Behind Closed Doors


Was ashamed to see how few had ratified this convention – Canada hasn’t and if you want to check on yours go to :

Originally posted on Steve McCurry's Blog:

The women came from different countries with the same dream:
to leave behind the poverty of their villages.
But instead of working as domestic help, they found themselves in a kind of prison,
employed by people who treated them like something less than human.
One was stabbed with a knife, another doused in boiling water, another raped and jailed.


Steve McCurry, best known for his work in war-torn countries like Afghanistan,
 documented the suffering of women from Indonesia,
Nepal and the Philippines who endured a myriad of abuses while
working for families elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East.

INDONESIA-10026 (2)

“They’re at the complete mercy of these people who see them almost like slaves:
‘You’re my property, you’ll do what I say,’” McCurry said.

CHINA-10228 (2)

“They go home, they’re disfigured, they don’t have money, 
and they’re psychologically scarred. 
They end up going home humiliated, and it becomes a stigma. 
In a way…

View original 187 more words

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Gnome without a home

Roadside gnome

There on the side of the road he stood with his dignity and smile intact but a little rusty around the edges. Where had he come from and where was he going I wondered as I momentarily considered placing him in my backpack. There have been some strange sights and some sad ones along the Bruce Trail…this rated as strange but what could be sad about a gnome who had freed himself from the constraints of his garden.

gnome with no home

Happy trails little friend.

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Floating Gardens

river flowers

How can this magical place still exist in the middle of a bustling French city?

Since the Middle Ages there have been market garden plots here at Hortillonnages in Amiens, Northern France. Though horrific battles raged on its banks during the First and Second World Wars it has lived to bloom another day.



Birds and other wild creatures savour the richness of this wildness within a City.


Around fifty small islands, connected by narrow, richly overgrown canals, are still farmed for vegetables and flowers and a market is held here once a week.

River entry 2

There is no electricity on the small islands and the cottages built there are modest but charming.

Riverscene 2

The traditional flat bottomed boats, resembling gondolas, ferry tourists around this bucolic and gentle place.

Boays Hortillonages

In quiet reverence we drink in the peace around us for just a little while.River entry




Posted in Environment, History, Photography, Puzzles and Contradictions, Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 50 Comments

The dogs (and steeds) of war


!00 photos for 100 years


There are photo exhibits across Paris this summer, in sets of 100 to commemorate the 100th anniversary since WW1 began. They are incredible glimpses into this episode of our recent history. The one along the Champs Elysees was very moving, with different kinds of themes than I’ve seen before. I was moved to tears by many of them and so were others who perused these sobering images on this sunny Paris day.

Photos on the champs elysees

I have always had an interest in the way we have used animals in our human (not humane!) wars and this photo exhibit tweaked my interest yet again. Now as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I did have a grandfather who was a cavalier in the first world war – the so called war to end all wars – and have never been able to watch the movie ‘War Horse’ as a result.  The roles that animals played in the Great War’s battles is one of the poignant themes that ran through these public exhibits.

WW1 horse loading

It goes without saying that horses played a critical role not just carrying mounted lancers and fusiliers but also pulling the huge guns and supply wagons through the interminable mud of the battlefields. They were often killed or injured.

Injured horse

Dogs too were invaluable as messengers at the front lines, pulling and carrying supplies. These Belgian gunners counted on their dog teams.

Belgian soldiers and their dog teams

Dog kennels where dogs were trained were found all over the countryside in France.


In addition dogs were critical for finding wounded soldiers on the battlefield and medics worked alongside their canine companions. As this dog fitted with a gas mask shows they were expected to do the extraordinary.

Rescue dog


As one of the posters read ” Never have animals been better friends to man. Millions of them were mobilized during the war effort. Horses and oxen to pull cannons, messenger pigeons, dogs to seek out the wounded. Some would be decorated for their service on the front lines.”

The inhumanity we can inflict on each other is our burden but if I may anthropomorphize for a moment I wondered, not for the first time, what our fellow animals thought of us during this terrible time.


Posted in History, Horses, Photography, Political expression, Puzzles and Contradictions, Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

100 years ago this month

Newspaper front

While in Paris this month you can’t escape the fact that it’s the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War. Front pages of newspapers and special photo exhibits across the city commemorated the momentus event.

French lancers


One photo on the Champs Elysees of French lancers started me thinking about the role of my grandfather, Thomas Penry Phillips, who was a British lancer.

Thomas Penry Phillips

He was a farm boy from Wales and so when he signed up at 18 years of age his horsemanship meant he was assigned to train other young men to ride the horses that were so critical to the First World War – the misnamed ‘War to end all Wars’.

Thomas Penry Phillips military riding instructor

When he was eventually shipped off to France neither his unit, nor their horses, lasted very long against the guns they rode into. He told me he was the only one of his comrades who survived their version of the charge of the light brigade. He was wounded and mistakenly thrown onto the wagon with other bodies only to be noticed when he groaned.

Thomas Penry Phillips and sisters

As the sun shone down in Paris 2014 you couldn’t help but marvel at the innocence of the young soldiers who went off to end all wars 100 years ago…nor was the irony of that pledge lost on those of us who took the time to remember.

Posted in History, Horses, Life, Photography, Puzzles and Contradictions, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 38 Comments

Lost dreams?

My friend Cheryl and I have been hiking the Bruce Trail on and off since April and have covered a respectable distance. Besides all the amazing countryside we’ve seen, one fascinating aspect for me are those sights that seem to represent lost parts of peoples lives and perhaps even their dreams. We’ve passed closed mills and factories…

Walters Falls mill


…towns past their heyday and abandoned homes along the trail and wondered about the families who may have lost it all or may have moved on to greener pastures.

old house

We’ve been crossing rough terrain, usually in thick brush or seemingly the middle of nowhere and come across a broken fence, something that once marked a boundary or contained livestock or crops…a long time ago and built with hope and hard work but now overgrown as nature takes it back.

fence in the woods

For me the most compelling are the dry boulder fences built by settlers using huge rocks they cleared from the land in hopes of tilling the soil. They suddenly appear in a forest and stretch for as far as you can see…each boulder painstakingly dug up and lifted now demarcating nothing. I’m sure I’ve bored my hiking companion silly as each time I point them out and marvel at the determination these long ago farmers showed.

Stone fence 2


And what’s the story behind this abandoned machine that blocked our path and cause a detour through greenery that may contain poison ivy?

Abandonned machine

As we walk this trail we think not only about those who have traversed it before us but also the lost times and hard times of those who lived in the places we pass in days gone by…

Posted in Life, Photography, Puzzles and Contradictions, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Walking | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

Serial blogging

Okay I admit it…I do blog elsewhere and it means my favourite type of blogging here – where I have no restrictions – does sometimes take a back seat. But there I’ve come clean and I’m surprised too- yes I am a serial blogger!


It started innocently enough with our local on-line regional tourism board asking for applications from local bloggers and examples of previous blogs. I told them that I like exploring local outdoor spaces and referred them to this blog as my only example of previous work – how much trouble could that get me into?? Well maybe only a few of us responded because before I realized it I was staring down the barrel, caught in the web (insert appropriate cliche here) of  a once every two week publication deadline!

Caught in a web

And I couldn’t just blather on about whatever I wanted like I do here…and even worse I had to check my grammar and spelling all the time!

Well here I am 6 months in and they’ve just signed me up for another six…if I seem a little frazzled it’s because I’m going on vacation soon which means I need to have a couple of extra columns ready to go! Take this posting as a warning – be very careful what you ask for…

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