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Imaginary elephants

It is not obvious why elephants have such a hold on the human imagination, but their grip is as powerful as the mighty stomp of a wild-eared pachyderm. While on my journey through northern Europe last year, and in my travels around op shops in New Zealand, where I live, elephants kept rubbing their trunks into my camera lens, one way or another.  They’ll no doubt go on doing so, making the photos here a work in progress. I hope you enjoy some of them – even all of them!

Here is a herd in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens.

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Teapot, found in Glasgow years ago.

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A few matchbox covers from the museum in Jonkoping, Sweden:

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A carved beauty complete with silver adornments, op shopped in Palmerston North, NZ.

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Cast iron triplet:

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Carved mum and child, as per me:

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Adorning a Copenhagen building:

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And also from Copenhagen, a rather bad photo of a window display:

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It is far from true that elephants are alone of wild beasts in awakening our imaginations to nature’s thunderous wonders . Here is a warthog, “hand made in South Africa”, discovered in a used store in Dannevirke. . .

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That’s telling us!

 

Thanks for looking.

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Posted by on October 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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High above the Elbe, with me*

Hello there beautiful humans, and others if that is appropriate. If you are from another planet please get in touch – it would be nice to hear about your home.

It’s also beautiful in my “Scandi Palace” here in New Zealand, a late winter sunshine day. Outside the robotic mower relieving me of a special humiliation** quietly and steadfastly rolls on, and on, and on. . .yum!  If you are a reader of this blog you will know winter here is not the brutal version of many northern hemisphere places, like most of Germany for example. Last year, in the northern autumn, I spent about a month in Dresden, and toured the local countryside. I’d been before – first cycling through in summer a few years ago along the Elbe river. Upstream from the city is a national park known as Saxon Switzerland that is famed for its weathered outcrops. It’s not at all like Switzerland in my opinion, or not of the places in that country I’ve been. To me the naming of the place does it a disservice. It is a unique landscape and when you are there in the cold, it not only takes your breath away, but does it in steamy clouds. Cool! Extremely cool!

Below are some photos I took in a visit there.

There is a stone bridge, the Basteibrucke – originally wooden when first put up in the 19th century – connecting a line of peaks before a track descends abruptly to a hamlet far below. Spurs are nowadays reached by metal spans. If you happen to be in the district, pay it a visit.

Thanks for having a look!

*Not always high up. Me: Not shown

**See my post “Thorstein Veblen hates my lawn”. It is worth reading, according to me.

 

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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Aaaaahlborg!

Recently there was a news story saying the the United Nations has found Finland to be the happiest country in the world. I have never been to Finland, but it has a reputation for alcoholism, though Wiki shows that it is exceeded by other countries not so far away, with Belarus what appears to be the coveted top spot. Those central/eastern Europeans know a few things about lifting the glass or bottle or spray can to their lips and chugging it on down.

Finland’s reputation for excessive drinking is real enough. Google Finland and alcoholism and see what you find. Plus: if you are a fan of Scandinavian films and television, you will sometimes see a snarky remark about Finnish drinkers – for example, in the popular series Wallander. Noomi Rapace’s first film after the global smash of the Swedish Millennium trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc) concerned a woman whose father was a Finnish alcoholic in Sweden, who beat her mother and generally was a useless sot.

Finland is also the country where a Dr Sinclair developed a method of treating alcoholism named after him. You can check this out and see what you think.

These unworthy thoughts came to mind through yet another of the little coincidences that have made my life, if not complete, at least more interesting than it might otherwise be.

Denmark hosts the town that has been found (by the European Union) to be the happiest in the EU. This is a shade of an exaggeration as the survey was to find where residents were most satisfied with the services of their community. That’s close to happy, I guess.

Its name is Aalborg.

Here is a sign that Aalborg and Finland may have something in common.

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English is the ah “lingua franca” of Europe so it’s no surprise it is the language of choice in Aalborg. However it may be that tourists are in this establishment’s sights.

