Widemouth Bay

Today has been wet and miserable in this bit of the world but last week we had some days of brilliant sunshine. Last Wednesday I had a really good day working on my textile jewellery. I finished a new necklace that I was pleased with so Alex and I decided that a trip to the beach to enjoy the sunset was overdue.

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A new textile necklace

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When we arrived the at Widemouth Bay the light was stunning. The reflection of the brilliant blue sky on the the breaking waves made them appear almost fluorescent.

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Widemouth Bay near Bude in North Cornwall

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Near the beach, the air was laden with spray that glowed in the evening light

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A big wave crashing into the headland

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I always enjoy the little details as well as the broad seascape

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Light effects change very rapidly as the sun sinks down

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Another shot of the amazing glow in the spray lit by the setting sun

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The glowing sky reflected in the wet sand

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Just as the sun dipped under the horizon

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An Ocean of Foxgloves

I went for a walk in the local forest a few weeks ago and came across this glorious patch of purple. This area had been cleared last year, and the foxgloves seem to have wasted no time in colonising!

Foxglove 5Unfortunately, there was no way to get a better view (though I did consider sending Alex up a tree), but hopefully these photos will convey some of the drama.

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Solitary Pale Bloom

A lone spire of white amongst the purple. 

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Digitalis purpurea (Common Foxglove)

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Wilsey Down Forest

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Clearing in the conifers


Icy Photos in Cornwall

Many parts of the UK have had a lot of snow recently. Here in Cornwall we have only had a light dusting but it was enough to get me out of the house with my camera. I ended up having a lot of fun trying to get shots of just one lump of ice. This had frozen inside a bowl in the garden and when I turned it out, it had all sorts of interesting curves and textures. I am not sure that the photographs do it justice but here are a few.

When water turns to solid!

When water turns to solid!

Not much snow here but a lovely crisp winter's day

Not much snow here but a lovely crisp winter’s day

This piece of ice formed in a bowl full of water in my garden

This piece of ice formed in a bowl full of water in my garden

Side view

Side view

Top view

Top view

Frozen ground

Frozen ground

The Horniman Museum

I have discovered a new favourite museum! Hidden away in Forest Hill, South London is a late-Victorian gem – The Horniman Museum.

The facade of the original Horiniman Museum building

The facade of the original Horiniman Museum building

Founded in 1901 by Victorian tea trader Frederick John Horniman, the museum contains an eclectic mix of displays including natural history, ethnology and musical instruments. The original building was designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Charles Harrison Townsend who also designed an extension opened in 1912. New buildings were again added in the 1990’s, including a grass-roofed Centre for Understanding the Environment.

Townsend's 1912 extension

Townsend’s 1912 extension

The CUE building (Centre for Understanding the Environment)

The CUE building (Centre for Understanding the Environment)

This is a very traditional museum with many of the natural history exhibits being slightly faded examples of the taxidermist’s art, but they are a major part the place’s charm. Other display cases contain particularly good educational explanations.

Scarlet ibis

Scarlet ibis

Slightly faded and scruffy but still very beautiful!

Slightly faded and scruffy but still very beautiful!

Beautiful if slightly dusty insects abound

Beautiful if slightly dusty insects abound

The museum has a vast collection of musical instruments, from ancient to modern, with many beautiful specimens.

A case of musical instruments

A case of musical instruments

One of the Benin brozes in the Africa gallery

One of the Benin bronzes in the Africa gallery

Mask

Mask

One of the delights of the Horniman is it’s freedom from the modern “sanitised” display aesthetic. Many of the ethnographic displays are housed in dark old wooden cabinets, often with an eccentric mix of items displayed side by side.

Model of a north-African doorway behind a case of stuffed birds

Model of a north-African doorway behind a case of stuffed birds

One of the fossil displays

Fossil Ichthyosaur fore-limb

A beautiful set of teeth!

A beautiful set of teeth!

Lettuce Coral

Lettuce Coral

One of the many fine moths and butterflys

One of the many fine moths and butterflys

The Ruined City of Jiaohe

I can often find great beauty and inspiration in old, abandoned objects. This blog is about an entire abandoned city, which strikes me as being both very beautiful and rather eerie. The photographs were taken by my husband Alex and daughter Isla during their trip along the silk road in 2010. Alex has provided the information on the city’s history.

Jiaohe ruins

Jiaohe ruins

Our daughter Isla feeling the 38C heat

Our daughter Isla feeling the 38C heat

The city of Jiaohe was built on an islet in a river, with the high cliffs around its plateau forming a natural fortress. No one knows when it was first settled but it first became the capital city for the Turpan region in around 180 BC and remained an important centre on the silk road until it was abandoned after being sacked by Genghis Khan in the 13th century. At its peak the city is thought to have housed around 7,000 people during the Tang dynasty.Jaiohe_1

Buildings were a mix of carved loess soil and mud brick

Buildings were a mix of carved loess soil and mud brick

The city is protected by steep cliffs all around

The city is protected by steep cliffs all around

The Turpan area is a bleak desert that bursts into life where there is water

The Turpan area is a bleak desert that bursts into life where there is water

Jaiohe city walls

Jaiohe city walls

Centuries of weathering carves mud bricks into fantastic shapes

Centuries of weathering carves mud bricks into fantastic shapes

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A buddhist temple can still be recognized

A buddhist temple can still be recognized

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJaiohe_4In the early twentieth century, the archaeologist Aurel Stein complained that local people were carrying away material from the site to make new buildings but today the ruins are protected by the Chinese government. New paths have been laid for tourist access and a lot of conservation work, plus some restoration has taken place.

Chelsea Physic Garden

I recently paid a delightful visit to Chelsea Physic Garden, the first time I had been there in many years. For those who love plants, this is one of London’s great hidden treasures. Being someone who is inspired by natural forms, I found many unusual shapes and textures that can serve as inspiration for my work but the garden is a great place for anyone to visit.Physic_garden_3Chelsea Physic Garden is one of the oldest horticultural establishments in the world. It was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries as a place to train apprentices in growing and using medicinal plants.Physic_garden_8Physic_garden_9Physic_garden_10 Physic_garden_5Physic_garden_1 Physic_garden_6 Physic_garden_4 Physic_garden_2 Physic_garden_7Despite its long history, the garden only opened to the general public in 1983. Prior to that time it was almost exclusively a place for scientists and students to study and today the garden remains a centre for education and scientific research.