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Keeping out the cold

Quite an interesting look, but alas, all the eye sees is a muzzy grey-blue smudge of shapes.

I hate being cold, especially indoors. I lived in Canada until I was 29: yes, winters are below 0degC there, but every house and apartment has central heating, so you’re warm — often too warm — inside. In London, heating in my various rented apartments was dodgy; it would come on at odd hours (when cheapest for the landlord!) and often was wholly inadequate even when on. I remember one especially miserly landlord who loudly insisted an extra sweater would be fine, and forbade electric heaters (I ignored that rule, and moved out asap). And in Australia (Sydney, at least) central heating just doesn’t exist, despite it sometimes getting down to 5degC at night in winter. The combination of plug-in electric heaters (and the associated eye-watering electricity bills) and gappy windows is not a happy one.

We’ve just come out of an unseasonably early winter spell. Nights of 10degC outside — and mornings of 15-17degC inside my 1936-built apartment with its ill-fitting, thin-paned sash windows. I’ve put weather-stripping everywhere I could and stuffed rolled-up towels along the tops of the bottom sashes, which helps with the drafts but not the slow, insidious seeping-in of the cold.

Here, though, is the latest weapon in my war to keep warm indoors during winter: bubble wrap on the windows! The air bubbles act like insulation. All you do is spray water on the window and press the wrap on, bubbles facing the window. Amazingly, it seems to stay in place. You can’t see anything, of course, which could be a drawback.

And I do think those bubbles look rather blobby!

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Washing Lines 1: at sea

Hanging up the washing, Indian Ocean, somewhere between Durban and Mauritius.

On a long sailing voyage (this one was about five weeks long, from South Africa to India), clothes washing day for your group is keenly anticipated. You can hand-wash socks and, ahem, unmentionables, and drape them around the accommodation area to dry (such as my socks, in the feature photo) — but that can’t match clothes run through the washing machine and hung outside to dry in the sun and the clean fresh sea air.

Monday Washing Lines I’ve been seeing other bloggers’ posts for this challenge, but I thought I didn’t have any photos of drying laundry. Wrong!


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Sextets of pelicans

Six pelicans

It may be hard (impossible?) to tell, but the six Australian Pelicans above are not the same six as in the feature photo. I photographed these birds on 3 April at The Entrance, which is on the Central Coast north of Sydney.

One Word Sunday: Six

And, this fits very neatly into “Birds seen in the past two weeks

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Not happy with heights?

Lord Nelson

Looking up, Lord Nelson

Very few people react with glee to the idea of climbing up the mast on a tall ship. I certainly never did! Looking at these photos, it seems like a mad thing to do.

Tenacious

Tenacious: look at all those narrow, wobbly ladders to climb …

In the photo below, you don’t get a sense of the height but you do get a sense of the scale.

Tenacious, with a person for scale

Not happy with heights? Nah! These crew members going aloft on Tenacious have already had four weeks to get used to it, sailing from Bermuda to Southampton.

Going aloft to harbour stow the sails! (tip: don’t look down)

Posted for One Word Sunday: Vertiginous


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Tied up

The grand old lady QE2 tied up in Zeebrugge

Among the many uses for the verb “tie up” I’m going with the nautical interpretation: to tie a boat to something with a rope, chain etc (synonym: moor). (Although I do keep thinking of the title of the 1989 Pedro Almodóvar film “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” — but I have no photos for that!)

Lord Nelson’s mooring lines around a bollard, keeping the ship tied up in Galle, Sri Lanka

This is what happens when a number of ships have tied up together — and one wants to leave (us, in this case). (Galle, Sri Lanka)

Do you think this dockworker in Mauritius is pondering the accomplished way we tied up Lord Nelson?

Queen Mary 2, tied up in Sydney. This is the only cruise ship that ties up here ‘stern first’ so that its bow sticks out into the harbour.

Tenacious, tied up in Sydney (with the hideous “blot on the landscape” towers of Barangaroo behind)

Tenacious tied up in Fiji.

Voyager of the Seas, tied up in Sydney.

Posted for Becky’s SquareUp challenge. I’ve gone with “playing around with the word up”.

As always, a big thanks to Becky for organising all this square madness!


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Stupa

Swaymbhunath Stupa (also known as ‘Monkey Temple’)

“The stupa (“stupa” is Sanskrit for heap) is an important form of Buddhist architecture… At its simplest, a stupa is a dirt burial mound faced with stone.” (source) The Swaymbhunath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal, is far from a simple mound! In the photo above, the textured curved white base is the stupa itself; atop it is the “yasti, or spire, which symbolizes the axis mundi (a line through the earth’s center around which the universe is thought to revolve)”.

You can get a better idea of the scale of the Swaymbhunath Stupa complex in the photo below. For more information on Swaymbhunath Stupa, and a more comprehensive photo, go here.

The complex seen from a distance.

Posted for Becky’s SquareUp challenge. I’ve gone with “playing around with the word up”.

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Two uppers and a scupper

The upper mess on Tenacious is where the permanent crew and the ongoing watch eat. (The ‘lower mess’ is where everyone else eats.)

Time for some nautical ups!

Taken from the platform above the upper topsail on the mainmast of Tenacious, this photo is a view looking forward (and down!). The whiter sail at the top of the photo is the upper topsail on the foremast.

A scupper is an opening in a ship’s side that allows water to run off the deck. In a big sea, when a ship is rolling, it also allows water to run onto the deck!

Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean

Posted for Becky’s SquareUp challenge. I’ve gone with “playing around with the word up”.

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Monarch butterfly pupa

Pupa (also known as chrysalis) tucked away out of danger. You can see the wing markings through the thin pupa.

When my parents wintered in south Texas, they grew butterfly-friendly plants to help the Monarch butterflies, which are in danger in North America. The butterflies would head north from Mexico and lay eggs in my parents’ garden. The eggs would hatch, the caterpillars would gorge themselves, and then they’d crawl off to what they considered to be a safe location (including under lawn chairs!). Then the magic would happen inside the pupa.

“Chrysalis is a Greek word for gold. Scientists are unsure about why the gold band and spots appear on the chrysalis. … After about 10 days, the final moult reveals an adult butterfly. The enlarged abdomen is full of fluid. The butterfly pumps the fluid into its crumpled wings until they become full and stiff.” (source)

How did something so large fit into that small container?

Posted for Becky’s SquareUp challenge. I’ve gone with “playing around with the word up”.