Saturday, 31 August 2019

9 places that look like outer space — on Planet Earth

IF THE STATE of the world we live in has you about ready to hit the road and travel elsewhere in the solar system, we don’t blame you. Unfortunately, although we’re getting closer to being able to book vacations to space, we’re not there just yet (at least, not affordably). But while you wait, you can plan a trip to places on Planet Earth that are so wild, remote, and unoccupied that they resemble outer space, so you can at least pretend to be exploring the rest of our galaxy on your next getaway.

1. Deadvlei, Namibia

Photo: Oleg Znamenskiy/Shutterstock
The eerie vibe of Deadvlei, Namibia, is unlike anywhere else in the world. The area is populated by a stark palate of colors: white clay ground, petrified black camel thorn trees, red sand dunes surrounding the area, and a bright blue sky overhead. Deadvlei translates from Afrikaans as “dead marsh,” and the area indeed shows no signs of life. In fact, the sun-scorched trees themselves are believed to have died 600 to 700 years ago, but they don’t decompose due to the intense dryness of the area.
Since Deadvlei is located inside Namib-Naukluft Park, near the more well known salt pan of Sossusvlei, visitors can stop by, but the area requires at least a half-mile trek, so pack water for the hot walk to the trees.

2. Quttinirpaaq National Park, Canada

Photo: Ed Dods/Shutterstock
Baffin is an island in the high arctic territory of Nunavut in Canada that sidles alongside Greenland. The remote, mountainous landscape resembles the stark scenes on other planets. And it’s about as populated as other planets in our galaxy: Despite its 381,584 square miles, its population is just 62 people spread out among 21 private dwellings, according to the 2016 census.
Far away and isolated, Quttinirpaaq National Park on Baffin isn’t a place for the average traveler. You can visit the park on your own, but it’s only accessible by charter plane from Resolute Bay. Visiting is exclusively for those into glaciers, arctic expeditions, or polar bears. Only experienced trekkers should attempt to visit without being part of a tour.

3. White Desert, Egypt

Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock
The bright white rocks of Egypt’s White Desert, the only visual elements of the area’s massive expanse of nothingness, come together with the stark, monochromatic landscape to give off distinct otherworldly vibes. The chalk rock formations come in various shades of white, and only white, making for a lunar setting unlike anywhere else — save for the actual moon. The White Desert is located in the Farafra depression, and visitors can head there on a tour, but it’s in a pretty remote location, hours from the nearest cities, so don’t venture out there unprepared.

4. Fly Geyser, Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Photo: Lukas Bischoff Photograph/Shutterstock
Fly Geyser in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert definitely doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before on Earth. A bizarre multi-colored structure, the Fly Geyser actually came into being entirely by accident: a failed well drilling project resulted in minerals creating the cones and pools you see today. The creepy green and red hues are due to algae growth.
Hopeful visitors can book a tour — in 2016, Burning Man Project purchased the land where Fly Geyser sits, and opened it to the public for guided nature walks by the Friends of Black Rock-High Rock.

5. Highlands, Iceland

Photo: Sasha64f/Shutterstock
A step into Iceland’s Highlands region is an otherworldly experience, and no place is a better example of that than the black and green volcanic landscape of the Lakagigar craters. The series of striking geological formations resulted from an eruption in the 18th century. Some areas of the untouched landscape resemble the photos we have from Mars — and in fact, scientists use the Highlands region as a testing ground to better understand the geography of Mars for landing spacecrafts.
Visiting is an undertaking: You’ll need to know where you’re going and have a 4×4 vehicle to access the area.

6. The Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Photo: Lukas Bischoff Photograph/Shutterstock
Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, in the Horn of Africa, formed as a result of Africa and Asia splitting apart over the ages of the earth. It sits at the junction of three tectonic plates, so it has seen its fair share of volcanic activity and geological changes. However, it’s the glowing, alien-like colors of the strange terrain that make it seem as if it’s located on another planet. It’s also one of the hottest places on Earth, so visiting does indeed feel like heading to a planetary neighbor that’s inhospitable toward human life. Interestingly enough, the famous fossil Lucy was found in this area, earning it the nickname the cradle of humanity. Visitors can check out the Danakil Depression on a tour with a guide.

7. Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Photo: Sara Winter/Shutterstock
Visiting the remote Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia — the largest in the world — is a bit like stepping into another world. A white expanse of salt expands out in all directions, as far as the eye can see. However, if you’re lucky, you might spot a pink flamingo in the otherwise barren landscape.
The nearby town of Uyuni — located a casual 11,995 feet above sea level — is a popular place to start for day tours or multi-day trips to the salt flats, though you can also set out from the town of Tupiza further south.

