Spatzenbaden

We do not feed the birds in the summer but there is an old baking tray among the bonsai trees that we fill with clean water once every few days, especially in this heat. Today I managed to take a few pictures of sparrows frolicking in the water.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Tram Depo Graffiti – Part 5

I still have some pretty pictures from that depo, this is not the last post with them. And I did not accidentally publish twice the same picture – two of the graffitis were very similar.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Views of Tampere from Pyynikki

Guest post by Ice Swimmer


Tampere is the second city in Finland. It’s been called many things, including Manchester of Finland (short form: Manse), the City of Women and the Sauna Capital of the World*. Before this spring it was a city I visited in order to have fun with my friends who live here. Now it’s my hometown.

The city was founded on an isthmus between two lakes, formed by an esker. The lakes are connected by a channel of rapids that were dammed and provided power for the textile factories, paper mills and other industry. The textile industry led to comparisons to Manchester and to a lot of girls and women moving to Tampere to work for Finlayson (founded by a Scotsman, James Finlayson) and other factories.

These pictures are from a Sunday walk to Pyynikki Sightseeing Tower and Nature Reserve, which are on the esker, in the middle of Tampere, next to the city centre.

First, we take a look to the east from the tower, towards the city centre.

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Then we take a very touristy angle and look northeast. The big tower is Näsinneula (Näsi needle), the highest building in Finland (168 m), the amusement park is Särkänniemi. The lake is Näsijärvi. This picture is taken May 8th and there is still some ice on the shores.

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I talked about the two lakes. This is the other one, Pyhäjärvi (Sacred or Holy Lake one of the many lakes with the same name in Finland). We’re looking southeast from the tower and we can see a part of the woods of Pyynikki and parts of the city centre as well as the northeastern corner of Pyhäjärvi.

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Then we take a look at the northwestern parts of Tampere. The peninsula is a mostly residential area, parts of which are called Niemi (peninsula), Lentävänniemi (Peninsula of the Flying) and Reuharinniemi (the tip of the peninsula, a free translation could be Cape Rage).

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The following pictures are taken from the Nature Reserve.

First, a sign that says on the top “Place for sightseeing” or “Scenic view” and below that “Dangerous slope”.

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Both are true. You can see Pyhäjärvi through the trees and yes, taking a few more steps could spoil your day.

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This place is a short walk west from the previous place. A bench is safer…

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This view is to the southeast from the rocks, over Pyhäjärvi. I bet the apartments in the buildings by the shore are somewhat costly. I think the chimney belongs to the former knitted underwear factory (Suomen Trikoo).

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This is a view of one of the roads that go through the woods in Pyynikki. This one is Tahmelantie.

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This concludes our trip in Pyynikki. As you were able to see deciduous trees didn’t have any leaves yet. Now, about 2 weeks later the leaves in birches and willows have come out just about fully. I’m hoping you got a little inkling of what Tampere looks like.
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* = The public saunas in Tampere are popular places, also for the locals.

Grey Heron

Avalus has encountered this dapper beauty and managed to snap a few pictures for us. It is a long time since I have seen a live heron. Decades, in fact, since the nearest water reservoir where they at least occasionally occur is more than an hour’s worth of brisk walk from my home. It seemed closer when I was a kid.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Promising Developments

Among the green in the greenhouse, a bit of flaming bright orange caught my eye. After some looking around, there was a second one.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Who can recognize what those are? I’m not telling. I do hope the blossoms open at the time my mother arrives back from the hospital, she has never seen these. Neither did I, not live ones – I’ve only seen pictures of these and my aunt used to have a pygmy variant, but this is not a pygmy variant, this is the real deal. And these are the first flower buds that have shown up since I planted the seeds over a decade ago. I never expected the plants to flower at all.

My mother called on Tuesday that she has been transferred to a rehabilitation clinic and we could visit her, but we don’t have to. So of course we had to, even though it is over an hour’s worth of driving away. We visited her on Thursday and she cried and was in dire need of a hug.

