Animal Farm – ‘Grun 80’

Today was the first really Spring-like day this year; sunny with deep contrasty shadows, warm enough to throw coats and caution to the wind, flowers popping their heads up everywhere you look. Just lovely! The perfect day to visit “Grun 80” or “Grun Achtzig” (parkimgruenen.ch)  – not far from home. Many years ago when I first moved here, a dear friend introduced me to this beautiful park in Spring; to the swans a-swimming with their cygnets, very photogenic ducks in thier pond, flowers and trees a-blooming, the herb garden, orchard and many other lovely growing things – all near the centre of the city. There are outdoor concerts on Sundays, a waterside cafe and a small working farm complete with animals. At present, the main attraction is the new “crop” of baby lambs. The adult sheep come right up to the fence for a pat by curious children and their parents. I love the way the sheep’s horns curl around their ears and how one rather cheeky sheep kept sticking his tongue out at the little girl stroking his back! 

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Alpenhorn Sunday

New Year’s Day was glorious – a bright blue sky, sunshine and cold! Perfect for a walk around town with my dearest, followed by coffee by the fireplace at a favourite downtown cafe. Little did we expect the Marktplatz to be full of alpenhorn players getting ready to “ring” in 2017 with a blast!

Alpenhorns are native instruments to Switzerland, Austria and other alpine countires, where they were orginially used to communicate between mountain villages. They have a special sound that evokes memories of mountain walks and Swiss folklore (Alepenhorn World Record).

Basel is basically flat Basel-The Pocket Metropolis, no tall, snow-capped mountains in sight, so to find over a hundred alphorn players in one place was a rare treat – and a lot of fun! One of the musicians explained that theyhad come from all over Switzerland and had connected by email to create this impromptu concert. My favourite of all – the curly alpenhorn – a real individualist!

*For a better look, click on any photo to view in gallery format.

‘Pretty’ just makes me happy….

Winter is in the air – the days are getting shorter, the light sharper and the temperatures icier! I came across this photo this evening and it made me think of good times and sunny days this past summer. It is one of those shots that just makes me happy! (Photo taken at the opening of the Gottard Tunnel in a neighbouring Italian-speaking Swiss village, full of stone houses and good wine!)

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Cool it! (…and back it up!)

On a very hot and sunny summer’s day, I am going through some of the photos I took a few months back. I saw this one taken in Interlaken, and I could just feel the coolness of the Spring frost! Perfect for today’s sweltering weather.

Why am I going through my photos?  I am organizing and saving my work today as I learned a very “dramatic” and important lesson last week when I accidently spilled (such a tiny littlle bit of!!!!) coffee on my keyboard – right on the side where the charger cable goes (of course!). Alles kaput….and no recent backups! I think….”There go all my photos, the last video taken of my father, bookmarks, my writing, my life…..argh!” Luckily it was possible to save the data from the SSD card but it was a real (and expensive) lesson learned. Back everything up – cloud, external harddrive, anything that works for you, before you end up with prematurly grey hair and many lost memories.

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The Secret Gardener (for Miss S.)

I have a friend who has the loveliest garden. A simple allotment garden, it fills itself each Spring and Summer with flowers and provides delicious fruit and vegetables for their table along with a satisfying sense of accomplishment. What makes it even lovelier, is to think of what it looked like several years ago when she first started out; tangled weeds waist-high, rock-hard soil and bolted vegetables running riot. Through perserverence, patience, planting and inspired hard work, the garden has now been transformed into something really special. There is nothing better for the soul than digging outside in the sunshine, getting one’s hands into the soil. I love being there!

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I was thinking of this friend (and wishing she was here to see this!) on Friday when I was out walking through a historic part of Jerusalem. Finding a street-side flower bed, I was taking pictures when the owner of the house came out and looked at what I was doing. I complimented him on his flowers and he said, “if you want to see some really special flowers, you must see my garden.” Inviting me inside the gate, I found a whole new, secret world behind the high stone walls surrounding the house. The flowers were magnificent and the passion and effort that has gone into making this spectacular oasis in the middle of the city was astounding.

