Sunday, July 31, 2011

Namibia's Wildflowers. Posies For My Readers.

 Wildflowers fascinate me, as I am sure they do everyone! To see Namibia's Damaraland alive with flowers everywhere was a delightful bonus on my return to Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA)project. The land  normally would be drying out after the usual Dec-Feb rainy season, but late showers into early May kept the country alive.
As I looked out on the landscape, Islamic or Oriental carpet patterns came to mind. Delicate silky grass seed-heads swirled over the undulating land glowing with the intensity of the low morning or evening sun, interwoven with dots or occasional splatters of the brilliant colour of tiny blooms.

Driving into EHRA Base Camp. Late afternoon and low light turns the grass tassels golden.
Interspersed amongst the grass are small wildflowers.
  Click on each photo to bring these up to their full glory! Use your browsers 'back' arrow to return.

Here are a few flowers for my lady readers. 
Even the tiniest flower in the pics is so beautifully formed and coloured. They are offered and dedicated to all the wonderful, talented and soulful women I have met out there in the Blogosphere.
 These I present to you, my valuable lady readers!  Comment and choose one and I will dedicate that picture for you by adding your name and link back to your site under the photo.

Everyone listed by a picture has a great website for all readers to visit by clicking on their name. Check them out, they are very talented and interesting writers!

Nelieta likes desert flowers that remind her of her home in South Africa.

Linda from Australia also loves desert wildflowers! 

 Jan has picked a posie of these delicate yellow flowers.

Patty loves white!

Melissa and JIM are picking this upright flower similar to a hollyhock .

SweepyJean has picked this little beauty!

Cathy likes the simple beauty of these red gems.

 Mari has picked a posie of this brilliant yellow desert flower.

These feathery grasses shine for Hamlet's Lair.

Claire picks a cute posie.

Alpana is partial to this dainty flowering plant.

This single purple colored flower suits the wonderful poetry of Rimly.

Cath has been painting flowers.
Alfandi wants to photograph wildflowers also.
 Sulekkha likes this delicate lilac flower.

Andrea likes them all so I'll dedicate this pair to her and John on their travels!


For Debbie the butterfly and yellow flower.

Rachel picked this delicate bloom.

Kalpana picks these flowers overlooking Damaraland scenery.



Becky Owen feels the happiness surrounding these. 

Debra picked pure and simple beauty here.

 I associate the colour yellow with Dutch people and Marja has picked this yellow beauty with a butterfly.

This is the last time I will visit with EHRA, desert elephants, and Damaraland; such a very beautiful country.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

This Moment: Friday 29th.

"If your kilt is nae belted up firm ye'll be showing off ye bare arse mon!"

This Moment- A Friday ritual.

A photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment you want to pause, savour and remember. “This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by the Wee Man which I then kidnapped from Almost there by Sarah-Jane.
And borrowed often from whomsoever is carting it around. But a great idea and credit to the originators.

My Moment is a favourite photo dedicated this week to where we were 12 months ago.

I'm cheating this week as I'll tell you a wee bit about this. Clan night at a wee shop in Fort Augustus, southern end of Loch Ness, Scotland.
Okay, ask me more!


Travel Photo Thursday July 28th: Gondar, Ethiopia.

Fasilides' castle. Gondar, Ethiopia.
 One of  Ethiopia's most interesting historical sites, the city of Gondar once the old imperial capital, contains a World Heritage site of a large complex of castles and palaces behind ancient plant covered walls. Sometimes referred to as the Camelot of Ethiopia, the castle area during July's rainy season was covered in brilliant green mosses and luxuriant foliage, and for me evoked a sense of being in Middle Earth: Arwen or Aragorn could have ridden through the grounds and not looked out of place.

The complex consists of several castles and palaces, one of the largest and most ornate is Fasilides' Castle built in 1640 by King Fasilides. 

Iyasu Palace has suffered damage from earthquakes and during WW2, when British troops captured the area from the Italians and brought about the end of their occupation of Ethiopia.
50 Birr or around $10 gets you admission and time to explore all the complex.

As pictured below, the Fasilides' bath is still in use, but undergoing renovation when we were there during the rainy season. This is in another part of the city and you need to pay separately.

Fasilides' Bath, Gondar, Ethiopia

On Nanci once again has a wonderful photo up. Check it out, and follow the links to all the other photo contributions for Travel Thursday Photos!

