Sunday, June 30, 2013

Taste of London 2013 - Review

                                         Electrolux Chefs' Secrets Featuring Tom Kitchin

This year in Regents Park, Taste of London celebrated their 10th food festival. Electrolux Chefs' Secrets was our first stop - Michelin Star Chef Tom Kitchin was offering a hands on masterclass to visitors, not only did they have the opportunity of cooking under the instruction of Tom, gaining hints and tips along the way, visitors also had the opportunity to use the latest Electrolux induction hobs to create their dish.

Electrolux Taste Theatre with Thomasina Miers was a short walk away from the Chefs' Secrets theatre. The audience were treated to a plethora of advice as the demo proceeded. We made our way back to the Taste Theatre to see Raymond Blanc and later in the day Pierre Koffman with Tom Kitchin.

Electrolux Chefs' Academy was full to the brim with ovens, hobs and extractors.  The Inspiration Range of kitchen appliances, including a steam combination oven, induction hobs and extractors were on display. Demonstrators offered one to one help and advice regarding the appliances and there was also a demonstration of the very impressive steam combination oven.
Belly pork being cooked in the outside kitchen of the Savoy Grill
Charcoal Grill Dingley Dell Pork belly with honey and apple also
Saltwater Shrimp Cocktail, celeriac and pink peppercorns
Taste showcases some of the finest food in London and is a great opportunity to sample tasting dishes. The currency used at the show are crowns, each crown is worth 50p and you buy a minimum of £10. Our two small plates of food cost 12 crowns and 8 crowns respectively which were never going to fill the hungry gap - more food on the plate would have represented better value.

Time for a coffee stop at Barista Baby Mobile pop up coffee shop.
Exotic Fruit and Vegetable Creations.
We were drawn to a Taste of Thailand where Thai eateries, street food, cocktails, entertainment and more took place. 

Artisan Spirits
Sweet or Savoury Gourmet Popcorn in the Producers Market
It was a lovely warm afternoon and we enjoyed a walk through beautiful Regents Park prior to the afternoon session. We only wish we had planned the day a little better because there is so much to see.

We attended Taste on the Friday afternoon as guests of Electrolux.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saviour Snacks - Feel Good Snacking

Kitchen Delights London Reporter Reviews....

How many of us work in an office? If you are anything like me, I’ve been known to grab chocolate from the vending machine as early as 11am just for a quick energy hit.

So with this naughty streak ever present - I’ve had a fun week trying Saviour – The Feel Good Snacking Box specifically designed to help you snack better. As you can see in the picture I was sent a variety of 10 goodies such as a little Antioxidant mix (pecans, cranberry and pine kernels), a ‘Bounce’ energy ball which is high in protein, and also in the mix was a raw chocolate truffle ball with chia seeds for an energy boost.

I came back from a 50k mountain challenge in Wales last week and I have loved munching my way through all this and sharing with colleagues. The favourites were put to the vote and the Fiery Worcester Sauce & Sun-Dried Tomato popcorn was a huge hit with colleagues. What’s more, at 96 calories per pack – whose complaining?

Exclusive reader offer:
You can now claim £5 off your first snack box as part of a subscription – just quote KITCHEN when prompted. Prices start from £15 (plus £2.22 p&p) for an original 10 product snack box which is pictured and the one I enjoyed. Find out more here and let me know what you think

Thank you to Saviour Snacks for the review samples.

Leonid Plotkin | Sacred Mountains of China

Photo © Leonid Plotkin-All Rights Reserved
Travel photographers...brace yourself for a collection of compelling cultural and religious photo essays.

Out of Leonid Plotkin's many photo essays, I chose to feature his lovely work on the sacred mountains of China, which he photographed over several months. The mountains are important pilgrimage sites since ancient times, and total thirteen. The sacred mountains of China are divided into several groups. The Five Great Mountains refers to five of the most renowned mountains in Chinese history, which were the subjects of imperial pilgrimage by emperors throughout ages. In addition, there are The Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism and The Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism.

Apart from this photo essay, there are many others; one more interesting than the other. Bolivia, Chile, India, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia...need I to add more?

