Tuesday, 29 September 2009

ABC Wednesday - K

K is for Knots

These seemed to be very secure knots, which they probably needed to be. This mooring was at the top of a very large slab of rock at St Briac-sur-Mer in France. The rope continued down a long way
over the seaweed covered rocks lower down and then
attached itself to the little rowing boat at the bottom.
The tide was out in the bay but this is a view from the top looking inland, the flowery boat whose sailing days were over, but whose keel and that of the yachts laying on the sand are plainly in view.

There are an amazing variety of knots for all sorts of purposes. An animated selection here. Seafarers have to know many different types
and E. Annie Proulx uses extracts from The Ashley Book of Knots as chapter headings in her novel "The Shipping News", which give clues to the events about to happen. The main character called Quoyle, a play on words for a coil of rope, heads for Newfoundland, his ancestral home, from New York with his daughters, when his no-good wife is killed. Dark secrets are all around but as the blurb says its an "irresistible comedy of human life and possibilities". Knots of course can be made and remade in different forms.

I like the quote she uses in the frontispiece "In a knot of eight crossings, which is about the average-size knot, thee are 256 different 'over-and-under' arrangements possible... Make one change in this 'over and under' sequence and either an entirely different knot is made or no knot at all may result". I seemed to make a lot of those 'no knots' when I was in the brownies, and I have not improved since, so I would not make a good mariner.

Page from 'Celtic Art. The methods of construction' by George Bain

Then there are knots that are knots, but not as we know them Jim. The knotwork borders as used in Celtic art are drawn as a continuous line to symbolise infinity. Here are some examples of drawing the borders, as originally used in the 7th century manuscript the Gospels of Lindisfarne and the much older 1st century Book of Kells.

Click on ABC Wednesday for more interpretations of the letter K

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Ferns and Fungi

The bracken fades in a golden glory and soon the paths will be revealed once more.
A damp summer and a warm September has brought the rather beautiful Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) out in profusion. Does it look like a lethal type of pizza that someone has taken a slice? I noticed my field guide says "though poisonous it is doubtful it would cause the death of a healthy person". The choice of the word doubtful is gloriously open ended.
Now this, of which I only saw one, is I think, Amanita aspera, which likes frondose woods and as you can tell from the first image that is where I was walking.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

ABC Wednesday - J

I loved the lettering on this sign, and the blue shutter. I think Jerzual is part of the river port area outside Dinan, which does not quite explain the drawing. It is also the name of a hotel, so is it a glass, are they straws, or am I just clutching at them. Whats that hand, has someone fallen under the table. What do you think?

Hotels and ports are places to go to when taking a Journey
and this HGV may be heading for one at some point. How lucky to have a name that so lends itself to this graphic design. I passed it parked in a sleepy French village on a Sunday, around lunch time, so perhaps Monsieur or Madam Hautiere was taking a rest from international journeys.
Then of course there are sea journeys. The Walther Herwig III leaving the port of Ijmuiden in Holland. It is a German fishery research vessel operating in the North Atlantic and North Sea. At the moment it is somewhere off South Ronaldsway in the Orkneys. What a pity it is not sailing near somewhere that starts with a J.
I love train journeys. Here is a small modern train crossing the Ribblehead Viaduct which was built in 1875 and has a total of 24 arches This is part of the Settle Carlisle route which crossing some beautiful countryside, and is not only a marvel of engineering, but also a marvel that it still exists and has survived all the rail closures in past years. You can see the mist rolling down Whernside in the background.
So what else could take you on a journey. Oh yes, as the song says 'trains, and boats and planes'. This seems to be the only digital photo I have of a plane. You will have to squint, its on the runway on Walney Airport. I think this is one of the two Beechcraft King Airs small twin turbo owned by BAE. Apart from the gliding club there is not a lot of traffic in here.

Always good to land well in a plane, this is a pilot you would want when things go wrong in your King Air so there would be a happy ending to your journey. Was it John Steinbeck that said - a journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.

