Friday, December 24, 2010

200 and Counting! And Merry Christmas.

Well it is Christmas Eve and I have had the pleasure of coming home early so. Here we go…

This is my 200th post!

Now for some prolific bloggers that number is nothing flash, given they post daily. But I don’t. About three times a week seems to be my average which means my blog has been running along for just under 18 months.

So as a celebration of this milestone I thought I’d give my readers a chance to quiz me.

Without further ado:

Samantha asked
“If you could spend New Year's Eve with one person unknown to you, alive or dead, who would it be? (By unknown, I mean not your family, friends)”
Well Samantha, I always find this kind of question surprisingly difficult to answer. There are just so many possibilities given we are including those who have gone to God.
Now a few people have asked a question a little along these lines so I get the fun of picking more than once. In this case I am going to say Winston Churchill.
Why Churchill? As well as being the leader of the British in their finest hour he was also an historian, a writer and a brilliant orator. I suspect you could have a good chin wag with him and I would love to know how close he came to throwing in the towel and surrendering to the Nazis in 1940.

Kat wanted to know: “ I'd like to know if you're an animal lover and which do you prefer, cats, dogs, or both?”
A cat person. No a dog person! No both :-)
Let me explain, when I was really young I had a little terrier for maybe a year. After that Mum would only let us have cats so I loved cats and we had some fantastic cats when I was a kid.
My other half is a dog person (although she like Siamese cats too) so when she came into my life dogs did too. I have really liked all our dogs over the years, but our last dog was Molly a golden Labrador. Molly was an absolute sweetheart of an animal, and although we got her because Deb wanted another dog she really became attached to me and me to her. So I am very much a convert I would have another Labrador tomorrow if I could.

Christine asked: “If you could spend a day as someone from the past, who would it be and why?”
I guess to answer this I might jump back over 1500 years. I think Hypatia of Alexandria is one of the most amazing women in history. I would find it a privilege to spend time with a woman who stood up against all odds for knowledge and wisdom in a very dark time. A very tragic heroine, I doubt I’d have the courage of my convictions like she did.

Hilary wondered: “Where in the world is the gate and it's wrong way round granite book-ends? Looks UK like to me??!”
Bingo! You’ve guessed right this photo was taken in the UK, to be precise near Housesteads fort in Northumberland, England. More about the gate below…

Hart said: “That IS a great pic, and a very cool looking place... as to the favour... well... because you included the 'U”, (I suspect Hart might be having a little go at my use of the Queen’s English. We are only half way to becoming ex-colonial here in OZ and one of the things we have kept along with the Queen is British spelling)
Hart then went on to ask: “If your writing hit it really big, so you could live however you wanted, how would you set up your life?”
I have to laugh I was actually having a conversation very like this today. My ultimate fantasy is to retreat to a rainforest hideaway here in Oz and live a very simple life most of the time. I’d need to have enough money to provide something of an income and to travel extensively from time to time. For research of course :-)

Wendy R, wondered: “When, where and how would you live if you had the power to do so?”
There are plenty of places I would like to time travel to: Ancient Greece, Rome; Shakespeare’s England to name but a few. In reality though for all its problems I think we live in one of the best times (at least in the West). For a start women are for the most part allowed to do what they want and live life according to their own terms.
It is a terrible injustice, perhaps the worst ever that has seen women treated as ‘lesser’ beings for so much of our history (ongoing in many places even today). I like that my daughters can be their own women.

Jennifer said: “I do like the strange broken alcove around the gate!!!
Ooh question!!!!! Erm.... know any good jokes?”
Yes Jennifer I do know a number of good jokes, but they are all far too rude to be repeated here :-)

Sarah (aka Falen) asked: “LOVE that first photo! Do you think there used to be an arch above the gate?”
Yes, there once was a complete arch above the gate. More about the gate below…

Tasha asked: “What's your favorite book?”
That is one of the most difficult questions of all, there are just too many wonderful books to pick just one. I am going to go sentimental and say either: AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (I most firmly indicate I do not mean Disney’s version of Pooh); or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Deniz said: “Ooh, good idea. Hmm, well, along the lines of everyone else's questions - which fictional character would you like to have over for dinner?”
Oh dear another toughie: Jane Eyre or Gandalf (how is that for contrasting characters?)