And please Stumble, Tweet or Facebook this with the share gadget below.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Tourists Don't Like To See On Safari!

 You finally have that fare paid, your safari booked, cameras ready, and the kids are full of anticipation at seeing Botswana's wonderful wildlife in beautiful natural settings of bush and savanna. Elephant mothers and babies, lions looking after their cubs, herds of gazelle, giraffe and buffalo peacefully grazing are what you expect to see.

 You will, and it is thrilling! While you may see a lion drag down a wildebeast, or a cheetah make a quick kill of gazelle to feed their cubs, that is sad but exciting: it is the reality of nature. Hopefully for the prey it will be a quick kill. And yes, it means a great photo! Life at its most raw and natural.

 But Nature isn't always kind to an animal. Sometimes death can be slow and agonising. An elephant may endure intense suffering over many weeks before its death. A mauled hippo can last many days or weeks until in severe pain the lions finally finish him off.

 The reality of Nature can be this-

A lone and distressed hippo we sighted in the middle of the day, standing immobile well away from the Chobe River, Chobe National Park. The wounds to his back suggests he could have been severely hurt by another hippo in a male dominance brawl. Too sore to seek safety in the water? Are those tears streaming down his face? How many days will he endure? A prime target for lion - will they kill him quickly?

Weeping blood, this bull seeks relief by staying in the water most of the day where he can wash the aggressive flies away.

The horn snapped off at the boss most likely when in a dominance fight with another male. Healing shows around the edges, but how long does this animal endure?

This lioness affected with mastitis, an infection of the breasts which causes inflammation and severe pain. The milk can go bad and the cubs may die. Untreated, eventually abscesses (showing already) and cavities in the breasts may form, resulting in a slow death from massive infection.

Nature can be cruel but the impact of humans on wildlife may be worse.

 This elephant is very sick. Found at a watering hole by Dr Clay Wilson, of Chobe Wildlife Rescue, it appeared unable to swallow water as it just poured out again from his mouth. It appeared to be blind. 
 "Concerned citizens called me in a panic complaining that this was unsightly and upset the tourists." 
" On Sunday 29th a head park official and I went to inspect the elephant. It charged us out of the water requiring us to make a run for it. It stood in one place for over 30 minutes shifting its weight from leg to leg. I suspected an intestinal obstruction but it was not bloated as one usually observes. It has a severe ocular white discharge which is evident in cases of infection. We decided to leave it for one more day."

 The animal was spotted later and had deteriorated. The decision was finally made to euthanize it. Upon inspection it was found that a bullet had entered at a tusk root and travelled up and lodged in the brain affecting its vision and ability to swallow. Eventually after weeks of suffering painful infection, this bull would have died. Hopefully out of sight of we tourists because we wouldn't want to see that - just as the townsfolk pointed out.

Full story is here- very-sick-elephant-bull-

Among Africa's most endangered animal species, this beautiful Painted Dog ( or African Wild Dog ) has been hit by a car.  Dr Clay Wilson treated it but unfortunately it died. As cars increase, or roads are upgraded allowing higher speeds, wildlife strikes become more frequent in and around National Parks. 

Who decides to intervene or not in cases like the above?

There is argument that we should not intervene in natural happenings in the wilderness: we do not rescue gazelle from the jaws of a lion, and a lame animal is left to its fate and becomes food for a predator. That is Nature.

But when we consider Lion numbers throughout Africa have plummeted; some say from 350,000 just 50 years ago to around 20,000 today, every effort needs to be taken to protect the species from extinction in the wild. The non-intervention in the wild argument would have that lioness with mastitis and her cubs eventually die because we wouldn’t give her a $5.00 antibiotic dart!

However, when it comes to the effects of human impact such as a road-strike injured wild dog, or bullet wounded elephant there is strong argument for intervention and not leaving them to their fate. Most animal sanctuaries throughout Africa do intervene in cases where wildlife suffers from human impact. Elephant orphans of poached mothers are rescued, or if a farmer has shot their mother for killing stock, cheetah or leopard cubs are taken in. The sanctuaries serve a valuable role in rehabilitating, and releasing back into the wild where appropriate.

As a tourist, would you be upset to see any animal suffering in a National Park because no one intervened when they could?
There obviously are situations requiring human assistance. But that decision needs to be made by experienced people ‘on the ground’ with the knowledge and equipment to make and carry out a decision on the merits of each case!
Botswana’s Chobe National Parks needs the services of a dedicated fully qualified and equipped veterinarian.

I can attest to Dr Clay Wilson’s abilities and diligence to assisting conservation of wildlife in and around Chobe  – I spent 2 days observing his operation and came away very impressed. He does an excellent job.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Am I a photographer?

Recognition of my camera work as being pretty good has been expressed by some professional photographers I interact with in the blogosphere. Wow and thanks is all I can say! Cool ! To have great photographers encouraging me is really heartening, and the tips they are passing on I am lapping up!
Mari at has been fantastic at passing on her wealth of knowledge about the artistry of photography. Lots of tips and techniques are talked about on her blog. Her latest post sees photos submitted by a host of people to illustrate different methods of creating that great shot. And a couple of mine have been selected.

Take a look at her latest article.

There's a few other photos I thought were pretty good which I wanted to send on to her. Let's have a look at these. Shot in Namibia and Botswana last May/June.

In this first shot I like the way the clouds are highlighted along their bottom edges.

And this-
After the sun has set behind Brandberg Mountain, Namibia.

And from Botswana.
This I like because of the light reflecting off the crocodiles scaled bodies.

I like this because the eye is confused by the closeness of two zebra. It's almost as if you can see both sides of the same animal. 

The impala below is in such clear perspective, and the shadow of another upon her side is very interesting.

Just a few of the photos I like. Plenty more to come.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Moment: Fri July 22

This Moment- A Friday ritual.

A photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment you want to pause, savour and remember. “This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by the Wee Man which I then kidnapped from Almost there by Sarah-Jane.

And borrowed often from whomsoever is carting it around. But a great idea and credit to the originators.
My Moment is a favourite photo dedicated this week to my craft. Taken outside my workshop door.

Dedicated to all the birds in our area who have died during our last fortnight's extremely high winds.  1,000's of seabirds ( and other species ) have perished, blown away from their usual areas and unable to feed, have died of exhaustion on our beaches.

Here you see a male Blackbird wooing 2 females.  New life beginning at my doorstep.


Rainbow Cross of Wroxall Abbey : God's work.

This is a guest post written by Mandy Cooper, a Christian writer and a friend of my daughter Emma another Christian. While we were visiting UK last year, Emma took us to visit Wroxall Abbey, once country home of Christopher Wren in Warwickshire. An intriguing and inspiring story was told to us by our daughter about a 'Rainbow Cross' as photographed by Mandy. Flares are relatively common in photography when aiming into the sun, but when you see the position it occurs in, this is rather more fortuitous than the usual lens flare. And as Mandy's unique story unfolds, can you but not believe that God's work was behind this?

 The Rainbow Cross- by Mandy Cooper.

OK, so this story goes back nearly a thousand years.

Hugh De Hatton, whilst fighting in the Crusades (circa 1100 ad) was captured and imprisoned for 7 years. In a dream, he was visited by St Leonard and, upon awakening, found that his shackles and chains had fallen from him. He returned home to Wroxall in Warwickshire, to his wife. His appearance had changed so dramatically that his wife didn’t recognise him… only by matching two halves of a ring, that they had broken prior to his departure, were they reunited.

Hugh vowed to give an area of land over to the building of an abbey, dedicated to St Leonard. The position of the Abbey was determined by a vision. The stained glass window, now in the main house at Wroxall, depicts the entire story.

In the sixth panel, Hugh is depicted looking down at a small cross of stones that appeared on the ground, marking the site upon which the Abbey was to be built.

The Abbey was built and an order of nuns were invested in the abbey. Some time later, a young nun of the order, Dame Alice Craft, received an angelic visitation, directing that a chapel (now known as Wren’s Cathedral) was to be built next to the abbey. She was a poor nun, lowly in the order, without means or influence. But the angelic visitations persisted until Alice was able to convince the Prioress of the need to build the chapel.

Panel nine of the stained glass, depicts Alice, and the Prioress, looking down upon a small cross, this time made of snow. The cross is depicted, on the floor in front of the high altar.

Cross is seen on the floor in right hand panel .

In 2009, I didn’t know anything of this story. I went to Wroxall to photograph the grounds and chapel, as part of my commission to build the websites for Wren’s Cathedral and the Order of St Leonard. I went on my own. Wroxall was new to me... and I was really struck by the atmosphere outside, in the grounds, amongst the ruins. I took my time, wandering around taking pictures. At the end of the photo session, I walked along the driveway and took the picture, facing back towards the main house, with the chapel on the right. I knew that the driveway cut through what would have been the abbey, prior to its destruction. I stood a little further back, looking down to where the high altar would probably have been positioned.

