Wednesday 31 October 2018


A string quartet is a musical ensemble consisting of four string players – two violin players, a viola player and a cellist – or a piece written to be performed by such a group. The string quartet is one of the most prominent chamber ensembles in classical music, with most major composers, from the mid 18th century onwards, writing string quartets.

The string quartet was developed into its current form by the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, with his works in the 1750s establishing the genre. Ever since Haydn's day the string quartet has been considered a prestigious form and represents one of the true tests of the composer's art. With four parts to play with, a composer working in anything like the classical key system has enough lines to fashion a full argument, but none to spare for padding. The closely related characters of the four instruments, moreover, while they cover in combination an ample compass of pitch, do not lend themselves to indulgence in purely colouristic effects.

Quartet composition flourished in the Classical era, with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert following Haydn in each writing a number of quartets. A slight slackening in the pace of quartet composition occurred in the later 19th century, in part due to a movement away from classical forms by composers such as Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Then it received a resurgence in the 20th Century with the Second Viennese School, Béla Bartók, Dmitri Shostakovich and Elliott Carter producing highly regarded examples of the genre. In the 21st century it remains an important and refined musical form.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Here is Alexander Borodin's String Quartet No 1, performed by the Moscow String Quartet.

Tuesday 30 October 2018


Queenscliff is a small town on the Bellarine Peninsula in southern Victoria, Australia, south of Swan Bay at the entrance to Port Phillip, originally called 'Shortland Bluff'. It is the administrative centre for the Borough of Queenscliffe. At the 2016 census, Queenscliff had a population of 1,315. Queenscliff is a former 1880s seaside resort now known for its Victorian era heritage and tourist industry. It is 104 km S of Melbourne 30 km SE of Geelong.

Queenscliff’s famous Black Lighthouse is one of only a handful in the world that are unpainted black stone. It is the only black lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere. Also known as the High Lighthouse it is located inside the historic Fort Queenscliff guarding the entrance to Port Phillip Bay History The lighthouse was built to replace an earlier sandstone 1843 lighthouse that was under powered and the tower had structurally deteriorated. The new light was built in 1862 in conjunction with the White (Low) Lighthouse and therefore had many similarities in design.

The lamps and housings were manufactured by Chance Brothers in England. The entrance was 3.5 metres above ground level reflecting the English lighthouses that were built on rocks at sea level. The entrance was later rebuilt at ground level. There are two greatly disputed stories of the origins of the bluestone used to build the lighthouse. One version claims that the stone came from Scotland already cut and dressed as ship’s ballast. The other version which is considered to be the official one is that the stone was quarried in Melbourne and brought by barge to Queenscliff. Proponents of this theory claim that the barging in of the stone is what lead to the misconception over the origin of the stone.

Fort Queenscliff was built around the light after fears that ships carrying gold from the gold rush may be attacked by privateers. The light was converted to gas in 1890 and later converted to electricity in 1924. It is believed that the first public telephone service in Victoria was installed in this lighthouse. The light, now automated, is unmanned.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.
Shortland Bluff and lighthouse, Queenscliff (c. 1878) 
albumen silver photograph Fred KRUGER, from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

The Black Lighthouse of Queenscliff today.

Monday 29 October 2018

Sunday 28 October 2018


The lanes and arcades of Melbourne have collectively become culturally important. The Melbourne central business district's numerous lanes mostly date to the Victorian era and as a result of the original Hoddle Grid, they evolved as service laneways for horses and carts. In some parts of the city, notably Little Lonsdale area, they were associated with the city's gold rush era slums. Among the most notable are Centre Place and Degraves Lane. 

Melbourne's numerous shopping arcades reached a peak of popularity in the late Victorian era and the interwar years. Among the most notable include Block Place and Royal Arcade. Some notable demolished arcades include Coles Book arcade and Queens Walk arcade. Since the 1990s, Melbourne's lanes, particularly the pedestrianised ones, have gentrified and their heritage value officially recognised as well as attracting interest from Australia and around the world. Some of the lanes, in particular have become particularly notable for their acclaimed urban art. The city has several festivals which celebrate the laneways, they are major tourist attractions and frequently feature in tourism promotions, film and television.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme,
and also part of the My Sunday Photo meme,
and also part of the Photo Sunday meme.

