Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our London Trip - The National Showcaves, Wales

As I had written in my earlier posts about our London trip, one on Kew Gardens and another on a Small English Town, we continued to explore the rare locations in the U.K. My niece and her husband had planned to take us to the much unheard of, The National Showcaves, in Wales.

The National Showcaves, named Dan yr Ogof, means, 'Beneath the Cave', the Morgan brothers, who explored the cave, have named the cave after their farm (Welsh).

The 17-kilometre long cave system in south Wales, was first explored by two local brothers in 1912, Tommy and Jeff Morgan, using candles and primitive equipment. Completely unsure of what they would discover, they armed themselves with a revolver. Read further...

These caves are mainly famous for their stalactite, i.e. limestone deposits which hang from the ceiling of the caves. We saw this type of cave for the first time here. Later on, I came to know from Swaram's post, that these types of caves are here in India, in Vizag, called Borra Caves.

We started from home early in the morning after breakfast with our lunch packed (Tengaai saadam (coconut rice), lemon rice, curd rice and sandwiches and fruits!). I think we drove for around 2 hours. Both sides of the road to Wales were full of greenery and apart from one car overtaking our car from the wrong side, the ride was smooth and event less. They follow the road discipline strictly, so it is easy to drive in the U.K.

Now, let me write about our exploration of the caves with pictures! The door to the entrance was quite small. We had to bend our heads and enter, though I was lucky because of the height, I went in straight! They gave us some flash lights also because the inside of the caves was quite dark with some small spot lights at some intervals.

The entrance to the caves.

This opening is not in use and covered by bricks, now.

The Morgan Brothers!

Stalactites (type of speleothem - secondary mineral - that hangs from the ceiling of limestone caves. It is a type of dripstone).

This is called Stalagmite (same like stalactite but forms from the ground)
This looks like a family, mother and her children, don't you think so?!

The calcium deposits in the caves after several thousands of years, have joined up from the top and bottom - stalac(ceiling)tites and stalag(ground)mites - and created this huge column.

These drops are chemical drops and they stand like stone strings and it was wet everywhere and a bit skidding too! If people are not around and if we are alone, the eerie feeling will make us get scared! I was worried about the dripping water, for it might contain chemicals too, but my niece said that if it was, the authorities would not let us in, in this area!

These green growths (moss) were found inside the dark caves, near the area, where the spot lights were kept...the heat from the lamp must have helped them to grow!

Morgan must have explored this cave like this, with a lamp in his hand (with suit and hat!).

This area is called 'cathedral cave' (you can see some wedding pictures in the link, click on the name of the cave!) and real weddings take place behind the water fall!

Myself and my relatives stood there in couples and took pictures and drenched ourselves with dripping water from above us! It was fun! My niece said that a wedding took place behind the waterfalls according to the bride's wish, just a week back here and came in the newspapers!

We also took some pictures here, but they are not this clear. So this one is from the Caves link.

We came out of the cathedral caves via this route (the picture above). The water from the lake is flowing inside the cave and it was wet and cold. The border to the 'water flow' is artificially made. My brother in law was saying that we could conduct our grand nephew's wedding here and then use this border as table and have wedding lunch and wash our hands in this water, like typical Indians!

By the time we came out from the cathedral cave, all of us were hungry. The above dining area in the picture was very inviting for us to sit on the wooden tables and eat, while enjoying the green surroundings. We had our tummy-full of our Indian lunch and had English Tea from their canteen, later!

We saw many tourists on that day, though it was a week day. Baby Thomas, a small boy, entertained us during our lunch! All of us played with him. My brother in law gave him an orange. He gave it to his father to peel and ate the fruit happily. Then his father gave him a tissue to wipe his face, he did it and walked upto the waste basket and dropped the tissue in it! We were really astonished at the nature of the small child...even we, elders are not particular about throwing the dirty things in the waste basket!

This is our Thomas:

The toilets also were clean like other places in London! Our ticket included the 'Iron Age Village', the 'Dinosaur Park', the 'Farm' etc. The Shire Horse Centre also was included in the ticket but it was closed on that day. This post seems to be getting looooong, so let me write about the rest, in the next post!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

These are the few of my favourite movies!

Destination Infinity asked me to do the tag 'My top three movies of all time'. I had been writing this post for a few days now, keeping on changing the movies. Even now, I am not 100% happy about the list...tonight more movie names will flash in my dream!

