Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Rainbow in the fountain

September 10, 2012

There’s a fountain near my work, and one day – a year or so ago – I saw this beautiful rainbow reflected in it as I walked past. I’ve never seen it since, but last week, as I was passing on a lovely sunny day, I decided to walk carefully around it and try my best to find the rainbow again. I did find it – photo below (snapped on my mobile). It’s not as good a rainbow as the one I saw by accident a year ago, but it does at least show that if you pass a fountain on a sunny day and try enough viewing angles you have a reasonable chance of finding a rainbow in it!

Regarding the photo, I focussed into the distance in an attempt to make the rainbow clearer  – didn’t work brilliantly but that is why the rest of the photo is not particularly in focus – this was deliberate.

A rainbow in the fountain


January 12, 2010


For a couple of months in autumn, two spiders made our front window their home. It was obviously a good home as they looked well fed! I don’t particularly dislike spiders, but did think that they spoiled the view somewhat. One day, therefore, I chopped down their webs, but the next day they were back  just as intricate and extensive as ever.

Although they did somewhat dominate the view out of our front window, having them in such a prominent position meant that we could observe their web making skills quite close up. It was quite amazing the way that they managed to build up such intricate, complex structures, and clamber along them, starting from nothing!

This is just one example of the way the world around us can provoke a sense of wonder and awe. Lookup up at a clear dark sky night never fails to amaze me, especially as I think of just how vast the small section of the universe that I’m looking at is. In the first chapter of Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’, Dawkins also talks of the awe and wonder that scientists feel as they study and seek to understand the world. Often scientists use religious language, even talking of ‘God’ as they seek to explain the astounding world in which we live. Dawkins points out however that many of these scientists are not intending to refer to a personal god, such as the God of the Bible. He quotes Einstein, for example, who says

To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflecion, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.

Dawkins is absolutely right to point out that atheistic – or pantheistic – scientists who use religious or ‘god’ language are not speaking in favour of a Christian God, or arguing for his existence. It is wrong of Christians to use their words for such purposes when this is contrary to their real meaning. However, it is also true to say that other scientists – when they ponder the beauty and brilliance of the universe – do see behing it the work of an even more wonderful God. Indeed I’ve met many for whom this is exactly their response.

For me also, when I consider the wonder of our universe I cannot but feel that this could not have come about but for God who chose that it should to come into being and who ultimately is the cause of its existence. I’m not suggesting that this is a proof of God’s existence, but it is an entirely appropriate response.

Making waves

October 23, 2008

… well maybe just watching them. We recently went on holiday to Swanage in the south of the UK. It’s a great place to holiday with small children and is on the coast – always a good thing (especially for someone who always seems to live in places about as far away from the sea as you can get in the UK!) I love watching the sea – and managed to get this photo of a wave breaking which I thought I’d share with you.

Hope you like it!

Breaking Wave

Breaking Wave


June 4, 2007

I love variety. I did think of giving my blog a name with ‘variety’ in it, however the domains I searched for were all taken. Variety in work can help to keep it interesting and exciting. It also means there’s often something new to enjoy and learn about. And I’m not the only one who enjoys variety. My daughter does too, for example at tea time she likes the variety of drinking out of every cup that’s on the table! There’s another reason I like variety, but I’ll leave that for a later post.

My final college essays are now all written and handed in – hooray! This meant that we could all go out for a day trip on Saturday to the nearby town of Newent. There is a nice, small lake in the town. Just going round it, I was struck by the variety in the beauty of nature that we could see there. Nothing particular unusual or outstanding, but beautiful and tremendously varied all the same. The photos below are just a taste of what we could enjoy.

Our little daughter loves ducks at the moment, and there were many of them around of all sizes.

Ducklings with parent

There were plenty of squirrels around too, but photographing them is more difficult. This one was up a tree, and needed a flash to make it light enough. This meant some bad animal eye glare which I’ve had to try and artificially touch up. Hope it looks OK all the same.

Squirrel up a tree

It’s impossible to capture all the beauty of moving water – I could watch it for ages. The portion of one photo below just illustrates an element of it, produced by a fountain in the middle of the lake.

