Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Irene over New York

Oh Irene ! What a woman - she left New Yorkers' heads spinning round!

Well, almost nothing then. But what a beauty she was, all that whiteness swirling as seen from the sky above...

Photo NASA

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

Here lies the wreck of Amundsen's Maud

Cambridge Bay, on the southern edge of Victoria Island (arctic archipelago of Canada) is a colourful Inuit settlement in the arctic semi-desert tundra.

Location: 69°07′ N, 105°03′ W

The anglican church

The sea-bay front and the antenna.

The arctic visitor centre

Remains of an old stone church

With a land area of more than 200,000 square kilometres, Victoria Island is the ninth-largest island in the world. The region belongs to the territory of Nunavut in extreme north-eastern Canada.
The population of Cambridge Bay is around 1500 people. The native name of the settlement, Iqaluktuttiaq, means "a good place with many fish".

Inuit drum player

Dry arctic char, the local speciality.

The name of Cambridge Bay traces back to the year 1839, when the district was mapped by the Hudson's Bay Company, the skin trade emporium, with a small outpost there:

Hudson's Bay Company cabin

In the 1940s a lighthouse was built in Cambridge Bay, followed during the Cold War in the 1950s by a large radar system which is no longer in operation.

These new conditions led to an increase in population, who had to live in an inhospitable region where average temperatures never rise above 10 °C in summer and the thermometer falls to average levels of below –30 °C in winter.

School bus stop

To enable so many people to live permanently in isolation, the hamlet has numerous facilities in its centre including schools, a health center, a swimming pool...

The shipwreck of the Maud

You are made for ice
You shall spend your best years in the ice
And you shall do your work in the ice

In 1918, Roald Amundsen had launched an expedition through the North-East Passage. He had the ship Maud built for this purpose.

The Maud

The expedition failed, and in August 1925 the Maud was taken over by the Hudson's Bay Company and used as a supply ship for Cambridge Bay, where she sank in 1930. Today, parts of the hull offer a reminder of this chapter in the opening up of the Arctic.

The ship now lies just off the shore in the bay, across the frozen ice from Cambridge Bay's former Hudson's Bay Company store.

Tundra vegetation surrounds the hamlet area:

Musk oxen are common in Victoria island:

Cambridge Bay in Nunavut's Arctic Archipelago:

Monday, 8 August 2011

Glendalough, St Kelvin's monastic city

When you see such an old, ususual, humble human work, with a primitive and ascetic grandeur, you can´t but stand in amazement in presence of the kind of universal work of mankind that makes History.

The location of the monastic city of Glendalough is in itself another wonder - a valley (Glen) through which run small water lines fed by two lakes (da-lough), all hidden and encircled by the green Wicklow Mounts.

In the latter part of the sixth century, Saint Kelvin (~498 - 618 ), Dublin´s patron saint, crossed the mountains from Hollywood (Ireland) to Glendalough. The path he took later became known as St. Kevin's Way. This track facilitated the development of Glendalough, so that within 100 years it had developed from a remote hermitage site into one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland: with its seven churches, it became the chief pilgrimage destination and a veritable city in the desert.

St. Kevin

Situated in a remote valley and in an upland area, the site kept hidden for sometime from Vikking coastal attacks; but once discovered it was an easy target, and many times between 775 and 1095 it was under atack by both local tribes and Norse invaders. Usually the churches and houses were burned, but each time the monastery was rebuilt.

As its fame spread, the monastery flourished and its success continued after St. Kevin died in 617 AD.

Monasteries in pre-Norman Ireland were a considerable economic force, and were sufficiently well organised as to be capable of withstanding periodic crises and famines. The population there may have been around 500 - 1 000 people. Many would have been employed by the monastery - tending flocks, tilling, sowing and harvesting. In addition to stores of treasure, most monasteries maintained substantial stocks of food.

The Round Tower

Perhaps the most noticeable monument, the Round Tower is about 30 metres high. The narrow entrance is about 3.5 metres from the base ! That's why it resisted to so many invaders.

Round towers were multi-functional. They served as landmarks for visitors, bell-towers, store-houses, and as places of refuge in times of attack.

St. Kevin's "kitchen"

This church is most noticeable for its steep roof formed of overlapping stone, supported internally by a semi-circular vault. The belfry has a stone cap and four windows facing north, south, east and west, and is reminiscent of a round tower.

With the arrival of the Anglo-Normans a dramatic change occured within the political landscape of Ireland. Both ecclesiastical and political activity centred around Dublin. Subsequently, Glendalough was annexed to the diocese of Dublin and its importance declined.

Despite this, the place has retained a spiritual significance.

Nowadays, we can only see the ruins among a very beautiful graveyard, with plenty of celtic crosses, among green meadows and hillsides, suggesting meditation and contemplation.

Location map:

Friday, 5 August 2011

***** Fifty thousand *****

You say bah, that's not much; for me, 50 000 visitors to my modest Ultima Thule blog is a feast!

And that IS today !

I absolutely

you all !