Unlikely Friendships

” Francis, Francis, why do you always wander away when I’m trying to talk to you?”

“I know she’s back, I can see her at the wall too, why don’t we waddle over and say hello, come on old boy, what can it hurt? ”

” You must think I’m crazy, Giovanni … that is a dog and it does not want to play! It looks as if it wants lunch! ”

 ” Francis, could you just try to get on with others a bit better, it’s a big world out there and I think we should explore more than this patch of water. What about a little trip to see what’s on the other side of this pond?”

” Alright fine, but just remember who’s leading this expedition!”

**************

There’s a place I like to walk where I always look for these two unlikely seeming friends when I pass by. In mild weather they sit in the river on one side of the house and in winter you can see them in the back garden at the edge of a small pond.

It seems funny to see a drake and gander always hanging out together like two good old boys who don’t seem to need anyone else. I like to create little vignettes when I see them and I find their constancy very comforting in a world where things often change faster than I would like.

I gave them names from history for today’s post and wondered if any of you might recognize who they represent?

Feeding The Spirit

Sometimes getting outside is just what a body needs. Yesterday delivered with a mostly sunny Monday and John and I took some time off to smell the roses … okay, there weren’t really any roses, but the flowers are beginning to pop here and it felt like a big hug from the universe to do nothing but what we wanted on such a gorgeous day.

I took this photo about a week ago thinking then how much it looked as it was saying, “C’mere you and let me give you a hug” which makes it perfect for this post as it’s what I’d like to do to say thank you for all the kind comments on the “Am I Blue …” post from Sunday. I heard from folks through Facebook and email as well and I want to be sure you know how much I appreciated your messages.

While winter appears to have left us, there are still reminders everywhere. Yesterday was the first time it’s felt seriously springlike this year with a mostly blue sky day and a warmth that allowed me to leave my coat behind.

Of course, I had to take a few photographs to share. The new shoots on this tree were so soft they reminded me of feel of a young boy’s head after a summer buzz cut when his hair even when cut super short, still has the softness his baby years.

This one was a surprise! As soon as I saw this butterfly, I thought that’s it, spring must really be here or this beauty would not be. I managed to snap only one slightly soft image before it flew off leaving me still marveling at how early it was to see it. (If any one knows what kind it is, I’d love for you to share it in a comment)

This tulip was inside one of the biomes at Eden Project which was our first stop of the day and I had to do some contortions to get it without climbing into the flower bed.

This yellow lovely was growing outside the biome and John said that it’s a Kingcup and member of the buttercup family, a flower I fell in love with for its beauty and its significance in our early relationship.

Things got steamy inside the rainforest biome making my lens go fuzzy faster than I could snap the shutter creating the moody shot above.

The purple pops in this image of this Dwarf Iris.

This Horsetail plant is one of my favorites at Eden Project and I went in close this time to photograph it at the beginning of the plant that looks and feels like a horse’s tail.

We had lost a some of light by the time I took this one, but it was back a bit later in time for a walk through the gardens at Lanhydrock.

While there was a good bit of green at Lanhyrock, (it’s always green in Cornwall) I had hoped to see some of the flowers that add to Lanhyrock’s charm. It was too early see more than a few blooming trees so after a quick look around and a sunny rest stop, we headed for home.

The face of a patient man waiting for a wife who has to always spend ” just a minute ” in the resale bookstore at Lanhydrock where sometimes there’s a treasure hiding in plain sight.

The Lanhydrock Gatehouse

Dora’s Day Out

I know you won’t find fault with my lack of words lately especially when I explain why. I meant to give you something more today, but I was lured away from my desk by the promise a little sunshine brings and the allure of a lady (of sorts) in red, waiting for me to come back to where I last left her.

One minute I was typing away on something I wanted to say and suddenly I’m hearing the brrrring, brrrring, of Dora’s little bicycle bell. After a quick tire check and a bit of light dusting, Dora and I headed for the Camel Trail. John was waiting at Helland Bridge and we cycled on together to Bodmin to pick up a few things for dinner.

Here’s a few photos from our afternoon out.

The Camel Trail:  A river runs though it. Okay, it’s really along side it.

I caught John was adjusting his hair in this action shot and told him I was going to start calling him “Hollywood!”

The trail runs along the same path as a former railway line. There’s a shell of a building in the top right of this photo.

 Check out the determined look on my face.

 I’m halfway home in this one.

I took advantage of this stile to catch my breath, give Dora a rest, and snap a few photographs.

If you climbed up you’d see the view above. In the photo below you can see part of the slow incline of the last long hill before home.

Turn slightly and the view shifts a bit to include a huge old house that’s perfect place to let your imagination go wild. I always think of Mary Shelley when I see it.

Here’s a closer look at the house over the cropped hedges. I always think the hedges look so awful after they’ve been cut back. They look as if they’ve been given a bad haircut with dull scissors. In a few months they’ll be so lush you won’t be able to tell they ever looked so rough.

Photowalking Through Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green

Photowalking – spellcheck is screaming red warnings that this is not one word, but two that I’m squeezing together to suit myself. A quick Google check reveals that there are groups of people who write it this way all the time so lets ditch the classroom now and move onto the green.

St Stephen’s Green is right across the street from the Fitzwilliam Hotel where we stayed a few weeks ago during our visit to Dublin. The main entrance can be seen in the photo above. The world outside the gates is a busy one with shoppers, cars, and buses all rushing past the edges of St Stephen’s. Inside the park, there are 22 acres to explore, use for exercise, or just rest a while.

David and I did a bit of all three during our Sunday photowalk and it was interesting to see the different things that caught our eye. Obvious to us both when we began was the man who was hand feeding the swans and ducks. After snapping more than a few photos from across the lake, I tried to creep up undetected so I could get close enough to grab a tight image of his hands near the swans.

These are still a bit fuzzy for me, but interestingly I discovered he was talking to the birds as he fed them and when he spotted me hanging around he had a few words for me too.

You can see him waving his hands while telling them what I think was something like, ‘That’s it, no more for today!’ I could hear him saying a few words I recognized, like Mr. and Mrs., but the rest of it was in another language.

After telling the birds goodbye, he turned to me and began to try to explain how he came here everyday to feed the birds. He had very limited English skills, but managed to communicate by way of the months of the year touching his fingers in the same way you might list numbers, that he came very day to feed the birds. I also picked up the word Hungary making me think he was speaking mostly Hungarian which explained our strained verbal exchange.

While I was having a chat of sorts with the very nice bird man, David was taking pictures of me. This was one of my favorites. My friend Patrice said it captures my spirit, but it also shows me wearing my glasses. It’s the rare photo that slips through where I’m actually wearing them as my vain self tends to snatch them off now if I see a camera pointed at me. This never used to be an issue for me as I’ve worn them to see distance since my mid 30s. (There’s a funny story in that which I may share later)

David snapped this one of me hanging over the fencing with my camera around the monument below.

This is the photo I took from my draped fence position. I love to remember that changing the perspective can affect the whole look of something. In this case, I was more interested in the signs of season change coming and the flowers beginning to bloom than I was with the monument of Sir Authur Guinness.

The wild branches of this tree drew me into to this shot just as I imagine it did for the couple sitting on the bench together.

There’s a center part of this park with fountains and wide open places for sitting and watching children while they play or pushing them in strollers (pushchairs) while talking with friends. At least that’s where my imagination went when we walked into this space. I noticed the plaque on the park bench almost immediately and went over to discover another connection to mothers and babies.

Not too long ago I read a book about horror of being put in and left a place created with an idea towards helping girls and women in need who were usually, but not always, unmarried and pregnant. It evolved to the point that a teenage girl might be locked up in a Magdalen institution for being too flirtatious or for having a contrary opinion with a church or family member. It’s a very sad story.

 David took this shot of me trying to get a different view of a bust of Irish novelist and poet, James Joyce.

I think I like him better in black and white. I was particularly interested in his rings and how he wore them on his first and second fingers.

