Daily Prompt: Vice.

I love listening to seagulls. The way they cry in a blustering winter sky can reduce me to tears – it takes me right back to my childhood, when I woke up every morning to the sound of their plaintive call above my attic bedroom.

But in town, they are awful creatures. They crap on everything, whether it moves or not. They attack tourists eating fish and chips, beat up postmen on their rounds, and have even been rumoured to pick on small dogs.

Today’s daily prompt asks for photos showing vice, and I immediately thought of my seagull pals. Here are a few snaps showing how lofty (haha), arrogant, self-important, proud and defiant they are.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PS. If you haven’t been yet, please head over here and support my entry in the Expats Blog writing contest, “Ten Beret God Things to Know about France and the French” before it’s too late!

Photo Challenge: Unexpected.

I couldn’t resist this challenge! There are so may things out there that catch my eye for their incongruous nature. Sometimes nature creates a heart from a tree stump. At other times, an old gate hides a funny little man with a flame hairstyle and a padlock nose. Turning down a corridor in an abandoned buildings, you can bump into the Grim Reaper guarding the door to the next floor… here are a few unexpected sights that Candide Canon and I have come across on our travels.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit.

The Weekly Photo Challenge asked for pictures of our habits, so here’s one of mine: Playing with Playmobils. Admittedly, (and luckily for my kids) I don’t do it every day.

Little My recently informed me that she had grown out of her Playmobil house. I protested hotly; she saw through all my lame excuses and kindly told me that if I wanted, I could keep it in my bedroom. I did. Partly because she may want to continue playing with it one day, and partly because… well… I enjoy creating alternative scenarios and taking photos of them.

PF was amused to find me playing quietly there after lunch today – the ideal occupation for a Sunday afternoon inside as the wind wails around the house. Here are a few of my creations over the years, depicting true life in Playmobilia (as opposed to the politically correct stuff our kids churn out). Hope you enjoy them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photo challenge: Curves.

Curves. They are everywhere. intentional, unintentional. Natural or man-made. In the street. In your plate. In church. In the garden. Here are a few I’ve come across on my travels with Candide Canon. Click to enlarge…..

Lost in the details: Never judge a book by its cover.

This week’s photo challenge asks bloggers to take a photo, then pay attention to the detail of the picture.

Last spring, I did just that.  I spotted this dandelion in a field. A plain old dandelion, scraggy and forlorn in the middle of a field of wild grass. Poppies jostled for attention all around, brazenly flashing their postbox red petals in the breeze as passers by admired their flamboyant, ephemeral beauty.


Just a plain old dandelion……

I ignored the poppies, and pushed through the grass.  I knelt down to look through my camera zoom, and discovered the hidden beauty of the humble dandelion. I was greeted by golden, silky softness. Smooth, light, glossy cups, intricately spun like spiders webs, that sparked off my imagination with scenes of elves and fairies, sleeping safely in the unlikely haven of a plain old dandelion as the breeze gently rocked their silken cocoon….. The lesson learned that day was simple: Never judge a book by its cover.

...until you look close.

…until you look close.

Photo challenge: Forward.

Today’s photo challenge asks bloggers to post a photo that inspires the word “Forward”. This is a favourite photo showing Little My taking a leap forward into life, 100% confident in her big brother’s promise that he wouldn’t let her down. He didn’t.

Forward to discovery, forward to self-confidence, forward to trust, forward to overcoming your fears and growing up. Forward.

copyright Multifarious meanderings 2013

copyright Multifarious meanderings 2013/

The story of MM, Helga and the flying car.

I haven’t done a WordPress challenge for ages, but today’s challenge struck a chord: “Share a time when you narrowly avoided disaster.” This is a post I wrote a long time ago about a hair-raising experience in my VW that would have cost me my life if I’d been a few seconds later on my schedule.  

I bought Helga when I finished my degree. My grandfather had left me some money a long time before “to give me a good start in life”. And the best way I could get where I wanted to go – France – was with four wheels.  When I answered the small ad, I literally cracked for this shiny VW with her generous curves, round eyes and military green sheen. I could have sworn I saw her chrome bumper smiling at me in the Norfolk sunshine. Her left-hand drive made her the ideal companion, and the price was more than affordable. How could I resist?

Helga has accompanied us everywhere on our travels except for the U.S, meaning that she’s probably had as many number plates as James Bond had passports. Our obstinacy to keep her has resulted in the car equivalent of cosmetic surgery and a heart transplant over the years. After more than twenty years of TLC, “Helga” the 32 year-old VW Beetle still purrs and shines her way through the local countryside; she has become a collector’s item that makes girls go wobbly at the knees, and Bigfoot knows it. He has his eagle eye on her for his student days, but he’ll have to push his mother off a cliff first.

