San Francisco’s Cable Cars

My first time in San Francisco and I felt as though I were in a state of shock.  It looked just like the movies but it was real, very real.   From the “Vietnam vets.” hustling for dollars and dimes at Fisherman’s Wharf and Haight Ashbury, to the open-sided cable cars grinding and ringing their way up and down those vertical hills, this was a movie-set.

Most great cities are walkable – with the exception of Los Angeles – and San Franscisco is no exception.  The one great drawback to this accessibility however, it that it is exremely hilly. But somehow, transfixed by the trolley-cars that rattle up those perpendicular slopes and listening to either the fog-horns in the Bay or the sound of itinerant Mexican musicians – depending on the weather – you forget the hills and throw yourself into the joy of being in San Franscisco, riding the cable cars, eating at Fisherman’s Wharf, taking trips on the Bay, gazing at the Rock (Alcatraz), and watching the sun goes down on The Golden Gate Bridge.

Childhood-and-fifties1

If you ride the cable cars, there are a few things you should know.

There are three cable car routes in the city, but the two that offer the most attractive rides are the Powell-Mason and PowellHyde lines.  At Powell and Market streets, the cable car turntable serves as the beginning stop for the Powell-Mason line which runs from there up and over Nob Hill and down to Bay Street at Fisherman’s Wharf. The Powell-Hyde line starts from the same turntable and runs up over Nob Hill and Russian Hill before coming to a halt near Ghiradelli Square. Both lines take significantly different routes and end at different areas near Fisherman’s Wharf so it is important to know where in Fisherman’s Wharf you want to arrive.

For the best views when travelling, you want to be on the side that faces the bay.  That means the right-hand side for cars leaving from downtown and the left-hand side for cars leaving from the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

Fisherman's Wharf

The California Street line runs East-West from the Financial District, through Chinatown, over famous Nob Hill and stops at Van Ness Avenue. Since all the cars on this line have the same routes, the signs are painted directly on the car.

Looking down from one of SFs most famous streets

The Powell/Hyde line ends up close to Ghirardelli Square famous for its shopping and chocolates, and the Vietnamese restaurant owned by Don Johnson, the ‘Ana Mandara’.  Lombard Street is known as the “world’s cmost crooked street” and if you want to take some great pictures, then you should get off at Lombard.  If you plan to stay on, make sure your camera is at the ready because at the top of Hyde and Lombard you will have an unobstructed view of San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island, way, way down in the Bay.

San Frans view with Golden Gate Bridge and AlcatrazAt the end of this line (at Hyde and Beach) is The Buena Vista Cafe, where the locals insist that Irish Coffee was born.  Don’t believe it.  I’m with the good folk of Shannon Airport who claim to have invented it many years ago to comfort passengers held up by fog in the days when Shannon was a mere stop-off point for the ‘planes to the USA.  What makes me so sure is that I doubt if the rich cream you need for an Irish Coffee – and that you get at Shannon – would be served in the USA as it would be too calorie rich!

golden-gate-bridge-1150487_1280

The Powell / Mason line also passes close to Lombard Street but it is at the bottom, so the view you get is of the crooked street, like the postcard pictures you will see everywhere around.  The Powell/Mason stops off in North Beach, a quick walk to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf near Pier 39, near some good eateries.  Best thing to do from here is to walk down to the Wharf and get one of those famous San Francisco sourdough bread bowls.

The California/ Van Ness car rides through the hills of the Financial District and hits the top of Nob Hill where you’ll find the most stunning views of the city.  For a real treat, go to the 19th Floor of the Mark Hopkins (Top of the Mark) and sip a dry martini, listen to some jazz and feel the buzz.

san-francisco-1632527_1280

Another popular drinking hole is The Nob Hill Tavern at California and Hyde. Polk Street is good for shopping before the cable car makes its way down the hill to Van Ness where it stops and goes back the other direction.  And just to throw in a bit of culture, if you’re into Gothic architecture, make sure to check out Grace Cathedral at California and Taylor.

Alcatraz XXX

The cable cars start at 06.00 and finish at midnight.  Single cable car tickets were $7.00 when I was there, a 1-Day visitor passport was $21.00, a 3-day was $32.00 and a 7-day $42.00. There are trips around the rock of Alcatraz with its sinister watchtowers, from $33 to $110, the more expensive boat ride including a stop on the island and a tour of the grim penitentiary which once held Al Capone, The Birdman, and ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly.

