Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Gandalf the cat spends a lot of time appearing to meditate - especially when the window is open. He stares off into the distance without seeing anything but he is really listening very hard for the scary pigeons and seagulls.

The star shaped catchlight in his eye might have a mundane explanation like camera optics and the sunlight or maybe its a sign of cat enlightenment .

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I think a lot modern people forget that street lighting is a modern innovation so it was interesting to see how the Romans dealt with the problem of low light levels.

This is a road surface in Pompeii. The white stones were deliberately inset between the large slabs in order to help people see their way around at dusk or to catch the light from torches or lamps . Quite an ingenious solution to a problem.

As well as in the roadways, Roman people also made use of white and light coloured stones inside their houses.
In this peristyle [a covered walkway in the middle of the house surrounding a garden or courtyard] there are large pieces of geometrically shaped marble as well as a circle and cross stud pattern made up of small pieces.
This meant that people were able to walk around in the evening or night and make use of the open space and fresh air without the risk of falling into the plants or ponds.

This is some of the mosaic edging from a differnet house entrance way to light the path of any guests.
This is the imposing gateway of the House of the Faun-so called because of a dancing faun statue found there.
The greeting 'HAVE' means 'Hail' so it acted a bit like the modern doormats that say 'welcome' and with the added advantage of really impressing the neighbours.
The white lettering would have also helped the greeting stand out when guests arrived for a dinner party.

This is the faun that gives the house the name. Its actually a copy , the original is in the archaeological museum in Naples. The pond the faun is dancing in is actually an impluvium which collected and stored away rainwater. The white surrounding and the multicoloured slate tiles also make it stand out in low light.

We were there in November and by 5pm when the site closed, visibility was very poor so we were quite thankful for the Roman ingenuity that allowed us to see the last few things.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sunrise, sunset

Happy new year and all the best for 2009!

I took these photos yesterday morning when I saw the spectacular sunrise and I'm afraid it started a number of show tunes and cheesy songs playing in my head - starting with "Oh what a beautiful morning" from Oklahoma and Rolf Harris' song 'Sun Arise.'

We live on the 4/5th floor of an old apartment block so we are 'high above the chimney tops' so we get a lot of light and a view of the most amazing jumble of tv aerials .
When we first looked at the apartment it reminded me of the singing chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins because of the views over the roofs.
I particularly like this aerial against the intense orangey sky.

At the other side of the house , the sky was mottled blue and pink with candy floss clouds.
This is one of our neighbours , a yellow legged gull , calling out at passing birds. I'm not sure whether it was a cheery good morning or more of a grumpy call. I liked how he looked ,almost silhouetted against the dawn clouds.

I managed to capture the last of the sunset yesterday -it was much more subdued in colour than yesterday's sunrise by the time I managed to get home to take the photo.

Of course , this reminded me of Fiddler on the Roof and the song Sunrise, Sunset.