Sunday, December 29, 2013

A short trip to Brighton

When I made the short journey to Brighton in November, I had one thing in mind.  I was going to get a photo of that outrageously ornate Royal Pavilion.  I had it pictured in my mind and my image was very much like this photo taken by someone I follow on Flickr.  But alas, the best laid plans often go awry.

Erected smack-dab in the middle of the lawn in front of the pavilion was a giant temporary tent.  You can just see the edge of the tent roof in the photo to the left.   I didn't take a photo of it because quite frankly, it was not a picturesque sight.

I made due with several photos of the ornate details of the outside of the pavilion and I took the tour of the inside and I'm so happy I did.  The inside, although a little down-at-heel, was spectacular.  There were some rather amazing chandeliers and antiques to feast my eyes upon.

The Royal Pavilion was built by King George and became a royal playground for the king and his circle of friends.  After King George's death, the pavilion was used as a residence by King William IV and by Queen Victoria until 1845.  In 1850 it was sold to the town of Brighton after the interior had been stripped of its furnishings.  The long process of restoration started and still goes on today and with the cooperation of the Royal Family, there are many beautiful pieces on loan to be displayed inside.

Outside the Royal Pavilion, stands this statue of King George IV by Sir Francis Chantrey.

All in all, I'm glad I went.  The tour was great and I even had a tasty lunch right inside the pavilion at their small dining room.  However, getting that one photo is still on my list of things to do.

I'll share more photos from Brighton on a future post.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Exploring on a whim!

The first time I visited London back in the 1980’s, I fell in love with the city and I’ve found myself returning many times and always finding new things to experience and old favorites to enjoy again.  Needless to say, I’ve made use of London’s mass transit system known as “the tube” to get from one side of the city to another.  If you have ever used that system, you know how efficient it is and you might also know that each train is announced by its end point destination.  I’ve always been curious about those end point destinations so on this trip I decided that I would ride one of the lines all the way to the end and get out and look around.  That’s how I happened to visit the pretty village of Amersham located at the very north-western end of the Metropolitan line.  It was interesting to see how the crowds on the train thinned out the further out we got, dwindling down to just me and two other people at the very end.

The city is located 27 miles northwest of London and is split into two districts, Old Amersham in the valley and the newer and rapidly growing Amersham-on-the-hill located around the rail line.  It was the newer section that I explored on my short visit there.

 I walked through the business district with its half-timbered buildings and shops as picture above and to the left.

I also ventured into some residential streets where I found lovely tree-lined lanes and beautiful brick homes with half-timbered trim. 

I enjoyed this exploration so much, that I’m sure I’ll do it again the next time I’m in London.  Maybe I’ll head to an eastern end point the next time.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas in London

There were certainly a wide variety of beautiful Christmas decorations in London when I was there but, I think I enjoyed all the decorations at Covent Garden the best.  The night I was there, the disco ball was spinning and the light it created looked like snow falling on the jazz group that was playing downstairs.

Just outside of the building, this giant "Rudolph" was the perfect meeting spot for shoppers.

On Regent Street, these pretty Christmas lights were keeping the street well lit.  

And inside the entrance to Fortnum & Mason, the grand staircase was wearing festive holiday decorations.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas in London

My latest trip to London was in November and by that time most of the Christmas decorations are up all around town.  Today I'm featuring a few of the scenes I enjoyed.  Above is a carousel that was in front of the Natural History Museum.  Behind it you can see a sliver of the ice skating rink that was also there for holiday revelers to enjoy.

The famous department store Fortnum & Mason had all of it's windows decorated with a variety of Christmas scenes.  This was my favorite.

A Christmas tree decorated with royal crowns was located at the entrance to the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace.  Of course it should have royal crowns to adorn it's branches.

