Monthly Archives: August 2015

Look who was sleeping in the garage…

J’s brother-in-law found a little guest sleeping in the garage while he was tidying up. He brought it to show me as he knew that I’d never seen a hedgehog before! This little guy was quite smart as he pretended to be asleep until he thought we weren’t looking, then turned himself over and strolled off across the lawn. Hope to see him again sometime!

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Colourful World: Burgundy or maroon

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This week Cee’s Fun Foto challenge is Maroon/Burgundy.

In Berlin, there are some trees planted near the Reichstag (parliament building) and also along the river Spree, whose leaves turn amazing shades of red, yellow, orange and pink during autumn. They have a name but I can’t remember it, I heard it for the first time the previous autumn in Berlin. One day after work it was a sunny and mild autumn evening, so I decided on an impromptu bike ride to take a look at them. Here are some photos of the trees which had leaves in a burgundy or maroon shade.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – CrEePy

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This week’s photo challenge is Creepy. I didn’t really expect to come across anything creepy during the week, but then lo and behold, we bumped into this scary-looking wooden doll statue next a kid’s play area in a service station! I wonder how toddlers feel when they come face to face with this child-sized wickedly grinning doll and her looming shadow? I’m sure whoever painted her intended her to look quite friendly, so it shows how your imagination can transform something perfectly safe into something creepy!

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Cake for breakfast

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While I was looking for some photos of the plum dumplings, I found this photo I took of all the delicious cakes that J’s mom and grandmother sent us home from Czech with one time: plum pastries, cake with cherries and another one, perhaps apple strudel). In Czech republic they often eat cake for breakfast, it’s great. So with these homemade goodies we had breakfasts lined up for a few days that week. Must learn to make these!

 

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Summer fruit dumplings (Knedliky)

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This is a great Czech summer dish. The first few times we had these fruit dumplings we ate the plum version, Švestkové knedliky. But this summer we had some with apricots and peaches inside, and they were just as good. It’s actually fun to make a mix so that you get a surprise when you cut each one open. Continue reading

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Lakes of Berlin

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Liepnitzsee

At the moment in Berlin we have all been sweltering, baking, stewing, steaming and sweating due to the extended heatwave that has struck central and eastern Europe. Many towns in Germany, Poland, Czech republic and Belarus have set new record highs. Thankfully today is a bit cooler, although the temperatures should rise again soon. Since on the whole German buildings do not have air conditioning, it has been really tough being productive this week at work in the office (for the record, I am not a big fan of air conditioning either, but when it’s mid-30 degrees Celsius on a humid, windless day and you work in a glass building, it might be a good idea!). Thank goodness we have the lakes to cool off in, and even in the evenings it is still warm enough to go swimming. In the last week alone we visited three lakes, Müggelsee, Weissensee and Flughafensee. Some other popular lakes in and around Berlin include Schlactensee, Krumme Lanke, Teglersee, Plotzensee, Wannsee and Liepnitzsee. As far as I understand it, some of the lakes are natural, and some are formed by sand mining. Here are a few notes on some of the lakes, for others who might need to cool off. Continue reading

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Starry Skies: August One Photo Focus challenge

With all the tools for post-processing of digital photos these days, you can have a lot of fun being creative with your images. To encourage people to learn and share different post-processing techniques, a photographer named Stacey Fisher has set up a Before and After weekly event, as well as a once a One Photo Focus month event where everyone processes the same photo in a different way. The idea is not only to share the images but also some explanation of how they were derived.

This month the photo challenge was “Drawing with Light” by Katie Prior. Here is the original (made smaller for my blog):

The Cobb before right size

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Colourful World – Apricot and Peach

Alhambra, Spain

Courtyard in Alhambra, Spain

This week Cee chose the colours apricot and peach for her Fun Foto Challenge Colourful World Series. A few weeks ago, I took a photo of summer’s bounty: the bowl of apricots and plums we’d picked on J’s family’s farm in Czech. So I went back to that photo to study the shades of apricot, wondering if I’d taken any other photos that included natural shades of apricot and peach during my stay in Germany. The answer was, not many, apart from some orange-yellow flowers! Apricot and peach are shades of summer, warm colours, and this is more a land of greens and blues. Looking back at my photos, I found that these colours were more common in warmer countries: in the orange sand and rock found in some parts of South Africa and other dry countries, which turns a yellow-orange apricot shade when the sun is setting,  and the peach-coloured stone of the beautifully carved Alhambra in Spain. It has been dry this year in central Europe, and last weekend we did ride past some wheatfields which had turned an almost peach colour in the sun. Actually, a great trick to make a room appear warmer is to paint it in shades of peach or apricot, and I noticed that buildings painted in these colours still look warm in winter or on a rainy day. Here are some of the photos I found with shades of apricot and peach. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #9 – Cake and kayaking

This week’s small pleasures included a meal at a  Moroccan restaurant, J’s birthday, and a lovely hot weekend in which we could do some outdoor sports.

1) Although the best Moroccan meal I’ve ever had is still the one in Lieges, Belgium, i always enjoy a tasty Moroccan tagine, the mint tea served in pretty glasses with a silver teapot, and the lush decor in maroons and burgundy. At this restaurant they also came around with a jug of rosewater to wash our hands before the meal, which smelt beautiful.

2) It was J’s birthday on Thursday so I made him this Sachertorte cake with a Mary Berry recipe. I always find her recipes really reliable, and this one turned out very nicely.

3) On Saturday we went for a cycle on part of the Oder-Neisse cycle tour, which runs along the Oder river on the border of Germany and Poland. It’s very scenic and we saw lots of animals and open fields of countryside – will write more about it some time when I have time!

4) On Sunday we went to Müggelsee for some kayaking, which was perfect on a hot day. More about that here.

Have a good week!

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