Engeløya to Angelniemi




1. wood water




Engeløya, Norway





Angus Fulton - Sweden





Angus Fulton - Fejø






Don't stand between the bees and the sun, and if there is thunder in the air they'll become aggressive… We must always leave enough honey in the hive for the bees to eat. When we get the honey-loaded frames to the house remember to look all around us to make sure no bees have followed us, if they know where we've taken the honey they'll go back and tell the colony. 





Goodbyes to Angus's family and an early morning drive down to Harwich for our ferry to The Netherlands. Casual, chatting about what our next months in Scandinavia would hold. We had 30 minutes before the 9am departure so we stopped to let Jella out, trying to persuade her to do a wee before having to spend 5 hours on the boat in a kennel. At some point amidst Angus's increasing anxiety at the approaching departure time and Jella doing not much else other than sniffing road-side crap, I spotted in big fat letters at the bottom of the ticket, 'Check in closes 45 minutes before departure'. FUUUUCK.
We whizzed around the corner and right up to some big barriers, swearing about how in Calais we could drive on up to 5 minutes before the boat left… Fuck. The window of the ticket desk went up and the irritatingly smug man inside told us that there was definitely no way we were getting on the boat and the best he could do was charge us a surcharge and give us a ticket for the next morning.

So we explored through a hole in the fence of an abandoned military base in Harwich, watched the ferry we were supposed to be on chug off into horizon, and ate fish and chips. A quick look inside a pub to ask if Jella was allowed in turned into an impromptu night with the barmaid and her friends, who poured us Fosters for free, shared brownie, and told us about their mate a Harwich local and his hideous acid-throwing incident.






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A 10 day journey from Casa Na Colina, M & D's house on the hill in Portugal, to a short stay in the UK.
Via a wild, non-stop-rainy Galicia, a whole lotta sexy green grass, sunshine and water vole families in France, foggy Devon, nostalgic Wales, London loving and Angus's Mum's.







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Throughout the months we were in India, 'mine' and 'personal, private space' were things we experienced as almost non-existent: Beds and bedrooms were communal spaces, countless selfless acts of kindness towards strangers, an all-round sharing of food… You could be on a bus, train or auto-rickshaw that magnificently redefined the definition of 'full' - people pummelling their aunties and their suitcases into any last inch of air-space - definitely no chance of getting a seat/perch... But within a few seconds and shuffles, a slither of space appears with a hand tapping it and a head nodding in its direction.

Some things we learned the 'hard' way. At Nature Care Village, Angus and I were sat outside our room watching the birds, when Angus went inside to do a poo. The bathroom was immediately to the right, as you went in through the door, partitioned off by a thin room-dividing type wall that had a good metre gap between it and the ceiling. A few minutes after he'd disappeared, a 'VIP' appeared from nowhere, being given a tour. Straight into our room they went, without warning or knock or comment to me as they passed. I thought, 'Should I say he's in there taking a shit!?', I could picture Angus settling down, all relaxed, to suddenly hear strange voices in the room the other side of the bamboo door, and thinking, 'Should I tell them I'm in here taking a shit?'. Instead he decided he'd left it too late to say anything and just to 'keep quiet', hoping one wouldn't plop and that the bathroom wasn't going to be included in the tour.




We met a 'VIP' with a bag of fruit and a bottle of Smirnoff who couldn't look either of us in the eye. He introduced himself as from a 'high-caste' family, ensuring we understood exactly what he meant by 'high'. He caused huge upset of ambience when he called Khayam the 'servant' and left him out of the drinking party. We declined 'VIP's offer to get into his car at midnight, with him in full cricket-gear + bat, to drive into the jungle and find a leopard. Wealth and power, more often than not, coming hand in hand with being a general arse-hole, even in India. 




Introducing myself as 'Holly', 'What, like the festival?!'...
So when Holi Festival arrived, it was all, 'Spending Holi with Holly!!!' from Raju and Khayam.
'Happy Holi Happy Holly!!!'






