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Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

I’ve always loved Japanese red maples.

Saw this photo the other day and it simply took my breath away.

Mount Fuji with Japanese red maples.

fuji-red-maple

So beautiful!

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Into The Wild Wood

Words & Images by Duncan George

(Duncan George Photography)

If you close your eyes and imagine a wood in a dark fairy tale, what do you see, smell and hear?

wistmans-wood-1(Image credit: Duncan George)

In your minds eye do twisted and sinister trees thick with moss and lichens form anthropomorphic shapes in billowing fog? Underfoot do you struggle for grip on treacherous granite boulders? Perhaps a far off stream provides an aural accompaniment with the the odd and inexplicable crack of a twig sounding ominously close. Does a dank earthy smell pervade the air?

wistmans-wood-2(Image credit: Duncan George)

Just to bring you back to reality, such woods do actually exist and not (just) in Transylvania or some far flung part of Asia but in the UK. On Dartmoor there are three remote high moorland copses of stunted oaks. I think there may be more in Cumbria. The one I have visited on Dartmoor many times is the best known, Wistman’s Wood. The name Wistman’s is thought to derive from wisht-man meaning haunted or pixie-led. The site is believed to have a human involvement dating back to Druid times. When seen in thick fog, in the half light of dawn or dusk it’s easy to see why much folklore and tales of the supernatural surrounds the place.

wistmans-wood-3(Image credit: Duncan George)

It is a fantastic location for art and photography. One of the aspects I like about it is, off-season when I tend to visit, it feels so remote. All the shots in this blog post were taken on Friday morning last week (Nov 2012) and the only other person I saw there (which is unusual in itself, normally I don’t see anyone) was an artist taking photographs to act as as a sketchbook.

wistmans-wood-5(Image credit: Duncan George)

Although Wistman’s isn’t hard to get to in the way that remote Scottish mountains are for example it’s still a challenging drive and hike on Dartmoor in thick fog. Twice out on the moor with visibility down to 2 metres or so I’ve lost my bearings completely and had to use a compass to reorient myself (not something I ever had to do in my previous career in media!). Normally one could rely on the sound of the West Dart River as a guide but fog deadens sound. It’s easy to understand how people can get into trouble in an environment which can quickly switch from benign to malevolent.

wistmans-wood-4(Image credit: Duncan George)

What draws me to the wood is the magical feel of the place. The trees whilst quite small in comparison to normal oaks are fantastically contorted with a myriad of branches, each one being completely unique. Of course every tree is unique but here whilst they share the same genealogy each looks as though penned by a different artist . Furthermore they don’t resemble those in ‘normal’ and more uniform woods and forests.  Wistman’s is located on a hillside strewn with boulders and both trees and granite are coated in a carpet of moss. Some of the trees are draped in lichens as though dressed for Christmas. I’ve never seen lichens so resplendent in any other location. It used to be said that it was alive with adders although thankfully I haven’t seen any. It would be unfortunate to say the least if I set my camera down on a nest.

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All text and photos copyright Duncan George.

To see more of this gentleman’s amazing photography, I urge you to go check out his website. You will not be disappointed!

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Why I Miss the South: Dixie Envy

blue-ridge-mountains-sunset-from-southern-blue-ridge-parkway-dave-allen(Blue Ridge Mountains Sunset – Image credit: Dave  Allen)

In my Twitter novel, The Great Dead North, two characters (the Narrator “Me” and his wife, “Callie-Ann” [aka Cally] from Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina) have the following exchange one morning…

Me: I take it with that bat-like hearing of yours, you heard me & Shara talking. Cally: I did. Me: And? Cally: I married the best Dad ever!

Me: Thenk yew. Cally: Oh, please. Me: Not even close? Cally: Honey? When you try to talk Southern… it only makes you sound more Northern.

Me: If a couple moved to The South & had kids, would the kids be Southern? Cally: If a cat had kittens in the oven, would they be biscuits?

I sigh heavily. Callie-Ann grins. Cally: You got Dixie Envy, that’s what you got. Me: Dixie Envy? Cally: The clearest case I have ever seen.

Me: Any cure? Cally: Well, marrying me & putting a bun in my oven is definitely a step in the right direction, I can tell you that right now

It’s kinda like a similarly-phrased concept in Freudian psychoanalysis which, in contemporary culture, sometimes refers inexactly or metaphorically to women who are presumed to wish they were men (or at least have their equipment).

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I’ve gone on at some length as to why I love The South and I think it is fair to say that what spurs that love on is, in part, Dixie Envy.

It’s been a good many years since I was way down yonder in the land of cotton.

warning-rednecks

I wish I was in Dixie.

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I miss it.

biscuits-n-gravy

I love it.

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I envy it.

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It’s not only the old fir trees that make this photo so awe-inspiring. It’s the clouds across the Dolomite mountains in the background. But most importantly, it is the fact that the image is reflected in waters of Lake Carezza (lit. ‘caress’) with circular ripples moving outwards.

carezza-lake-reflection(Photograph by Antonio Chiumenti)

“Lake Carezza is a pearl of the Dolomites. Nestled between an ancient forest of grand firs and Latemar mountain, it’s a place of legends and beauty—a nymph lives under its emerald waters. I threw a little stone in the water to add a little mystery to the scene.” (Antonio Chiumenti)

(This photo and caption were submitted to the 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest.)

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And by awe-inspiring, I sometimes mean creepy!

Shrouded Forest, Slovakia

shrouded-forest-slovakia(Image: via bluepueblo.tumblr.com)

And I don’t mean creepy in a negative way. I mean creepy in a delightfully goose-bumpy way!

Love it!

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Dark Hedges, County Antrim

Sometimes I come across some awe-inspiring trees and one photograph alone simply does not do them justice.

dark-hedges-1(Image: globaltraveltorusim.blogspot.co.uk)

Such is the case with the Dark Hedges in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

dark-hedges-2(Photo by Pawel Klarecki)

This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century

dark-hedges-3(Via globaltraveltorusim.blogspot.co.uk)

It is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.

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Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana

This magnificent ‘tree tunnel’ is situated on the banks of the Mississippi River

Oak-Alley-Plantation-LA(Credit: i.mgur.com)

The canopied path is created by a double row of live oaks that was planted in the early 1700’s, long before the present house was built.

Yet one more reason why I miss The South!

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The above text is based on the article “14 Magnificent Tree Tunnels” at Buzzfeed.com.

For a full-resolution image, click here.

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Please visit Oak Alley Plantation at their website and on their Facebook page!

Website: http://www.oakalleyplantation.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/oakalleyplantation

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