Notre-Dame … Pretty In Pink?

Aside from our feet which are covering miles it seems each day, Margaret and I have found the Metro to be a good mode of transportation although a bit more difficult in ways than the London Underground.

Notre-Dame is the grand cathedral so many come to Paris to see. I had talked with Margaret about my trip in 2008 up to the tip-top of the left tower and she did not mind the wait of about an hour or so to get inside. Once inside we climbed about 500 steps to reach the top and moved briskly up a staircase that became more narrow as we went up. Margaret snapped the image below to show you how worn the steps have become using the person ahead of her to illustrate.

She took this of me on the way back down.

Margaret snapped this tourist shot of me with some of the famous gargoyles in the background. They have wires up to keep you from falling, jumping, or getting carried away trying to get that perfect shot while you’re walking around the upper levels.

I know this shot has been done a thousand times or more but I just love having one to call my own.

If you squeeze in through here and climb up some wooden stairs, you can see the bell that rings in the tower.

When you climb the rest of the way up the stone steps to the top of the tower, you are treated to long distance views like this one and the two below.

While we were on this first upper level, Margaret was graced with a blessing from above while shooting over in the far left between the two gargoyles you see there. A pigeon perched high above her let go with a shower of poo hitting her right on the top of her head with enough force to go everywhere including her camera. She laughed it off with more humor than I would have and after a quick cleanup carried on with her photo shoot.

Safely back on the ground we went inside for a walk around the massive interior of Notre-Dame. We were a bit put off by all of the cameras flashing and people posing especially when flash photography was banned and some people were clearly trying to pray. People seemed to forget that this was a house of worship first and a stop on the “must see”  list for visitors second.

This priest seemed bothered by the behavior of the masses as well.

This is a slightly crooked view of the altar cross from behind.

Some places need a bit of repair.

I must have touched the wrong button as this pink was unintentional.

We left as they were lighting the candles for the evening service.

Here is a last look at the inside.

Outside there were more folks dressed for a big day.

And color choices which left me wondering how he  … yes he, managed to find shoes to match those pants.

I’ll be back with more about this bridge and what I saw there later as well as a story from the bookstore below.

Here are a few night shots of Notre-Dame.

Notice the moon in this photo and how pretty Notre-Dame looks in pink.

* Margaret just read this post and said that she had some pink interior shots as well and she was using two different cameras so it must be something (lighting we didn’t notice) that made some images look pink.

A Brief Look At The Louvre From The Inside Out

I have been fortunate to be able to visit Paris several times in the past and it is a bit different coming in September than during the December – February months as on previous trips. While the weather is certainly prettier in many ways with blue skies and no rain, there are loads of tourists and it was so hot in the Louvre yesterday that both Margaret and I felt sweaty and uncomfortable for most of our visit even though we were wearing cotton shirts and lightweight jeans. Not that I want you to think we don’t appreciate a chance to be here and see this together, but I know the next time I visit Paris I’ll choose cooler month when less people are traveling.

I tend to prefer images of the Louvre taken from the inside looking out.

Turning my camera to the inside, I want to give you a glimpse at how huge everything is in scale.

I always love to visit this room to see the famous painting on the left. I could sit and look at it for hours. I was sitting on the seat across from it for a few minutes when a tour came through and the guide encouraged everyone to take a seat and I swear they practically pushed me off my little spot on the end. Just as I was giving up my seat, they all jumped up and hurried off to the next painting. I find most small groups or individuals were very considerate, but the tours I had to watch out for because they were on a mission and if you weren’t part of their tour, you were just collateral damage if you got in their way.

I loved this guy and I’m not sure why. I think because he looked so real to me … more like someone who actually drew breath than some of the other figures. He had a good spot for viewing the room too.

I wondered if he worried about his double chin the way I worry about mine.

He was protected in a case so I have a bit of a reflection.

I shot this when we arrived and Margaret photographed it at the end of our day and the same two men (only one you can see) were still there sketching when the Louvre was closing.

I took this because I wondered what this woman was thinking. There were tons of people photographing this sculpture from it’s most photographed side, but I was more interested in her story.

This was an enormous sculpture and it was his outstretched hand that drew me in at first.

