Saturday, 31 August 2013

Dame Janet Baker.

I can't let August slip by without saluting the birthday of my all-time favourite mezzo-soprano, the magnificent Janet Baker, born on 21st August 1933.  Belated Happy Birthday Dame Janet, your voice is sublime, it thrills me to the core and envelops me, body and soul.

To hear Dame Janet Baker singing the aria 'Dopo Notte' from Handel's Ariodante, with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Raymond Leppard (my favourite recording and one from my own collection), click on the link below.

To read more about Dame Janet Baker, click on the link below.

To read my previous blog 'Mezzo-Sopranos: Dame Janet Baker', click on the link below.

Shoe Confessions.

I don't know why my new shoes are faux snakeskin.  I can't quite believe that I bought them, but as soon as I tried them on some alchemy occurred and I had to have them.  They were a perfect fit, physically and metaphorically.  I've had them for over a month now and must have worn them half a dozen times, which is unusual (see My New Shoes blog, link below).  I like the idea of them, I like the look of them, they're immensely comfortable and I love wearing them.  Somehow they make me happy.

The picture shows my new faux snakeskin shoes 'Travo', bought from my favourite shoe shop, Tracey Neuls, Marylebone Lane, London, and photographed in a Japanese-style rock garden setting on my balcony in Hythe, Hampshire at 10:48 on Friday 19th July 2013.

To visit the Tracey Neuls website, click on the link below:-

To read 'My New Shoes' blog, click on the link below:-

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Black Swan.

A black swan!  That's what I saw when I looked out of my window.  There it was, sitting on the water in front of the promenade.  I grabbed my binoculars to get a better look and, yes, it was a black swan.  It wasn't a goose, or a big duck, it was definitely a swan. There were four white swans close by and this one looked the same, only black, with a distinctive red bill. I snatched a few photos, but I was too far away to get a detailed shot, so I decided to make a run for it and belted over to the prom, clutching my camera and hoping it wouldn't take flight before I could get there.

Five minutes later I was standing on the prom, breathless and beaming.  The black swan was still there, fishing for weed in the shallows, and I watched it and photographed it for a good twenty minutes before it ambled off and set sail for deeper water.  It swam about in the bay all morning before it took flight, revealing the most wonderful white flight feathers.  My goodness it was beautiful.  I'd never seen a black swan, and to be so close, to watch it, to photograph it, to spend the morning with it, to see it take flight.... well, it was astonishing, and certainly made my day.

My online research tells me that black swans are native to Australia, they can be seen in New Zealand and there is a well-known colony in Dawlish, Devon, the south west of England. There seems to be differing views as to when they were first introduced to Dawlish and by whom, but a black swan has been the towns emblem for more than forty years, so it's been a while. Who knows why a black swan stopped off in Hythe, Hampshire for a few hours on a bank holiday Monday morning..... I'm just very glad it did.

The picture shows the black swan on Southampton Water, at Hythe, Hampshire on Monday 26th August 2013 at 11:13.

Click on the link below to see more photos of the black swan at Hythe, Hampshire:-

To read more about black swans, click on the link below:-

To read about the Dawlish black swans, click on the links below:-