Month: July 2015

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiration

This week’s challenge is Inspiration. I find inspiration for my photos all around from the light falling on diverse subjects: cars, people, birds, the sea, markets etc… I find inspiration in others’ photos. i find inspiration everywhere…

sand between your toes, memories of beach holidays past

sand between your toes, memories of beach holidays past

broken Zaporozhets

broken Zaporozhets

two boys fishing, Batumi

two boys fishing, Batumi

Symmettry

Symmetry: Drybridge over the Mtkvari River, Tbilisi

some inspiring posts for this challenge:
https://tomwarrenphoto.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/heron-on-the-hudson/

http://dewetswild.com/2015/07/31/inspiration/

https://agent909.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/inspiration-the-city-life/

Weekly Photo Challenge : Close Up (II)

On the fifth floor, we see a lot of birds passing, here are a couple of photos of our avian visitors close up.

 Female House Sparrow preening (Passer domesticus)

Female House Sparrow preening (Passer domesticus)

One for sorrow, two for joy. Eurasian magpies (pica pica)

One for sorrow, two for joy. Eurasian magpies (pica pica)

Other photos submitted for this week’s challenge can be viewed here: Close Up

I think maybe I’ll share this on Twitter 😉

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up

This week’s challenge is entitled “Close Up” (click on the link to see other interpretations).  I notice many other bloggers have submitted stunning photos of bees, flowers, butterflies and dewdrops. I like to be different.

P1300117My image is a close up of a candle on the verge of dying. This was taken in an Orthodox Church, where candles are bought and lit and put in sand receptacles as prayers are said. The second image is to give some context to the first.

P1300116The symbolism of candles in the Orthodox Church is described in this blogpost: The Use of Candles in the Orthodox Church by John Sanidopoulos

A Day Trip to Whitby

This trip was a little different to other trips I’ve been on recently:

  1. It wasn’t with a minibus full of my wife’s colleagues.
  2. It wasn’t reached by minibus, but by train.
  3. It wasn’t in Georgia but in England.
Whitby Abbey

Gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey

We were in England for a week to visit my ageing mother in York. I decided it would be interesting to make a day trip on one of those days and I chose Whitby for our destination, having recently read Dracula. The famous Count chose to land in England, at Whitby on his voyage from the Black Sea.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

It would have been a much shorter trip to go to Scarborough, which has direct trains from York, but Whitby with a change in Middlesbrough has more to see.

When we arrived after a journey taking around 3 hours (Scarborough could have been reached in little over one hour), we headed first up the 199 steps to the ruined gothic Abbey on top of the hill. We didn’t go in the Abbey Grounds (£7.50 each seemed a little steep, when did England become so expensive?), but we did admire the view over Whitby and stumbled upon a wonderful pirate festival.

Pirate lass and view over Whitby sands

Pirate lass and view over Whitby sands

Click on the pirate photos to see the gallery.

As well as pirates there was a festival of street-choirs and lots of tourists. Whitby is steeped in history as a fishing port and where Captain James Cook was taken on as a  Merchant Navy apprentice. The Gothic abbey and the Dracula connection make the town a mecca for goths, who can pick up jet jewellery and various gothic trinkets to add to their collections.

The Dracula Experience

The Dracula Experience

As with many seaside destinations there are also the usual attractions of the British seaside: rock, sandcastles, the sand between your toes and the icy waters of the North sea for those brave enough to venture into the waters.

sandcastle

sandcastle

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Yorkshire Baywatch

Khato braves the North Sea

Khato braves the North Sea

sand between your toes, memories of beach holidays past

sand between your toes, memories of beach holidays past

seagulls

seagulls

greedy gulls home in on discarded meals

greedy gulls home in on discarded meals

Another visitor to Whitby is the seagull. Unlike most birds the seagulls don’t fly away as you approach. They are on the lookout for choice titbits left by tourists and will happily dive onto an unguarded plate.

At the end of our trip we relaxed in a pub named “The Endeavour” after Captain Cook’s ship and Khato tried some English beer, to slake her well earned thirst.

“The Endeavour”

Are these the lucky Whitby Ducks?

Are these the lucky Whitby Ducks, Hugh?

Khato enjoys half a pint of English beer

Khato enjoys half a pint of English beer

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

Symbol

Saint George links my past in England with my present in Georgia. The flag of England has one cross of St George, the flag of Georgia has five. St George is patron saint of both countries.

St George reflected

St George reflected

Georgian flags

Georgian flags

The “real” George may have been born in Palestine in about 270 AD, to a Roman father and a mother from Cappadocia, in what is now eastern Turkey. He served the army of the pagan Emperor Diocletian until the order came to persecute fellow Christians. George would not deny his faith, so he was tortured, buried in the sand and finally beheaded, in the town of Lydda on 23 April 303. Historians disagree about many of the facts.

George is a man with a complex heritage, born as cultures and empires were colliding. George is a foreigner to both England and Georgia, although he lived considerably nearer to Georgia and his mother came from Cappadocia like the other major Georgian Saint: Nino, who is said to have brought Christianity to Georgia.

