A Lingering Look at Windows: # 1

This weekly challenge is hosted by Dawn from The Day After’ who invites participants to post pictures of any windows that  they find curious, inviting, photogenic, or in some way tell a story.

“Summoned by Bells”, by John Betjeman

Down the drive,
Under the early yellow leaves of oaks;
One lodge is Tudor, one in Indian style.
The bridge, the waterfall, the Temple Pool
And there they burst on us, the onion domes,
Chajjahs and chattris made of amber stone:
‘Home of the Oaks’, exotic Sezincote. 

Sezincote (pronounced seas in coat) is a British estate, located in Gloucestershire, England. It was designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell in 1805, and is a notable example of Neo-Mughal architecture, a 19th-century reinterpretation of 16th and 17th-century architecture from the Mughal Empire. At the time of its construction, British India was becoming the “jewel in the crown” of the world’s largest empire…. Wikipedia

It was also the inspiration for the Brighton Pavilion.

This extraordinary Indian house set in the Cotswolds hills has a central dome, minarets, peacock-tail windows, jail-work railings and pavilions. The main photo above shows the curving Orangery which frames the Persian Garden of Paradise with a fountain and canals. A more in depth post about the gardens is on my flower blog: Earth Laughs in Flowers

Orangery
Orangery

A Word a Week Challenge: Gap

Every week Sue from ‘A Word in Your Ear’ dips into her English Oxford dictionary and picks a word on the page that it falls open at. The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe  what that word means to you.

This week’s challenge is GAP (click to join in with the challenge)

a break or hole in an object or between two objects.
synonyms: opening, aperture, space, breach, chink, slit, slot, vent, crack, crevice, cranny, cavity, hole, orifice, interstice, perforation, break, fracture, rift, rent, fissure, cleft, divide, discontinuity;

A few years ago my husband and I were travelling around the Canyon Circle in the USA during March and I had booked us on to a photography tour of a photogenic slot canyon close to Page, Arizona where we were staying for two nights. I chose The Upper Antelope Canyon or the Crack,  as it is the easiest to access and also the best canyon for sunbeams (though these only take place during the summer months).  Winter colours are a little more muted. You need a permit or permission from the Navajo so it is easiest to go on a tour, the photography tour is more expensive, but also longer, and if you want to sell your photos you also need a commercial permit.

The entrance is a narrow curved slit in the cliffs only a few feet wide and the light filtering down the curved sandstone walls makes magical, constantly changing patterns and shadows in many subtle shades of colour. Some sections of the canyon are wide and bright, while others are narrower and more cave-like, with no light reaching the sandy floor. It is not easy to capture the beauty of the canyon, but you will come away with wonderful memories.

My Year in Photos – 2013

2013 has been an unusual year for me in that I have not left the shores of the UK once! That doesn’t mean that I have stayed at home all year – no I have travelled to the south-east, the south-west, right across the Midlands to the east coast and to the west into Wales. The only direction I haven’t been in this year is North! And in between all this to-ing and fro-ing I even managed to have a few local trips, all of which have made me grateful that I have my health to enjoy such travels.

So here are some of my favourite memories of this year, enjoy them  and I wish a Happy New Year to all my WordPress blogging friends 😀

This post links well with a couple of the end of year challenges, notably Sue’s ‘A Word in Your Ear’  Reflect,  and the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge showing Joy.

If you haven’t read about these trips then now’s the time to catch up:

  1. Norfolk
  2. Cornwall
  3. Cotswolds
  4. Laugharne
  5. Penzance
  6. RHS Wisley Gardens

Travel Journey of the Week: Mission Dolores (6)

This week’s challenge from Liberated Traveler is the wonderful city of San Francisco, a place that found its way into my heart during the 1960s hippy movement when it was the world’s “City of Love”. I have already written extensively about this city and how it has messed with my head over the decades, so for this challenge I am going to tell you about the delightful Misión San Francisco de Asís, popularly known as Mission Dolores.

This is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Serra.  It is the third most northerly with only Sonoma and San Rafael further north and the sixth mission to be founded –  June 29 1776. I have a ‘thing’ for the Californian missions, or as my husband would say, an obsession. For some reason I am drawn to their simplicity, their history and the tranquillity of their sites. As someone who is an atheist, this is odd, but no different I suppose than my general interest in churches and graveyards.  One added bonus though is that the California Missions are all located on or near Highway 101, which roughly traces El Camino Real and I don’t need much more of an excuse to take a road-trip!

To find the mission you have to step outside the usual tourist areas of the city (Union Square, Alamo Square, Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf) and head to Mission District. The 16th Street Mission Station is the nearest BART, and the mission itself is on the corner of 16th Street and Dolores Street. Much of Mission Dolores is original with adobe walls and redwood logs supporting the roof. The gilded reredos came from Mexico in 1796 and the colourful wall paintings are good examples of early California art. Whilst I was there a school trip was visiting and the children seemed more interested in me and my camera than the teacher who was telling them about the history of the site. I on the other hand was very interested.

The Basilica is a few steps away, but although the Mission survived the 1906 earthquake, the parish church wasn’t so fortunate. The present building dates from 1918. It contains some beautiful stained windows, including angels and 21 California Missions and a lovely sunburst pattern.

There is also a little museum on the site, but my favourite part has to be the cemetery. Most of the headstones are of people who died in the decades following the Gold Rush when San Francisco was growing fast with many illnesses and early deaths. Many people buried here gave their names to the streets of San Francisco.

So my advice to you is that if you are lucky to travel to the lovely city of San Francisco, try and make some time ( a couple of hours will suffice) to visit this beautiful historic site – you won’t regret it.

Travel Journey of the Week: The Emerald Isle

This week’s place from Liberated Traveler is Ireland, so I have had to cast my mind back to the one and only time I visited this country for four days in October 2003. I could only have four days because at the time I was doing a PGCE course to become a secondary school teacher. Although it was half-term and in theory we should have had a week’s holiday, the training school insisted we went in for three days for additional lectures. So making the most of a very cheap Ryan Air flight to Dublin from Birmingham (£1 one way) we arrived in a very wet Dublin airport on an early Wednesday evening. Continue reading Travel Journey of the Week: The Emerald Isle