Lyme Bay

Saturday was beautiful and we drove through Torbay, stopping near Thatcher’s Rock to gaze at this view of Lyme Bay. The phone camera doesn’t do landscapes well but gives you the feel at least. Stretching across the sea are some of the little places I’ve taken you, my favourites, Exmouth, Budleaigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

Lyme Bay
Lyme Bay

A Book Review, How It Happened by Shazaf Fatima Haider


How It Happened is the debut novel by Shazaf Fatima Haider, a brilliant young woman who lives in Karachi, Pakistan where her story is set. Our narrator, 16 year old Saleha relates the tales of her brother Haroon and sister Zeba’s complex routes to matrimony, while keeping the gnaw of her own inevitable destiny at bay.
The star character is the grand, old and very conservative Dadi, a betel chewing matriarch who is determined to see her grandchildren well married to good Shia families, before she dies, regardless of their happiness. Haroon, a very desirable young man, returned from America, with his MBA is the apple of Dadi’s eye, and it is on him that her obsession focuses most urgently. She must have her grandchildren married ahead of those of her arch rival, Quarrat Dadi, and to that end the family march to the homes of half a dozen ‘suitable’ girls. All are rejected and it emerges that Haroon has his own plan which eventually comes to fruition.
Dadi then turns her full attention to Zeba Baji, 25 and wilful. She is visited by a selection of suitors, the comedy rises and sparks fly as she falls for a Sunni Muslim.
How it Happened has been compared to Pride and Prejudice, with its rich array of characters. Certainly Dadi has a similarity to Mrs Bennett, but with far more control, intelligence and ability to strike fear. I’ll leave it to you to investigate further comparisons.
This book is a remarkable insight into the culture of the Indian Sub-Continent. Haider peppers her narrative with Hindustani and Hinglish words and while understanding them isn’t necessary to enjoy the book, I would have quite liked a crib list and when released in the UK it might be helpful. This has been my best read for a very long time and I can’t recommend it enough.
How It Happened by Shazaf Fatima Haider is published by Penguin Viking.

When I first met Shaz and she told me that she is a writer, my question was obvious. I was intrigued by her reply that her novel was about arranged marriage and during the following ten days, spending a lot of time in her company, I realised that her novel was guaranteed to be hilarious. It did not disappoint. It goes far beyond being a funny book, she tells of the tension between traditions and modernity in Pakistani society. Her book places her alongside the best writers of her generation.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

This week’s photo challenge is guest hosted by Aaron Joel Santos. Who says,

‘Culture. Culture is a bit of a loaded word. In a photograph, it can embody everything and nothing. So where do we draw the line? Shopping culture, hippy culture, Asian culture, Thai culture, ancient culture, and on and on. These phrases have different meanings. For me, as a working travel photographer, being able to show culture, in all of its various guises, is crucial to the success of an image.

There are obvious elements that go into making a great photograph: perspective, color, contrast, subject matter, and lighting, to name a few. But for this challenge, go for that little something extra — that piece of the image that makes a viewer want to see more — to delve deeper into the culture you’re photographing. I’ve always said that I want my photographs to make people curious. So that is your assignment here: inspire curiosity with your photography.’

The richness of the culture in Marrakech is something I love, so here are three photos for you. The first shows that culture isn’t always comfortable, in fact in the tannery, that has been part of their culture for so long, it’s distinctly unpleasant when the smell hits you.
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Next, there are many stalls in the souk selling the wonderful local figs, dates and olives, delicious.

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Lastly, this is Jemaa el-Fnaa, in the heart of the medina, and a world heritage site. It’s a real spectacle in the evening when it is packed with music, dance, snake charmers, story tellers, tooth pullers, you name it. The smoke is from the numerous food opportunities that are set up each night.

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Join in at


We have new housekeepers, that’s the name for the army of people who keep our offices clean these days. Often, they are invisible, in at the crack of dawn, in charge of vacuum cleaners, dusters and bleach and gone before we leave the house. Not so the pair that clean our block, which is a two story rabbit warren a bit like the Tardis. I get there around 8.15 and it’s usually bin emptying time – I must be annoying because mine has orange peel, plum stones and yoghurt pots- and the cleaners are noisy. They are sisters and both built for comfort rather than speed, one blonde, the other dark and a laugh a minute in their lavender tunics and trousers, pushing a trolley stuffed with spare loo rolls and soap refills.



Today, being Friday the dark sister told us she is going ‘on the lash’ tonight and when asked if she will be in a sorry state tomorrow she insisted that no that never happens. Her prophylactic is a full tummy and a glass of milk beforehand and lots of water at bedtime, I’ll check on Monday to see if it worked!

Last week I caught blonde sister teasing, really, really big time teasing our senior department manager, a  reserved, formal man of few words. She actually called him a miserable old so and so, because he only grunts a reply to her cheery ‘good mornings’. I felt for him and tried to take it down a level by telling her how busy he is but she wouldn’t be halted. He later confessed that the situation was rather embarrassing, no doubt he has the wherewithal to deal with it.

I remember in the early part of my working life an outside company used to come each week to sterilize the telephones and twice a day a lady arrived with a trolley load of tea, coffee and biscuits. Those days are long gone, and now of course we have to clean our desks, and that’s fine.

Do you have a valiant team of office cleaners? Do you remember the days of the tea trolley? Perhaps you are the office housekeeper, if so I bet you have stories to tell?





Lazy Poets Thursday Poem: Extra Lazy and Nearly Friday

genetic footprints

lines of women walked before me
ever increasing one 2
four eight sixteen
don’t draw breath thirty 2
sixty four do the math

seven generations trace back
race back to century 18
spring seven lines ahead
bounce my genes to century 22

I only track back 2
and project two forward

will I hold three planet walkers?
or will that privilege be lost
as one back is lost to me?

100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups week# 86

100WCGU (7)

….. the queue was so long …..

You have another 100 words to add, will you join in this week? Visit Julia at for more info.

Soup Kitchen

‘See that tall spire?’ said the woman, who wore layers of scruffy clothes, I nodded, thinking that could be me in a few years, if I’m spared. ‘They have food and beds most nights’ she said. Relieved, I went down the hill, but as the light faded so did my energy.
The path levelled out and the spire disappeared from view. My stomach howled, like the wind that blew rubbish around the cobbled maze of streets. I willed my frozen feet forward. A path opened up; there was the church, salvation at last. But the queue was so long, I waited all night for sustenance.

Travel Theme ; Contrast

Travel on the chaotic streets of Jaipur in Rajasthan and you can’t fail to notice an abundance of contrasts. Wealth and poverty, youth and age, ancient and modern. Here is some of the traffic chaos, shiny gas guzzling monsters, alongside tuk-tuks and hand carts, all relentlessly squeezing themselves in and out of one of the old city gates.


Next, not the best photo I’m afraid, the Palace of the Winds, what a romantic name. Also known as the Hawa Mahal, this five storey masterpiece was built in 1799 by Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh. It’s lattice windows were made so the the royal ladies had a window on the world without being seen as they were in purdah. Imagine the luxurious opulence inside compared to the lives of the ordinary people on the outside.

This post is for Ailsa’a Travel Theme, join in here,

Buckland’s Small Treasures

As you know I was captivated by Buckland Abbey. It isn’t the most grand of National Trust houses but for me it is an interesting one, packed with history and little surprises. Here are a few of the things I enjoyed.
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I know, it’s just a chair leg, but imagine all the ankles that have brushed against it.

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Time flies indeed.

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I loved the little incense boat.

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A 17th century sea chest.
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Elegant porcelain.

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A model of the Golden Hind.

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This chess set has Lord Burghley as King, Queen Elizabeth as Queen and Sir Francis Drake as the Knight. Each of the Pawns is a miniature Golden Hind.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up Again

Sara Rosso has chosen Up this week. I knew this was familiar and sure enough some of us have been UP before. Here is mine from 2011 I still love my laughing Arabian!
To join in this time go to and add your entry.
This time I’ll show you one just snapped at the park.

Further from home, the tower in Kuala Lumpur


and one to make you rush! If they rang you had to get up really quickly!

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