8. Wadi Rum, Jordan

Photo: EyesTravelling/Shutterstock
Put a photo of Mars next to a photo of Wadi Rum in Jordan and most people would have a hard time telling which is which. Nicknamed Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is a rocky red valley that has served as a filming location for a wide variety of movies, especially science fiction flicks that need to depict scenes on Mars — think Red PlanetPrometheusThe Martian, and even a couple of movies from Star Warsfranchise. The dry valley is located in southern Jordan and is cut from sandstone and granite rock.
The Zalabia Bedouin inhabit Wadi Rum and have formed it into an ecotourism attraction; visitors can come to rock climb, take a camel or horse safari, hike, or even camp under the stars (or in luxury “desert bubbles”).

9. Death Valley, California

Photo: MNStudio/Shutterstock
A massive desert valley in eastern California, bordered by the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin Desert, Death Valley is one of the hottest places on Earth — perfect for those wanting to feel like they need to escape to another planet, one that’s uninhabitable.
The valley’s occasional dramatic wildflower blooms are what often make headlines, but this desert is worth a visit even when all the blossoms have withered. From hot springs to scenic lookouts to camps, there are various attractions across the 3,000-square-mile desert for visitors to check out.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Picnic By The River

On the grassy river bank,
We place our tartan rug upon the ground.
The gently flowing river and random birdsong, 
Are the only audible sounds.
We sit down on the rug and relax,
Basking in the glorious sunshine.
Then open our wicker picnic basket,
To reveal food and drink on which we’ll dine.
There’s plenty of food to for us all to share,
Including a gorgeous home-made savoury tart.
There’s also finger food and various fruits,
And, in no time at all, we all make a start.
We’ve brought a bottle of champagne,
For a special treat, for us all to drink.
I love to watch the tiny bubbles rise.
‘Cheers! ’ we exclaim, as, together, our glasses clink.
As we sit, a sudden movement catches my eye;
I see a fleeting flash of vivid bright blue.
To my joy, I realise it’s a kingfisher,
On the look out for his daily food.
Nearby, I spot some dragonflies,
Darting quickly here and there.
At their lovely, iridescent colours,
I can’t help but sit and stare.
There are many beautiful butterflies;
In the air, they dance round together.
They chase each other to and fro,
Coaxed out by this lovely weather.
A pair of swans swim serenely by;
Their feathers are as white as snow.
I marvel at their amazing majesty,
As I watch them onwardly go.
The river, as it gently flows,
Is a haven and a duck’s delight.
They seem happy and contented,
As they swim in the sunshine so bright.
As we sit there laughing and relaxing,
We’re cooled by a delicious breeze.
We don’t seem to have a care in the world.
Oh! How I adore days just like these!
Days like these are so very precious,
And they’re always such good fun.
I sit there reclining, lost in thought,
As I tuck in to a sticky Belgian Bun.
The afternoon draws to a close,
And we all pack our things away.
With the current run of glorious weather,
We’re bound to return on another day.
Angela Wybrow
Artist Lee Dubin

Happy Wednesday

"In the end, we’ll all become stories."
~ Margaret Atwood
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies."
~ George R.R. Martin
Make your story great and have a happy Wednesday!

Monday, 26 August 2019

National Dog Day 2019

National Dog Day is an annual event celebrated on August 26.
National Dog Day was established in 2004 by animal advocate & pet and family lifestyle expert Coleen Paige.  The aim of the awareness day is to raise awareness about the number of dogs that are currently in resuce centres and encourage the adoption of these animals.
Sadly, each year, millions of dogs become homeless because they are unwanted or their owners are unable to care for them.  National Dog Day aims to encourage people to adopt dogs from shelters and rescue organizations.
If you already have a dog and don’t plan to adopt another one, you can celebrate it in other ways. For instance, you can volunteer at your local shelter, donate to animal welfare organizations, spend some quality time with your dog, buy your dog some treats or a new toy, etc. National Dog Day is about providing dogs with love, compassion, respect and protection they deserve .Every year, numerous events are held on the occasion of National Dog Day. The holiday is actively promoted in the social media.
A lot of additional information about the day and ideas for celebrating it can be found on its official website

