Gargoyles, “les guardiens” of the churches of Paris

From the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one can see many other beautiful churches in the skyline. Nearby, also on Ile de la Cite is another Gothic style church with exquisite 13 c. stained glass windows, Sainte Chapelle. It was consecrated in 1248 and was part of the royal family residence until the 14th century. This church was also restored in the 19 century.

This pensive gargoyle on the tower of Notre Dame, seems to watch over Sainte Chapelle in this photograph. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.

On a distant hilltop to the north, stands Sacre Coeur Basilica, a magnificent 20th-century Roman Catholic Church decorated with mosaics inside. Sacre Coeur and its quaint neighborhood Montmartre are also must-do destinations for any visit to Paris. I recommend climbing to the tower of Sacre Coeur as well for a fantastic view.

Gargoyle of Notre Dame Cathedral frames the distant view of Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.

Brown Pelican in Action

I have often tried to photograph the Brown Pelican in action: taking off, landing, flying, fishing but they are so fast moving that it is difficult to track, focus and release the shutter in time to capture a crisp image. But you know what they say: stick with it, and “luck comes to the well prepared” photographer.

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With my Nikon D800 (with 600mm of glass) mounted on a tripod and focus fixed on this Brown Pelican, I captured this image of his outstretched wings.

I have always loved the Brown Pelican, because their grace belies their large stocky body, and they are quiet birds who frequent the beach. It is fascinating to watch them dive-bomb fish by careening straight down into the ocean to stun the fish and later scoop them up in their large beak, letting the whole fish glide into their ample pouch.

After a brief stop on the sandbar, off the Brown Pelican goes again, revealing another view of those huge wings.

This bird photography adventure took place at the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida.

What do you see in the Hall of Mirrors?

It’s impossible to visit the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles without feeling a sense of awe toward the history that was made here. First of all, it is visually dazzling with 17 floor to ceiling arched mirrors reflecting the light of 17 windows of equal size. The gold leaf and the baroque paintings that decorate the walls and ceiling date to 1678 and the reign of Louis XIV, before the French Revolution.

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A glimpse of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, France, witness to history.

Beyond the architecture and the stunning visual effect of the space, one must reflect on the history made here through the centuries. “Within the hall, the German Empire was declared in 1871 (Deutsche Reichsgründung)[1] and the Treaty of Versailles signed by the victorious powers of World War I in 1919.”  (Source: Wikipedia).

 

Walking Durham

I spent the day exploring Durham, England. I caught the train from Newcastle, and walked into town, finding the central square and market. Strolling up the road, I took some photos of lovely storefronts and stopped into a few shops. (I should have titled this piece “Shopping Durham,” as my “shopping” blog posts are the most popular!)

I explored the beautiful Castle and Cathedral – more on those in the next few blog posts! One of the outdoor cafe tables at Cafe on the Green, between the Castle and the Cathedral called my name. My guidebook and journal kept me company during lunch. Then, I had the good instinct to cross the River Wear and walk along the far side, looking up at the town and the Cathedral in its summer greenery. Why? I realized that the Cathedral facade would be lit by the afternoon sun.

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This opening in the maple tree provided a natural vignette of Durham Cathedral.

I was even able to position myself just right so the construction cloth over the tower that is under restoration was blocked by the leaves. It was a beautiful and peaceful afternoon, part of an unusually sunny summer of 2018.

Hiking the Holy Island

Lindisfarne, the Holy Island, is isolated from the mainland by the tides for five hours a day, but can be visited during low tide. Most visitors flock to the 16 century castle, which is normally quite picturesque, but is now shrouded in scaffolding as part of its restoration. I found the hike to the castle quite beautiful, along the border of this sheep farm.

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This stone fence led the way to the 16 century castle on Lindisfarne, the Holy Island, in Northumbria, England.

Saints Aidan and Cuthbert, both living in the first century, spent time on this island. Saint Aiden was an Irish missionary who founded a monastery here, and St. Cuthbert was a monk who lived as a hermit on Inner Farne and later became bishop of Lindisfarne. (Source: Eyewitness Travel, Great Britain.)