Saturday, December 21, 2013

Porthgain, 9:06 am


Porthgain is a coastal village in Wales. This photo of a ruined cottage was taken near our campsite, a short way from the village.

Being from Calcutta (22.57° N, 88.37° E), it took me some time to get used to the fact that in London, the sun is never directly overhead. The closest it gets is a solar elevation angle (the angle between the horizon and the centre of the sun's disc) of about 62° (where 90° is directly overhead).

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend (also from India) who has just moved into a new flat. She said, "My flat faces west, but it doesn't get direct sunlight in the afternoon. And we observed that even at noon, the sun is not overhead. Do you know why?"

At this latitude, this is just about the worst time of the year for someone who likes the sun directly overhead. The solar elevation angle in London at noon today will be just over 15°.

Happy solstice, everyone.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Balkan Portrait 6: The Weaver

Plovdiv in Bulgaria is one of the oldest cities in the world, where 7000-year old Thracian settelements rub shoulders with a 2nd-century Roman amphitheatre and gorgeous 19th-century national revivalist architecture.

Wandering the cobbled streets of the Old Town, I looked in through a window and spied a weaver working at the loom. I asked if I could take a closer look at the loom and maybe a few photos, and she graciously allowed me into the workshop. She even thanked me for asking her permission, saying, "Most tourists just take photos through the window. We don't like that, we feel like animals at the zoo."


This is the final post in the Balkan Portraits series. Regular posting (or what passes for regular posting on this blog) shall resume from tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Balkan Portrait 5: The Potter

Outside Bachkovo Monastery in Bulgaria, potters display the colourful ceramic wares for which the region is famous. From this lady we bought a custard-yellow sugar-pot which may one day feature in the Household Objects series.