Local Heart, Global Soul

August 11, 2019

Would You Keep A Cow In The Back Garden?

There seems to be a current trend for painting on stone (or concrete). Sometimes these take the form of small decorative pebbles and stones, other times they are intended to be hyper realistic images of other things. The popular theme of the 2017 Garderen Sand Sculpture exhibition appeared to be cats, but sheep, cows, birds and even a bear (who I think doubles as a post-box) is included. Some are more realistic than others (intended to be or not) and whilst I like, for instance the black crows and black and white cats for their realism, I can’t think of where I could possibly put them, or how I would want them at home.  But full sized sheep and cows? That would make for an “interesting” garden (if I had one).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 5, 2019

A Penguin Faced, Googly-Eyed Gull ?…

The gull that came to pick up the seed (for wild birds) at our accommodation, really made me smile. I don’t know if it was that his eyes look a bit like those jangly stick-on googly eyes or that his/her black markings on the head look like Mother Nature accidently stuck a modified version of a penguin head on top of a gull body.  I must say he had some skill standing on one leg when he needed to scratch his nose, oops, I mean beak, I was most impressed. The patio outside our Bruinisse holiday home in Zeeland was a definite draw for the birds, and I had so much fun trying out the telephoto lens I had saved up for and finally bought. Not only are these my photographic testing grounds but also reference material for my drawing books.   I learned that beaks and feet are bigger than I thought, bird heads are smaller… but most of all I am impressed by how beautiful they are, how wonderfully the “mechanics” of these little flight machines works, and how feathers are so much more detailed than I thought.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 4, 2019

The Bird With The Biggest Shoe Size…

I’m dipping back into more of the bird photographs that I took in Bruinisse in Zeeland. I had to do some research about what this bird may possibly be and the best I could come up with was the Western Swamphen.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 18, 2019

Black, White And Deep Indigo…

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just before our Easter break visit to Zeeland in 2017, I finally bought the telephoto camera lens I had been pining after for several years.

It’s a “Sigma” brand, still a very expensive purchase at Euro 1.250,- but still considerably cheaper than if I had opted for a Canon lens to match my Canon camera.

Now I look like a “real” photographer, but since it’s fairly heavy, I don’t carry it around attached to the camera but in it’s case, safely in my backpack or in the zipped up basket below the wheelchair.

Then I can attach it when I want. Eager to try it out and always interested in photographing birds at close range, I rigged it up on the living room table for an experiment.

Our accommodation had heavy curtains so I used clothes pegs to close the curtains completely, leaving only a “peep” hole for the camera lens.

Out on the lawn and on the garden table I have been scattering bird seed since we arrived some days earlier so that the birds would get used to there being food here.

Then I got up very early and scattered more birdseed on the table and grass whilst it was still almost dark.

The sun came up within half an hour or so and in between trying to stop Himself noisily clattering his breakfast plates, cutlery and seemingly everything else he touched, I attempted to photograph birds.

Finally Himself disappeared back to bed  with coffee to read his book in comfort, not just because I requested less noise but also since I had rather inconveniently plunged the living-room into gloom by closing all the curtains.

After a small interval of silence the birds arrived. This is a bird that I first thought was a magpie, but close up it’s clear it’s not. At first glance I also thought this birds colours consisted of only black and white, but closer inspection reveals a deep  indigo blue/purple patch of feathers that he kind of wears like a little cape further down it’s back and towards his tail feathers. It strikes a formal note: looks a bit like a suit worn to a gala. He may be a She of course. I don’t know. This is a lovely little bird, full of character, looking directly at the camera often, even though I am well hidden and can only see outside via the camera lens.  He looks like the Orca of the bird world. Lovely suit… dressed to kill? Only worms are in danger I think. He takes whatever seeds he can get but has a distinct preference for the raw peanuts. These are Arty shots… I may have a go at drawing one of the birds I photograph here one of these days, Into the Reference files these go, a safe spot to stash my stash.

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bird, Black, White, Indigo

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 17, 2017

Dragonflies: Nature’s Brilliant Feats Of Engineering…

We have a glass window over the first set of stairs to our house, at the bottom of which is a stone shelf that is on the inside facing the stairs.

After one of my hospital appointments, Himself and I arrived home and I went to go up.

Himself was already at the top of the stairs, unlocking our front door.

I on the other hand was slowly bringing up the rear as usual and on this occasion stopped on the bottom step because I could hear a strange fluttering sound.

It was a sound similar to the ones that flies make when they are fluttering their wings in frenzy, attempting to fly outside but the pane of glass of the living room window is stopping them in their tracks.

It was similar, but different, so I stopped to try and figure out what the noise was. As it turned out it is just as well that I did because the frenzied fluttering was coming from a trapped dragonfly. I carefully put my hand out towards the little beast and to my surprise instead of trying to flee, it climbed onto my fingers. I made my way to a bike leaning on a pole outside our stairs and stood in the semi-shade as I tried to see if the dragonfly had damaged itself in it’s attempts to get out of the stairwell.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There seems to be a tiny bit missing off the very tips of both top wings, it had collected some dust from the shelf, but for the rest it appeared to be more or less intact. I was lucky to be bringing my camera in from the car at the time, so with the dragonfly still balanced on the fingers of my left hand, I started to take as close-up photographs of it with the camera with my right.

