Ese’s Shoot and Quote Challenge: The scent of the sea

My entry for week 7 of  Ese’s Shoot and Quote Challenge – Scent. 

 

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”  ~ Van Morrison

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

This photo was taken at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Relaxing at Wakodahatchee Wetlands……a feast for the eyes.

A couple of days ago, we took some time off from the painting and decorating at home, and spent a relaxing couple of hours at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands nature reserve, just a couple of miles up the road.

One of the first sights we came upon was a tree absolutely crowded with roosting Double-Crested Cormorants.

DSCN5096

It was a very warm sunny day, and this Anhinga was really amusing to watch, as it panted to keep itself cool.

DSCN5100

A little further along, we saw another, drying its wings in the sun.

DSCN5009

The White Ibis was foraging around in the reeds for snacks,

DSCN4990

as was the Great Egret.

DSCN5148

This Reddish Egret seemed to have a lot to say for himself.

DSCN4986

We caught a glimpse of shocking pink, and it was non other than a gorgeous Roseate Spoonbill.

DSCN5128

The Tri-coloured Heron was in the middle of a preening session.

DSCN5001

If I could do this, I could scratch my own back. What a contortionist! 🙂

DSCN5000

Finally, he was ready for his photo shoot.

DSCN5003

This pair of Mottled Ducks were just hanging out,

DSCN5017

whilst the Common Gallinule was having a swim party with the kids.

DSCN5005

The real highlight was spotting a huge Alligator, having an afternoon siesta. We trod very softly across the bridge, as we didn’t want to wake him.

DSCN5112

Little did he know, but only a couple of metres away, there was a fat tasty morsel just waiting to be snapped up.

DSCN5110

As we were nearing the end of our walk, we saw a Painted Turtle. I read up about it, and was amazed to find that these turtles have been around for 15 million years. It just goes to show that it’s possible to survive for a very long time if you have a hard shell, and can relax like this.

DSCN5131

I hope you’ve enjoyed our nature walk together.  Have a great weekend.

This post is in answer to Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Relaxing. To see more entries, just click on the link.

Sunday Stills: My Backyardigan Birds

Ed’s Sunday Stllls Challenge this week, Is ‘Birds’, and I currently have such a lot of bird pics which I’ve taken at nature reserves close by, but I’ll save those for another post, and just show you the regulars in my back yard.

When we got back to Florida a month ago, Mr Great Blue Heron was the only bird around here, and had the place to himself. Here you see him surveying his territory.

DSCN0277

It wasn’t long before his friend the Great Egret arrived back from his summer holidays up north, and started searching around the foliage for a few tasty tidbits.

DSCN5077

He didn’t find anything worthwhile in our garden, so decided to try next door where there are more hiding places for frogs and lizards.

DSCN5085

A not too frequent, but very welcome visitor, is this Wood Stork, who was just strutting over to start up a conversation with Mr Mottled Duck.

DSCN5157

Suddenly out of nowhere, Mrs Duck arrived to tell hubby it was time to leave, and off they went, sailing across the water.

DSCN5159

The other evening, a Common Gallinule was perched on the roof of our neighbours’ verandah. He was sitting so straight and still that he could have been mistaken for a weather vane.

DSCN4921

Today, as I was typing this post, a merry band of Snowys arrived to try their luck in the neighbours shrubs. I had to sneak this pic through the window, as they are very timid. Maybe that’s why they tend to go around in groups…….. safety in numbers.

DSCN5162

I’m not very good at photographing birds in flight, but I did manage to catch the Great Blue last night as it flew off across the water.

DSCN4937

I hope you’ve enjoyed my back yard birds. To see more entries for Ed’s photo challenge, just click here.

Wordless Wednesday: Chicken Little was right.

“Listen to me, everybody! I’m your new leader! I’m gonna save your lives! I’m gonna tell you what to do!” ~ Chicken Little (1943)

Do you remember the story of Chicken Little or Henny-Penny, who caused absolute hysteria in the farmyard, when after an acorn fell on her head, she spread the word that the sky was falling? Well, she was absolutely right. 🙂

DSCN4951

Wordless-Wednesday-Button-150

CBBH Photo Challenge: In the Pink

Well it’s the last day of the month and I decided I’d better get my skates on and do Marianne’s ‘Pink’ Challenge.

In Italy, I wore my pink sun hat almost every day. It goes so well with gelato, don’t you agree?

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Outside Starbucks, we spotted this sparkling pink Jag. I wanted to hang around to see if the driver was a woman or a man, but hubby wasn’t as curious as I was, so we’ll never know.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder who is wrapped up so warmly in this pink doggy bath towel. Can you guess?

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s none other than my sweet little granddaughter Taylor, who undoubtedly loves the colour pink.

IMG_2077

I’ve found out over the years, that some of the nicest things come in pink packages.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

In Great Grandma’s pond, there floated the most beautiful pink water-lily.

DSCN2592

Sultry Bali nights can be a really magical pink,

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

but at the end of the day, there’s nothing quite like a pink Florida sunset.

