Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fun Times In Miami

Holidays to Miami aren’t complete without visiting the Everglades National Park. One and a half million acres of swamps, saw-grass prairies and sub tropical jungles filled with dozens of endangered species the best way to explore is by canoe although thrill seekers prefer tours by airboat. Hileah Park, built in 1925 and modeled after European racing track has a Renaissance Revival club house and landscaped gardens full of native flora and fauna. There is a lake with several islands inhabited by pink flamingos. This has been designated a sanctuary for the American flamingo by the Audubon Society.

Fifteen miles of beautiful beaches offer all manner of activities including water skiing, parasailing, jet ski and windsurfing. Spend half a day at Miami’s Seaquarium and enjoy shows with performing killer whales. It’s also home to seal lion “Salty” and TV star “Flipper” the dolphin. The Miami Museum of Science has over 140 interactive exhibits. Its wildlife centre has 175 live reptiles and birds of prey.

Another attraction is Coral Castle. Situated between the Florida Keys and Miami this was sculpted from rock by a Latvian immigrant over twenty five years. There is also a rich legacy of Art Deco architecture throughout Miami.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Edifying Edinburgh

Hotels in Edinburgh city centre are situated near the city’s most historic landmarks. Edinburgh Castle sits on volcanic rock at the top of the Royal Mile, a medieval thoroughfare linking the castle to Holyrood House. Housing the Scottish Crown jewels it also has the Stone of Destiny on which Scottish monarchs were crowned. Nearby Holyrood House is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland and best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots. Visitors can tour the Royal apartments, throne room, the Great Gallery with over 80 portraits of Scottish monarchs and the Queen’s Gallery, Scotland’s first permanent exhibition space for pictures from the Royal Collection. Close by is the Scottish Parliament where free guided tours are available taking visitors from the Main Hall, the Debate Chamber and on to historic Queensberry House.

The Grass Market is nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town with the best shopping the city has to offer. There are over 20 cafes, restaurants and historic pubs and Scottish designers and artisans sell everything from antique books to high fashion. Finish off a day of retail therapy by taking the Cadies and Witchery Tours which take a look at the city’s ghostly side.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Family Friendly San Francisco

Holidays to San Francisco have many family friendly activities. The Aquarium of the Bay on Fisherman’s Wharf has over 20,000 marine animals which can be observed through 300 feet of clear tunnels. San Francisco Zoo is home to exotic animals who live in the Lemur Forest, Gorilla Preserve, African Savannah and Penguin Island. The Presidio of San Francisco, a former military post, is now a national park featuring scenic vistas and walking trails. Then there is Driven Raceway in Sonoma County, an indoor kart racing and family entertainment facility.

For fun seekers Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has the world famous amusement park with its 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and indoor game arcades. iFly SF Bay Indoor Skydiving has simulated indoor skydiving. The Submarine USS Pamparito is an authentic restored World War II submarine where a crew of 80 men once lived for weeks on end. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum on Fisherman’s Wharf was established 43 years ago. With collections of old and unusual exhibits in 11 galleries there is entertainment for all ages. The Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park was founded in 1879 with rare flowers from around the world and five galleries.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Altered Photos

My tutor send me an email assignment: to go outside for five minutes and take ten photos before playing round with them in Photo Shop or some other editing programme. I haven't really explored the effects I can get in PS so spent a happy hour exploring all of them. The above is a shot of sage leaves turned into a watercolour painting.

This is a mossy brick path "wrapped" in plastic which gives it a blurry distorted feel. I was impressed with how deep and vibrant the green of the moss appeared in the photos.

This is my favourite shot- a berry tree that has turned into an ink outlined painting resembling a William Morris design. I keep looking at the photo and finding it hard to believe that this little tree is growing in the garden and in reality is quite nondescript. The possibilities are endless- turn family snapshots into a mosaic, a self portrait into a distorted blurry horror picture, a pet portrait into a charcoal sketch. A great way to spend a cold winter evening.