Another interesting thing...Leonid photographed the Urs of Nawaz Gharib in Ajmer while I was there in May...and yet we don't seem to have run intp each other. I'm not totally surprised of this in light of the crowds, but it's still unusual as there were almost no non-Indian photographers beyond those in my workshop, and 2 or 3 others.

Leonid is a freelance documentary photographer and writer. His work has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The Economist, Penthouse Magazine, Student Traveler, Budge Travel, Discovery Magazine, and others. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

There is Just Something About a Girl With a Gun

This past weekend I finally took my girlfriend to do some shooting. She did great. While being in the woods is not her idea of a good time, she really enjoyed shooting. Unfortunately the outdoor range near us was closed, so we had to go to the indoor one.



I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but there is something about a girl shooting a gun that puts a smile on my face.


A good time was had by all.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Get Out Alive – Bear Grylls Returns to Television in a New Survival Competition

If you were saddened when Discovery canceled their contract with Bear Grylls, there is cause for celebration. NBC is bringing him back to television in a new survival competition show called Get Out Alive.


Here is what NBC has to say about the show:

Grylls leads this non-stop extreme survival journey that tests 10 teams of two beyond their wildest imaginations as they venture into the unforgiving and dramatic landscape of New Zealand's South Island. Their mission is threefold: survive the wild, journey as a group and avoid elimination. Each week, Bear will send home another team. In the end, only one duo will remain - the team that he believes has shown the most heart, courage, initiative and resolve in their quest to "get out alive" and claim a life-changing grand prize of $500,000.

From dense forests and sheer mountain drop-offs, to freezing cold rivers and unforgiving glacier crevasses, the landscapes tackled will be harsh, remote and physically and emotionally draining. Having to navigate the worst that the wild can throw at them every step of the way, the contestants will be battling to survive like never before.

Every team is assigned a task to take charge of throughout each leg of the journey - including food, fire shelter and obstacles. This is not a race, but is a life-changing adventure to reveal the raw survival spirit needed to "get out alive."

All along the way, Bear, the ultimate adventure survival expert, will be watching, either from vantage points or while traveling with the group. He is looking for that survival spirit, resourceful skill and heart-led determination that he knows the wild demands. If the situation requires, Bear will step in, but all the time, the duos must work together to overcome the cold, fatigue and hardships. And at the end of each leg of the journey, there are difficult and emotional decisions to be made by Bear as he chooses who should leave the expedition.

As the stakes get higher, the obstacles become more unyielding. As civilization gets closer, the journeys get harder, until ultimately only one duo remains. That team will have endured and survived the ultimate test of character and fortitude - walking away with the grand prize, along with the scars and pride that they proved themselves capable to "Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls."

The show seems set up like a Man vs. Wild – Competition Edition. I imagine similar stunts being performed by the contestant. It could possibly be more like an adventure race competition. We will see.

The show premiers on July 8, 2013 at 9:00PM on NBC.

Jimmy Nelson | Before They Pass Away

Photo © Jimmy Nelson-All Rights Reserved

I've traveled quite a lot and visited far flung places, read and viewed many travelogues and photo essays...but I've never heard of Goroka.

But having viewed Jimmy Nelson's phenomenal opus Before They Pass Away, I now know what it is, and so will you.

British photographer Jimmy Nelson carried his 4x5 plate field camera to 44 countries around the globe; from the rain forests of Papua New Guinea to northern Mongolia to the Namibian desert, to document a tribal cultures that may disappear before we know it.

According to the photographer's website,  "the goal of this visual anthropology, published in Nelson's new book, Before They Pass Away, was to capture the lives of remote and endangered tribes. The tribes he captures might seem wild and somehow alien, but they show clear dominion over their remote and unforgiving environments, offering a remarkable glimpse back in time to how we urban dwellers once lived."

About 30 tribal groups are documented in Nelson's website and book...ranging from the Kazak of Mongolia to the Karo of the Omo Valley, lovers of ethno-photography and aficionados of anthropology will revel in exploring this work.

The book has over 500 images to be featured in large book, printed in a huge 42 x 59 cm size. The price of this special exclusive collectors' book is around $8000. However, a more modest version exists and will be available for $95 in September 2013 from Amazon.

