Saturday, 12 December 2009

Caerphilly and Dr Who

There is a medieval fair in Caerphilly this weekend, there are stalls selling food and gifts all along the main street, a small funfair, and all manner of medieval sights within the castle. There are also some incongruous sights, like this Santa having a chat with some passers by. Where's his sleigh and reindeer?

A jester in the castle....

Two country folk suffering from the plague singing slightly bawdy songs - great fun!

Great costumes...

The coin striker raising funds for the medieval Newport ship by letting people strike copies of a medieval coin for a small fee.

A beautifully painted medieval style chair:

Old friends meeting up for a chat:

There are female re-encators too...

And a sight of Dr Who's tardis, which has landed on one of the castle towers:

All in all we enjoyed our trip to Caerphilly, but even though we searched in every nook and crany of the castle, we couldn't find Dr Who anywhere. It was very atmoshpheric on places, though:

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Patagonia, Arizona

Patagonia is a pretty little town, with museums, galleries and gift shops -

as well as all the usual facilities you'd expect in what was once a cowboy town:

which made me wonder once again why hairdressers all around the world give their salons names with double meanings or which are puns. I think I might make a photographic collection of hairdresser name signs form around the world, and another of British Fish and Chip shops (who also seem keen on puns!)

The town is not far from the Mexican border, and we saw lots of Mexican influence, indoors and out, including this beautiful painted cupboard, being used to display shop stock:

and other pieces, used to liven up the displays of goods for sale:

This was a museum sign - sadly the museum was closed as we went on a Wednesday on October, out of the main tourist season. As a UK resident, I had heard of the Day of the Dead, and seen images, and thought it was all a bit gory. Now that I understand that the purpose is to cherish, remember, celebrate and provide for ancestors, I can see why there is so much emphasis on the whole concept.

The town also has what looks like a thriving community arts centre.

The arts centre really made their buildings stand out, with lots of mosaics on the walls:

and a mural:

There were interesting decorative touches in other parts of the town - here's some detail from the doors of one of the local food stores:

And, the Velvet Elvis looked pretty neat, inside and out, and the food was very very good!

You'd never walk into the wrong toilet there:

Of course, some parts of the town are on better condition than others, and this must be the oldest vehicle I have seen anywhere in the US:

This one was much newer, and was still being used. I love the rust finish you can achieve on metal in the dry heat of Arizona - here in the damp UK, once metal starts to rust it doesn't stop until the metal is all eaten away...

The final picture is a little quirky, and made me smile - wonder what kind of bird laid this egg???

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Tubac, Arizona

Tubac is a very arty little town in southern Arizona. There are many galleries and gift shops, with a smattering of eating and drinking places, and a health food store and a couple of places to pamper yourself. There's also a collection of rusted metal sculptures, used as decorative elements throughout the shopping complex. I took way too many photographs to share, but here are a selection that begin to give you a feel for the place.

There were several tiled murals, I saw these in other places too, so they must be a southern Arizona/Mexican speciality:

The tiled theme had been extended to the street signs, each of which was unique:

There was a lovely old looking bell in the garden wall of the bar, which served great margaritas!

Many of the pillars supporting the verandah roofs were carved:

There were so many beautiful objects and paintings displayed in the galleries, and sometimes outside. These ceramic pieces have gorgeous patterning, created by adding horsehair, which burns off quickly during the firing process.

The surrounding countryside adds to the beauty of the place:

There are quiet cool corners:

and interesting architectural features:

and a variety of lovely light fittings:

some lovely plants:

including this wonderful display of cactus plants:

which turned out to be made from metal!

Privacy must be an issue, with so many visitors, but what a pretty way of ensuring it!

The sun was a common theme for the wall decorations, hardly surprising really, it was in the 90s in mid October, goodness knows how hot this place must get in summer.

There were lovely and unusual sculptures around every corner:

and on the walls:

It was a lovely place to spend an afternoon - which was only enough time to see about a third of the town. I could have spent many fortunes there, it was a probably good job I knew I had no room in my suitcases!