Nature Care Village



Train station platforms are a blanket pile obstacle course; Little children wriggle out like Roos emerging from their mumma's pouches, leaving a gap into a warm blanket pile of humans sleeping on humans.
We were 3 hours into a 5 hour wait at Moradabar for our train to Rishikesh. I still had the shits after 10 days and couldn't stop my nose from streaming. We were rapidly running out of any sort of tissue and a 'female' toilet was apparently nowhere to be found. An old man dressed smartly all in white with a black waistcoat and sharp eyes walked over and greeted us with quiet 'namaste' smiles. Ram Babu Kumar was his name. He said, 'I could sense that you were feeling unwell and became anxious to talk to you…' He checked that we had medicines and gave us a long, kind, look in the eyes. With more 'namaste' smiles he disappeared down the platform. Later that evening whatever illness it was that had been stewing around in my body evolved into a week long monster.


We met Mr Raju, a tall man in a tracksuit and a turban with a thick, combed, black beard, at the junction somewhere roughly 25km outside Rishikesh. He gestured with one slow, sweeping arm movement that our rickshaw driver should continue down a bumpy track, following him on his moped. Mr Driver was not pleased about this long, pot-holed addition to the journey that threw around his rickshaw and seemed with each corner to have no approaching ending. Constant head-roof / arse-bench crashing. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and by the sound of it neither did Mr Driver. Angus laughing (obviously). I might shit myself or vomit… Mr Raju miles ahead on his moped… We expected Mr Driver to ask for the extra that we'd haggled down on the price. Eventually Mr Raju stopped and so did we, preparing for disgruntled Mr Driver. Mr Raju and the other tall man (his brother we later found out) whom we'd pulled up next to, with eyes that lit up when they smiled, deep laughter wrinkles and wide grins from behind their thick beards, seemed to win the heart of Mr Driver; They spoke just a few words and bad feeling diffused into laughter, pointing him in the direction of a smoother way back to the main road.






Nature Care Village





'Jugaad (alternatively Juggaar) is a colloquial Hindi-Urdu word that can mean an innovative fix or a simple work-around, used for solutions that bend rules, or a resource that can be used as such, or a person who can solve a complicated issue.'

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6. angusfulton / this and that - India 2015



Jedi skills are essential.



5:30am, still dark, on a paddle-boat in the fog on the Ganges. The sky and river melt together in a thick, velvety grey. Just the dunking of the oars into the still surface. Nothing else. No focal point or sense of perspective, we've all been swallowed by the velvet grey and we're slowly paddling down its never-ending throat. Smooth peace on continuous repeat, with a dunking oar for a heartbeat. Directly above us, a small, suggestive circle of bright blue. 






Varanasi






Varanasi






Through squinted eyes and tightly shut mouths we pushed through swarms of mosquitos along the ghats at night, hopping around dark mounds of things that could have been sleeping people, to a traditional Dhrupad music concert, 5 ghats down the river. We pulled off our shoes and sat on a big white sheet on the floor, decorated with splatted mosquitos.




Varanasi






Varanasi






In Varanasi we volunteered at a little hostel where we painted walls and ceilings with murals, and took care of the hostel's newly adopted street dog and her litter of puppies, in return for bed and food. One afternoon Angus disappeared into the city on the back of a motorbike to help one of the hostel workers, Sunil, with a mysterious favour. At lunchtime on every day of our stay, Sunil sought us out from wherever we were in the hostel, to share his lunch with us. We'd bring food to share but he was always insistent that we eat more than him, to the point where, despite us giving the tiffin tins back to him with enough left inside for him (hoping not to offend him, stumbling our way around Indian selflessness), it began to seem like his wife was making a delicious lunch every day just for Angus and I. Over a tiffin tin of spicy peas and chapatis he told us that Monday night we were to go to his home for dinner, to meet his wife, his mother, his father, his brother, his sister, his grandma, his grandpa, all of his uncles, their wives and their children. His wife would cook for us, some rice, chapati, vegetables and dhal… We spent the week looking forward to it.



Khajuraho






After 4 weeks apart, Angus and I were reunited. Coconut and banana lassis and masala parathas on one of Khajuraho's roof terraces, with a backdrop of the spectacular temples carved with the spectacularly erotic (think group orgies with hybrid mythical animals).



I waved goodbye to Holl one miserable morning as she drove off with Amit-the-driver to her Ashram near Khajuraho. 4 weeks to kill before we would see each other again. Amit drove a white Tata saloon with four 6x9 speakers on the parcel shelf... I would spend lots of time in it over the next month. Back into Mithla's kitchen for breakfast, tearful and it was cold… Munalal the father of the household I was staying with gets me to sit right next to him by the chula (fire), sharing the little stool he sat on with me. He gets out two bidis (hand-rolled cigarettes), lights them both with a match and hands me one, putting his arm around me and his hands to the heat; he gestures to keep my hands warm over the smoky flames. Mithla (the mum) passes me a steaming chai, smiling with her buck teeth… Shanti (their daughter-in-law) is shuffling around making breakfast. Nobody speaks any english. It is 6 in the morning. These guys would be my family for most of my stay. 

 For the next 28 odd days I would get up to all kinds of stuff. Primarily I would be helping Ashok, who was a little younger than me, to run the home-stay project I had volunteered to help with. We did lots of good work together, as well as riding around on his motorbike and generally doing what 20 year old Indians do in their spare time; forgetting things, cricket, smuggling girlfriends out of town in Amit-the-driver's car, chewing tobacco and of course eating lots of food and perhaps the odd shady beer*. 

 Each day was most changeable, as things are in India. Every corner is exciting. Who knows what the hell will be around it. Anyway… It was a wonderful, stressful, happy, frustrating, insightful, beautiful and most of all a very fun 28 days.

*Orchha is a Holy site so technically it is illegal to drink alcohol...but Ashok had friends at the bar of one the swanky hotels.

01. angusfulton _ Orchha 2015

5am looking over Ganj with the Chhatris of Orchha in the distance.    




Arhanta Yoga TTC


Orchha






The Friends of Orchha home-stay was in the village of Ganj, up the hill above Orchha. Ganj begun at the gigantic vine-covered mango tree; the tree that hung over the road hundreds of long, limp fingers that might stroke you on the head. A mud-house village of 64 families. Smooth mud walls merged into smooth mud floors which merged into smooth mud alcoves, shelves, benches, window ledges and smooth mud paths. Vibrant pista blue and deep ochre. Namaste in dusty streets. Cows, calves, chickens, buffalo, goats, puppies, children and motorbikes watched by girls and women lingering in arched, mud entrance-ways, toe-rings and bangles, immaculate coloured sariis. And breathtakingly beautiful. The village looked over the domes and spires of Orchha's Mughal temples and palaces, the river Batwa and forest until you couldn't see any further. 

Gwalior Fort






Hiking up the 700 steps to Gwalior's magnificent fort on the hill, decorated with stone ducks and elephants painted yellow and blue, we met a boys cricket match on a dusty levelled out platform half way up. One of the boys handed Angus the bat. Luckily he hit the ball. We explored up and down the narrow stone stairways and passages between what once were bathing chambers and music rooms, until we stupidly ran out of water (with the 4km walk down the hill and through the hot city via a climb around the 50ft tall carvings in the cliff-face, still to go).
Delhi





In the middle of a dense-intense Delhi junction of roughly 6 indefinable 'lanes' of traffic, the taxi driver stopped. The two swollen, white plastic bags slid off his dashboard and onto his lap. He left the car, taking them with him, leaving us there. Dodging rickshaws, taxis, mopeds, cows, and road-side rubbish mounds, stepping up onto the central reservation. He carefully untied the knots in the plastic bags and emptied the bird-seed contents into the middle of an excited flock of Myna birds.
He did it yesterday and the day before, and he'll do it tomorrow, and the next day, 365 days of the year.




'Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.' 
- The Dalai Lama



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We arrived back to Portugal after 3 incredible months in India, with 20 rolls of film ready to be developed. There was much debate over how and where to get this (so very precious to us) job done. Should we keep hold of the films and wait another 2 months until we're back in the UK? Should we post them to the UK?  Should we split the films up into two packages, just in case?
Reassured by the number of safely-arriving packages we'd sent between Portugal and the UK, missing India terribly and DESPERATE to see the pictures, we decided to post them all in one box from Portugal to a film lab in Brighton. Slightly shitting ourselves, standing at the post office desk Angus took the postal receipt for priority, track and trace delivery,
'So, just to confirm, if this package gets lost, you'll be able to find out exactly where it is?' 
'Yes, absolutely.'

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Cruuuuzing the Silver Coast, with wild Atlantic beaches and house-sized waves mostly to ourselves. Although we accidentally (really) parked up for 3 days in a popular dogging spot down a track by the coast at Nazare…

Get a message when we do another one!







 
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