In the meantime, I'll be frequently enjoying Nelson's tribal photographs, and I encourage you to do so as well.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wood Trekker Social Media – Google Reader Replacement Update

If you have been using Google Reader to follow your favorite blogs, you probably know by now that Google Reader is being shut down by the end of this month.

A few months back I wrote a post explaining how you can move all of your content to a number of different readers that are available. You can see the post here.

After writing the post, several people commented that there is a much easier way to follow blogs, using a service called Feedly. I gave it a try, and indeed, it is a much better and a much easier option than anything else I have been able to find.


To use the service, simply log onto Feedly using your Google Reader account, and it will automatically import all of the blogs that you have been following. If you don’t want to import any blogs, you can use whatever account you wand and add blogs manually. The program is intuitive and easy to use, but just to make things easier, here are some tips.

Once you are logged in, you can open your menu of options by moving the pointer over the small rectangle in the upper left hand corner.


When the menu opens, you have a number of options. To add a blog, click on the “Add Content” button.


That will open a box into which you can copy and paste the URL of the blog you wish to follow. When done, just press the “Add” button.


I use Chrome as my browser, and Feedly actually has an add on for the browser, which makes things even easier. It places a small button on the lower right hand corner of the screen, which when pressed open a mini menu which allows you to add blogs to your Feedly.


Anyway, this is just another option I wanted to point out to you guys in case you are currently using Google Reader and are not sure what to do when the service is terminated at the end of the month. I’ve also added a Feedly box on the side on my blog to make it easier for you to use.

Blueberry Crunch Muffins: Recipe

I'm in the process of emptying the freezer and have approximately three weeks to either eat what's in it or throw things away.  A bag of blueberries needed using up and I decided to make these homely muffins.  There are only two of us to get through eight large muffins, I tested one to make sure they are up to scratch, I've had to freeze the remainder.  The blueberries took up a fraction of the room of seven large muffins.  I really need to think the freezer problem through and maybe start a list. The fridge/freezers new home will be in my dining room, empty and turned off whilst I have a new kitchen installed but it still needs emptying.

Over the next few weeks Kitchen Delights London Reporter @PaulFoodie will be adding to the mix by contributing more fun posts. We have reviews for Taste of London, healthy snacks, tasty barbecue spices, exciting kitchen kit, a restaurant review and in the pipeline a Guest Posting by a friend of Kitchen Delights. There will be before and after photographs of the new kitchen refit which I've been planning since the end of last year. I've also made a few things which will hopefully get posted too!

I've been sent a fabulous microwave to review which will get us through a tricky couple of weeks whilst we are without any kitchen appliances.  I'm in need of a few survival tips......

Makes: 8 large muffins (in tulip cases) or 12 muffins in muffin cases.

200g plain flour
125g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
75ml vegetable oil
1 egg
130ml semi skimmed milk
zest of 1 lemon
150g blueberries
25g plain flour
15g cubed butter
1 tbsp caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Place the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
3. Making a well in the centre, add the oil, egg, milk and lemon zest.
4. Mix together with a whisk to make a smooth batter.
5. Fold in three-quarters of the blueberries. Save the remainder to place on top of the batter.
6. Add to a bowl the flour, sugar and cubed butter.  Mix to a crumble with a fork.
7. Using an ice cream scoop fill the muffin cases equally with the mixture.
8. Taking the reserved blueberries, scatter over the top of the batter, pressing down slightly.
9. Sprinkle over the crumble mix. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and cooked through, a cake tester is useful for this.

For more muffin recipes:
Apple Muffins
Nigella's Chocolate Banana Muffins
Crumble Berry Muffins

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back Story | The Black Coated Fakir

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
The black-coated fakir suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the Sufi shrine of Moin'Uddin Chisti during the annual a sense, he was almost an apparition. Clutching a green flag with the numerals 786*, he had a certain gentle presence, a wise demeanor about him...was it perhaps because of his white beard?

Was he just a pankiwallah or was he more than that? I couldn't find out as no one nearby spoke English, but I really didn't mind. I let my imagination roam free, and thought he was also a Muslim "sadhu", a fakir...a wandering mendicant who had renounced all material possessions in order to gain spiritual salvation.

But my imagination would not stop there.

