Summer plants

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During the holidays, I spent lovely afternoons walks exploring the tiny alleys of the village of Capraia, looking at the carefully tended plants in people’s gardens or in front of their houses and I’ll share more about that soon.

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But I especially fell for the wild plants growing in the hills or on the edges of the cliffs on our way down to the sea.  Those plants really represent the island for me.

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I love how their branches and spikes lightly scratched my legs as I walked by, reminding me of their presence, as if urging me to look down and observe them.

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What the photos unfortunately can’t show is how the strong smell of the aromatic plants (like wild rosemary, erba gatta and elicriso) rose up in the air under the hot sun, titillating the senses as we walked by.

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Depending on the hour of the day, the light would show up the colours against the backdrop of the sky in different ways, what a lovely sight.

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The prickly pear cactus is one of the plants that is synonymous to me of hot summer days in Italy. When I see one I am immediately mentally transported to wonderful moments spent by the sea, feeling warm rays of sunshine drying the salt water on my skin and the joyful sensation of being on holidays and free:)

A dash of orange

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These stunning bright orange lichens grow all over the rocks throughout Capraia. I tried to photograph them repeatedly but the pictures don’t really do justice to how marvelous they are.

As we were exploring the island, our guide Mariella explained that Capraia counts in total around 400 types of lichen, which I’d say is not bad for an island measuring just 20 square kilometers. I’m grateful to Pacha Mama for having created such diversity even in the tiny details, with insanely fascinating shapes and gorgeous colours.

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Beautiful Capraia

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Just back from Capraia with sparkles in my eyes about how beautiful the island is. With its 20 square kilometers it is the perfect size to explore by foot: walking to small coves for a swim or hiking up the hills to see the steep west coast plunging into the sea, with Corsica visible on the horizon.

The summer colours of the plants on the hills were beautiful (green, orange, yellow…) and apparently in spring with many flowers blooming it is even more spectacular (a good reason to come back;).

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The village at the top of the hill is very pretty with its warm colours and many tiny winding streets to explore and get lost in.  We had our appartment there, it is blissfully quiet, perfect for a good rest (indeed many afternoon siestas were enjoyed!).

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The sea is amazingly transparent, and it beckons you to jump in from the rocks and refresh yourself after hiking under the sun. Underwater a ballet of fish awaits you, swimming leisurely around the rocks. So beautiful!

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Plant spotting in Thailand

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One of the wonderful things of exploring Thailand was the quantity of plants everywhere. On many street corners, balconies, house fronts there were lovely plants. There were all sorts of frangipanis (which are one of my all time favorites since I lived in Australia) but the gorgeous colours on these ones shown above defy anything I’d seen yet.

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This lovely lotus shot after a small rainshower is magical. Nature really knows how to combine colours.

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How could I resist making a close-up of such a tiny furry leaf… it’s pure perfection!

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There were also plenty of lovely flowers as decoration around the temples.

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In Surat Thani as I was walking by the river, I came across this plant vendor’s shop on wheels. I admired the collection of luscious green pot plants for every taste, expertly squeezed onto every square centimeter of the cart.

Cycling around Bang Krachao

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While researching what to do in Bangkok I had read about Bang Krachao, a “smog-free, government-protected oasis of green on the mighty Chao Phraya River”.  It sounded like the perfect place to get some rest from the bustling city, so one morning I made my way to the pier in the south of Bangkok and took the boat across the river with many motor bikes and a few pedestrians. On arrival, I rented this wonderful red bike, and was handed a basic photocopied black and white A4 map.

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Loving the sensation of freedom of being on a bike, I pedalled away enthusiastically and promptly lost my way. Most roads looked identical and they had the same name, being distinguished only by a number. Soon my sweaty map made all details  completely illegible and was no use at all.

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So after a while I gave up trying to figure out where I was and just rode around aimlessly, enjoying whatever I discovered on my way. There are these concrete paths which allow you to cycle through the mangrove.  Going at a slow pace in order not to inadvertently ride off the edge into the water and mud, it was a great way to soak up the atmosphere.

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I spent a great day watching local people going about their daily tasks, passing many colourful temples and enjoying having lots of time to observe all the details of the plants and butterflies.

Capraia calling

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Today some flowers that look kind of like fireworks to celebrate the fact that I’m on holidays! I’m going to Italy with Paolo to a small paradise island called Capraia. The plan is not to have any plans.  I’m packing my camera, my journal and a pile of books… I can’t wait to explore the island, swim, eat good food and relax by the sea:)

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Ginger bumble bee

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While we were hiking up Sgurr Coire Choinnichean (the mountain with an unpronouceable name just above Inverie on the Knoydart Peninsula), I stopped to look out over the gorgeous view (and perhaps also to catch my breath) and came across this cute little fella who was also resting for a few moments. I love how even the bumble bees are ginger in Scotland:)

 

Solar system

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I love making collages. I’ve been making them since I was a teenager. When I am looking through magazines to find images and words that catch my eye and combine them, I feel totally in the flow.  I’m a very visual person and looking at beautiful pictures, intriguing forms and varied colours feed my creative well.

Recently we created a new game we call ‘collage challenge’, where Paolo chooses a theme and I have 30 minutes to peruse my stock of already-very-cut-up magazines and make a collage (loosely) related to that theme.

It’s a good exercise for several reasons. The fact that Paolo chooses the theme means I have to get out of my comfort zone, look at images from a different point of view and be creative. Also the time constraint is extremely efficient for shutting out my inner critic and getting something on paper.

This time the theme was Solar System.  Not an easy one when most of the magazines are travel magazines… but I decided to keep an open mind and above you can see the result. I particularly like the shisha-smoking caterhuman reflecting on the origin of the Universe:)

Enjoying an evening stroll

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In these days close to the solstice, after-dinner walks in the lovely soft light are a real pleasure. As Paolo and I stroll around the neighbourhood, we mostly have the streets to ourselves apart for a few joggers or people walking their dog, and it’s perfect to chat and process our day with each other.

A few weeks ago on our way home from of one of those walks, we came across this heron, quietly poised on a trunk by the canal. It seems to me as if he was also enjoying a moment of calm in the dusk. Unfortunately our arrival disturbed him, and just a few seconds later he took flight…