The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com


Friday, 29 October 2010

As the fog of morning clears ...

I sit here, gathering my thoughts in the early light.  There's always something being processed.  I've been thinking a lot about the different forms of therapy available to veterans for PTSD, of which there aren't many.  Most of the models of treatment offered by the NHS are inflexible.  With the introduction of ICT platforms, you may now find yourself in front a PC for their initial tests that are used to assess your current status within your condition.

The NHS wants quick results, as do the MoD and therein lies the problem: the veterans that slip the net.  The longer a veteran is floating around on the periphery of main stream society on his/her own, the less effective their treatment is going to be.  If they've suffered any additional traumas in civilian life, the chances are that it'll compound the effect of their service related PTSD.

In my own case, I wasn't diagnosed for 12 years.  In that time I adjusted to civillian life and learned to see to my own needs in general functions (work, accommodation etc).  I faced hardships with regard to benefits etc as I didn't know I was entitled to claim certain things because of my disability.  There were times when I couldn't afford to eat properly because of paying for my bedsit and bills.  I became more flexible and open towards other points of view and ended up walking a path half way between the rigourous discipline of the armed forces and the some times chaotic lack of order of civvy street.  I learned to look at things for myself and make my own assessments ... so an inflexible model of care from the NHS was never going to work.

I feel that those models MIGHT work very well for people with PTSD that are still serving, providing something's done about the stigma related to mental health issues in society as a whole, they may also work for people recently back into civvy street ... but for those thousands of unsupported veterans in society that struggle from day-to-day, it's of little use.

The thing that I need the most is someone to sit and talk to in a secure environment that understands the issues and won't press my triggers when we're discussing life arond PTSD.  It takes a long time to build up that trust to be able to open up sufficiently to make the sessions of support useful. I recently came to the end of a 2 year counsellling arrangement with Nottingham Counselling Services.  I'd been floating around Nottingham, looking for support since leaving Cornwall, only to find that I wasn't being listened to and that I seemed to know more about PTSD than the mental health practitioners I was initially being referred to.  I also became aware of the fact that service related PTSD needs to be dealt with in a slightly different manner - simply because there's a different language and attitude involved.  Very different ... and the implications of a practitioner saying something that could trigger a reaction leading to physical harm of the practitioner are very real.  I eventually ended up in NCS after my GP told me of their existence.  I called them up, went through a flexible assessment and was treated with care and dignity.  It took a long time for me to open up on some issues to my counsellor, probably over a year.  He gave me the listening ear that I needed and helped me to reflect on some of the issues that I was working through in my mind and I helped him learn about PTSD in veterans.  NHS models of treatment don't allow for that time scale n the main.  Most practitioners will have signed the patient off and moved on to the new list.  The ones that allow you flexibility are very few.  It takes time to establish trust when you've been conditioned to ignore all problems and function in the role assigned to you ... until you drop.  You're conditioned to be part of a collective and you have your role to play.  You don't put yourself first ... and you're ready to sacrifice yourself to save your mates.

This opens up another difficulty for the NHS.  How do their practitioners get that experience and awareness?  I can only think of one way - they carry out detatchments of 6 months or so working with currently enlisted troops on bases.  They live the barrack life, they learn the barrack talk and they see what goes on for themselves.  This just might make them a more effective practitioner, whether they're a psychologist, psychiatrist or CPN/Behavioural Therapist.  The key to any successful therapy lies in the practitioner's ability to make an effective bridge between him/herself and the patient.  If that can't be done, any treatment will be a waste of time ... and it will be met with the cold wall of defence ... and you won't penetrate it.

The other difficulty that the NHS has, as mentioned above, is that all treatment is time limited.  Time became more of an issue with the NHS when hospital appraisals were first introduced on every aspect of operations - from assessments on the way they carried out treatment to the inner functions such as personnel and equal opportunities.  Every function has a tick box and one of the criteria for assessment will be how many patients a hospital treats a year.  Bascially, thanks to central government, our hospitals are having to play the numbers game in order to ensure their funding is secured.  While, initially, this process may have helped some of the slacker hospitals and treatment centres to improve their operations ... I feel it can also be to the detriment of patients when administrators get caught up in the numbers game and forget that they're dealing with people ... and in the function of care to ailing people, time, kindness and dignity are very important factors.

As in all things led by a political society, we go from one extreme to the other, because people are too lazy, as a whole to put the effort into some sort of constant, acceptable, balanced perfomance.  Our failing political system underlines this.  Each new government blames the last for its current situation.  It's about time we had a more representative form of government:  If the people vote 28% tory, 25% labour, 19% liberal, 5% green - that is exactly what the make up of the government should be.  It may take longer to reach an agreement on some issues ... but at least it would be a decision that more of us might be able to cope or be happier with.

If we could get that level of representational flexibilty in government, think of what benefits could be achieved in society as a whole if people were forced to consider more than their own agenda ... and were having to compromise for the sake of progress for the good of all? 

If we had a good system of government with a high level of awareness ... coupled with a good system of flexible medical care .... would 15% of the prison population and 25% of homeless people in this country be veterans?  For those of you that think only of Afghanistan and Iraq ... think further back because there are thousands of veterans that still need care and support.  The government started talking about awarding the wounded the equivalent of a 'Purple Heart' to those wounded in service of their country.  It'll take more than that to honour the Military Covenant ... but recognising the sacrifice would be a step in the right direction.


Thursday, 28 October 2010

It's a question of timing ...

That's it ... no fine touches, no more DIY ... at least for another 3 years!!!  It's stressful and I don't have the patience for it!  I finished the staircase too, or as much as I'm going to do of it.

It's funny what comes in your mind as ideas.  The stairway's a journey - sometimes I'm going up - sometimes down.  I try to live and walk in a Black & White world and minimise the grey ... but the grey crops in and I'm out of control.  I don't like the grey ... but I have to acknowledge its existence and try to work with it or around it ... or I'm screwed.  Why don't I like the grey?  It's the domain of politicians and others that don't want to tell someone a truth.  It's a lot more ... but in the main, that's what it's come to mean to me.

Anyway ... see my foot on the grey?  It took me 4 minutes to slowly climb 12 steps!  Can you believe that it took that long?  It's because there's some fresh wet paint around the tiles.  So, I have to think about something  - should I learn to levitate as quickly as possible -  in case I need a piss urgently?  This is a very taxing decision.  Damn, just writing that thought's made me want to go and use the loo.

I'm going to have some takeaway food tonight - I'd better be waiting for it or they'll disappear - WITH my food if I take 4 minutes to go down the steps!!!

So, back to editing photos and writing tonight ... sigh, at last ....



The bathroom's finished!


It was only ever supposed to be the bathroom that was being re-done.  Somehow it grew into a job that took on the hallway too. 

BUT ... the bathroom's done and it's looking lovely, if I say so myself.  I won't post any close-ups though - that way the blemishes stay hidden ;o)

Have a good one.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Fatigue sets in ...

'You're soooo lucky.  You go on holiday all the time!'  I get tired of hearing that.  I can't remember the last time that I had a holiday.  I do feel fortunate to have witnessed some of the things that I have seen though.

My trips are about using creativity to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It's therapeutic, but very hard work for me.  Every journey presents its own challenges, physical, mental and spiritual.  By going to different countries I push myself to the limits of my endurance with regards to the physical pain in parts of my body.  Most of the time I carry a 12kg camera bag packed with photographic equipment and some survival equipment, just in case something bad happens or a situation develops that I need to get myself out of.  Pushing my boundaries is an important part of my coping mechanism.  If I didn't push, I'd give in to the PTSD ... and cease to exist.

There's a price though.  After every trip I end up completely drained.  The pain levels are high and it takes quite a while for my body to re-charge.  But that's ok ... because I achieved my objective, survived another trip of pushing myself ... and brought back some images.

You won't find me lounging by the side of a pool ... simply because I don't go on holidays.

As rememberance day approaches, my thoughts turn to my friends that have served and the lads that I have met at 'Combat Stress'.  I find myself wondering how they are ... whether they're coping ok, making poppies and having a bit of banter or subdued having opened up to their individual trauma counsellors.  Some of the art created by the guys using the Occupational Therapy centre is amazing.  I used to like sitting there, making some poppies and having a laugh with the guys ... and also enjoyed watching the guys paint and sculpt various things ... lost in the moment of creativity ... temporarily freed from their personal hell.

I remember their solemn faces as we've sat in groups and talked things out together ... seeing the struggle within etched on their faces ... yet getting strength from each other ... knowing that you're amongst brothers, where there's no shame or judgment ... just the fight to open up the valves and let some of the crap out so that we can go back to our isolated existences and carry on doing whatever it is that we do - until the next time we need more release in a nurturing, safe, secure environment.

I don't know when my next trip is - I wanted it to be this week as one of my friends is there and we support each other outside of the therapy sessions and have a laugh too.  Strange isn't it?  We sit and talk about our pain and the things that we go through and yet we still laugh.  Sometimes we laugh so hard that our sides hurt - really badly!  Whatever we may have lost on those various areas of duty, our sense of humour wasn't one of them.  We'd be doomed without it.  It's kind of like a last line of defence.  If we stop laughing, then something bad's about to happen.  Sometimes we just use the laughter to hide our pain and experiences ... I guess it can be difficult for a civillian to know what's going on inside a veteran's mind.  Sometimes, we don't even know, we're just too busy coping and surviving ... that's the current battle and it's a tiring one.

Nothing much seems to have happened with regards to raising funds for the proposed exhibition through selling the book - 'Words of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran'.  BBC Radio Nottingham interviewed me about the book the other day  - you can hear the interview on: http://www.wolf-photography.com/html/woaw/woaw.html.  I sincerely hope that some other agencies/organisations will help to raise awareness about this project.  The book needs to generate enough capital to run a national rolling exhibtion of poetry and photography to raise awarness of PTSD in veterans, demonstrate the use of creative therapies as a coping mechanism and sign post sufferers and their relatives to agencies that can help them.

I'm not sure what the position is with Waterstones at the moment with regards to the selling of my book as Gardners, their main distributor, aren't being clear with me as to what's going on.  I'm assuming the original buying contract is still in operation ... but it's different to being on Gardner's distribution list.  A lack of contacts doesn't help the situation ... and the PTSD presents enough barriers to keep me out of the loop most of the time.

I'm hoping to have all the images from Malta and Egypt ready for publishing on my website (http://www.wolf-photography.com/) this week - including the images from the film set of 'Game of thrones'.



Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Another day ...

I'm sat lost in the fog of generated by the recent trip to Cairo - 6 days of no sleep and walking in the heat to photograph the various sites of the city and its surrounding areas. 

My body craves food at the moment but I'm being careful as I don't want to go the other way with regard to food intake - having had very little food in Cairo.

Some of the hunger is that seasonal trigger that my body presses to insulate a little for the winter.  My body knows that I always try to get to some snow and ice ... so it's preparing for the cold.

Today was a day of mixed emotions.  I'm still decorating my bathroom and the builders have been in again to do the last bit of garden wall in the front - which should be finished tomorrow.  I always feel a little invaded when work people are around and I get very stressed when they leave mess behind.  When I got back home from Cairo, the first thing I did was scrub the bathroom floor as the builders had left wet brick dust and rubbed it into the floor.  Added to that they managed to crack 2 bathroom tiles and chip my new bath.  So I'm not best pleased with them at the moment ... but it's best to let them finish their work altogether before we have a reckoning regarding the damage.

I was also interviewed re my book today by BBC Radio Nottingham (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00bknlm/Richard_Spurr_Author_Heather_Watson_the_Ladies_Networking_Group_and_Bill_Tarmey/) and was greatful that the interviewer was sensetive to my needs.  There wasn't enough time to raise awareness of the fact that the funds from book sales will go towards putting on a National Exhibtion though and that 25% of any profits will go the creative arts area of the Occupational Therapy unit at Combat Stress.

I also setup a private blog today for my my son, daughter and myself, so that we can share thoughts and feelings with each other.  My daughter wrote some poetry recently and my son sent me a short story.  I was impressed by both of their efforts, so much so that I hope they will both continue writing something in some way, so as to maintain and develop that skill.

My thanks to those of you that dropped me an email when you couldn't see the links to my 'Bio' and 'Blog' on my website.  I disable them when travelling to countries that the Home Office list as a high risk of terrorist activity.  I travel as a journalist then and no as a 'Veteran'.  The links are enabled again.

My eye lids are heavy and I feel the darkness of the den calling.  Time for the wolf to sleep ...


Sunday, 17 October 2010

Images of Cairo ...

I was thinking about Cairo as I walked back to the hotel tonight.  I was watching a plastic bag do a circular dance in a corner as it rode the breeze and just let myself feel Cairo in an open way ... and I'm left with a mixture of feelings about the place as a whole.

Like so many tourist locations, litter's a real problem.  Pollution is another.  If you suffer from asthma or any other chest condition,  I would seek the advice of your doctor before travelling. I only used bottled water for drinking and brushing my teeth and stayed away from salads and ice.  I tried some local food and found it to be delicious ... but my appetite was much reduced owing to the heat.  I survived on sugar can juice and fruit in the main.  If you buy fruit, make sure the skin is in tact and wash the fruit with your bottled water before eating it.

I didn't feel much of anything around the pyramids in a spiritual sense, actually, that's not true.  I felt that whatever was there has been raped, desecrated and sold to the material world ... and maybe even that the interference that other cultures have inflicted on the pyramids have, in some way, interfered with an important  process on a spiritual plane.  It's just a feeling I get whenever I see the pyramids ... they're just empty shells now.  It didn't feel right to visit the tombs.

Cairo is a thriving city that depends on the tourism industry to a degree.  I saw every type of shop I'd expect to see in a western city with regards to manufacturing etc.  The shops were full of equipment but there wasn't that much evidence of actual sales.  Food and clothing seem to be the most frequented shops.  Hearing the Muslim's call to prayer around the noise of traffic and music from different counties was a surreal experience.   I'm not sure what percentage of the population practise which religions but they seem to be able to co-exist peacefully.  From my own experience of terrorism, it's the minority that tend to make problems for the majority. 

The hawkers and guides can be a pain in the rectum and some of them try to engage you in conversation very skillfully.  Seen 'Jaws'?  Well, if you're the tourist, you're shark food.  Everything has to be haggled for.  The amount of businesses that will offer you, the tourist,  a fair price for a product are very few indeed.  Get a map and ask other tourists about where they've eaten etc.  I only used the black cabs here.  The white cabs boast having air conditioning but they'll charge you more to turn it on.  I flagged down black cabs, negotiated the fare and THEN got in.  Don't get into a cab first without negotiating.  Some of the drivers will offer you smokes, tissues to wipe your sweaty brow or other things - refuse everything ... or they'll charge you for it at the end of the ride.

The Old City, the Pharoanic Village and the Sufi dance in the old city are highly recommended.  If you want to see the pyramids, hire a driver and negotiate a fair price.  I tend to stop a lot on sighting something interesting to photograph, so I don't mind paying a little more than the going rate.  Don't go above 220 Egyptian Pounds for such a trip and remember that you still have to pay the entrance fees for the various sites you'll visit, as well as the car parking fee for your ride.  If you want to see all the pyramids in one day - start very early - 6:30am and head to Dahshur first, then Saqqara and finally the pyramids of Giza.

Accommodation prices can vary greatly depending on your requirements.  I used the African Hostel, located at 15, Emad Eldeen Street.  It's central, cheap and has hot and cold running water.  It's basically a youth hostel.  I paid 899 Egyptian Pounds for my 6 night stay (around 99.00 GBP) for a double room with an en-suite shower and toilet.

Would I visit Cairo again?  Yes, but in the winter!



Last day in Cairo ...

Talk about 'Sod's Law'!  It's the last day in Cairo, my body looks like the mosquitoes have had a batchelor party on it BUT there's actually a cool breeze flowing across the city and the temprature has to be about 10 C lower than it has been over the last few days.

I've got some bird watching arranged on the Nile today and hope to get some shots of the various species frequenting the area.



Saturday, 16 October 2010

Old Cairo ...

I took it easy today ... or tried to.  It seems to be getting hotter here.  Apparently the heatwave is coming over from the Saudi Arabia area - I wouldn't like to be there!  The heat's still draining me ... but there's only another day to go and I get back to some colder weather - yeah!

I explored the old city today - some of it looks like a bomb hit it.  There's real poverty in this part of town but it's also a thriving arts area.  You'll find all sorts of things from Bedouin jewelry to Sufi concerts. 

I went to a Sufi concert tonight and it was AMAZING!  Wow, what an energy these performers generated.  I couldn't help but move to the music, so I'm not expecting any miracles with regards to the photos as I was a bit too far away from them and it was quite dark.  The dancing was so awe inspiring and I could see some of the guys zoning out as they hit that place where a person becomes one with their art.  I want to find some of their music to bring back on a CD.  The only music shop I found in Central Cairo didn't have any.

So, time to have a cold shower and see if I can sleep a little.



Friday, 15 October 2010

Heat exhaustion ...

I met a decent fella called Drago from Russia.  I think he'd get on great with Mat and Wolf Jnr too as travelling companions. The heat exhaustion's been creeping up on me slowly as each day drains more of my reserves.  Today was really bad. 

Drago and I went to visit the pyramids around Cairo.  I hired a driver and we went from site to site.  Drago got his high from being at one with the monuments and I went around trying to shoot what I can.  The light in the area is awful.  If you're going to carry out any photography at the pyramids, I strongly recommend that you take the following filters:  A circular polariser and a neutral density filter. 

I was so drained by the afternoon that I couldn't even get to the Sphinx to photograph it before the light became unworkable for the site.  Perhaps I'll do that on a free day before flying back.  I'm pretty sure that my body won't cope with a day at Luxor on Sunday, so I've cancelled that part of the trip.  Instead I'm going to try to get the necessary minerals etc back into my body and do some gentle photography over the last couple of days here.

Time to drink more water and get some rest.



Thursday, 14 October 2010

Thursday ... Pharaonic Village ...

It seems that the days are getting continually hotter.  I'm still finding conflicting information re some sites that I want to photograph and most places seem to be closing around 4:30pm.

I decided to head to the Pharaonic Village today.  I heard about it from the hotel staff and it sounded interesting, 'A place where they recreated life in the time of the Pharos.'  I have to admit to being a bit cynical about the setup as a lot of people will recommend so many things that turn out to be a pile of last year's stale mince pies ... BUT I was pleasantly surprised.

I would say that there is a gap with regards to viewing past Egyptian culture and the Pharaonic Village fills it nicely.  The place is setup to demonstrate methods of farming, perfume making, fishing, wine and beer making as well as various arts and crafts of the Egyptians.  All the actors are in traditional costumes and the whole tour is carried out by boat on the River Nile.  But wait ... there's a bonus!  You'll also see various birds flying around and some even hunting small fish right in front or to the side of your boat.  If you're a birder you can't miss this trip and make sure you've packed your camera gear and get a seat on the front row.

They have also created scaled models of various scenes: moving an obelisk, creating a pyramid and the Sphinx and unlike the Cairo museum, here you can take photos ... with flash photography if you want to.

You will find replicas of items such as Tutenkhamun's Mask, various treasures found in tombs as well as a replica tomb, complete with a Pharo to view.

In the arts and crafts area you can watch glass blowing and fine etchings being created before your very eyes and you have the option to purchase items such as jewelry and other items should you desire them.

The shots will be in a specific  album named after the village in the travel section when I get home.

Their website is: http://www.pharaonicvillage.com/, go and visit them.  You won't be sorry, especially if you're into photography.

Tomorrow, the pyramids!



Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Hectic Tuesday ...

The bathroom was finally tiled and all the bits and pieces attached to the walls.  I had just enough time to shave and change before the taxi arrived to begin the journey to Cairo.

