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Gratuitous Imagery

This poor blog has been rather neglected lately, after the flurry of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (if you’ve not read that one – a Christmas story in twelve instalments – go do so. You’ll enjoy it. I think.).

Part of the reason for the long silence is that it’s been taking me longer and longer to write posts. I’ve got away from the fine art of knocking out a post and putting it out there in short order, and one of the reasons for that is that it takes me so long to find the right image to put with the post. Because, you have to have a photo with a post! It’s a rule.

I’m serious(ish) – I talked about that in my first blog post ever, which, now that I think of it, was almost ten years ago (hmm, tenth bloggiversary… might have to celebrate). “Never have a blog post without a picture,” my blogging course teacher said, so in that first post, I put in a gratuitous photo of my stuffed bear.

“That’s Steve,” I said. “He’s better-looking than me, not to mention more photogenic, so he gets to have his picture in the blog first.” Here’s the picture in question:

wp-1582040604826.jpg

Steve in 2010. He hasn’t aged a bit, has he?

But finding images for blog posts, even gratuitous ones, take a lot of time – you can’t just use any old photo off the Internet, there are copyright issues. I’ve been mostly using my own, and well, there are only so many that work. But then I found out this morning that WordPress has a library of free searchable stock photos, courtesy of Pexels. Thousands of free pictures! How great is that?

So to try it out, I did a search for (of course) “fairy tales”. What came up are several ethereal-looking blonde girls with flowing-maned horses – clich√© much? But then there’s also a couple of lovely pieces:¬†

gray bridge and trees


One that made me scratch my head a bit is this:

Because, steam engines are an integral part of classic fairy tales, yeah?

And then of course there had to be Neuschwanstein. Sigh…


But, there you have it – gratuitous imagery, readily available for the time-crunched blogger. I’ll be making use of it.

Life, the Universe, and Gratuitous Imagery. Let’s hope it’ll help wake up the blog again.

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Pictures and Pears and Other Randomness

Helen Jones, of Journey to Ambeth, just posted some lovely pictures for her “Thursday Doors” series, of the church in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire. Take a look, here. I love the way Helen’s pictures can grab me and just, for a few minutes, toss me into another place, right across the other side of the globe. And then, bing, I’m back in my Canadian existence, just a little richer for my tiny little armchair travel experience. (Check out this crazy lapis-lazuli-and-gold swimming pool she posted pictures of the other day. I mean, doesn’t that make you feel like your mind has expanded just a tiny bit, knowing this ludicrously, gloriously extravagant piece of achitectural razzle-dazzle exists in the world?)

One of the things that caught my attention in today’s post, though, was the name of that one and only English Pope, Nicholas Breakspear (who apparently came from Abbots Langley, hence his inclusion in the post). I’d never heard of him before. Now, frivolously-minded person that I am, it didn’t make me think deep thoughts about history – it just set me to wondering if he’s any relation to The Bard. You know, 12th-century Breakspear to 16th-century Shakespeare… Maybe in the intervening 400 years, the family figured out how to wave about their weaponry without cracking it – from Nick “break spear” to Will “shake spear”… [Yeah, I know, it’s bad. I just couldn’t resist.]

Nicholas Breakspear would have been Pope right around the time Brother Cadfael did his sleuthing in Shrewsbury Abbey, and Catherine LeVendeur hers in Paris. As far as I know, those two never did cross paths, although I’m sure they would have got along swimmingly. Neither did Lord Peter Wimsey and Inspector Roderick Alleyn, although by rights they should have – both attended Oxford right around the same time, were younger sons of the peerage, had mothers who read almost like identical twins, and married women involved in the arts/writing scene. And that’s not even taking into account the Scotland Yard connection. Lord Peter’s brother-in-law, Charles Parker, in fact occupies Inspector Alleyn’s chair as Chief Inspector, right around the same time. We must be dealing with parallel universes here; I’m sure Scotland Yard Chief Inspectors aren’t as thickly strewn on the ground as all that. (While we’re at it, Carola Dunn’s Alec Fletcher, the Hon. Daisy Dalrymple‘s husband, is another contender for that Chief Inspector’s chair. That seat must have been one hotly contested piece of furniture in the 1920s.) IMG_20160211_125146

Anyway. To wrap up today’s silliness, here’s a picture of Steve on a laundry basket. Just because you, I’m sure, needed to see a photo of a bear sitting on a household implement today. You’re welcome.

Life, the Universe, Fictional Sleuths, Pictures and Pears. And bears, of course, as well.

PS: Have you put in a pre-order for Checkmate yet? Just eight more days…

PPS: Now that I think of it, none of this has anything to do with pears, just spears. But I like the alliteration.

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