Sunday walk

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Heavy snowfall always transforms the forest into something magical, so I venture out into the cold to take some snaps. The sky is clear and it is close to freezing but the sunshine will soon warm things up.

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Tracks in the snow are always interesting. Below left: are paw prints and with no signs of human foot prints it could be a fox or even the dreaded wolf. On the right are either deer or wild boar prints, probably deer as boar tend to roam in groups.

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Below the tree walk is deserted, a sign of the times. Normally on a Sunday like this there would be hoards of people visiting, but times have changed for the moment.

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Sunday walk

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It may be premature but I feel that was the last gasp of winter. As the snow melts temperatures appear to be on the rise over the next weeks and that can only mean Spring is just around the corner.

Wandering along my usual route the birds are chattering away, I hear buzzards calling and woodpeckers intermittent drilling. No doubt searching trees suitable for nesting holes. I also hear a high pitched ‘yeah’ from some bird I often hear but have yet to see or identify. Not the blonde that keeps following me I might add.

Other than that it is relatively quiet and quite mild despite the feeble sunshine.

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I pass the tree ‘bow’ and focus my camera on textures.

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Small bracket fungi cling to a log lying on the ground.

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This tree has seen better days. I am not sure what has caused this, maybe the beetle that has invaded many trees in the forest but it makes an interesting graphic.

I put up a home made bird box the other day and blue tits have already been inspecting it, poking their heads inside the hole to check it out. Maybe if they move in I will get a few interesting photos later. Nuthatches are also frequent visitors to my balcony.

(Update)

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Here the first photos of blue/great tits inspecting the nest box I only put up a few days ago. Truly amazing how quickly they check things out. The photo is poor because I have yet to clean my windows and figure out a suitable way of photographing them. The blue tit also checked all edges of the roof thoroughly, presumably to make sure it was waterproof and OK to move in. The nuthatches took no interest, which is no surprise as it was designed for tits. There was also a newcomer this afternoon, a crested tit, which would be a welcomed neighbour.

Tomorrow I will clean the windows and see if I can improve on the photo quality.

Watch this space.

Wood work

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Photo of my Grandfather’s house taken from the driveway of a similar house he built for his sisters.

This house was built by my Swedish grandfather, a master carpenter, at least so the story goes within our family and he also built a similar house across the road, which was just a gravel track back then, for his four sisters. My father grew up in this house in a small town not far from the coast in northeastern Sweden. In the cellar my grandfather had a carpentry workshop but my father was never allowed down into the cellar.

As such my father lacked confidence in making things and struggled even to put up a shelf, much to my mother’s endless dismay and despair. Nevertheless he had an interest in technical things and bought a Sinclair Spectrum computer when it arrived on the market in the 70s. He was still typing emails and using Facebook into his mid-nineties before passing away a few years ago.

I on the other-hand learned all my woodworking and metalworking skills at school in the UK, mostly before the age of 14 and I can still remember all those lessons vividly. I passed my woodwork O-level at another school, where strangely I cannot for the life of me ever remember doing woodwork there, but that’s by the way. While teaching at a university in Taiwan I drew on many of those early secondary school lessons while instructing students on their design models.

A kitchen I designed and am presently in the process of constructing got me back into woodworking and I was reminded just how enjoyable working in wood can be. Unfortunately being impatient and a bit of a bodger much of it has been a bit of a pig’s breakfast. Still, undeterred I am making progress and look forward to posting pictures of the kitchen once it is completed. After years of torturing myself I have come to accept my mistakes and to learn from them, a useful attitude for all perfectionists and even non perfectionists out there.

As a footnote: Both those houses mentioned were pulled down by the local council back in the 70s or 80s and new blocks of flats were built in their place. My remaining grandparents and great aunts were rehoused into new apartments, no doubt reluctantly as none of them survived much longer after that upheaval. The whole area was redeveloped making it impossible to recognize again and now it’s just another typical ‘modern’ characterless urbanization. Thankfully I can still remember how it once was and enjoy those memories. Even the distinctive smells of the wood, polish and something else that was unique to Sweden. No idea what that smell was but my memories of that old house were triggered on a visit to Kalmar some years ago, almost 1000 km away.