The DSLR was heavier than I anticipated without having two hands to balance it, and the front wanted to swing about a bit, something I had to take great care to avoid so that my little insect did not get accidentally swiped.

My newfound friend seemed in no hurry to leave, so I had time to get the wavering camera under control and press the shutter as I did. Slowly, after a rest lasting several minutes the dragonfly started to recover, miniscule shudders passing through it’s wings as it seemed to be checking that everything was in working order.

In the meantime Himself had come back to the street to see why I had not followed him upstairs and several of our younger neighbours arrived home with their parents. We called them over to take a closer look at this beautiful creature and they, like us, marvelled at the delicate wing structure, flecks of colour and intricate body.

After at least five minutes and the dragonfly still on my hand, I started to wonder if I suddenly had acquired a pet, but I was luckily not in a rush. I wanted it to have the time it needed to recover so that in it’s weakened state it did not get eaten by birds. Another two minutes later, after an unsuccessful attempt to lower it onto the tan bicycle seat, it slowly turned around and then took off. These are my “studies of a dragonfly” photographs, it’s a little creature that is beautifully made, one of natures brilliant feats of engineering. I hope that my assistance means that it eventually lived to a ripe old dragonfly age.. at least on this day, it had a second chance at life.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

July 19, 2016

WiFi & Other Disappointments: But A Cute Dog Helps Return Smiles…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The main peeve that we had about the Landal Wirfttal holiday park in Germany, was the lack of advertised internet or phone signal at our accommodation.

We discovered that a very weak phone signal could be picked up by walking several minutes around the road, but even then a single attempted telephone conversation was interrupted by three or four complete cut-outs and redials.

A media free fortnight would have been an excellent idea had we planned for it and had the weather been better, but with me intending to sit quietly and write a blog post or two, Himself needing to keep in touch with several clients so that he could advise on amendments they thought they would be needing to make (before we left), and all of us needing to be in contact with the rest of the family due to the frailty of my then ninety-three year old mother-in-law, it was more than just a hassle.

The kids of course thought that their world had ended when Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Minecraft, FaceTime and the like were all suddenly cut off. Kiwi Daughter, who’s invited guest friend failed to materialise due to cross-planning and double booking with guest’s family holiday, took the entire situation especially hard, grumpily declaring anything and everything here a complete and utter disaster (except the tree climbing adventure of the previous day).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We heard many teenage girls her own age speaking Dutch around the park but she refused to try and pick up a conversation and make friends for the holiday with them, I even heard one family with teenage girls speaking English, actually lamenting that they had no one else who spoke English to hang out with.

I spoke to their mother (who was with them) and they were keen to meet Kiwi Daughter. Sadly she also vetoed this because the oldest girl was one year younger than her “and they were soooo young”. Not cool thus.

Of course all of the Dutch girls around the park would have already started English lessons but my experience over and over again in the Netherlands, even with nephews and nieces who know me well, is that they are afraid to speak in front of a native speaker because they are afraid of how many mistakes they make.

I have always encouraged them that it doesn’t matter, I make mistakes in Dutch all the time but I speak to them in Dutch anyway. They willingly acknowledge that but are still painfully shy about speaking English with native speakers. It appears to be a national trait.

With Wifi only available at Reception we therefore went to one of the few seats in a tiny corner there to try and log on for a little while. There are enough plugs due to an extension board provided, but the problem is usually space… and that Reception opens at 09:00 and closes at 17:30.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are a few picnic tables outside where you can sit and catch the internet signal out-of-hours, but I think I’ve mentioned the problem of excessive rain enough in recent posts for you to guess that that was no easy option either.  It’s frustrating if you need internet in the evening and it’s raining.

The car was our next option but of course there was no power point for the laptop there so I had to do some serious time management (not easy with pain drugs and close to zero concentration skills.)  I made the mistake of sitting in the early morning in the car, listening to music on the radio as I typed.

You can guess what happened then… Himself came to retrieve me, turned the key and of course the battery was flat. We had excellent luck that the park manager came by just at that moment and rescued us.

Himself and immediately made a quick run into Stadtkyll to charge the battery a little and returned with fresh croissants which placated the kids back at the house who we couldn’t phone to let them know that we could not get back right to them as soon as planned. Needless to say I learned my lesson and typed in silence from then on.

Another occasion on a fine day, I visited Reception to check my email and the lady next to me had a sweet little dog. I’m not a dog lover (another story) but this one was on a lead and behaved itself. It also drew my attention because of it’s photogenic qualities so I asked the owner if I might please take photos for my artistic reference files.

The reply was an enthusiastic “Yes”, and not having animals of our own I probably overloaded on the opportunity. Ergo, one hundred and one (or just seems like it) doggie poses for your viewing pleasure…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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