art, culture, flowers, food, macro, nature, photography, review, still life

hard time for photographers!?

You know, each first Saturday of a month I meet with some other photographers for our monthly roundtable. We’re not only sitting somewhere and talking. But, we meet somewhere to walk around and take some photos. Later we’re visiting a restaurant for having dinner.

Currently, this isn’t possible because of the governmental restrictions because of the Covid19 pandemic. Although the restrictions here in Germany are not so hard as they are in France, Spain or Italy, where you’re not allowed to leave your home for other topics than going to work, doing your groceries or walk your dog (only very short distances are allowed). Here in Germany, we’re still allowed to go out, but we need to keep a distance of at least 1,5m (~5 ft.). Only the essential stores are allowed to open: supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, doctors, hospitals. Everyone else should work from home, wherever it is possible. Even doing your groceries is quite hard under these circumstances. Some products are rare in the supermarkets and out for weeks now like flour, toilet paper, pasta or yeast. But, most products are available even though not in every supermarket.

Back to our monthly photographer’s roundtable. We met yesterday as usual, but not at about 14:00h as we usually do. Instead, we met at 19:00h. And we did not meet in person somewhere, but we set up a video conference to see each other and talk a bit. To have a specific topic to start with, I organized a theme for us. As I have some inspiring cards for photographers, I drew one card for each participant and transmitted a photo of the card via messenger last weekend. So everyone had one week to prepare some images to show during our video conference. As everyone had a different topic to work on, it was very interesting to see the results.¬†8 of us 10 regular participants were there. The two missings were prevented for private reasons on short-notice. Nevertheless, it was a nice evening (considering the circumstances).

My topic was “backlit”. All images are taken with my DSLR camera and were not a result of post-processing or some other graphical works. All images are taken last week. The images are looking way better in a bigger size. So you can resize them by clicking on then.

 

 

So, being not allowed to leave your home must not hinder you to take your camera and take some photos. In case you don’t have an idea, drop me a line and I’ll give you an assignment for the next week ūüėÄ

Take care and stay healthy

 

culture, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: Scones

Last year I was in northern Wales. During one of our trips, we had a pause at a very small café where they offered these scones. They were so delicious. I included parts of my hand in the image to illustrate how big the scones were.

I wonder if one of my followers from England is able to send me a good receipt for scones and for clotted cream as well.

Take care!

 

culture, food, history, landscape, nature, photography, review, travel, world

I’m back ….

…. from North-Wales.
The week before last, I was in Great-Britain again. My destination was the Snowdonia National park and the island Anglesey, both located in North Wales. Wales is a part of the British main island and is located in the southwest, right next to the Irish Sea. Those of you, being able to understand German, can read this post in German language here.

Wales is a long-time part of the British empire and the integration path was very bloody. So, you can see impressive castles built by the Norman king Edward I. at the end of the 13.th century to overawe and rule the native Celtic folks living in that region. Also, he established roads for moving his soldiers more easily and more quickly.

Wales is dominated by agriculture: mainly sheep growing. You can not only find them on many meadows, but also in impassable mountain regions. Although, Wales is located at the sea, there are quite high mountains right behind the coast, just like the Snowdonia National Park with the eponymous mountain Mount Snowdon with a hight of 1085 meters.

In the past, there were many mines in Wales: coal, copper, and silver were dug out of the ground. But, these times are long ago. Compared to mining costs in other parts of the world, the costs in Wales were too high. Thus, mines (and other factories, too) were closed and people got unemployed. Just like in my own region, mining towns got deserted. Nearly everywhere in the small towns, you can see signs at the houses or in the front yards telling that that house is for sale. Rural exodus or rural depopulation seems to be an important topic here, too.

On the other hand, Wales is changing to become a tourist region. Hikers and climbers are to be addressed. The National Park lends itself to this. Many supermarkets are around to support hikers with food. Even in small villages, the supermarkets are open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. or even longer. You can not only find the regular products for a supermarket, but you can also find a large variety of prepared sandwiches and other convenient food to take away on your hike. You can also find a lot of small restaurants, pubs, and inns with quite a good value ratio. Often you can find very good products like cake, scones, or sandwiches far away from regular life in the middle of nowhere, but in touristic interesting places. Only with the coffee one notices that the British drink tea. Don’t get me wrong. You can find coffee nearly everywhere on the menu: filter coffee (coffee americano), cappuccino, or latte macchiato. Unfortunately, the taste is sometimes not good. Either you taste the usage of instant coffee or the coffee is way strong or too thin. But, you nearly always get a nice topping made from frothed milk and some cacao powder.

