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Creatures, and verse….

July 24, 2014

I got a well-meaning email saying that my photography was getting "worse and worse" and explaining all my faults. Now, I am a HCP..Hopelessly Content Photographer, who posts SMS (Shamelessly Mediocre Shots). So…I thought, what if my photography was verse instead of worse? Here goes…I saw all these in Scandinavia.

Tired of flitting.
A little lazy.
Stop a minute.
Upon a Daisy.

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“Scratch” the race!
This young hare cries.
Hidden in the high grass
Is the tortoise, slow but wise!

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The flower has food in plenty.
The bee, therefore, is rolling.
As he drinks the nectar up
He gathers up the pollen.

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This cat was keen upon its hunt.
And did not like being snapped.
Its agenda was very clear:
A mouse, eaten, after getting trapped!

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Big Chief One-Feather
Sat upon a pole.
Hoping for a juicy chick,
A shrew, or a vole!

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This moth lay on the leaf-litter.
Amongst the drops of rain.
Will it die where it lies now?
Or will it fly again?

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Can you see my horns? He asks
While running in the wheat.
He slants a wary eye at us:
Vanishes on graceful feet.

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Curling into a fetal ball
Is this hedgehog’s best defense.
I didn’t touch him or trouble him..
But caught him with my lens.

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Glorying in the sunlight
At the prime of his young life.
Grassy paddocks and well-cared ease:
What does he know of strife?

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“Life’s a bubble”..so it seems
When I watch this foraging duck.
He’ll migrate soon, for the winter months
And survive, if he has good luck!

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“I have so many back home!” I cried
As we kept seeing European Black Kites.
Then, suddenly an Osprey appeared:
A dream come true in browns and whites!

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I just looked at the backyard.
No announcement. No knock.
He arrived…and left..so silently,
This European Peacock.

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Birding and bubble algae, 210714

July 24, 2014

I took this pic of a Northern Shoveller in a pond:

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And of two thorougly “ducking” into their food:

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I was very intrigued by those algae bubbles, which added quite a surreal touch to the photograph. So I googled, and ofkose, there was quite a lot of info…

here

I realized that algae bubbles seem to be classified as “pests” for reef tank enthusiasts.

“When we hear of ‘bubble algae’, one reflex is to think of the infamous “Valonia ventricosa”, without even considering the many other algae that form bubble-like structures. Premature judgment can be regrettable, but there is this added twist: the much-cited ‘Valonia’ of our nightmares is no longer Valonia, but, thanks to Olsen & West (1988) now has its own Genus, Ventricaria. “

Suggestions were given for controlling the algae:

“e can try to manually reduce said presence to provide relief, and include in the affected tank a set of agencies that exert pressure against the problem alga. Since availability of usable nutrients fuels the alga’s aggressive growth and reproduction, we attempt to restrict such availability. That is pretty much the standard threefold approach to most algal outbreaks:

1. Manual removal of the problem alga
2. Suppression via appropriate herbivores
3. Denial of resources

Normally, there would be a fourth aspect, of fiddling with temperature, pH, or some other physical-environmental parameter to suppress the problem alga. However, the environmental tolerances of most bubble algae exceed those of most ornamentals put into reef tanks.”

I can’t find much about naturally-occurring bubble algae, though, I get only reefkeeping fora!

Therefore, I decided that for this particular (public) pond, near the Campushallen (University) where I photographed the ducks, algae bubbles, far from being a “problem”, actually food for the birds.

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So…I don’t care about the unhappy reef tank lovers, I am very happy indeed that the Northern Shovellers were happily feeding on these bubbles and enjoying themselves!

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Ducklings, water and green bubbles…is there anything else required for sheer enjoyment of the childish kind?

Microbes are insults…

July 23, 2014

My friend Pallavi Singh wrote on FB:

“Aahna, upset with me over something, said with intense emotion – Mamma, you are a GERM!!!!
I suppose our paranoia over children catching infection is sooooo great, they believe these micro-organisms are truly abhorrent! I had a tough time stifling a chuckle!”

To this, a friend of hers. Avi Pratap Singh, responded with some verse from Ogden Nash:

“A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.”

So ofkose I decided to do my own Nashery:

“When for angry denouncement
She looks for a suitable term,
Yet feels it too rude
To call you, outright, a worm…
She’s understood now, that
She can say,”Oh,you GERM!”

The sadness of peace

July 21, 2014

In the middle of the whirlwind.
There is, too, the peace
That is the aftermath of war
And toil, and struggle:
This peace is not always happy.
This may be the peace of death, of regrets
Of waste, of what might have been.
Is this sad peace, the deteritus of destruction,
Always welcome? Is peace always better than war?
Peace…without serenity, without prosperity
Is just the cessation of foul acts
Without the hope of its continuance.
Peace can often be
Tears in a widow’s eye
A maimed limb,
The passing of what was good and happy
In a life lived just a while ago.
Peace can the quietness
Of the broken body of a girl,
Mauled bestially, and left to bleed.
Peace can be the loneliness
In a home when one partner has walked out.
Peace can be the quite of a crash site
Where people are looking for bodies.
Peace…not welcome when it’s just a piece
Of conflict, pain and sorrow.

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And, in St.Louis…..200714

July 20, 2014

I had a lovely video chat with my daughter, and the added bonus (bonii!) were:

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It got even more delightful….

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One Booda fully festooned with oatmeal…reminds me of the abhishEkam we do for our stone idols!

My heart is already in St.Louis!

It’s a pity the picture quality is so poor…

The wildflower bouquet, 080714

July 18, 2014

took me for a wonderful morning of nature and birding trails…​Klingansvalsan (Vomb) Lake, and Silvakra. We had lovely sightings of birds, insects, mammals, took in some beautiful scenery….but I was also thinking of Fran, a very indoor person, whom we’d left behind. So I picked these wildflowers for her!

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I asked N to hold it, too…

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I came home and gave it to Fran, who said she’d not got a bouquet of flowers for goodness knows how long!

It looked so very beautiful, sitting on the table in the central courtyard at N’s home:

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Here’s Fran, with N, as they work on some details of their trip to Berlin:

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Friends…are worth their weight in wildflowers!

July 16, 2014

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Here

is the site of Glimmingsehus Castle, in Hammenhog; it is a well-preserved medieval manor, the start of the construction of the fort dating back to 1499.

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“Glimmingehus, situated in the county of Skåne in southern Sweden, is the best-preserved medieval manor in Scandinavia. Jens Holgersen Ulfstand began to construct the stately fortress in the year 1499.

The present is on the left, and the past is on the right!

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“Glimmingehus was established as an imposing residence for the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and his family. At that time Skåne belonged to Denmark.

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“Finds from archaeological excavations have revealed the highly exclusive nature of the Glimmingehus household. The most expensive objects available in Europe in the early 16th century have been found, including Venetian glass, extruded Rhineland glass and Spanish ceramic ware.

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“Today, Glimmingehus is a living Ancient Monument and a centre for people throughout Scandinavia interested in the Middle Ages, as well as an exciting outing. New research, both archaeological and research into building history, has helped to produce a picture of how the fortress was once built and used.”

Even the lichen is blooming on the walls!

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We had our own, very good Swedish guide!

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Down to the kitchen:

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The well that served the castle; the story goes that there is an eel, about a thousand years old, that is still alive at the bottom! (No, we couldn’t see into the well!)

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The huge hall at the top:

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The staircase:

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The view from the top:

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Vaulted ceilings underground:

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Narrow windows tell their tale of fortification:

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Here’s the baron who built the castle:

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(er, he does look “petrified”, doesn’t he!)

And here’s the coat of arms:

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The huge fireplace:

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The area where the womenfolk lived:

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Couldn’t go past this:

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successfully puts a villain in

the stocks !

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The museum downstairs documented the way life was lived:

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I certainly remember grinding soaked rice in a similar grinding stone, when I was very young, in my parents’ home in Kolkata!

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The refectory tables:

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Interesting window:

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This woodcut of the castle itself is very old!

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Old tapestries:

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A poster advertising an event highlighting the activities of medieval times:

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An artist has depicted various coats of arms:

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Ancient implements:

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Pouring pots (don’t ask me why I thought of little boys pissing!)

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Bread was dried in disks like that!

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Kitchen soot will always be kitchen soot, and there will always be Cinderellas…

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A modern lock in an ancient latch!

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An amazing fact at this castle was that even tourism is very old…here are the signatures of tourists from 1938!

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PC was very taken with the moat, I think he wants one of his own, with crocodiles:

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Another portrait (instead of oils, they used stone in those days!) of the Baron of the Castle:

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A scale model:

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I was amazed to find the

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which we call the mOresing, and which is still played in many Carnatic music concerts:

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It’s apparently also called the “Jew’s Harp” and is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world! Here’s the castle employee playing it for us, being careful not to cut her tongue in two:

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When medieval knights talked of chain mail, they didn’t mean a spate of unwanted letters!