Dean Jones in The Love Bug.

How Bigfoot imagines he will be with his Love bug (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Helga and I have had some pretty hair-raising experiences together. One close shave in particular made Helga my lucky star: that day back in 1991 when I had an encounter with a flying car as I chugged down the motorway between Portsmouth and Southampton on my way home from work. I kid ye not. What happens when wheels that are turning too fast on a motorway hit loose gravel? They skid. That’s how the Fiat Uno travelling in the opposite direction walloped headfirst into the crash barrier then flipped neatly up into the sky before my eyes like a giant white tiddlywink. It was one of those slow-motion moments you see in Starsky and Hutch, except this was real life.

I blinked as I saw the white car roof sparkling in the blue sky, and my stomach tightened into a knot. Would I be able to choose the yellow brick road and not the bright lights after being reduced to a pulp by Fiat’s failed aeronautical trial? I’d always loved watching the Wizard of Oz. I was relieved that I wasn’t wearing my stripy socks – it’ be just my style to be found with my legs sticking out from under the wreck like the Wicked Witch. And come to think of it, now that I was inches from discovering whether God really existed, I wouldn’t even be able to tell my parents. Dammit, Janet.

I peered through the seagull shit adorning Helga’s windscreen. The car was now falling and turned to show its strangely clean underbelly as it started its descent. I wondered who the occupant was, and if time had suddenly frozen for them in the same way as they viewed the motorway and their lives from a whole new perspective…. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have an unplanned stop on the M27. If you haven’t fastened your seatbelts, it’s too late now. Your landing will be cushioned courtesy of Helga the Beetle and her faithful companion”.

29F Penelope Pitstop

MM is always classy and shows self control whatever the situation. (Photo credit: Fred Seibert)

As the car disappeared out of my field of vision above Helga’s roof, I stopped gaping, hit the accelerator, and willed Helga to awaken the girl racer hopefully lurking somewhere in her innards. Lots of things went through my head. Unsurprisingly, what I presumed were my last thoughts were neither poetic nor philosophical:

1) Would my man find the steak I’d taken out of the freezer before it went off if I never made it home?

2) Why didn’t my “O” level maths curriculum include how to use the estimated weight, trajectory, speed and curve factors of a falling object to calculate its impact with a car travelling at a fixed speed of 80km with a slow acceleration and a petrified driver at the wheel?

3) Of all the stupid ways I could have imagined dying, I’d never have thought of this one: 10/10 for imagination, destiny. I’ve always enjoyed making people smile, but this time the last laugh’s really on me – this is going to be the most entertaining demise on our family tree.

4) I should have called my parents last night. You never know when you’re going to have a Chicken Licken moment and have the sky fall on your head. Or a car.

5) Was that last red light in central Portsmouth responsible for all this? If it had been green I would have been in the position of the car in front of me, which was accelerating as the driver looked in his rear view mirror……

Pulled back to real life, albeit perhaps not for long, I looked in my rear-view mirror to see the car behind me braking, it’s driver looking anxiously upwards.

A little like a bad take in a 1950’s disaster film, the car dropped out of the sky between our two vehicles and slammed bumper first into the tarmac before executing a neat double somersault and landing on its four wheels, neatly parked and smoking gently on the hard shoulder. Whilst I parked Helga, the driver behind me had done the same and was talking to the occupant, no doubt asking how he had gone from being Mr Ordinary to an incongruous mixture of Evel Knievel and Dick Dastardly in the space of seconds.

Dick Dastardly

Dick Dastardly, test pilot for the Fiat Punto.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My knees had turned to jelly; I wobbled my way to the little orange phone on the side of the road, called the emergency services, then followed their advice and sat in Helga, gabbling to myself and counting my blessings until I had stopped shaking. The driver of the car behind me was a nurse, and took care of our newfound pilot until the ambulance arrived. He had got out of the car, and was stumbling around the hard shoulder saying “my elbow hurts, and my wife is gonna kill me”. I don’t think he realized just how lucky he was to envisage the luxury of being told off by his wife.

The following morning I arrived at work, where one of my colleagues was moaning about her husband. She had planned to come to work in her new car, but her husband had test driven it a little too fast after leaving the garage showroom.  He had ended up with a broken elbow after a spectacular view of the M27 and a cute little VW Beetle that he almost squashed on landing……. It’s a small world.

If you have the time and the inclination, please pop over here and vote for my entry in the Expat’s Blog contest: Thank you!