São Miguel, Azores – The garden of José do Canto

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You will learn an important word if you visit the Azores islands of Portugal in the Atlantic, and that is miradouro. It means viewpoint, but my mind now translates it as “beautiful view”, because that is what we saw whenever we stopped at a miradouro, labelled with a binoculars sign. Doesn’t the word miradouro also sound a bit like admire? Continue reading

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March: Wildlife in the Garden

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Bumblebee enjoying some echinacea flowers.

We are in the dark days still here in Berlin – lots of gloomy grey skies, and I am counting the days until spring! This is the time of year I feel most homesick, and miss blue skies, sunshine and greenery. From our laboratory window we can see a two crows building a nest in the tree outside. The one flies back and forwards with new twigs, clearly preparing a nice home for some little ones. In the evenings now it’s a little bit lighter, and many times at twilight I’ve heard a nightingale singing. It’s amazing to hear its melodious, loud song calling out over the grey, empty streets, sometimes I just stop and listen, and I’ve seen others doing the same. It’s a song of hope, spring will come! Soon the gardens and parks will be bustling with life again, insects and birds, frogs and foxes. In the meanwhile, I decided to dig up some old “garden wildlife” photos from previous years to take part in Heyjude’s Garden photography event. We have until the end of March to submit some photographs, so perhaps I’ll find some early spring garden wildlife before then, but in the meanwhile I thought I’d post some old photos.

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My fiance volunteered his finger to show how tiny this pretty little frog is.

Heyjude has some inspiring advice for taking photos of garden wildlife, and I’d encourage you to check out her page. Every month she has a different garden-themed photography challenge. Here are the instructions for this month:

“This month I want to see photos and stories about wildlife in the ‘garden’ – insects, spider, birds, rabbits, hedgehog, fox, snake (!) whatever you can find in your garden, public gardens, lakes, parks. But please not the family dog!”

Like most city-dwellers, we only have an apartment balcony, but luckily Berlin has lots of parks and botanical gardens to enjoy, and when we visit my fiance’ s family in the Czech republic there is also a garden. Here are some photos of the garden wildlife we’ve spotted in Berlin and in Czech republic, and even some old ones from my Cape Town garden. Continue reading

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Close up

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This Week’s photo challenge theme is Close up. We were in the Czech republic this weekend, and I enjoyed taking photos of the bees and butterflies busy at work in one of my favourite flowers, Echinacea purpurea. Even with cellphones these days you can take close-ups, although obviously it’d be better to have a proper camera with a nice macro lens to get a sharper focus and finer details. This photo was taken with a Nexus 5 cellphone. The hard part was getting the insects to sit still! Here are some more photos of the bugs’ world. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #7 – Summer flowers

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Two weekends ago we took a trip to the Baltic coast, and last week we were in Spain for four days. Apart from these great weekend trips, it has been all work work work. But in the weekend, although I also had to go to work for a bit, we had the opportunity to go for a walk in the park near where I used to live, where we enjoyed the summer flowers. This afternoon we also got to relax and BBQ in the garden of a friend-of-a-friend in the outskirts of Berlin. When you live in an apartment in Berlin, like many, it’s always a luxury to relax outside in a garden. Here are some pictures of the summer flowers that are out at the moment in Berlin. To see what others have been up to this week, check out the Weekly Small Pleasures blog event.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Muse

Since I love taking photos (and looking at other people’s photos!), I thought I’d join the Weekly Photo Challenge. This week the topic is “Muse”: what subject frequently inspires you to take out your camera?  For me, my muse is Nature, and especially flowers. I really can’t walk past a good flower specimen without reaching for my camera! Insects and other animals also inspire me. This is one of my favourite flower photos, a poppy, taken at the beginning of summer 2013 in Brandenburg, Germany.

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