Well not sure how this fits this weeks challenge but in my mind its the meeting new and old.
This was taken whilst I stood in the court-yard of the British library. The straight modern edges are for the library whilst the elaborate structure in the back is the top of St Pancras Station which was built in 1862.
I just found it fascinating to look at in the mornings on my way into work so had to snap it. Your eyes get drawn to so many points.
It was Anh, my favourite waitress. She was always so politely and had a genuine warmth for people because she loved people and hospitality came naturally to her. She had her hair in a tight, immaculate bun and she always wore just the right amount of make-up for her face. Her skin was flawless, with beautifully defined cheek bones, and a smile that was adorable.
‘I have a table for you by the window today, Ms Monero, and we have a new buffet style for everyone with more to choose from.’
‘Would you like tea or coffee?’
‘Coffee Anh, that would be wonderful.’ I replied.
As she disappeared with my order I decided to go and see what so different about breakfast today. I didn’t want a huge breakfast, but I definitely wanted something hot at least to eat. Anh, was not wrong. There certainly was a lot more to choose from, besides the usual continental breakfast. There were Chinese dishes and Asian dishes as well to choose from. I decided to wait whilst the chef cooked me a fresh omelette with ham. He was cute for a chef. He couldn’t have been more than about twenty-two years old and he had been working for The Solaris Hotel for about seven months. He knew exactly how I liked my eggs, as I always had them the same way, so he just got on with it, without saying much. To that I added some mushrooms, baked beans and a tomato salsa with jalapeno peppers. I thought that would be enough and so walked back to my table and placed my plate in the spot I had chosen to sit in. I then turned back to pick up a bowl in order to get some freshly sliced tropical fruit and a glass of freshly squeezed green apple juice.
When I returned to my table, my coffee was waiting, and I sat down and started to eat. As I looked at my breakfast, I thought hmm ‘who was I kidding?’ ‘this was no small breakfast!’ I smiled at myself, because I just loved my food and puddings and cakes were just the best. Heaven on a plate as far as I was concerned. Diets and small portions were punishment and never for me.
I could see through the thin white muslin curtain beside me, that it was another stunning day. The sky was a baby blue and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. The food tasted lovely, as it always did here, and the tables were full with people eagerly eating their breakfast before heading out.
I, was in no rush, as I didn’t start singing until noon.
I took a sip of my coffee. ‘Hmm, strong,’ just how I liked it.
My night had not been great. In fact, I only had around four hours sleep after another one of my nightmare nights. What it was all about, I never fully remembered. All I know , is that I wake up with my heart racing, my body covered in sweat and an immense sense of dread and total helplessness. I’ve had these nightmares on and off since I was seventeen years old. The day I barely survived, and the day I lost my dad and younger brother. I have no clear memory of what actually happened but doctors told me it was a way of the brain protecting itself from immense trauma.
I spent five months in hospital and through physio regained my strength to walk again. At first I would have the nightmares pretty regularly and I took tranquilisers in order to get some sleep but I took myself off of them after seven months because I didn’t want to be dependent on them. Over the years I tried many alternative herbal medicines and therapies instead to calm myself and to help me go to sleep, and slowly I regained my nights and my sleep back.
But last year I was in a minor accident with a friend of mine. Someone ran into the back of her car and shunted us pretty hard into the car in front of us while we were at a stop light. We both ended up with whip-lash, which we both recovered from, eventually. I couldn’t work for around three months, but fortunately my friends insurance covered us and we were paid compensation. Some how, however, this triggered the frequency of my nightmares again, and I have them a least five or six times each month. Its rough coping with them but I have a pretty focused mindset. It’s what enabled me to regain my walking so quickly following the accident. The doctors said it would take at least twelve months and I would be weak in my right leg. But I was adamant that would not be the case. So whatever they set as a target I always pushed myself to exceed it. I always set my own expectations because that was all that mattered to me. I lost my biggest fan that day in the crash, so I had to make sure that my dad’s dream for me did not die too. I was determined to make it as a singer songwriter and bad nights were not going to get in the way of that.
‘Is everything ok for you Ms Monero?’ It was Anh back at my table.
‘Its lovely, and how are you Anh?’ ‘I’m fine.’ She responded with her usual smile.
‘Anh,’ ‘your make-up is always so perfect, do you do it yourself?’
She giggled ‘Oh thank you Ms Monero,’ ‘Yes I do it myself.’ ‘You like?’
‘Hmm, very much.’ ‘You trained in make-up?’
‘Oh no, I just watched and learned while I was back home in Vietnam, but I am trained in massage therapy.’
‘Really!’ I was totally surprised by her revelation.
‘So how come you work as a waitress?’
‘Its much easier to get a job as a waitress’ she responded. ‘But one day I hope to be a masseuse.’ She beamed.
‘You must do my make-up one day and give me a massage Anh.’
I could see that she was surprised by my statement. ‘Don’t worry, I know you can’t do this because of your job but outside of working hours should be fine.’ ‘Please, think about it? ‘I would pay you for your time.’
She smiled nervously, and softly said ‘yes’ as she cleared my empty plate and left.
If there was anything I was good at, it was recognising talent, and if Anh was a good as my instinct was telling me she was, I would be an idiot to ignore her. Massaging is one of the things I have in order to de-stress me and it helps to improve my sleep with the hope of reducing my nightmares. Anh would be a great asset as I need to build a good team of people around me.
My phone vibrated noisily on the table, It was Nicole my agent. ‘Hey, how are you?’ I answered. She was her usual efficient self.
‘Evalise, I’m fine.’ ‘But I don’t have time to talk much.’ ‘I have an opportunity opened up in England for you to sing, possibly write a few songs as well for a new up and coming artist, it’s a nice earner, you interested?
‘How long is it for?
‘Maybe four months but with the song writing it could be longer if other artists become interested.
‘But the thing is you would have to finish at the Solaris by the end of the month.’
‘What? ‘You crazy!’ ‘Just hold on!’
I hastily got up from my table to walked through the nearest glass doors to the outside patio for some privacy.
‘That’s to short a notice, they can’t find another artist that quickly and I am contracted until the end of August which is two months away, you know that?’ ‘Whats wrong with you?’
‘Yeh but I’m sure I can cut that down!’
‘Really!’ ‘But that’s not how I work Nicole, so you need to sort something else out in England!’
‘Yeh alright, I will see what I can do but your interested?
‘Yes!’ ‘But not for the end of the month.’
‘Ok, I’ll get back to you.’ ‘Ciao!
‘Yeh cioa!’ She was gone.
Nicole, she is such a wild card. Always pushing my buttons, because for her it was always about the next big break and nothing got in her way for the next big opportunity. It’s why I agreed to her being my manager, because she was a risk taker and very sharp. But I couldn’t allow her to have it her way all the time, not at the expense of my own integrity. My word or promise means a lot to me and I was not loosing who I was for no one. I wanted my dream, but not at the expense of myself. That was one of the things my father instilled in me, because he totally understood the music industry and how destructive it can be.
‘Money is great but it doesn’t make you who you are.’ He would say.
I stood in the heat for a while just to soak in the warmth of the sun and the location. Life was good right now. I think I will spend some time on the beach this afternoon, once I finished my first singing session. I turned and walked back to the door I came through. I looked to see if I could see Anh, but she was busy talking to some guests at a far table, so I headed out of the restaurant. It was about 10:40, giving me enough time to go back to my room and rehearse a few tracks. I loved singing, I always get so lost in it.
This was my first attempt at capturing a bird going into flight. I had visited a bird sanctuary, and trying to anticipate this Owl moving off was a real challenge. The other thing was Owls make no sound in flight, so it was quite something when one flew near you or over your head because all you felt was the movement of the air against your face that was it!
Totally fascinating creatures and a real buzz for me. However, I think nothing would beat seeing these birds in the natural habitat, doing what they instinctively do.
It’s a few years on as you can see from the time and date on the photo (lol!) but I still love looking at the intent in its eyes as it focused on gauntlet used by the staff.
It was now my first whole day on my holiday and I was in the holiday mood. Totally relaxed, knowing my days were totally mine, to do with as I chose over the next month.
The hotel itself was beautiful. I was very happy with my choice, given, I had done the minimum amount of research. It was simple location, cost and a vague recollection I had, of a conversation I had with a past client. Thinking, “hmmm one day I must go myself.”
It had a grand entrance, which was spacious with a beautifully marbled floor throughout its reception area and corridors. There were two ornately designed staircases, one on the left, the other on the right, that swanned upwards to the upper floor. The ceiling was a high dome, with swarovski crystal chandeliers hanging strategically from it, in order to give the best lighting in the evening to all who entered or were fortunate to be its guest.
My room was stunning. With a view to die for. It had a small balcony that faced the sea, that reflected the most amazing shades of blue, that at times seemed a cobalt blue, and another time almost teal, trimmed by the finest white sand along its beaches. If the sunrise was anything to go by, I think seeing the sunset from this vantage point is a must, at least for one evening.
The air conditioning meant the hotel was always cool. Which was most appreciated, for outside it was already 28 degrees and it was only a little after 9 am.
I decided to explore the hotel for a bit and find out what trips and excursions there were to choose from. Not that I was in any rush, but I just like to plan. I walked along one of its many corridors, which had been immaculately decorated with stunning mirrors, colourful flowers and the odd vase, statue, or abstract oil painting perfectly placed. Offering great locations for souvenir photos to be taken capturing the memories of its visitors.
After speaking to the hotel concierge, I picked up a few brochures and made my way to one of their comfy seating areas in order to have a coffee and think through my plans for the week. My sister had said earlier she would meet me there at some point.
Ally, was my only sibling, five years my junior. We got on well together now we were adults. But she was a pain in the ass when I was around eleven and she was an inquisitive six-year-old. There was nothing sacred then. She touched everything and moved everything. But now we were a lot older and wiser, and those days are remembered with laughter to the point of tears now. We now have no problems sharing a room together and have learnt to respect each others space and preferences.
We are both pretty fussy, and we laugh about things we know we could never do. Like backpacking or going camping. We simply liked our luxuries too much, and for us the whole point and purpose for a holiday was about being pampered and the events that you just couldn’t do on a daily basis at home. Backpacking and camping simply didn’t cut it.
As I walked along the corridor or hallway, I became aware of the sound of the sharp heels on marble. I knew it wasn’t me because I had donned a pair of my favourite black Ted Baker flip-flops, which I totally loved. As I followed the sound, my eyes beheld the back of a very tall and jealously slim female who had joined the hallway slightly ahead of me. Her steps were strong, and precise. Like a models or dancers. Her stiletto black heels must have been at least six inches and I could see she knew how to walk in them. Placing her heel down first and each step firmly crossed as it was placed one in front of the other, and she simply oozed femininity and confidence. She sported an untamed afro, that bounced softly above her shoulders and she wore a light floaty dark blue dress with a slim silver chained belt around her tiny waist. I would say she was a size ten at most. The dress swayed teasingly with every step around her thighs, due to the gentle role of her hips as she walked. There was an understood protocol for how women dressed in this hotel and her rebellious style said “I am women here me roar!” Ha, I so admired her for that.
I would later get to know this fem fatal quite well eventually. Her name was Evalise Monero? And she was a singer from Cuba. This was her first big venture and she was here for around six months. Her wonderful afro and molato skin added to her uniqueness, as there were very few people of colour here.
Everyone knew her or recognised her for this reason. Heads always turned when she entered a room or as she moved through the reception area. She loved the interaction of people and she knew how to play with the interests of men. She laughed , and smiled. She would lean in during conversations, always in control.
She sang in both English and Spanish. There was a warm huskiness to her voice, making her easy to listen to. Evalise sang a wide range of music. From the contemporary soulful ballads to traditional and less recognised Cuban songs with a bit of jazz thrown into the mix. All beautifully accompanied on the piano which she played very well.
She turned gently to the right, as she continued to walk making her way to the restaurant area. I continued as planned and found a sumptuous chair to sink in myself, in order to order my coffee and read through the brochures I had just picked-up.
This was taken during my very first workshop which was in London July 2012. This was Damien Hurst huge 20ft Human Torso statue that was outside the Tate Modern.
I only captured the top half as there were lots of people taking pictures around the base. I was fascinated by the statue. Against the plain wall background of the Tate, it’s even more striking, and weird all at the same time. Had no idea what minimalist photography was at the time but I think this fits the brief.
If “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor” (Truman Capote), how spicy do you like your success stories?
The spice of success for me would be chilli and the failure to eat certain types I happily accept!
I like my food to have lots of flavour and certain dishes do need a greater degree of pepper, beyond your ordinary black or white pepper.
However, there are certain levels and types of spice which I am afraid simply do not agree with my constitution. To much chilli and my internals rebel and I in turn suffer the price of my daring or stupidity, depending on how you wish to see it.
Certain chili peppers that are notorious for their heat, I simply would not even attempt to try today, having learnt my lesson with their lesser relatives over the years.
Wasabi and horseradish are also not for me. I remember the first time I tasted wasabi. the sensation hit me in my nasal area, with an intensity I can only liken to smelling salts (if you have ever smelt them?), it was weird and I hated it!
Likewise, it is the same with success. Success can be measured and attained in many ways but most would perceive success to be a combination of wealth and achievement. But not all success would agree with me.
Some people will attain success at any cost, regardless of who gets hurt in the process. That is not me. I never ever had a ruthless streak.
Success can also be at the expense of health. Just as there was a consequence for me, if I choose to ignore my bodies reaction to certain spices, so it can be with Success. Success in line with who you are and your integrity is important.
I really appreciate it when there is balance in the spicing. I can taste the flavour of the food itself that I am eating as well as appreciate the taste and flavours of the spices used to season it. I love the kick of the right amount of chilli that gives heat but still allows you to taste what you are eating. So much better than than an overwhelming fire that leaves your eyes watering and the desperate need for water. My hottest experience, left me coughing and words failed me completely.
So success, not all success or spicing is for me:-)
Well, what can I say each week has been a challenge for me to find something that fits the brief. So today is a series of three photos out of my holiday photos. These were a few shots taken of a ride I decided to pass on whilst my sister explored her love for adventure. I really don’t do heights, so I played photographer instead.