DSCN4929

I hope you’ve enjoyed my pink pics. To see more, click on the badge to hop over to Marianne’s blog.

5066012858_1b15d76633_z

The two blogs which I would like to share with and recommend to you this time, are:

Babsje Heron, who posts about her marvelous experiences with the Great Blue Herons in her neighbourhood. I love seeing her photos, and reading about her encounters with these beautiful birds.

Lynne Mayhew  is a writer, who travels “on and off the beaten path” with her photographer husband Ron. Her posts are both fascinating and educational, and I always look forward to the next one.

Do pop over to see them, and tell them I sent you.

WPC: My Saturated Phuket Boat Trip

When I saw that this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ‘saturated’, I was reminded of a boat trip we did last year when we were on holiday in Phuket. We expected to have the same great weather we enjoyed whilst there in 2006, but unfortunately, Mother Nature decided otherwise. On this most memorable day, we were booked on a cruise, which was to take us across the Phang-Nga Bay in a traditional Junk boat, from where we would transfer to a long tail, to see the Grotto Cave, Sea Gypsy village and James Bond Island, supposedly arriving back at 5-30 in the afternoon.

After an early breakfast during which we  dubiously surveyed the deep grey skies and dripping rain through the dining room windows, we clambered into our minibus. As we approached the marina, the boats all looked very sombre against the grey water and even darker sky. When I saw the photo, I wondered why it was in black and white, but then realised that this was exactly how it had looked.

I hurried towards our boat, hoping to beat the rain which was starting up again.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

By the time we got on board, it was teeming down, and I was already quite saturated. The leaking roof had been patched with  sticky tape which was coming apart, so that water was dripping onto the table in front of our seat, and splashing all around. I wasn’t too happy about that, but as it turned out, this was to be the least of our problems. As you can see, plastic sheeting was rolled down at the sides of the boat. This obscured our view somewhat, but rather that than get drenched. Beach towels were handed out in case we wanted to go swimming later, which wasn’t going to happen, but they came in very useful to wrap around ourselves against the wind and rain. We soon got under way, and it wasn’t long before the islands loomed up in the grey rainy mist. Even on such a gloomy day, they were still spectacular.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

We sailed up to take a closer look at the caves formed by the sea’s erosion of these amazing limestone formations.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

How many images can you see clinging onto the side of this cliff? My imagination can make out  so very many strange and tortured-looking creatures.

Before we reached the Sea Gypsy Village island, we were each given a thin plastic raincoat with a hood, and told to put it on, together with a life jacket. I realised why, when we transferred to our long tail boat which was absolutely open to the elements. As we cut through the waves at quite a speed, we all got a thorough drenching. One young couple had brought along their small child, who was obviously scared witless, and wouldn’t stop screaming. I felt really sorry for them, but more so for myself, as they were sitting right behind me.

As we disembarked, we looked like a band of soaking wet, green plastic apparitions. My clothes were saturated and clinging to my body, but I was past caring. I just wanted to get inside and out of the rain.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Alas, there was no escaping the wetness, as this medium-sized market was absolutely flooded out.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

We waded ankle-deep through the rivers of water which gushed along the walkways, whilst rain ran in waterfalls from overhanging tarpaulins.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d been swimming the English Channel. The understandably glum-faced stallholders were not in luck that day, as none of us was in a ‘retail therapy’ frame of mind as we paddled doggedly past the displays of T-shirts, swimwear and souvenirs.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The only sales they made, were half a dozen pink plastic raincoats at less than a dollar each, to replace the green ones, some of which had torn already, and were leaking badly.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Most of the houses here were mere hovels, but we did see quite a contrast, when we came upon a rich man’s house, alongside his poor next door neighbour’s  leaky cottage.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

It was the most unenjoyable shopping expedition I’d ever embarked upon. We stood in a soddenly saturated group on the jetty, impatiently waiting for our longtail to come pick us up, to take us to view the Grotto Cave. These longtails, or ‘Rua hang Yao’ are so-called because they are long and slim. They have a long rod in the back of the boat, which holds up the motor and the propeller, and are extremely noisy, sounding more like dragster racing cars. No wonder the air was once again saturated with screams from the terrified baby, as we gathered speed.

sany0633

We gratefully waved goodbye to the saturated Sea Gypsy Village, and I wondered what it must be like to live there all the year round, especially in the monsoon season.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

We were all hungry, and soaking wet as we journeyed to view James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 movie, “The man with the golden gun,” starring Roger Moore as Bond, and Christopher Lee as Scaramanga the world’s most expensive assassin, who charged $1m per hit.

We skirted the tall thin island,

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

and carried on to the Grotto Cave, Our boat sailed right through it, next to several people out canoeing in the pouring rain. They seemed to be quite enjoying the rain, so I thought I’d better just learn to like it too.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally, we met up with our Junk boat again, and clambered aboard. Oh the luxury in spite of the leaky roof, to be reunited with our towels which we could wrap ourselves up in, as well as dry off our feet. A buffet lunch of fish, chicken, rice and salad was served, together with a couple of bottles of Thai wine, which did warm us up a little.