BIRD WATCHING IN MALAGA

I never thought I’d find myself on a bird-watching walk as although I’m fond of all feathered creatures, spending time in their contemplation is not something that I ever imagined I would do on holiday.  Yet on my recent trip to Malaga with SilverSpain.com I became just as enthusiastic as any died-in-the-wool bird-watcher when I joined the walk through the wetlands of the Desembocdura del Guadalhorce Natural Park.

The name is quite a mouthful (it means river mouth of the Guadalhorce), but the simplicity of the place, the peace and tranquillity to be found just 20 Km. outside the city was something I hadn’t expected: nor had I expected the series of lagoons or man-make lakes, beautiful in the light of the setting sun.  I had always imagined wetlands to be marshy, boggy areas, with tufted grasses being the main feature of the landscape.

How wrong I was.  This area of five permanent lakes populated with fish and eels, supports a variety of plants that enjoy the presence of water and salt, the banks yielding tamarisks, giant reeds and rushes, with here and there scattered poplars.

SilverSpain.com had organized an expert in the field to guide us on the walk, Luis Alberto Rodriguez from BIRDAYTRIP.  Luis was just perfect both in the pace he set and in his ability to spot birds before we did.  SilverSpain.com had found someone who embraced their concept of the over-55s living an active life, enjoying varied and interesting activities often outside their comfort zone, and his enthusiasm for the area and its inhabitants infected us all.

Silver Spain - Birdwatching 2

The area is one of the most important stopover places for coastal migratory birds in the province and it is said that you can spot any bird at the river mouth during the passage periods.  The Guadalhorce river estuary is on one of the main Mediterranean-crossing routes between Europe and Africa but there is no sure way to guarantee what birds you are likely to see as much depends on winds, storms, rains, predators – and our old friend, climate change.

bird-2052981_640

The snowy plover breeds in the wetlands and at different times of the year you will see glossy ibis, flamingo, spoonbill, black stork, Caspian tern and coots.  Present all year are the endangered white-headed ducks which have been successfully breeding in the estuary since 2003, little egrets, grey herons, Kentish plovers, hoopoes (above), and Cetti’s warblers.  In summer the bitterns, Audouin’s Gulls and bee-eaters are welcome visitors and in winter the short-eared owl puts in an appearance.  Ospreys, kestrels, buzzards and sparrowhawks wheel in the sky and the marsh harrier can often be seen among the reeds.

Of 350 bird species that have been recorded in Andalucia, 260 have been spotted in this Rio Guadalhorce Nature Reserve which covers 67 hectares of prime wetland.  The Park’s five lagoons are backed by palm trees, willows, tamarisks, eucalyptus and poplars and in this woodland and by the lagoon’s edges have been erected five comfortable birding hides.

Silver Spain - river in Guadalahorce Natural Parque

The area is also a popular place for mountain-bikers, hikers and those just looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Malaga for a few hours.  Like these seasoned sportspeople, always make sure to carry water with you as there are no facilities nearby and you can de-hydrate quickly in the heat.  Depending on the season, an anti-mosquito repellent would also be a good idea.

MALAGA

This bird-watching walk was only one event organized by SilverSpain.com during the week in which we ate healthy, but delicious, meals in restaurants and hotels, visited bodegas and bars dating from 1840, watched an equestrian show, a flamenco show and had a session of mindfulness in a tranquil retreat.  Their website gives full details.

Walking in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park, Spain

In the Andalusian region of Spain alone, there are a total of 22 Natural Parks and 9 Biosphere Reserves, but few can beat the accessibility and beauty of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (also known as the Garganta del Chorro), located not far from Malaga on the Costa del Sol.  Just 50km northwest of that city and you are in another world.

Walking

This walk through the Gorge which is accessed from the village of Ardales is one of the activities on offer from a new company that is dedicated to helping the over 55s enjoy an active and healthy life, focusing on walking, exercising, a Mediterranean diet, and companionship.   The holidays organized by SilverSpain.com will be available from October of this year but I’ve been lucky enough to have had a taster of what’s on offer.  (Get Active & Healthy with Silver/Spain).

Walkway

Here in the 2,016 hectares of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, the Guadalhorce river has sliced through slabs of Jurassic limestone and dolomite to create a 3 km long gorge with sheer walls that tower up to more than 300 metres in places.   The Desfiladero de los Gaitanes is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Subbetica mountains of Malaga famous for the Caminito del Rey, a vertigo-inducing, cliff hugging pathway, located some kilometres above the floor of the gorge and one of Malaga’s best attractions.

River-and-Cliffs

Your senses are assailed by the perfume from the rosemary,  thyme and fennel growing beneath the Aleppo pines, willow, eucalyptus, poplar and olive trees.  Overgrown pink and white oleander  vie with rock roses, yellow gorse and pink broom to colour the landscape, and closer to the river are rushes and reeds among which butterflies dance.

P1000087

Wheeling in the sky above the high gorge walls are golden eagles, kestrels, peregrines and griffon vultures, just a few of the wide variety of birds (nearly 150 known species) which nest here.  Smaller birds to look out for are red-billed choughs, crag martins, blue rock thrushes, owls, herons and crested tits, and in spring and summer the ubiquitous swifts make a return.

raptor-1495198_640

Keeping an eye peeled, it is possible to spy rabbits, Iberian hares,  foxes, bobcats, and wild boars and it is said that Spanish ibex inhabit the gorge’s more inaccessible parts, so the shy animals are usually only seen by climbers.

Writing-on-cliff-faceIn addition to the massive slabs of limestone that form the walls, the river has carved caves and chasms in the gorge.  There are over 20 caves in the area, and in nearby Ardales, paleolithic rock art can be seen in more than 1,600 meters of galleries.

Caves-2-XX

But forget the history, the archaeology and the paleolithic past, and just enjoy the sheer beauty that surrounds you on this walk through the park.   The pathway is easy to negotiate (but perhaps not after heavy rains) but do wear sensible shoes.  Look around you, smell the forest scents, look above you to see if you can spy the golden eagles, and look down at the turquoise river flowing below and marvel at this natural landscape.

Bend-in-the-River

Afterwards stop off at Mesón la Posada del Conde for a meal of locally sourced items,         Restaurant_PosadadelConde (or you can reserve rooms here if you wish to spend a few days in the area) which you will enjoy with local wines. Their salads are huge and the ingredients so fresh that I would have been content with only this but I worked my way through some delicious plates of chicken, jamón, vegetables and dessert.  Another walk through the gorge was called for!

Bend-in-River-2.jpg

Postscript:  Von Ryan’s Express  Starring Frank Sinatra and others, used the limestone gorge and the area around the Camineto del Rey to film the railway sequence at the film’s conclusion.  As Michael Caine would say, “Not many people know that”.

Caves

Get Active and Healthy with Silver/Spain

New kid on the block for holidays in the sun, SilverSpain.com, is launching its programme of healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy eating holidays for the over 55s, holidays that also focus on companionship and relationships.  For people who want to improve their lifestyles, or who are in retirement and want to keep fit and healthy, these holidays for the more mature traveller, of 5 to 7 days duration with an option to extend the holiday,  are a welcome addition to those currently on offer.

Patio-of-Cortijo-Bravo-Hotel

Based in Malaga on the Costa del Sol, SilverSpain is ideally placed for sussing out the perfect restaurants, walks, events and foodie trips that are included in the holidiay, and guests are based in a selection of luxury, top-end hotels both in Malaga itself and in stunning locations on the outskirts of the city, most with spas and flower-filled gardens. Exterior-Hotel-Vinuela,-Malaga

 

I’ve just had a trip to Spain to sample what they are offering later in the year (at the moment, from October) and I absolutely loved it, from the early morning exercises to the specially made morning smoothie followed by the healthy buffet breakfasts.  And, the smoothies were always luscious fresh local fruits with no green kale or spinach mixes in sight!  Plus, eggs, cheeses, hams and other foods were on the buffet table.

Walking in the National Parks and valleys in the area I found to be a special treat as these are activities I wouldn’t normally be able to do by myself.  Everyone walked at their own pace, some slowing down to take photographs, some striding out with vigour and others just ambling along and smelling the flowers, but it all served to keep us active and moving.Walking

Other events consist of  visiting vineyards, learning to cook paella and then having it for lunch,

Paella-chefbird-watching, a visit to a meditation centre, sight-seeing trips to places like Ronda, Nerja, and the famous white villages, a few hours spent in a Haman (with massage), seafood lunch on the beachfront at Malaga, and an Equestrian show with flamenco (this one not to be missed).

Dancers

All these ‘extras’ are included in the price of the holiday and together, make up a very attractive package.

Although these trips and walks are all taken at a leisurely pace, if anyone feels like opting out of them they can do so – it is a holiday after all.  Equally, for those who want more regular exercise, specialist breaks are planned, as well as specialist weeks for clients who may want to spend more time studying mindfulness and gaining insights into their life.

P1000401

P1000418Life expectancy continues to increase and holidays like these, organized by people who are dedicated to the philosophy of a healthy, active life and happy relationships as we grow older, are a breakthrough in advancing the cause of living better while we live longer lives.

Don’t think this is some freakish ‘alternative’ lifestyle holiday where you deny yourself the good things of life.  Great food and great wines, sunshine and blue skies are all there, just as you’d expect, but the added value is the feeling at the end when you find yourself fitter, healthier, and possibly happier, for the experience.

P1000425

 

So, get ready for a Spanish-style pub crawl on a Tapas evening in Malaga when you will enjoy whitebait, anchovies, patatas bravas, and other Spanish delicacies, washed down with a few glasses of wine in a Bodega in operation since 1840.  You don’t believe me? Ask SilverSpain about it.

Abanicos,-Seville--(3).jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sunday Lunch Time Walk

Looking-down-to-Beach-from-Cliff-Path.-SandownI thought I’d time my walk today for lunchtime and, as I thought, I had the place to myself.  Being Sunday, I presume most people are eating out or at home tucking into ‘le rosbif’ or even pasta or pizza.

So this is Sandown, Isle of Wight, on a beautiful sunny day in April, looking down from the Cliff Path that runs between this town and the next town, Shanklin, then down a steep path on to the beach.   I walked through to the Cliff Path from the main road, it looks quite woody and yes, it is, with hidden niches, wild flowers, primroses and bluebells sheltering under gnarled old trees, and the inevitable folly.

Grey-skies-soon-gave-way-to-blue

Cliff-Path,-Sandown,-Isle-of-Wight

 

Pockets-of-wildflowers-dot-the-Cliff-at-Sandown

Cliff-Path,-SandownLooking-down-to-the-Beach-from-Cl;iff-Path

 

By now, the beach will be full of walkers, the ice-cream kiosks will be doing a roaring trade, and the Pier will be packed with children on the bouncy castle and various other amusements.

Culver-Cliff,-Sandown

Deserted-beach-at-Sandown-Isle-of-Wight

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tables that were empty at lunch-time will be occupied with people drinking teas and coffees, snacking on home-made cakes, and perhaps sitting back reading the Sunday papers.  Soon-to-be-filled-with-happy-eaters!

Culver Cliff, the massive white chalk cliff that curves around the edge of Sandown, hiding Whitecliff Bay and Bembridge, catches the light when the sun shines, and out on the horizon are cruise liners and cargo ships bound inward for Southampton, or outward for foreign parts.

Sandown-Pier,-Isle-of-Wight

Lobster-Baskets

Some have been here with me before, but the beaches around the island never fail to please me, and walking on the sands, or on the revetment that runs under the cliff, or even on the pavement where convenient benches make stopping to take in the view even more of a pleasure, makes this my favourite walk – always.

 

 

 

 

Photography Challenge – SURPRISE

Surprises come in many forms and here are three of mine.

  1.  I was totally bowled over by the tame wild-life (well, rabbits, squirrels, peacocks and other birds) which allowed me to get up close and personal on one of Croatia’s islands.  This was helped no doubt, by the fact that it was traffic-free.  I fear however, that the hundreds of Game of Thrones fans who are invading the islands at the moment, may soon render this a thing of the past.

P1160042

In Cyprus recently, I was surprised, and pleased, that the island wasn’t trying to hide its revolutionary past.  This bronze grouping was perfectly placed to remind people of what the island had gone through to achieve it’s current tentative peace.

EPSON scanner image

The beauty of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, Japan, should not have surprised me but it did.  A cool, calm, oasis of tranquillity in the midst of a busy city it had a calming effect on everyone.  I noticed that even mobile phones were less in use here than elsewhere – how’s that for peace!

Bamboo-grove

Honfleur, Beautiful Even in Winter

Frost=covered trees near Honfleur3
Frost Laden Trees Along the Seine

I’ve written before about Honfleur, my favourite French town, but before this year I’d only visited it in summer.  I arrived in France on New Year’s Eve this time, not by car as I had done before, but on a ship which sailed down the Seine from L’Havre to Rouen.

Frost-covered trees near Honfleur
So White it Looks Like Snow

On the journey we looked out on a wondrous scene of frost-covered trees on the banks of the river, trees which at first I took to be silver birch, so thickly covered in frost were they.

In-the-midst-of-the-frosty-trees,-a-lone-mansion.
In the Midst of the Frosted Trees Appears a Mansion

I had never seen anything like this before, and it was made more fascinating by the fact that there were also pockets of greenery where the frost had not reached.

Honfleur is not far from Rouen so it seemed a

The Great Clock, Rouen
Rouen, the Great Clock

good idea to take ourselves off there for the day, even though I had presumed the town would be mostly closed up for the winter.  But no, the town was as busy as ever with cafés, restaurants and bars open and packed with visitors.  As usual, the area around the marina, the Vieux Basin, was the most crowded and we had a problem finding a table at lunch time.

Honfleur, an essential stop on any Norman itinerary, is still a fishing port, and despite its sophisticated yacht harbour and fantastic high-rise houses surrounding it, the town has preserved its rich artistic and historic heritage in its traditional buildings and picturesque streets and squares.  It is unlike any other part of Normandy, seeming to bear no relation to industrial Le Havre just across the Seine estuary or the Pays dAuge to the south.

Honfleur--VBieux-Bassin-6
One Side of the Marina
Vieix Bassin, Honfleur
St. Catherine’s Quao

The oldest part of Honfleur lies in the area of the Vieux Bassin, a tangle of delightful cobbled streets and alleys known as L’Enclos, the original medieval town of Honfleur enclosed within the first town walls.

Honfleur staple
A Nomandy Staple

Here you will find the oldest church, the deconsecrated 14th and 15th century St. Etienne’s, a Gothic parish church constructed of chalk with flint and Caen stone.  The bell tower is covered with a façade of chestnut wood in the local tradition, as indeed, are many of the old houses behind it.

Honfleur 4
A Street in Honfleur

Behind this is the original 17th-century Greniers a Sel (salt warehouses) the royal salt stores that once contained 11,000 tonnes of salt for preserving the locally caught fish and the Atlantic cod and herring which the fleets landed.

Honfleur 3
Honfleur Street

The Bassin is surrounded by picturesque narrow houses, and without doubt this is what catches the eye of every visitor upon their first visit to Honfleur.  The real jewels (and looking like jewels too because each one is a different colour) are in the row along the Quai St. Catherine, some of the houses being 10-stories high, with slate roofs and half-timbered and slate façades looking as though they might topple over at any minute.

Vieix Bassin, Honfleur
The Beautiful Vieux Bassin, present-day yacht Marina, of Honfleur

An interesting fact about these narrow 16th and 18th century houses that are squeezed against one another on St Catherine’s quay is that not only are they all different in size, shape, and colour, but that they also have two ground floors: one opening on to the quay and another one, half way up opening behind on to either Dauphin Street or Logettes Street.  Because of this, each house is privately owned by two different householders.

Honfleur’s finest architectural prize is the old wooden Church of St. Catherine which was built by shipwrights in the 15th and 16th century just outside the walls of the medieval town, using wood from the nearby forest.

Honfleur Wooden Church
W

 

This is the largest wooden church with a separate bell-tower in France.  The interior architecture of the church is quite remarkable, as the shipwrights used their naval construction skills in the building of it (stone was scarce but timber was plentiful in the neighbouring forests) and in shape inside it resembles an overturned double hull.  Look closely at the pillars and you will see many irregularities pointing to the crudeness of the tools used in the work.  The separate bell tower, opposite the church, is an oak construction built above the bell-ringer’s house and this serves as an annexe to the Eugène Boudin Museum – a must for art lovers.

Honfleur old Belfry Tower
Wooden Bell Tower

Honfleur has been attracting painters to the area for generations.  Boudin, known as the father of Impressionism, was born in Honfleur and painters such as Monet, Corot, Daubigny and Dufy were drawn to these parts by the beauty and quality of the light.  Their work is well represented in the many galleries in the area.  The painters usually stayed just outside the town at Ferme St. Simeon, then a rustic auberge, now a very grand and beautiful five-star hotel standing in magnificent grounds.

Carvings inside Wooden Church
Carvings in Wooden Church

 

Honfleur was also the birthplace in 1886 of the avant-garde musician, artist and writer, Erik Satie, and there is a Museum dedicated to the man where you can immerse yourself in his quirky world.  Unlike any other museum you’ve been to, this one takes you from room to room to the accompaniment of Satie’s music (via electronic headsets). stunning visual effects and extracts from his writing.  Even if Satie is not one of your favourites, this is a very special experience which I’d highly recommend.

Calvados House, Honfleur
Calvados House, Honfleur

It is very easy to walk around this small town and you won’t get lost.  However, like many towns, Honfleur has a Petit Train Touristique, a tractor-drawn ‘train’ that trundles around the main tourist spots, operating May-September.  If only there for a day, I’d recommend this.

Honfleur Tourist Board.

Winter scene in Vieux Bassin - Polar Bear on Ice
It Really is Winter – Polar Bear on Ice in Vieux Bassin – December 31st 2016!
Frosted trees above towpath houses on Seine
Town along the Seine with Frosted Trees above

Sunday Walk on Isle of Wight

A walk along the seafront at Sandown, Isle of Wight, with my friend Steve from London, a brilliant photographer who has brought his camera with him, produced some great images that I’d like to share with you.  Sandown shares with Shanklin, the next town, a marvellous crescent of golden beach, perfect for safe swimming –  one of the reasons why both towns attract families with young children.

_DSC3445

Sandown also has the Dinosaur Museum, this being Dinosaur Island, and Shanklin has a wonderful Chine that leads from the centre of the old town, down through ferny green walks, to the beach and the sea.

But Sandown has something more frivolous – beach huts that make one smile, because the custom here is to give them all peculiar, funny names, a play on the word ‘hut’ more than ‘funny’, clever, quirky, and guaranteed to make one smile.

Steve took these photos for me.   I hope you like them too.  You may have to click on the images to enlarge the name plaques.

_DSC3471_DSC3468

_DSC3466_DSC3465

So there you have it, Sandown Esplanade beneath the Cliff Path and along the beach on a delightful walk that leads to Shanklin (well lit during the evening as well) with cafes, life-guards, invigorating breezes and views of giant ships leaving Portsmouth and Southampton for foreign ports, as you walk along.

_DSC3459_DSC3461

 

 

 

 

_DSC3458

And for the last photo, well, it speaks for itself.

_DSC3469

Flowers in Springtime

I admire the many photographs of gardens and flowers other people post on their sites and walking around my minute plot this afternoon I thought I’d do something similar.  I think it’s a sort of displacement activity as I haven’t been in a writing mood for some time now, nor have I remembered to take my camera when I’ve gone out walking.  If I did I could post something on Jo’s Monday Walk which I’ve been meaning to do for some time.

So here goes.  First up is something I’m thrilled about, a blossom laden branch of my damson tree, one of my favourite fruits but one that is very hard to come by these days.  The amount of blossom still on the tree after the March winds makes me think I may be blessed with a decent crop of fruit this summer.  It’s only in its third year in my garden so, fingers crossed ….

A-blossom-laden-branch-of-my-Damson-tree

Next up is a planter of tulips just struggling into the light and behind them is an azalea which is almost finished now.  It was tempted out by a burst of almost summer weather a few weeks ago when it, along with my early lavender, gave pleasure to some bees who appeared to be in a drunk/druggy state as they careered into each other and tumbled from blossom to blossom.

Tulips backed by a pink AzaleaNot far from this is this rampant yellow flowering bush/shrub whose name I have forgotten.  I know it started life last year as a small cutting and like Topsy, it just growed and growed, now I shall have to take the secateurs to it as my garden is really small.  But for now, its cheerful yellow colour brightens up my day.

I can't recall the name but it's a lovely spash of colour in the garden

I liked this last one while I was taking it, but looking at it now it appears a bit sad.  Definitely, an end of something, winter I hope, with the urn lying on its side, the background of dull containers without their jewel-like summer flowers, the lone crocus and the forget-me-nots struggling for a place.  It’s even a bit blurred as I have a back problem and cannot position myself to get the best photographs, so am apt to aim the camera haphazardly when I can’t do ground shots.

The last of the crocus and the first of the forget-me-nots

Anyway, a glimpse of some flowers in my garden, in lieu of a travel piece.

Oh, and an out-of-focus Camelia

!Camelia