Let there be light

Stars here, stars there

Winter holidays to warmer climates appeal. They shorten the winter at home, a winter that in the worst years can stretch from November to April, though those are the exceptions. Nor, because of the Gulf Stream, do we normally get as much snow as our neighbours in Scandinavia or Canada. Though we can enjoy cold, crisp days of blue skies and glittering frosts, we can also have depressing periods of grey skies and rain, as if we were immobile under a gushing waterfall. So the draw of warm sunlight with additional hours of daylight in which to enjoy it is hard to resist.

Light going behind hotel

The December sunset from the balcony of our hotel room.

From this you’ll gather I’m no lover of winter sports or anything that involves snow. Spending the weeks before Christmas in Madeira was a joy. I revelled in wandering around Funchal, and strolling along the new promenade. The atmosphere was one of large friendly gathering with people sitting at cafes enjoying coffees and drinks, families out for a saunter after present buying, tourists from cruise ships snapping as many photographs for the albums as possible, arms entwined couples lost in their own space, kiosks cooking Madeiran dishes and delicacies with the smell drifting through the air, stalls selling hot chestnuts, traders and those with handicrafts touting jewellery and other goods laid out on low walls.

Hot chestnut man

I was amazed by the number of bags of chestnuts. Madeirans must like their taste.

Food for munching

You can munch as you stroll.

The locals wear boots and almost winter clothes — this is after all their cold season — while tourists sport short-sleeved t-shirts and sandals, perhaps with the addition of cardigan or light jacket. Music plays quietly from occasional speakers amongst the branches of trees that bloom with white lights like cherry blossom in spring. In years past, the Christmas lights in Madeira were said to be spectacular but this year, whether due to the stated supplier problem or the ubiquitous cutbacks, few lights materialised. For me, that didn’t matter, as I enjoyed those strung through the trees. Magical light when night fell.

Masts like pencils

The masts of craft in the marina reach up to the evening sky.

Cruise ship lights and sunset

The lights on cruise ships add to the overall festive feel.

Light, and the play of it on objects, the drama it gives to scenes, the way it changes, enhances and enlivens colours are all reasons for taking photographs, though I tend to focus, frame, click, snap because something appeals to me, sometimes without fully appreciating that what appeals is the quality of the light.

Banana plant leaves under the light

Light burnishing leaves.

So when I look through my photographs I can enjoy that light again and it raises my spirits. Light is an important factor in our lives, but we often forget that. The fire festivals held at the solstices and around Christmas are reminders of how important light, as well as fire, was to our ancestors. When, a number of years ago at midsummer, we drove up through Sweden to Jokkmokk in Lapland, beyond the Arctic Circle, we visited an art exhibition and spoke to a woman there. She told us how she loved the winter in Lapland, the beauty of the snow, the primary colours that sing in knitwear, braids, furnishings and handicrafts, and the cosiness indoors in front of blazing fires.

But the lack of daylight for months on end means depression can set in. If this happens, the person is bundled onto the next plane to spend a few weeks amongst the bright city lights and attractions of Stockholm. Light affects our moods, how we view the world, even those closest to us. Light.

Light and reflections

Natural and artificial light and reflections made this a wonderful space.

Riu Palace hotel entrance

Exterior of our hotel. The lights have altered its usual cream colour to pale flamingo pink.

So I’ve picked out a few of my Madeira photographs where light is an important player, bringing objects and scenes to life and adding additional interest. Light creates more light in reflective surfaces, whether marble floors, the sea, areas of glass and even in sequins and shiny materials. Nice to know we all reflect light, and in doing so each one of us makes the world a lighter, brighter, more colourful place. Well done all of us.


We can sparkle too.

Seeing in the dark

View at midnight.


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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2 Responses to Let there be light

  1. bebs1 says:

    Love your photos. I wish we have vendors too selling hot chestnuts here but i guess it is too cold.

    • We don’t tend to have them in Scotland either – a bit far north for many chestnut trees. I used to make a sweet with choux pastry buns filled with sweetened chestnut puree, piled up and dribbled liberally with chocolate. Haven’t made it for years.

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