Archive for ‘The Gallery’

March 16, 2011

Random Photo of the Day 21: South Africa / The Gallery: Trees

Another 2 for 1: you lucky lucky people!

This is from the beautiful botanical gardens on the Western Cape, south of Cape Town, South Africa. It’s from July 2009, (their Winter, it looks even better in Spring & Summer).

It’s also my entry for this week’s Gallery, on the theme of “Trees”; again randomly selected, so again I got lucky.

Why not pop over to Tara’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers for more arboreal artistry? (click the pic):

March 9, 2011

Random Photo of the Day 18 / The Gallery: Lonesome (in Galapagos)

This post is also for Tara Cain’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers. 2 for the price of 1! Well, we are having to economise these days…

I’d set myself a bit of a challenge with this. I’d decided that whatever came up using my usual random selection method I would use for the Gallery, the theme of which this week is “One Word”. It could have been tough, but when I saw the photo that came up I was delighted. I knew immediately what my one word was:


Meet George.

Or more correctly, Lonesome George.

He lives in his own enclosure in the Charles Darwin Research Centre in Santa Cruz, one of the Galapagos Islands.

Why ‘Lonesome’? Because he is truly the last of his kind, the last remaining Pinta Galapagos Giant Tortoise: the world’s rarest animal.

In the 19th century whalers & sealers used the tortoises as a food source: they could live up to year without food or water so seemed perfect for long journeys at sea. Also, in the 1950s goats were released onto his island of Pinta, also as a food source. They then out-competed the slow-moving tortoises for their food, & also caused much erosion.

When he was found alone on the island by National Park Wardens hunting goats it was decided to take him to the safety of the Research Centre.

There are many other different types of giant tortoise there, including many lovely ladies. In trying to continue his species the staff there are only too keen to set George up with any lovely lady of his choosing, setting the ambience, choosing the finest cuisine to set the mood for lurve. You would think that this would be a gentleman bachelor tortoise’s paradise, but apparently not. He’s just not interested.

Very unpleasant things have been done to his private parts. Ladies skilled in the Art of Lurve have been brought in to attempt to, um, engage his interest. I kid you not! All to no avail.

I wonder if it’s occurred to anyone that he might prefer the company of gentleman tortoises: must be worth a try, surely?

Personally I wonder if it’s just time to just leave the poor old fella alone & let him live out the rest of his life with all the food, drink & shelter he could ever need. He’s probably had a tough old life, he’s in his 70s; isn’t it time for a rest?

So for now, he’s still Lonesome George, the last of his kind – & looks like staying that way.

Why not have a look at all the other One Words in Tara’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers?  (click the pic.):

January 22, 2011

The Gallery: Mother Nature (PachaMama)

Last week’s subject for Tara Cain’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers, the first of the year, was ‘Body Parts’. A lot of people seemed nervous about it, for obvious reasons, & many also seemed to find it a difficult one to find a photo & a story for. We seemed to manage ‘though: it was a cracking start to the year! And not even (too) pervy…

To be honest I had more trouble trying to think of something for this week’s theme “Mother Nature“. I mean, there are only so many body parts, right? And Mother Nature is, like, really big (man), I mean it’s kinda like: Everything. Choosing a single photo for it seemed to me to be really daunting.

I’m possibly being a little pedantic; it wouldn’t be the first time. To me “Mother Nature” is quite different to “Nature”, so a pretty picture of some trees or a sunset for me just wasn’t enough. Mother Nature, to me, is conceptual, & not just about the physical world we live in. It’s about our relationship to that physical world around us, exploring the idea that we dont just live in ‘Nature’ but that we are a part of it, that it gave birth to us, that we are its – her – children. It’s about who we are, where we come from, the nature of our existence:  the Big Questions of Life; indeed about Life itself.

Then maybe I’m just reading WAY too much into this. I’m already feeling another existential crisis coming on…

Then I realised as I was writing this post on my Dad Blog “Whiskey For Aftershave”: I have it.  The perfect picture for my take on the theme.

Unfortunately it was on print film & I couldn’t find it! Thankfully though after some rummaging in what is currently the storage room & a quick trip to Boots I now have it, along with some of my favourite ever photos, in glowing digital form.

My photo is from the Inca Trail in Peru on the way to the ancient mountain city of Machu Picchu, part of our ‘holiday of a lifetime’ honeymoon.

I’d become separated from the rest of the group & was rushing to catch up. As I did so it occurred to me that I was passing through 1 of the most beautiful, magical places I’d ever seen. So I stopped being an idiot, slowed down, & enjoyed it. It’s called the Cloud Forest: an area of dense vegetation where the plants & trees are so high up in the Andes mountains that they’re literally watered by the clouds themselves.

As I came out I caught up with our main guide, who told me about the subject of the photo & this post.

So here she is: PachaMama

click to enlarge

The local Quechua people revere this mountain as the embodiment of their Goddess, PachaMama. Her name literally means “Mother World”, or in modern terms ‘Mother Universe’. ‘Mother Nature’, even.

The locals come here to commune with the mountain, standing on the outside of the track just by where the guide is in the photo below.

click to enlarge

He’d just told me about the mountain & about PachaMama & about he & his peoples’ veneration of her. He’s walking off to give me the chance to take up his suggestion to spend time alone there in ‘her’ presence, communing with her, with PachaMama, with Mother Nature.

After he left I did so. And it was a big deal for me. I’m not religious; I try to live a rational life, being guided by knowledge & rational thought rather than superstition. So this went against the grain. Not only that, but I’m afraid of heights. Standing on the edge of the track, a vast sheer drop below, arms stretched outwards, eyes closed – I had to muster a fair bit of courage for that.

But it was one of those things I felt that while there I had to do. It’s likely I’ll never get the chance again.

And the place is just magical; it draws you in. The vastness, the stillness, the silence, the sense of timelessness, the rarified atmosphere, the awareness that you are standing on the roof the world, the realisation that millions of lives have come & gone but PachaMama is just there, & has been for thousands, maybe millions of years: PachaMama does seem to have a Presence.

I stood there, I don’t know for how long, & communed with PachaMama, with Mother Nature. Feeling at once as small as the smallest speck & yet part of the vastness of all that is. I felt alone in the Universe, & yet that I was the Universe. Impossible to explain!

I don’t really know what happened there. In purely superficial terms, probably nothing. I do know that it was one of the most amazing, most profound experiences of my life, & that I walked on a changed, hopefully a better, man.

Why not have at look at all the other interpretations of  ‘Mother Nature’ in this week’s Gallery: it never fails to disappoint.

December 7, 2010

The Gallery: White

My entry for this week’s Gallery at the lovely Tara Cain’s Sticky Fingers blog.

Up until now I’ve used old photos, this week I’ve taken one especially for The Gallery to its specific theme. And written about it. So here it is:

Frozen Footprints in the Snow

Are they mine? Are they hers? Are they “ours”? Where do they go? What story do they tell?  Are they going the same way, or moving apart? Is there more, more to the story here that  I don’t see? So much for me to see: left behind, frozen in time – but only for a moment. And I’m still in the dark.

One thing is clear from the frozen footprints in the snow:  that bloody cat has been after my feeding birds again…

The light was good this morning , but the snow had thawed so much that  I thought I’d left it too late to get a decent picture. I was pleasantly surprised however by the photos I took – so I couldn’t resist posting some more here.  Aww I’m just too much of a rock’n”roll rebel! *ahem* Anyway, see what you think:

Have a look at the rest of The Gallery. There are some terrific photographers there: