Tag Archives: Flowers

Bavarian August Flowers

I have to admit it. Last year, I went a bit crazy with flower photos. This year, I tried really hard to contain myself. But now my resolve is crumbling… Bavaria is all lush and green and in full bloom this month, and now that I’m back in dry-as-a-crisp Toledo, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to drape some cheery blossoms over my blog…

Pink flowers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OK… not technically flowers… but pretty and fluffy 🙂

Pink flowers 2

 

 Phew, I feel a lot better already 🙂

A Sunday Walk. Lots Of Colours. And A Happy Ending :)

Sunday was the last day of Corpus Christi week, Toledo’s major annual “fiesta”.  My friend Catalina and I decided to take to the streets with our cameras before all the decorative splendour disappeared back into the box again for another year.

Toledo Calle Ancha

The main shopping street

Even the local theatre got some fancy curtains

Even the local theatre was beautified with some very fancy curtains for the occasion

Part of a floral display outside the cathedral

Part of a floral display outside the cathedral

Never mind the giants lined up in front of the Town Hall - what's with the hundreds of bags filled with water dangling down from the balcony?!

Never mind the giants lined up in front of the Town Hall, they make an appearance every year – but what’s with the hundreds of bags filled with water dangling down from the balcony?! I’m guessing it’s to do with spending cuts…

Is it me or do they look like they've got goldfish in them...?

Is it me or do they look like they have goldfish in them…?

Catalina. I think she may be off-side ;-)

Catalina. I think she may be waaay off side 😉

You didn't think we'd be out there, toiling away in the streets of Toledo, without adequate sustenance, did you?!

All that hard toil out there in the scorching-hot streets deserved a reward at the end 🙂

Toledo’s Most Beautiful Garden – By A Mile!

The hills surrounding Toledo are studded by posh country houses called “cigarrales”. For hundreds of years, these tranquil abodes have been serving as an escape for the Toledanian elite during the summer months, when temperatures in the city climb to a brain-baking 45ºC.

The cigarrales are still in private hands today and not freely accessible to the general public, but I got lucky on Sunday! One of the cigarrales, the largest and oldest of them, El Cigarral Del Angel Custodio, happens to belong to one of Maria’s clients, and she smuggled me in 🙂

This cigarral dates back to the eleventh century, when Spain was ruled by the Moors, and the Arab influence is evident in the design and lay-out of its extensive gardens.

Oh, the gardens… so stunningly beautiful with all the roses in bloom… anyway, that’s the whole point of this post. And without further a do, care to take a tour?

Garden 1Garden 2Fountain

Part of "The Garden Of The Poets"

Part of “The Garden Of The Poets”

PoetAngelView and fountain

Statue of a Capuchin monk

Statue of a Capuchin monk

Garden viewCypresses

Well, there's got to be a bit of kitsch...!

Well, there’s got to be a bit of kitsch…!

Garden 3

A most fabulous view of Toledo :)

A most fabulous view of Toledo 🙂

Brunnen

Entrance

What? Of course there was free food and drink involved!!!

Of course there was free food and drink involved, what did you think!?! My new career as a gatecrashing freeloader is coming along swimmingly…

And delicious it was, too 🙂

The Cigarral De Angel Custodio is available for hire as a wedding venue, and on that particular day, they had laid on a little matinee fiesta for all the couples who’d got married there over the years. If you want to see more pictures of this place, here’s their website.

 

 

Easter In Toledo: Holy Crap!

Maundy Thursday is a very special day in Toledo, I was told. It is the day when the city’s myriad of monasteries and convents, usually closed to outsiders, open their doors to the hoi polloi. Spain’s first Catholic cathedral was built in Toledo, and resting on its momentous religious significance, every conceivable Catholic order has its hive. Nevertheless, the number of devout men and women contained within their thick stone walls has been progressively shrinking, and it seems that, nowadays, almost all the nuns, monks and priests under the age of 70 emanate from Latin America, Africa or the Philippines.

But I digress…

This is my third Easter since moving to Toledo, and I’d missed “The Grand Opening” of these holy dwelling places in the two years previous. So this time round, I was determined not to let it pass me by.

Well, I needn’t have bothered.

I’d not done much research beforehand to see what it was all about. I had naively hoped that I’d be able to indulge in a bit of “snooping”. I mean, I would love to see a working convent or a monastery from the inside, even if it was just for an amble around the inside courtyards (which can be very beautiful), a sneak peek into the reading room, kitchen, dining hall, or anything actually relevant to the everyday life of the inmates.