Susan said: “I answered reader questions a while back and it was so much fun - I loved writing those posts!
My question: What is your favorite holiday, and why?”
I agree it is great fun answering these questions. I will answer this question in two ways: my favourite ever holiday was to northern England in 2005 (I took the gate photo then); but my favourite place to holiday is the South Coast of NSW, the little fishing village of Eden is very well named.

MT asked: “Is there something you'd like to photograph that you've yet to have the opportunity to do so?”
A colleague just came back from a holiday to Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Her photos of the ancient city of Petra have me drooling. I want, no need to photograph Petra!!

Denise (aka L’Aussie) presented the following: “ What lead to your love of photography?”
I have always been a very visual person, but I could never get art to look anything like I imagined. With photographs I often capture exactly what I want and some times it is even better than that. I guess the simple answer is photos are an art form I manage to express myself through.

Yvonne cheated (just a little) and asked several questions: “Is that a part of Hadrian's Wall. We saw a section but it was only a couple of feet tall, crumbling in the undergrowth with sheep all about. A you hang a Christmas stocking? Have you ever hung one with it only to end up empty?”
Yes, to the first question the collapsed arch is part of Hadrian’s Wall. The best stretches are roughly in the middle. No, I no longer hang a Christmas stocking; but I did when I was a kid. Once it was empty but Mum couldn’t fit my new bike in it :-)

Jemi also asked a string of questions (although I will let her off the hook because they are all related): “When did you get your first camera? Do you remember the first photo you took that made you realize you were really good with the camera? What's your favourite subject to photograph?”
I got my first camera when I was about eleven. It was a little Kodak 110 instamatic. It took really bad photos, but boy I had fun with it.
I’m not actually sure I am really good with a camera. I have an idea of what I want a photo to look like when I compose it, but I take a lot and pick the best.
To kind of answer your question I guess I was pretty happy with some of the piccies I took way back in the 1970s. This one was taken in about 1975 of a Bird of Paradise flower. It’s not great but I was 11 and it was a very bad camera. This was taken in about 1977 with the same camera.My single favourite subject is ancient ruins, but they are a little far between in Oz. So on a more daily basis I would say landscapes closely followed by wildlife.

For those of you who might be curious (I know I would be) the gate in my piccie is on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumbria England. It is the remains of the north gate arch in Milecastle 37. Originally the remaining wall was the base of a tower with an arched gate. At some point in antiquity the Romans blocked off most of the archway making it only wide enough for one person at a time.
The stretch near Housesteads fort is probably the best preserved if anyone is interested in having a look.
Why is the wall a ruin? Well for hundreds of years all the local farm houses, villages and field walls were built largely with stone taken from the wall. It was much easier to demolish part of the wall than to quarry it.
So that is it for tonight.
Thank you all for asking some great questions. I have really enjoyed the game.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


Talei said...

I love Ancient Greece and Lord of the Rings! ;)

Have a wonderful Christmas Al!

Anne Gallagher said...

Wonderful post Al. I left you something on my blog yesterday. A little Christmas present if you will.

Happy Happy Holidays. I hope Santa gives you what you need the most.

Old Kitty said...

Yay!!! The mystery of the gate is solved!!! :-) Fantastic!!

Congratulations on your 200th post!!!! What a way to celebrate too - fab and fun Q&A!!! I hope you do get to retreat in a rainforest one day and do lots of research!!! And tell good jokes!

I think that bird of paradise pic is amazing!!!

Happy Christmas eve!!! Take care

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Al .. thanks - thought it had to be .. the picture is great - would have loved to have featured it on my blog post on Hadrian's Wall (well search for Hadrian! & you'll get "Friends, Romans Countrymen send me your Socks" - the crooked gateway & two other posts) ..

I must get up to Housesteads in due course ..

Here's to your wishes coming true and being able to travel for 'research' as well as hide in your Oz forest .. Cheers & a merry Christmas .. love the Strelitzia in 1977 .. have a fun festive time - Hilary

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

ooh i didn't know it was a photo of Hadrian's wall - that makes it all the more cooler in my book.


Rayna M. Iyer said...

Merry Christmas, Al!

Christine said...

Congratulations on your 200th post, Al. Enjoyed the questions and answers.

Merry Christmas!

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Accidental Londoner said...

Many congratulations on your 200th's to the next 200! Happy Christmas!

Lisa said...

Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!