Aalborg is a very nice place, if you don’t mind the rain. It fair pelted down! Not just there but from the top to the place further south where I finally threw it in and took a train to Hamburg.

But there are some pretty neat things to see. Lots of public art – murals a go go!

Here are some views:

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That gave me a laugh.

Hope everything in your life is just as you would wish it. Given the crazy stuff going on in the world just now, that’s a big wish but I am hopeful nonetheless.

Thanks for having a look.

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Meissen

Hello beautiful people. Yes, it’s been quite some time really since I managed to put something up on this blog, and here I am again with more of “what I did last year”. You may wish to ignore it, as all the others,  but I hope you don’t.

Meissen is a gift that keeps on giving, for me but not only for me. Too large to be a village or hamlet, too small to be a city, it’s a medium sized town in the former East Germany, on the Elbe river, about 30 km downstream from the much larger Dresden. I’ve been there a few times now, and plan to return. You can help in this if you want to!*

The reason I first went to Meissen is porcelain. Meissen is the place where Europeans first figured out how the Chinese did it. A few enterprising souls used local clay and managed to reproduce something not entirely unlike what was being imported at great expense from the east.

The local satrap for it really was he responded to this development in a characteristic way: he locked up the inventors in his castle atop the hill overlooking the town so as to keep the secret secret. Well done!

That didn’t really work out. Once others knew it could be done, right there at home, they jumped into it.

All the same, Meissen kept on keeping on, and the local ruler, absorbed into the Saxon dynasty dominated by Dresden, commissioned and collected Meissen porcelain at the same time as he continued to import from China. Dresden has a marvellous museum of this collection and one day I will put up another photo story about that.

Meanwhile however Meissen porcelain has been produced all those centuries, right through the period of “Communist” rule to today.  While the Commos ruled they made special medallions commemorating various achievements and I have one of these! No photo, sorry.

Generally, I think the Meissen version of Chinese porcelain, while top flight for the actual porcelain, the stuff you hold in your hand and rub, is not actually up to the mark when it comes to artistry. The best is not bad and most of that is in Dresden. The museum in Meissen (part of the factory), however, shows the limitations of the work there, with only a few pieces really worthy of attention. Sorry about that too!

The place, however, has a lot more going for it than that. For starters, it is beautiful. The castle and the church it encloses, set high above the river, are impressive, and the town itself is full of interesting features. Set in wine country, the surrounding hills are picturesque. It’s just nice. And there are the people. . .who I’ve been so fortunate to meet and get to know.

Here is the town, the castle and the “Dom” cathedral, seen from across the river, among the vines:

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Nice, eh?

That’s an autumn view. In summer, from the old town:

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There are heaps of churches and romantic street scenes, and touches of the past and present in public spaces:

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Twilight views:

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Street scenes:

 

 

 

 

Er, “folk wisdom”:

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And the kind of spiritual blessing one gets from a cold autumn day, walking in the country:

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There’s a lot more to this wonderful town and its people, and if I am really lucky, I’ll  be back again to sample its beauties. Meanwhile, I just thought I’d share with you some of my photo memories. Thanks for having a look!

*Yes, dear reader, by waiting until after August 1 when the present giveaway season ends, and then buying at least one copy of all my books from smashwords or other e-retailers apart from Amazon, you too can assist!  Go on – you know you want to. Give your spare copies to friends. To enemies. To innocent passersby on the street with a smartphone.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Gallery art

Hello there. It’s a crisp early winter day in the small town in New Zealand that endures me. Keep it up folks! It’s nice here. Something that struck me while I was cruising on my cycle in Europe last year was the way art galleries do art in displaying their art. Sometimes this is just a special breed of interior design, but other times it’s as creative as the art on display. Here is a good example, from the gallery in Gothenburg, Sweden:

 

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The juxtaposition of the contemporary sculpture, which is ah “ambiguously resonant” and the much older quasi-preRaphaelite landscape is pretty cool, according to me. Well done curators!

Here is another that really struck me, in the fabulous Albertinum in Dresden:

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The lighting is terrific isn’t it? Shadows from both directions.

There are other ways of doing art while showing it. Here is a nice composition of cabinet, door and lighting in the Bremerhaven, Germany gallery:

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The Eisenach museum/gallery in Thuringia combines history and art. The district is a centre for outdoor joy, near the longest foot trail in Germany. A collection of combination walking sticks and seats hangs from the ceiling:

 

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The Eisenach gallery has a lot of rooms offering photo opportunities like this one:

 

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There is a great range of fittings in all museums and galleries of course that – well, fit. . .radiators and grills:

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Fire extinguisher!

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Cabinet arrangement:

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The seats below are in the foyer of a gallery in Herford, Germany, designed by Frank Gehry, who also designed the famous gallery in Bilbao, Spain.

 

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The building itself shows the Gehry style:

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The Albertinum in Dresden is one of my favourites. It is so clever! Here is a paper towel dispenser in the men’s room, with “paper towels” written above in six languages:

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It made me laugh, though I guess you couldn’t really say it wasn’t naively sincere. But I don’t think so.

Here is Rodin’s “Dumper” in the Albertinum sculpture hall:

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And the view of the loo. The lighting is beautiful here.

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Also in Dresden the reconstucted Residenzschloss, where the big cheeses hung out before German unification in 1870 or so, has a special gallery for works on paper. They are sensitive to light so there are windows to control it, one looking over the courtyard with its wonderful enclosing roof:

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And in the cellar, the men’s room, wedged in among rocks of the ages.

That’s it, beautiful humans! Thanks for having a look. There are some more serious posts to come, or I hope so. Hope too your lives are just exactly as you would want them to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Vroom!

Not quite a room with a view but a view from a room, kind of. . .

Digital photography has changed the way people record their lives, whether through an actual camera or a smart phone. With the cost of making prints to see what it looks like gone completely, there is no reason not to take a photo of anything at all. If it’s no good, the delete key is right there, and if it is. . .or even if it isn’t, if it’s just a moment in time that has some interest or other (or not), it can be whomped up on a blog post or anywhere at all on the net, or even – daring but done – a print can be made and stuck in a photo album, or in a show. . .or pasted on a door, or the floor. . .It’s good! It’s better than good! Amazing! A friend of mine takes a lot of photos of what she eats. Why ever not? I’ve tended to continue taking photos of things that cost me a bomb to record in the old film days, but have added a few. . .

In my cycle trip through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands at some point I started taking photos of hotel interiors. They range from hostel bed shots – of the mattress above from a lower bunk in a hostel – to rooms, hallways and stairwells. . .and in one case the skylight of an atrium, and a strange sculpture in a hotel in the Netherlands. Some are modern, and some older. . .

It struck me that there is probably an endless elaboration of the division of labour in hotel design too, that if you can’t get a degree in hotel hallway design now, it won’t be long away.

Here is a selection, just for you.

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This hallway is in a “Scandic” hotel in Malmo, Sweden. The carpet is not one that would suit someone somewhat the worse for wear in my opinion. But maybe, given that it’s Sweden, it’s about sex:

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Below is a hallway in Jonkoping, Sweden. The colours are cool, though I was not too taken by the carpet.

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This stairwell in the hotel is not at all bad.

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Here is the view from above, with a certain derelict cyclist’s machine locked up:

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But the room! Wow! For the unfit guest, or the guest who is superfit and just forgot to bung a set of barbells in the luggage:

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I used them. I did! You wouldn’t know.

In Gothenburg, which is spelt many ways, here is the atrium of one of the Scandic hotels (there are heaps of them):

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Below is another corridor from a Danish hotel in a chain that wants guests to feel they are in a ship. The prices are very reasonable.

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Somewhat more elegant, a revamped historic hotel in a small Danish city outside Aarhuis.

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A window from same:

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This amazing work is in the lobby of a hotel in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. I have tried, and so far failed, to discover what it’s about, so have in the interim made up its story, which I will share with you.

The hotel is opposite a memorial to the Canadian soldiers who fell in the campaign to rid the Netherlands of  the Germans in World War II. Quite a few died – it was a very hard campaign. The Canadian headquarters were nearby – the palace where the King and Queen of the country once lived.

My theory is that this carving was a gift from Canadian natives who had served in the campaign, either to the royals or the hotel. It symbolises – according to me – the hunting prowess of the subjects, the warrior standing on the head of the bison revealing this, plus the warlike success and failure of the people, symbolised by the head in the one hand. . .there is more. I would be grateful for any information that either debunks this, or adds to it.

 

 

Onward! Here is a lift in a Leipzig hotel. . .

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and here another window in a hotel near Dresden, in the area known as “Saxon Switzerland”:

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There you go. This is a teaser for some other “themes” that will surface eventually.  If you haven’t enjoyed this one – sorry! Maybe one about gallery installations that are art in themselves (fire hydrants for example). Yes or no, thanks for reading this one.

 

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Sittin’ here wonderin’ will a matchbox hold my clothes?*

Winter, or at least autumn, looms heavily in the air in the small town in New Zealand I make my home. The colder seasons here are never so severe as in the northern hemisphere, but also lack the fun and distinction of snowy climes.

The development of the device known as a heat pump has changed how people in New Zealand keep warm over the cooler months, but some, including your unworthy correspondent, go for the freestanding woodburner. New Zealand has a lot of trees, many of them not really useful as much other than firewood. That’s how I do it – indeed, that’s how I am doing it right at this very moment!

For a good fire, a match. And for a match, a box of the buggers.  And for the boxes. . .

While in Jonkoping in Sweden last year, I visited the local match museum. It may be the only one in the world. Sweden once dominated the match industry globally, and the museum, located in a factory that itself dominated the Swedish industry, is an eye-opener about the history of this useful invention. For many years production of “safety” matches was terribly unsafe – the chemicals involved meant children were used because they would never get old enough to be anything else.

Talk about yuck!

Eventually some of these problems were solved, and Swedish matches, organised and spun into an empire by the remarkable “Match King” Ivar Kreuger, pretty much took over the world. Kreuger fell to earth and either killed himself or was murdered in Paris in the early 1930s.

Meanwhile, someone was keeping an eye on those matchboxes and the museum in Jonkoping has a glittering array. They invite photos.

Though New Zealand also has a lot of trees, and though many of them would also be suitable for match-making, Sweden was in there. . .as this photo of a “Maori chief” shows.

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All the way on the other side of the world. . .Samoa too! And some French Polynesian beauty. . .

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Africa. . .

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Here is a trio of young English speakers, presumably.

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Did you say “elephants”? You did, didn’t you?

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More. . .

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A peacock struts:

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A kookaburra might these days take exception to this box:

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Herons are happy. . .so elegant!

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The devil:

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Women. . .

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and children. . .

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This next one did give me a pause. . .imagine reaching for a match 60 times and seeing this. . .or even more, if you bought a carton of them. . .takes all kinds I guess.

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Here is a provocative sculpture from the museum. It seems to say something about our inability to live within the nature we are a part of. We burn it – and ourselves.

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Outside the front door is a wee place to sit. . .not bad.

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There you go. While I’ve got you, Jonkoping is pronounced something like Yonshuping. Swedish people have their own way of doing things. Don’t we all?

Jonkoping is also the home of the well-known brand Husqvarna, whose sewing machine empire is now offloaded to a licensee, but was the replacement for a firearms business. Husqvarna still makes stuff in Jonkoping such as chainsaws, weedeaters and motor mowers – including especially robotic mowers. These and more feature in a museum in the conurbation. I’m not going to bore you with it – today. Another time, maybe.

Thanks for taking a look at this one. Enjoy your day.

 

*No. Blues great Blind Lemon Jefferson had it all over me in so many ways – that he could even ask that question among them.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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