Harakka in Autumn: Chapter 16

It’s time to put away your worries for a while and take a walk with Ice Swimmer. Today we’re going up.

Chapter 16 – Top and Around

Odd Spruce Revisited ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The spruce is odd because it has an even number of crowns. The deciduous trees behind the spruce are hiding the wetland.

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Surrounded by Rocks: An Exploration Series, Chapter 6

It’s time for the next chapter by Nightjar and today we’re looking up to see the vast landscape around us.

Chapter 6 – East Hill: The Views


I’m always searching for rocks, fossils, flowers and insects, and often I have to remind myself to look up at the views. But let’s look up from the ground now. The first thing we see are some windmills in ruins. There are several here and they were made with limestone, of course.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

Looking down south we can see the vineyards in their full autumn display and some green fields. The round trees in the foreground and among the vineyards are olive trees. There are still many people here that produce wine and olive oil for their own consumption and to share with family. My family’s vineyard is a little bit more to the right and not shown in the photo.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

On the foothill there is the village’s soccer field. A match was about to start!

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

Let’s look west now. Those houses are the northern part of the village and in the background we can see the West Hill. It looks very different in terms of vegetation density, doesn’t it? Can you guess what those trees are?

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

In the next chapter we will explore the West Hill and see this one from the other side!

Thanks, Nightjar.

A Little Snow

Well, actually a lot of snow. These breathtaking photos are from DavidinOz.

…here are some photos from when I lived in New Zealand. They are from Tekapo in McKenzie Country on the South Island.

1 & 3 are the Church of the Good Shepherd exterior, while No 2 is the view through the window behind the altar. How could anyone listen to a sermon with that view? I am sure they must have drawn a curtain. The last 3 are taken from the top of Mount John, site of an observatory. The sky at Tekapo is so clear it is now listed as a world heritage area to protect it from light pollution.

It is a magical place, one I was pleased to see in all seasons.

Tekapo 1. ©David Brindley, all rights reserved

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Bauska – Part 2

As promised, a quick visit to the old castle in Bauska! Basically it’s a small uneven field of stones surrounded by red brick walls. Its piece de resistance? The old tower still stands and has been fortified for climbing.

Now back in the day (the ’90s), they used the old ruin for an outdoor nighttime performance of Hamlet, and actors were placed on the crumbling walls, making entrances and exits in dramatic lighting (mostly open fire, what can I say) and apparently the show was really something else. Would love to have seen that, alas – I am left only with my imagination, as today’s many, many safety standards would prohibit even the attempt of something similar (and thank goodness for those standards).

Anyway, here’s the soundtrack, and enjoy the bricks!

A peek back to the ‘new’ castle. Watch out, there might be intruders approaching!
©rq, all rights reserved.

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Bauska – Part 1

I have two posts for the town of Bauska – the castle of Bauska (you’ve seen the grand tree out front), actually: Old Bauska and New Bauska. Well, “New” Bauska, since the new castle still dates back to the 17th century, I think. Old Bauska is from the 15th century or so. Since WWII, when it was destroyed with the German retreat, both parts lay in ruins – reconstruction was begun in 2008, and as always, is done mostly by serious and seriously dedicated hobbyists. Strategically located on a peninsula between two rivers, it was geographically convenient for both defense and trade, and is now a wonderful place to spend an afternoon with overactive children, since the territory is perfect for some educational wandering, followed by rambunctious running around in the former park-slash-dendrarium.

We visited at the end of summer, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the tourist-friendly reconstruction – and even more, I was impressed by the craftsmanship that has gone into creating a historically informative experience.

But I think what stays in my memory the most is the amount of light these rooms get – a lot of movies with castles portray them as dark and smoky, with little natural light. Granted, this was summer, full sunlight, and nary a smoky torch to be found. In any case, have a look and bask in the light and craftsmanship of the new Bauska castle:

Courtyard, angle 1 – the brick towers in the background are the remnants of the old castle, saving that for part 2.
©rq, all rights reserved.

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Jack’s Walk

Today you get voyager’s walk without Jack. I was in Toronto over the weekend to visit a friend so I thought I’d share some shots of Front Street. Everywhere you look the city is gearing up for all that mindless and debt-inducing Christmas shopping and this year it looks like Union Station is going all out Lego. So far they’ve placed 3 giant Legos in the square along with a totally Lego fireplace complete with Lego stockings hung with care. The large white board is also going to be all Lego and it has mind-numbingly small numbers. Lots of numbers, each one waiting for an individual normal size Lego block. It must take a crew of several people days to put it all together. I’ll ask my friend to send me photos of the finished project and I promise to share.

Front Street, looking east, ©voyager, all rights reserved

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Youtube Video: Feudal Japanese vs Medieval European CASTLES

Shad of the YouTube channel Shadiversity is a bit peculiar fellow. His performance is a bit over the top, but that is his selling point and it has an entertainment value. He has some old-fashioned notions about gender, but that is sadly to be expected, because not only is he male, he is also a practicing mormon. Thus being another proof of the to me totally baffling fact that evidently intelligent and well-educated people can believe the most ridiculous, silly and multiple-times over falsified notions if those notions are under the guise of “religion”.

However his videos on medieval castles are very informative, educational and fun to watch, so I can recommend those with clear conscience.

Macedonia 5 – Stillness

One impression that I was left with after my trip was a sense of… unfinished? The opposite of stillness. It’s hard to explain. The city of Skopje was such a mix of modern, ancient, renovated and decrepit, and through it all it was clear that Things were Happening, but… there was also a sense of organized chaos? I have a lot of question marks in my thoughts about the city, and the best I’ve been able to tell people is It was interesting. I think the one conclusion I will come away with is that there is no need for conclusions.

In any case, Skopje is full of statues – hollow statues – so many figures standing or sitting around or holding epic poses, it’s quite grand. And many of them are large! Immense! Makes you feel a bit small, to be honest. And the sort of grandiosity that puts me a bit on edge. Here’s a very, very, very tiny sample:

Alexander the Great, of course.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The view from under the arches of a medieval bridge… not even the oldest object around.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Upskirt photography at its finest.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The other side of the bottom of the previous statue – sitting around for ages!
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

A paeon to motherhood, I assumed – I might add that nobody was looking particularly thrilled.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I am frighteningly ignorant when it comes to good music from the region, though, so here’s Loreena McKennitt instead. I intend to work on my musical diversity.

Tree Tuesday

Our tree this week was sent in by Affinity’s newest team member, rq. It’s a majestic old tree in a fairy tale setting and the last shot is brilliant. Perfectly framed, perfectly lit and perfectly peaceful.  Thanks for sharing, rq.


©rq, all rights reserved

©rq, all rights reserved

©rq, all rights reserved

©rq, all rights reserved

Harakka Island – Chapter 3

It’s time for the next chapter of Ice Swimmer’s series, Harraka – An island. Thanks again, Ice Swimmer. I’ll let you take it from here


Chapter 3 – Former FDF Building


1. Main Door, Former FDF Building, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The building is from 1928 and it used to belong to Finnish Defence Forces and nowadays it is used by artists who can hire studio space for five years at a time there. This is the main entrance.


2. The building and the Birch, © all rights reserved

There is a big birch next to the building.


3. Rusty Ring, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

A ring fixed into bedrock next to the building. As for the picture, Caine was definitely an influence for me in this kind of photography.


4. Corner, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

We’re going around the building. This is the northwestern back corner.


5. Backyard and Fireweed, ©Ice Swimmer all rights reserved

There was a lot of fireweed in bloom on the island. Now we’re in the backyard of the Artists’ Building, looking at earthworks built when Harakka was partially fortified.


6. Tractor, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The little tractor is probably used for hauling various things.

7. Chemistry Equipment, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights re

The building was used by the FDF as a chemical laboratory. For that reason, while there were plenty of wild raspberries, strawberries and other berries growing on the island, tasting them didn’t feel too attractive. The building is actually the third site for the FDF Chemical Laboratory. At first, the laboratory was in downtown Helsinki, in the same building that housed the University of Helsinki Chemistry Department and after that in one of the garrisons in Helsinki before it was moved to the island.


8. Whose Island part II, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The ratio of shoes / webbed feet is fairly small.


9. Birch stump, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

At the southwestern corner of the building, there used to be a birch.

Now we have seen the building used by military chemists and subsequently artists and some of its surroundings. Next, we’ll go a back, a bit south in the backyard of the building.

(link to previous post, Harakka an Island: Chapter 2)


Barcelona: The City 2: La Plaza Catalunya

The centre of Barcelona is the Plaza Catalunya. Lined on one side by the traditional Corte Inglés shopping centre and start of the Rambla, the main boulevard, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell you’ll miss it. Most tourist buses start and stop there (our shuttle bus from the camp site dropped us off there and picked us up, and so did most others), the hop on- hop off buses stop there, the metro lines do, the regional train station is under it.

Above it are the pigeons.

Water fountain by night, brightly lit.

The fountain by night.
©Giliell, all rights reserved


Water fountain in daylight.

The fountain by day.
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Pigeon bathing in a water fountain.

Did I say fountain? What I meant was “pigeon bath”.
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Pigeons in a tree.

How many pigeons can you count?
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Barcelona: the City 1

Barcelona is home to 1.65 million people, the travel destination of 7 million people a year and one of the most densely populated areas in Europe, second only to Paris. I’ll start my series on the city as such with a few panoramic shots to give you an idea. They were either shot from the Parc Güell or the Tibidabo, both which will get their own posts in the future.

Panoramic view of Barcelona

The city in full
© Giliell, all rights reserved.

Panoramic view of Barcelona

Shot from the ferris wheel in the Tibidabo.
© Giliell, all rights reserved.

Panoramic view of Barcelona

You can see the big parallel boulevards running down to the harbour. © Giliell, all rights reserved.

Panoramic view of the zoo.

The Zoo, one of the few green spaces. ©Giliell, all rights reserved

Panoramic view, with the Sagrada Familia in the centre.

Panoramic view, with the torre de Agbar and the Sagrada Familia in the centre.
© Giliell, all rights reserved.

In the middle you can see the Torre Agbar or Torre Glóries. I never gave much of the interpretation that all towers are phallic symbols, but this one takes the cake.

Panoramic view of the Torre Agbar.

A PG 18 rated tower…
©Giliell, all rights reserved

The Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece. The Catalan architect is all over Barcelona and we will visit one of his works, Parc Güell, later. Be advised to book your tickets in advance if you want to visit the place.

Panoramic view of the Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia
©Giliell, all rights reserved