I am still alone in my hotel, I’m actually not for the wonderful Cambodian staff are continually checking on my welfare.

It is not in their job description to do so and I’m overwhelmed by their kindness.  It is so comforting to know that people, albeit strangers, have taken the time to care.

Yes, the kindness of strangers is truly humbling…

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Suspended umbrella’s on Pub Street…
featured, travel

WPC: Bali Dogs; tour guide extraordinaires…


Tour guides can be found in the most unusual of places.  And sometimes in the most unexpected form.

I’m currently in Bali and choose to take leisurely morning walks on the beach.  And accompanying me on these walks are some of Bali’s most informed guides.

Yes, they may be of the 4-legged tour guides variety, but their eagerness to share their ‘knowledge’ of their beach and its surroundings is boundless and filled with never-ending energy…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/tour-guide

featured, travel

In the central highlands of Bali…


A few years ago I came across a site called Workaway: a concept where travellers are offered free accommodation in exchange for hours worked.

I was a host for some time and now as I’m travelling without any destination in mind, this concept has offered alternatives to regular accommodation.

I recently stayed in a beautiful 5-star eco-lodge in the central highlands of Bali: all the owners asked for in return was images they could use on social media & websites.

As a photographer & journalist, it offered a great opportunity to capture this beautiful place nestled high in the hills, surrounded by crystal clear waterfalls.

Serene, elegant & peaceful…

 

 

featured, india, travel

‘You can stand on the cliff of life and play it safe. Or you can jump…”


Since making the decision to move to India, the comments and opinions I’ve heard have been polarised.  From the negative: “India, are you mad…”,  to the positive: “you are an inspiration, I admire your courage…’.

So with the date of my departure now clearly visible on the horizon and the fundamentals of my move sorted (except for my visa but that’s another post), I’ve had time to reflect on this so-called courageous leap off my life’s cliff.

 


And how do I feel?

I know I’m not scared for I thrive on adventure, and I’m definitely ready to dip my toes into unclear waters, despite not knowing what lurks beneath the surface.

However from an emotional perspective, I know I’m in for a wild ride. My emotions will make me feel like I’m riding the X2 rollercoaster at Magic Mountain:  propelling to great heights one day, before plunging to the lowest of lows the next.  But I’m expecting that as it’s one of the side effects of travelling and choosing to live outside your comfort zone. I remember clearly experiencing the lows when I lived in Penghu, Taiwan a few years ago.  You can read about my little Penghu breakdown here

Of course it would be ‘safer’ for me to remain where I am doing the same job, seeing the same people on a daily basis, yet lately I have been feeling like an extra in the movie, Groundhog Day.  And for me, that’s not living, that’s simply existing.

So despite knowing I’m about to ride an emotional rollercoaster, I’m going to jump, jump off my cliff.  I don’t know if I shall soar or crash, but I do know that jumping will allow growth, knowledge and most importantly, living life without regret.

 

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featured, life, photography

Meeting Francine: the terror & triumphs…


As of today, I have been living in Penghu for 3 weeks. Notice that on has changed to in, that’s because I have a habit of getting it all a little wrong sometimes, so when it comes to whether one lives in or on Penghu, apparently it’s in. So I stand corrected, I live in Penghu.

Street vendors

And whilst we’re on the subject of habits, I have another: a habit of naming inanimate objects. Trust me, this information is relevant. There have been suitcases named Boris and Gwen, a camera called Colin and an automatic pool cleaner named Bill, to name a few. Those who know me personally will attest to this little idiosyncrasy without protest, yes I know it’s strange, but hey that’s me.

With that done, I shall get down to the business of life in Penghu 3 weeks on.

First order of the day is Francine. Remember I said I name inanimate objects? Well Francine is a rather flash, 100cc Kimco moped, or maybe I should say motorcycle (let’s not have another on or in Penghu moment) that I purchased a week ago. Our relationship didn’t get off to a good start, not that Francine did anything wrong, it was all about me. You see I have always had a fear of two-wheeled motorised transportation that I would have to control, but put me on the back and it’s okay.  I know, weird. On many overseas adventures,  my wonderful ex husband, (yes he’s still wonderful despite being the ex) and I would often hire a bike, and I would willingly jump on the back and enjoy the ride. Yet the thought of being in control was something that sent shivers through my body. So as much as Francine looked quite lovely and she behaved brilliantly when Asha (fellow teacher) took her for a spin, I was still somewhat reluctant to take control.

Frightened would be an understatement, mortally terrified would be a more apt description of how I felt when the time came to mount Francine. Adding to my fear, I had to ride through the centre of town on my first foray into two-wheeled motorised ownership as Asha and I had arrived together on her bike to collect Francine. As a result we had two bikes, so someone had to ride Francine home didn’t they?

A solution to my dilemma was thankfully at hand. Asha decided we would ride together on Francine to a nearby car park and have a quick lesson. Once I felt confident (cough, splutter) we would return to collect her bike, then we would ride home separately.

Sounds simple hey? And as much as I would love to relay some hilarious mishap relating to my lesson, I can’t, as much to my surprise, it actually went smoothly. After about 15 minutes of scooting around the car park I felt quite comfortable. Francine behaved beautifully and we began to bond.

One week later we have definitely bonded and I’m left to wonder why I had never addressed my fear of riding a motorbike previously. I really enjoy it. I can mix it up with the locals, even manoeuvering Francine through the mix of humanity and motorbikes that descend upon the daily market. A challenging, yet highly exhilarating experience.

Buying Francine has also given me the opportunity to head out-of-town, along narrow roads with only cows and the odd villager for company. It heralds a different kind of exhilaration and the kind that comes with being at one with myself: no expectations, no destination and open to discovery. Francine and I did that very thing yesterday. We rode along quiet roads, through remote villages to find stunning beaches and small harbours where aging fishing boats rocked gently upon azure waters.

My three weeks in Penghu have definitely allowed me to make many discoveries and many changes. Not just about this interesting island I now call home, more importantly, I’ve made them about myself. It’s a good feeling.

On a final note though, some things will never change, my need to name inanimate objects. And with that being said, my computer and constant companion here in Penghu (apart from Francine of course) is without a name.

Any suggestions?

p.s. She is a white MacBook 😉