Travelling back

Pink on beach

In a few hours one recent afternoon I travelled thousands of miles and spanned decades, all from the comfort of the chair by my computer. Instead of my keyboard, which was pushed aside, another little gadget sat before me. Husband and I had talked of buying one for years but never got round to it until la few weeks ago. When it arrived I couldn’t wait to try it.

Fiddling around after lunch I couldn’t get it to work. As always for such gadgets, the instruction booklet was fairly useless, the symbols so fuzzy I hadn’t a clue what they referred to, and the English was in the usual mangled, pulled and stretched version usually found when you need clear directions.

Iced mountain cake

I’m fairly certain this is a photo of the Julian Alps taken from the plane – the first plane I’d ever flown in. I was so excited. The mountains were so close I almost felt I could touch them, forgetting about the fatal plane crash a few years previously on the side of one of these mountains whilst en route to the airport we were heading for.

Eventually son came to help. I offered the instruction manual but he ignored it, opting instead for trial and error pushing of buttons. It all looked very complicated although reviewers online insisted it was really easy and fast – three seconds it took, they said. Hmmm!

‘Try that,’ son said, removing the card and inserting it into a forgotten and never used slot on the side of my computer. Something was there, having made the journey from scanner to Mac. I opened it and squealed with glee. Removed card and returned it to device. Son said press that, then that.

In a former country.

Someone’s keen to take a photo of the view! The ‘someone’ is my husband, and we were in part of what was formerly known as Yugoslavia.

A couple of hours later I had scanned 163 slides that have lain in boxes for decades without being looked at. In fact, I’d never viewed them properly as I never owned a slide projector and my only means of seeing these early photographic efforts was on a daylight viewer which enlarged the images marginally and allowed you to view them if you held it under a light source. 163 doesn’t seem many at the rate I take photographs now. But in those days film was fairly expensive and one spool took twenty slides. So instead of clicking with abandon, each shot was considered and only one version of it taken instead of the multiple shots I often take nowadays. Anyway now I have my treasure of 163 digitised and filed on computer, so can look at them and use them easily.

Dubrovnik from the bus

Dubrovnik several earthquakes ago.

Many are rather fuzzy, some have a blue tinge with the reds faded, but all bring back memories of places, holidays and people. Considering how long ago most were taken, and the quality of the cheap cameras and lenses used then, most of the images are surprisingly good. And, irrespective of quality, they add to my circle of family recollections, reminders of days and people no longer here. With photos and memories available, I’m thinking of ways to use them. Perhaps, if relevant, I may incorporate one into the occasional blog post or in the birthday and Christmas cards, and newsletters I produce.

Hot street

Street in Dubrovnik

I could tweak colours, sharpen to make them look better, but to me there is a certain nostalgia in seeing them as they are, hazy reminders of yesteryear rather than sharp images of more recent years. A reminder of times, not so long ago, when technology amounted to one or two television channels in black and white, transistor radios were all the rage, and computers working with punched cards filled an entire room.

Narrow street with filigree shop

Silver filigree for sale according to the sign on the wall. I remember being fascinated by the number of shops selling delicate silver filigree jewellery.

Market in Dubrovnik

In the days when peppers couldn’t be found in shops in Scotland, I twas intrigued by women stuffing kilos of peppers into enormous net bags.

So the little film scanner started reasonably well. Unfortunately, although it accepts cardboard mounted slides with no problem, I have a number of boxes of plastic mounted slides that the slide carrier won’t accept. Bit of a let-down as I really want to scan these too. However husband and son said they were working on a possible solution. In the end we ordered another carrier with similar specifications from a different manufacturer and that took the plastic cased slides, though one rather than four at a time.

A country we knew nothing about

That year was the first the border between Yugoslavia and Albania had been open and we went on a trip into a country we knew nothing about. We were appalled by the backwardness and poverty, the shop in this building having an earth floor.

Houses with bullet holes

Albanian citadel where we stooped to take photographs. As soon as it became apparent we were photographing the new houses near us, riddled with bullet holes, we were ordered back on the bus.

Sheep and shepherds

In the Albanian countryside. Taken from the bus. We were told we could photograph anywhere but not to photograph people unless we first asked their permission. As none of us spoke Albanian…

Little must have changed here in 2000 years.

Albanian farm workers taken from the bus. The temperature was high. People look with envy at our chainstore cotton dresses (we weren’t allowed to wear shorts) and cheap cameras. We were take to their premier visitor attraction – a copper wire factory built by the Chinese where we were followed around by guards.

Something happened here.

Many houses were in ruins, though they didn’t look very old.

Slides scanned, the next project is to trawl through negatives filed within dozens of photograph wallets to see how these scan. I imagine it might be a slower process, but as it’s hardly an arduous task I can do a few when I feel like it. Then I can relive again the family as children, birthdays and days out, holidays in Orkney, the island of Mull, Scandinavia and all the other places we’ve visited.

Colour in the unbleached day

Carpet sellers lined the roads around our hotel in Budva, Yugoslavia

Just as well I recently increased the memory on my computer the additional capacity is going to be needed.

Hungarian dulcimer

We went out for a drink one evening and came across this cymbalom player. I’d never seen the instrument before.



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
This entry was posted in Dorothy Bruce, Historical nuggets, Places of interest, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Travelling back

  1. walter- says:

    This was how to find the box of memories forgotten for a long time! When we look at photos from the past, everything seems new.

  2. I’m having so much fun scanning old photographs and sharing them. Have just sent an Easter card to my daughter and her family with lots of images of her when she was young. I hope she enjoys sharing her memories of these times with her family.

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