2013 Deck – Week 14

I remember when…  (I think this line is only used by people who have seen things that may not be current and have to use this line to explain that situation to those younger than themselves… or by a youngster who wants to impress others with their amazing memory – even if some of it is invented)

Where was I?  … oh, yes…  I remember when I rode a bicycle to school, then to lessons, and to visit friends, or to go to church, or just for a joy-ride.  I remember lugging around a heavy chain with a large Union lock to secure the bicycle to a post.

I remember the bicycle I rode to lessons, an old “Big Ben”, or “Steel Donkey”, it was a lady’s frame, so we’d put a wooden bar across to tow others, or just to make it seem more masculine. (Something remarkably similar to the one Nikhil captured here) I remember taking turns with Johnny at towing home Trecia from lessons, even though it was not on my way home.

I remember while courting Maureen (now my wife), I had a “down handle” on a ten-speed bicycle, and we’d ride everywhere… even places I knew I shouldn’t… I remember being beaten with a 2×4 (piece of wood) by a thief try to get that bicycle from me…

I remember riding from home down to South Ruimveldt to visit my friends Andrew, Ian, and then to Durban Backlands to visit Dayal… sometimes just for the ride; and years later I rode to and from UG daily, and I remember leaving UG at 8pm after History lecture and riding down in pitch blackness with Scheme alongside on his bicycle (trying to remember where the potholes were) !

I remember riding to the seawall to work off the buzz of a beer that I drank while (legally) too young, I remember riding from Turkeyen to Bel Air hoping to wear off the buzz of too many beers from a Raymond’s birthday celebration, this was when I was a student at UG, only to stop at Nikhil’s home to ask for coffee before continuing home 🙂

I seldom ride a bicycle now, but I think every child should learn to ride one… it gives a sense of independence, of freedom… of adventure.

The photo that sparked a deluge of memories…


Click on the image to see it on the site, along with the other images from this year’s Deck Project.


Into the Mountains – Part 2

After lunch on my second day in Jamaica, we drove up to Cinchona Gardens, what was once a beautiful Botanical Gardens, a destination for families and tourists, an old Colonial house and out buildings, gardens and ponds, and bamboo copses.  The road up to it is impassable by regular cars, so Cecil’s Safari enthusiasm came out as he tackled the mountain with gusto.

Before even going towards the Cinchona Gardens proper, the view to the right of us as we drove up was very compelling, so I just had to take a few photos in the hope that one would help express what I saw,the tops of the range were obscured by low-hanging clouds:

The Gardens stand in a spot of the mountains that is five thousand two hundred feet above sea level (5200ft), and there is usually a constant “misting” from the clouds, so most everything is wet.  The first steps into the garden proper brings you to some tree stumps of tree cuttings, makes great seats for the weary 🙂

From an upper vantage point, you can see the seating area in the walled section of the garden with a small man-made pond, the sky had begun to clear a bit so that I could get more than just a blanket of gray clouds in the photos  🙂

Alexis stood for quite a while admiring the view of the valley below and the mountains in the distance, he even went as far as shouting out to hear the echo… which he got  🙂

The main building was cordoned off with a “Danger” tape,warning visitors not to go in, I was tempted to venture in, but Cecil wisely told me not to try it, so I satisfied myself with a few photos from the outside.

As the skies were clearing a bit, I took another set of photos of the view into the valley and across at the Blue Mountains, this time I could actually see the tops of the range in some areas.

From the Cinchona Gardens we were to make our way towards the Blue Mountain to visit Whitfield Hall, where people desirous of climbing the peak would start their trek, on the way there as we neared Hagley Gap, we stopped to take photos of and near an old bridge that appears to be out of use.

We stopped along the road to get a few photographs of a beautiful view down another valley, this was probably about 15 minutes outside of Whitfield Hall.

Whitfield Hall is an old House and Coffee farm, it is snuggled beneath some very very tall trees and is such a tranquil spot, we sat and ate the rest of our food before heading back home.

On the way back I couldn’t resist a passing shot of the hills/mountain showing the barbed demarcation of the end of the road, where the cliff drops down to the valley below.

Into the Mountains – Part 1

Veteran Guyana Safari expeditionist Cecil Beharry (CB to his friends), told me to just let him know when I’m in Jamaica, so I told him I was coming down for a family reunion, and he insisted that he take me into the mountains, how could I refuse?

The day after I arrived in Jamaica, he took me and my cousin Alexis (I’m told he is my First cousin Once Removed, although I prefer not to have him removed) on a mountain drive, some of these spots were apparently where he “practiced” for the Pakaraima Mountain Safari in Guyana.  He had just gotten back his vehicle from the last Safari, and we were going to give it another mountain drive  🙂

As it happened, we were on the road near Irish Town when we noticed some strange sounds coming from the vehicle, on stopping and checking (Alexis being a hobby mechanic and Cecil being Jamaica’s Power-steering specialist) it was discovered that there was a leak somewhere, Cecil called his son Craig to come exchange vehicles (a Trooper to the rescue)

I didn’t mind stopping / breaking down in that spot, I got a few photos, my two favourite are below:

With a new vehicle at our disposal (ok, we’ll apologise to Craig for the dents and scratches and the dirt…), we headed onto Newcastle where there was on old colonial army base that is now housed and maintained by member of the Jamaican Armed Forces (restoration work was being undertaken while we were visiting), I’ll share two photos from that location, one of the “barracks”,as I thought of them, and one of the cemetery, I must say that the view from the cemetery was very tranquil 🙂

On the way to Newcastle, we stopped to take in one of the breathtaking views of the hills/mountains, but I was also captivated by the walls along the road, they are apparently built to help retain the earth on the sides of the hills and prevent landslides, in these “walls” are holes which are meant for the drainage of water caught behind the walls, the holes are called Weeping Holes.

From Newcastle, we moved onto Holywell, where there is a camping ground, there were quite a number of youths there camping and playing.   The air is crisp and cool,and the views are pretty:

And if you want to just sit and enjoy the view, here’s the chair:

After Holywell, we went to visit an old abandoned Coffee Mill, from somewhere back in the colonial days.  Some of the building(s) is still intact, and the mill mechanism can still be seen there, what I was impressed to see was the waterwheel that drove the mill, I had never seen one before and I was excited about it, especially when Alexis tried to push it and it actually turned!

There was an archway in the rear wall to access the “Tennis Courts” and to see the building from the side with the water wheel.  I think that archway would make a pretty nice night-time photo  🙂

I realised that this post suddenly had a lot of images, so I decides to split it, so this is it for the first part, we actually left this building and went down to the stream/creek behind it to have our lunch; KFC, stale bread and liquid refreshment (in my case a bottle of Coconut Water)  🙂

Midday Sleeper…

…and the Ghostly Kirk.

This building was (at the time of the fire that destroyed it) known as the King Solomon Building, which also housed the offices of Travel Span airlines.  Growing up, I always knew it as Joe Chin Travel Services.  It was the building next to the lot that housed the Sacred Heart Church, also destroyed by fire.

It makes me wonder about the other buildings on the block, maybe I should take some photos of them before something dreadful (and permanent) also happens to them  🙂

I titled this photo the Midday Sleeper and the Ghostly Kirk.  The “Midday Sleeper” part is an homage to a series of photos by a photographer (Simon) that I know as Darkhalide Photography, and the “Ghostly Kirk” is a reference to the ghostly reflection of my friend Kirk in the glass panel to the right of the doorway, I don’t think you can see it unless viewed very large.