On Sunday I'll show you more beautiful Christmas decorations!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Bird's Eye View of London

Personally, I think that riding on the London Eye is a must for every visitor.  The views in all directions are breathtaking and if you've been to London as many times as I have, you will recognize all the key historic sites when you see them below you.  When the ride begins, you start to rise and you begin to see buildings like Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey much more clearly than you see them from the ground.

As you get higher, you see in much further distances and when you are at the top, you can see the passenger compartments that are next to you very clearly.  In fact, you could almost have friends in that next car and snap their photo.  I didn't but, what a great idea.

Using my telephoto, I could zoom in and get a great view of Westminster Abbey with Big Ben looming in the foreground.

I even zoomed in on Westminster Bridge to get a shot of two of those iconic red London buses passing by.  I've been warned that a ride on the "Eye" is very expensive but looking at my Bankcard statement, I see that it was only $24.63.  I really don't think that's too expensive for the fabulous views you get and the wonderful photo opportunity it provides.  In addition, it's just great fun!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The Parliament Building in London is universally recognized and almost everyone has heard of Big Ben standing tall at the very end.  I arrived here around 9:00 AM so that I could get the sun shining on the building and I lucked out with a gorgeous blue sky to go with that golden glow.  After taking some photos, I walked over to the London Eye and took a ride on that giant ferris wheel.  I got more great photos of this icon from high up.  I'll post a couple of those on Sunday!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sphere Within a Sphere

The sculpture titled “Sphere Within a Sphere” by artist Armaldo Pomodoro sits in the courtyard area of the Vatican Museum.  Or should I say, one of the sculptures of that name is located there.  It was originally made for the Vatican but it seems the artist made many versions of this sculpture after the first was complete and you can find them all over the world in places as unlikely as the Des Moines Art Center and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.  There appear to be many artistic interpretations for sphere but none that I found actually voice the artist thoughts.  The one that seems to dominate is about how the world can be torn asunder with wars and disasters and it somehow comes back as a better and more fruitful place.  Let’s go with that description rather than the one that says it signifies how the world will be torn apart by technology.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Beach Escape

Laguna Beach California is the perfect getaway place especially for Arizonans who suffer through the long and very hot summers.  Around about August, we desert dwellers have had our fill of searing hot temperatures and are looking for places to cool off.  The beautiful city of Laguna Beach fits the bill just perfectly.  There is plenty to do with two art festivals going on and the awesome “Pageant of the Masters” event running all summer long.  There are also plenty of art galleries to explore, restaurants to try, and endless shopping possibilities.  And of course, the beach!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mission Inn

The eye-catchingly picturesque Mission Inn in Riverside California has been a cornerstone of the city since 1876.  In the beginning it was just a 12 room guest house but the increasing influx of tourists to the area prompted the owner, Frank Miller to expand and, expand he did.  The first wing was built in 1903 in Mission-Revival style and three more wings would follow until 1931.  Each expansion incorporated architectural and structural elements of the 21 California missions. 

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to stay here and I took cameras and the tripod with me to capture the beauty of this place.  The top photo shows the beautiful entrance to the hotel with the mission bells over the archway.  The photo below shows one of the roof top patio areas with a peaceful reflecting pool and pots overflowing with flowers.  All of that is surrounded by the arches and domes of the mission architecture. 

The Mission Inn has of course hosted many famous guests from presidents to rock stars.  Richard Nixon and his wife Pat were married here and Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned here.  Even Miss Piggy is on the VIP list of guests.

I have many photos from here showing to beautiful architecture so I'll post more in the future.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cala Luna

When I went to Costa Rica with Julie of Scottsdale Daily Photo one of my favorite dining places was at the Resort called Cala Luna.  We had lunch there twice while we were there.  It was conveniently located within walking distance from their Langosta Beach condo.  If you follow Dave’s (Julie’s husband) blog (Tamarindo Costa Rica), you’ve seen his photos from there. 

The food was great here but, I have to say the margaritas were the best. 

