Volucella Zonaria

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One of the many interesting insects I snapped for the first time last year was this hoverfly. It’s a whopper and if you don’t know your hoverflies from your hornets, rather scary. This critter is designed to mimic the European Hornet, and it does a good job! Apparently this one is a male. Yes, I can now sex hoverflies – is there no end to the fairly useless and geeky things I am learning through photography?

Red

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Red is such a very photogenic colour. It looks great against snow and ice.

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And makes a vibrant focal point for a colour-popped black and white.

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We love red over here, on our buses, phone boxes, and postboxes.

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It is the colour of earth, from the slopes of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon…

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…to the raw power of the mighty Kilauea.

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It is the colour of fire, and those who fight it.

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But it is also a colour flowers use to lure bees,

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the colour of a robin’s breast,

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and of Christmas.

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From a boat on Lindisfarne’s fair and ancient shore,

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to the far more ancient walls of Egypt,

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deserted cliff-dwellings,

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and the roof of a Quebec church,

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red is all around us.

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It is the colour of our very life’s blood,
and of remembrance.

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Weightless in water, swift as the wind

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I live in a town on the confluence of rivers. Water is a significant part of my local landscape and so is rowing.

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In any weather, the hardy rowers can be found ploughing a furrow through the Thames.

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We are a nation of rowers and Surrey is in the heart of rowing country.

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We like to do well at rowing in international competitions. This year, there is a small sporting event taking place on home soil, and water. You may have heard if it.

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Hopefully, we will do well. But however we do, the rowers will still be out on the Thames, doing their thing, every day.

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“How fared it with the wind,” I said, “when stroke increased the pace?
You swung it forward mightily, you heaved it greatly back.
Your muscles rose in knotted lumps, I almost heard the crack.
And while we roared and rattled too, your eyes were fixed like glue.
What thought went flying through your mind, how fared it, Five, with you?”
But Five answered solemnly, “I heard them fire a gun.
No other mortal thing I heard until the Race was done.”

R.C. Lehman

Intrepid explorer

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After hacking through the forbidding jungle, the intrepid explorer finally came upon the mighty river.

“…les jeux d’enfants ne sont pas jeux: et les faut juger en eux, comme leurs plus serieuses actions.”
Children at play are not merely playing; their games should be seen as their most serious actions.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

Reigate

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We spent yesterday in Reigate, a quiet market town in North Surrey. The only camera I had with me was my iPhone so, in the true tradition (if there has been enough time for there to be a tradition) of iPhoneography, I have lightly edited the images on my iPad and uploaded directly from there.

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Reigate has the remains of a castle so I get to continue my series on castles. The castle was built in the eleventh century and fell into decay in the seventeenth. None of the stonework remains but the earthworks have been turned into a pretty, and peaceful garden.

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Underneath the castle gardens is a network of caves. The most well-known, The Barons’ Cave, is reputed to have been a meeting place for the barons who devised the Magna Carta. The stone pyramid in the top photographs guards an underground
sallyport.

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The few remains of the castle were removed in 1777 when the land was converted into a garden. The mock medieval gateway was built at that time.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day in Reigate. The town has a lot of interesting independent shops, a fine array of eateries and an Everyman cinema (in which we saw Prometheus). Best of all, the sun shone: a rare event here this summer!

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Shooting the City

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On the whole, I find photography a solitary activity, and I am happy with that. I very rarely go out shooting in a group. When I do, I usually end up deleting the images I take; I just can’t seem to relax into it.

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But a couple of years ago I did enjoy a stroll around the City of London with fellow members of a Flickr group, T189 Oct-Dec 2008. All members of this group, which I administer, took the Open University’s short digital photography course in Oct-Dec 2008.

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Although activity in the group has gradually waned over the years, there is still a core of supportive and keen digital shooters and it was a pleasure to meet some of them in person on our City photo walk.

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And I didn’t delete every image.

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If only all spiders were so pretty

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You may have noticed that my blog tends to feature minibeasts.  But rarely will you find a spider, because I am quite simply scared stiff of them.  I know, pathetic.  But perhaps I wouldn’t mind them so much if they all looked like this one.  This is a common crab spider, misumena vatia.  They hang out on flowers in gardens in southern England.  They are clever, because I have noticed that they favour the more scented blooms, maximising the chance of some hapless insect happening by.  They come in white or yellow, which I much prefer to brown or black.  But they still have too many legs.