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The museum had some (SO lightweight, made of nylon!) on sale:

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They also had a lovely model of a slingshot cannon, and knights of old:

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They had quill nibs and metal nibs:

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There was a children’s activity area:

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Medieval pastimes no. 347, Riding a Pig:

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Now you know why there are no more unicorns, they’ve been made extinct!

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Tourists are helping make each other extinct, too:

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Imposing Glimmingehus Castle…thank you for taking us there, !

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Ofkose I have to talk about the birds, too….many of them make their homes here. We saw Swifts and Starlings, Ravens and Rooks, and many Jackdaws, like this one:

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As we were leaving, we sighted a pair of Common Kestrels circling above the castle…and Kejn spotted three nestlings, in a niche, high above! What a thrill it was!

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So that was my heritage-cum-birding experience here!

That was me documenting Glimmingehus….

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I hope you enjoyed the castle as much as I did!

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here

is my FB album of the visit.

Broken-wing behaviour, Copenhagen, 060714

July 15, 2014

Broken-wing behaviour (or

Distraction Display

is a very interesting phenomenon in the bird world. Usually, the bird “acts” as if one wing is broken, to decoy predators from a nest, or fledglings, nearby. When the creature that is the perceived threat approaches quite close, the bird suddenly “regains” the use of the lame wing and flies off.

I have observed one demonstration of broken-wing behaviour which was very unusual, and for which I have never got an explanation. A female Koel tried this behaviour when she was trying to get into the nest of a couple of Coppersmith Barbets. This was in my favourite haunt…Flycatcher Avenue at Bannerghatta Zoo area.

Here

is my account of what happened, and here is the pic of the female Koel displaying her “lame” wing:

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I still do not know what the female Koel wished to achieve by this, but I enjoyed watching the drama.

I also watched an Oriental Magpie Robin exhibiting this behaviour once in Thattekkad, and a Kildeer in St.Louis, Missouri, decoying a cat from her nest.

But…little did I expect to have this behaviour shown to me in the middle of a crowded marina, in Copenhagen, of all places! But as we (, , and I) walked towards the water, I was surprised to see a Blue Rock Pigeon sitting on the ground, quite close to the visitors, with one apparently broken wing.

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“Oh!” exclaimed my friend, “Poor bird, its wing is broken.” “No,” I responded, “It’s not!” and as I clicked, I continued to move closer to the pigeon. I moved closer and closer…and still the bird did not move. Was I wrong, perhaps, in my idea? My friend repeated, “It IS broken, you are going so near it…”

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Oh, no, I was perfectly right, after all…impressing my friend no end with my “knowledge of nature” (heh, heh!) , the bird flew off on two perfectly good wings! It then went further by teaming up with this strutting white pigeon.

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I don’t know if they are a couple, or a sorority…

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But that pigeon with her acting certainly delighted my friend no end, and I hope the bird ensured the safety of the nest, or fledglings…or whatever it was we were getting distracted from!

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So…I went to see Copenhagen as a tourist, but wound up with a welcome spot of birding behaviour!

Ales Stenar, Sweden, 040714

July 14, 2014

“Ale’s Stones (or Ales stenar in Swedish) is a megalithic monument in Skåne in southern Sweden. It is a stone ship, oval in outline, with the stones at each end markedly larger than the rest. It is 67-metres long formed by 59 large boulders, weighing up to 1.8 tonnes each,” says the Wiki.

We took the road from Tomelilla to Ystad:

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We passed some beautiful buildings on the way:

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It was wonderful to see so many cycles!

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One cyclist reminded me of me!

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We went through fields of poppies:

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and potatoes:

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We entered Kaseberga:

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I’d made a packed lunch, and we sat and ate it with relish!

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(That dahi is TEN PERCENT FAT!!!)

Both the cultivars and the wildflowers, like this Swedish Jasmine (or perhaps it is Mockorange?) were beautiful!

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This Hollyhock was nearly black!

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Nina id’d the Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), which can be medicinal or toxic to humans, depending on its use:

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Bluebells nodded in the breeze:

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Poppies laughed in the wind:

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They were beautiful, whether or not I knew their names!

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Imagine having rambler roses growing wild!

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The souvenir shop was very colourful:

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Some gates were obviously not used!

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Some wall decorations were lovely:

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We walked past this ancient cottage, dreaming in the sunshine.