On one of the lunch occasions, this gorgeous Magpie was perched just outside the open window next to our table and checking to see if we might have a handout.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

U.S. Capitol Building

Sitting atop Capitol Hill is this grand building where the United States Congress meets.  Historically, a lot of things have been accomplished in this building.  Unfortunately, not much was accomplished there in the year 2013.  I took the above photo standing on a balcony of the “Newsium” the new museum of news in Washington DC.  The view from there was spectacular.

 This photo was taken from a closer vantage point.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hodgson Water Mill

On the edge of the Ozarks in southern Missouri and on a beautiful country road is this historic mill.  A mill was first built here in 1837. It was rebuilt in 1897 by Alva Hodgson, a master millwright, and it was built to harness the power of a huge spring flowing into a Bryant creek.  Unlike most stone gristmills that were shuttered, Hodgson Mill kept producing quality wholesome, whole-grained products well into the 1970’s.  The tiny mill was straining to keep up with the demand for its products so new modernized facilities were built.  The mill is now listed on the National Historic Register but the Hodgson Mill products are still being produced.  

In fact, I’m betting you’ve seen them in your local supermarket or specialty grocer. Ever seen a box or flour sack that looked like this?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wrigley Building

The Wrigley Building is an iconic Chicago landmark built with French Renaissance details and a “wedding-cake” like tower on top.  It’s one of the few business locations in the world where no other address than the name is needed.  It sits in a prime location on Michigan Avenue right on the Chicago River.  At night the building is lit with flood lights that light up its fa├žade in the most dramatic and inviting way.  The building was completed between 1921 and 1924 as the headquarters for the Wrigley Chewing Gum Company and was one of the very first business buildings to be located north of the Chicago River.  The building achieved another Chicago ‘first’ being the first office building to be air conditioned in the city.

When I was working in Chicago, I lived just one block from the beautiful landmark and I enjoyed seeing it every day that I was there.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Floris Generica

Floris Generica is the name of a huge steel and aluminum sculpture in the city of Buenos Aires Argentina.  It sits in a park above a reflecting pool in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas.  It was a gift to the city from Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano who is quoted as saying his flower “ is a synthesis of all flowers and is a hope that is reborn every day to open”.  It was created in 2002.  The sculpture was designed to close its petals at night and reopen every morning when the sun shines although, currently the mechanism to control this movement is disabled. 

It certainly is a beautiful piece that I enjoyed photographing from every angle.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Puente de la Mujer

Puente de la Mujer translates to "Bridge of the Woman" and it is a pedestrian bridge located in the Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires Argentina.  The bridge was designed by Santiago Calatreva and is probably one of the most recognized sights in this area of the city.  The thing I found most interesting is that it is supposed to symbolize a couple dancing the tango.  I didn't get that when I was photographing it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Proper Parliament Building

The Parliament building in Edmonton Alberta, Canada is a grand structure worthy of a government building.  It's located on a promontory overlooking the North Saskatchewan River valley and on the former location of Fort Edmonton.  That fountains in the plaza add to it's distinguished look.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Arizona Mining Town

Main street in Superior Arizona looks a bit ramshackle and deserted but you can't disregard that dramatic mountain backdrop.  Superior is a mining town with copper mines just a few miles away.  The town itself is a little run down but there are still quite a lot of residents to keep things going.

The La Mina bar is still open for business.

In spite of the town's downtrodden look, I still found some large and dramatic homes within the city.  The one above has a huge balcony and an artistic mural painted along the front.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


While driving around in Tuscany, I spotted one of those picturesque hilltop towns in the distance and we decided to take a look at it.  We arrived at the Piazza Garibaldi right in front of the Collegiate Church of St. Martin, a Renaissance-Baroque style church pictured above.  The church was dedicated in 1588 and restored in 2010.

We walked the sleepy streets and found lots of very old buildings lovingly maintained like the one above.  The town dates back to the 12th century and up until 1864 it was known as Asinalunga.

