Thursday Doors -Canal Boat

img_2894I’ve posted about canal boat doors before – I like their miniature size and the variety of different ways that people choose to personalise their boats. Living near to the Grand Union Canal, I often walk along it, and you get to know the boats that regularly moor in your area. When I wrote my last post, there was one boat missing I’d hoped to photograph – however, the other week I saw it, moored a little further along, flower-painted doors open to the sunshine.

‘Our’ section of canal has some wide calm stretches, perfect when there’s no-one else around, the light and shade quite glorious. So here’s a bonus photo – no doors in this one, just some lovely reflections.

img_3744This is my entry for this week’s Thursday Doors Challenge, courtesy of Norm 2.0. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.

And if you’d like to see more of my photos, follow me on Instagram – you can find me as helenejones33.

Playing With Pictures

This is a photograph I took the other day on my way home from the supermarket. I thought it quite atmospheric, the way the sky was reflected in the water, the boat and two men silhouetted against the rippling clouds.


I published a post a little while ago about using stock photography, and another about using images on books and blog posts, and then talked a little bit about using our own photography where possible. It’s quite easy to manipulate images to create different effects, so I thought I’d have a play with this one:

Canal boat MarkerThis is a marker effect,

Canal Boat WatercolourThis is a watercolour sponge effect,

Canal Boat ChalkAnd this is a chalk drawing effect with the edges blurred, making it look like an old photograph.

Each of these effects took just minutes to do, and I did them in Microsoft Word, saving the altered images as JPEGs. I think each effect creates quite a different feel for the images, and they’d work quite well as a book cover or story image. What I like about doing this is the fact you don’t need fancy software or loads of expertise to make an interesting image for your blog or book cover – rather, you just need to be able to see the potential in a photo you’ve taken, then play around with different effects.

Hope you’re all enjoying Sunday – wishing you a happy week! 🙂

Wednesday Wander – Venice, Italy

Venice 2I recently wrote a piece of flash fiction for one of Sacha Black’s Writespirations, and it seemed to take place in Venice. This took me back to a visit I made there many years ago, and so I thought I’d make Venice this week’s Wednesday Wander destination.

Venice 4I could write loads about Venice. But I won’t. All I’ll say is that it is a place of roses and magic, that Canaletto was right about the light, that it floats like a mirage on the lagoon. That you can meet a man who traces his Venetian lineage back eight hundred years, and another who sings country music, and sells the sweetest strawberries you’ve ever tasted. That the nights are lantern lit, that the roads are made of water and the pavements of whitest stone. That it’s no wonder there were sighs on the Bridge of that name, as the convicted took their last look at this immortal city of wonders.

Venice 1I quite liked it there, obviously 😀

Venice 3Thank you for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!

Wednesday Wander – Llangollen Canal

I’ve just been down a tax wormhole this morning, so it’s nice to take a break and go for a wander. Today’s Wednesday Wander was selected at random – I opened IPhoto and went to the first place I saw, which is the old canal in Llangollen, North Wales.


I’ve written about Llangollen before – it’s a place dear to my heart. My mother’s family is from that part of Wales and I remember childhood holidays spent in the are, as well as more recent trips to the small town hidden among mountains. It’s an ancient place, with the River Dee racing through, small streets of houses and the ruined castle and abbey nearby.


I’ve walked the canal several times, though these photos were taken around this time last year, when we followed it to its source. Completed in the 19th century as part of the great British canal network, it follows the wild river waters for a way, the calm still reflections a contrast to the rushing white foam below, then continues on to the Pontycsyllte aqueduct, recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. We walked the other way,  to the weir where the river and canal meet, a huge oak tree guarding the conjunction of waters.


The day was cold, but the winter colours and mountains made for a beautiful walk. There’s a peace I find there like no other, so it seems an appropriate choice for today’s wander, when the myriad intricacies of even a simple tax invoice have made for a not-so-peaceful morning. Thanks for coming with me 🙂




Heart Reflections


Over the half term holiday a couple of weeks ago, I went to Wales to visit family. They live just near Llangollen, a small town nestled in the arms of the mountains, the river rushing through its midst.


The River Dee from the canal path

The town hasn’t really changed since I was a small child, and I suppose hadn’t changed much even then. There are small winding streets, old stone houses and river gardens, shops where you can buy local art pottery, old books or souvenirs, tiny dragons or slate house numbers, flags and magnets and all the things we take away to decorate our homes, little bits of magic to remind us where we’ve been. A ruined castle sits high on a hill overlooking the town, as do the venerable black timbered halls of Plas Newydd, where two ladies lived together in defiance of both their families and eighteenth century convention.

We did as we always do when we visit. Walked the main street, wandering in and out of small shops where my daughter spent some carefully hoarded pounds, ate in a café (staffed by two fabulously coiffed young men), watched the River Dee as it bubbled over the rocks and under the old stone bridge. Then we went for a walk along the canal path.


The canal was created as part of the great industrial revolution, a smooth straight stretch of water running alongside the ancient river, her waters too wild to carry the boats filled with coal and stone and supplies. The River Dee has a long chronicled history, first mentioned in the writings of Ptolemy as the River Deva, almost two thousand years ago. Deva means goddess, and the river waters were said to be sacred to the goddess of war, their ever changing path as they moved toward the boundary with England said to state which side would be victorious in any given year. So this is pretty cool stuff. In modern welsh the river is still called Dyfrdwy, which translates as ‘the waters of the goddess,’ so the tradition still holds.

I love that kind of thing.


So off we went, walking the gravelled canal path, the ancient waters of the goddess tumbling over stones to the left of us while the canal stretched smooth and unbroken to the right. The day was bitterly cold, the foliage bare golden brown in most parts. Yet there were still signs of Spring to come – a few buds of blossom, snowdrops carpeting the opposite banks. I took some photos and talked to my mother and, as I tucked my hands in my pockets and watched my daughter dancing ahead, hand in her grandfather’s, I felt a great sense of peace. It’s the kind I get when I’m in the Welsh hills, as though I could lie down and wrap myself in the landscape. This is why I call it my heart home, I guess. There is no other place that does this for me.


A huge old oak tree stands where the river and the canal join…

Do you have a heart home, somewhere you’d love to live if you could? If so, where would it be?