Archives for the month of: January, 2011

More ice crystals on the window.  It only seems to happen when the humidity is just right.

They’re outside too (this one’s worth clicking on to enlarge):

These are birch trees.  Did you know that Bjørk, the singer, shares her name with the Icelandic word for birch?  At least, I’m assuming she does; it’s certainly the Norwegian word for birch, but maybe in Icelandic bjørk means cheese or volcanic lava. I don’t really know any Icelandic, I’m just guessing.

Shane McInnes (the photographer, not the bird).

There are seven wonderful bird photographs in The Independent today, including this one of a Kakapo, a flightless parrot from New Zealand .



Just over a week after I showed you tulips past their best, here they are again even paster:

…and today, totally past it, these are ex-tulips:

But still fascinating, in a squiggly way.

As you see, there are many rose hips on one rose bush. And there are many dormant rose bushes near my house, so I will probably take more close ups of rose hips until about April.  The next one I see that looks like a Volkswagen or a ham sandwich I promise not to inflict on you.  Not unless it’s very, very inspiring.

An example of the Norwegian welfare state, this  roadsign informs visitors that children wearing nineteen-fifties frocks are here to help any men who’ve got one leg screwed on backwards.  Bicycles are free.

I may have mentioned the machine that comes around after it has snowed.  Not the snow plough, this is a tiny thing; like a small military vehicle, with a popping motor and very squat, it chugs across the open terrain laying two sets of ski tracks for cross-country skiers.  The tracks shown here take a winding course down to the lake, swerving to the right above the line of Christmas trees to avoid our garden.

Having learnt to drive in London some forty years ago, when I ski I like to take the left hand track – not out of perversity, it’s just habit and forgetfulness.  I’m not very good at skiing. I can pick up quite a bit of speed, but I can’t slow down very effectively.  All the Norwegians, of course, drive on the right; but when they see me coming towards them they are adept at leaping diagonally into the parallel tracks.  It’s not as hard as you would expect, but I have to close my eyes, grit my teeth and stay on my side; if we both swapped over there would be broken limbs.

Poor Alex is only about as high as one of the ski tracks, but he’s very game and would be happy to try his luck.  I have to keep him away, he gets bogged in deep snow.

Fortunately, he’s easy to distract.

Later we caught sight of this couple.  They were round the back side of the neighbouring farm, where the tractors are kept.  As you can see, they’d started a small fire using lighter fluid.  They appeared to be burning the contents of a high-class shopping bag: papers or clothing, possibly.  As I walked past with the dogs, they stared.  I pretended I was sizing up potential tree pictures with my camera.  Then I snapped this as soon as their backs turned.  They must have heard the shutter click because they whirled around and looked concerned, but by then it was too late.

Now I have the picture, what do I do with it?  I think I show it: from Mauritius to Nova Scotia, from Moscow to Buenos Aires (via Taipei).

It’s really just a tractor.

Only one of these trees has a proper full-time job.  Can you tell which one?





Is it A,B,C or D?

Today was a bit warmer than it has been lately, and we went for a proper walk.

I took the goats out for fresh air and exercise.  They’re looking disheveled,

with stalks of hay stuck in their coats.  It probably itches.

I was taking a picture of this horse on the lake, when a skier whizzed by.  This slope down to the lake is the fun bit.  I thought it looked like a poster: Come to sunny-but-cold Norway and drink hot chocolate!

Now that it’s frozen to forty centimetres depth, they practise trotting on the lake.  If you own a trotter and you take it to the races in Oslo or Jarlsberg, and if your horse comes in first place, you might win enough money to break even on the evening’s outing (the cost of entering, transportation, hiring a jockey and so on) – most won’t win, of course, but farmers still do it.

When we came home, Misty was eating the beech hedge.

They stayed out all afternoon until it got dark.

For anyone who doesn’t read Language Hat, the Moscow Times had a very funny and interesting article, on New Year’s Eve, by Michele A. Berdy, alias our very own, badlyguided mab.

I figured I’d better not use the Moscow Times‘s picture here to mention her article, and so I came across this one that mab herself took for this post, last March.  It’s a brilliant, disturbing photo. Vorsprung durch Technik, man, and fuck you very much.

Here is another brilliant constitutional idea:  Britain should change its name to Ireland.  Who could stop it?  Think of the advantages.  The two countries could once more be united across the Irish Sea under one flag, and with one head of state: the President of Ireland.  Dispensing with the royal family, we would kill two birds with one stone.  Britain — or “the Irish Isles” as they would henceforth be known — could start again with a clean slate: there would be no former colonies, everyone likes the Irish.

File:Uragh Stone Circle.jpg

Some spellings might be revised, but David Cameron could remain in London as the Deputy Tea-sock or T-shirt.

Gubbeen cheese.

If everyone in so-called “Britain” were to apply for an Irish passport, the deed could be done by 1 February 2011.

The rest is up to you.