Saturday, August 26, 2006

Photo Friday- Circle

When I was trying to think of what photos I had for the topic, 'circle'- I immediately thought about stone circles.
Despite the popular image [particularly in movies] of stonecircles all looking like Stonehenge- Stonehenge is completely unique.

A great many of the more typical stone circles have smallish stones and are easy to miss in the landscape unless you are looking for them.

This one is Tomnaverie Stone circle [aka Mill Of Wester Coull or Tarland Burn ] - close to Tarland in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

I've seen two meanings given for the name Tomnaverie -either 'Hill of Worship" or 'Mound of theFairies'

It wasn't a great day- overcast and drizzly -however the site itself was impressive. The views were magnisficent- despite the drizzle and I expect it would be unbelieveable on a clear day.

Tomnaverie is a recumbent stone circle of a type found only in the North East of Scotland- the large recumbent stone is flanked by two tall stones that are larger than any of the others used in the circle and the smallest stones are often found on the opposite side of the circle from the recumbent stone.

Sometimes this recumbent stone is said to be an altar by some of the more fanciful guidebooks but it is more likely to be used to frame an observation point for the moon or sun.
My son is the figure in blue sketching.
The site is over 4000 years old and was left with toppled stones when it fell into disuse. The stone circle was restored very sympathetically in 2000.

The remains of an old quarry are invisible behind the fence- the quarry actually threatened the stone circle [and at least one of the stones fell into the quarry and was lost] but it is now disused and the circle is cared for by Historic Scotland
The stone circle surrounded a central ring cairn and some cremated remains were found in the cairn area when the monument was excavated.I wish I had taken more photos with a view to making a panorama later. Its annoying to look back at places I'm unlikely to visit again and regret not taking more photos.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nice port and colline de chateau

I took these photos on a few different days- some in the spring and some in the summer. They seemed to go together into one post.

The port in Nice is quite pretty, with lots of small and large yachts and also the ferries and hydrofoils that head off to Corsica and Sardinia.

The rocky and wooded outcrop above the old appartment blocks is the Colline de Chateau.

Looking across the jetty from Place Guynemer and the start of Quai Rauba Capeu [which means hat stealing quay in the local Niçard [Nissart] language. A lot ofthe Vieux Nice [Old Nice] signage is bilingual French and Niçard.
Church of Our Lady of the Port aka Church of the Immaculate Conception [Église Notre Dame du Port-Église de l'Immaculée Conception Immaculée] is an impressive church looking over the port. Apparently it contains some pre-raphaelite style paintings attributed to Emmanuel Costa but I haven't been inside

This is looking up at the Colline de Chateau over the tops of the market stalls in Cours Saleya.
The 'Colline de Chateau' translates as the castle hill- the castle was destroyed in 1706 on the orders of Louis XIV, so its no longer visible. However, the Colline de Chateau is still worth visiting for the amazing views over the port and old town and the wooded park on top of the hill.

Its a steep walk uphill if you start from the old town-there is a tourist train and an elevator as an alternative way of getting there.
There is also an artificial waterfall but it wasn't working when we visited in spring.
This photo looks down on Cours Saleya- the market is morning only; in the afternoon and evening Cours Saleya is a busy place to hang out, eat, drink ,see and be seen.

The higgledgy piggledy rooftops and lanes of the old town
Some of the hills surrounding Nice

The clocktower in the Old Town flying the Nice flag
A view of Nice port from the top of Colline de Chateau

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Stormy sky

We were swimming, or rather bobbing around in huge waves just before these photos were taken, the temperature was about 25 degrees C and the water was fairly warm although the dull grey sky made it seem colder.

The sea looks fairly calm in the photos but sometimes photos can be deceiving. When we were swimming, the rescue helicopter flew over and a rescue boat went out, so someone somewhere along the coast was in trouble.

There had been a lot of gulls and other sea birds out on the water before the storm came in- presumably there were some huge fish shoals attracting them. Once the sky darkened they disappeared, apart from this lone gull.

The sky turned grey quite quickly and later we had torrential rain and thunder and lightning.
When I looked out into the street in the middle of the night, the drains were full and the road looked like a river.

I tried taking a few rainy night photos from our window without much success. I didn't manage to photograph the lightning either- as it was sheet lightning rather than the photogenic zig zag formation. It was dramatic to watch from the safety of the window though.

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Photo Friday - Friend

We were down at the beach the other day, before the big storms hit [although the storm clouds were visible out to sea, the sky was quite dark and the waves were pretty high and strong.]

Some people were parasailing/parascending with a really friendly-looking yellow parachute until the sky darkened a bit more and the wind picked up.

You can see the approaching storm -a large bank of grey cloud on the horizon in the following pictures.

I wnered if the two people going up together were friends- I suppose it would be strange to do something like this with a complete stranger, although I find the thought of going up into the sky towed behind a speedboat a freaky idea in itsel - I am not very keen on heights.

