Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo was apparently the first hotel of the kind that become fashionable and famous for their opulence, like Raffles of Singapore. It was built and owned by Samuel Shepheard, an Englishman, and was the place to stay for European travellers to Egypt or to India and the east. It was built in the 1840s, replaced at the turn of the century with the structure you see in the photo, and destroyed by fire and riots against the British in 1952. During the war, British Officers on leave (including Australians) could relax in the wicker chairs on the terrace, though I’ve read that ordinary troops would not have been welcome. In the film The English Patient, the hotel was the setting in some scenes, but since it no longer existed, another hotel (in Venice) and a set were used. While some early 20th-century travellers boasted of staying there, a few writers complained of mosquitoes, lice, and other unpleasantness. Edward Lear said it was like a ‘horribly noisy railway station’.
In 1957, a new Shepheard’s Hotel was built a short distance from this one.
In this photo, the car amuses me, the driver out in the weather while the passengers are covered, imitating a horse and carriage arrangement.
I don’t have a bathroom cabinet, I have a shelf. Actually, half a shelf, since my other half has the other half. Here’s a photo of some of the items on my half. The red perfume bottle and its reflection became an obsession and I took about ten photos before settling on this one, then cropping it. Against advice, I used the flash for two reasons: without it, the camera told me with its little warning hand that I shake too much; with it, my shaking is forgiven, and even better, the bottle is animated and fiery.
No, these are not my shoes, they are my son’s. You can see my shoes in the photo of 21st February.
My son favours one particular style and buys them all from an American shoe store online. To my surprise he has never been disappointed with his purchase, and they always fit. There are five pairs in this photo and several more in the cupboard. He has different colours for different life themes. The pair with pink trim were purchased when he had a girlfriend with pink hair. But now that he’s no longer with her, he has adopted a more rugged look. He started at university this week, studying physics, and this morning he went out in a khaki shirt and the camouflage pattern boots.
I sometimes work in various people’s homes as a tutor, so I can’t show you those places. But most of the time I work at home. I run a household and I translate. At the table on the deck out the back I translate passages by hand, and then at the desk at the front of the house, I type it up. In the first stage, I need four items: a French novel, a French-English dictionary, a pad and a pen. When I’m working at the outside table, this is what it looks like:
Rodin’s Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais, Auguste Rodin, 1889) in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Australia here in Canberra is my absolute all-time favourite sculpture. For me, the burghers can make a bad day better. And a good day ticklish.
I sometimes come to the sculpture garden just to sit and write. Behind these gum trees there’s a lake and beneath them are bushes where blue fairy wrens jump and scrummage on the ground around the benches. Magic. I stop at Rodin’s burghers on every visit and think about the action and life he sculpted into inanimate rock. This is not ‘still life’ like most sculpture. I love that about the French.
I have over the years tried to teach myself to read music, play the guitar and the piano. I can never remember what the written musical notes mean, I hate hitting wrong keys or plucking the wrong string, I hate my incompetency. Neither my brain nor my fingers want to do it and I refuse to try again. Yet, blessed beyond my dreams, I have sons who can play pieces like Beethoven’s Sonata Quasi una Fantasia, which I more easily remember as Moonlight Sonata.
I looked through the album for anything that triggered the thought ‘down’. There are resting camels, soldiers downing grog, sinking ships, broken planes, a fallen propeller, and this one, a skeleton picked clean. The seat can still hold a pilot!
I received a few gifts on the weekend. One of them was this candle holder from one of my sons. The candle is also new. I took several shots of it burning: lights on, lights off, flash on, flash off, a compact digital camera, a larger DSLR. This photo is with the latter, lights on, flash off. I couldn’t hold the small camera steady enough and ended up with blurry candles. The DSLR shutter was quicker so the image isn’t bad.
The candle was about twice this height when I began shooting it…
The wedding of an Australian General Hospital sister, approx. 1941. The church is the Basilique Notre Dame d’Héliopolis, Cairo. I’ve written a little about the church here, and included a photo of the whole structure.
The nurse probably worked at the hospital in Kantara (also El Qantarah and several other spellings), Egypt, close to the Suez Canal. My father may have known her since he was a patient in this hospital, but he didn’t record her name.
A wedding in the middle of a war zone. A triumph of hope over reality.