One of the thousands of hearts that are not-so-hidden around London.

This is sorta my Pic of the Day, simply posted to say "Have a love-ly Valentine's Day, everyone..."  For an explanation of the above photo, please see the blog titled "Show Me Love" (posted today).
This photo was taken on New Year's Day 2010.  It's a silhouette of Cemetary Ridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA.  It was 23 degrees Farenheit (-5 degrees Celsius) outside that day, and the historic battlefield was buried under snow, but the site was still fantastic.  Married with the winter sky it was quite a photogenic place.

This marks the 2010 return of my Pic Of The Week :)
I took this photo of a striking sunset sky as we were speeding along a highway in Southern Maryland, USA last week (no, I wasn't driving at the time).  For about 15 minutes the sky was changing rapidly, maintaining the kind of mystic color palette one usually sees in fantastical paintings of Jesus and such.  It was tough to capture just how amazing the colors were, especially while moving at 70 miles per hour, but I thought I'd try.

And that's my Pic Of The Week.

What's up next?  Probably something featuring a whole lotta snow.
This shot is a Guest Pic of the Week.  It was taken by my mother earlier this year in California, Maryland, USA.  Mom's part of southern Maryland is a very scenic place, and she gets views like this on an almost-daily basis just outside her house.

I especially like the incredible sky hovering above the cornfield - in London we seldom get scenic "big sky" - and that's why it's my Guest Pic of the Week.

I admit this photo was taken many months ago.  I was in a shopping mall and felt like having a big cookie, and the cookie pictured above is what I received.  It cost me £1.00 for one cookie (that's almost $2.00 for you Americans).  To give you a better idea of just how small the cookie was, I took a picture of it in the bottom of its pathetic bag next to a one-pound coin, which is less than an inch wide.

There's nothing special about this photo - I just thought it was ludicrous to charge so much for an utterly normal cookie.  When I pay $2.00 for a cookie, I want it to be the size of a small pizza. 

I guess that's just the American in me...
This weekend I went, as I often do, to Harrod's department store (founded in 1849 in Knightsbridge, London).  Several of the departments are world famous, including their Food Hall, which is where I took this pic.  It's not a very good photo, as it was taken through a glass case in a crowded spot, but the subject is interesting:  Yunnan Puerh tea.

I wasn't familiar with the stuff, so I looked it up.  Yunnan's a mountainous province in southwest China, and Pu-erh is the name of an old tea trading town there.  Instead of pretending I know much about it, here's the text from the sign in the photo:

Puerh tea is the only tea whose processing involves maturation, similar to fine wine.  Authentic Puerh is semi fermented tea grown exclusively in Yunnan, with the best coming from ancient wild tea trees.
Compressed tea ages more slowly than loose tea, but compressing the tea ensures that the flavour and essential life of the tea is preserved.  After 10 years, puerh is considered worthy of drinking, but it is only once they hit around 50 years that they are at their optimum.
This tea was produced during the 1950s, and is considered exceptional due to its age of more than 50 years and the quality of the tea blend.  This 'cake' offers outstanding ageing potential and arguably the best puerh flavour around today.
The tea produces a rich, deep ruby liquor, which is smooth and highly complex, believed by some experts to offer over 400 different flavours.
Brew 5-8g of this vintage tea in a tea pot of 200ml water and infuse for only around 15-20 seconds.  The tea can be infused for up to 20 times.
This tea, exclusive to Harrod's, is being sold for a limited period only.
£15,000 per 357g Cake

Harrod's motto is "Omnia Omnibus Ubique — All Things for All People, Everywhere," but with a price tag of £15,000 (over $25,000), this item is definitely not for all.  I am intrigued, however, by any tea that can produce a 'rich ruby liquor' within 20 seconds - and that's why it's my Pic Of The Week.
I took this photo inside Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic about a week ago.  It's a detail from one of four corner pieces in the crypt-like room.

Sedlec Ossuary is beneath All Saints Chapel, built around the year 1400.  The ossuary part dates from around 1511, when a half-blind monk was tasked with gathering up bones of the tens of thousands of townspeople who had died of The Black Death, and putting their bones into a crypt (so the place could free-up space in the ground to bury future "customers" of the church).

The monk completed the task, and it's estimated there are bones of 40,000 to 70,000 humans there.  Around 1870 a local woodcarver, Frantisek Rint, was paid to create art from the bones, and that is what creates the real spectacle here.

Here's a link if you're interested in reading more:  http://www.sedlecossuary.com/

Now that Halloween's officially over, I guess it's time to start looking around for snaps of early Christmas madness.
I'm not feeling particularly inspired today, so I'm posting this photo because it's recent and sorta Halloween-ish.  Like many of my pics, it's just something that caught my eye along the sidewalk as I walked home.  The road was St. Peter's Grove (Hammersmith, London).

The spider was NOT itsy-bitsy.  In fact, I worried it might take my Canon along with my fingers when I went in for the shot.
This week's Pic Of The Week is something I took when I happened to pass by a giant modern art sculpture currently installed at the Royal Academy (Piccadilly, London).  It's in the courtyard, and it's called "Tall Tree and the Eye" by the Turner-Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor.

It's made of stainless steel and carbon steel and it's quite large (76 balls that are stacked over 49 feet into the air).  This photo is a reflection detail I like for various reasons - not the least of which being the fact that if you look in the middle of the center bubble, very closely, the tiny figure in the white coat is me.  Also, in this case, I think the rainy day made for a more interesting pic than if it had been dry :-)

You can see more of Kapoor's nifty, often large-scale work by clicking here.
To celebrate of the arrival of October, that most Hallow'd of months, here's a shot I took recently along Black Lion Lane, West London.  A silky, spooky spider web - a Halloween treat, several weeks early...