Category Archives: Fun

Dazzle

The latest photo collection in the Guardian has the topic “Dazzle” so I took a look through the albums to see if I had anything worthwhile.

A surprising number were religious, either large or small details meant to dazzle and impress any visitors whilst also glorifying the relevant deity.

Bangkok Temple Detail
Mezquita Cordoba
Lady Chapel, Granada Church

Rome Vatican Interior
Rome Pantheon Detail

This probably reflects nothing more than the political reality. I’d probably find similar art to impress in any major political building but is interesting to see the same trait in religions from around the world.

Bangkok Temple Detail

Luxor Tomb Detail

Hall of Mirrors Amber Fort
Doorway Detail, Amber Fort
Taj Mahal Reflections

And then there are pictures taken outdoors which just reflect the dazzling contrast between objects, or foregrounds and backgrounds.

Taiz

I remember Spain, Namibia etc as especially bright and the play between shocking light and shade quite difficult to see never mind photograph.

Namib Naukluft
Etosha National Park
Desert Zebra

In nature there is also the dazzle of white, or strong yellows sometimes with black contrast, sometimes just the dazzle of pure light through wings.

Zebra, Etosha

Some time at the aquarium in California brought pictures with it’s own type of dazzle.

But in the UK, where light seems less strong, it came back to pictures of single intense colour or landscapes that accidentally caught some turning light.

Nice Neighbours

Or maybe the occasional rainbow.

With reflections it’s difficult to decide whether “dazzle” has meaning

Tate Modern

 

Or indeed when it comes to cyanotypes which are of course the result of the sun’s dazzle in the first place.

Cyanotype – daffodils
Slinky

Maybe we’re best just restricted to the ordinary everyday dazzle of frost on grass

Or the millions of reflections in Manhattan glass.

New York

Yoga for oldies

The Best Yoga Poses for Women Over 50

The Best Yoga Poses for Women Over 50

These poses are supposed to address the common aches and pains you may be experiencing 50+ and they leave you feeling supple, strong and stress-free.

Yoga can be as gentle or as challenging as you choose. It will help you feel suppler and in tune with your body, plus it’s a great way to quiet your mind.

The benefits of yoga are vast, from anxiety relief to pain management, improved sleep and keeping your weight down.

These poses were listed as suitable for both newbies and those with a bit of experience, and to target the areas we know you will benefit most from treating.

Warrior II pose
Why:
Great for your core muscles, thighs and bottom, and opens up tight shoulders, too.
How: From a standing position, take a big step back with one leg, keep your front foot facing forwards, turn your back foot so it’s angled away from your body at 45 degrees.

Bend your front knee until it’s directly above the ankle, keeping your back knee straight. Turn your body to the side and raise your arms into a ‘T’ so one arm is in front of you and one behind, then look forwards towards your front hand.

Keep your weight evenly distributed between your legs and hold for a few deep breaths.

Make it easier: Keep your hands on your hips and look forward rather than raising your arms.

Tree pose
Why:
Great for balance, which can help prevent falls.

How: Begin standing with your legs together, then slide your right foot up your left leg, with your heel touching the inside of your calf.

Bring your arms straight up above your head, palms together. Stay balanced for a few deep breaths, then repeat on the other leg.

Make it harder: Slide your foot further up your standing leg, working towards having the sole of your foot at your knee.

Downward facing dog
Why:
It opens the shoulders and chest, stretches the hamstrings and spine and strengthens wrists.

How: From kneeling on your hands and knees, push through your hands to straighten your arms and legs as you lift your bottom up towards the ceiling, gently pushing your head towards your knees, so your body is in an upside-down V-shape.

Your heels might not touch the floor, but that’s okay – just focus on sending your hips toward the ceiling while keeping your arms and legs straight. Look backwards through your legs to keep the neck soft.

Make it easier: Rather than keeping your hands on the mat, place them on a sturdy low bench or yoga blocks.

Low lunge
Why:
Stretches out tight hips – perfect if you’re at a desk all day – can also boost mental focus.

How: Start by kneeling on a mat or folded towel. Bring one leg forward to place that foot on the floor and keep your knee bent in a tabletop positon. Keep that front knee directly over your front ankle.

Place your hands on the floor for balance, and send your other foot back so the leg lengthens, stretching your thigh but keeping your knee, shin and top of the foot on the floor.

