Theme: Red

The red month of February will soon be over but thank goodness, it’s a leap year so we have one day extra to enjoy this season of hearts.

Hence, what a better fitting subject to use as Theme than the colour of the month – RED. 

It is such a beautiful colour!  I see it worn everywhere and everytime I go to Paris.  It definitely renders even a grey atmosphere ALIVE if you see one wearing it. It doesn’t only denotes romance and sexiness, it also exudes  joy…. and mystery. 

Happy RED month everyone!

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The morning after Valentine, River Seine

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Mysterious….Place des Vosges

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Red candies for lady love, Marais District

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Lady in Red…..Trocadero


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Stopping over before catching the train… Trocadero

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The pretty odd one…. Trocadero

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Romantic red…. Place Madeleine

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A joyful red… Place Fontaine Saint-Michel

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Oversized red is beautiful…… Place Fontaine Saint-Michel

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The tourist in red….. Champs d’Elysée

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I’ll take the one with the red heart, some souvenir shop

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A surprise gift that will certainly win her heart, Marais District

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Lemon cake with the red rose petals, only from Fauchon! Place de Madeleine

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Seminar over, time to go sightseeing…Champs-Elysées

One Eiffel morning

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Eiffel’s misty head
goes well with lady in red

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Eiffel RER station?

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V for Victory….

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Lifting the Eiffel

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Flying high

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“I’m coming to take you, my Eiffel…”

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Jumping happy!

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She has a male Tinker Bell on her hand, the other carries a group of tourists… cool! 

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More interested in the muses (at Palais de Chaillot)

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Eiffel in our hearts

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Speechless…

Probably the most photographed car in Paris… that moment

I was walking along Boulevard de Belleville when I sighted a crowd milling alongside half a dozen or so gendarmes (policemen) around a spot that was causing heavy traffic on the entire street.  I thought some criminal activity has just taken place and I missed it.   I walked nearer the scene to snoop around when I saw the reason for the commotion.

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A car lost control, drove over a traffic post and got propelled up high when the latter, with a concrete base weighing a ton, tumbled on its side.  Aside from the smashed bumper and, errr… the leaking gas tank, the car looks perfectly alright but its tilting sideways position would easily make it to the Insolite (Weird) page of the French Metro newspaper.

Now, the accident itself is not a funny story to be talking about considering the trauma the lady driver went through but what caught my curiosity was the instant reaction of every passerby – including yours truly, I confess – to dig out for his cameraphone to make a lasting memory of the scene. 

I just realized that moment that almost everyone now carries a cameraphone or a smartphone on their pocket leaving me practically alone as the sole user of  an old traditional Nokia 1200!  Well, the only thing I need about mobile phones anyway is to be able to make and receive calls, send/receive text and set the alarm,  for if I need to do photography, I have my digital SLR which I carry with me everyday without fail.  And if I want to browse the internet, I use my PC at home, or failing that, take it to any Parisian park for most of these green areas are now free wi-fi hotspots!  

Going back to the accident, while everyone was taking shots of  the car, my photojournalistic streak started getting active so instead of going with the flow, my attention was directed to them, the snappers, and you bet I had a fun time positioning myself to get their best shooting position!

Now, if you were on the scene, which one would most likely resemble you? 

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The dog walker (who had to carry his pup on one hand so he could click the cameraphone with the other)

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The street worker (who had to stop what he was doing to take his souvenir shot)

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The cyclist (who also had to stop and take this shot)

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The street worker 2 (so that’s the reason why traffic was so slow that moment!)

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The fashion guru

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The photo enthusiast

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The “thank-goodness-my-phone-has-a-camera” passerby

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The happy snapper

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The ‘dont-care-if-I-get-run-over” snapper

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The ‘nice-to-post-on-Facebook’ shooter

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The ‘nothing-escapes-me” clicker (meaning, he shoots even the interior of the car boot)

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The looking-smart shooter

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Or anyone who just shoots because he thinks it’s a great shot,  hehehe

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Or are you simply a policeman snapping for his accident report!

Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Photodiary – January 2012

Daily Photos

31 January 2012

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It began snowing this morning, a very exciting moment because this is the first time it happened this winter…

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..after three hours of snowflakes, this is the glacial view of our terrace.

30 January 2012
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Went to Ventimiglia market in Italy for filling up the fridge. This orange from Sicily looks more exciting to photograph than to eat.

29 January 2012
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Being home in the mountains is like being on holiday all the time. From our window, we could see the Italian and French trains going past several times a day.