This was my favorite view of his bust and I was glad I was able to capture the couple under his chin.

Around a corner on our way to one of the park exits, we came upon a little cottage that looked as if it belonged in a children’s fairy tale. Ardilaun Lodge was built as a home for the park superintendent by Sir Arthur Guinness who bought St Stephen’s Green from the city in a dilapidated state and re-landscaped it for public use before gifting it back to the city of Dublin.

 

I thought this tree was gorgeous and took three shots of it quickly hoping to catch the man walking towards me before he noticed what I was doing.

As you can see in the close-up of him taken from the photo above … he noticed.

What Do You See … How Images Speak Differently To Each Of Us

It’s funny how two people can look at the same photograph and be drawn to different parts of it. This morning I filled my computer screen with the photograph above and asked my husband John what he saw when he looked at it.

His immediate response was, ‘The church.’ I can see why his eye might follow the leading lines of the road straight to the church, but that’s not what I was seeing when I took it. I was certainly aware that it was there, but it wasn’t foremost in my mind at the time.

It was the three figures dressed all in black that made me turn my camera in their direction. They looked so alike in their dark clothing walking down the very center of the street that I quickly snapped three photographs of them in motion and immediately began to imagine all kinds of good versus evil scenarios … a sort of ‘Holy High Noon‘ Dublin style, only there’s no Gary Cooper or Grace Kelly, it’s just the Catholic church on one side and three unidentified strangers striding towards it armed with briefcases instead of six shooters.

How about you … what do you see?

My Dublin Inspired Irish History Lesson

Photo Credit - Elizabeth Harper - Dublin 2012

It was the angels that made me want to cross the street for a closer look. All four of them seemed almost identical with the rough surface of the sculpture looking almost like someone had made it of papier-mâché before casting it in metal.

It took me ages to discover any information about the angels even though there was a clue in the words, A Nation Once Again written in the stone wall surrounding them. The statue of the man in the background is Thomas Davis, a revolutionary Irish writer who died at 30 in 1845. There’s a snippet of information about him in the Wikipedia quote below.

“He himself was a Protestant, but preached unity between Catholics and Protestants. To Davis, it was not blood that made a person Irish, but the willingness to be part of the Irish nation. Although the Saxon and Dane were, Davis asserted, objects of unpopularity, their descendants would be Irish if they simply allowed themselves to be. ”

Irish Independence 

He wrote the famous Irish rebel song, A Nation Once Again. ” The song is a prime example of the “Irish rebel music” sub-genre. The song’s narrator dreams of a time when Ireland will be, as the title suggests, a free land, with “our fetters rent in twain.” The lyrics exhort Irishmen to stand up and fight for their land: “And righteous men must make our land a nation once again.”

Photo Credit - Elizabeth Harper - Dublin 2012

In searching for information on the angels almost at his feet, I found little except they’re considered to represent the four provinces of Ireland: Leinster, Ulster, Munster, and Connacht. I’m hoping for a little help from my Irish friends, Maria and Gina to fill in more details about the angels and the fountain and I’d be interested to know the name of the artist as well.

Photo Credit - Elizabeth Harper - Dublin 2012

I found two other photographs online to add to mine above. One gives you a visual of how the angel fountain and the statue of Thomas Davis look in the middle of College Green and the other shows you a larger view with people filling the street around both while they wait for a visit from Barack Obama in 2011.

Internet Photo

Photo Credit - Lawrence Jackson

I have to admit that I was a bit embarrassed to discover during my Dublin trip how little I actually knew about Irish history and how much of that has been influenced by movies I’ve seen rather than books that were historically accurate.

For instance, I had no idea that Ireland was neutral during WWII. Did I just sleep though that part of class?

A Table For Two With A Sea View

Watergate Bay, Cornwall - A Lone Cyclist - 2/2/2012

I always forget that our wedding anniversary falls on ‘ Groundhog Day.’ If you’re not familiar with this annual celebration where a groundhog’s behavior is supposed to determine how much winter is left, you can read about it here.