But no. The deal was that the institutions’ churches opened, allowing you to have a quick shuffle round the pews, gaze at statues of gold-robed saints with their fingers in weird positions and pray that you’d not get trapped in there mid-mass. Unless you actually wanted to attend mass. Which I didn’t. But I did get trapped. For a whole three hours. OK, it was probably only 20 minutes…

During my detainment, I noticed something interesting. At the back of these churches, facing the altar, there’s often a separate section, partitioned off with a wooden lattice. When I turned round during the interminable sermon, I realised what these were for: they were viewing galleries for the nuns. There they stood, shoulder on shoulder in solemn silence, watching the men in their fancy dresses pull off their show in what was actually their (i.e. the convent’s) church.

We (I was accompanied by my delightful Aussie neighbours) made it to four or five venues (with stopping off for drinks in between) before we ran out of steam.

There was only one WOW!-moment for me, induced by this most spectacular ceiling:

Church Ceiling Ceiling close-up

Toledo has some very fancy doors (here’s a picture post, if you’re interested), and we passed by this one on our thirsty pilgrimage:

Toledo Door

I wasn’t so much fascinated by the door itself, butt by the … erm… assome masonry work…

Over the millennia, Toledo has amassed a stockpile of tales and legends that would fill Hogwarts library twice over. It’s not all cute and pleasant bedtime lore, as you can imagine. And if all those sieges, driving out of Jews, murdering of Moors, not to mention the Spanish Inquisition, weren’t enough, there’s a whole compendium of ghost stories. The local Tourist Office is not above promoting Toledo’s dark side. On our walk, we came across this gem of a poster:

Toledo scary poster

What are you two idiots staring at the bloody lamp for?! Chucky’s about to get you…!

I’m a bit concerned now that I might have given you nightmares… here’s some remedial petunias for you:

Petunias

Happy Easter 🙂

 

 

 

Butterfly Bounty

Vicky’s lovely friends Frankie and David wrangled us freebie tickets to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. We showed up there on Wednesday, bright and early, before the arrival of the wild tourist hordes.

Although fidgety by nature, when you’re surrounded by 1,500 of those dazzling beauties, some of them will actually hold still for long enough to get a good shot. As you can imagine, I went into a clicking frenzy until the red light on my camera alerted me to the battery’s defeat.

A total stunner!

The same kind as above, from the side

The same kind as above, from the side

And from the front :) These blue ones are very friendly, they seem to love sitting on people

And from the front 🙂 These blue ones are very friendly, they seem to love sitting on people

On pink flower

Black

OrangeOrchid

Brown

All that posing and fluttering about gives them a mighty appetite:

Butterflies on sponge feeder

Congregating on a (sangria-soaked?) sponge feeder

Banana

…and on a saucy banana

Fruit

Butterflies aren’t the only inhabitants of the conservatory; there’s a whole flock of brightly-coloured birds keeping them company.

There are also Rhett and Scarlett

Including Rhett and Scarlett, who bicker loudly, and then make up, even more vociferously. When they don’t have their heads under water, that is.

...and this tiny, newly-hatched baby quail

A tiny, newly-hatched baby quail…aaaawwwwww!

Key West – Explosion Of Colours

So, early last Thursday morning, I set off on my annual pilgrimage to Key Wes (Florida), a balmy island 90 miles off Cuba. I’ll be here for almost a month, lounging around on my friends’ houseboat. Here’s my first rash of photos 🙂

Pelican in Key West Harbour

Pelican waiting for some tasty scraps to be tossed into Key West Harbour

The hallmark of Key West is its colourfulness, which, although a bit brash at times, accounts for much of the tiny island’s charm.

Key West Colour

Beautiful flowers grace people’s front gardens:

Trop Plants

Flower 2Flower 3

Orchids are a common sight

Orchids are a common sight

White and purple orchids

Cat

Even the cats have strikingly coloured eyes!

Key West is a prime Cruise ship destination

Cruise ship

The seabirds remain unimpressed...

The local seabirds remain unimpressed…

Lovely Lisbon: December Bloom

Although this is southern Europe, these latitudes aren’t exactly blessed with a profusion of flowers at this time of year. However, that makes makes it even more delightful when you do spot an explosion of spring colours somewhere.

First up is blossom-laden tree with a sea view backdrop:

Seaview blossoms

 

Next, some municipal planting, in front of a tiled wall. Very Lisbon 🙂

Flowers, tiles

 

This last one wasn’t taken in Lisbon, but in Sintra.