28 January 2012
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Watched a choral concert tonight at a church in Saorge. This group which sings a range of Eastern and Southern European gypsy songs performs regularly in our region and we always make it a point to watch them, come rain or snow. It was raining but we didn’t mind. Better be listening to real concerts than just staying home watching TV, we thought. Besides, entrance is free.

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What’s also exciting about watching village concerts like this one is the venue which is usually held in a historic building. Tonight, it was held in an old-Baroque-church-turned-library. You can see the shelves of books surrounding the statue of the Virgin Mary. This church is just one among seven located in Saorge, a village of 430 inhabitants. Too many churches for few number of people but of course, they have been there since the medieval age. It’s quite expensive to maintain them though so what happens is, they are converted into public establishments like a library. At least it is better to use them that way than closing them down.

27 January 2012

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H and I arrived in Nice last night, too late to catch the connecting train to home so we spent the night in a hotel and caught the first trip the next day. This is the view of the rooftops of Escarène, one of the mountain village stops of the train.

26 January 2012

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Had to go home to the south today via iDTGV train so we were at Gare de Lyon to catch the mid-day express journey to Nice.

Paris, France

25 January 2012

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One of the benefits of walking in the woods is the chance of stumbling upon strange-looking flora and fauna. This is a tree fungi that has formed a huge network of brackets. They look so beautiful and out of this world, but unfortunately, they could bring damage to the tree if not controlled early.

Ollainville, Ile de France

24 January 2012

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“The plastic tunnels of Ollainville”

These are seedlings under cover not only to protect against the winter cold but also from the hungry birds!

23 January 2012

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A French goat only deserves a French bread…
Seen by the Etang de Trévoix (Ollainville Lake), outskirt of Paris

22 January 2012

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” These red fruits are falling on my head….”

Ollainville, France

21 January 2012

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I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

by Joyce Kilmer

20 January 2012

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This friendly llama is just one among the many animals giving joy to all visitors of the adjacent lakeside woodland of Ollainville in the outskirt of Paris. People from all walks of life: the runners, the children and their families, fishing groups and all visitors who can’t resist stopping by to say hello to her.

19 January 2012

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A day out in London today.

This is a view from the train when it stopped at the Olympic Park which is still under construction. The snaking structure on the left is the ArcelorMittal Orbit which will dominate the Olympic games. It is said to be Britain’s answer to France’s Eiffel Tower. Well, wait until it is finished.

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A quick visit to the Natural History Museum where I saw a dinosaur model for the first time.

This is the plant-eating Diplodocus that lived about 150 million years ago. It was one of the longest living animals that existed. From tip to tail it measures more than 26 meters. Diplodocus is a national treasure that lived at the Natural History museum for more than 100 years. King Edward VII expressed a strong interest in obtaining the dinosaur after seeing a sketch of one owned by the industrialist millionaire Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie arranged for a cast to be made and presented it to the museum in 1905.

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The magnificent, 30ft high, blown glass chandelier created by Dale Chihuly dominates the Rotunda or main entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
18 January 2012

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One of our activities in England today is the trip to the metal scrap shop where we sold a copper-plated water heater tank and its copper plumbing tidbits. It sold for 80 sterling pounds, hurray!

17 January 2012

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After more than a day of driving on the road, we arrived in Calais (France) where we caught the ferry to Dover (England). The ferry crossing takes just 90 minutes. On the photo is the famed white cliffs of Dover.

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White cliffs….the colour white owing to the hill’s composition of chalk accentuated by black stones or flint.

16 January 2012

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While driving on the motorway enroute to England, we passed by this conical shaped hill in the north of France. This is a man-made hill formed with the use of coal slag heaps landscaped to look like real hills.

From the 18th century up to the early years of the 20th, coal mining was the main source of energy for homes and industries but when oil and other fuels came as a more practical alternative, coal mines were gradually closed down and one way of disposing the leftover slags was to make them part of the scenery, such as this one.

15 January 2012

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Village exploring in France is like going to an open air museum. There are just too many things that remind you of how life was centuries ago.

This 1839 iron grill fence on the terrace has the shape of a musical instrument, it could mean that the owner of this house in those days was a musician.
Breil sur Roya, south of France

14 January 2012
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Some houses in our region display filled-up bottles of water on their doorstep whenever the owners are away. I asked around and was told that this is a way of discouraging cats and dogs from using their front doors as toilets….Ouch!

13 January 2012

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Ever since our return from Tuscany (Italy), we stopped buying bread as we prefer now to bake our own. Anyway, our local boulangerie (photo above) is too unreliable for a regular supply of bread for the villagers….it is open only three times a week.

12 January 2012

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A quick visit to the abandoned cemetery of our village . This is a tomb fencing that had been invaded by vegetation.

11 January 2012
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After H’s appointment with his medicin (doctor) in the Var, we took a side trip to nearby Trans-en-Provence before proceeding home. In the course of our exploration, we stumbled upon the town cemetery and this ash vase on the wall caught our curiosity. Reading the plaque, it says it is in memory of the victims of the Flood of 15 March 2010 where some of the tombs were washed away by the deluge.

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Walking further we saw the land ravaged by the flood. Indeed, where tombs stood, they are just now an abyss…

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Looking down, we saw broken pieces of cross, marble tombstones, etc…This is one of the worst natural disasters in Provence where 25 lives were lost and million euros worth of property damaged.  They blame over-construction of houses as the reason.  Even old vineyards have been transformed into housing developments.

10 January 2012

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Went back to the abandoned cemetery of our village bringing with me this time my digital SLR. The other day, I had only my point-and-shoot which was not good enough as it was already getting dark.

This shot was taken from the gate of the cemetery where a simple iron cross stands guard. The village in the background is that of Fontan.

09 January 2012

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After a hard day’s work at home, we needed to catch some fresh air before dinnertime so we went walking around the back alleys. From this vantagepoint, we could see the church tower and the miniature-model-like appearance of the village. Seen foreground are the vegetable gardens of some residents. We encountered Monsieur X who owns the garden with the plastic tunnel. Here he spends all his day even in the winter puttering in his garden. I asked him if he sells his harvest. He said no, it’s just for private consumption. The garden and few chickens provide food for his entire household all year round…

08 January 2012

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It’s Sunday and we were craving to see an Italian medieval village that is not too far away to drive. We saw the sign – Collabassa.

“Great, let’s try it!”, says H. We were not mistaken. Not only it has the real medieval feel, the scenery around it and the village itself is simply breathtaking!

What are those rolled nets? They are for harvesting the olives. The Olive Harvest actually starts in October going through January.

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The village is perched high on a terraced hill decked with olive trees. The nets are spread out to catch every olive fruit that drops off.

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These are the first few olives that fell directly from the branches. Come harvest time, the manual combing of each branch will begin, using rakes attached on long poles. Then the fruits will be taken to the cooperatives for pressing, extracting the purest olive oil. To have a year supply of the golden oil is all that they strive for.

07 January 2012

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This is the zigzaggy mountain road of Breil sur Roya which we attempted to negotiate today. At first, it was quite a pleasant drive getting up close the mindblowing scenery of rugged mountains above and a Roman viaduct below, but then, the one lane road started getting narrower and tighter and sights of smashed fencing like this one started scaring the heck out of us! We had to turn back but there was no spot wide enough to make a turnaround so we had to drive backwards for at least 300 meters until we found the ideal maneuvering point….Whew!

06 January 2012

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This is part of the rail viaduct traversing above our village. On the other side of the arch is a pleasant footpath that ascends up the hill allowing stunning views of the valley and the mountains around it. I particularly love climbing here in Springtime when the alpine flowers are out and the herbs such as thyme and oregano are ready for the picking!

05 January 2012
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Road maintenance works are ongoing at the Italian section of the road to home so while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, I take the opportunity to take a photo of this picturesque hilltop Italian village of Fanghetto. I remember that when we moved into this region several years ago, Fanghetto was like an abandoned villagio as majority of the houses were unoccupied or ruins. Now, it has became alive again and the ruins have been done up and even more houses added.
Fanghetto, Italy

04 January 2012

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We went exploring the nearby village of Maurion just 5 kms from home. This is the chapel that stands at the entrance of the village.

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The charm of this chapel gives you the feeling of being transported back in time….

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And this is the altar which, despite the fading paint and the crumbling plasters, still evoke the sacred elegance of Baroque architecture. I took this shot through the grilled window as it seems to be closed permanently.

03 January 2012

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Spotted this chateau while walking up the hill just on the outskirt of our village. Unlike any other chateaux in the valley, this one is not a ruin, it is currently inhabited by several families judging by the number of mailboxes at the gate. Just looking at the many arches on the terrace and the three-level corridors, I can imagine the maintenance and heating cost involved!
Roya Valley, France

02 January 2012

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Back home and still in the holiday mood, we went exploring the little alleys of our village.

Roya Valley, France

01 January 2012

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We spent the night in San Remo after a fun New Year’s Eve revelry and what a better way to spend our first breakfast of the year than at an Italian caffé. This establishment forms an integral part of the fabric of Italian society, it’s where old men meet and discuss anything from food to grandchildren to football, etc…..

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Went for a walk along the marina and this inflatable 2012 greeted us in blue and red colours!

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“Happy New Year!”…grumbles the dog. He doesn’t look happy about the festive sash his mistress put on him.
San Remo, Italy

Roses for Valentine

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I was walking down rue Saint Antoine in the Marais district of Paris yesterday when I stumbled upon this flower shop that instantly took my breathe away. 

It was the most beautiful sight of roses of arousing colours, creatively arranged in different bouquet styles or in vases of various shapes and sizes.  I stood there, mesmerized, admiring every bit of it.  I then dug my camera out of the bag and started shooting like crazy.  Passers-by were looking at me but I didn’t care. 

This little spot bedecked with roses is like a scene taken out of Paradise.  Now I understand why this delicate flower is the symbol of love.  The mere sight of one stirs the soul and if it is given by a loving partner – it touches the heart of the receiver. 

For two people in love, it is still the all-time favorite romantic gift on Valentine’s Day.  

Did you know that each colour of rose has several meanings and even the number given signifies something.  Let’s find out. 

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Yellow roses indicate friendship and freedom so don’t send them if your intentions are romantic and long-lasting. It expresses joy and gladness,  the best gift for new mothers, newlyweds or graduates.

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A joy to behold, light pink roses express fun and happiness.

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On a first date, a single rose symbolises love at first sight. It can also be given in years to come to say, “I still love you.”….A perfect dozen shouts “Be mine!” …..Two dozen roses shouts “I’m yours!” ….Three dozen says “I’m head over heels in love!”

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A bunch of pink and white roses means enduring love. 

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Green roses represent a sense of calm and tranquility. Psychologists believe that it brings about a sense of balance, stability and peace to the mind. The color green itself also symbolizes richness, abundance, and bounty.

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The heart-shaped bouquet, the different shades of pink and the many roses on it is the perfect gift for your lady love.

I must admit, I have always been a rosaphile.  We used to live in a kind of “little house in the prairie” (it was sold years ago) where the garden was my center of existence.  From the moment I woke up till it was too dark to see what I was doing, I would be puttering in the garden – planting cuttings, uprooting weeds, pruning the branches, training the branches to grow up the walls. 

Yes, my rose plants were my pride!  And they gave me a bounty of flowers that from Spring to Autumn, our home was like celebrating Valentine’s Day everyday.  

Here are my stories:

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Every 1st of May, France celebrates Fete du Muguet (Festival of the Lily of the Valley) and it’s a tradition to give a sprig of those tiny white flowers not only to your loved ones but also to a friend or a neighbour you feel very much close to.  This is the muguet that a neighbour gave me that day and I thought combining it with two of my garden roses would make a simple but perfect bouquet.

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My favorite among them all is this English Rose variety.  Its pale pink colour connotes grace, gentleness, and gratitude.  The scent is simply out of this world…..pure heaven!

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This one looks very delicate, the petals are like silk…..

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A crumpled petal variety, it’s just too perfect!  Its salmon colour denotes enthusiasm, desire and excitement.  

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Nobody knows this little Rose —
It might a pilgrim be
Did I not take it from the ways
And lift it up to thee…..Emily Dickinson

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Even if it’s the single petal, it’s just as lovely!

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They call it the cabbage rose.  The colour looks so good to eat!

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The cluster, they give you as much as ten or fifteen roses in one stem!   

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If there is food for the gods, this could well be the flower of the deity!

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I’m now at a loss for words….

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This is just one plant and I had loads of them in my garden!

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……believe it or not

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When harvest time arrives, this is just a small portion of what I collect…

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And they all have the scent of paradise…

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To make them last longer, I cut them early enough and filled the house with rose arrangements like this.

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But nothing is permanent in life.  The property was sold and my garden is now history.

Now with my garden gone, I just content myself to having single rose displays at our new home.  This one I salvaged from a bouquet of wilted others waylaid on the village park.  I nurtured it with love and fresh water and in return, it gave me several days of rosey joy.

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Roses are also great for practicing on creative  photography.  Hmmmm…. I think I’m slowly getting there….