So I photographed his hands and then noticed that he had a mustache, which intrigued me as it is something you don’t often see on sculptures of this kind.

Does that look like a mustache to you?

Look who showed up for a wedding shot.

In the History of the Louvre section there were paintings throughout the ages of artists capturing the looks of visitors as they viewed the museum. Two caught my eye. This one above because of the outrageous faces people are making and the one below because of the neat uncluttered look of it. We are off in a minute for another full day. I hope to be back with more images tomorrow.

What Does Your Garden Say About You

Gardens are a form of autobiography.

~ Sydney Eddison

On our first walk through the Paris neighborhood where we have leased a studio apartment for a week, Margaret and I saw a great many things we found interesting. Some were prettier than others and some made us uncomfortable. (Like the young woman who tried to pick my pocket – my neatly folded tissues looked like money and she looked surprised to be caught.)

Getting back to the prettier side of Paris … we passed by an apartment building that overlooked a busy street where someone clearly wanted to see something more from their windows than people and cars. I was impressed by the way they had created a garden right outside their windows. If you click on the images, you can just about make out how they did it.

While I would not want to block our view back home in Cornwall, I think it might be an interesting way to modify a bland fence using old picture frames and pots with plants. John is the gardener in our family and although the view from my studio space is lovely, he is waiting for me to make some decisions about what I would like it to look like when it is complete as in, ” It’s your garden view … let’s build it together.”

While I have always had trouble keeping even a houseplant alive, I’m hoping to add a new level of skills (okay, maybe only design) to what I already know. With that in mind I am always snapping photographs of appealing gardens and this one got high marks for both beauty and creativity. If you have a favorite garden spot (hopefully your own) and send me a photograph in an email, I will include them all in one big garden post later.

Bedruthan Steps – A Closer Look At A Special Place

Some of you may remember this photograph taken recently by a visiting friend from America. You may have also seen this post where I tell you that only a few minutes after stepping off the plane in Cornwall for the first time to meet John face to face, he brought me to this magical place.

Even in February it was obvious that Bedruthan Steps was spectacular with its jagged rocky face extending into the sea and the cliffs with signs that warned walkers not to go too close the edge, but allowed one to decide where the edge was for themselves.

Because we usually visit this location on the anniversary of that first meeting, it is generally windy and cold and while you can go down the hill behind us in the picture and up the other side, there is a locked gate during many months of the year when the steps behind it are considered too dangerous and slippery for people to climb up and down.

Two days ago we arrived with my sister Margaret and found the gate unlocked. It was my first time to walk on the beach at Bedruthan Steps and not a memory I am likely to forget. Here are some pictures from that beach walk.

Going slowly, we make our way carefully down the steep steps.

Here is a hazy look back at the steps after we reached the beach.

This gorgeous golden sand was everywhere.

John climbing through the rocks to reach another beach.

More people followed us through the opening. I like the informal triangular point they lined up into without knowing. Margaret is in the center with her camera raised.

Off they go back through the opening leaving us alone on the beach once again.

Here’s a windblown sister snap taken by John.

Leaving only our footprints behind we go back to the other side as well.

Dogs were everywhere and all seemed well-behaved and happy to have their time in the sun.

This is a classic Margaret pose with her weight balanced just so and her camera in hand.

A little kiss of thanks before we go for introducing me to this lovely place.

Then it’s back up the steps we go with John leading the way.

Here is a shot from the top of the stairs.

Here is one of John with Margaret behind him coming up even more steps on the way back to the car.

Ugh!   We … are … almost … there … whew!

Taking a last look back, you can see where the first photo was snapped down near the wall and the group of people standing there. (click to enlarge)  I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with photos today, This is only a few of the photographs from our time on the beach and it was difficult to choose which told the story best so I went with more rather than less.

Last Night Of The Proms 2010 – Hyde Park

I know The Last Night of the Proms is more than just a big patriotic sing-a-long, but for this American it was a dream night that I had imagined being a part of since first becoming aware of it several years ago. If you’ve ever had an opportunity to be in a mass of 30,000 flag-waving people singing in unison, you will know exactly what I mean.

