Dubrovnik … from the City Walls – # 1

[ Photo Blog  #65 ]
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DUBROVNIK … City on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in the south of Croatia 

Dubrovnik is an ancient city on the southern Adriatic coast of Croatia.  On a visit there in 2006  I took all the following photographs, except the first two, whilst walking around the city’s massive stone walls, which were completed in the 16th Century and which encircle the whole city.
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View of Dubrovnik from the south on the road to Cavtat

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The gates to the city

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Views from the city walls

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I will post more photographs of the city and its surrounding area next week

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What The Sea Discards

Detectorist2bWhat The Sea Discards:   Life with a Beach Metal Detector

The sea still surged,
The storm still raged,
The wind incessant,
A beast uncaged.

Amidst the tempest,
Calm, intent,
Body taut
And forward bent,

Moves this figure
With steady tread,
Seeking gold,
His daily bread.

Sift the shingle
Trawl the shore,
Seashore scavenger
Beach troubadour.

Autolycus, his
Ancient counterpart,
Plying his trade
With bleeding heart,

To find amongst
The sea’s debris
His longed for love,
Life’s golden key.

Something to clutch
Dredged from life’s tide;
A token wish,
Beatified.

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Photographs by WHB:  On a West Sussex beach – October 2017   ©

 

 

Mount Etna, Sicily

[ Photo Blog  #65 ]

 

Giardini Naxos is a small town situated on the coast of the Ionian Sea at the foot of Mount Etna, in north-east Sicily.  This is the town outside which the cruise ship I was on in 2006 anchored enabling us to go ashore.  The approach from the sea is dramatic with the continually smoking volcano looking very close and dangerous to the town.  In fact the volcano does erupt regularly but appears to find a different exit point each time along the crest of the hill range, thus leaving several old craters which it is now reasonably safe to visit, or so we were assured!   In the past Etna has deposited its lava all along this coast and the evidence is easy to see in the long-since cooled and solidified lava floes now forming shelves of rock jutting out to sea all along this coast.  I have included two photographs of this below. 

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The sea approach to Giardini Naxos with Mount Etna smoking in the background

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Lava outcrops, now solidified spill into the sea all along the coastline

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Close-up of the lava deposits

My wife and I accompanied a group from the ship to take a coach to the mountain top – a journey of about 30 miles which takes approximately one hour along the winding uphill roads.  I include further  photographs of this dramatic journey below.

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A Giardini Naxos beach looking towards the ancient town of Taormina and its Saracen Castle

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Another idyllic beach and rocky outcrop near Naxos

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Looking back from the road leading to the summit

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Several views of the craters of old eruptions

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Flora gradually reclaiming a foothold on the barren earth

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The tour guide serenades us with Italian operatic arias as we descend the mountain on the return journey

 

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Arundel Castle, West Sussex, U.K.

Arundel is an ancient town situated on the River Arun in West Sussex, England.  Its castle, massive and dominant in the landscape, dates from the 11th Century, although considerably altered and added to since that time.

Arundel Castle has undergone many restorations and extensions since it was first built in the year following the Norman Invasion of England in 1066.  It was officially  established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067.   By the grace of William the Conqueror, he was the first to hold the earldom of Arundel.   The castle has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since and is now the home of the Duke of Norfolk, who is the Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England.  The current duke is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk.

My photographs, featured below, are amongst those I took on a recent visit there in October 2017.

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Arundel, showing its position just a few miles inland from the English Channel and about 65 miles from London.

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Showing how the castle position dominates the town and the surrounding area

 

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Looking up to the massive southern wall of the castle

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The Castle’s Western Gateway

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Part of the extensive castle gardens, looking towards Arundel’s Roman Catholic Cathedral

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The more private part of the castle where the present Duke of Norfolk lives

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Further view of the gardens

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The Root Garden, planted with the upturned roots of trees lost in the great 1987 Storm

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It was pumpkin time in the castle vegetable gardens, and Halloween was approaching

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A medieval montage within the castle keep

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An important 12th Century visitor to the Castle

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A re-enactment of 12th Century knights in battle

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More Norman knights

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A view of the River Arun and its bridge at Arundel after several days of rain

 

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Hastings – The STADE – #2

[ Photo Blog #63 ]

Hastings – The STADE – #2

Last week, on Thursday, 16th October, I featured my visit to this unique beach in Hastings, East Sussex, UK, from which fishing boats are launched directly into the sea.  If you have not read my introduction and viewed the photographs on that particular blog, then I would advise you to visit it first in order to gain a clearer picture of this area’s history and current function.  Click on this link to do that . . .  Hastings – The Stade #1 .  My photographs below were taken as I wandered around the beached fishing fleet, showing the boats, some now hardly seaworthy, but the majority still working boats plying their trade in the waters of the English Channel from the Stade Beach in Hastings.

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The PIER

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Eastbourne Pier, Sussex, England: Photo – WHB, October, 2017  ©

 

THE PIER

As bravely my finger points to the sea
my peninsular pretences extend
for a while
my efforts at ocean reclamation
enabling land and sea to merge
countryside and shore
to meet and mingle
in mutual admiration

Taking my insatiable
search for pleasure
beyond its brief

Public pleasuring
made manifest
another pleasure garden
to add to nature’s own
another wonderworld
to vie with nature’s gifts

My destiny
Buffeted by wind and wave
invaded by rust and rot
attacked by frost
at risk from fire

I exist
On time borrowed
from the eye of the storm
grateful
whilst it continues
for the ocean’s grace

and so
I continue to proffer my splendours
To the denizens of my retreats
sea anglers and photo booths
Shops and tearooms
wurlitzers and waltzers
penny arcades
mirror halls
ghost trains and dodgems
all beneficiaries
of my daring
my bravery in simply existing

 

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Nature’s  Beneficence

NATURE’S  BENEFICENCE

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Tall the grass grows in the thicket
Thriving without a thought of me
Each blade designed in Nature’s wisdom
Green and graceful, firm and free.

Strong the sapling stretches higher
Gathering strength to reach the sky
Intent on proving ever taller
Just as worthy as you or I.

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Soft the thistle drenched in down
Welcoming wind to spread its seed
Calling to the listening heavens
For its force to feed its need

High in the sky the blackbird singing
Passing judgement on the day
Once again the evening thrilling
Sweeping all my cares away

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Perfumed the scent of rambling rose
Drifts across my consciousness
The natural world brings me its joy
The surest cure for worldly stress

For as the day draws to its close
Such thoughts as these bring me content
As night-time comes and daylight goes
I count my blessings, heaven sent

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Poem and photographs by WHB … 2017 ©

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BRUGES – Revisited

[ Photo Blog #61 ]

I have previously blogged photographs of the Belgian City of Bruges (q.v.) 3 months ago on August 14th.  I made a further long weekend visit there the following year, and present below a different set of photographs of its stunning views, architecture and history . . .

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A reflective view of one of the city’s beautiful canals

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Another canal view

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… and a third

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. . .  a shop selling – you guessed it – vintage dolls

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another view of a roadside lace-maker

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. . .  with a close-up view of the technique

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The famed artist, Jan Van Eyck, lived in Bruges from 1429 until his death in 1441

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I visited an exhibition of Salvador Dali prints whilst in Bruges in 2004

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This poem had been posted in a closed Bruges restaurant window on a Sunday morning

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Spectacular painted interior walls and decorated ceiling of the Stadhuis, the City Hall in Burg Square

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An imposing canal-side Crucifix

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Another canal-side view

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View to the side of the main market square

 

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Walking With Ducklings

In 2004, one of my daughters lived on a farm overlooking the Exe Valley in Devonshire, England. The ducklings which I write about below had imprinted themselves on her shortly after their incubated birth, and they would regularly follow her as she walked around the farm and on to the farm duckpond.

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WALKING WITH DUCKLINGS

Ducklings,
greet my world,

meet your world,
sometimes mild;
oft times wild –
do your best to love it.
Now let’s go for a walk
… while I talk

No, don’t duck out of my suggestion,
just follow me and I’ll show you life,
you’ll take to it
like a duck to the waters;
pretend you’re my daughters.

For you are Devon ducks,
yes, Drake Country, I know,
but every drake needs a duck,
as they say in these parts;
not your Cockney ducks
they’ve very hard hearts.

Don’t believe them when they say
“out for a duck”;
don’t take it personally;
it means Nothing –
just innocent banter,
small-scale sledging,
they know you’re a fledgling.

No, “out with the ducks”,
now that’s more like it.
So don’t be glum,
think of me as your mum,
and follow me to the pond
there’s a duck house down there,
painted duck-egg blue,
just the home for you.

You’ll like it there
even though
and I do know
when you grow up
you may lose a few eggs
shell shock they call it
all in good cause
because
we humans enjoy them
try not to condemn
it’s just
nous les adorons
ces sont si bon

and when at the pond
just watch out for Jethro
our farm dog you know
he’s a bit of a barker
a real nosey-parker
duck down when you see him
or go for a swim

and, talking of duck down,
better put your coats on
it’s going to get chilly
no, not chilli hot
chilly cold
so be good as gold.
now, will you be told!

Let’s pause for a selfie
no, don’t make that duck-face
pouting doesn’t suit you
the camera will shoot you

If you are good
then later
as your mater
i’ll let you loose
on the web
you’ll learn so much there
but please do beware
best avoid Mr Blumenthal
all duck and waffle
your feathers he’ll ruffle
he’d feed you too well
making you swell
for his ‘Fat Duck’ menu
I’d better not continue
… but remember …
it’s not yet December
I could get 250 pounds for you there.

that’s 500 for the both of you
so don’t annoy me
I’m not your employee

Just follow me
and remember
i’m your funny mummy
just imprint that on your
duck brains
just remember you’re mine
and we’ll get along fine.

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Westonbirt National Arboretum

[ Photo Blog #60 ]

Westonbirt Arboretum can be found near the historic market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England.  It is the UK’s National Arboretum, managed by the Forestry Commission, and is perhaps the most important and widely known arboretum in the United Kingdom.  The arboretum’s 18,000 specimen trees and shrubs sourced from all over the globe provide a remarkable place for people to enjoy and learn about trees. It has 17 miles of marked paths which provide access to a wide variety of rare plants.

When I visited there in 2003 there happened to be an exhibition of what, only in the broadest sense, could be called ‘garden sculpture’.   I offer below some of my photographs taken at the time . . . 

 

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Westonbirt 01 (1)

Just taking a work break

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A pointed remark

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Tear-drop Tree

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All wired up …

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… and suitably pigeon-holed

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Water-glass

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A hairy situation

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‘The green trees transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap and almost mad with ecstasy.’

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Mirrored garden #1

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Mirrored garden #2

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Mirrored garden #3

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