The National Park is equipped with a cog railway. It needs an hour for climbing uphill to Mount Snowdon and after a pause of half an hour back to the foot of the mountain if you don’t want to walk down on your own. We walked down. but, I don’t recommend this trail to an untrained person. Often the path looks more like a creek bed than a beaten path. Big stones and very steep parts make the path quite challenging. We needed about 4 hours for the way down. High shaft hiking boots are the absolute minimum for mastering the path. And take a lot of drinking water with you. There is no option to fill up your bottles after leaving the top station of the cog railway. There’s also no opportunity to change your mind after leaving the top station on foot. Buy your tickets early, they get sold out quickly. Diesel engines drive the carriages on the track and one old steam train is also still in operation.

You have a fantastic sight in all direction from the top of the mountain and during the hike up- or downhill you get fantastic views of the side valleys.

The hike is very rewarding. Personally, I got impressed by a group of three young men hiking uphill. One of them was blind. He walked up to the mountain as calmly as if he were walking in the city on a flat walkway by trusting his friend on his right arm and his blind man’s stick the left. Several people came to us in different places that jogged up the mountain in bright sunshine and temperatures beyond 25 ¬į C. Amazing to what the human body is capable of with appropriate training.

As I said earlier, you can also find places for bouldering.


But there are also spots for more relaxed sports like canoeing, fishing or paragliding. The many lakes and treeless mountainsides are ideal for these many different sports in such a small area. Small parking areas beside the streets make it quite easy to stop every now and then, enjoy the landscape, take photographs or start a hike or a walk. Most of the lakes we passed, were easily accessible. On some of them, canoeists took their quiet laps. At the coast, you can start sailing or enjoy the beach life with sun-bathing, swimming, beach volleyball, and other typical beach activities. But, beach lovers should check in advance whether the location is equipped with a sandy beach. The beaches, I saw, were usually very flat-angeled, so that the sandy area was broad while low-tide but very small (or even completely gone) while high-tide.


Off the coast of Wales, you can find the quite big island Angelsey. It’s connected to the mainland by two bridges. Angelsey is even calmer than the Welsh mainland and the town are even smaller. The agricultural areas are mainly used as meadows, too. Despite you won’t see many cows or even horses, you can see lots of sheep of different races.


In the restaurants, you can usually find a small menu containg fish&chips, burger (much, much better that those you can find in the big burger restaurant chains)


steaks or local food. They use beef, lamb and pork. Some restaurants have some dishes for vegetarians on their menu. The offer is usually supplemented with soups and salads.

As a special feature you should mention, that often the order at the counter is expected (the food is then brought to the table), where partly also directly paid. Some restaurants also expect that guests do not just sit down somewhere but ask a receptionist to be assigned a table.

Just like in Germany, I noticed the missing of flying insects. Although this mad hiking a bit easier, by when looking on this from an ecological point of view, this is a disaster. Beside gulls, I saw many common birds: tits, robins, white and grey wagtails, magpies, crows, and ravens but very few swallows. I also saw ducks, geese and grey herons. Unfortunately, I was able to spot the national bird of Wales, the red kite, only once: from inside the cog railway uphill to Mount Snowdon.

You can reach Wales via the airports of Cardiff, the capital of Wales in the South (~150 miles), Birmingham in the east (~200 miles) or Manchester north of Wales (~100 miles). The distances are relative to the Snowdonia National-Park.

Take care!

culture, food, photography, seasons, world

Cultural notes: Cookie time

Advent time is cookie time. In many private kitchens the oven has a hard time during the 4 weeks before Christmas. It’s time for baking Christmas cookies.

There are many receipts available for baking the special Christmas or Advent cookies. Every region has some specific specialities, while others are (nowadays) generally known in the whole country.

Have a great Advent time!

 

art, culture, food, people, photography, still life

Throwback Thursday: picking raisins

Here we have a German saying: someone is simply picking the raisins. Such a guy is called a raisin-picker. What does this mean?

Raisins are dried grapes and often used as an ingredient for baking cakes, torte or bread or while cooking food. Despite, they don’t have much liquid left after the drying process, they taste great. They are soft and sweet. Most people like them. But, because of the way they are produced, they are quite expensive and thus a valuable¬†ingredient.

So, when we say, someone is picking the raisins, he or she is taking a lot of something good and does not leave enough for the others. In this context the ‘good’ not necessarily needs to be food. It could also be public holidays inside the vacation time. Or, when it comes to pay for a round, one always pay only the cheap drinks and leaves the expensive drinks to be paid by the others. Or doing the easy work while leaving the hard work to be done by the others. I guess, you got the idea.

Do you have a similar saying? Leave me a note in the comments.

This little guy is picking a raisin out from a Dresdner Christstollen (or shorter Dresdener¬†Stollen), a typical German sweet, spiced bread. It’s made with a lot of butter, sugar, raisins, candied orange peel, candied citron peel, nuts, almonds, mild, rum and a lot more. Although, it’s known and made in many more parts of Germany, the Stollen from Dresden is best know.

Take care!

animals, culture, food, landscape, nature, people, photography, review, seasons, street, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: sur la plage de Cancale

Here we are in Brittany again. At the beach of the picturesque¬†town of Cancale you can find this small square with some booths. They are selling oysters here. Right in front of the coast you can find oyster banks set up by fishermen to breed oysters and harvest them more easily. When enlarging the image you can see some of the banks in the water. The beach right next to this square ist covered over and over with oyster shells. I guess, thousands of generations of oyster shells are laying here, thrown away by the people who bought and eat them. It’s an interesting sound when walking over them.

Take care!

animals, culture, food, landscape, nature, photography, travel, wildlife, world

Throwback Thursday: below the sea level

You’re wondering about the title of this post? ūüôā¬†At low tide I’m standing on the ground of the sea in Brittany and pointing my camera upwards. On this rock (and similar to the other rocks around) you can see many, many common or¬† blue mussels. They are eatable. Therefore they are i.e. cooked in white wine.

Take care!

art, culture, food, nature, photography, seasons, world

Happy Easter!

Why bunnies for Easter? Why eggs for Easter? Why Easter?

The word easter is derived from the ancient germanic goddess Ostara. As a goddess rising from the east, she was responsible for fertileness and the spring. Many different cultural festivities and celebrations were connected to here: i.e. the easter fire and the fire wheels. These events were meant to cast out the winter daemons.

Bunnies get there babies in spring and they often have many of them. So, they are a symbol for fertileness. Btw. primarily rabbits were meant here instead of the hares or bunnies. While hare hide their babies in the boundary ridges and only come at night for a short visit to feed them, rabbits are having their babies in bigger amount around their holes.

Next the eggs. In medieval ages, the famers have had to pay taxes to the landowners. These taxes often / usually have had to be paid in natural produce. Depending on the exact region, the beginning of a new year was on March 1st, spring equinox or April 1st. On that day (new years day), taxes were due. So, the Lenten season also was the time to save food for uses them for paying the due taxes. But, starting from new years day, they were free, to use their products on their own again.

Easter is always on the first Sunday after the first spring full moon. So, we have the Lenten season lasting over the tax date. Eggs were also not allowed during Lenten season. So, the eggs from the Lenten season were marked with different colors to distinguish between old and fresh eggs.

Happy Easter!

animals, culture, flowers, food, insect, nature, photography, plants, seasons, world

Bees still in danger

Last week I’ve read an article in a German political news magazine with very good reputation for publishing their reports from a very neutral point of view. They wrote about a research report, published recently by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).¬†I already wrote here about the huge decrease in insects around. But, this report is specific to bees.

The EFSA report said, they now have an evidence for the suspicion verbalised in 2013, that pesticides and insecticides based on Neonicotinoides (named  Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam which are used to safe seeds: i.e. rapeseeds) are an enormous danger for bees. Wild bees as well as domesticated bees.

According to experts, even tiniest doses of i.e. 4 billionth gram per bee is deadly. Weaker doses already endanger their ability to navigate, to learn, weaken the immune system and reduce the ability to fertilise.

Why do we need bees, one might say, combined with a statement about not eating honey. But, bees are much more important than for producing honey: without bees we won’t get much food. Even in greenhouses bees are working hard to pollinate¬†billions of blossoms each day. Not speaking about the huge industry like orchard growing i.e. apples, pears, plums, cherries and many other fruits. There’s a quote, four years after the bees, people extinct too. Although, this quote often is accredited to Albert Einstein, the real source is unknown. Even channels Darwin published a statement with a similar meaning. Nevertheless, the impact of the vanishing of bees will be huge.

Despite the European Union already restricted the allowed usage for these poisons (allowed only in greenhouses and of certain plants like winter grain), the restrictions are about to get tightened now.

This new report could be the final keystone to get these poisons forbidden. A very good new for the insects.

Our environment is already very seriously harmed. Help, to turn the clock backwards. Buy your food from local farmers, where you can ask them about their usage of poisons.

Take care!