St George in Islamic Culture

Saint George is somewhat of an exception among saints and legends, in that he is known and respected by Muslims as well as by Christians, his  stature in the Middle East derives from the fact that his figure has become somewhat of a composite character mixing elements from Biblical, Quranic and folkloric sources, at times being partially identified with Al-Khidr, a righteous servant of Allah, who  possessed great wisdom or mystic knowledge.  He is said to have killed a dragon near the sea in Beirut and at the beginning of the 20th century, Muslim women used to visit his shrine in the area to pray for him.

Image of ST George fighting the dragon.

Image of St George fighting the dragon.

“Advance our standards, set upon our foes Our ancient world of courage fair
St. George Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons
….. “Richard III. act v, sc.3

St George atop his steed in Liberty Square

St George atop his steed in Liberty Square

An Excursion to Uplistsikhe and Ateni Sioni with not one but two Georgian Supras (feasts)

Our group

Our group at Uplitsikhe

Uplistsikhe is a cave city complex like Vardzia, the destination of my first trip with this group of Khato’s colleagues. As is usual with these trips, we got up early, we had been told to meet the minibus at 8.30am at Didube in Tbilisi. With true Georgian timing the minibus didn’t actually leave until 9.15am, when the last of the stragglers arrived.

Our first stop was Gori, a town famed as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, Georgia’s most famous son. Our stop was not for sightseeing but to pick up some fruit for our supra (Georgian Feast) later.

Gori Castle

Gori Fortress

There used to be a statue of Stalin in the main square but it was taken down in 2010. Here is a statue of a different “hero”.

“Lomkatsa” or ” lionman”, a fictional Georgian adonis, sculpted by Elguja Amashukeli in 1986 .

 

Uplistsikhe is 10 km from Gori, and sits scenically on the banks of the Mtkvari. It has been a settlement since the early Iron Age and is possibly the oldest urban settlement in Georgia, the main development was from 6th Century BC to 1st Century AD. It has a strategic position on the Silk Road, linking east with west, archaeological digs in the area have revealed artefacts from east and west. The city was an important religious centre in pagan, pre Christian Georgia and magic ceremonies were still practised here until the 18th century. Archaeological studies show that from 4th Century AD to 6th Century AD there was a struggle between the Christians and Pagans. The Kings of Kartli took residence at Uplistsikhe when the Arabs took Tbilisi in the 7th Century. The city declined after David the Builder retook Tbilisi in 1122, and large parts were destroyed by the Mongol hordes in 1240 and later by Tamurlane (or Timur) in the 14th Century. Settlement of the caves was finally abandoned in the early 19th century.

Our first stop was the museum, showing artefacts and a slide-show about the history of the caves. The slide-show was in Georgian but with English subtitles.

Museum at Uplistsikhe

Museum at Uplistsikhe

After our brief visit to the museum, we started to explore the cave complex.

Uplistsikhe

Uplistsikhe

The heat of July meant there were a lot of lizards about.

lizard

lizard

The 10th century church at the top of the complex is Prince’s Church (Uplistsulis Eklesia). It was built over a pagan temple.

Prince's Church

Prince’s Church framed by Tamaris Dabazi

As with many Georgian sites, health and safety precautions are minimal compared to sites in the West.

Beso, Tamuna and Khato on an old wall.

Beso, Tamuna and Khato on an old wall.

Some first aid needed to be applied when Tamuna took a tumble.

P1290977After touring the cave city we headed to Ateni a village where our friends Spartak and Nona live. Spartak has his own wine cellar with his own “champagne”.

Spartak distributing champagne in his wine cellar

Spartak distributing “champagne” in his wine cellar

I’m no wine connoisseur, before coming to Georgia, I didn’t really drink alcohol and now I will only drink wine at Supras (Georgian feasts), but the Georgians were full of praise for he “champagne”. We had our first Supra, before heading out to a warm mineral pool in the beautiful Tana Valley.

Georigan Supra al fresco, where food is abundant and the wine flows freely.

Georigan Supra al fresco, under a mulberry tree, where food is abundant and the wine flows freely.

Our second destination was Ateni Sioni (ატენის სიონი) a seventh century church currently being restored, but still used for services.

Ateni Sioni

Ateni Sioni

Ateni Sioni interior showing extensive scaffolding

Ateni Sioni interior showing extensive scaffolding

Architecturally Ateni Sioni is modelled on the Jvari Church at Mtskheta.

The eleventh century frescoes are among the finest medieval art in the country.

The eleventh century frescoes are among the finest medieval art in the country.

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stags, hunting scene in the brickwork of the church

stags, hunting scene in the brickwork of the church

Then we return to Spartak’s for a second and lengthy supra under a mulberry tree.

Other trips made with this group or “აბოდიალებულები” (which roughly translates as “the wanderers”) :

Vardzia March 2015

Davit Gareja May 2015

Prometheus Cave June 2015

Kutaisi June 2015

Khevsureti trip August 2015