Cooling down

Dog in the fountain

We’ve had a cracking few days weather-wise this week in London. It’s been hot hot hot. I would’ve preferred to be sitting on the beach in Brighton than sitting in the office in London, but there you go. The heat made me think of a picture I took in Madrid last month when a walker let her dog paddle through a fountain to cool off. It must’ve felt heavenly.

~ Spotted Cow

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Spying

Having a drink outside

My balcony in Madrid had a view onto the outdoor tables of a bar. I loved looking out onto the street, watching the comings and goings, and spying on the people who sat down to have a drink. Looking back, I now wish that I had made a project of it as I am somewhat frustrated with the short series of unsatisfactory pictures I took. Hmph. It will have to keep for next time … and I’ll have to make sure that I have a balcony that is as advantageously situated.

~ Spotted Cow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

Palacio de Cristal

Palacio de Cristal, Parque Retiro, Madrid

The Crystal Palace edifice isn’t rare like a diamond, but there are not so many of them around. Certainly, I’ve only ever seen pictures of the London Crystal Palace which was destroyed by fire, and upon which the Madrid one is modelled. It was originally built as a greenhouse – and it reminds me of the Kew Garden greenhouses – but these days it is used for art exhibitions.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it was very hot inside when I went to have a look at what seemed a disparate set of exhibits, including a swinging pendulum that looked like an upside-down Empire State Building, a model ship hoisted at an angle and various retro electronics. The greenhouse wasn’t much respite from the heat outside, but it was a beautiful building to admire. I lingered to take some photographs indoors and had to be patient for what I thought was the right grouping and movement of people, with the right space between them. Such is the character of street photography that you can’t direct people around as you would like !

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

~ Spotted Cow

Detail on the Crystal Palace

Model boat exhibit

Pendulum exhibit

Vesuvius Fail

Vesuvius crater walk

This is my one picture from the walk up and around the crater of Mount Vesuvius. It was cold and the fog swept in thick and fast, after what had been a lovely, sunny morning. Two minutes after this picture was taken, you couldn’t see the Bay of Naples when you looked out. The wind blew hard and I thought I was going to fly off the path. I hadn’t brought gloves and my fingers were painful … although once inside the crater, I could warm my palms over the smoke holes. Still, it has to be said that I didn’t enjoy it very much and I spent the entire time wishing I hadn’t chosen the privileged optional walk in.

And wouldn’t you know it … the fog lifted upon our descent from the crater !

~ Spotted Cow

Positano

Positano. View from the sea

It was some version of this image that made me choose my trip to the Amalfi Coast. It’s the town of Positano, sitting on a cliff-side. I saw it while browsing holiday sites and decided that this was where I wanted to go. I’ve done this before, i.e. choosing a holiday from a magazine picture, which is how I went on the Trans-Siberian Railway and to Cappadocia in Turkey.

Positano is very picturesque. On the holiday, I had the luxury of approaching it from the sea – by ferry – and from the mountain tops at the end of the Path of the Gods trek. Hence, I have my own multiple versions of this picture, from a great many angles. And besides, descending into Positano after the walk, was thoroughly refreshing, especially as the old knees had had a good workout. A cold beer on the seafront was my first destination.

~ Spotted Cow

Positano. View from the mountain

Painter on the beach

 

The Enchanted Forest

Walls in the forest

We walked the Valle delle Ferriere route when we walked from Amalfi up to Ravello. The way winds through some lush forests, with rivers and waterfalls, and old paper mills and ironworks (hence its name). It was lovely and peaceful, and a refreshing difference to the cliffs and sea that tourists mostly associate with the Amalfi Coast. It rained for some of that day but we had wet weather gear, and instead of getting us down, it added to the enchantment of the forest.

~ Spotted Cow

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Old paper mill

Forest

Lemon country

Size of the lemons !