Things went smoothly until I got to Heathrow Airport.  I went to use the loo for a number one situation but my zip handle/lever/tag (?) came apart in my fingers and I couldn't undo the zip AND I had about 20 minutes before the flight started boarding!  The security team came to the rescue.  A bloke lent me his leathermans tool - but the clasp broke completely.  A female security operative gave me her key ring, so I could thread it through the little hole ... it was hard going.  The following conversation took place: 'I can't get it in,' I said with a grin, 'I might need a hand.'  She replied, 'Is it too big?'

I said, 'It's tight, can you help me get in?' The three of us cracked up laughing, I walked off and managed to take a leak and then went and boarded my flight.

It was dark when we landed in Cairo, so there was no initial impression, apart from the heat.  I saw a couple of mosques lit up on the way to the hotel but nothing else.  This morning, I had a little walk around the area and found it to be hot, dusty and crowded with cars more than people on foot.

If you want to photograph people and culture here, it's going to have to be from a distance with a big lens as most people here have an aversion to being photographed.

One strange thing so far is that the bottled water here tastes the same as the bottled water in India, which is a little worrying!  The streets don't smell anywhere near as bad though.

Time to find some information re things I want to photograph here.



Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tiling fiasco ...

The bathroom saga continues ... I tried to tile some of the wall myself and got myself well and truly wound up.  I'd gone through 5 tiles before I remembered how to use the cutter properly.  Then I got it right but got the cuts wrong size wise.  I eventually got the hang of it but I couldn't get the tiles to line up properly with the spacers and after about an hour and a half of farting about I drew on some wisdom ...  'it's not worth getting further stressed over.  Accept that you can't do this task and tidy up.'   And that's precisely what I did.

I'm going to have a bath now and try to unwind some more.

Time to do some floating ....



Friday, 8 October 2010

DIY Expert ... not!

I'm soooo good at DIY that Tim Allen wouldn't have employed me in an episode of 'Home Improvements'.  Ok, I'm so crap at DIY that Tim Allen wouldn't have employed me in an episode of 'Home Improvements'.

If you saw my handy work downstairs from when I moved in, you'd understand.  The paint work hasn't been tidily 'cut in' as much as  ... (hold on, trying to find the right word...) caked on in places.  No straight lines exist in this parallell universe. well not with regards to decorating. 

Actually, I did notice that the house builders didn't own protactors or set squares.  There aren't many correct right angles etc.  I wonder if I inherited their ability to balls things like that up?

Hmm ... no.  I can't blame them.  Besides, my kids'll bubble me.  They still take great delight in telling people about the cock up I made when I was laying down some network cable for their computers.  The hole that was supposed to have appeared in the cupboard under the stairs miraculously appeared in the kitchen ceiling.  I never bothered filling the hole up as I knew it made them laugh.

So, I've got this new bath.  It was supposed to be here on Tuesday but ended up arriving Wednesday ... at 6:30am.  I wanted a bigger bath to help me with my pain relief and found one that will allow me to have my legs straight in the bath ... and float!!  I tried it this morning and couldn't believe it.  I felt like a kid swimming for the first time.  I felt like shouting to someone - 'HEY!  Look at me - I'm FLOATING in my BATH!'  No one was here though, so I thought I'd share it with you instead.

I finished varnishing the panel I made for it.  I put some bits of cladding together and varnished it with some waterproof satin finish stuff.  I've just finished painting the walls.  Next job will be to tile the walls.  I did some tiling a loooong time ago.  It turned out ok and NONE of the tiles fell off.  So I'm going to have a go here too.  The more simple stuff I do now, the less I get charged by the pros.

I have a feeling I'll be having different dreams tonight as the varnish dries on the panel!



Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Lee the Lion ...

I met Lee a few years ago when he was visiting London on his honeymoon with WhiteEagle. Indirectly, he taught me an important lesson. You only have 1 father and 1 mother - if it doesn't work out between the 3 of you - tough - get on with the rest of your life.

Lee's the sort of friend you can sit in a bar with or walk a mountain with. He's nearing the end of his journey on this plane owing to cancer.

The first time we met, I could see he was very tired ... but a friend had arranged that we go to a function. I said we'd go along there by bus and the ladies could go by car. It gave Lee a chance to rest. We sat on the door step together and he rolled a ciggie and we just talked. It was the first time that I had talked with an elder this way and he was genuinely interested in my journey and kept asking me questions about various aspects of it.  It felt as if we'd always talked and this was a continuation of our last chat ... perhaps from a different time.

I remember sitting in a sweat lodge with him at a ceremony.  It was WhiteEagle's Elderhood ceremony.  It was my first sweat lodge.  We all linked hands and sang the old songs in the darkness of the lodge, the drum echoing the beat of the Earth Mother outside as we sat in her womb.  We sang and we bonded as brothers, fathers and sons.  We couldn't see the man to our left or right, the darkness was complete and the mist from the sacred stones filled any gaps ... but I knew who had my left hand - the hand of my heart.  It was Lee.

This is the way that I'll think of him: the guy that gave me the ear of a father without being mine. A guy with a big heart and an open soul.

He told me that I had to go and walk the mountain paths of Nepal ... I did it Lee :o)

Wishing you love and peace mate ... and a gentle passing to the new path.

SnowMoon Wolf

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Impressions of Malta ... and some tips if you're visitng there ...

It's a hot place, temprature wise.  By the time I'd finished shooting on days out, I felt that familiar drain on my body's resources that I experienced in India last year.

The island has a particular odour that lingers in many parts that you can small in the water and the air. My feeling was that it's related to pollution issues and it's just one of those things about living on an island.

When I look back at the time spent there one energy/feeling comes clearly to mind and that is of either being in a state of seige or of repelling intruders.  I guess when you've fulfilled a particular role for so long, it's hard to change that energy. 

Politically, Malta's inclusion into the EU was a necessary one for issues of security, detection of drug movements and stopping the odd terrorist or three from moving on to their target destinations from the island, having used the island as a drop off point.  Malta's population is roughly 40,000 but they allow up to 1000 immigrants into the country per annum.  The reasons are the usual mix that we have here ranging from people seeking their fortune to those seeking political asylum for various issues.

In terms of a location for photography it's fairly repetetive.  It's mainly a collection of forts and churches.  However, if you want to photograph some mediterranean blue in the water, it's a good location.  I didn't try any underwater photography there but have heard many reports from other visitors of the diversity and beauty of the underwater life surrounding the islands.  Most of the museums etc don't allow tripods and flash photography.

The easiest way to get around is by bus.  A week's pass will cost you just over 13 euros and you can get from one end of the island to the other in about an hour.  Be cautious when travelling in groups though - check the bus - if it looks full, wait for the next one as some drivers won't wait for you to try to get off if some of your friends can't get on.

Use bottled mineral water for drinking and brushing your teeth.  It's also worth taking sachets of minerals to replace the stuff you'll probably sweat out of your system.  If you start getting cramps in limbs it's a sign that you need those minerals and electrolytes topping up urgently.

There's a wide range of food available, everything from McDonalds to indian, as well as some traditional maltese restaurants.  The local fish is affordable and tasty too.  Check around for the competition price wise, they all have menu boards on the street.

If you run out of euros, it's easy enough to get more as there are plenty of cash machines on the island.

It's worth seeing the islands of Comino and Gozo.  Gozo is accessible by a regular ferry that'll cost you 4.50 euros for a return journey and you can use buses there too.  Comino is a very small place that has one fort but is a good place to take a break and enjoy a swim in the lagoon.

If you're going to any fireworks displays, be cautious and keep your distance as there are more fatalities related to fireworks than road accidents on the islands.

The local language sounds like a mixture of italian and arabic.  Most people speak english though and you should be able to get about ok.

Make sure you pick up a free bus routes map in Valletta from the bus terminus.  Valletta is the country's capital and administrative centre.

Other places worth a visit are: Mdina, Rabat, Marsaxlokk, Mosta and Birgu.  St Pauls Bay is a nice quiet area to stay in.  If you're into nightlife etc, head for Paceville.  Buses stop earlier after the main season finishes though and taxis can be expensive.

I'm still editing the shots but it shouldn't take that long before they're posted.



Osprey - Nature section

Osprey - Nature section
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