Thursday, July 19, 2007

Spiders and a fly

I came across this crab spider [also known as a Flower spider] Misumena vatia. They are quite interesting creatures and often well camouflaged and easily missed. They move in a crab-like way which gives them the name 'crab spider'

Usually they are yellow or white [sometimes with red marks on the abdomen] and live on white or yellow flowers.
They don't spin webs, they lie in wait for their insect prey to visit their home flower.

They change colour by manufacturing a yellow pigment that migrates to the outer layers of the body.
If a yellow spider moves to a white flower, it will gradually lose its yellow pigment over about a week. A white spider moving to a yellow flower takes about 2 to 3 weeks to turn yellow.

This is an old spider cocoon egg- I'm not sure which type of spider made this. I saw it when i visited the nature park above Eze.
It looks a lot like a poppy seed case, except made of spider silk.

When it was first made, it would have contained an egg sac. The sac would have been filled with spider eggs and these would have hatched into hundreds of baby spiders.
The silk used for cocoons and eggs sacs is stiffer than the silk used for making webs.
This is the passageway that goes from the end of Cours Saleya in Vieux Nice towards Quai des Etats-Unis and the sea. I noticed a little fly made of mosaic tiles the other day, high up on the column supporting the roof.

I imagine this mosaic graffiti is by the same folk who have been putting up the space invader mosaics , but this time its a fly with mirror tile eyes. Not the best photo, I'm afraid but its high up and the light isn't brilliant there.
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cimiez / Cemenelum

Cimiez was previously the Roman town of Cemenelum and was distinct from the ancient city of Nice, Nikaia Polis/ Nicaea.

Cimiez is now one of the posher suburbs in Nice but it still has extensive Roman remains: an immense bathhouse complex and an amphitheatre.

This photo has been stitched together in Photoshop from 15 photos to try and give an impression of the size of the place. The interior of the amphitheatre measures 45m by 34m and was designed to hold 5000 spectators. Apparently a wooden amphitheatre has been on the site originally but this only had room for 500.

The two entrances were for different classes of spectators- one side for ordinary soldiers and common people and the other for officers and wealthy folk.

The redd-ish building in the distance to the right of the flagpole is the Matisse Museum.

This is another multi-photo picture -only 4 photos though. Its a view over the archaeological site of Cimiez taken from the side of the Matisse museum.

The huge building is the remains of the Magistrate's bathhouse. The baths complex is the largest in Gaul and its an immense site.
The building must have been really impressive when first built- it's still amazing to see now with the layers of white stones and red tiles giving a striped appearance.

The Matisse museum [red building] is beside the Archaeological museum and Roman site
The baths were segregated into mens and womens - lots of carved bone hairpins and earrings were found when the drains of the women's baths were excavated.

The museum is worth visiting-it has a large collection of things found at the site, including altar stones and gravestones. The entry fee for the museum allows access to the park with the remains of the baths.
At the moment there are a lot of reproduction Roman games on exhibition , so my son and i spent ages playing the games. I don't know if the games will end up a permanent part of the museum -I hope so, it was good fun.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Space invaders

When we moved to Nice last year, i noticed that there was a lot of interesting graffiti- stenciled pieces that I've previously blogged about here, stickers with different characters and some mosaic graffiti of space invaders..

I've been trying to take photos of the mosaic graffiti as I've come across it but there have been a few times that I've run out of battery power-and I've never managed to find some of the pieces again. I will just have to keep a look out.

I googled space invader graffiti and discovered that a French street artist called Invader started an art project of 'invading various cities round the world around the world, and i thought for a while that i'd found the artist responsible for the mosaic graffiti in Nice.
However, it turned out that the Nice or Saint Paul de Vence space invaders weren't on the list of cites that Invader had invaded.

The FAQ on Invader's site explains that there have been imitators and gives more info about the art project.So the mosaic graffiti artist in this area is still a mystery person or group.

This is the same space invader zoomed in to see more detail. It was maybe 15 feet up -so the artist would have needed a ladder to reach that part of the wall.
This space invader is either unfinished or was partially chipped off-at least all the other ones I've seen have rectangular backgrounds.
It's in Cours Saleya in the heart of Nice Old Town.

I took this photo and forgot which small street in Old Nice , I'd taken it. I'd been in a rush and just managed to take the photo before everyone else i was with disappeared into the distance.

The streets of old Nice are like a maze. I know the basic layout and can find my way around but there are quite a few streets that look similar and I haven't got the street names down pat yet.
This one was above a shop or cafe, so reasonably high up.
I spotted this space invader earlier this week when i visited Saint Paul de Vence. It's on a building across from the bus stop going back to Nice

I didn't see any other space invaders when i was wandering round, but then I only noticed this one just before i left. Maybe , I'll see some more next time.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Photo Friday - grey leaved cistus

The grey leaved cistus Cistus albidus grows wild here in the hills. Its cultivated as the garden plant known as the rock rose.
The flowers are large and pretty with very thin petals which have the appearance of crushed and crumpled silk.
The leaves are a strange grey-ish green. They have an unusual texture which is a bit like fuzzy felt.
The grey-ish colour and leaf texture are adaptations to allow the plants to resist drought conditions which are common here in the Mediterranean region.
The cistus plants seem to be incredibly popular with Speckled bush crickets Leptophyes punctatissima . There were masses of the little creatures, mostly sitting inside the cistus flowers and covered in pollen.

This speckled bush cricket is sitting on one of the cistus flower buds.

It turned out that all the crickets i photographed that day were male- the females have a scimitar shaped protrusion [ovipositor for laying eggs] on the end of their body, which makes distinguishing them fairly easy.

The speckled bush crickets are really quite small but their antennae are massively long, about twice the length of their body. This cricket has picked up some of the bright orange cistus pollen on his antennae.
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