Story Time Sunday: Caribbean Celebrations

For today’s Story Time Sunday, I will be sharing my family trip to St Kitts and Nevis in 2006.

To coincide with my mum’s birthday, which is on the 31st January, I decided to share some snaps from our trip away. The original photos were shot on digital, however I couldn’t find the disc where the images are on, instead I scanned the available prints. There were a lot, many not in organised order and many not making the final cut for this post. Note: not all photos were taken by me, some were by other family members or individuals, so they are credited as ‘Williams Family’.

My mum holding a little kid (baby goat) outside a relative’s house, while I was still in frame (left corner)

It was January 2006, the Christmas holidays were over and it was still winter. I was 14, in Year 9 and in secondary school. The exact dates escape me, however I believe it was sometime in mid January when we flew out to Nevis. Some members of my maternal family came along, which mainly consisted of one aunty, a few uncles and some cousins. It was my first time ever going on a plane – yes, I can remember that experience very vividly as we took a connecting flight from Antigua to Nevis.

My cousins and I had never been to St Kitts and Nevis before. My mum hadn’t been back since 1981, around twenty five years ago at that point. Most likely my other relatives, including aunts and uncles, hadn’t returned back in a long time either.

This trip was very important for all of us; we learnt more about our family history and heritage, plus it was a chance for to meet extended and distant relatives while we were on the island. We briefly went to the town where my mum and her siblings grew up, who were primarily raised by their grandmother, unfortunately the house was no longer there. We soon went to the slightly bigger neighbouring island of St Kitts only for the day, which is famous for its Brimstone Hill Fortress – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the top of the hill/mountain? Some relatives went their separate ways on the island, some going with other family members

Going to the Caribbean was a culture shock for my cousins and I, as we grew up in the United Kingdom, mainly in cities and were very fortunate to have access and resources to education and living. In our parents’ time, it was completely different; they didn’t have much growing up, but they worked very hard to provide for themselves and survive during tough times.

Another small family group outing in Nevis

Some family members stayed in various places around Nevis: my mum, aunt and one cousin and I stayed at a distant relative’s house. We were often woken up by a cockerel almost every morning. My uncles and other cousins (one uncle had taken three of his four daughters along) stayed elsewhere on the island. We didn’t hang around much, I was probably with my mum and aunt for the majority of the holiday.

The two weeks were slightly slow. It was an advantage as I wasn’t really missing school or any lessons, although I was possibly behind with all my schoolwork but I didn’t care. My dad was left behind in London, however he did book a flight to Florida a week later to visit relatives.

We managed to have a birthday dinner for my mum’s 50th, nearly the whole family was there including other relatives from the island. We went to a Caribbean restaurant somewhere in town. I do believe we had gone to the same place around a day or two before.

I was doing some weird leaning pose, which was the one highlight whenever we had a decent group photo (obvs, I am on the right)

Once we left Nevis, we went on another connecting flight through Antigua and then flew back into Gatwick. Back to the London life, although my uncles and some cousins went straight back to Leeds after landing.

I eventually went back to school the following week, so it was back to business and ‘normality’ for me. This break was well needed; it was absolute hell at school and I couldn’t wait to get away from it all.

Recently, my mum has expressed her desire to return back to Nevis, since it has been sixteen years. Other family members have since gone a few times, pre-pandemic and doing the same amount of exploring like we did.

Up The Mountains: Nevis has quite A LOT of mountains, compared to the ones I have seen in Switzerland, they are mighty high

Maybe one day, my mum’s dream will be fulfilled to finally go back to the motherland… once everything has eased completely…

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Boxing Day Bash

It has been a long while since my last Story Time Sunday post. I initially set out to publish them every month, although had them planned out in my notebook, they didn’t materialise or go beyond any further.

Today’s Story Time Sunday is festive themed, as this happened on Boxing Day 2019 – the day after Christmas. This particular day was the last time we had a family get together, as around the corner the whole world would change drastically.

