Wednesday, October 29, 2008


AA Pic of the Week We were in Liège a couple of days (more about that later) and I used my little camera all the time, or so it seemed to Mrs S, who had to endure some embarrassment when I photographed sometimes slightly weird objects and people started to stare. Among these is a series of shots of this porthole. I just loved the round shape and the beautiful, subdued colours.

We were looking for somewhere to have a light lunch as we were walking along the river Meuse and a line of various moored, floating vessels; houseboats and old barges turned into theatres and one into a restaurant. The restaurant turned out to be rather spacious, with modern design. The walls were, as expected, lined with portholes to let some daylight in and for guests to see out. However I ended up facing the quayside and felt a bit short-changed at first, but then I realised I had this unusual photo opportunity. Reflected in the quayside porthole was the round light of the opposite porthole, and through this round disc of light I could actually see across the river and the windows in a tall building there.

A white cable runs across the porthole and I have not attempted to remove it because it think it adds to the authenticity of the shot. There are also two reflections which you might be able to spot and some plants growing between the stones. But look in the bright circle, the opposite porthole reflection; there is something in there and it has taken on the texture of the stone since the surrounding light is so strong and the focus is on the stone rather than the glass. Can you see what it is? The shape in the bright light is my hands holding the camera. This is the first time in my life I have been truly petrified, or at least the image of me. Amazing, isn't it?

Petrified cr

P.S. Tomorrow I will be going to Sweden to see my two-month-old grandson for the first time. I can't wait!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lazy Eyes

Duckhead Duckhead says: Have you noticed how so many of the newsreaders and TV journalists (at least on the BBC) seem to have one wonky eye? Is that a requirement? Or have they been on a training course where they have learned to read the autocue with one eye and stare dead straight into the camera with the other one? Quack quack!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Sikh Friend

An envelope turned up in the post and I immediately reacted to the ominous timing. Why do I get mail from him now? I thought. It looked like his handwriting, but could it be his widow writing? I'll explain.

Six years ago when I had to spend a month in hospital, I had a bed neighbour whom I got to know quite well. He was an elderly gentleman waiting for some procedure which would take place sooner if he stayed in hospital rather than going home to wait there. It was a bit like standing in the queue in a supermarket, then remembering an item you've forgotten to put in your trolley. Would you go and get it, risking having to start all over again? So this old chap was in the priority queue so to speak, being pretty bored just waiting.

He and his family had been chased out of Uganda by Idi Amin together with thousands of others, moved to the UK and set up a business there. His family who came to visit always had a chat with me (and Mrs S if she was there), and they often brought him home-made food which looked very appetizing. Once I had got my appetite back I found the hospital food rather uninspiring, to say the least. So guess what, I was offered some of their tasty food to compliment the hospital Halal alternative, which I found more interesting than the standard food there. So there we were, a Swedish Englishman and an African-Indian Sikh sometimes having a Muslim meal or an Indian home-cooked dish. Sadly I could not offer any Swedish meatballs in return, but Mrs S offered my friend not only Tesco's yummiest fruit yogurts sometimes, but she also regularly took care of his lottery ticket at the newsagent's.

Since that hospital friendship we have always sent each other Christmas cards, despite the fact that I am not a believer and my friend is not of the Christian faith. He will be in his eighties by now, so I feared the worst when we had this letter, which turned out to be a card, our first Christmas card this year. My old friend Devi certainly knows how to meet a deadline, early! (Sorry, no pun intended!)

Christmas Card

Monday, October 20, 2008

French Night Life

AA Pic of the Week I used the firm support of an old bridge to take this night shot, and I am still surprised I managed to keep the camera still long enough. This is a stretch with restaurants and bars along a canal in Amiens in northern France. Amiens is famous for its cathedral among other things and is located in the area where many of the horrendous battles of the First World War took place. Driving along the narrow roads north of Amiens you come past cemetery after cemetery holding the remains of these young soldiers whose lives were cut short for some insane military/political reason.

Today it is a bustling town, dominated at night time by students and tourists who all enjoy the bars and restaurants in the town centre. I would like to think that I managed to capture the convivial and warm atmosphere in this colourful photograph.

Amiens at night cr

Monday, October 13, 2008

Free As a Bird

AA Pic of the Week One day last summer my attention was drawn to the bright sky. The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind the fluffy clouds, creating almost razor-sharp borders between dark and bright areas of blue. It was not until I got home and transferred the pictures to my PC that I spotted the two birds of prey soaring high above, riding the thermals majestically in circles. Simply beautiful!

Soaring cr

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mycology Mystery Walk

As always I took my trusted camera with me when we went for a short walk just before sunset yesterday. The walk turned into a mystery mushroom walk. Right outside our house we came across the first one, a fairytale, pixie-kind-of mushroom, all red with white spots, warning off hungry creatures, but not the slugs you can see below. We followed our normal route, and due to the weather conditions lots of mushrooms had popped up over night. Some looked edible, others decisively not, so it was a pure photo hunt, nothing ended up on the dinner table.

As you can see the light was going so the conditions were not exactly ideal, and since I had to squat and optimistically aim the camera along the ground, some pictures are slightly out of focus; apologies for that. But I was astonished to find so many fungi so easily. I only wish I knew more about them, they are still mostly a mystery to me. Here is a selection for you.

IMG_6362 IMG_6363 IMG_6366 IMG_6369 IMG_6373 IMG_6378 IMG_6379 IMG_6395 IMG_6403

IMG_6399 IMG_6402

As I was typing up this post I heard an almighty bang against a window downstairs; I rushed down and found this dusty silhouette on the kitchen window, which is approximately 75 cm wide (30 inches), so the wingspan of the unfortunate bird was quite impressive. Can you spot the bird?

Spot the Bird

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Billowing Barley

AA Pic of the Week At least I think it is barley. Correct me if I am wrong. I just love the movement, lines and texture in this shot. You can literally follow the path of the wind. Had the sun been out, the lovely greens and yellows would have been even more of a feature in this picture.

Cereal study

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Parasol Mushrooms

On Friday we went for a walk in the late afternoon. It was damp, grey and a little cold, so there were not many people out, not even dog walkers or joggers. I was thinking of how I had seen some gigantic mushrooms the previous week but not dared picking them because I was not sure what they were, edible or poisonous. After that I had spoken to my mother who suggested they were Parasol Mushrooms (Riesenschirmling in German, Stolt Fjällskivling in Swedish). I then looked them up on the net and found they were more than edible; they were in fact very desirable, and had a nutty flavour. Since they are normally not sold in shops, the only way of getting some is to pick them yourself.

When we came to the field where I had seen these mushrooms, which obviously had been picked by somebody with a greater fungi knowledge than yours truly, I kept my eyes open for more of these massive mushrooms. Only a visually impaired person could have missed them; there was a group of new delicious ones waiting to be picked, and despite the fact that we had just set out on our walk, I promptly picked five of them and held them like a bouquet in my hand for the rest of the hour-long exercise. I did not want to miss out on them yet again.

When we got back I did another search on the net to establish the identity of the fungi five and was in the end happy they were not poisonous. I first used them as a starter, just frying them with some salt and pepper, and then to make the sauce for the main course as well. They were absolutely gorgeous! Next time we go for a walk, I think I will carry a basket or a bag because my hand was completely rigid from holding those mushrooms for an hour. I have been smitten with mushroom mania!

Parasol Mushroom