Category Archives: Landscapes

THEME DAY: LANDSCAPE—DOES ART IMITATE LIFE OR VICE VERSA?

By Yvonne Blackwood ~

The adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words” rings true today as it did when it was popularized in the early 1900s. Travelling across the globe I have come across various locations that I regard as stunning. These spots may not necessarily be as appealing to others as they are to me, but that is why we are individuals.

On a tour of New Zealand a few years ago, we toured both the North and South Islands. As we travelled over hill and dale, through verdant countryside, I was impressed with the country’s beauty, so picturesque in some areas, it seemed like the canvas of an artist.

New Zealand

A piper pipes us in to Larnach Castle,  Dunedin

In Dunedin, the second-largest city of the South Island, we toured the charming Larnach Castle (I will cover this later in a series on castles). The castle stands on a hill—as most castles tend to do—and overlooks Otago Harbour. The harbour is a natural one and includes a long indented stretch of navigable water which separates the Otago Peninsula from the mainland.

 

Otago, New Zealand
Otago Harbour—picturesque view from Larnach Castle

While I found the castle, and the story behind it interesting, and the gardens fabulous, it was the view beyond the grounds that took my breath away. I had to take a second and third look. Was it real? Was it a canvas? After convincing myself that the view was real, I realized that William Larnach who built the castle must have reacted similarly, hence this chosen spot for his home. I thought, “Imagine waking up to this view every morning.”

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My new children’s picture book will be published early spring; be on the watch!

THEME DAY: ARCHITECTURE—A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 4)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

In the movie, Casablanca, Rick’s Café is the place where people trying to escape the Nazis pour in to have a drink or two, and wait, hoping to receive exit visas to America. There is a modern-day Rick’s Café at Negril, on the western shores of Jamaica. Standing on a protruding craggy cliff that overlooks the Caribbean Sea, Rick’s Cafe is a place where tourists hangout, have a drink or two, and wait to watch the sun go down.  

Rick's Cafe, Jamaica, waiting for sunset
Rick’s Cafe, Jamaica, waiting for sunset

 The sunset at Rick’s Café is one of the most spectacular you can see anywhere if the clouds do not decide to foil your thrill. The first time I experienced the sunset at Rick’s, I stood there in awe for a while. The sun, a magnificent orangey-red ball, had positioned itself directly to the west of the café, and hovered above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Then as if on cue, at about 6:30, it began to descend, slowly, methodically. In about thirty minutes the orangey-red ball appeared to hit the water, and was immediately chopped in two! Long fingers of red-orange light illuminated the now dark, mysterious sea. Bit by bit the light dissipated until there was nothing left. I just stood there at the rails of the café, looking out to sea, wondering, what happened here?

I qualified my earlier statement with the words “…if the clouds do not decide to foil your thrill,” because on my second visit to Rick’s things did not go as expected. It was a beautiful warm evening in May. The café was jamming. People jostled to claim prime spots to watch the sunset; after all, many had come just for the thrill of it. I found the perfect spot, planted myself there, and waited with great anticipation to watch every detail, and every movement of the descending sun. Things were going great; the orangey-red ball kept moving westward. But halfway into the procedure a dark cloud that had been slowly creeping toward the sun extended its tentacles and covered the amazing orange-red globe. I was livid! “Move over, move over,” I kept saying in my mind. By the time the cloud moved on, the sun had lost its lustre. The resulting sunset was pale in comparison to the one I had seen the first time.

There is another interesting object a stone’s throw from Rick’s Café-The Negril Lighthouse.

Negril Lighthouse near Rick's Cafe, Jamaica
Negril Lighthouse near Rick’s Cafe, Jamaica

It stands majestically on the rocks. Built in 1894, it rises 66 feet high. The top of the lighthouse has a traditional lantern, which emits the protective flashes of light. Originally, the lantern was powered by gas, then changed to acetylene, then solar energy. The lighthouse is unique in that it was one of the first ones to be constructed from concrete. It contains a gallery at the top of the tower and tours are conducted up the 103 stairs so that you can experience an incredible bird’s-eye view of the coast.

Which is your favourite lighthouse?

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THEME DAY: ARCHITECTURE—A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 2)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

Continuing with our previous “theme post” ( Part 1) we begin this article with verse 2 of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Lighthouse.”

Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
in the white tip and tremor of the face. . .

The island of Aruba is tiny—only 70 Square miles or 184 square kilometres in area—but it has some interesting features, and a fascinating history. It is a constituent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, therefore the citizens have a single nationality—they are Dutch.

Aruba is much different from the other Caribbean Islands; it is extremely dry. As I strolled about this tiny island, a desert came to mind—the landscape is strewn with cactus. The soil is barren because of the lack of rainfall. Another unique feature of the island is its lack of natural fresh water. Most drinking water is obtained by desalinating seawater.

In spite of the negative features mentioned, Aruba is a paradise for tourists. For one thing, you need not worry about rain; you are guaranteed sunshine. In addition, the beaches are lovely.

One of the most intriguing lighthouses that I have seen during my travels across the globe is located on this little morsel of paradise called Aruba! It is the quaint California Lighthouse. Originally  built in 1916 to warn ships from the coastline, it has become a landmark for tourists. The lighthouse was named after the S.S. California, a ship which sunk near the shore, and it stands on a small hill where one has a great view of the rocky coastline on the western side of the island and its sandy beaches. The old stone lighthouse, called “Hudishibana” by the locals, stands tall and proud as a sentinel.

California Lighthouse, Aruba
California Lighthouse, Aruba

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THEME DAY—LANDSCAPE: ARE THOSE BREASTS THAT I SEE?

By Yvonne Blackwood~

One of the reasons why I enjoy art so much is that individuals can see a painting from many different perspectives, and there is nothing one can do to make them see it as you do. We can say the same about landscapes; from a distance you may see a horse while I could swear that the view is that of a large rotten apple.

On a tour of Mykonos, one of the Greek Islands, known for its partying, we stopped at a restaurant near the beach to have lunch and a quick swim (for some people). After dipping my feet in the turquoise waters, I looked across the sea to the landscape on other side of the Island. An interesting sight caught my eyes—two mounds separated by a flat area. Our tour guide said we were looking at Aphrodite’s Breasts! I could clearly see two breasts.

Aphrodite's Breasts, Mykonos
Aphrodite’s Breasts, Mykonos

Breast-shaped hills or mountains in the shape of human breasts—sometimes called paps—are  found all over the world. In some cultures they are revered, and people regard them as attributes of Mother Goodness, a goodness that can signify motherhood, fertility, and nature. Two other examples of this anthropomorphic feature are Mola Murada, a mountain in Spain, and Nassa Hablood (“Virgin’s Breast Mountain”) located in Somalia.

Can you see breasts in the picture above?

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THEME DAY–LANDSCAPE: WILL IT GO ON FOREVER? (Part 4)

By Yvonne Blackwood

It is tall, it is skinny, and it is fascinating. While visiting Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, located on the exotic Island of Tahiti, our tour guide took us to see the Vaimahutu Falls. Tumbling 295 feet over a cliff into a pool below, it is an amazing waterfall. I was unable to find much information about this waterfall, but it reminded me a lot of The Akaka Falls in Hawaii. Vaimahutu Falls is a bit more accessible though, and we were able to get close enough to take pictures as the wind whipped spray onto our faces.

wamuta-falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

viahamutu-flals-3-papeete

Tell us about your favourite waterfall.

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THEME DAY—LANDSCAPE: WILL IT GO ON FOREVER? (Part 3)

By Yvonne Blackwood

Continuing with our Theme Day—Landscape—and in particular, waterfalls (Do read parts 1 & 2 here and here if you missed those posts) unlike the two previous posts, this week we will spotlight a waterfall that is neither tall nor powerful, but it is a fabulous sight to behold!

Located in the hinterland of Jamaica in the parish of St. Elizabeth, most Jamaicans knew nothing about YS Fall for many years. In fact, I lived the earlier part of my life in Jamaica and had never heard about it. The reason? It is situated in the bushes on private property. Although the property remains an active horse and cattle farm, the owners opened up the vicinity containing the falls to the public in 1992.

YS FALLS 087YS FALLS 2011 (3)

Surrounded by lush tropical fauna, YS Falls is spectacular with its seven tiers of white frothy waters, and pools at the foot of some tiers where people can bathe. The owners have made the falls accessible, added a gift shop and picnic area, and now tourists from all over the world are able to visit and enjoy its beauty—some even zip-line above it!

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