Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
This is a Weltmeister 'Stella' accordion spotted in the streets of Barcelona, Spain. Weltmeister used to be the main East German brand (when it was the GDR), made by VEB Klingenthaler Harmonikawerke; nowadays they are made by Harmona.
The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist.
It is played by compressing or expanding a bellows whilst pressing buttons or keys, causing valves, called pallets, to open, which allow air to flow across strips of brass or steel, called reeds, that vibrate to produce sound inside the body.
The instrument is sometimes considered a one-man-band as it needs no accompanying instrument. The performer normally plays the melody on buttons or keys on the right-hand manual, and the accompaniment—consisting of bass and pre-set chord buttons—on the left-hand manual.
The accordion is often used in folk music in Europe, North America and South America. It is commonly associated with busking. Some popular music acts also make use of the instrument. Additionally, the accordion is sometimes used in both solo and orchestra performances of classical music.
The oldest name for this group of instruments is actually harmonika, from the Greek harmonikos, meaning harmonic, musical. Today, native versions of the name accordion are more common. These names are a reference to the type of accordion patented by Cyrill Demian, which concerned "automatically coupled chords on the bass side".
Monday, June 28, 2010
Last week the walls of the infamous Pudu Prison in Kuala Lumpur were eventually knocked down to make way for a new development as reported by the The New Straits Times and The Star newspapers. Luckily I had been there in January and took photographs of all the famous wall murals and can be seen in my previous blog and an article published on Demotix.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Kiyomizu-dera, known more fully as Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site. Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple dates back to 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, during a restoration ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. Not one nail is used in the whole temple. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water. It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from Nara times. However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the "Kitahossō" sect.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Lake Tekapo is the second-largest of three roughly parallel lakes running north–south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island of New Zealand (the others are Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau). It covers an area of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi), and is at an altitude of 700 metres (2,300 ft) above sea level.
The lake is fed at its northern end by the braided Godley River, which has its source in the Southern Alps to the north. The lake is a popular tourist destination, and several resort hotels are located at the township of Lake Tekapo at the lake's southern end. The Lake Tekapo Regional Park, administered by Environment Canterbury, is located on the southern shore of the lake.
Situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo is the Church of the Good Shepherd, which, in 1935, was the first church built in the Mackenzie Basin.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Lake Matheson was formed by glaciation ca. 14,000 years ago. It is situated on the valley floor about 12 km from the current Fox Glacier and Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand, and Mount Tasman.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
The London Eye (or Millennium Wheel) is a giant 135-metre (443 ft) tall Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames in Central London, England.
It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. When erected in 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until surpassed first by the 160 m (520 ft) Star of Nanchang in 2006, and then the 165 m (541 ft) Singapore Flyer in 2008. It is still described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel" (as the wheel is supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the Nanchang and Singapore wheels).
The London Eye is located at the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames in the London Borough of Lambeth in England, between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The site is adjacent to that of the former Dome of Discovery, which was built for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Black Bull pub sits right in the heart of the Grassmarket area in Edinburgh and takes me back to my student days in Edinburgh where we used to frequent many of these fine establishments on the route to inebriation! The Black Bull is a traditional pub selling many fine ales and the frontage onto the street is rather deceiving as the bar is extremely long and runs for a long way inside. The bar can be very busy at weekends so you need to get there early and during the summer many people sit outside.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
This was my first experiment with a new Casio EX-FH100 camera I recently picked up. This camera is a small 10 megapixel compact camera but with the really intriguing feature of high speed video capability with video rates of 120fps, 240fps, 420fps and even 1000fps. These high speed video rates
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained.
Standing by the western point of the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was the heart of medieval Paris, it connects the Rive Gauche of Paris with the Rive Droite.
The bridge is composed of two separate spans, one of five arches joining the left bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the right bank. Old engraved maps of Paris show how, when the bridge was built, it just grazed the downstream tip of the Île de la Cité; since then, the natural sandbar building of a mid-river island, aided by stone-faced embankments called quais, has extended the island. Today the island is the Square du Vert-Galant, a park named in honour of Henry IV, nicknamed the "Green Gallant."
Monday, June 07, 2010
Rickshaws (or rickshas) are a mode of human-powered transport: a runner draws a two-wheeled cart which seats one or two persons. The word rickshaw came from Asia where they were mainly used as means of transportation for the social elite. In recent times the use of rickshaws has been discouraged or outlawed in many countries due to numerous accidents or concern for the welfare of rickshaw workers.
Runner-pulled rickshaws have mainly been replaced by cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws. The term "rickshaw" is today commonly used for those vehicles as well.
The word "rickshaw" originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha (人力車, 人 jin = human, 力 riki = power or force, 車 sha = vehicle), which literally means "human-powered vehicle".
Rickshaws were first seen in Japan around 1868, at the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. They soon became a popular mode of transportation, since they were faster than the previously used palanquins (and human labor was considerably cheaper than using horses).
Having just returned from a business trip to Holland and a short weekend visit to my home country of Scotland I thought it appropriate to post a photo of the famous Scottish thistle.
Onopordum acanthium (Cotton Thistle), is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to Europe and western Asia from Iberia east to Kazakhstan, and north to centralScandinavia, and widely naturalised elsewhere. It is a vigorous biennial plant with coarse, spiny leaves and conspicuous spiny-winged stems.
The thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III (1249 - 1286) and was used on silver coins issued by James III in 1470. According to the legend, an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scots army encampment. During this operation one barefoot Norseman had the misfortune to step upon a Scots Thistle, causing him to cry out in pain, thus alerting Scots to the presence of the Norse invaders. Some sources suggest the specific occasion was the Battle of Largs, which marked the beginning of the departure of the King Haakon IV (Haakon the Elder) of Norway who, having control of the Northern Isles andHebrides, had harried the coast of the Kingdom of Scotland for some years. Which species of thistle is referred to in the original legend is disputed. Popular modern usage favours Onopordum acanthium, perhaps because of its more imposing appearance, though it is unlikely to have occurred in Scotland in mediaeval times; the Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare, an abundant native species in Scotland, is a more likely candidate. Other species, including Dwarf Thistle Cirsium acaule, Musk Thistle Carduus nutans, and Melancholy Thistle Cirsium heterophyllum have also been suggested.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Banteay Samré is a temple located in the Angkor temple complex east of the East Baray. Built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century shortly after the construction of Angkor Wat, it is a Hindu temple devoted to the god Vishnu in the Angkor Wat style.
Named after the Samré, an ethnic group of mountain people, who inhabited the regions at the base of Phnom Kulen and were probably related to the Khmers, the temple uses the same materials as the Banteay Srei.
The temple's compact, well-balanced proportions echo other monuments of the period such as Beng Mealea and Chau Say Tevoda. Viewed from the east, the approach is by a 200 metre causeway paved in laterite and bordered by a naga balustrade in the style of Angkor Wat.
The presence of Buddhist scenes in a Hindu temple and the fact that in some places certain sculpted motifs, probably also Buddhist, have been mutilated makes a statement about the religious tolerance of the monument's patron.
Banteay Samre is one of the most complete complexes at Angkor due to restoration using the method of anastylosis. Few temples present an iconography so complete and in such an excellent state of preservation. Unfortunately, the absence of maintenance over the past 20 years is evident.