Snowdrops, Dew Drops, and Silk

Elkstone Dew on WebDew drops on a spider web at Elkstone Church, England.

Elkstone GravesOn a misty morning in a church yard, the world collapses into a local dampened space. The mist appears to buffer sound and movement; silence seems loud when all is still and quiet.

Elkstone WebA dew-adorned web strung between fading snowdrops is proof of recent stirrings of life in the grave yard.

Elkstone SnowdropsThe dew reveals a spider’s past wanderings among the snowdrops.

Elkstone Water DropWithout the gossamer assistance, would this leaf blade have succumbed to the seemingly heavy load of its rock wall reflecting dew drop?

Elkstone SpiderPerhaps the tender of the garden has been found? Found but definitely not disturbed.

Elkstone CrocusesNearby are dew dappled crocuses…

Elkstone Bumble BeeIncluding one in which a bumblebee sleeps. Here, among the graves, even the epitome of buzzing life is still in the mist.

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Leckhampton Light

Leckhampton Hill, Cheltenham, GloucestershireAfternoon View from Leckhampton Hill, Cheltenham.

My legs ache as I attempt to descend stairs without looking like an invalid. Such is my state after hiking up Leckhampton Hill a few days ago to catch the view so fondly remembered from a long-ago walk. Last time the pace was leisurely along gentle slopes. This time I ascended from the north side of the escarpment. Reaching the top, I was happy to note the excellent visibility; however, the landscape seemed a bit dreary under the clouds. But then a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds, illuminating the hillside. I love moments like these, which are so worthy of the price of an arduous trek.

Not only was I pleased with the image captured, but I’m happy it has prompted me, finally, to post again. I’m truly shocked to note that I haven’t posted anything since mid-November. I have images uploaded and some text written. I’ve got a backlog of images from multiple trips since. I think I can only chalk my absence up to a busy schedule along with a bit of SAD. My first two English winters didn’t have this effect on me, but this winter’s been a hard one. I hope the longer days and sporadic sunshine will improve my mood and motivation and re-invigorate my blogging efforts.

Posted in All Posts, Cotswolds, England, Landscape, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Autumn Stroll at Westonbirt Arboretum

Red Japanese Maple, Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Japanese Maple at Westonbirt Arboretum near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England.

A recent visit to Westonbirt National Arboretum to enjoy the colors of autumn proved colorful indeed. Although colors were not at their peak, a nice smattering stood out among the 14,902 trees (2,500 different types) seen from portions of the 17 miles of accessible paths. The Arboretum comprises three areas: Silk Wood, an ancient, semi-natural woodland with exotic plantings throughout; the Old Arboretum, a designed landscape dating from the 1850’s with trees from around the world; and the Downs, a species-rich grassland.

The day of the visit was a mixed bag as far as weather was concerned. Exploration before lunch took place in the Silk Wood area under grey and rainy skies. Although somewhat gloomy, the grey backdrop and diffused light really made the colors pop. After lunch (which was a delicious pulled pork sandwich from the open barbeque outside the Arboretum’s restaurant), the skies had cleared and the sun was shining. During the Old Arboretum stroll, walking and photographing with a droplet-free lens were far more enjoyable, but the atmosphere felt completely different from that of Silk Wood. The change in lighting changed everything.

I was pleased with a lot of the images that I was able to capture, but decided to limit how many I posted to just a few of my favorites, mostly taken from Silk Wood before the sun came out. I hope you enjoy!

Tree Tunnel, Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Colors at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Colors at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Shady Path at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Path with Bench at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Path at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Colors at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Tree at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Tiny White Mushrooms, Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Purple Berries, Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Chestnut Pods, Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Colors at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Path at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Colors at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK

Posted in All Posts, Cotswolds, England, Nature, Photography, Trees | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lovely Lake Bled

Bled Castle and Bled Island, Lake Bled, SloveniaLake Bled, Slovenia

The beauty of Lake Bled was a central reason for my husband’s and my recent 10-day trip to Slovenia and Croatia. The first time I saw pictures of Bled Island I knew that one day I had to visit Slovenia.

On our first evening in Slovenia, my husband and I walked around the entire lake. Lake Bled did not disappoint, changing but ever beautiful from each new angle and shift in the light.

Assumption Church dominates tree-covered Bled Island, which is situated near the western end of Lake Bled. Bled Castle can be seen in the background, standing high above Bled Lake and the town of Bled, which is at the eastern end of the lake (hiding behind the island from this vantage point).

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Uig’s Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen Uig Skye

Faerie Glen, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Tucked away in a remote corner of the world (also known as the Isle of Skye) is the Faerie Glen (Google: 57.583767,-6.325122) where fairies dwell among miniature mountains and tiny, trilly trees. A mere mortal passing through might mistake this landscape as one of sharply peaked hills with a smattering of shrubs, but he would be wrong on all but the most surface level.

Uig SkyeWe approached Uig from the north after traversing the eastern portion of the Trotternish Peninsula where we had already visited the Storr, Quiraing, Kilt Rock, and Lealt and Mealt Falls earlier in the day.

Uig’s seeming small-town normality doesn’t even hint at the treasure that is secreted so nearby. But my husband and I knew better than to be deceived by Uig’s quaint charms. We passed along the western edge of Uig (seen above) on our way to the south side of town where, assuming our luck held, we would find the road to the Faerie Glen.