Saturday 27 October 2018


Chestnut teal duck family, Anas castanea (Eyton, 1838). The chestnut teal is darker and a slightly bigger bird than the grey teal. The male has a distinctive green coloured head and mottled brown body. The female has a brown head and mottled brown body. The female is almost identical in appearance to the grey teal. The female chestnut teal has a loud penetrating "laughing" quack repeated rapidly nine times or more.

The chestnut teal is commonly distributed in south-eastern and south-western Australia, while vagrants may occur elsewhere. Tasmania and southern Victoria are the species’ stronghold, while vagrants can be found as far north as New Guinea and Lord Howe Island. The chestnut teal prefers coastal estuaries and wetlands, and is indifferent to salinity. This bird is an omnivore.

Chestnut teals form monogamous pairs that stay together outside the breeding season, defend the nest site and look after the young when hatched. Nests are usually located over water, in a down-lined tree hollow about 6–10 m high. Sometimes nests are placed on the ground, among clumps of grass near water. The young hatch and are ready to swim and walk within a day.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.

Thursday 25 October 2018


Aptenia cordifolia is a species of succulent plant in the ice plant family (Aizoaceae) known by the common names heartleaf, ice plant and baby sun rose. Perhaps the most common plant seen under this name is actually Aptenia 'Red Apple', a hybrid with red flowers and bright green leaves, whose parents are A. cordifolia and A. (Platythyra) haeckeliana. The true species of A. cordifolia has magenta purple flowers and more heart-shaped, mid-green, textured leaves.

Native to southern Africa, this species has become widely known as an ornamental plant. It is a mat-forming perennial herb growing in flat clumps on the ground from a woody base. Stems reach up to about 60 centimetres long. The bright green leaves are generally heart-shaped and up to 3 centimetres long. They are covered in very fine bumps. Bright pink to purplish flowers appear in the leaf axils and are open during the day. The fruit is a capsule just over a centimetre long.

The hybrid, Aptenia 'Red Apple', has, in some areas, escaped cultivation and now grows as an introduced species. Its far more vigorous growth and ability to root from small bits of stem makes it a poor choice for planting adjacent to wild lands as it can overwhelm native plants.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Tuesday 23 October 2018


Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of about 390,000 people, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 280 km south-west of Sydney, and 660 km north-east of Melbourne. A resident of Canberra is known as a "Canberran". The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities.

It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city outside of any state, similar to the American Federal District of Columbia. Following an international contest for the city's design, a blueprint by the Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913. The Griffins' plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centred on axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory. The city's design was influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation that have earned Canberra the title of the "bush capital".

The growth and development of Canberra were hindered by the World Wars and the Great Depression, which exacerbated a series of planning disputes and the ineffectiveness of a procession of bodies that were created in turn to oversee the development of the city. The national capital emerged as a thriving city after World War II, as Prime Minister Robert Menzies championed its development and the National Capital Development Commission was formed with executive powers. Although the Australian Capital Territory is now self-governing, the federal government retains some influence through the National Capital Authority.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Sunday 21 October 2018


Making a fire by a campsite provides flames for a cheery sight as night falls. Then it's time for some fireside tales by the warmth and flickering flame light...

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme,
and also part of the My Sunday Photo meme,
and also part of the Photo Sunday meme.

Friday 19 October 2018

Thursday 18 October 2018


The genus Ixia consists of a number of cormous plants native to South Africa from the Iridaceae family and Ixioideae subfamily. Some of them are known as the corn lily. Some distinctive traits include sword-like leaves and long wiry stems with star-shaped flowers. It usually prefers well-drained soil. The popular corn lily has specific, not very intense fragrance. It is often visited by many insects such as bees. The ixias are also used as ornamental plants and cut flowers.

Ixia viridiflora, also known as "Turquoise Ixia", is a tall member of the genus Ixia. It comes from around the Tulbagh in South Africa, Cape Province. It has small corms under the ground. This corn lily is a very rare plant. Its habitats are often destroyed by human influence so the conservation status of this interesting flower is vulnerable and is tending to worse.