When you feel ready, take your hands off the floor so you are balancing in the low lunge. Raise your arms up alongside your head and breathe for few moments, then repeat on the other side.

Make it easier: Rather than lengthen the back leg, keep it closer to you for balance.

Why: Great relief for stiffness in your back, improves posture and creates a sense of calm.

How: Start sitting cross-legged on your mat. With both legs bent, lift your left leg up and plant your left foot on the outside of your right thigh.

Twist your torso to your left, and touch your right elbow to your left knee.

As you inhale, press your left hand on the floor directly below your shoulder, chest up, back straight. Repeat on the other side.

Make it easier: Keep the bottom leg straight.

Bridge
Why:
Can aid digestion, also great for opening stiff hips and strengthening your lower back.

How: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart under your knees, arms by your sides.

Breathe in and press your hands into the mat, then exhale and, using your stomach and glutes muscles, tilt your pelvis, then slowly lift your spine off the ground until you are in a bridge position.

Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly lower from the shoulders vertebrae by vertebrae until your back is flat on the mat.

Make it easier: If you need extra support for your back, roll up a towel and pop it under your shoulders.

Transport

I’m quite enjoying the Guardian’s photo assignments if only because it makes me look through some of the older photos.

This month the theme is transport and my library seems to have an extraordinary collection of boats, and not that much else at first glance.

Obviously if you head off to a floating village in the middle of Cambodia you’re going to find boats.

Houseboats, Tonle Sap
Fishing, Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap, Cambodia

But then there’s the boat trip up the Mekong along the Laos Thai border to consider as well – equally picturesque and just as many pictures of boats

Mekong Houseboats, Laos

And of course there was the Bangkok boat trip

A boat ride on the Varanasi

Tourists Varanasi

And boat building in Yemen almost 30 years ago.

Hodeidah

There are first world boats in San Francisco

And Canada

Vancouver Island, Canada

Or slightly less picturesque London

Boats on the Thames
Greenwich

Or Wales

 

And the weirdest lock in creation in the Falkirk Wheel

There are a couple of tourist snaps of horse drawn carriages, not that we ever pay the premium for a ride, but they’re certainly pretty enough to warrant a snap in Seville.

And Amsterdam

Or Canada

Clayoquot,
Vancouver Island Canada

If we’re sticking with animals, there’s definitely an elephant to be found somewhere in Thailand.

Or India

Elephants Amber Fort

And a donkey or two in Egypt reinforcing the stereotypes.

What about road travel, not so picturesque but definitely a memory worth a photo or two in India.

Traffic, Jaipur
Delhi Boy Racers
Chandni Chowk Delhi
Delhi traffic
Chandi Chowk Delhi
Delhi roads

And then of course there are the science museum’s relics. Do they count?

Space Pod, Science Museum
Cars Science Museum
Airplance, Science Museum

And then there is public transport in the form of tube trains

Northern Line
Northern Line
Embankment

And big red buses.

Surely transport by foot has to be something. What about stairs and escalators?

Tate Modern
Tate Modern
Escalator Embankment Tube

Somerset House

And many many bridges going from here to there.

Tate Modern from St Pauls
Shard through Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
St Pauls from the Thames
Bhutan Prayer Flags

There is a surprising lack of planes for a family that has travelled so much in them.

Clayoquot,
Vancouver Island Canada

And a not very surprising lack of pictures of us walking anywhere at all.

Gentle Stroll, Bhutan

Travel

What does a good travel photo look like?

Big Sky Namibia
Ely Coast, Scotland
Crossing to Vancouver, Canada

We can do sunsets, especially African easily enough.

African Sunset I
African Sunset II

Is it all about the place, outstanding scenery maybe?

Namibia
Yosemite
Namibia Naukluft Namibia
Etosha Namibia
Namibia Naukluft Namibia
Highland, Scotland
Etosha Namibia

Or maybe it’s better if we stick a building into the picture somewhere

Highland castle
Highland castle, Scotland
Highlands castle
Varanasi boats
 Or maybe a boat or two.
Tonle Sap, Cambodia
Thimupu Bhutan
Seville cathedral

Does a picture of human intervention in a beautiful place, add or lose interest in the photo?

Mekong Houseboats, Laos
Bhutanese Prayer Flags

Maybe if it’s alien enough, the photo could just be the detail, the hint of a thing.

Bangkok Temple Detail
Bangkok Temple
Bangkok Temple Detail

Delhi Detail
Mezquita, Cordoba
Alhambra Arches
Jerusalem, Israel

Does a good travel need to be human, with people and children?

Chill, Thailand
Burma Refugee, Thailand
Whirling Dancer, Egypt
Strontium Games, Scotland

Does it have interesting people doing interesting things?

Delhi Cleaning
Delhi Sikh temple
Second Thoughts Kathmandu
Seriously Dad?, Varanasi

Because I have a few of those.

Varanasi Holy man and Acolyte
Fishing, Tonle Sap

Or maybe we could just think about animals, local of foreign, cute or not so much.

Zebra Etosha
Cheetah Lunch, Namibia
Cheetah II, Namibia
Baby Elephant, Namibia

We live in an astonishing world.

Dark

There’s a photo participation being organised by the Guardian newspaper on the subject “Dark” which led to e looking through the various albums.

There are the obvious pictures of sunsets, most obviously from Africa.

Namibia Sunset
Namibia Sunset
Namibia Sunset

But also from Wales.

Sunset, Wales
Sunset, Wales

Turns out there’s not a bad sunset picture to be taken in a desert.

Negev Desert, Israel

And there are the endless pictures through windows or window screens from the dark into the light.

Window Screen, India
Agra Window, India
Cambodia Temple Window

Saville cathedral
Science Museum London

There are the shots taken in dark places, usually more about the light than the dark surroundings.

Pantheon, Rome
View through Alhambra Arches
Mezquita Cordoba
Reflections, Bangkok
Fireworks, London

 Egyptian Show dancer
St Andrews

There are the pictures with dark subjects or topics, whether emotional (the cremations by the side of the Varanasi) physical (the gorging on a recently dead gazelle) or scary childhood toys.

Morning Cremation, Varanasi
Children’s Theatre Toy, Glasgow
Lunch, Namibia
 And finally there are just pictures of dark coloured things, from tulips to a bit a black and white shade and shadow.
Dark Parrot Tulip
Black Parrot Tulip
Toy Dolls, Glasgow Museum
Shadows on the Heath, London

Turns out Spanish catholic churches can be especially morbid with their monuments.

Lady Chapel, Granada Church
Dead Jesus, Granada
head of John the Baptist, Seville Cathedral

Peru

I’ve never travelled to South America, so given that Macchu Picchu has always been on my wishlist, and given the sad sad compromise that a trip to Andalusia turned out to be, it was a pretty obvious place to plan a 2017 trip especially since BA has now started up non-stop flights through to a number of S American capitals.

So we will fly from London Gatwick straight through to Lima in Peru for a brief overnight stay at the airport hotel before flying on to Cusco. A number of people suggested that given a choice, I should cut down on time in Lima in order to spend longer in Cusco which is supposed to be a beautiful place to hang out as well as the obvious stopover to acclimatise and see the sacred Valley of the Incas.

From there we travel on to Ollantaytambo where we catch the tourist train to Macchu Picchu, staying overnight at nearby Aguas Clients before travelling back to Cusco.

From there (and after a couple of days chilling out) we catch the tourist bus to Puno, the obvious place to stay over and visit lake Titicaca.

Rather than turn around and head home at this stage, or visit the Nazca Lines, we decided to head towards La Paz in Bolivia. I may or may not visit South America again, and if not, I wanted to have seen the salt pains at Uyuni. So from la Paz, we fly down to the salt flats and a stay in a salt hotel before flying back to La Paz, onto Lima and home.

And one of the reasons is that the eldest has decided she won’t be coming with us this year so we might as well go for the longest of long-haul flights since she truly hates flying (my fault!)

Next year, it’s going to be all four of us and Iceland is on the cards – not too far, not too similar.

 

View

What does your world look like?

When you look at this map does it look “right” or just a bit off?

This is the  Gall-Peters projection, which shows land masses in their correct proportions by area, and puts the relative sizes of Africa and North America in perspective i.e. America is a lot smaller. Maybe Trump could take comfort from the idea that size, either land mass or hand size isn’t inevitably linked to power.

But of course it would be just as valid to look at the world like this:

& how weird is that?

There is no inevitability about putting north at the “top” of a map and when it’s switched about isn’t it amazing how much water there is in the world?