Posted in Culture

One Thing


One of the joys and stresses of an international move is all the de-cluttering that happens!  Knowing you pay for every box  does focus the mind and I gave/threw away so many things before moving back across the channel nearly 3 years ago.  And yet I still had so.much.stuff.

“What is your most valued possession?”

Out of all that, what would I have chosen had someone asked me that question?  Immediately, I think of items that hold sentimental value, things that remind me of people and times that are precious to me.  Practicality doesn’t come into it, probably because (thankfully) I have not had to experience life reduced to the bare minimum.

“What is your most valued possession?”

That is the question photographer Brian Sokol asked a number of Sudanese and Syrian refugees.  The result is a deeply moving series of portraits you can see here.

“What is your most valued possession?”

A jerrycan for water, a sword to defend the family with, a diploma to be able to continue her education, a ring her mother had given her, a mobile phone that lets him keep in touch with family.  From the very practical to the deeply personal and significant.


Sometimes they seem so important.  And some of them are, because of the memories they hold, because they are irreplaceable.  And then they’re gone.  Because your home gets broken into and stuff stolen (as happened to my parents a few weeks ago).  Or because all your possessions are destroyed.  This is what happened to both my mum’s and my dad’s families 70 years ago, in the bombing raids on Hamburg.

While I am sad for the things that have been lost, these reminders have also made me more thankful for what I do have.  And, more than anything, that even with the tangible reminders gone, the memories are still there to be treasured.

THANK YOU to Marilyn at communicating.across.boundaries for the inspiration and challenge in her blog post “What would you take?“!

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s in a home


(photo: Huang Qingjun)

The content of a home.  What stories does it tell?  About the people.  About their lives.  About the country and society they live in.

Some of it seems so incongruous.  A mud house and a satellite dish.  Only the very basics and yet a television.

Part of me really wants to climb into the picture, to meet the people, to hear the real stories.  Understand the constraints (financial and therwise) on their lives.  Ask them what it is that makes their house a real home for them.

So much I would love to know.  Why are there no books?  Is that telephone maybe the only link to family far away?  What are the precious things, the things that hold special memories, the things that make them smile?  How does the rapid economic development in China affect them – and bypass them?

So many stories I would love to hear!

(I recently re-discovered this article which talks about a project by Chinese artist Huang Qingjun, described in the article like this: “Huang Qingjun has spent nearly a decade travelling to remote parts of China to persuade people who have sometimes never been photographed to carry outside all their household possessions and pose for him.”)

Posted in Uncategorized

Butterflies, wildebeest and humans

Unexpected pleasure: randomly came across this amazing exhibition of wildlife photography today (in a car showroom of all places).  I even had  a few spare minutes on the way to team meeting to enjoy them!

Check this out for details:

If you’re in Berlin, go and see it, and spot the most random picture of all.

For those of you not in Berlin: in with all the pictures of herds/groups/whatever of animals of different kinds, there is one of a bunch of people at a music festival. It gives this whole spiel about humans, similar to the explanations they had for the animal photos.  So funny!

Foto: Ingo Arndt