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Posts tagged ‘Weather’

Christmas in Bruges… Sunny landscapes

After a rather soggy start to our weekend sojourn in Bruges, the sun, when it came, cannot have been more welcome. As always happens when the depressing influence of cloud breaks and the atmosphere breathes a sigh of relief, Bruges opened itself up to receive the first glimmers of winter sunshine. And suddenly, before our very eyes, the city, which until now had appeared quaint, suddenly revealed the full extent of its beauty in full multi-coloured high dimensional clarity – like a bride whose blushing face is uncovered before the doting groom, the obfuscation of her lace veil being swept aside.

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While Bruges exudes charm throughout its network of canals and cobbles, across its staggered rooftops and old timber town houses, it is a city which comes alive when the sun magnifies the resplendence of its colours and details. I loved the fact that on so many of the gothic spires or roof windows, a sweep of grey tiles would be broken by woodwork painted in a vivid high-gloss red; or the fact that in Bruges’ many squares and principal streets, its tightly packed buildings are each given personality through a veritable rainbow of coloured facades and golden statues.

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As is the case with any city set on water, such colour and charm as resides above the waterline is swiftly replicated as the tranquil canals provide a mirrored surface hungry to reflect the panoply on tones glowing alongside it, so that in providing a double vision, the waters of Bruges complete a fully immersive picture of architectural brilliance across all visual planes. Yet in Bruges, unlike in Venice for example, its skyline is additionally punctuated by the addition of windmills and peaked rooftops, which, when seen alongside gothic spires, creates a uniquely spiked spectacle softened by a multitude of trees which must look splendid in warmer seasons.

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Bruges is a place of unique and consistent beauty which is not disturbed by the touch nor inevitable destruction of modernity nor vulgarity. Yet in the sunshine it reaches an apotheosis of visual brilliance. I am so glad I was able to see it at its sunny best.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Christmas in Bruges… Rainy landscapes

I always knew that I wanted to see Bruges (or Brugge) at Christmas time. Famed for its UNESCO protected idyllic old town, interlaced with canals which fill the city with all the charms of Venice mixed with a heavy dose of Medieval mysticism, there is no doubting that Belgium’s watery pearl makes for a stunning destination all year around. But with Christmas markets springing up all over town, and fairy lights strung across cobbled streets scattering their reflected golden light across the rippling canals, Bruges goes up one notch when the festive season arrives. It is a cosy Christmas card paradise, and the ultimate destination for the most magical time of the year.

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Hopping across the channel by Eurostar, we found ourselves in this quaint historical city within a mere few hours from London. However the short distance meant that there was no escaping the British rain. So it was that for our first 24 hours in the city, we encountered a Bruges blanketed in cloud, but also enhanced by the rain. For as darkness descended and the Christmas lights came to life, the combination of rain and canals made for a city which dazzled in this reflected light, as every surface of its historical beauty became magnified in the light of the season.

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So while sunshine was to come the very next day, this first day was characterised by the bedazzlement of Christmas… a time of year so magical and so beautiful that no matter how gloomy the weather, the stunning light of the season shines through. In this enhanced light, Bruges really shone, demonstrating to we first-time visitors why Brugge is famed throughout Europe as one of the most beautiful cities history has left us to enjoy.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Beauty and the Beast from the East

They call it “the Beast from the East” – a Siberian shock wave of icy blasts and perilously wintery temperatures which has swept onto the shores of the UK and shows no sign of budging. Yet with the “Beast” has come the snow: a transformative blanket of pure, frosty white which has proved to be the very antithesis of beastly, as a very chilly but utterly mesmerising walk around my local park was to prove.

I have seen Clapham Common in every season, and have often obsessed myself over the light filtering through its lush summer leaves, or the auburn tones of its autumn face. Yet I don’t think I have ever been so stunned by the beauty of Clapham Common as when I was seeing it dressed, like a blushing bride, in an unbroken veil of white. Covering metre upon metre of grassy planes, and managing to find its way onto even the tiniest of tree branch, lamp post and railing, the snow rendered Clapham Common completely transformed, and the result was divine. I have never seen a familiar place so changed, nor the local residents so equally dazzled by this new manifestation.

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It’s incredible what nature can create when left to its own devices. Take the pond for example. It wasn’t just frozen, but some effect of the water underneath had created large circular patterns all over its surface like a retro design from the 60s. Meanwhile, the way in which white would gather at the trunks of trees, but leave green and orange trunks and branches revealed, lent an ever better contrast to the colours, like a freshly daubed application of unmixed paint on a white canvas.

But of course beauty is fragile, and within an hour of taking these photos, the sun disappeared, and a fresh gale of blizzards took its place. The Belle of the ball had left the dance floor, and the fearsome Beast had returned to dominate the airwaves once again.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

September Sunset over the roofs of Palma

They say that the beauty of Mallorca has something new to offer, whatever the time of day, and whatever the season. And even though, as the summer turns to autumn, a decisive air of melancholy fills the air, the beauty of an island in flux is everywhere to be seen. This is no more evident than in the skies of an evening, when the sun descends to leave behind a trail of such magnificent sunsets that the eyes can barely comprehend the beauty before them.