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How I feel today…

Photography has a powerful influence in my life and thinking – it helps my confidence and self-esteem to grow, allows me to explore my thoughts and relationships to the places where I live and the people I know, and provokes me to challenge the conceptions and opinions I hold in new and bolder ways. My camera can be a mask, a magnifiying glass to society or a window on the the world.

Lately, with the sudden and unexpected loss of several very special people in my life, including my father, my camera has been a valuable tool for exploring my emotions and feelings in ways that words cannot. This capture happened quite by accident and I didn’t even notice it until I downloaded some old photos. It captures the way I am feeling lately. Each time I look at it, I can see myself as each of the ‘characters’; am I the one needing support and feeling alone or the one walking away, so lost in their own thoughts that they can’t notice someone else’s needs?

There is a lot of grainy ‘noise’ in this photo and I think that it is symbolic of the formless, grey ‘noise’ that can fill our thoughts and hearts in times of saddness and loss. It think I will keep it in this one.

….oh and by the way, it is a beautiful, sunny, warm day today – I think it is time to get out into the light now and find some happy things to capture this morning!

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Wanderweg in Wengen

One of the great delights in Switzerland is being able to take a cog railway up to the top of the mountains. Two hours out of the city and suddenly you are transported to a completely different world; one full of magic, breathtaking views and time to wonder….oh, and the strangest UFO-looking clouds I have ever seen!

Wengen is a beautiful car-less village, favoured for decades by the British and full of skiiers and holiday-makers. A few minutes walk outside the village, past the sport shops and cafes favouring tourists, takes you up to alpine meadows, barns full of mooing cows and wooden mountain huts reminiscent of Heidi.

I guess it would be difficult not to take a memorable capture in such a photogenic landscape, so I am cheating a bit today. But now that the snow is long-gone from the cities, the mountain snow is a refreshing reminder that it is still early-ish Spring.

In Switzerland, red is the new black….

Another great day; sunshine, warm(er) temperatures and the opportunity to have a day out in Zurich! Any successful visit to this, one of the happiest (and cleanest) cities in the world (http://www.citylab.com/politics/2016/02/europe-happy-cities-eurobarometer-athens/461958/) is never complete without a walk to view the mountains on the other side of the Zurichsee, watching the swans on the Limmat; which flows through the city’s heart, and a vegetarian lunch at the Hiltl (the world’s first vegetarian restaurant, which opened in 1898; http://www.hiltl.ch/en/).

After living in Switzerland for a while, like osmosis, one starts to like, and even love the colour red. It is everywhere – the Swiss flag, shoes and glasses frames on older ladies with serious style attitude,  blankets, awnings, cushions in cafes…red is everywhere.

Without noticing it when I was taking pictures, in all the photos I am really pleased with, red is the main focus (maybe it is also the Canadian in me????). So here’s to red!

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More please……

I know that photos of flowers (fotos of flowers or photos of phlowers???) are a bit “been there, done that” but I couldn’t resist today; Spring temperatures, bright sunshine and a happy morning! As I was waiting for a friend to arrive for a walk in near-by Schutzenmattpark, I found the lawn by the tram stop full of flowers. It was as if a giant hand had scattered handfuls of colourful confetti across the grass. The problem; how to take some close ups without trampling on the flowers and being yelled at by passing pedestrians for being a foe of nature? The solution? Tip-toe through the…well in this case, the croci, hang the camera by its strap, push the shutter and hope for something unexpected…

Spring! Maybe?

Whilst the winter season in Basel is still deciding whether to arrive or just skip its visit this year, nature has deicided in its stead, that it is already Spring; croci and snowbells are blooming, a few daffodils have poked their heads up in the garden and the birds are building nests. This little fellow has become a regular visitor outside the kitchen window. He is defintely a “city-boy” as noise doesn’t faze him. He sat quietly and patiently while I opened the window and then fidgeted with the settings on my camera (yes! we have taken that courageous jump from “Auto” to the great photograpic unknown of “A” and “S”!). So far, he hasn’t asked for a morning coffee to-go, so I think we will get along just fine. Don’t let the snow fool you, it was a one day-wonder for the second time this whole season!

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