I took a photograph. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the scene. I remember noticing that I’d left my handbag and camera case on the grass, over to the left… I remember thinking I’d crop it out later.

I returned home, back to my desk and downloaded the photos to have a look at them. When I opened the photo of the driveway, I just stared. At the front, over the driveway, sat a cross of pure white light, with a complete spectrum of colours visible on close inspection. I wasn’t a Christian at that point, but even so, it was so glaringly obvious I remember I just sat staring at it.

I emailed it to Pastor Dave. He thought it was significant, and asked me to put it onto a PowerPoint slide so that he could show it to the congregation. I remember being a bit sceptical. I thought it was a trick of the light…an extraordinary trick of the light…but still a trick of the light. Remember, I wasn’t a Christian, so I had no reason to think it was anything else.

Over a year passed by. In January 2011, me and Dave (my husband!) were with Pastor Dave, in his office. We were about to leave our meeting when Pastor Dave said, ‘Have you looked at the stained glass at Wroxall?’ I said, ‘Of course I have, I’ve got photos of it’. He said, ‘No, have you REALLY looked at it.’ …and suggested that I go and look at the stained glass properly.

We went back home, intrigued…and opened up the photograph of the window. And went cold. The first one I noticed was the cross of snow. Then the cross of stones. All the same size as the cross of light and appearing, so it seems, in the same position as the cross on the photograph.

In February 2011, I became a Christian. Dave gave his life in May.

A few weeks ago, Dave was driving some friends to their home. He was part way through a conversation when he says he suddenly stopped talking, overwhelmed by what he can only describe as a noise of silence in his head. He was confused…and then, 10 seconds later, he realised where he was, as he drove straight past the gates to Wroxall.

God is everywhere. Not just within buildings, or books, or the minds of a chosen few. He inhabits every mortal millimetre of our earth, each molecule and microfibre of our being. He is the beginning and ending of every thought, the consequence of every action. His relationship with each one of us is individual and intimate. It is not the vicarious description of one to another, but a free form, customised, tailored fit to us all, as individual children of a Father that loves each of us in the unique manner to which every parent and every child will relate. We are His own, He knows your thoughts, the desires of your heart. He sees the tears and the joy that balance one another in a constantly flowing equity of emotion that makes us who we are and what we can be within Him. It took me a long time to work this out. I’m catching up quick!

We are being baptised at Wroxall in August…it couldn’t have been anywhere else really.

Mandy x

(PS: This is for you, Mr McIntosh!)

The Rainbow Cross of Wroxall Abbey.

Professional photographers who have seen this photo have commented below
(Ed's Note- the emphasis in bold are mine.)

 " Amazing photo - what's the chance of capturing this!  Yes, probably a lens flare which I would call an awesome coincidence. "

And -
"Although it's beautifully shaped and a nice coincidence, crossed lens flares are pretty common depending on the angle you shoot.

I double checked with some of my photos and all are roughly crossed, although not as beautiful as this one I admit.
I'd say it's a very fortunate and beautiful coincidence. Or maybe something better :) "

So perhaps a lens flare of remarkable clarity and beauty amazingly appearing coincidentally where the original high altar is thought to have been?

What's the chances of that? Or the work of God?  

What do you think?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Travel Photo Thursday: July 21st.

It's Travel Photo Thursday and this was taken in Mongolia on the road leading out of Ulaan Bataar which leads out to Khar Khorin.

A cairn ( ovoo in Mongolia, which is mainly Buddhist ) where travellers seek good fortune from the spirits. Walking clockwise around this 3 times then placing an offering (usually a blue prayer flag, however we placed stones ) upon the cairn invokes good fortune from the spirits. A real nice way of starting a journey in an optimistic and positive way. Note the crutches placed there.

This is posted to wish good fortune for all those participating in the Mongol Rally - Dave and Deb from The Planet D especially. My way of wishing you all a great safe journey!

On Nancie's Budget Traveler's Sandbox  there's a wonderful photo awaits you. And check out all the other photos that linked-in travel bloggers are posting up today!

And spread this good fortune by hitting the Share?Submit icon below thanks!