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Who’s more beautiful…Nina or the poppies?

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Fat, woolly sheep were grazing everywhere:

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We approached the stone “ship”:

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We found some paragliding attempts in progress, but there was not a stiff enough breeze.

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We sighted the Baltic Sea:

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the cove had a sandy beach:

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At last we were near Ales Stenar:

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But you think I’m going to let you see it? I’d got sidetracked by some beautiful butterflies in the grass:

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The sea called everyone:

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Ok, ok! Here is the stone ship, from prehistoric times…

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I was again sidetracked by many larks, that went up in the air to sing:

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They landed again (I had to keep far from them!)

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Here’s a short video of their behaviour:

Back to the awe-inspiring Ales Stenar!

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Amongst the ancient stones, a traditional pastime, kite-flying, was being tried out:

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The grasses and the sea made a stunning combination!

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So did the wildflowers and the sky:

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A puff of wind would play parent…

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The product of this seed would set me dreaming in a different way :D

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Houses talked about the past, too:

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Windows were works of art:

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Treasures lay spilled:

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Some houses were mute; it was their thatched roofs that harked back to ancient times, and it was as if an eye was open in that roof:

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Some of the houses were pretty old, too, if not pre-historic!

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I caught these two Hooded Crows, feeding:

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Avoiding the ice-creams and other calorific snacks, we got into Nina’s car and drove to Glimminghuse Castle…but that’s the next post!

July 11, 2014

I’ve been wandering around a good deal, and have got back to good internet connectivity. Here are two of the very interesting places I visited in the Skane area of Sweden, thanks to Nina Pries and her affectionate hospitality….

We decided to start with visiting Carolyn Pihl, who used to live in Sweden before she moved to the UK, and Donna Ruth Zabielski-Morillo, who came from the US to Spain to live, at the stuga (cottage) they’d rented out in Tomelilla. I dragged Prashanth Chengi along, too.

Here are Caro and Nina, who brought colour into my life when they visited me at Bangalore earlier!

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The cottage actually used to be the stables, and the weather-vane bears that out:

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The cottage is well-decorated and comfortable inside, too:

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A cute loft:

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A cute staircase to the loft:

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The old stable windows look wonderful:

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Some pleasant modern windows, too:

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Nice pics on the wall:

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We sat outside in the garden,

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scoffing doughnuts and swilling coffee:

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No one realized that there was a spider on the sun-umbrella over our heads:

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…so I didn’t tell them, either!

I liked this whale-in-the-wood just behind us:

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Manolo is a great raconteur, with a great sense of humour.

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Ray is rather quieter, but can come up with great one-liners! I wish I’d had more time with him…well…maybe tomorrow evening (we are meeting again, in Linkoping, hopefully.)

I wandered around the garden while the others chatted, and was enchanted by what I saw:

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This seemed to be the main house:

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Another house nearby:

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The view from there:

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The flowers in the garden included hollyhocks

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Pelargoniums (can I forget that I call Caro ….PQ, or Pelar Queen, or just Pelar Rani?)

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Daisies and roses:

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Snapdragons:

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Wild flowers delighted me, too:

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this, told me, is

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

…that is often used in preparations to help people sleep; it was also used as perfume in the past. Given its sweet scent, this is not surprising!

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Bees and other insects were at their pollination work, amongst the flowers:

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This barn had a Swallows’ nest, with the parents flying in and out:

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We went for a walk to a very old, ruined church nearby, which is still sometimes used for weddings:

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This Muscovy Duck was sitting in the stream that we crossed:

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A White Wagtail sat on top of the barn:

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We crossed fields of asparagus

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and horse-radish:

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A railway track, too…

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Local trains are purple!

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We came to the church:

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It lay, dreaming in the sunshine:

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The explanatory plaque was, of course, in Swedish!

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The gates were hospitably open:

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The very lichen on the rocks seemed mellow with age:

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Narrow, slit-windows spoke of defence against marauders, when a church was also a citadel:

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Photography was mandated!

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A pigeon seemed to be one of the present inhabitants:

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What scenes had these windows looked down upon? Now, like the eyes of a departed man, they were shut…

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The church did look like a face that was exclaiming at its own chequered past:

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Overhead soared a European Black Kite:

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The men were probably discussing how the hot weather was good for a beer!

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Here we are, photographing on our way back:

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The cattle made a pretty scene:

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Nina wanted to get to know the cattle better!

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I photographed my friends:

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After Tomelilla, we were going to Ystad…

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But that’s the next post!


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