It felt good to know that we’d soon be back at our resort, and able to have a hot shower before dinner. Unfortunately, we caught up with another boat which had left the harbour at the same time as us. They’d completely run out of diesel, and it was still a long way back to port, so our crew had to set about fixing up a tow line, and we started off once more, amidst much hilarity and joking between the two crews.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course it was now going to take us much longer to get back with the extra load on, but we could hardly leave them stranded, could we?  We’d been towing them for about half an hour, when we noticed something was banging against the side of our boat, and a head popped up over the side. No, it wasn’t pirates, just the other boat’s motor dinghy, with two of its crew carrying a large plastic container. They were hauled aboard, and up came the trap door, so that diesel could be syphoned from our tank into the container, as they needed to be able to maneuver their own way into the harbour. Once they had the required 20 litres, off they went back through the extremely rough waves to their own boat.

sany0670
We were all watching this exercise with our fingers crossed, as it was really very tempestuous out there. They made it back on board, but as they were trying to secure the dinghy, the rope slipped out of the one guy’s hands, and off went the little craft, bobbing merrily away through the waves. Once more, our captain came to the rescue, rounding up the dinghy, almost like herding cattle, and pushing it over to the other boat, until a man could jump in and tie it up. It was quite an expert bit of seamanship, and I was most impressed.

The adventure ended well, I suppose. Once back on ‘dry’ land, the rush hour traffic was made even worse by the pouring rain, but we eventually arrived at our resort about an hour late, to be greeted by the staff, who wrapped us up in thick towels and handed us cups of hot chocolate. What a day it had been, and a never to be forgotten trip.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my saturated tale, even though it’s maybe not quite what Michelle had in mind. I did saturate some of the more colourful pics, which makes them look more cheerful. 🙂

To see more bloggers’ interpretations of the theme, just click here.

Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge: Meet Lucca and friends.

This week, for Michelle’s pet challenge, I thought I’d feature my sister-in-law’s beautiful black standard poodle, Lucca.

SANY0365

What an elegant doggie she is, and so friendly too. There’s no way you can pay a visit, without receiving a warm welcome, as she rushes to greet you, almost knocking you over in the process. She doesn’t look so big here, but when you’re sitting on the sofa and she comes to inspect you nose to nose, you realise just how tall she is.

IMG_2395

One of her favourite pastimes is chasing the rabbits in Great Grandma’s garden. She’s never actually caught one, but the enjoyment of the exercise is all in the anticipation, and she will sit for ages, just watching and waiting for the right moment to take off after them. Of course they are much too quick for her, but there’s always next time. 🙂

sany0113

Lucca, having lived for so many years with her artistic family, is quite musical and sings beautifully. This was demonstrated one evening when we came back to the house after dinner, and her mom brought out a small concertina which someone had brought as a souvenier from their holiday abroad. Great Grandma was enthralled, as were we all.

img_1035

She’s a very sociable and generous dog, and when she has her friends, Polly and Pippa around for a sleepover, she will even give up her own bed, so that they can be comfortable.

IMG_2399

Lucca is well aware that she’s no ordinary dog,. She has so many fans, that to avoid too much attention, she occasionally has to travel incognito.

156248_10150094955800540_8269374_n

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting my gorgeous niece. Just click here to visit Michelle’s blog, and maybe you can also join in the fun challenge.

petchallenge

Thursday’s Windows # 37: Who has the greenest fingers here?

For this week’s Lingering Windows Challenge, I just have two photos taken In Heidelberg, Germany.

The first one has a really stunning display of flowers, which are obviously lovingly tended by the owner of the apartment.

DSCN4172

The second one, just a few yards along the street, probably started out with good intentions, but ran out of steam somewhere along the way.  😦

DSCN4174

To see more Thursday’s Windows, you can visit Dawn’s blog.

Ed’s Sunday Stills: Creepy Things

Ed, “a truck driving photographer from Tennessee” has come up with ‘Creepy Things’ for this week’s Sunday Stills Challenge.

I guess there are quite a few things in this wide world that creep me out. Some of you might find it surprising, that I can’t bear to look at the garishly made-up faces of clowns. I know they are supposed to be great kids’ entertainment, but they have always really scared me. I also steer clear of those people dressed up in funny costumes, who wander around shopping malls, giving out lollipops and wanting to shake your hand, or worse still, give you a hug. Not so surprising, is the fact that I don’t enjoy seeing pics of body builders on steroids, especially female ones, and of course, large hairy spiders and those really obvious fake eyelashes that resemble spiders crawling out of the eyes, really freak me out.

I’m also not that keen on being greeted by this guy when I walk into my local pharmacy.

IMG_3134

Placing a ghoulish figure next to the bread stand, is guaranteed to be very good for my waistline. 🙂

IMG_3136

I know it will soon be Halloween, but wouldn’t this display in the front garden, keep even your best friends from visiting?

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Maybe the people who live here are just plain mean, and are really trying to scare away those little Trick-or-Treaters. What do you think?

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I hope my spooky pics haven’t frightened you away, and if you would also like to share yours, just go to Ed’s post.