Last Saturday, Simon and I went down to Swanage Pier in Dorset to do a few dives. We hadn’t realised that a huge restoration project had begun! Diving is still going on though, with a few safety guidelines in place. Visibility underwater for photography wasn’t particularly great, probably only about a metre, in fact it made navigating our dives pretty tricky! Couldn’t resist having a look at the work going on on the piles and timbers of the pier as we made our way back in. A total of 41 piles are being completely replaced! A massive undertaking but with experts in the field carrying out the work the Swanage Pier Trust hope for it to be completed by August. I can’t wait to see the Marine Villas renovated to create a new, accessible visitor centre with exhibition space, shop, café and a glazed extension. Hopefully the pier will continue to bring joy to visitors above and below for years to come! This is my entry for this week’s Fotospeed fsprintmonday challenge. I will include a few from underwater, see if you can spot the giant spider crab!
I’ve been in Stratford-upon-Avon this past weekend, meeting up with my dear friend Rachel. On Sunday the weather cleared enough for us to enjoy a visit to Shakespeare’s New Place, Museum and Gardens. I had been very excited about seeing these gardens as they are a work of art. Inspired by the works of Shakespeare, the gardens were created by a collective of artists, landscapers, theatre-makers and volunteers. The words of Shakespeare are inscribed within this landscape on pendants, sculptures, benches and on the paving stones.
Meandering through the gardens was truly inspiring! It’s also fully accessible for wheelchair users, which I hope can inspire other UK visitor attractions! This stunning centrepiece is a circle of twenty-six hornbeams (one for every play written at New Place) that encircles the sculpture His Mind’s Eye by Jill Berelwitz. The bent bronze tree could surely have braved The Tempest and expresses Shakespeare’s creativity, the sheer force of his genius. From this angle it seemed to me to be like looking at a giant eye. Perhaps the eye of the storm?
Shakespeare was at his most creative during the nineteen years that New Place was the family home. That creativity lives on in the gardens now. Even more inspirational is that work only began here two years ago, for the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing. Beyond the yew walk, the Great Gardens are surrounded by the most extraordinary sculptures by Greg Wyatt, each one depicting a Shakespeare play. I think I will find something new in each of them every time I visit. It was tempting to re-ennact a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Rachel and I enjoyed the Wild Bank at the end of the garden. We both performed the play at sixth form college, I was typecast as the short but feisty Hermia and Rachel was a woodland fairy. Many happy memories were relived during our visit and I know we’ll be back!
The sight of red squirrels at The British Wildlife Centre in Surrey instantaneously turns me into a small, exciteable child! That’s a good thing. I think we should all embrace our inner-child and revel in the simple delights of the World around us far more often! Especially when it comes to wildlife and nature. It’s the best therapy ever! Supporting places like the British Wildlife Centre is also the ideal way to help secure a future for our precious British wildlife, as well as providing a fantastic educational resource for schools. I hope this dear little squizzle will bring a big smile to everyone who follows my blog and more smiles over at Wex Photo Video, as this is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge.
On Saturday we went to visit family in Somerset to celebrate Easter together. After lunch the grandchildren enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt around the house, with the last egg having been cunningly hidded under Simon’s hat, on his head. When they finally figured it out he was uncrermoniously mobbed for the chocolate treat! After finding all those eggs, we then went off in search of nests. Fortunately they weren’t far off, at RSPB Swell Wood Nature Reserve and Heronry. The heron pairs are busily putting the finishing touches to their nests, high in the tree canopy. They’re well hidden in the dense branches but I managed to get this pair in focus, on the Fujinon XF 100-400mm lens on a sturdy tripod, so that all the children could watch them a bit more closely. It was a dark and dull day so I was pleased to actually manage to get a shot of them! With so many nests, I’m sure there will be plenty of baby herons in the near future. I’m posting this image for today’s Fotospeed challenge. Good luck to everyone taking part!
Most reef-building corals contain photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae, that live in their tissues. The corals and algae have a mutualistic relationship. The coral provides the algae with a protected environment and compounds they need for photosynthesis. In return, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes. Most importantly, zooxanthellae supply the coral with glucose, glycerol, and amino acids, which are the products of photosynthesis. The coral uses these products to make proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and produce calcium carbonate. (Source: NOAA Ocean Service Education)
We got to see these coral polyps and their symbiotic algae photosynthesising, under UV light, in the educational Underwater World aquarium at Birdworld in Farnham. It’s mesmerisingly beautiful! The colour that we associate with coral reefs is derived from the algae living within the tissue. When a reef is put under physical stress, the coral polyps actually expel the algae leaving the structures a stark white. This is the tragic, mass death of large areas of reef that we call “bleaching”. Seeing the living coral made this disatrous phenomenon all the more real to me. I’m posting this image for Wex Mondays this week and I hope that it will lead others to think about the plight of our precious coral reefs.
No, I wasn’t actually under the water myself this time! The weather forecast for last Wednesday was looking a bit dodgy so we avoided the rain by hanging out in Underwater World at Birdworld in Farnham. My inner scuba diver desperately wanted to dive into those tanks! One day I hope to get out to the tropics and find Nemo in his natural habitat.