Tag Archives: nature

Notes from the Czech countryside – June, the red month

In Czech, June is called červen, which might be related to the word červený, meaning red. Another theory is that červen could come from červ (worm), because the cochineal larvae used for making red dye were around in early summer. Apparently they are now almost all extinct. Either way, June is a red month. The red poppies are out in all the fields and some of the red fruits (cherries, strawberries) are ripe too.

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First snow: hiking in the Harz mountains

 

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This weekend a friend organized a spontaneous trip to the Harz mountains when a colleague mentioned to her that it was snowing there. Although the highest peak, the Brocken, is only 1141m, the area has an alpine character with lots of fir trees and receives much more snow than the surrounding areas. It was amazing as we drove from autumnal forests full of orange and gold up to a snow-covered winter wonderland. We visited earlier this year in January or February when the snow was deep for cross country skiing. This year we did some hiking in the hills instead, another way to enjoy the beauty of the snowy trees. I can hardly wait to visit again. Continue reading

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Festival of Leaves – week 7

It’s time for another year of Festival of Leaves. This is the place to share your love for autumn and rain, for dark evenings and cups of tea, of books and all that you love during this time of the year.

– Verena Cave

The last few weeks have been very grey with a lot of mist, but luckily the bright yellow leaves shining on all the trees cheer everything up. The pavement outside my work looks like a whole lot of yellow stars fell to the ground.

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The leaves are falling quite fast though – from the beginning to the end of this week one particularly beautiful tree has lost almost all of its leaves. I’m looking forward to getting out to the countryside in the weekend to really enjoy the autumn colours, before they’re all gone!

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Festival of Leaves 2016

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The leaves are just starting to change here in Berlin, and I’m looking forward to photographing some of the autumn colours over the next few weeks! This photo was taken on a forest walk in Brandenburg. You can see more autumn photos from other parts of the northern hemisphere at a blog by Verena called Festival of Leaves. Maybe you have some of your own autumn photos to share?

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See more photos here:

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Exploring the calderas of São Miguel, Azores

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In the middle of the Atlantic lie the paradisaical islands of Azores, volcanic islands rising up from the sea. Over the Easter weekend we visited São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands, and spent some days driving around the island, exploring its beauty. I’ve already written about the lush botanical gardens and the fascinating fumaroles we visited in the first day and a half. On our second day, while we were visiting the fumaroles, I had a sore throat, and unfortunately it turned out I’d caught the norovirus (gastric flu) going around my work. As an expat living in Germany I am susceptible to every bug that goes around, as they’re all new to me, so it’s like being  a child again. So I had to spend one day in bed (Good Friday) feeling very ill, while a miserable J spent some time walking around the nearby town alone, coming back now and then to check on me and bring me medicines and drinks. At least he had the chance to watch the Good Friday parade. The only good thing about norovirus is that it is short-lived, and as Saturday dawned I felt well enough to face another day of sightseeing. The fresh sea air, beautiful views and warm sunshine lifted my spirits enough that I even had energy to do some hiking. We drove around the island to admire some of the magnificent coastal and hillside views and hike up the dormant volcanoes for amazing views of the calderas, large craters formed by the collapse of emptied magma chambers during volcanic eruptions, which had filled with rainwater to become crater lakes. Continue reading

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Canoeing in the Rheinsberg Lake region and Müritz National Park

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North of Berlin, spanning the federal states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, is a watery land, with many lakes, waterways, canals and swamps, all surrounded by forests that are alive with the sound of birds and insects. Here you can find the Müritz National Park and the Rheinsberg Lake Region. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #21 – Summer days

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Well, June disappeared quickly, didn’t it! I have missed quite a few weeks of Weekly Small Pleasures, as there have been quite a few meetings and a lot of work this month. So one of this week’s small pleasures is getting the opportunity to participate in this blog event again this week 🙂 Thanks to Mani for being so diligent and keeping this blog event running all this time!

Here were this week’s small pleasures:

1.Summer weather. In South Africa I took sun for granted most of the time, but living through Berlin winters has taught me to appreciate every sliver of it. We’re having a lot of good, sunny weather this year. 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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Cross Country Skiing in the Harz Mountains

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When my Czechman moved to Berlin over three years ago, he brought his cross country skis with, ever hopeful that there would be enough snow one day for him to ski to work. So far it hasn’t happened! Rumour has it when it snows enough you can cross country ski in Tempelhof, the old airport that is now an open park in Berlin, but that hasn’t happened yet either. But for cross country ski lovers, never fear, the beautiful Harz mountains lie only three to four hours away from Berlin. Continue reading

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