The plant gets the name "Turquoise Ixia" from the really spectacular blue-green turquoise colour of the flowers, which is a rare colour for flowers. They are grouped in long inflorescences and are traditionally star-shaped like in most corn lilies. They have a black-purple centre. The ovary is 3-locular. This flower is pollinated by specific scarab beetles known as monkey beetles of the tribe Hopliini. The Turquoise Ixia has very good ornamental traits with its beautiful inflorescences but is very rare in cultivation because of its conservation status.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 17 October 2018


It is said that Opera is the queen of arts as it combines so many different types of artistic expression to create a unified whole that is seen in the performance on stage. When you think about it, there is music (both its composition and performance), singing, dancing, acting, stage design, costumes, lighting, special effects – to mention a few of these creative forces at work. It is an art form that is highly stylised and admits no middle ground, you either love it or you detest it. Its followers can get as passionate about it as a football fan is about his team and players. Its detractors cannot understand what all the fuss is about and what all that caterwauling on stage is meant to be.

Opera appeals to me as it is a magical mirror of life and its vicissitudes. The way that it presents our common experiences and shared emotions, feelings, and the way that we all react to certain situations can prove to be a powerful insight into our innermost being. And of course the music makes it all so much more immediate and can strip naked our emotional reserve and make us very vulnerable to the stimuli that reach us in that darkened auditorium. The setting draws us in and the highly artificial environment of the stage acts as a lens to focus emotions quite sharply and make us participate in the drama taking place. How easy it is to then find parallels with our own life and experiences…

Of course even the most ardent opera fan has some favourite operas and some that are not all that sympathetic to one’s sensibilities. I particularly dislike Puccini’s “La Bohème” but I like his “Madam Butterfly”. “Carmen” and the “Pearl Fishers” of Bizet are perennial favourites of mine, as are most Verdi operas, with (perhaps surprisingly) the exception of “Aida”. The aria “Celeste Aida” grates on my nerves so much! Mozart’s operas are wonderful as are Rossini’s. “Norma” of Bellini and “Don Pasquale” of Donizetti I like, but Wagner’s music dramas are not my cup of tea. Gluck’s reformed classical style is appealing and his masterpiece “Orfeo e Euridice” strikes a chord with me.

Most baroque operas are firm favourites, with Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” and “L’ Incoronazione di Poppea” ranking very highly. Handel’s operas are wonderful, as are those of Purcell, including the marvellous “Dido and Aeneas”. Rameau’s “Les Indes Gallantes” is a firm favourite, as are some of Cavalli’s operas, for example, “La Callisto”.

The photo below is from the Melbourne Opera's production of "Faust" by Gounod, another favourite opera of mine. What are your favourite operas? Or for that matter, operas you can't stand?

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Tuesday 16 October 2018


Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.1 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3 million.

The Brisbane central business district stands on the original European settlement and is situated inside a bend of the Brisbane River, approximately 23 km from its mouth at Moreton Bay. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River valley between the bay and the Great Dividing Range. While the metropolitan area is governed by several municipalities, a large portion of central Brisbane is governed by the Brisbane City Council, which is by far Australia's largest Local Government Area by population.

Brisbane is named after the river on which it sits, which, in turn, was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. The first European settlement in Queensland was a penal colony at Redcliffe, 28 kilometres north of the Brisbane central business district, in 1824. That settlement was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825. Free settlers were permitted from 1842. Brisbane was chosen as the capital when Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday 15 October 2018


This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Macro Monday meme,
and also part of the Through my Lens meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.

Saturday 13 October 2018


The Afghan Hound is a hound that is distinguished by its thick, fine, silky coat and its tail with a ring curl at the end. The breed is selectively bred for its unique features in the cold mountains of Afghanistan. Its local name is Tāžī Spay (Pashto: تاژي سپی‎) or Sag-e Tāzī (Dari Persian: سگ تازی). Other names for this breed are Kuchi Hound, Tāzī, Balkh Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barakzai Hound, Shalgar Hound, Kabul Hound, Galanday Hound or sometimes incorrectly African Hound. Here, it's been given a haircut in preparation for the hot weather ahead.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.

Friday 12 October 2018