Digitised II

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Another digitised photo from a colour slide and converted into B&W. This local scene in the Black Forest was photographed ca 1976 and still looks much the same today, at least I think it does. I will try and find and post an updated photo I took from the same position a few years ago to compare. The buildings had changed slightly as I remember but not much else.

Any WordPressers know what happened to the keyword input column normally found on the right of the screen. Mine disappeared a few days ago. Has it moved? Or been removed?

Update: The above question has since been resolved. Meanwhile I am still searching for that elusive photo taken a few years ago of the scene pictured above. Watch this space.

Hypnotised by Coldplay

Digitising

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Lake Geneva ca 1992

This is a digitised photo from a colour reversal slide (Agfa color 200 ASA, probably) taken in the early 1990s. Digitising does not need to be expensive. The scanner used for this conversion cost just 30 euros from Lidl! I think this particular Agfa color film is no longer made, such is progress. Before the advent of the digital world it was my favourite colour film for many years used mainly in a Nikkormat Ftn. For black and white photos I tended to use Ilford FP4 or Kodak Tri-X 400 ASA on occasions. Although the image scan quality is probably not as good as you would get from a photo lab., I think it is pretty reasonable, especially for the price and a must have investment for anyone with boxes of slides stored in the attic going mouldy.

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An English wheat field ca 1980

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Statue of a sea nymph, Vevey, Switzerland ca 1992

Crazy trees

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Just one of the many crazy trees to be found in Taichung park, Taiwan. This park was landscaped by the Japanese when they governed the city and it has a real Zen feel to it. I took more than 500 photos with my Nikon while there but was unable to download them due to my Macbook Air’s incompatibility. So all the photos I posted to the blog at the time were from my smartphone. I am still wading through the Nikon photos but it is hard to choose, which to post as there were so many interesting sights. This park was close to where I stayed so I often spent time relaxing here at the end of the day having worn my feet and legs out walking.

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Temples & towers

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Where has all the craftsmanship and artistry gone?

Pictured, part of a temple roof in Taichung and beyond Hotel One, a modern day skyscraper. The turquoise-tinted all-glass Hotel One is certainly an impressive sight and easy on the eye, mainly due to its curved shape and breathtaking height. However the detailed coloured carvings of the low wooden temple could be viewed for hours whereas a brief glance at the skyscraper and you’ve seen it all, just about.

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Just one of the many intricately carved sculptures found on temples.

Many skyscrapers are simple geometric forms clad in mirror glass, which if nothing else has one advantage of reflecting the sky, making them semi invisible and slightly less oppressive. However the majority of office and apartment blocks are just plain grey rectangular concrete boxes with uniform square windows placed at regular intervals with about as much aesthetic appeal as a brick. That’s it! I would hazard a guess that covers around 80% of high-rise buildings worldwide.

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A tall tower block rises from the city almost obliterating the view.
Skyscraper mirror glass reflects concrete apartment blocks a common sight in every city.

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I wonder how this affects our moods as we wander through sun-shaded cities of grey concrete and glass, looking for some greenery and a place to sit, rest and chat.

 

NYE across the world

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For those who may have missed the spectacular drone displays celebrating the New Year 2020 you can click on the image or here to see a YouTube video showing examples of what many cities displayed. Whether Shanghai’s display ever happened seems open to debate as the video above was created earlier in the year.

It is interesting to note that many Asian and Far Eastern countries had incredible drone and light displays and less fireworks. Their displays were fresh, original, spectacular and less polluting than most of those in the West. Meanwhile Boris’s ‘Brexit’ Britain used the event to pollute London even more with an endless stream of conventional fireworks, no doubt bought from China.

The Chinese must be quite amused. It sums up today’s Britain for me, a lack of sophistication, sensitivity and originality. A disappointing start to the New Year. You do have to wonder where all the British creativity has gone as the rest of the world seems to be way ahead of us. Below a still from the NYE drone show over Singapore.

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