On so many occasions in the last few weeks, I have witnessed such a sunset in a fleeting moment, with only an iphone camera to capture it. However last night, I was lucky enough to catch this incredible show just as I popped up to the rarely used communal terrace on top of my old town apartment block. With its unique vantage point over the old rambling rooftops, a startling silhouette of Santa Eulalia church and the cathedral beyond, and the peaks of the Tamuntana mountains in the distance, this terrace-top view is beautiful at the best of times. But last night, as the sun sank and left a trail of firey pinks and flaming yellows amidst puffy wisps of wafer thin clouds, it was truly a sight to behold. And I am so thrilled to have had my proper camera with me, so that I could share it with you.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

A two-hour trip to Valencia

If there was to be a definitive demonstration of the term jet-set, a 2 hour trip from Mallorca to Valencia and back again would surely be it. And today that is exactly what I did. Flying from our sunny isle, over the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean to one of Spain’s sunniest cities, just for a quick work meeting and then back again. Happily, amongst my work responsibilities, I was able to fit in a few minutes to stroll around the city. For Valencia’s old town’s is surely one of the most stunning in all of Spain and well worth a full weekend’s exploration. Nonetheless, with only 20 minutes to spare before my flight, I made the most of the time available to me, shooting these photos which I now share.

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The photos mainly focus on the picture-worthy Plaza de la Reina, and its sister plaza – de la Virgen, both sandwiching the beautifully quasi-baroque Valencia Cathedral between them. While the Plaza de la Reina is very much the bustling centre of the old town, where cafés spill over onto sunny pavements, taxi drivers meet for a chat, and residents wait for the city’s many buses, the Plaza de la Virgen is a grander affair with the Romanesque arches of the cathedral its backdrop and a magnificent fountain with a grandiose Neptune at its centre.

As my photos perhaps suggest, I couldn’t get enough of that stunning fountain which never fails to enchant me, whenever I am lucky enough to visit this marble clad urban space. But also evident from this little selection of photos is the purity and strength of the colours. Just look at those rotund oranges, and that amazing blue sky; that sun dappled yellow wall and those white and blue dazzling fountains of water. They are the colours which made Spain so utterly seductive to me, and the reason why eventually I found myself moving here permanently. Adios for now…

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Winter in Madrid

For somewhere as relatively far south by Europe standards as Madrid, it’s a city which gets incredibly cold in the winter. And I mean incredibly cold. True, I have become acclimatised to the balmier climes of the island of Mallorca, where in a mere 3 months of being here, I have begun to believe that there is no such thing as a minus temperature. But how wrong I was on that front. For when the need arose for me to jet off to Madrid last week for work, I experienced temperatures that made me feel as though I was facing an attack of daggers from all sides.

It was my first trip to Madrid for several years, and I was therefore keen to spend the little free time I had exploring the city streets and remembering past memories of walking around the Prado, the Retiro, through the Puerta del Sol and along the Gran Via. But no sooner had I stepped out of my hotel I realised that a few blocks of walking was all I was going to manage before I had to duck inside a warm tapas bar for shelter.

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Ice cold streets, a bitter wind, and temperatures which made my gloved hands feel not just cold but broken… these were the sensations I suffered in this short dip into winter in Madrid. Yet just as clear skies bring a fierce winter by night, in the day, those cold temperatures are tempered ever so slightly by the presence of sunshine, and the photographs you see on this post were taken on a brisk morning stroll as I headed from my hotel to my place of work near the beautiful neoclassical monument, the Puerta de Alcalá. 

Those photos are very evidently characterised by the grandeur of the city – the beautiful roof tops of the Gran Via in the distance, the architectural details of the Puerta de Alcalá and the Plaza de Independencia, and the large palatial buildings and parks which fill the area. Everything is brightened by a pale winter sun and clear blue skies, but as you (hopefully) enjoy these photos, please remember the pain which I had to suffer to take them – they involved taking off my gloves, a sensation which brought to my hands a thousand daggers of pain. Oh what I suffer for The Daily Norm…

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Winter Weekend in Ibiza | Part 2: Sunrise and Sunset

You can’t beat a good view, and whenever I go away anywhere, whether it be for a week or just a day, I make a point of finding one, not least from my hotel room. For some, a room in a hotel is just somewhere to shut their eyes and recuperate before exploring the outside. For me, it is an instrumental part of the travelling process, where I can rest and contemplate the sights I have seen around me, where I can write and sketch, and where I can soak in bubbles or take a long shower. Best of all, it is where I can enjoy a good view for long periods at a time, without the self-consciousness that I may be lingering too long in a restaurant or stealing the view from someone else.

