Category Archives: Beautiful Creatures

Sherlock Holmes and a Mystery

On Location 1f

Benedict Cumberbatch, a 21st Century Sherlock

We all know Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice has a mysterious attraction for women. It has been pondered on for years and by many! But is the same thing true of Sherlock Holmes? Certainly for me it is! For some reason this hero of detective fiction fascinates me! And I don’t think it is only for the quality of his mind, although that is certainly part of the magic.

Sherlock Holmes certainly seems to represent some archetype as a Victorian gentlemen detective. This brilliant, London based, “consulting” detective has an odd charisma all his own. He seems to mesmerise both men and women and people have great difficulty recognising that he is, in truth, a creature of fiction. Many visitors seek out his home and I gather letters are still sent to his London address asking for help in solving difficult crimes.

But for all his popularity, he never seems a wholly good character. He is flawed and ambiguous, even though he is supposed to have taken up bee-keeping in later life. There seems to be something that is not quite right about him and something that is more than a little wicked. There is certainly arrogance and a chilling intellect that is dangerous, magnetic and repulsive at the same time. We float around him in our admiration like moths around a blue flame that should be cold as ice.

Apparently, he is the most portrayed character in film and in his latest TV incarnation, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, we seem to have a Sherlock for the 21st Century.

As for me, fascinated as I am by Sherlock, he is certainly not someone I wish I could meet. His relationships with women are distinctly odd and I suspect he would be cruel. If I did encounter him, I am sure I would loathe him intensely in the flesh but there on page or screen, oh my! I can’t wait till he turns up again.

Beautiful Creatures – Flying Fish

flying fish

In order to glide out of the water, a flying fish (Latin name “exocoetus”) swishes its tail to up to 50-70 times per second,which “vibrates” to produce enough speed to burst through the surface. It then spreads its pectorial fins and tilts them slightly upwards to lift itself to glide through the air. This permits it to sail above the ocean’s surface where it can at travel at 70km per mile. The fish is able to increase its time in the air by travelling against or at an angle to the direction of updrafts created by a combination of aircurrents in which the “wings” flutter due to the wind with a maximum glide time recorded to be 30 seconds. At the end of a glide, a flying fish folds up its pectoral fins which have been acting as “wings” to re-enter the sea or drops the lower end its tail into the water where it “vibrates” the lower part of its tail to allow its body to reaccelerate and change direction, providing the thrust to lift itself for another glide.

In 1900 to 1930s flying fish were studied as possible models used to develop airplanes.  There are about 50 species grouped in seven to nine genera. Flying fish are found in all of the major oceans, particularly in the warm tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.  Historically the country of Barbados was nicknamed as “The land of the Flying fish”. Today it remains the official national fish for the country and it was in the Caribbean that I first saw them.  I looked down from a deck  above the bridge of a cruise ship and for a moment wondered why the captain was playing with paper airplanes! Then I realized who they were and spent a wonderful afternoon watching them ride and play enjoying the updrafts caused by the ship as we sailed passed Dominica!

Beautiful Creatures – The White Peacock

White_peacock

Some people believe that to see a white peacock will bring eternal happiness.  Woven into the myths and belief systems of cultures worldwide, the peacock presents itself through the sciences of alchemy and Roman astrology, the religions of Islam and Christianity, as well as in Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian cultures. Through the peacock’s 100 feathery eyes, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, Kuan Yin, is able to watch over and guard all living things on Earth.

“Peacocks are symbols of beauty, reminding us to take pleasure in life.
The peacock is pure of heart.”
– Constantine

The White Peacock is a creature of the light.  Blue Peacocks get most of their color from light reflection rather than a dye.  The feathers have barbs, which in turn have rods.  It is these rods that controls how light reflects and produces the green, golden yellow, brown and bright blue.  White peacocks have a slightly different arrangement of the rods thus don’t develop the usual colors.

The White Peacock is also the first novel by D. H. Lawrence – one that he found himself compelled to write and rewrite, to pour himself into, in order to prove himself to himself. Begun when he was 21 and published in 1911, it shows many of Lawrence’s major themes.

Beautiful Creatures – the Caracal

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The caracal (Caracal caracal) is a fiercely territorial medium-sized cat ranging over the Middle East and Africa. The word caracal comes from the Turkish word “karakulak”, meaning “black ear”. Although it has traditionally had the alternative names Persian Lynx and African Lynx, the caracal is a form of African Lynx or “The African Golden Cat” . Its ears, which it uses to locate prey are controlled by 20 different muscles. The caracal is classified as a small cat, yet is amongst the heaviest of all small cats, as well as the quickest, being nearly as fast as the serval.  North African populations are disappearing, but caracals are still abundant in other African regions. Their range limits are the Saharan desert and the equatorial forest belt of Western and Central Africa. In South Africa and Namibia, C. caracal is so numerous that it is exterminated as a nuisance animal. Asiatic populations are less dense than those of Africa and Asiatic populations are of greater concern  

Beautiful Sea Creatures – The Feather Star

Feather Star (Antedon bifida)

Feather Star (Antedon bifida)

This feather star has ten thin pinnate arms with branches which make it look feather-like. Around the base there are about 25 short cirri and these curl underneath to anchor the animal to the ground. The arms are pink or red with white speckles. The arms are around 5 cm in length.

This is a very unusual species and is one of the last remnants of an ancient and largely extinct group of marine Echinoderms – the crinoids. The feathery arms produce a large surface and by being held upwards they collect plankton and detritus from the water. Cilia on the surface beat to drive the material down to the mouth to be consumed. They have separate sexes with the gonads being located on the arms.

Feather-stars are found in a variety of habitats, mainly sheltered, and attached to rocks and algae. Sometimes they are found in very large numbers (possibly up to 1000 per metre squared). They are not, however, commonly met and the distribution is limited somewhat to the southern Atlantic coastline of Europe.

Feather Star (Antedon bifida)

This item is taken from the Seashore Website which is full of useful and fascinating information