She feels reasonably well, the incision site does not hurt at all but her leg is swollen and she does not have full use of it – the swelling pinches a nerve and she cannot move her knee properly. All this should so far be normal development and rehabilitation should help. Electrotherapy has allegedly some effect on the numbed nerve and she is slowly getting her feeling back.

They also found out she is anemic, which explains why she had for several months cravings for red meat and liver. Hopefully, iron supplements will help with that.

She will need some additional accommodations at home, I will have to order some stuff before she returns. If nothing goes wrong, it should be in about two weeks’ time. In the meantime, I am still busy cutting wood every day in every way.

NOT an Itty Bitty Spider

I was cutting wood for knives and this fellow was hiding in the pile on a piece of maple branch. I nearly inadvertently squashed it, but luckily it got away in the end unharmed.  I have no clue what species it is, but it is fairly big. The cephalothorax and abdomen together were about as big as my thumbnail, that’s about 15 mm.  So with the legs and all it exceeded the size of a 2 € coin. Pictures are below the fold. [Read more…]

Tram Depo Graffiti – Part 1

Near where my auntie lives is a small tram depo. I went for a walk and ended up there and I noticed that the walls are covered with graffiti. A passer-by told me that it is fresh, just a few weeks old. Thus it was not yet defaced by other, less artistically inclined and more vandalous graffitiers. I will post pictures probably without much comment in the next few days. There is not much to talk about.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

There Used to Be a Railway Here…

We had a planned power outage today morning so I went for a long walk instead of working. I did not take my camera with me, but I did snap a few pictures with my phone. let’s start with a picture of “find teh sleeper”.

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Did you find it? What looks like a strangely shaped valley in a forest is a former railway road. The signs are still there if one looks for them. Unnatural basalt gravel (we are on phyllite here, which, btw. is suitable for making natural whetstones). And sleepers buried in the moss and ferns. Look, there is another one, a few meters further.

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And the unnatural valley is suddenly cut short by an earth mound completely overgrown with half-century-old trees today. I forgot to take pictures of their roots. Next is a vestige of the reason why this railroad is now defunct and derelict.

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This metal pole was upright when I was a kid and a sign “Caution, state border ahead!” was on it. And although this particular border was with Eastern Germany, the sentiments under the communist rule were not conducive to cross-border travel, thus the railroad was blinded and nature was left to take over. If you were to follow the railroad on google maps, on the Czech side you can follow its former route completely to the border, but on the German side, there is no trace of it anymore. I can’t remember if it was ever finished on the German side and it is not information easily to be found on the internet – I would have to borrow the town chronicles again.

So where there used to be a railroad, there are now trees, bushes, and wildflowers.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I was a bit surprised by the pale Aquilea, I do not remember seeing that one around here, ever.

For some reason, I thought this dead aspen tree and this particular part of a rivulet were interesting to look at.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

You can see a mixture of natural, local rocks with pieces of brick and some grey pieces of imported basalt gravel in it. I will write some more about local geology when I am making whetstones.

In my childhood, the end of the railroad also served as a local garbage dump, As kids, we went occasionally there to scavenge some interesting things. There are many interesting things to be found in a garbage dump when one is a kid. This was pre-massive use of plastic bags and similar crap, so most of the things that were dumped there were ceramics, glass and metal. But I cannot even find the site of the dump anymore. It was covered with dirt and I think this is where it used to be.

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Twenty years can mean big-ish trees. I really do not know the exact location of the garbage dump, it is completely overgrown and covered with trees today.

When approaching the still somewhat functioning railroad, I came by this stripped-down, derelict warehouse.

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I hate sights like this, I abhor waste in all its manifestations. When I was a kid, this warehouse was still functional, covered in corrugated sheets, and used to load and unload cargo wagons. Although not very much. The whole town went downhill after the deportation of Suddeten Germans after WW2. It was deliberate – the communist regime had no interest in maintaining a town so close to the Iron Curtain, thus the deported population of over 15.000 was filled in with barely over 2.000 people from all over Czechoslovakia, with some of them being sent here as a punishment for misbehaving. But there was still some industry here and thus some need to move cargo. And there were also personal trains coming by regularly. In fact, the train was the main means of transport for me when I was studying at the university twenty years ago. Oh, how the time flies.

Here you can see the nowadays official end of the railroad. In the growth to the left is hidden the decrepit depo from the previous picture.

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And last is the picture of the current train station. It is the westernmost train station in the Czech Republic. If more than five people were to wait for the train, they won’t be able to keep out of the rain unless they are comfortable being very, very close to each other.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

There used to be a big and beautiful building here, but it was demolished in 2014. The town wanted to renovate it into an apartment building, but the owner (Czech Railroads) declined to transfer the ownership of the building to the town and send in a demolition team instead. It even made the news, something that does not happen to our little town often. The reasons for the outright demolition were never explained, but since the building was carefully disassembled with the healthy wooden boards and timbers from the rafters and the good-quality old-time fired bricks being hauled away neatly packed on palettes, my personal suspicion is that someone rich somewhere greased some palms in order to get cheap building material. Although that might be just my paranoia speaking and the demolition was a simple act of incompetence and not of malice. Either way, it is definitively a legacy of our libertarian-leaning governments that ruled our country since the fall of the iron curtain. That has led to infrastructure being neglected and overemphasis on cars, like in the west.

The EU has stepped in a bit lately to fill the gap in financing rural communities’ infrastructure, but it was too late for the railroad.

Sigh.

My Auntie’s Garden – Part 11 – Finale

Not a grand finale I am afraid. Just a few more pictures of trees.

First, the view that meets people upon entering the garden.

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That huge Chamaecyparis pissifera on the left is absolutely gorgeous. It is over thirty years old. And the small birch in the center originally just happened to sprout there as a weed towards the end of my university studies, so it is somewhere around 24 years old. At that time I was really getting into growing bonsai trees and my aunt has seen some when she was visiting. And it gave her the idea to let the birch live and just prune it so it does not grow into a full-sized tree but remains small-ish, like bonsai. She seems to be fond of the tree.

And the last picture that I have is of a blooming Magnolia hugging the southern wall.

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I took lots more pictures during this trip, but not in my aunt’s garden. That will be another series – stay tuned.

My Auntie’s Garden – Part 10 – Fruit Trees

My aunt has a huge pear tree behind the house. She does not have very many pears though, because she has a lot of junipers in her garden, and junipers and pears in the same spot do not match – Gymnosporium sabinae abounds and is impossible to eradicate. But the tree still grows and blooms every spring.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Then there are several small apple trees. I love apple tree blossoms, they are my favorite. And when uploading these, I found out that FtB is broken, and deleting and replacing once uploaded wrong image with a different one of the same name does not work for whatever reason. FtB retains the old image even when I “delete permanently” it.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Then there is the one issue where I am far more successful than my aunt. And in part, it is due to the unfavorable climate. I live at a much higher elevation where the winter temperatures are very low. That is why my fig trees are in greenhouses, where they have a higher chance of surviving winter in good enough shape to bear fruit in the summer. In fact, these last two years I had several kg of late lower quality figs each October and at least a few dkg of fresh high-quality figs in the summer. This year looks extremely promising, my fig trees are covered in nearly golfball-sized green figs already, but my aunt is not so lucky. Her fig tree, although a clone of the same stock as mine (I am the one who obtained them from one university professor during my studies) does bear very little fruit and very inconsistently, and this year during my visit she only had a few bare twigs. When looking closer you can see that the tree almost every year freezes down to the roots and sprouts anew, something that happens to me once in a while too, but to my aunt, it happens more often. Because hers is outdoors and central Europe is just too cold even at its warmest.

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I forgot to ask whether she got any apricots from her young and tiny apricot tree yet. I have seen no sign of blooms or fruit this spring.

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And last not a tree but a bush – red currant that looks recently planted. We used to have many bushes around the garden, red and black currant. My grandfather made wine out of them, but my father was strongly recommended to not drink it after he passed a kidney stone. And passing a kidney stone is an unpleasant enough experience to not want to repeat it, so the winemaking stopped after my grandfather died. The bushes lingered on for a few years still, but then caught some disease and started dying off, so they were all dug up and our garden no longer has any currants in it. The same happened to our neighbour’s currants.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.