Defender’s View

The concept is as old as warfare — or snowball fights.

When defending a building, a fort, or a castle– create a way to shoot out without unnecessary exposure to the attackers.

Hence: snow forts. At least that was the seasonal result when and where I was a child. Build up a wall of snow. Throw at the opponent. Duck. Quickly pack a new projectile.

You still see the concept on the evening news with reports from war zones. Defenders use windows, or shell holes, or create small spaces where they can fire their weapons out while keeping a barrier between them and incoming fire.

Today’s photo is an example from several centuries ago. Picture the scene. You are in the castle, standing on an earthen embankment inside the wall. The enemy is massing at the foot of the hill. Wait. Wait. Patience until they are within range. Don’t waste ammunition.

An Archer's View

An Archer’s View

Snappy Uniforms

First you hear the drums.  Then the brass. A good solid, marching tune.

I can’t help it. A marching band is the highlight of a parade in my mind. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. Or even genetic. I’m aware of one great grandfather who played the baritone in the town band. (I’m not sure if they marched. They had uniforms.)

Left foot first. Stay in step. Even steps. Trombones in the front row. (If you’ve ever sat in front of them in a concert band you understand why.) Keep the row straight on a wheel turn. Eyes front.

This fine group of military musicians and guards never miss a step. They are known for their hats. But I like the bright red tunics even better.

Doing the Queen -- and their commanding officer - proud.

Doing the Queen — and their commanding officer – proud.

Surrounded by Art

What’s that mix of emotions as I shake the umbrella outside the door?

Relief that I arrived where intended? Timidity at the crowd? Curiosity at what I will find? Expectation of grandeur?

The exhibition rooms at The National Gallery did not disappoint. It was large enough to become lost. Yet the rooms were carefully numbered. And signage at specific intersections guided those who took the time to read.

School children with notebooks moved as a mass from artist to artist. Family groups strolled past Biblical art. Tourists of all ages, shapes, and nationalities paused to admire work from the past.

While crossing the building from one grand wing to another I realized the building itself was a work of art. Including the very decorative vents in the floor.

National Gallery - floor vent

National Gallery – floor vent

Gentle Greeter

Welcome to a series of posts centering around a recent vacation.

Yes — you will be subjected to vacation photos and commentary. The time frame is uncertain. But for the next several weeks – perhaps longer – the images on this blog are from my first trip away from North America.

Does it matter that I’ve come late in life to this sort of travel? I  sincerely hope not. While there will be some activities which age and health will advise against — the world is more open to me now than ever before.

So we begin…

Thanks to the type of group tour I selected, travel from airport to hotel was pre-arranged. After a short time of settling in – discovering my electrical adapter didn’t work — I double checked directions and procedures for my first adventure. This was prior to the official tour beginning — as we arrived in London from various cities.

Finding the station and purchasing a ticket for The Tube was soon behind me. Walk down the steps. Enter an elevator. Select the correct of two platforms. Then it was enter the train and listen for your stop — think any light rail system in the USA.

Follow the natives became my slogan for exiting the station. Up steps. Along passageways. Take an escalator. Stop, pause, and discover you need to insert ticket to exit the turnstile.

Up a final set of steps and into an afternoon shower. (After all, this is London.)

Welcome Visitor!

Welcome Visitor!

 

Early in the Process

Vacation is coming! Vacation is coming! Are you excited yet?

Long ahead of departure day I begin to plan. I read the literature. Measure the luggage. Select a carry on bag which meets my requirements as well as the airline size limits. Even purchase a new, pocket size piece.

100_4317

Where will I go? What will I see?

Well, I know the answer to the first question — figured it out before I bought the tickets.

The second portion may have some surprises. Every vacation in the past has contained a mix of welcome and not-so-welcome sights and experiences. The good thing is that after a few re-tellings, the not-so-welcome-at-the-time blend into the big vacation picture.

Join me in the next few blog entries as I spread my wings (metaphorically) and fly away to new sights and sounds.

 

Parade Animal

At first glimpse I blinked. Then repeated the action.

It’s not often you see the hindquarters of a horse when going down interior steps.

He merited a second look. The owner deserves credit for the time consuming task of braiding tail hair.

He deserves a parade. He’s worthy of a place of honor. Perhaps he can be the centerpiece and complimented with children with dogs on leashes or cats in cages. On second thought — no cats. Add flags, bunting, bright colors to highlight his features.

100_4310

Parade Ready!

Floral Promise

Spring can be a season of promises by Mother Nature.

It can also be filled with surprises. You know the sort. Open the windows to pleasant temperatures one day and scrape frost off the car in the morning.

Humans need to remember a few things about spring.

First: we are not in charge of the calendar.

Second: farming (and gardens) are a specialized form of gambling.

Third: Mother Nature has a sense of humor.

Jokes aside, the buds on the trees and the shoots of spring bulbs and future flowers contain a promise of longer sunny days and warmer air to come.

100_4320

Take a moment to enjoy the present and future in this bed of bulbs.

Words about Water

Today happens to be the spring elections in Missouri. I’ll show up at my polling place, possibly before you read this.

Some of the pre-election literature dropping through my mail slot concerns water. Waste water. Sewage and storm water run off. Population growth. Urban sprawl. And aging infrastructure each has an influence on putting an item on the ballot.

After the polls close, I’ll listen to more words about water. A plan dealing with a local, very local, storm water problem has been developed. It’s time to go public before the first shovel re-contours the landscape. It is said that “knowledge is power”.  It’s also useful to avoid complaints and increase cooperation.

100_3680

My neighbors and I look forward to the end of Pond Patio.

 

Code Expert

This morning one (or more) of today’s featured bird furnished a beat to the spring air.

I’ve never been good at code. Computer. Morse. Notes in class. They just aren’t my thing. Perhaps I think too literal. Or I expect good spelling and punctuation even when I can’t do it myself.

But this little friend speaks in a code I appreciate. Tap. Tap-tap-tap. Tap. I’m glad he was telling his story on a tree. Although early insects hiding within might tell a different story.

100_4306

This Code Expert doesn’t Fool around.

Scented Appetizer

Change is in the air. More sunshine and mild air warm the house and urge a creature to explore.

Short, quick trips at first. Test runs. Then, as the sun grows stronger and early plants begin to wake, the flights are longer. And more productive.

Trees are wonders. Buds swell on tiny twigs. Millimeter by millimeter they grow, preparing for their big show. Suddenly, one sunny day, they burst out of their covers and spread delicate white petals out into the air.

Mmmm. Buzzzz. The scent of a spring appetizer fills the air.

Humans admire the abundance and beauty of the ornamental trees lining the sidewalks and drives.

The hive dwellers come for a late breakfast, early lunch, afternoon snack, and pre-sunset dining. Soon the petals will fall like snow in a gust of wind. So this feast needs to be sampled quickly. Then it will be on to the next course, and the next, and the next.

100_4298