Jump over to ABC Wednesday for lots more Js

Monday, 21 September 2009

Flavour of Brittany

Back from my hols and already suffering from patisserie withdrawal. We managed to call in somewhere and pick up cakes most days. This is one of the fruit tarts although my favourite was the dense custardy thing that was the flan (pronounced flon) which I proceeded to eat for the rest of the holiday in all its guises, whether plain, with fruit or covered with coconut.
When we disembarked from the boat at St Malo the first thing we did was head for Mont St Michel. It was very early in the morning ( a black coffee and pain au chocolate to wake me up). I had been told this that was the best time to go, otherwise it is too busy. Spectacularly set against the flat shining sand and visible from a long way off it did not disappoint inside, or with the views from the top.

Later in the holiday we also visited monuments of a far older time. Dolmen and other constructions are so mysterious; as are the people who built them, all those thousands of years ago. They must have been so like us but we can never know their minds or beliefs and can just stand and wonder. This is one of the Les Alignments du Moulin near St Just near Rennes, I managed to get the windmill in the picture, and as an added unintentional bonus a white van. The boards near the structures were very informative but alas the ones describing the birds, insects and plants were a bit sad as large areas of the undergrowth were just a blackened mass where fire had destroyed the gorse, as you can see in this picture.
However it was only a small area compared to the surroundings. This is the picture taken from the plateau showing the dense forest and lake at the start, or finish of the walk to the structures depending on whether you had walked from the village or like us had actually started with a walk through the wood and by the l'Etang du Val, which is the lake you can see here. A pleasant place to sit while the dragonfly buzzed along the top of the water and occasionally hovered in front of us.
The coastal walks are fabulous. This is a view of one of the beaches in between Fort La Latte and Cap Frehel. The tops of the cliffs were covered with yellow gorse and purple heather which which was a spectacular contrast of colours (a little of it is in the foreground of this image). Spoilt for choice for lovely fine sandy beaches along this and coast the Cote d'emeraude which is further east.
St Briac sur Mer

Although you may need a boat to get onto some of them.

We walked by many little lakes. This is the popular Etang de Boulet where people were picnicking, sailing and walking. Unusually the wooded area around the lake had nobody looking for mushrooms. In most other woods we encountered many people with long sticks as they searched out the delicacy in the undergrowth.
Water was a continual theme of the holiday, but all of it on the ground and not coming down from the sky (apart from one day). There are some pleasant walks by the pretty Ille et Rance canal, with its many lochs and loch keeper's houses.

The buildings of the area are very interesting. Here is Dinan with a Creperie on the left. Yes you can have pancakes in all shapes, sizes, flavours although we did not indulge here. Well RB spent most of the time eating Moules Mariniere so had no time for pancakes. The Italian ice cream shop called Le Pole Nord here sold some of the best ice cream I have ever had.
And lastly no holiday would be complete without some art. We called in at St Richardais to the house were Manoli had his studio. In the year he died the garden and surrounding spaces were turned into exhibitions spaces for his art. He is described as "an alchemist of materials and forms". There are mobiles of acrobats, mechanical kinetic works as well as static sculptures of many forms and types. Fused metal, reclaimed items or smelted granite. There is something for everyone here in the lovely setting of home and garden which seems to fuse all his ideas together. The tall white figure in the photo is his self portrait.

I had a wonderful time in this area of France. I hope these images give some of the flavour. There is no doubt that some of my other photos from this holiday will turn up at some time on the ABC Wednesday meme. Now I wonder what letter they are up to at the moment...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Casting Off for France

No posts for a couple of weeks as I will be heading for the M6 down country. Hopefully not in the above direction, as that is going north (note to self, must remember to turn right). I used to travel from Junction 36 up to Carlisle a lot in a previous job. If it is possible to have a nice section of the motorway, this is it, not too busy and good views. On a sunny day with some good music it is quite relaxing, (or perhaps that was because I had escaped from the office). Maybe spotting a walker making their way up hill going over the highest point of Shap and the odd buzzard hovering in the sky would lift the heart. The distant hill in the photo is before you get to Shap and is part of the Howgills which spans the Cumbria and Yorkshire borders. Until the weather of July and August turned into a deluge, we had great plans for doing a lot of walking in this area for a change, maybe next year.
That's next year, but for now I am looking forward to the ferry casting off from Portsmouth to set sail for France, yippee, (I'm cheating a bit with this photo as it was taken as we left Tynemouth a couple of years ago). I love arriving on islands and countries by boat.