Floating over the sea -and they didn't get their feet wet. Maybe its a bit less scary than bungee jumping.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Vintimille/Ventimiglia panorama

I took quite a few photos in Vintimille/Ventimiglia just over the Italian border, with the aim of creating a panorama - I stitched 8 of them together in Corel Painter and was quite pleased with how it turned out.

The bridge in the centre crosses the River Roya which flows out to the sea. The banks of the river and the stony beach combined meant that i couldn't actually add in the sea on the left hand side of the panorama but then if I'd taken a photo with the sea coast, I wouldn't have managed to take the river valley with distant mountains, bridge , old town and hills.

We didn't cross the bridge over the Roya to the old town-that will be something to do next time we visit.

The town was originally the capital of a Ligurian tribe, the Intemeli and the name was originally Albium Intemelium. When it was conquered by the Romans the name was contracted to Albintimilium and there are apparently still some vestiges of the Roman town including a theatre which has apparently been reopened for occasional use .

A swan let me take a couple of photos before swimming off upstream towards the bridge.

I was pleased to get this photo of the swan's legs- usually they are gliding along with no visible means of propulsion.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Photo Friday - Four

I wasn't sure what to post for the Photo Friday topic 'four'. The four-spoted footman moth would probably have been ideal.

I rememmeberd that i'd taken a photo of a 7 spot ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata the other day and wondered if i had a photo from the side as often only 4 spots are visible.

The bright red colour warns birds that the ladybird tastes horrible - an anti-camouflage strategy called aposematism used by a lot of insects and some small animals such as poison dart frogs.

Sometimes ladybirds will leak a weird orange smelly liquid from their bodies when they are handled roughly

The name ladybird is said to be from 'Our Lady's Beetle' - since the aphid and pest eating ladybird is a positive help to gardeners and farmers and possibly sent by the 'Virgin Mary" though in earlier times the "Lady" was the fertility Goddess Freya.

Links to supernatural beings is probably why the ladybird is seen as such a lucky insect - especially if the ladybird lands on someone. A ladybird is thought to be able to grant a wish or be a sign of good luck or impending marriage.

Ladybirds are so useful that they are now raised commercially and released to be used as organic pest killers for greenhouses.

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Ghostly moth

We had another pretty moth visitor . This one wasn't as large but it was a ghostly opalescent white [which camouflaged it well against the ceiling.]

It turned out to be a Palpita vitrealis moth -called the pyrale du jasmin in french [bee moth of the jasmine] -the caterpillars eat jasmine and olive leaves.

They are only a considered a pest of the young planted olive trees [less than 3 years old] as the caterpillars can entirely strip a sapling of its juicy young leaves. In old established olive trees , the caterpillars can't do much damage.
You can see how translucent the wings are in this photo -which is why the moth's name is vitrealis [the root is from the latin word for glass- vitrum ]

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Photo Friday- Private

Things have been hectic around here. I've been busy decorating two bedrooms and we had friends staying for a long weekend, which meant we were out and about Nice and the surrounding area.

We went for a day trip just over the Italian border to Vintimille as its called in French/Ventimiglia in Italian.

On a Friday [market day] , the town is packed with market stalls and bargain hunters but we went on a saturday which is much quieter.

The weather was threatening a storm most of the afternoon so it was dull and overcast when i took this photo of some deckchairs on a private beach.

The rain started to pelt down after that so we sought refuge in a gelateria and ate some magnificent icecream concoctions - this is my daughter hidden behind the icecream and decoration.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Another visitor

I found the 4- spotted footman I photographed the other day inside our floor lamp, fried to a crisp, poor little thing. Unfortunately, there isn't any way of preventing moths and files getting in to the halogen bulb within if they are really determined.

As well as hundreds of tiny flies and mosquitoes ,I also found a singed green shield bug -so I've decided to put other interesting visitors back outside the window, after taking their photo, that is.

This was another interesting visitor attracted by the halogen light, after much searching around I think its either a Flounced Chestnut moth Agrochola helvola or a Beaded Chestnut moth Agrochola lychnidis.
oth of these species can be variable in colour so its difficult to work out which one is which when looking at thumbnails on the web.

Hopefully the book I've ordered will help me identify moths better when it arrives and tell me a bit more about their habits.

Both the flounced chestnut and beaded chestnut prefer woodland so its interesting that it was found in the centre of Nice.

A LargeWhite butterfly aka Cabbage White - Pieris brassica

These butterflies are pretty common in Britain but I don't see so many here in France for some reason.
I thought i would try and photograph some of the 'more ordinary' butterflies when i saw them.

The Large White is a pest- at least for gardeners- as the caterpillars do a lot of damage to vegetables such as cabbages.
The adults is stuill quite graceful and beautiful though.

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