OH ( my other half) and I are just returned from a trip to Mauritius. We met in Mauritius 44 years ago as students, and OH was keen to revisit the beautiful island that holds many happy memories. Memories of spending afternoons on the beach snorkelling over an incredible coral reef, listening to a young boy lying in the sea playing his trumpet. Of a bed and breakfast accommodation complete with cockroaches and geckos, and a cyclone that brought 60 inches of rain in just 14 days. It was so wet that we ended up travelling around the island in our swimming costumes, as there was no point wearing clothes; we were completely soaked within seconds.
I am not a fan of heat, or of beach holidays. I am no longer able to lie for hours perfecting an unhealthy tan. I am a restless individual who can cope with no more than 30 minutes lying on a sun bed before craving some action. OH, on the other hand, likes nothing better than to lie for hours reading a good book, barely bothering to swim or to stray from his lounger. We are incompatible in this respect.
In the past we have chosen activity holidays such as hiking or sailing. But this was to be a regular beach holiday. The potential for activities was there, but the heat of the tropical sun is more than I can bear on my ageing skin, and I can only be happily active before the sun reaches any significant height in the sky.
So, determined to get some daily exercise, I got up at 6.30 every day to walk before sunrise. I left OH in bed and crept out with my camera and a desire to explore.
Our first location was a beach hotel. I was not the only one walking very early in the day. The sand was heavily foot-printed, and the beach pleasantly shaded.
I searched for things to photograph. Mostly I was drawn to the dead corals, lying on the white sand along with sea urchins and a few shells.
Sadly, most of the Mauritian reef coral died after an extreme heatwave a few years ago. Snorkelling over it made me feel very sad, as I have memories of extraordinary beauty just off shore in the shallow waters protected by the outer reef.
But the remains of coral washed ashore held me captive with their extraordinary patterns and variety.
It is illegal to remove coral and shells from the beach, so I took only photographs.
Every morning I walked, often passing the same people going in the opposite direction. When i tired of the sand I walked on the road to the village. A village that didn't exist 44 years ago. Everything was so different. A large part of me prefers to remember it as it was rather than how it is now.
I passed many coloured food trucks beside the road, closed up for the night. I was thinking of Ed Ruscha's photobook entitled '26 gasoline stations'. I envisaged my own version...... '26 food trucks'.....
But I never completed the series. I was with OH, and we were on the move, so the opportunity didn't arise.
After a few days at a beach hotel we moved to an airbnb in a small town.
I was beginning to feel restless and frustrated with the heat. My morning walks became even more important. This time, along a busy road with no pavement until I reached the beach.
I passed gateways to homes of many types, and tried to avoid being killed by the crazy bus drivers hurtling along the road at break neck speed.
Here was another potential series; the contrast between the old and the new, but I would have needed much more time walking the streets before breakfast., gathering more images. We were only there for 4 days. Not nearly long enough.
I started taking videos instead of photographs.
They seemed more able to capture my mood. The word 'indolence' kept passing through my mind.
I was conscious of a slow changing of my mood. Seven days into the trip I was irritable and wishing myself somewhere cooler. But as we settled into a routine of beach visits and snorkelling, people watching and novel devouring, I started to feel calmer. I spent long minutes watching palm trees swaying in the breeze, and the locals standing in the shallow water chatting for what felt like hours.
We moved on to our final destination; a fancy hotel in the east. Fancy and expensive. This was a birthday treat and another chance to revisit old memories. The son of our B&B hosts all those years ago was a chef at the hotel, and we dined there as his guest as students. I just remember a clean, white modern dining room, far beyond our budget. I have no idea what we ate.
This time we were able to stay and make use of the beautiful surroundings, but my morning walks took an unexpected turn for the worse. I could either walk up the long drive of the hotel to the main road in blazing sunshine ( no thank you), or stroll along the local beach , which was not very far. I gave up this option after one day due to encountering a large amount of litter as soon as I left the main hotel grounds, and the distance not being far enough to call it a 'walk'.
So I settled into a state of indolence, and carried on making videos and some cyanotypes with paper brought from home.
I got better at it day by day.
I watched clouds, and the weaver birds building nests. We took a boat to an island beach and lay under the trees drinking ice cold water.
And when I got home I made a very short video of calmness. It is far from perfect, but my first photobook course is starting this week, so I wanted to make it while I had time and was fresh from the trip. No more indolence now........
OH won't like it, as the music is too melancholy, the sun isn't always shining. there are no pictures of our adventures together, and it isn't a rip roaring ride through 14 days of sun and sand.
For that he will have to wait......... patience is a virtue. Some of us have more of it than others!
I listened to a very powerful podcast entitled 'Love thy Villain' recently, hosted by Matthew Syed.