Memories Of Tomorrow

These are the memories of tomorrow,
Smile of friend we meet today,
Sympathy to soothe our sorrow, 
Roses blooming by the way;
Little jests to cheer the living,
Little deeds of kindness done,
Thought to them shall we be giving
When the years have wandered on.
What seems slight to us at present
Will grow big in other days;
Memory will make it pleasant,
We'll retread these happy ways.
We shall sigh to greet the brother
That today we hurry by;
Joys we share with one another
We'll remember, you and I.
Little pranks that we are playing,
Little songs that now we sing,
Orchard lanes that we are straying
Will come back, and with them bring
Far more gladness, far more sweetness
Than we seem to find today,
We shall see them in completeness
When the present slips away.
Gentle skies that float above us,
Babies romping 'round the floor,
Friends who show us that they love us,
Roses blooming at the door;
Hours now dark with care and sorrow,
Love that comes to dry the eye
Are the memories of tomorrow
We shall treasure, you and I.
By Edgar Albert Guest
Artist Bettina Baldassarri

Sunday, 25 August 2019

The Lancaster bomber

Stunning photo taken earlier this morning by the crew of the Hawarden based police helicopter of a Broughton built Lancaster bomber.
The Lancaster is one of only two remaining in airworthy condition.
It will be taking part at Rhyl air show today alongside a Spitfire and Hurricane.
Scheduled for 2pm at Rhyl so up in the skies over Flintshire sometime before that (sorry no exact time)
More about PA474:
Lancaster Bomber – PA474 rolled off the production line at the Vickers Armstrong Broughton factory at Hawarden Airfield on 31 May 1945.
PA474 – was built just after the war in Europe had come to end and was prepared for use against the Japanese as part of the ‘Tiger Force’ – the war in the Far East ended before the plane was deployed.
After coming out of storage PA474 was converted for photo reconnaissance work; modifications for these duties included being stripped back to a bare metal silver finish and all gun turrets were removed, it was then assigned to aerial survey duties with No 82 Squadron in East and South Africa from September 1948 until February 1952.
On return to the United Kingdom, PA474 was going to be used as a pilotless drone by Flight Refuelling Ltd which would likely have led to her loss.
Fortunately, before the conversion started the Air Ministry decided to use a different type of aircraft for the drone programme.
It was then transferred to the Royal College of Aeronautics at Cranfield where she was used as a trial platform for the testing of various experimental aerofoil sections between 1954 and 1964.
In 1964 PA474 was adopted by the Air Historical Branch with a view to putting the aircraft on display as a static exhibit in the proposed RAF Museum at Hendon.
The plane was flown to Wroughton where she was painted in a camouflage paint scheme, though without squadron markings, and it was during this period that the aircraft took part in two films, ‘Operation Crossbow’ and ‘The Guns of Navarone’.
Later in 1964, she was moved to RAF Henlow and grounded in preparation for display at the RAF Museum.
In 1965, Wing Commader D’Arcy, the Commanding Officer of 44 Squadron (then flying Vulcans at RAF Waddington) asked permission for PA474 to be transferred into the care of the Squadron.
A restoration programme began on the Lancaster and by 1966 work was progressing well, permission to fly PA474 regularly was granted in 1967, whilst restoration continued.
It was transferred to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 1973.

Friday, 23 August 2019

The Marble Church (St.Margaret's Church), Bodelwyddan

The Marble Church (St.Margaret's Church), Bodelwyddan, a prominent landmark visible for many miles in the lower Vale of Clwyd in Denbighshire, was consecrated on 23rd August 1860.
The church was erected by Lady Willoughby de Broke in memory of her husband. It is part constructed of Belgian Red marble, ‘Anglesey marble’ and elaborate woodwork. It also features stained glass windows dedicated to Saint Margaret and Saint Kentigern.
The church is located near Kinmel Hall where a camp used by Canadian troops during the First World War was situated. In 1918-19, a Spanish flu pandemic struck the camp. Many of the victims died and were buried in the churchyard. Then in 1919, a riot in the camp resulted in the death of five Canadian soldiers, who are also buried in St Margaret's Churchyard. The cause of the riot was the diversion of a ship sent to take the soldiers home and it is suggested that the five soldiers were executed for mutiny. However, this is denied by the Canadian Government.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

An August Wood Road

When the partridge coveys fly
In the birch-tops cool and high;
When the dry cicadas twang
Where the purpling fir-cones hang;
When the bunch-berries emboss—
Scarlet beads—the roadside moss;
Brown with shadows, bright with sun,
All day long till day is done
Sleeps in murmuring solitude
The worn old road that threads the wood.
In its deep cup—grassy, cool—
Sleeps the little roadside pool;
Sleeps the butterfly on the weed,
Sleeps the drifted thistle-seed.
Like a great and blazing gem,
Basks the beetle on the stem.
Up and down the shining rays
Dancing midges weave their maze.
High among the moveless boughs,
Drunk with day, the night-hawks drowse.
Far up, unfathomably blue,
August's heaven vibrates through.
The old road leads to all things good;
The year's at full, and time's at flood.
by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts