Saturday 31 December 2022

Peace, Hope, Goodwill and 💗

Our garden Heathers are now in full bloom, and happily those magical white harbingers of spring, the snowdrops, have also begun to open💗 

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Winter Solstice 2022

 Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland is one of the earliest and greatest feats of solar alignment, built 500 years before the pyramids in Giza and 1,000 years before Stonehenge. This prehistoric monument built around 3200 BC is associated with the Alban Arthan festival. In the Welsh language, "Alban Arthan" means for "Light of Winter." Alban Arthan is considered to be the oldest seasonal festival of humankind. Part of Druidic traditions, the winter solstice represents a time of death and rebirth.
The UK's most famous site for solstice celebrations is Stonehenge when visitors traditionally enter the mysterious stone circle for a sunrise ceremony run by local pagan druid groups.

Cultures around the world have long held feasts and celebrated holidays around the winter solstice. Fire and light being the traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year.
For me it is that important turning point during our winter months when the nights no longer turn darker but very slowly turn lighter, signalling, brighter, warmer days ahead.

Sunday 11 December 2022

Nature's Artistry

Early in the morning during the last few days, hoarfrost has created stunning artistry by placing tiny ice needles on the plants and leaves.

However, hoarfrosts magic quickly disappears as the sun rises in the sky.
Hoarfrost is a type of feathery frost that forms as a result of specific climatic conditions prevailing at the time.
Once the hoarfrost disappears the residue left often leaves even more small gems to see and admire.

Winter crept in overnight

Friday 2 December 2022

Moments Captured

The parents have taken the family away for their annual summer holiday, this year they have travelled to Norfolk - two boys and a girl.
The girl is me - I am five years old

Having parked our car at the hotel, we three children have rushed down to see the sea. Running barefoot across the warm soft sand to the edge of the sea, I have climbed up on a breakwater. I still remember the joy of the moment, the sun beating down on my face, the sand between my toes, the sound of the waves, the smell of the sea, and the gulls cry. Unbeknown, our father has followed us down, and captured this moment of joy. Do we retain that childlike awe and innocent perception of the wonderment that surrounds us? Or do we become less sensitive to these impulses as we become older? Time does not erode our senses - they may not be as spontaneous, but wonderment remains. 

The following images have captured moments that have brought me joy along with that sense of wonderment.

I am in Cape Town, high up on the summit of Table Mountain. I am totally entranced by these small exquisite orange breasted male sunbirds - Anthobaphes violacea who are feeding on the nectar of the Aloe Vera flowers. They completely ignore my presence, even though I am close enough to touch them.

Cape of Good Hope - the most south-western point of the African Continent. It's early morning; we are the only small group here, but what a great privilege to be able to share this wonderful spot with hundreds of S. African Bank Cormorants - Phalacrocorax neglectus; stretching out as far as the eye can see across the rough sea breakers.

A very close encounter with the 'king of the jungle' in Kruger National Park. Apart from the sheer wonderment of seeing wild animals living in their natural habitat, I was intrigued to discover that not only do some of the animals have pointed teeth and sharp claws, but so too, do some of the indigenous shrubs and trees.

Karoo Acacia

That magical moment when you draw back the shutters first thing in the morning and discover that winter slipped in silently during the night, and painted the landscape bridal white.

Walking in an English Bluebell wood.

We have flown from Delhi to Srinagar in Kashmir lying in the foothills of the snowcapped Himalayas. We are staying on a houseboat in Lake Dal, and are now party to the lake dwellers unique water lifestyle. Lake Dal is where they work, shop, raise their families, and make floating gardens to grow their flowers and vegetables.

Their shallow shakira boats act like a fifth limb as they skim seamlessly across the water; the children learn to paddle a shakira like ours learn to walk. The lake people paddle on one side of the boat only but still travel in a perfectly straight line. Very elderly men sit crossed legged at the end of their shakira's bow or stern, and stand up as if on dry land, without even causing the slightest movement to the boat!

We have left our log cabin in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka, hours before breakfast, and found this beautiful leopard sleeping in a Weera Tree - look at that magnificent tail.   

We admire him, then pass silently below, leaving him in peace.

A particularly memorable moment was encountering this reclusive wild Sloth bear - Melursus ursinus inornatus. It is a Sri Lankan subspecies of Sloth bear, but my excitement was tempered by concerns for this lovely little bear. It is highly threatened with a population of less than a 1000 in Sri Lanka and a wild population that is thought to be no more than 500.

 Sri Lankan Dark Blue Glassy Tiger -

ideopsis vulgaris macrina

Choosing 'moments captured' turned out to be an impossible task - the chosen few being the tip of the iceberg. 

Sri Lanka's national flower

 Lotus flower - Nympheae Stelleta

“The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.” – Buddhist Proverb 

"Memories establish the past;

Senses perceive the present;

Imagination shapes the future."

Toba Beta