A loud red squirrel caught my attention in the park. Camera always on hand, I zoomed in and we watched it nibble away.
You might imagine a squirrel would be quiet and unobtrusive. Yet the squirrels in our local park are pretty loud when they eat. The sound is a regular gnawing chipping like affair.
Saturday’s encounter was not the first time a loud squirrel had caught my attention while it was eating. Maybe it is just one particularly loud squirrel that does this. Maybe the other squirrels shun this poor squirrel for its unchecked eating volume.
We stopped and watched the red squirrel eat its seed or nut for while. When we stopped the squirrel stopped eating. A moment later it resumed eating and stared back us. Runners passed by while we watched and the squirrel did not flinch.
Once again editing this short highlighted how much I have to learn about filming and editing. I need to film with a narrative in mind. Photography rewards capturing a single moment; filming needs context and a story to weave the scenes together. It is going to be a long road to any sense of mastery.
Our local Botanic garden centre has a Christmas Village. Still a shop but a fun outing on a Sunday in December.
It is a simple pleasure. Our local garden centre has always been fun to visit but particularly during December. The centre sells mostly garden items and plants but they also have a pet section, a cafe, and a health food store. It is not too taxing a task to wander the shop floor and take in the sights and sounds.
Our bee eating plant came from this store. Called Botanic, the garden centre is part of a chain of stores across France.
Each December a Christmas Village, of sorts, is constructed within the shop. The village becomes a focal point for Christmas decorations, lights, and plants.
Despite the grand spectacles being cancelled, Lyon’s light festival took place in its traditional form of candles placed in windows.
Each year at the beginning of December, Lyon holds the Fête des lumières, Festival of Lights. During the festival millions of visitors come into the city to enjoy the light shows.
After attacks in Paris, the Fête des lumières was cancelled. Security concerns meant that inviting three million people out onto the streets of the city would be unmanageable.
In place the of the usual multi-day festival, a single night returning to the traditional form of the Fête des lumières was held. On 8th December 2015, residents of Lyon were asked to place candles in their windows. At the same time a handful of more solemn light shows were displayed.
Sainte-Chapelle was an utterly unexpected delight. The stained glass in this chapel is breath-taking.
We had been advised to visit Sainte-Chapelle but had not researched what to expect. When we arrived there was a short queue of about half an hour’s worth of waiting. The queue consisted mainly of Europeans with a heavy leaning towards Italian being the main language.
The chapel is on two floors. The ground floor, where you enter, is beautiful and alone worth the time to visit. There is an obligatory shop embedded on the left hand side. Odd but not unexpected in a popular tourist destination.
We joined the visitors milling around quietly. Lots of photos, lots of hushed whispers. After a reasonable amount of time, Megan and I decided it was time to move on. At this moment, I had presumed we had seen the chapel proper and that the upper floor would be more or less the same.
The upper floor is a treat. The small spiral stone stairs are tucked away in a corner. They take you from the lower floor and up out into the main chapel. Immediately you are surrounded on three sides by huge towering expanses of stained glass. It took a moment to adjust.
I took my photos, most of which turned out badly, and some footage. The resulting short film of Sainte-Chapelle comes closest to recreating the visit.
There are photos on the Internet that try to capture the awe. These photos feel overworked and artificial compared to what we saw. There is something reassuring in that seeing Sainte-Chapelle in person, you gain an experience that is impossible to replicate remotely.
What photos I took that did survive the difficult lighting are reasonable. A selection are below.
Having experienced the sensory overload of Sainte-Chapelle’s two floors, it would forgivable to overlook the outside. Sainte-Chapelle is a religious building enclosed within a courtyard. Surrounded on all sides by administrative buildings the chapel is difficult to photograph in isolation or at any distance. The views looking up however exude power and prestige.
Just outside our main window is a gutter. It is not a traditionally sought after view. Sometimes, as in July, we reap a little reward. Birds flock around the city and swoop into and out of the courtyards.
During July we are treated to a show of birds feeding just outside our window. We live in an old apartment block in Lyon, France, and like most buildings this one is adorned with pipes and retro-fitted services.
Just outside our main window is a gutter. It is not a traditionally sought after view. Sometimes, as in July, we reap a little reward. Birds flock around the city and swoop into and out of the courtyards. For a short while, our gutter becomes a stopping off point for many a bird looking for insects.
These birds are picking insects from cobwebs, from the gutters, and from around the pipes.
A large tree fell in our local park. The tree’s fall was unexpected and the result of high winds. Since then mushrooms have bloomed on the stump.
A month ago, a large tree fell in our local park, le parc de la tête d’or. The tree’s fall was unexpected and the result of high winds. During those days the park was closed to the public.
High winds cause the park’s closure a handful of days each year. Seeing the sign on the closed gate is aways disappointing. Given the aftermath, the closures become understandable. The park is littered with branches of all sizes. Sometimes huge. Occasionally a subsequent walk will reveal a tree with a large bare patch where a branch once protruded. The largest branches tend to be removed by the gardeners before the public return.
The tree trunk has been removed. The roots are in place, slowly decaying.
Marks show where the tree settled. A smaller tree was hit and was also removed.
Mushrooms have bloomed in the last weeks. The sudden windfall of nutrients likely prompting their appearance.
Autumn is putting on a final show for the year. The leaves are colourful and the evening views are captivating.
Autumn has arrived in Lyon. The temperatures have dropped and our coats are becoming necessities.
Our apartment is cold in the winter. The thick stone walls are deceptive. Their heavy mass should insulate but instead moisture and cold seep through. The walls seem to hold onto and draw in the cold from the outside.
With autumn arriving, we are beginning to fear the winter ahead. Last year was mild, the year before less so. What will this year bring?
But for now autumn is putting on a show. The leaves are colourful and the evening views are captivating.
The squirrels are active. They become increasingly daring at this time of year. Human visitors to the park are largely ignored. Last night one attracted my attention with its noisy eating of a seed. Looking around I spotted the source of the noise sitting on a high branch. It looked down at me while I looked up and took these photos.
Watch the mirror fountain perform in Paris’ grand Versailles gardens.
On select days the water fountains at the French Palace of Versailles are turned on and synchronised with music. Our path through the sprawling gardens took us to the mirror fountain (bassin de miroir).
On days when the fountains are active, there is an additional entry fee. Given our experience of two playing fountains, it is difficult to justify.
The mirror fountain performs with the music Jeux d’Eau playing from loud speakers in the surrounding vegetation. My short film does not use the original music.