There’s also a film called ‘Groundhog Day’ where a TV weatherman has to report on the Groundhog Day festivities and finds himself stuck repeating the same day over and over. He’s fairly self-centered and repeating the same day causes him to reevaluate his life and priorities. I never cared much for it, but it is hugely popular with many people.

All that said, John and I did a sort of Groundhog Day yesterday when we went back to the restaurant Fifteen, at Watergate Bay in Cornwall. It’s a gorgeous location and the third year that we’ve celebrated our wedding anniversary with a tasty meal there and a walk on the beach afterward.

Fifteen - A Table For Two With A Sea View

We arrived for a 1:15 reservation to an almost full house and not long after we were seated, the table next to us finished and I was able to snap this photo before the next couple arrived.

I took this without leaving my chair. It was the kind of day that reminds you of why Cornwall is one of Britain’s top holiday destinations. I love living this close to the sea.

Fifteen has a special menu at times that you can choose from along with other more pricey selections. Today’s special included a 3-course meal for 19.95 BPS each. John started with mussels which I never eat, but he enjoyed. I had a had delicious butternut squash soup that was slightly sweet and very filling leaving me struggling a bit to find room for the main course.

He moved on to roast lamb with a potato something underneath and a spinach topping. I should have snapped a photo of the menu so I could review this properly. I’m sorry I can’t be more detailed, but most of what you need to know can be found in the sentence below.

Four words could easily describe our experience, ‘ Great Service, Great Food.’

Speaking of service, our waiter Nick, who I mentioned last year, recognized us right away even though it had been twelve months since our last visit. He said something cute when he asked about my apple/walnut risotto with gorgonzola cheese choice which was a lovely combination of taste and texture.

Nick said his granny Masie liked to say that ‘ An apple without cheese was like a kiss without a squeeze.’ This appears to be a variation of a popular old saying here that I had not heard before and I have to thank Nick for sharing it with me. I’m sure I’ll hear it in my head the next time I reach for an apple.

I wanted a quick photo of John holding my dessert before I dug into it below. Sorry about the woman growing out of his ear. I couldn’t discreetly avoid her and I didn’t want my ice cream to melt. Even a good photographer can have a shift in their priorities when there’s ice cream involved.

The service was excellent with the special message at the end making my sticky toffee pudding even more delightful. Nick is still teaching surfing and appears to doing a bit of modeling as well now. Click here to see him in a surfer shirt from the Fifteen shop.

I caught a quick snap of these surfers in the parking lot when I was changing my shoes for our beach walk. They were rubbing something on their boards which I assume was surf wax, but I’m sure I’ll find out when I take a few lessons this summer. I only have a three-quarter length wet suit not one of these full body ones and after our winter day at the beach, I’m content to wait for warmer weather.

I thought this family made for a cute photo. This appeared to be an outing to see dad surf complete with a sand crazed dog who was clearly happy to be running on the beach.

You can double-click on these to get a closer look. There were loads of surfers out which was brave considering the weather temperature and the amount of ice on the beach.

John took these four photos of me. I took loads of pictures of the ice from different angles never realizing most of the time that he was snapping photos of me. I managed to get some images that pleased me like the first one at the very top of this post with the beach cyclist riding into the sunlight and last two below.

Pieces of ice were breaking off while I was trying to get the shots I wanted and several times I had jump back to avoid being hit. John took this one of me the one below and I like the way the water droplets are blowing through the shot.

He shot this one after I climbed up on an icy rock to get underneath the hanging ice for a the last two images below.

He disappeared through the place in the rock above and I followed him later to see what he’d discovered on the other side.

There are loads of caves and carved out places on this beach and it’s a fun one to explore.

John on the other side.

Here’s a look at what I saw when I climbed up and shot under the shelf with the ice. Notice the water drop in the bottom right. Drops of water were falling constantly while I was shooting and it was fairly surreal having ice framing a beach shot with surfers and dog walkers in the background.

Having the sun sliding down towards the end of its day made for a nice close to another sweet celebration.

Thanks for all the good wishes on Facebook and for those on yesterday’s anniversary post.

It’s always fun to share special days with you.