Saturday, 11 April 2015

Cherry Blossom Festival

Washington DC has been counting down to the moment of 'peak bloom' for literally months now and over the last three weeks of the Cherry Blossom Festival - many events and today's parade - there have been detailed predictions of when this would be.  
Today was the day!

We were in the UK and missed the cherry blossom last year and so were determined to see it this year. We were not alone..  The metro was jam-packed and the train was unable to stop at Smithsonian as the platforms were already full.

Every road crossing to get along the National Mall and to the tidal basin was like a battle between the crowds going in each direction.

When you see the pictures of the cherry blossom at the tidal basin, the photos always look very serene but the reality today was complete chaos and in the photo above you can see that the steps of the Jefferson Memorial are thronging with people.

So many people photographing the view, the blossom, themselves.

This chap was trying to do his piece to camera with a passing live audience.

This artist had pitched camp and was busy with his painting with people all around him.

The blossom itself is of course very beautiful...

..but we probably won't be rushing back - there are more relaxing, quieter places to enjoy Spring blossom!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Vintage Toys at the Bargain Loft

Amongst the items on offer at the Bargain Loft today were a number of vintage toys including the above scooter,

A lovely wicker dolls pram,

A doll's high chair and, for the well travelled doll..

.. a trunk wardrobe, complete with travel stickers.

To encourage the child's domestic side..

A wooden ironing board and...

A very cute child's size carpet sweeper!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Grand Canyon Plants

Almost every photo that I took in our short landing within the Grand Canyon featured one or more of the plants growing there.

It is dry and inhospitable territory and nothing of any size grows there - at least not in the area that we visited.

Underfoot it was rocky but the top layer of stones was loose and when you walked on it the sound was like walking over a pile of broken flower pots.

There was a lot of fossil in the rock with patterns of water.  Most of the plants looked pretty tough.  The cactus, above, was several feet tall.

There are mountain sheep and smaller plant eating animals living in the Canyon but they must have a lean time in this area - very little shelter from the sun or wind - and very little to eat.

Once again I am afraid that I don't know the names of these plants..

The dead branches of this striking plant were laid out on the ground like a shadow.

Others were growing up through a dead, woody skeleton of previous branches.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Palos Verdes - Flowers & Plants

The gardens and surrounding clifftop habitat at the Terranea resort where we stayed had a fascinating range of flowers and plants.  Unfortunately I don't know their names!  

They divided into two groups - those that were planted to create pleasant gardens and those that were closer to naturally occurring plants - they are easy to distinguish as the naturally occurring ones are virtually desert plants.  It was noticeable though that even these were supported by additional watering carried through brown plastic pipes which covered the site.

This first plant (close-up below) reminded me of those very tall purple spikes of flower (Echeum?) that we had seen in San Francisco last year - and in Cornwall.

This succulent plant which looked like a House Leek was very colourful with an unusual flower.

The Bougainvillea was cleverly planted so that all the different colours grew together 

This appeared to be a wild type of mesembryanthemum.

These large Paw Paw cactus which we encountered quite painfully in a smaller version at the Outer Banks last year were huge and appeared to be thriving on the cliff top.

This large cactus was growing in the cultivated garden area.

It had intriguing little fruits along the edge of the leaves/branches..

Tonight we are back in Reston, our travel adventure behind us and lots of photographs to sort out.

Next mountain will be the washing.,,

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Palos Verdes, California

The view from the hotel this morning did not disappoint.  Although rain was forecast (a rarity in this dry corner of Southern California), it was bright and sunny. 

I set off for a walk around the gardens and along the coastal path.

I spent some frustrating minutes trying to photograph a pair of hummingbirds who were flitting around and singing to each other.  Entrancing - but I just couldn't get a photo.  The lizards were more obliging..

The pelicans made frequent fly-pasts but are also very difficult to capture against the bright sky.  This is the best I could manage.  These are white-fronted rather than the brown ones we saw in the Outer Banks.

On some rocks close to the shore were some very sleepy sea-lions..

Except one who was keeping watch..

The clouds did roll in this afternoon...

..and it was soon very grey and wet..

It was unfortunate that when the rain really got going I had headed off around the cliff path in the other direction...