Even though I tried to watch with an eye for detail so I might retell my experience, I found myself singing loudly along with the rest of the people gathered in Hyde Park and focused more on what I was feeling and less on observing others. Knowing that this night was part of the plan for my birthday week in London, I had brought back two American flags from my last US visit to wave in what I knew would be a sea mostly Union Jack and English colors. Flags from other countries were represented in spots and I even saw Confederate flag with what looked like Elvis’s face superimposed over its center.

Rarely does an experience deliver the excitement one imagines it will, but being in Hyde Park on September 11, 2010 did that and more. In addition to fun, I had a chance to see up close how some Brits celebrate their love of music with an opportunity to dress up in some wildly patriotic outfits along with a few folks in more traditional formal attire. The Last Night of the Proms ends a two month series of concerts at The Royal Albert Hall and include Proms in the Park on the last evening. It is on this final night that gestures get grander and people show a side that makes you wistfully happy to be part the singing crowd regardless of your nationality.

Some people dress up but don’t seem to want their picture taken. Oops!

The flag tribute in the photo above to the NYC Firefighters was a touching memorial to those who died on September 11, 2001

I like NY shirt on the man in the photo above.

I snapped a couple of photographs with this group and after giving them a quick look at my images, I showed the man who is giving me a thumb’s up how to adjust his Canon G11 so he might pick up an accent color like I was doing for my images that night. I love this cool feature on the G11. It turns out that I gave a little tutorial to a man who spends a fair amount of time in front of the camera instead of behind it. You can see more of Mike Brewer here.

Even though ” No Glass” signs were posted and bags were checked, we saw quite a few folks breaking the rules.

Dancing was happening everywhere with all ages and throughout the evening.

This was an American artist from New York, but I’m afraid I cannot remember her name. Feel free to help me out and I will go back and add it. (Big thanks to Pete who left Nell Bryden’s name in a comment … see more about Nell here)

Check out the Confederate flag with Elvis. Someone told me in our hotel that rooms were full because of the Proms, the Pope’s visit, and Elvis.  It seems they were expecting them ( The Pope & Elvis, though not together)  later in Hyde Park.

Vibram Five Fingers

I wore my ” Monkey Feet ” to the Proms.

Margaret taking in the scenery as things were getting started.

Click on this one to see the field of flags.

John’s eldest daughter took this with her new iPhone. He still looks pretty tan from his channel sailing a few weeks ago.

The fireworks gave a nice finish to things after a less than rousing version of, ” God Save The Queen.”  Do have a look and listen to at least two of our group sings so you can get a feel for how it felt to be there.  Rule Britannia” and Land of Hope & Glory ” are just two from the evening, but they will give you a chance to see what I’m raving about.

Twenty-Three Without Me

Recently, while walking alone through the village churchyard, I came across a scattering of hearts left on the ground after a wedding. I snapped a photograph deciding that these hearts must have been tossed at the bride and groom as they made their way up the path past friends and family who had gathered to witness and celebrate their commitment.

While searching through photographs of my daughter Miranda to find just the right one for today, I saw this tiny heart and thought how perfectly it illustrated what I want say. Today Miranda turns twenty-three and like the last two birthdays, she is doing it without me. She’ll have other people sharing her day who love and care for her, but I will miss seeing her make a wish as she blows out her candles and digs into her cake.

I left a gift bag with presents and a card when I was in Atlanta last month and will hopefully have a moment to see her on iChat today, but I wish I could be there to give her a big squeeze and tell her I love her in person. Children grab onto your heart as soon as they make their way into the world and no one tells you how difficult it will be to let go after all the years of hanging on so tightly.

I’m still learning how to negotiate this shift in our relationship and sometimes I stumble. Well able to navigate her own way through life now she doesn’t need much from me most days except perhaps the sense that I am here along the edges of her life like the well wishers at a wedding who while standing close enough to offer loving support are not the main focus.

Last year and the one before I left a small scattering of heart stories about Miranda along with some early photographs that can be found here if you missed them. In rereading those birthday posts I see that my message hasn’t changed … it is still mostly about loving and learning to let go.

Born four days after my own birthday, my birthday wishes while blowing out my candles have included thoughts of her health and happiness for the last twenty-three years. This year was no different. I sure hope all of my birthday wishes come true.