Fairy Glen Pond, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland After following a winding, one-track road for a little over a mile, we came upon a pond tucked between some noticeably distinct earth forms.

Fairy Glen, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland Just beyond the pond, we parked our car in a lay-by under these tiny, delicate trees. I sensed the presence of fairies.

Fairy Glen, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland Our time was short because evening was approaching, but what better time than in the fading light to possibly catch a glimpse of an elusive fairy. As if by magic, a path materialized beside us leading through a mini-mountain pass.  Was this the work of nearby fairies? I have my suspicions.

Fairy Glen, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland From the top of the path, looking back, we had a nice view of the rocky tower known as Castle Ewen, which is the highest peak in the Glen. Castle Ewen can be reached on a path with a trail head just on the other side of the road from the lay-by. But, alas, the fairies had conspired not to make this path known to us, and its existence remained hidden until after we had returned to England.

Panorama of Fairy Glen, Uig, Isle of SkyeFrom the top of a nearby peak, I took this panorama of the area with Uig in the distance.

Fairy Glen Pond, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland Here’s a closer look of the pond we passed on the way in. It looks so much smaller from up above. Or perhaps that’s the magic of the Faerie Glen at work.

Fairy Glen, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland So, so amazing. Sigh.

Fairy Glen, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland Beyond the mini-mountains and away from the road is a wide pasture with evidence of the existence of sheep, but it seems that fairy sheep are elusive, too. However, a waterfall in the distance made for a nice distraction from the fairy-sheep hunt. We did not hike over to the waterfall, but…

Fairy Glen Waterfall Uig SkyeWith the power of a zoom lens and cropping, I give you fairy falls. (I don’t know what it’s really called, but maybe it doesn’t have a name because it doesn’t really exist!)

Fairy Glen Pond, Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland

We were so sad to have to leave the Faerie Glen, especially having not seen any fairies. Perhaps we were too loud. Or maybe they were still at dinner.

As we drove away, I continued to take pictures, hoping to capture just one more image of this magical place that might later reveal a hiding fairy peeking out from behind a rock or a patch of grass. Sadly, no fairies were captured, but photos of a beautiful and memorable landscape were.

Uig SkyeAlso captured was a change that had occurred while we spent time in the Faerie Glen. The road we had driven down earlier seemed more magical somehow. Was it because of the change in light or were we still being affected by the invisible fairy dust that must have been floating in the air in the Glen?

Uig SkyeThe question may never be answered. Returning to Uig was a return to reality. Happily, that reality was the remarkably beautiful Isle of Skye.

Posted in All Posts, Destinations, Landscape, Photography, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

At the Top of the Bottom of the Storr

Storr Skye CoupleCouple Standing on a Hill at the Base of the Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

I’m a sucker for silhouettes of couples, so when I saw this couple climbing up a small hill at the base of the Storr as I made my way down from the summit, I just had to stop and take a photograph.

As you can see from the picture, recent logging has stripped the mountainside of trees, leaving just a few trees clustered around the small hill. It’s sad to see the remnants of the trees that once stood on the hillside, but the logging did allow for the unobstructed view of the Storr enjoyed by this couple.

View from Storr Base, Isle of Skye, ScotlandThis images should provide a little more context. Logging remnants are apparent, but without many trees, Loch Leathan is visible in the distance.

Storr, Isle of Skye, ScotlandAnd, finally, this is the view the couple would have been enjoying as they looked up at the Storr and the rock formation known as the Old Man of Storr (which is a little hard to make out in this image because it is in shadow).

If you’d like to see the view from near the top of the Storr, which includes the hill shown in this post, have a look at Storr View.

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In the Lavender Field

Couple at Cotswold Lavender, Snowshill, Gloucestershire, UKIn a lavender field at Cotswold Lavender, Snowshill, Gloucestershire, UK.

I don’t know if these two people are a couple, because I only saw them in the fields taking photos together. However, romantic that I am, I imagine that I captured an intimate moment as they shared more than their mutual love of photography.

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Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle, ScotlandEilean Donan Castle, Scotland.

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Krakow’s Market Square Fountain at Night

Krakow Market Square at NightFountain and Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) in Kraków’s Market Square (Rynek Główny).

Rynek Główny, the main market square in Kraków, Poland, is the largest Medieval town square in Europe. A modern fountain is located near the Renaissance-style Cloth Hall, which sits in the Square’s center. Although of a different architectural era, the fountain provides a pleasing contrast to the much older buildings within and around the Square.

Krakow Market Square FountainDuring my husband’s and my visit, the Square was full of activity from morning until night. The fountain reflected this lively feeling with its constant motion: the water’s flow, the rise and fall of the water spouts, and its rippling and reflective surfaces.

Fountain and St Mary's Church in Krakow Market Square at NightThe Market Square fountain with St Mary’s Basilica and her Gothic towers behind.

Interesting how the fountain’s activity seemed to slow down those who were around it, allowing for a more restful appreciation of the fountain and its surroundings.

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Distant Lights of Tangier

Tangier Lights at NightThe night sky alight over Tangier, Morocco, as seen from the beach at Tarifa, Spain.

Posted in All Posts, Landscape, Morocco, Photography, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments