Oriel Chambers

Oriel Close

I almost submitted this picture for the weekly photo challenge because “ornate” inherently makes me think of something gold and elaborate. But I didn’t because I want to tell a different story about it.

The Oriel Chambers building on 14 Water Street in Liverpool was one of the first multi-storey buildings in the world constructed with a glass frontage in the mid-19th century. Technically, it’s a metal-framed glass curtain wall and the architect Peter Ellis was given an award for it. Buildings with glass windows are so commonplace these days, that it’s difficult to believe the design was not popularly received in its’ day.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the front of the building which is a classic error on my part. However, you can see the side of Oriel Chambers building in the photograph below. It’s the one on the right with the gild details on the said contentious glass windows.

~ Spotted Cow

Liverpool Streets

Oriel Chambers




Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate

Entrance, India Buildings

Liverpool is a very pretty city to walk around and there are so many beautiful buildings made of stone. The Beatles evolved from the group The Quarrymen, remember? I picked the ornate entrance to the India Buildings on Water Street for this challenge. It was a Sunday and the building was closed, so we peered through the glass doors to look at the insides. You can catch glimpses of it amid the glass reflections.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate

~ Spotted Cow

Taj Mahal at dawn

Taj Mahal at dawn

The Taj Mahal at dawn. This is one of those instances where I lugged my tripod around northern India only to find that I wasn’t allowed to take it into the Taj Mahal compound ! I’ve been told since that I should carry a bag of lentils to substitute for a tripod when I need one. Handy tip, although not one I’ve remembered at any point when it would’ve proved useful.

~ Spotted Cow

Beach hut weather

Hove Huts

I was in Brighton for the Easter holidays and it was beach hut weather. England is a different country when the sun comes out and there was lots of glorious sunshine last week. The temperatures were still in the teens – or 50s & 60s in Fahrenheit – and those of hardier stock bared their limbs in t-shirts and shorts.

These beach huts are in Hove. The Hove Huts are on the seafront, but they sit on the promenade as opposed to on the beach, which is about 10 metres away. So, it’s a bit like sitting in a car park.

The English beach huts came about originally to preserve the modesty of Victorian ladies holidaying by the sea. These days they are luxuries that people aspire to, although you might wonder why. The Hove Huts are simple structures. They are the size of a small garden shed, with no electricity or amenities. All you can do in it is store your deck chairs and table, a Primus stove to make tea and your beach accessories. For this little piece of real estate, you would pay about £13,000 (or US$21,000) to own one. Amazing huh? More so, because they’re among the cheaper ones that you can find around the country.

~ Spotted Cow

Enjoying the sunshinePersonalising the beach hutSea view from Hove promenade

Inside the Opera House

Sydney Opera House

We played at being tourists and went on the Sydney Opera House tour. I can’t believe we’ve never done it because it’s really interesting.

The Sydney Opera House on Bennelong Point is so iconic that it is impossible to imagine a conventional rectangular building standing there. But that almost happened, if one of the competition judges hadn’t asked to re-visit the reject pile. He found Jorn Utzon’s design submission and subsequently declared it the winner. Construction began even though they didn’t know how they were going to build the now-famous sail shell structures. What followed was a 15-year controversy caused by design & construction challenges, building delays and massive cost overruns (a 15-fold cost explosion vs estimates), which saw Utzon resign from the project before it was completed.

There is, however, a happy ending to the story. You’ll have to go on the tour to find out.

When you’re there, have a look closely at the sails. They’re tiled with bespoke cream and off-white tiles so that they appear white overall. If the tiles were pure white, it would be blinding when the sun reflects off it.

~ Spotted Cow

Looking out onto the harbourInside the Opera House Curves and linesOpera House sailsTiles

Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular

St Paul's Cathedral

When I read the Weekly Photo Challenge theme “Angular”, my first thought was to look for architectural image. I found this one of St Paul’s Cathedral, taken through a doorway installation on the street that frames the cupola quite well. I like how the “old” architecture sits within the “new”, which I took at an angle to fit in the cathedral spire and emphasise its height. Stacy at visualventuring told me that this technique is called a Dutch Angle.

~ Spotted Cow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

For this week’s Monument theme in the Weekly Photo Challenge, I’ve chosen the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This would’ve been a less compelling picture had it not been for a horse and carriage trotting by to give some perspective as to its size. In its time, it was the largest man-made structure for almost 4000 years.

~ Spotted Cow

Great Pyramid of Giza

Taj Mahal at sunrise

The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most photographed buildings, and yet it still has the power to take your breath away.

When I was in school, I read that the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal to commemorate his wife Mumtaz.  The tomb is built of marble which gives it an air of coolness and serenity, which – true or not – is how I imagine this eternal wife to be.

We were there – the bro and I – at 6.45am to watch sunrise. It was an effort given that we had arrived into Agra well after midnight, courtesy of an unhurried Indian train. But it was worth it. The marble changes hue with the mist and the sun rise, and you will be clicking away with the best of them.  There will probably be a queue to get your picture taken on the same bench that Princess Diana did.

The Taj is most impressive in its entirety, but get up close and inspect the inscriptions and the inlays.  Also, make your way over to Agra Fort after stopping for breakfast. Late in life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned at the fort by his son, in a tower whose balcony has a view of the Taj Mahal.

~ Spotted Cow


TajMahalMirror monk

Infinity gates

Before we went to Japan, I saw a picture of these seemingly infinite rows of orange gates and I knew we had to go there.

This is at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, dedicated to the gods of wine and sake.  It’s a peaceful site with wooded paths running up the Inari mountain, and small shrines and eating stalls dotted along the way. The gates – known as torii – are behind the main shrine building.  They are even more impressive in person. When you stand at the head of the gate, it winds round in a tunnel of orange sunshine.  The inscriptions on the posts look like lines of prayers, but I later discovered that they are the names of the people & companies who made donations for the gates. Look out for the fox statues which guard the gates. They are the Inari messengers (… sounds very Twilight !)

~ Spotted Cow