Category Archives: photography

UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

One morning, before the conference began, I had time to wander around the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden at the edge of the UCLA campus. I was so glad I could go and was amazed at the difference in vegetation between that of Europe and that of California. Even though there is a certain roughness to the plants, obviously designed in such a way due to harsh climate and to enable their survival, I still found a beauty applied to them. The garden was superbly kept and I was surprised at how underused it was. There was hardly a soul about while I walked about. There were only squirrels for company. I hope I captured some of that beauty in these photographs.

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I had never seen so many cacti before! I loved the many varieties and their shapes and sizes. Some looked positively lethal!

I  came across this beast of a thing, which kind of left me in awe. It was a tree but had spikes on its trunk. I loved the symmetry of the spikes and the leaves. I decided to give tree-hugging a pass this time around.

There were many plants with vivacious colours such as these Californian poppies, which really brightened up the place.

When I think of bamboo I am reminded of the fight scene which takes place in a bamboo forest in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Tall, vibrant green forests of the stuff. So I was amazed to see the bamboo below which has red berries, red rimmed leaves and is a smaller variety. It is known as Heavenly Bamboo.

Heavenly bamboo

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This plant’s leaves felt so thick and surreal, almost cloth-like in texture. Some trees were very surreal. For instance, the tree on the left reminded me of a hand sticking up in the air, in salute, and the tree on the right made me think of the mythological character, Medusa, who had a head of snakes for hair!

              I enjoyed watching the tortoises sunning themselves on the rocks in the stream and watching the world go by. Well for some, I guess :)

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Spring is sprung

We are nearly done with Spring in Ireland and we all keenly await the beginning of Summer. I feel like I missed out on most of the good weather, having had my head stuck in my books. Here are some photographs of the woodlands.

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Up the airy mountain, down the fairy glen …

Fairy ring in Deer Park, Dublin, with Dublin Mountains in the background.

I went a walking and came across a fairy ring! The title of this post is from the first line of a poem written by William Allingham, which we had to learn in school.

On my way to work today, while passing through Deer Park, I came across a fairy ring. I have not seen one in a long time. I am aware of the fact that these rings occur as a result of a naturally occurring phenomenon, but there is still an aura of mysticism about them which makes me almost nostalgic for an era that is coming to an end in Ireland. Well, in the cities anyway. Nowadays, we cityfolk are all too busy to notice nature around us and are too easily distracted by work, deadlines, finances etc. However, in rural Ireland, fairy folklore is still rife.  

When I was young, there was a field behind my house in which there was a fairy fort.  Of course now, there is a housing estate built on top of it. The myth was that if one put a bottle of milk into the centre of the fort and left it there overnight, the milk would be rancid the next morning. We never played inside the fort for fear of being kidnapped by the fairies or ill-luck befalling us!

The Fairy Ring by George Cruikshank

The belief was that fairy rings were created by fairies dancing at night. The ground within the ring was considered dangerous. It was not thought  a wise decision to build upon this land. There are tales in Ireland of roads being re-routed to avoid building upon a fairy fort. Ireland is strewn with ancient structures such as these forts, megalithic tombs,  hawthorn trees etc. and the common belief was that it was best not to destroy them as the fairies would curse those who disturbed them.

What always disturbed me were the folktales which related how fairies would kidnap children in the middle of the night and replace that child with a fairy look-alike.  Irish literature is full of these incidents. William Butler Yeats writes in The Stolen Child:

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Instagram photo of the fairy ring with gloomy trees

However, on a  more uplifting note, I also came across snowdrops, which herald the true beginning of Spring.  I love the way the drooping flower looks like a lamb bowing its head!

Galanthus ‘snowdrop’
 
 
 
 
 

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Love locks of Pont des Arts

On a beautiful sunny afternoon we crossed the magnificent foot bridge known as Pont des Arts in Paris. It links the Left bank to the Louvre museum. I loved walking across the bridge and reading all the inscriptions on the love locks adorning the fencing. Seren loved playing with them along the way. We even saw a wedding take place on the bridge. Here are some photographs of a small selection of what seems to be thousands of locks.

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doors in paris

This post marks my return from a foray into academic conferences and a week’s holiday in Paris. Both were enjoyable although I don’t think a trip to Paris with two children under four would exactly be described as relaxing! I have always been fascinated with doors of every shape and size and while in Paris, I took lots of photographs with the bestt intention to post on WordPress upon my return. But I can’t believe someone beat me to it with this beautiful post. So I thought I might as well add to the trend.

There are many big doors such as the one below:

or this magnificent door. Does anyone recognise what famous building the door below belongs to?

There are little doors dotted throughout the city. Blink and you pass by without even noticing them.

There are wide doors…

and narrow doors… (the mind boggles as to how people move bulky furniture in and out of doors like this one below!)

I came across several enchanted doorways such as this one. It looked so enticing.

Of course, then there is also beautifully painted and ornate doors such as these two. I love the grid-iron in both of these doors.

I can’t leave out the funky door! There is an Asian feel to this one.

There are also some very contemporary doors. This one is courtesy of my husband! Thanks Pete…

Some doors have been disguised…

You can’t have a door without a knocker! Here is one I came across.

Call me a geek but I am always saying there is a good coffee table book in the making from European doors. I am sure someone will beat me to that too!

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