Pre-Dinner Snacks and Drinks: Half eaten Celebrations Box, wine, ginger beer and a random bottle of water

Boxing Day gatherings were a bit of a family tradition, on my maternal side would go around my Aunty’s house on that day (or New Year’s Eve). Usually we would have a feast of food and drink, also desserts. Not to mention, some people do dancing and play Caribbean music.

Usually my mum and I would go around. My dad drives us there, then goes back home. He rarely joins us, he probably stayed for less than ten minutes. Normally these get together’s were a smallish affair, consisting of a few cousins and my uncle. The maternal side of the family is very big, so it would be unlikely for all of them to cram inside the barely big living room.

I very rarely see my extended family members as many of them live in different parts of the country, with very few living in London. I’m lucky if see them once or twice a year.

This was the last time I was with them in one place. I would see my cousin Abigail again months later in the summer, after the lockdown restrictions slowly eased. Other than that, Boxing Day 2019 was the last major event of that year.

I did manage to capture the fun on camera. I brought along my Olympus Mju 1, plus a Yashica 635, that I was borrowing. Both loaded with Ilford Delta 3200 in their formats, suitable for the low lighting – all thanks to high speed. Sadly the 120 roll didn’t come out as good, which resulted in me not scanning the negatives.

Like this year and the previous, we didn’t have our usual get together, mainly due to the pandemic. So instead, myself and most family members had a low key Christmas, by having a peaceful and quiet time at home.

Hopefully in 2022, we can finally celebrate big with the whole family there – just to make up for lost time. Then again, who knows what will happen? What does the future hold? Maybe keep our fingers crossed in the meantime…

I hope everyone had a good Christmas.

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Sagrada Familia Finally

For today’s Story Time Sunday, I will be sharing my trip to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

For a long time I had wanted to visit the Sagrada Familia, since I was a teenager doing textiles for GCSE and learning about the famous basilica in Catalonia. I was absolutely fascinated by its design and architecture.

It took nearly ten years for that to come into reality, which happened in April 2016 (while travelling around Spain) when I finally achieved my dream to finally go inside!!

So what is the Sagrada Familia? What’s the history behind it, and most importantly who was the man with the plan?

Antoni Gaudí was a Catalan architect, known for his modern architectural style of work – most are located in Barcelona. He was well known for his individuality and creativity twists, also for his use of ceramics, stained glass and carpentry.

Seven of Gaudí’s famous buildings were selected as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, some including Park Güell, Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia.

Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882, which is still unfinished as of 2021, plus during my two visits to Barcelona in 2011 and 2016 with cranes still visible. It is expected to be completed by 2026, delayed yet again due to the ongoing pandemic. It will also mark one hundred years since Gaudí’s death in 1926, aged 73 after being hit by a streetcar in Barcelona. He is buried in the crypt inside Sagrada Familia.

I don’t exactly remember what day I went, but I had gone past it a few times during my four day stay and prior to going inside. I even photographed the outside a couple days before my visit.

To access the Sagrada Familia, I had to purchase the tickets from the tourist information centre (or tourist office). I had to choose a time slot when I wanted to go in. This was probably done to regulate on how many people could go inside at a time. I did come a little earlier than scheduled on the actual day, so to pass some time I had a hot chocolate at the Costa Coffee directly opposite. I was actually shocked to see a Costa in Spain!!

Anyway, once I got inside I was so amazed; it was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, it felt so surreal due to the modern touches and detail. Gaudí allegedly said: “My client is not in a hurry,” possibly referring to God, also remarking on the long construction process. No wonder and not surprisingly, Gaudí probably had his focus on this project for so long. He had wanted the outcome to come out the way he had envisioned, but sadly only a small percentage was from completion when he died.

I spent some time walking through the basilica, carrying my heavy Canon DSLR and admiring my surroundings slowly – from the colourful stained glass windows to the perfectly carved ceiling. I couldn’t simply leave Barcelona without stopping by Sagrada Familia – that would be impossible, but I finally did it after all these years.

The Shot that has a thousand stories, probably one that I am most proud of

I would like to return again soon, since it was worth the four days, but this time I will be taking my film camera and some colour film!!

I would highly recommend anyone, who is planning on visiting Barcelona, to make sure you go to Sagrada Familia. It’s something to add onto the travel itinerary and worth the experience.

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Valentine’s In Valencia

Story Time Sunday is a new feature on my blog, where I will be sharing a few personal anecdotes or interesting tangents from my life over the years. Most of them aren’t exactly photography related, although I will be sharing some photos and images in some posts.

My Story Times will be posted on the last Sunday of every month. I will try my best to make them short and sweet; something lighthearted and fun before the start of the new month.

Today’s Story Time Sunday is a throwback from February 2015, when I spent Valentine’s weekend in Valencia, Spain. I just wanted a break from university for a few days. Spoiler alert: this wasn’t a romantic getaway!!

Flags United: Valencian Community flag (left) and the Spanish flag (right)

My friend Zulaykha, who I have known since secondary school, was residing near the city at the time, where she was living with a host family. She was an assistant for a programme called CAPS, a language school helping Spanish children speak English, while taking a gap year from university.

We arranged to meet up during the weekend to go exploring around Valencia. We went to the famous huge indoor market, Mercado Central (translated as ‘Central Market’), where there were numerous stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dried foods and nuts – to name a good few.

For lunch we went to a small cafe, this is where I had the city’s most famous dish, paella. Mine consisted of rice, lobster (I believe), beans and a few vegetables. I was impressed, not to mention glad that I went out of my comfort zone by trying the local cuisine.

My paella dish was delicious. Whenever I go to Spain I would have a big pan of the stuff!!

Soon after we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, close to the city centre. We probably spent over an hour or so there, exploring a few rooms of various artists from over the centuries, including Spanish painter such as Francisco Goya, plus Valencia’s renowned artist Joaquin Sorolla.

My time with Zulaykha ended in the early evening. It was nice to meet up with her after all these months. Where she was staying was an hour away by train, so we said our goodbyes at the main station before I headed back to my hostel. I wouldn’t see her again until later on in the year back in London.

Now by myself, I spent the last couple of days exploring the city (again), the beach and hopping on the tour bus. I would also take photos of the wooden doors, something that really fascinated me, especially with the craft, patterns and design.

I decided to spend my final day at the City of Arts and Sciences (better known in Spanish as ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias’). Thanks to the tourist pass I had, I went inside for free. I started off at the Museu de les Ciences Principe Felipe, where it housed many scientific artifacts and displays such as the human body, biology, physics and climate change.

Afterwards I went to L’Oceangrafic, literally opposite the science museum. It’s similar to an aquarium, but actually it is an oceanarium. I saw plenty of sea creatures and mammals, as well as many exotic fish and exotic birds.

L’Agora: opened in 2009, opposite Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe and next to the Assut de l’Or Bridge
L’Oceanogràfic: bigger inside than out

My time at the museums ended, so I went to the nearby beach, which I had already been through there a few times by then. I went to a bar there to have tapas – and it wasn’t the best; mine was lukewarm and not as appetising. The nuts I had at the side were a bit of a saving grace, at least it was nice.

I flew back to London on Monday morning, on the same day my dad had returned back to Jamaica some hours earlier. 

It had been almost four years since going to Spain at that time. It was nice to go again and go to another city along the coast.

Took a snap of this man, who was reading a Valencia guide book while near the beach!!

I did enjoy my time in Valencia. It was worth the weekend break; I think I covered what I had to do in a short amount of time with no itinerary at all. If I could, I would certainly return again, possibly work my way around the region heading towards Barcelona. Most likely stay for a week or two…

Take care and stay safe