English: I keep forgetting the names of the movies all the time, as you all know by now, my name is 'maradhi manni'! So, I decided to ask my son 'which movies do I talk about a lot?' and he gave a list and I picked up just 3, from the list!

1. Gods Must be Crazy-II:

We repeatedly watch this movie, when some get together is at home or if we are depressed and not in mood, this movie lifts up our mood! Every frame was shot with so much thoughtfulness, in this movie. The story happens in the Kalahari desert in South Africa. The super hero in the movie is Nixau
, who was (he is no more now), from the Kalahari desert itself. His South African language is funny to the ears with lots of clucking sounds. The story starts with his two small children chasing the elephant poachers' truck and lose their way. Nixau starts looking for them and encounters many weird people...the movie is hilarious!

I love the different types of background music which is given for each and every character. Have a taste of it here and please watch this movie if you haven't watched it yet!

2. Rain Man:

Both Hoffman and Tom Cruise are my favourite actors. I don't get bored of watching this movie again and again. Dustin Hoffman has lived the character of a person affected by autism. Tom Cruise is his brother and wonders why his father bequeathed a huge amount in the will in Hoffman's name, whose whereabouts, he did not know, until then. So he looks for his long lost brother and the drama begins. We can understand why the two characters are behaving the way they are, in this story. Truly believable story.

I was wondering if I should name 'Philadelphia' as my favourite too, then thought this one is better.

3. Catch Me If You Can:

This movie is based on a true story. DiCaprio acts as Frank Abagnale Jr., a conman who changes his name and character, at the drop of a hat and the main job of his is, cheque forgery. He became so skillful that the FBI eventually turned to him for help in catching other cheque forgers. Steven Spielberg has directed the film. Tom Hanks acts as the FBI agent and he is a natural actor and my favourite too. You can notice DiCaprio changing from a small innocent boy to an adult with a cunning face, later. A very interesting movie.


1. Ek Ruka hua Faisla: I looked out in imdb for this movie and it says, it is a TV movie, directed by Basu Chatterjee. This is a remake of '12 Angry Men' but the Hindi version is equally good, without any female character or jhatka matka songs. Very interesting till the end. KK Raina, Pankaj Kapur and Annoo Kapoor have acted very well.

Smita Patil and Amol Palekar's movie. Anant Nag, Naseeruddin Shah and Amrish Puri also have acted in the great Shyam Benegal's movie. I can never forget Amol Palekar's eyes, the way he looks at Smita...couldn't sleep at night on the day I watched this movie for the first time. The story of the film is based on a Marathi actress and you can see how Smita transforms from a young happy, innocent girl to a matured, wise, adult woman. A serious movie, though.

Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan have acted in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee's comedy movie! I was a great fan of Dhrmendra when I was a teenager. When I think back, I like this movie and a couple of other movies of him, that is all. I wonder how I was crazy enough to collect his photos from the 'picture post' magazine and save them (I have got them even now...feel funny looking at them now!) All the four of them acted very well in this movie, even Sharmila Tagore! The songs are good too! And the famous Om Prakash is also there in the main role!

We watch it again and again, whenever it is screened in our TV!

I was shuffling movies in my mind, whether to name 'Dil Chahta hai' or 'Lagaan' (some friends have already mentioned this movie as their favourite and this movie is in the top place in my heart, but I wanted to mention some other movie) and came to 'Sarfarosh'!

Aamir Khan and Nasiruddin Shah acted equally well. The film is based on Pakistani terrorists infiltrating into our country with arms via Rajasthan. Nasiruddin Shah acts as a famous ghazal singer from Pakistan. Aamir's family members are killed by the terrorists and he quits his medical college and concentrates in finding the terrorists by joining the Police force.

The story develops like a thriller. This movie was released during the Kargil war and became talk of the town. As usual, Aamir and Nasiruddin Shah competed with each other in acting. This movie will have an important place in my heart.


Sridevi, Kamal Haasan and Silk Smitha (Silk Smitha acted very well in this movie, she is very beautiful too!) combination in Balu Mahendra's direction. Superb movie. I somehow like Sridevi in Tamil movies than Hindi movies. Her voice also is natural while speaking in Tamil. Kamal is Kamal always, the superb actor. Sridevi's innocence is natural. We get so involved in the movie that we switch it off during the last train scene because we can never avoid the tears in our eyes. The movie is full of melodious songs.

I was wondering whether to mention 'Vedham puthithu' or 'Devar Magan' or 'Mudhalvan' or 'Muthal mariyaathai' or this one. But Shivaji in 'Mudhal Mariyaadai' should be here, I felt. In Bharathiraja's direction, Shivaji did a mature controlled role and Radha's full potential came out in this movie. But, a big BUT, 'Anbe Sivam' cannot be left out!

In 'Anbe Sivam' (Love is God), Kamal is a communist and Madhavan is a capitalist and both are just opposite in nature. Kamal has a distorted face with a twitch and many other complications after he met with an accident. Madhavan is a chocolate boy, pampered by his parents and who has never faced with any problems until he was stranded this time at the airport because of the heavy rains, in Bhubaneshwar. Then, they show how the two of them clash with each other (many funny occasions are also there!) because of their opposite nature. Madhavan's attitude slowly changes in course of the movie. Sunder, C. has directed the movie but everyone knows that Kamal is the one who has done that. A very good movie to watch.

3. Ramanaa:

I am not very fond of Vijayakanth...don't like his red-tinged eyes and his dialogue delivery at all. But in this movie, he acted very well as an anti-corruption police official and blended into the character. The storyline is superb and we can relate to all the incidents with our lives...esp. the dead body 'being' treated at the hospital with a bill for a hefty sum.

This movie is directed by the now 'Ghajini' famous, A.R. Murugadoss. He has done a very good job. The incidents shown in the movie are so well directed that we feel that they are true incidents. They can happen to us too.

One more movie of my favourite Kamal Haasan! I had to list this movie in my favourites! Kamal acts as a mentally affected person and is in a mental hospital. His room mate tells him that an angel named Abirami will marry him after he gets out of the hospital. So Kamal starts looking out for her and 'finds' her and gets obsessed with her. He is very intelligent otherwise but is surrounded by people who try to use him for their advantage.

This is a beautiful movie which shows the love between him and his Abirami, like a poem. Take a look at this song and you can see for yourself!

Sorry, D.I., I didn't stick to the 3 movie tag! I added one extra movie in Tamil and Hindi! I like most of Manirathnam's movies. I didn't list them here because you have already done so!

Whoever reads this post and feels like doing this tag, please do. If you inform me, I will be very very happy to read and know about your favourite movies and if I had missed a good movie in your list, I can watch it!

Image courtesy: Wikipedia and Google.

Edited to add (19.12.10): If you are interested in the movies, please click on the movie and read the gist of the story.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ants' Antics!

I was always fascinated by ants, at the way they scent for food and take them away for storing, systematically! If we disrupt their line in some way, they take a roundabout way and reach their storage space, like, if we draw a line with Laxman Rekha chalk (insect repellent), they don't cross the line, like Sita did, but find some other way to take the food outside!

They seem to love my Tupperware plastic?! If the lid is cracked like this, it is easy for them to get in through the crack, pierce the rava (sooji) pack and steal it!

Otherwise, they bite the edge of the lid (you can see so many holes here in this box) and take away the goodies!

They march with white dots of rava in their mouth and store some, in this tray first!

The big group/line of ants are inside the box, collecting the food. They store here and go back, I noticed, to bring some more! A small line of ants, takes the grains out through the switch board frame!

Now, I have found that Tupperware is useless for storing rava or sugar or anything which are ants' favourite food. I keep the packets in the freezer. Tupperware boxes are quite expensive but I feel that they don't serve the purpose of sealing the box completely. I am happy with their freezer storage boxes than these boxes now! Or, we should be particular about what to store in them...not eatables, when the ants are around! Once the lids are damaged, they take months to replace them in the Tupperware outlets and they pressure us to buy more boxes, if we want the replacements early!

Now, back to our ants' antics! Now, I have started leaving a phulka roti or some biscuit, outside the window, on the window sill, for the ants to eat, so that they don't destroy anymore of my expensive Tupperware boxes! Have a look here:

One variety of ant, which we call, Pillaiyar yerumbu (tiny black ants which suddenly crop up from nowhere near the walls, which move about very fast and have white tiny dots on their heads/mouths), if seen at some particular place, my grand mother used to ask us to keep a small ball of jaggery (gud) near them. I have seen them leaving the place within minutes. Even a tiny grain of jaggery could not be seen at the place. They don't select the kitchen, even the veranda is OK for them! I wonder why they chose these places where there is no food!

So, I am following my grandmother's trick...I am leaving some food for these, our house ants, now, so that they don't trouble us any more!

Tell me about your 'ant experience' now!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday! Melting Peacock!


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