Moving water from fountain

Climate change – why bother …?

November 29, 2006

The EU set new limits for the second phase of its carbon trading scheme today. The allowances set are to an average of 7% below the figures proposed by member states – which is a welcome strengthening of the commitment to cut carbon emissions. James Cameron suggested that today’s decision could be “one the most important decisions about the planet’s future for years to come”.

But others have commented that the cuts as they stand, which only affect some of the heavy carbon producing industries in only some EU countries, will have little impact in the face of the steadily increasing global carbon emissions. And if the cuts are too severe then UK and other EU industries will suffer, become uncompetitive, and lose out to their global competitors who don’t have such strict environmental legislation. So why bother?

You have to recognise that this is a valid argument. But then why should we bother with anything if we have to take the lead and suffer for it in some small way? It would be perfectly reasonable to only make a move when you could enjoy an immediate benefit, or when all the pain has been borne by the others who did make the first move. But if everyone kept to this logic, what would we be without? And if we keep to it about climate change, we could well be without a reasonably habitable world before long. As a Christian I believe that God did ‘bother’ about us, and I’m so glad he did.

But enough pointing fingers at others. What about me? – and you! I also watched ‘Newsnight’ the other day, where a reported explained how he had ‘given up’ the family car for 6 months at his producer’s insistence. In these 6 months he discovered they didn’t actually need it except for a few weeks of family holidays each year. Although having no car caused some inconvenience, they generally didn’t miss it. Combining this with a commitment to only fly rarely, they reduced their family’s ‘carbon emissions’ by over 70% I think. And change for environmental good isn’t the only area where ‘why bother?’ comes in. What areas are there where I feel I can’t be bothered because, well what difference will my action make in the grand scheme of things? And it’s just too inconvenient. Will I bother …?


November 21, 2006

Autumn is my favourite season. There are a number of reasons for this, but a lot has to do with its beauty – I just love the colours of the falling leaves, and the clear blues skies with bright fresh days (when we get them). Here are some photos taken around college a few days ago, to illustrate just why I like it.

Horse Chestnut Tree

Our college has this beautiful big horse chestnut tree which looks magnificent any time of year – it’s even better in autumn as you can see

Fallen autumn leaves

One of my great childhood memories is of being asked to rake up the leaves that fell from our trees into the garden. I loved it then and still enjoy just walking through fallen leaves now.

Another childhood memory was of playing ‘conkers’ at school. I relived childhood last year and had several conker battles against fellow students. I’d forgotten how painful a game it can be! Is this a particularly British past-time? If you have experienced this game anywhere else then let me know. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then please say, and I can make it the subject of another blog. Some conker photos below …

Fallen Horse Chestnuts still in cases

Fallen conker on ground out of case

An ice viewing!?

November 9, 2006

I watched (most of) the new episode of BBC’s Planet Earth this week. It was about life at the poles and was stunning. One of the overriding images from the programme was of a group of Emperor penguins huddled together in a blistering Antarctic storm, literally standing and waiting through the months of winter until the sun came again bringing warmth and food. And of the cameraman trudging for 2 miles on his hands and knees, pulling his camera through the same freezing blizzard conditions – so that we could see these pictures.

I have always been fascinated by the images of these vast wildernesses of ice at North and South poles. I would love to see them in person, but this seems unlikely and I don’t think a thriving tourist industry would be that good for either region. But it reminds me that there is still tremendous beauty in the bleakest of places. I can’t begin to imagine what the cold is like, as the onset of autumn is now sending us scurrying to our heated indoors in the UK. But I’m glad it’s there.

Another of my favourite sights is that of a bonfire (or any other ‘real’ fire). I could spend hours watching the flames – perhaps this is because I previously spent a PhD investigating combustion, but whatever the reason burning flames provide an equally beautiful but dangerous and inhospitable ‘environment’.

Although I’m in many ways a typical practical male, who tends to stick to just to the functional and bypass the aesthetic, these images do remind me that sometimes the less practical things in life can also be the most beautiful, and the world would be a poorer place without them.

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