The Amalfi Coast is undoubtedly lemon country. We walked through lemon groves everyday, and limoncello bottles lined the shelves of every tourist shop. Admittedly, I’ve never got over the limoncello’s cough syrup taste, but I don’t dislike it so much as to refuse an aperitif.

Several times, at the street stalls, I came across what looked like giant, genetically modified lemons with a very gnarly rind. I never found out what they were called, although they’re obviously from the same family. The monster lemons are impressive when stacked up next to their conventional cousins.

~ Spotted Cow

Limoncello

Lemon groves

When the mist lifts …

Town nestled under the clouds

The weather was variable in the first few days that I was on the Amalfi Coast, and there were times when we were completely enveloped in mist. It was a walking holiday, and we walked regardless of the weather. We would arrive at a peak and the tour leader kept saying to us, his expectant troops, “the view is stunning, I assure you !” But all we saw was white cloud.

However, the few times when the opaque white fog did lift, it was usually a most spectacular sight.

~ Spotted Cow

Walkers in the mist

Heavy white fog

Ravello. Villa Rufolo

Arches at Villa Rufolo

We walked from Amalfi up to the town of Ravello, through the lemon groves and forest. It was lovely and lush, although we did get rained on in various phases! Nevertheless, the sun came out when we arrived at the top and we visited the Villa Rufolo. We had been set a photo competition to take the photo on the front of the tourist brochure. It was a mad scurry around the gardens, interspersed with “wows” when anyone came to the sea view from a different angle. I can safely guarantee that pretty much everyone will get the picture postcard shot.

~ Spotted Cow

Amazing views

Tourists in the garden

Flowers!

 

Hairy heights

Bridge spanning cliffs

We did a lot of walking on the mountain top cliff edges along the Amalfi Coast, which meant that there were a lot of lookouts from great heights. This bridge picture makes me think of The Italian Job movie and I almost expected to see car chase with Minis revving along the roads.

Some other high-up vistas below. I think I took photos of Amalfi from just about every perspective possible!

~ Spotted Cow

House through the trees

Amalfi view from up high

View from a great height

 

Waiting for the bus

Lamp post

Ten minutes till the bus turned into another 10 minutes and yet another 10, because it was stuck somewhere in Sunday traffic on the winding road into Amalfi.  This looks like an intentional picture of people waiting for the said bus. But in reality, what I saw was the evening light filter into the street lamp and it contrasted sharply with the misty hillside. Hence, in fact, the people were merely useful props to make up the picture composition.

~ Spotted Cow

Glimpses of Amalfi

Birdseye view of Amalfi

I was on an Exodus walking holiday on the Amalfi Coast last week, and I’ve come back with hundreds of photos of towns perched on rocky outcrops. The weather was variable in the first half of the week, with intermittent phases of sun, cloud and rain, but it got better. And the views are glorious.

There was lots of up & down walking. Lots of steps. Lots. Especially on the first day walking down from Bomerano to Amalfi, when you’ll curse them all the way down. But get to the end and you can have your cocktail and flop on the beach.

~ Spotted Cow

Amalfi through the archway

Sunloungers on the beach

Spring sprouts forth

Onion flowers

I’m a novice at gardening and acquired some planters with herbs and grasses last year. Low maintenance gardening for a non-gardener. Difficult to get it wrong, I was told. Well, the planters look a tad spartan after the winter months. However, my green-fingered friends tell me that everything will sprout forth in abundance in spring and I will be surprised at the lush-ness. So, I am looking forward with great anticipation!

Spring Green

~ Spotted Cow

Curtain of green

Hanging branches and leaves

In anticipation of the spring equinox on 19 March, I’ll be posting a series of images along a “spring green” theme over the next week. I haven’t set the bar very high, so it should be achievable. Do join in if you fancy it.

I snapped this picture on a walk in the Carpathian mountains in Romania. It was hot and I was ahead of the group, and so I took shade under a tree. The curtain of hanging branches in front of me made a lovely pattern … and I took a picture while I waited for the others to catch up.

~ Spotted Cow