You can find it here.
In it women discuss what happens when they shake off expectations and niceties. I am not talking about become a real 'villain', but just about living life fully, and worrying less about how others might see us. I am conscious of friends who find it hard to set boundaries, and aware that I have become much better at setting boundaries since I thought I might die from breast cancer. (I didn't).
It seems a shame that this revelation required such a dramatic trigger, and I hope that the podcast will help others to feel empowered to make changes.
I tried to find out more about the concept of villain era, and in fact there is very little written about it. It is mostly a TikTok thing, and I don't participate on TikTok.
I found a definition that frames it more positively;
Villain era ; 'a shift in a person's priorities as they reject the societal pressure to always play nice'.
The key to embracing your villain era includes
I have been feeling further 'empowered' since I started thinking about all of this, and wrote myself a list of wishes for the future, on my trusty typewriter, Olive. As you can see, Olive isn't hot on grammar or spelling, but then she doesn't worry about little things like that!
She does have the capacity to surprise though, and no one was more surprised than me when she told me that I yearn for a red cloak and matching boots. I am on the case.....
So how is my list going?
I have cancelled my FRPS assessment for October, as I am not in the slightest bit ready. I don't even have an idea yet, or something specific to say, but I will keep planning for next year, and stop putting myself under too much pressure.
I have successfully made kefir, and sometimes enjoy it, but at other times I can barely eat my breakfast as it tastes so fermented. To my surprise, my other half ( OH) is fully embracing its medicinal properties. So there's a win.
I set off next week for a rail adventure. Bilbao, San Sebastien and Biarritz. This will be a test for a more extensive trip in the future. All alone. I want to see the Guggenheim, and this is my chance. Also to catch up with my nomadic son along the way.
I have just managed a week's hiking holiday in the Dolomites on hand luggage only, so now have my packing list down to a fine art. The hiking was another solo trip, as OH is unable to hike on rugged terrain. I have been really missing mountain hiking, so I decided to 'do it anyway'.
It appeared that women love hiking in mountains more than men. Or at least they like the safety of a group with the challenge of some strenuous hikes. We were 14 women and just 2 men for this adventure. The uphill climbs at altitude were sufficiently challenging for me to ditch my camera and rely on my phone alone for photographs. And it wasn't really about the photography. it was about hiking in the mountains, which makes me happier than anything else that I do.
It was good to find that others had also left their significant others at home in order to fulfil their dreams. I could not compete with the elderly sisters from New Zealand who have been to Nepal five times, and who raced past me up the hill. I will train harder next time. Running up and down the dunes was not enough; I should have been wearing a back pack weighed down with water and waterproofs......
We walked on ridges with far reaching views.
I cannot explain how good that felt. Not villainous. Just uplifting.
And now the summer is heading towards an end I have plans to work on the rest of my list.
A 'red cloak and boots to match' is really me telling myself to embrace my alter ego; a more adventurous and bolder version of myself. I could certainly be a bit more courageous with my clothes, and I do believe it would feel great to walk on the beach with a heavy red cloak wrapped around me like a cocoon.
Going to the ballet is another thing that I don't do enough of, and fits with the instruction to 'indulge in each and every interest that you have'. I will have to add choral music to the list, too. I used to sing a lot, but somewhere along the way I lost my voice. Listening is a reasonable second best.
So where does art come into all of this? I have tried adding some silver leaf onto a cyanotype, which didn't go too well. New skills take patience and time. I tend to forget the thousands of hours that have gone into getting myself this far on my artistic journey.
I have various things that I would like to try, including a wire sculpture, inspired by the work of Gego. There are workshops that a braver me would be running already. Making a wish list has been a vital reminder of what I wish to achieve.
I have pinned it up in my studio and on the wall in my home office.
I am working on it steadily. Some of it will take time, but knowing what is on it makes me feel positive.
I met some lovely people on my hiking trip, one of whom shared this extract from a Hermann Hesse poem with me.
'A magic dwells in each beginning,
protecting us, telling us how to live.
High purposed we shall traverse realm on realm,
cleaving to none as to a home,
the world of spirit wishes not to fetter us
but raise us higher, step by step.
Scarce in some safe accustomed sphere of life
have we establish a house, then we grow lax;
only he who is ready to journey forth
can throw old habits off.'
My list is an attempt to journey forth and throw old habits off........
What would you include on yours?
Caroline Fraser - an ordinary life
on life, suburban living, art, creativity, photography, book art and travel.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies
Welcome to Caroline Fraser Photography
Colourful abstracted and traditional photographic landscapes, book art and workshops. Capturing the moods and beauty of nature whether in wild open places or in small sanctuaries in suburbia.