Saturday, August 18, 2007

Photo Friday - Old

Blogger has been playing up, so a post I'd been working on for a couple of days has disappeared into the aether and I've been having trouble posting images which is annoying.

The Photo Friday topic this week is 'Old.' I have a lot of photographs that could fit the topic as I've been traveling around visiting a lot of mediaeval and Roman era places recently, but I decided that the mascot from an old Rolls Royce car would fit nicely.

The Rolls Royce mascot is called the 'Spirit of Ecstasy' It has a variety of nicknames including the Angel, Silver Lady, Flying Lady and even 'Nellie in her Nightie' after Eleanor Velasco Thornton who posed for the sculpture.

I'd originally been under the impression that the mascot was based on the dancer Isadora Duncan. Isadora Duncan died in Nice on the Promenade des Anglais outside the Negresco Hotel when her voluminous scarf became tangled in the wheels of a sports car, so I suppose I thought this was a weird irony.
The Spirit of Ecstasy sculptures have been supplied with Rolls Royce cars since 1911. They aren't made of silver [they were silver plated in the early versions] and apparently each piece is unique due to the casting method used.

The Rolls Royce was parked outside a church, its bonnet decorated with flowers for a wedding. The orange and peach colored lilies are just visible behind the mascot

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Photo Friday- oddity

We went to the Mediaeval fair in the mediaeval village of Haut de Cagnes last week.
Some of the street performer groups were wild and wonderful and definitely qualified as oddities.

This particular group of stilt walkers and musicians is called Bugel Noz.

A Bugel Noz is a Breton imp or sprite who steals a family's galettes [buckwheat pancakes] and their lait ribot [a fermented milk drink similar to keffir]

According to their publicity, the group is mean to represent spirits of earth, air, fire and water.
The costumes were amazing and quite believable -some children were freaked by the strange;y dressed people and others convinced they were real.
They certainly had an impish sense of fun and they used sort of buzzy kazoo things to make their voices squeak-not unlike Mr Punch's swazzle from a punch and judy show.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007


The Scarce Swallowtail Iphiclides podalirius is also known as the Sail Swallowtail because of its large sail-like wings.
Its not a particularly scare butterfly here in the south of France.
A close-up of the tails showing the orange spots and blue details -this particular butterfly has lost the tip of its tail - either in a collision with a branch or in a near-miss with a predator.
This is Dolycoris baccarum the Hairy Shield Bug [aka Sloe Bug] Punaise des Baies [translation - berry bug]
The colours are a close match for the buddleia stem it is sitting on, so it is well camouflaged.

These bugs eat sap from plant stems or berries. Berries , such as raspberries, can be tainted by a fluid produced by these bugs although they are not a major problem for gardeners.

This is the Striped shield bug Graphosoma lineatum [italicum]
The French name is Pentatome rayé which also means striped bug
It looks like a Grammar school boy wearing a striped blazer -all it needs is a straw boater hat

The same bug is spotted rather than striped underneath.

There are quite a few burnet moths found in this area of France - the commonest being the 6-spot burnet moth Zygaena filipendulae.
Its difficult to be sure which type of burnet moth this is because the wing spots are so indistinct .

I've spent a lot of time looking at books and websites trying to identify the moth but haven't been able to decide definitely one way or another.

Burnet moths fly during the day and are dramatically coloured [Aposematic colouration] to deter predators.

The colour display warns that the moths are toxic due to a cyanide based poison created by the moths themselves rather than gathered from their food.

Burnet moths remind me of family holidays in Lytham St Annes and walking through the sand dunes towards the beach and sea. There were always loads of brunet moths feeding on the plants. In my mind's eye , I can see the vividly contrasting colours of glossy black and fiery red burnet moths flying past the yellow ragwort and sun bleached marram grass.

The dunes at Lytham St Annes are a site of special scientific interest and home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. However, they are under threat from commercial sand extraction, housing developments, and erosion from recreational vehicles.
The Defend the Dunes campaign is trying to preserve Lytham St Annes dunes.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Photo Friday- wet

The weather has been incredibly hot here in the South of France so any chance to cool off is very welcome.
These are my husband's feet and one of my son's feet- the photo was taken while sitting having a picnic on the banks of La Levenza river by the village of La Brigue.

The natural marking on the rock made this look like a fraction sum to me -one smaller foot over two feet -but maybe that was just too much sun.

The Levenza is a tributary of the Roya river which flows down to the sea close to the border of France and Italy at Ventimiglia.

The Levenza river is much more impressive in the spring when it is swollen with melt water - but its clear and sparkling and most of all cool water to paddle in.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Photo Friday- Loud

It's the school summer holidays and we have been busy with day trips to nearby towns and villages.
We've visited the village La Brigue twice recently -the first time just to have a look around and the second time to go to the mediaeval fair that we'd seen advertised on the first visit.

These folk are the very loud drummers and trumpeters of Asti Medioevale , an Italian Flag throwing group performing at La Brigue mediaeval Fair.

All the groups taking part in the mediaeval fair went to a local retirement/nursing home to perform for the residents, which I though was really thoughtful,although I hope no one was trying to sleep.

Some of the thrown flags are just visible here above the first row of shuttered windows.

La Brigue is surrounded by beautiful mountainous scenery, visible beyond the mustard coloured building. La Brigue village, itself, is at an altitude of 812metres [2664 feet] and is on the edge of the Mercantour National Park.
Asti Medioevale in procession, walking back towards La Brigue village
Flag throwing dates back to the mediaeval guilds and wartime flag brearers. Its very impressive to watch the flags being thrown ,waved and caught

I don't know how they managed to keep walking , playing and flag throwing while wearing the velvet costumes on such a hot summer day.

A view of the unfurled square flags as the flag throwers walk in procession. The drummers and trumpeters kept playing all day.

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