Had this been some centuries ago, this gentle fakir may well have been one of the Sufis who walked from the west (Afghanistan and Persia) to Pakistan and India, and who were instrumental in establishing Islam in South Asia through their liberal attitude, tolerance and kindness towards the poor.

And time-traveling back to the 1200s when the establishment of the first two Sufi orders in India took place, I imagined this black-coated fakir could've stopped and settled in Ajmer after his lengthy wanderings. Had he lived at the time, who knows...he could've become a Sufi saint himself with a dargah bearing in his own name.

Yes, I should've found out his name.

* What is 786? According to Wikipedia and other sources, Muslims in South Asia use 786 as an abbreviation for the Arabic letters of the opening phrase of the Qur'an. 786 is the sum of these letters in the Arabic numeral system.

For more details on Sufis, see my photo essay The Possessed of Mira Datar.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mark Hill Custom Wood Trekker Knife Review

You have probably noticed that I have not done any knife reviews in a while. The reason for that is that the more I use knives, the less it matters what knife I am using. On top of that, I have figured out what I like, so I no longer need to bounce between knife design in pursuit of “The One”. For a while now I have been using a basic Mora #2 as my backpacking/bushcraft/woodcraft knife. Its size and proportions are exactly what I like, so there has been no reason to look for anything else. Recently however, I stopped carrying an axe or hatchet on most of my trips. As a result, more of the woodworking tasks have started falling on the knife. While the Mora #2 is a great knife, I’ve been finding it a bit on the weak side. It wasn’t an issue when I had my hatchet, but as a stand alone woodworking tool, it was not ideal.

There were three possible solutions. The first was to go back to a more robust knife like my Fallkniven S1, something I’ve been trying to avoid, as I have not needed a larger knife. The second solution was to find a knife similar to the Mora #2, just more robust, something I have not been able to find to my satisfaction. The third option was to get a custom made version of the Mora #2, which will have similar dimensions, while being stronger. After some thinking, I opted for the third option.

Of course, all that did was replace the search for the perfect knife, with the search for the perfect knife maker. For some time now I have been looking at different knife makers, but none of them have been exactly right. Either their products cost too much, take too long to make, or are simply Woodlore clones, or sharpened pry-bars (obviously not my thing). A few weeks back however, I stumbled upon a post on Blades and Bushcraft, where a knife maker new to the forum, was showing some of his designs. I immediately liked what he had, and contacted him to inquire if he does custom work, and how much he charges. The makes was Mark Hill, and the knife you see here is the product of his work.


This review is not so much a review of the knife, which after all was made to my specification so it’s hard for me not to like it, but rather a review of the knife maker, Mark Hill. But before I get into all that, let me give you some of the specifications of the knife, in case you are curious. In essence, this is a modified Mora #2 clone. Below you can see the specification. A lot of them are the same as the Mora #2. The ones that are different, I have noted to the side.


Knife Length: 8 3/8 inches (212 mm)
Blade Length: 4 1/8 inches (104 mm)
Blade Thickness: 1/8 inches (3 mm); this is thicker than the Mora #2, which has a thickness of 3/32 inches (2.4 mm). The angle of the grind for the cutting edge however has been kept the same as that of the Mora #2, 16.6 degrees.
Blade Width:
13/16 inches (20 mm); the Mora #2 actually has a slightly sloping spine to the blade, which varies from 20 mm at the ferrule to 18 mm where the drop on the blade starts for the point. On the custom knife I kept the width the same 20 mm the whole way until the start of the drop.
Blade Material: O1 carbon steel; obviously this is different from the 1095 steel of the Mora #2. Other metals are also available. 
Blade Hardness: HRC 59 on the Rockwell Scale
Type of Tang: Full tang; this is probably the biggest difference from the Mora #2, which has a partial tang.
Blade Grind: Scandinavian/single bevel; the type of grind as well as the angle of the grind (16.6 degrees) has been kept the same as the Mora #2.
Handle Material:
Cocobolo wood with liners; other options are also available.
Sheath Material: Leather; I requested a brown dangler sheath. Other designs and colors are also available, and clearly different from the plastic Mora #2 sheath.
Cost: $235.00; much more expensive than the $12.00 Mora #2.

So, to summarize the specifications, it is a full tang Mora #2 with a slightly thicker blade, but with the same grind angle for the edge, and with a better quality handle and sheath. Oh yes, and much more expensive.

As I mentioned above, any review of the knife that I write will not be completely unbiased. After all, the knife was designed to my specifications, so naturally, it will perform the way I want it to. Just a few brief notes though.

The extra thickness and full tang have transformed this knife. While with the Mora #2 you can feel the flex of the blade, and have to be careful under heavier use, the Mark Hill custom knife felt extremely strong, and handled the applied forces without any sign of weakness.


I certainly didn’t take it easy on the knife, but again, not only did it not fail, but felt very strong. Even though the handle and blade are the same length and width as the Mora #2, the slight increase in thickness and the full tang did wonders.


Of course, it is common sense that a thicker knife will be stronger. The big gamble for me was whether the increase of the thickness would effect the knife’s cutting characteristics. I like how thin the Mora #2 grind is, and my hope was that by preserving the same grind angle in the custom knife, the same cutting characteristics would be preserved. I am happy to report that the attempt was a success. The knife cuts just like a Mora #2, and has the same feel when carving or cutting.


Now, back to the knife maker, Mark Hill. As I mentioned, when I first saw his work, I contacted him to see if he would be interested in a custom knife. He replied that he is willing to take on any project I might have, and that I should take a look at his website. It is at that point that I realized that Mark Hill is a UK knife maker. I wasn’t sure what that would mean in terms of cost, but he quickly quoted a price for the completed knife and sheath, shipped to the US for $235.00. Now, I know that is a lot of money, but in all honesty, it is cheap for a custom knife. There are plenty of mass produced knives that cost more, and virtually every hand made knife is in the same price range or above. More importantly, this is not just a hand made knife like for example the Woodlore knives, which are handmade, but all identical, made using the same jigs. This knife was made to my exact specifications. I just sent an email with what I wanted, and Mark Hill had to get a Mora #2, figure out all the dimensions, figure out the modifications, and then make it. I think $235.00 is a bargain.

More importantly, working with Mark Hill was a pleasure. The whole exchange consisted of only a few emails. He was quickly able to understand all of the details I was trying to communicate. To be honest, I was sure that something would be wrong in the final product, but to my surprise, he understood exactly what I wanted, and was able to deliver.

Equally important is the fact that the knife was designed and completed in about 10 days. By that, I literally mean, it took about 10 days from the time that I sent him the specification to the time the knife was in the mail. I received it a few days later. As far as I am concerned, that is impressive. Many of the knife makers I had contacted before had productions schedules measured in months, not days, or had waitlists that went on for years.

I have no idea how the knife was made with such speed, or at such cost, but the result is impressive. There are no flaws, or errors. Everything is perfectly aligned and centered.


I purchased this knife as a replacement for my Mora #2. I plan on using it in the exact same way, so it will get some serious use over the years to come. I must admit, I will be doing so with some reluctance because it is a beautifully made knife.

I can honestly say that this has been the easiest and most pleasant experience I have had with any manufacturer. Had I know that this was an available option, I would have done it years ago, instead of spending a lot more money on other knives. I think it is definitely an option to consider, and I would certainly recommend Mark Hill as the knife maker for the job.

For more information, you can visit Mark Hill’s website at There you can see available knife design, blade and handle materials, as well as contact Mark for any custom projects you may have in mind.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Miguel Ángel Sánchez | Palestine Portraits

Photo © Miguel Ángel Sánchez-All Rights Reserved

Here's another series of wonderful photographs by the talented Miguel Ángel Sánchez.

Not only are they wonderful, but they depict one of the most oppressed people in the world, living under a dreadful occupation for over 60 years, as beautiful human beings by borrowing the techniques of the Old Masters....perhaps Caravaggio.

Miguel Ángel Sánchez is a Spanish photographer based in Cairo since 2009, where he opened his own photography studio. Cairo is the base where he works and prepares projects developed in Egypt during the past 5 years.

He is also an itinerant photographer who takes his workspace to many corners of the world: Asia, Middle East or black Africa. He covered the war against Gaddafi in Libya, documented the Ulu Pamir in Turkish Kurdistan, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

His work has been published in media such as El País, The New York Times, Le Monde, New Yorker, Photo Raw, La Lettre de la Photographie, and many others.

While this post features Miguel's portraits of Palestinians, don't miss his gorgeous portraits of the Ulu Pamir people in Turkey.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

POV: Religious Trances or Mental Disease?

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy- All Rights Reserved- Photo Crop

In virtually all the Sufi dargahs I visited, from the shrine of Bahadur Shaheed in Varanasi to the one of Mira Ali Datar near Ahmedabad, I was stunned by the sight of women (a few men as well) entering into trances in front of the saints' tombs.

I initially thought these trances were caused by the religious fervor of these women, particularly in the ethereal "presence" of a saint...a syndrome colloquially called hajri. Being in a trance signified the entrance of the deceased saint in the body of the entranced person, to rid it from ailments, from jinns and other undesirable symptoms.

From my casual observations, these trances varied in their intensity from person to person. Some were completely oblivious of their surroundings, whilst others screeched and suddenly lunged at anyone who approached them with a camera. Some were accompanied by husbands, sisters and other family members, while others were alone.

At the shrine of Bahadur Shaheed, a woman supposedly in a trance tried to throw a rock at my head, whilst another in Mira Datar shoved me rather violently, and then apologized when she was out of her trance, saying she was unaware she did so.

I witnessed a significant number of women in the shrines of Srinagar sobbing and muttering supplications to the interred saints....but trances are different, and I concluded these are caused by mental disease.

Schizophrenia most commonly expresses itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, which may be what the “hajri” manifestations are. I’ve witnessed seemingly perfectly normal people arrive at these dargahs, socialize with their families and friends…then walking over to an area closer to the tomb itself, and slowly bring themselves to a crescendo of repetitive, and violent, erratic outbursts of physical activity that include rolling on the floor, banging their heads on pillars and walls, and swaying their heads from side to side.

If you look closely at the cropped image above, you'll notice that the arm of the woman in the trance bears scars that must've been caused by self-cutting. Self cutting is a symptom of borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.

In India, poverty-stricken and superstitious people who suffer from mental illness frequently employ faith healing as an alternative to psychiatric treatment, and it is mostly those that I see at these dargahs.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nicolas Perron | Face To Faith

Photo © Nicolas Perron-All Rights Reserved

Ah, the Kumbh Mela! Yes, it's an important religious event for Hindus...but despite its over-commercialization, its entrenched charlatanism, its "must-go" label as an annual event for Western (and others) seekers of spirituality and documentarians (visual or otherwise), it has a magnetic pull, and a strong one at that.

It is considered to be largest peaceful gathering in the world, with over 100 million people (an example of the overhyping?) visiting during the Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013  It is held every third year at one of the four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain.

Nicolas Perron returned from the recent Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, and uploaded 100 of his photographs of the event. He managed to stay clear (almost) of the ash smeared sadhus, and of the freak show that is a certainty at the Kumbh, and focused his lens on the regular devotees....and titled his gallery Face To Faith.

Nicolas Perron is a self-taught photographer, independent and freelance, in particular a travel/humanitarian photographer. He is currently based in Paris, France, from where he travels extensively, working on assignment and on commission, creating stock images, and developing his own personal projects.

Trip Report: Silver Mine Lake 6/15/13 – 6/16/13

This past weekend I had some free time, so I decided to spend the weekend in the woods again. After the last trip along the Neversink river, I wanted something less challenging, so I decided to go to a spot where I did one of my first trips when I came here in the US. The area is along the Silver Mane Lake in Harriman State Park. It is an easy outing without much elevation change for most of the way.

I started the trip off following a trail. It had been raining for the past few days, so it turned out that the trail was now a small stream. I abandoned the trail, and moved closer to the lake.


When I got along the shore of the lake, I saw quite a few geese.


I had the dog with me on this trip. I find it more interesting, especially on relaxed trips like this one.


She always has fun chasing after the animals. Unfortunately, she also found a snake to chase around. I have no idea what kind it was, but i put a stop to it. I don’t know if you can see it in the picture below.


Eventually I started encountering a lot of small streams and river flowing towards the lake, and unfortunately blocking my path. My goal was to bushwhack to the southern part of the lake. All the water had made the terrain less than ideal.


Eventually I reached the part of the lake for which I had been aiming.


It was fishing time! Also known as: me losing lures and tangling up the line time.


After a bunch of messing around with the rod, it was time for lunch. My hope was to get some perch to go along with what I had brought, but no luck.


After some more fishing I decided to start searching for a good camp site further up the mountain, so I could set up camp early. After some climbing I found a nice level area close to a stream. I stopped to fill up with water for the evening.


All that was left to do was set up the tent, and get the fire going. When I am alone, I stick to small fires, which require very little wood to keep burning through the evening.


The following day I had a short trip out of the woods.




The only noteworthy thing was some bird on bird violence that took place when I was almost out of the forest. I was taking some more pictures of the geese.


Apparently this one was at the wrong place at the wrong time, because all of a sudden a small bird dove from a tree and proceeded to attack the goose. It kept diving on it until the goose swam away. This is the clearest shot I was able to get of the attack.


When we got back to the car, my dog was so tired that when I opened the trunk of the car to put my backpack inside, she hopped in and laid down.


Here is the gps recording of the trip. It’s nothing special. I just followed the lake until I got to its southern section, and then I went up the mountain a bit to set up camp.


Not a challenging trip by any means of the imagination, but it was a good bit of fun. I always like having my dog with me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ice Cream Soda - A Bit of Nostalgia

You wouldn't readily think 'lets have an ice cream soda' but back in the day we used to visit a fabulous Italian ice cream parlour, we bought one ice cream soda between us and would always ask for a couple of straws and spoons. This wasn't because we were mean but based on trying to save enough money to get married and buy a house. The courtship was 15 months in total and I hadn't even reached my 21st birthday when we married.......on Cup Final Day! Hence two straws and two spoons.......happy days.

We have always made ice cream soda by placing a scoop of ice cream in the base of a tall glass and pouring over a can of cream soda, the ice cream floats and the cream soda creates a lovely frothy top. The Ben Shaws website recommend using a dash of grenadine syrup but I doubt we had even heard of 'grenadine syrup' in those days. I used Mackie's Traditional Ice Cream but there are lots of fun variations. Further information for ice cream soda and ice cream floats can be found on Wikipedia.

I would be really interested to hear your nostalgic story.

Photograph of an Alaskan Prospector and His Dog, 1900

The photograph was taken in 1900 during the Alaskan Gold Rush.


It appears than man’s best friend also served quite well as a pack animal. I also like that the man is in the middle of nowhere, with a rifle and a belt lined with bullets, but is still wearing a tie.

Back Story | Bilal, The Callused Punkawallah

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved (click to enlarge)

Although my travel photography style is not for stock, and is more akin to photojournalism, I still like to make posed portraits... some are environmental and others just straight forward, especially of those I encounter who make interesting stories.

Bilal is one of such people. I met him in the dargah of Nizzm Uddin in Delhi where he earns a living as a punkawallah, fanning the devotees to provide comfort during the summer days while they pray or listen to the periodic qawwali. I hadn't seen him before on my regular trips to Nizzam perhaps he's a newcomer.

Punkawallah in Hindi means 'the man with a fan', but I'm not sure if it's the precise appellation for Bilal's profession as he works in a Muslim shrine. It may well be, but perhaps it's different in Urdu.

Bilal has the telltale callus of a pious Muslim on his fact, he has two of such calluses from genuflecting on the ground when praying five times a day, instead of the customary single callus. This is perhaps due to his facial bone structure. These marks are colloquially called the Muslim "bump"and are highly desirable signs of piety amongst Muslim men.

It's so desirable among observant Egyptian Muslims that there are rumors that irritants, like sandpaper, are used to darken the callus.

But back to Bilal...despite his serious expression, he was all smiles and assured me we'd meet in Ajmer during Ghairb Nawaz's Urs in a few weeks. All that in sign language. and a word or two of Hindi on my part.

I did meet him again inside the shrine in Ajmer, where we greeted each other like old friends. With the throngs of people milling about,  he quickly grew very business-like, unfurled his flag-like fan, and started to do his punka'ing...and hustling to get paid.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

For those interested in tech stuff: the top photograph was made with a Leica M9 and a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f 1.4, and processed with Color Efex Pro 4, while the lower one was made with a Fuji XPro1 and a Fujinon 18mm f 2.0.