We spent close to two hours there walking the hilly and twisting streets looking at the doorways and courtyards of the old buildings.  It was so peaceful and quiet, it was a pleasure to enjoy the architecture and views.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The pull of the theatre

When I was working in Chicago, I took many weekend trips to places that were easier to get to from the huge Chicago airport.  One of those trips was with several other people from our project team, when we went to Toronto for the weekend.  While there, one of the members of our group saw that Les Miserables was playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre and asked if the rest of us would like to go.  I was the only person in the group who had seen it before but since it's an all time favorite production, I decided to go along with the group.  We got up early the next morning and went to the theatre to see if we could get tickets.  While waiting in line, I started to notice the pictures of Colm Wilkinson in his role as Jean Valjean.  I wondered why they were using Wilkinson's picture for this production so I stepped out of line to check further.  It was then that I realized that Colm Wilkinson was actually the lead in this very production.  I was so, so excited to see this legendary performer perform this legendary role.  I wasn't disappointed.  It was the highlight of this short trip!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Villa Pisani

Villa Pisani is located about 30K outside of Venice in the village of Stra Italy along a row of villas that were built by the noble families of Venice.  There are many villas bearing the same name as the Pisani family was a very prominent family building many homes and villas.  This one is a baroque villa located on a very large property with a reflecting pool and statuary all over the grounds and the building itself.  The gardens features a greenhouse, stables, gazebo and a traditional maze.

Inside you can see the ballroom with frescos by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Alvise Pisani commissioned this villa after his appointment as doge in 1735.

In 1807 Napoleon I acquired the villa and in 1882 it became a National Monument.  In 1934 Adolf Hitler conferred with Mussolini here.

The grounds alone were well worth the visit here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Expo 86

Way back in 1986 I went to the World Expo in Vancouver British Columbia, the first and only world expo I've ever been to.  The theme for that year was "World Transportation - World in Touch".  There were 54 nations present all displaying various modes of transportation.  The scene above features all kinds of boats from all over the world.

The shot to the left is of the outside of the Soviet Union pavilion and sticking out from the back is a Soviet rocket.

The Expo was opened by Prince Charles and Princess Diana (we weren't there for that) but, the day we were there, Margaret Thatcher did a fly-over on the Concord and we did see that.  That was quite an impressive aircraft making a circle over the city.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is an interesting inland sea located in Southern California directly on the San Andreas fault.  It was formed by flooding from the Colorado River and continues to be fed by agricultural runoff.  In the 1950's it became a recreational destination with cities popping up around it's shores like Salton City, Desert Shores, and Bombay Beach.  Soon after that boom, the salinity levels of the lake started to increase until the lake is now considerably more salty than the Pacific Ocean.  Because of that, many of the species of fish in the lake could no longer survive.

Shortly after moving to Arizona in 1970, I visited here and enjoyed the beach and the birds.  At that time, it was clear to see that the area was in decline.  In 2011 on a trip to California I took a little side trip to see how the sea was looking now.  It was a sad experience.  All of the towns named above are abandoned and almost all of the campgrounds are closed.  I wanted to visit Bombay Beach because I had heard that it was an eerie ghost town but, the road to there was closed.

I found a little 6 minute video on the internet that shows scenes from Bombay Beach.  Click on the link if you would like to see it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Architecture & Fashion

Many people have certain designers whose work speaks to them and mine happens to be Burberry.  I'm not sure why but, I think it might be because I've always had an affinity for plaid.  Maybe it was all those plaid skirts I wore as a grade-schooler.  When I was visiting Chicago last June I noticed that the Burberry store had been completely remodeled with the exterior getting a Burberry Plaid look to it.  I had to take a shot of it and I especially like the one above with the contrasting pattern of another building behind it.

I think the new look to the store is very attractive and perfect for Burberry but, I didn't go inside on this visit.  This was my day to take photos so I kept on the move.  I'll have to go back one of these day and check on the inside.