Sunrise

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On my weekend in Ibiza, the Hotel Ocean Drive did not disappoint, placing me and my partner on the third floor from where a beautiful view across the Marina Botafoch and over to the stunning hill-top Dalt Vila (old town) could be enjoyed. This combination of rocky outline coupled with the hilly topography which surrounds the city, together with the great watery expanse of the port and the various small marinas located within it meant for a stunning show at all times of the day, but no more so than at sunrise and sunset, when the colours turned from blue to a ripening pink, and utter calm descended across the landscape.

Sunset

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This post is devoted to those moments, when shades of raspberry and peach and soft primrose yellow filled my camera lens, and added clarity to the dark outline of the city against a pastel-coloured sky. As I am unable to choose which of sunset or sunrise was my favourite, I have included both. For they were both manifestations of the most perfect of views; a vista which made my first experience of Ibiza unforgettable.

A room with a view

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

A Seaside Sojourn to celebrate the Season

While the sea may be the same globally-unfied expanse of water wherever it laps and wanders around the world, the nature and appearance of the sea as it washes up upon a shore will differ widely from beach to beach. While on the Mediterranean shores, sandy beaches and clement conditions are conducive to crystal clear seas tinted cerulean by the sunny skies, in England in the winter, the waters of the South Coast take on an altogether more electrifying, menacing quality. And yet those waters, while not inviting the viewer in amongst their freezing watery fold, are nonetheless as enticing as the sea in a warmer location.

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So on Christmas morning, with the meat left roasting in the oven, and the family table freshly laid with a Christmas centrepiece made from lustrous winter foliage and gold candles, I was drawn to the Sussex Coast, which happens to be a mere minute from my family home. The weather was not unreasonable, but the beach was frosty and cold. Its waves were charged with so much energy that the water’s edge frothed and bubbled as it collapsed upon the stoney shore – so much so that it reminded me of egg whites whipped manically into meringue. Its wooden groins were almost totally submerged by the sand which had been newly hurled up upon the beach; Its plentiful pebbles were freshly scattered with shells gifted to the shore by the depths of the ocean.

As ever, I was on hand with my camera to capture these details. For Christmas Day is not just about the glitter and gold, but about taking time out from the busy schedule of the festivities to appreciate people, and nature, and the gifts of the season.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Just a typical Mallorcan Sunday afternoon in November…

On the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, which I am now lucky enough to call home, everyone is talking about one thing: the weather. The streets may already be decked in lights for Christmas, the shops full of twinkling trees and nativities, and Christmas markets installed across the island, but as far as the weather is concerned, it could still be summer. With temperatures in the early 20s, you’d never know that in a month from now we will be getting our stockings ready for a visit from Papa Noel. But I’m certainly not complaining. It means that for a day like yesterday, when the sun shone in the sky amidst milky fair weather clouds, enjoyment of this last acquaintance with summer wasn’t be restricted to coffee in the sunshine. Instead my second Sunday on the island of Mallorca was spent revelling in the very best of summertime activities – a visit to the beach.

Brunch at Cappuccino Portals and the yachts which fill the marina

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It wasn’t exactly planned that way. Having met our dear friend for Brunch at the Cappuccino Grand Café in chic Puerto Portals just east of Palma, we had originally intended to head back home to finish that all encompassing of activities: unpacking. But with the weather so perfect and the pull of Mallorca’s stunning coastline so strong, we could not resist the magnetic force of its glowing auburn beaches. And once there, the sea was just too tempting to resist. So stripped down to underwear, the water beckoned, and an afternoon wallowing in the brilliantly warm waters of the Mediterranean ensued. Sorry, did someone say November?

November on the beach. Now that’s what I call a move for the better…

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Sunset on Tuscany

Just as this week of Tuscany posts began with an essay on a sensational sunny morning, when the sun was slowly rising over the calmest of seas, so now it ends with the most sumptuous of sunsets, as that round ball of fire on which we are all so inherently reliant made its 180 degree course through our northern hemisphere before dropping gracefully beyond the reach of the equator to pursue a further path on the other side of the world. 

As the Tuscan coastline universally faces west, wherever you are on that beautiful stretch of pine tree lined coast, you are guaranteed to be treated to the most stunning of sunsets, whatever the time of the year. Over just a short weekend in Tuscany, we witnessed three incredible shows, and with each the panoply of colours striding through the sky seemed to increase. From a lemon yellow deepening through to mango, when the sun eventually plunged beneath the horizon, the sky was shot with the most exquisite shades of rose and raspberry ripple so that, by the time night descended, the sky had danced its way through a cabaret of colours, inspiring fruit filled cocktails and artists aplenty in its wake. 

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But just as the sun had to set, a little earlier each day, so too did the time have to set on our little trip to Tuscany. For the nature of a weekend is the inevitable onset of work the following Monday, and with this damned thought in mind, we made our long way back, besides a fading purple sky, along the dark winding road to Pisa. 

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.