I keep this photograph among my important possessions.
I’ve never personally used an instant camera–never even held one in my hand. The shot is from an event in my home town of Bratislava, organised by Kia, the car manufacturers, when they opened their first plant in Slovakia.
It was in one of the squares in city centre, where they set up a stage for traditional Korean performances (I remember we watched some cool drummers). Among the promotional material they were giving away, like key rings and stickers and bags, that sort of stuff, I don’t really recall exactly, they did Polaroid shots for people.
As you can observe, there is a Kia car in the picture and those two people in front of it are myself and my younger brother! I was 23 and he was 12. I had already left for UK by then, but was back for a visit.
So, the year was 2004. An interesting year, because that was when Slovakia (with 9 other countries) joined the EU. Here in UK, you bet they had a lot to say about that and not in a good way. But on one news program they also said that with Kia now establishing themselves in Slovakia, potential other car manufacturers will follow and the country might one day become a second Detroit. Amazingly, to this day, it was the only positive thing I heard about my country on British TV ever. Now fifteen years later, we have Brexit and car manufacturers are leaving Britain.
And that thing with second Detroit became true.
Obviously I wasn’t the one who took this pic, but I was the one who took the pic of the pic, so is it my pic or is it not my pic?
Let me just start with saying I know very little of Norse mythology and what I do know comes from either Marvel Cinematic Universe or the TV show Vikings. But at least I’m aware that Yggdrasil is a mythical tree that connects the different realms, or worlds.
So obviously I don’t walk around looking for trees that look like Yggdrasil. I do, however, photograph trees and it was this one that reminded me of something.
This tree grows in Abney Hall Park. As I said in before, Agatha Christie used to spend time there, visiting her sister and brother-in-law. Now, on first sight, the Queen of Crime doesn’t appear to have much in common with Norse mythology, but bear with me.
This a page from the novel The Hollow. (no spoilers ahead)
In this scene, Henrietta is reminiscing about a country house, Ainswick, where she used to stay during school holidays. She’s talking to her second cousin Edward, who is now the owner of Ainswick. And she remembers there was a big oak tree that she named Ygdrasil!
When first reading The Hollow, it was actually the very first time I have come across the name Yggdrasil, though I had no idea what it was. I thought Agatha made the word up–I suppose she presumed her readers would know–but for some reason the name stuck in my memory. Until I finally learnt what Yggdrasil was and I was like, ooooh, so that’s why Agatha Christie named that tree in The Hollow that!
It’s so sad that the tree in the book was struck by lightning. [Insert teary emoji. Or Chris Hemsworth.]
So, if Agatha Christie drew inspiration for her books from Abney Park, could she have been thinking of this very tree?
Like, it looks pretty old. It was probably there when she was there. I know when I saw it I immediately thought of Henrietta in The Hollow.
Of course, there are millions of trees like this all over the world and Agatha travelled a lot and it may not have been an actual tree that inspired her, she just needed a sentimental moment between Henrietta and Edward. I realise all of that. It’s fun to think about though.
Okay, Bjorn, I just said it looks like Yggdrasil, not that it is Yggdrasil.
What do you think? Tell me in the comments!
One more thing…
The mythical Yggdrasil was an ash tree, the tree in Agatha Christie book was an oak. I don’t know, botany not being my subject, what kind of tree the one in my photos is. If you do, I would be much thankful if you could let me know in the comments box.
I have posted ducks before, as part of one of Cee’s challenges. In the linked entry, I mentioned a Tumblr post that went something like this:
Humans from 150 years ago would be very confused if they suddenly found themselves in our time. Not so ducks. Ducks would be like, still have lakes? Okay.
Most of my duck pictures come from the same place–the little pond in the woodsy area of Heaton Park (which was hit by algae occupation on the day the above photos were taken–it’s not normally like that).
Apart from this pond, Heaton Park has a boating lake, but that one is usually inhabited by geese and swans. Geese can also be spotted in the canals of Manchester city centre, but they deserve their own post.
So, ducks. The first time I started appreciating these animals was when I went to Heaton Park sometime in October 2013. It remains a very memorable trip, as I narrowly escaped from getting soaked in a short, but very intense shower. Luckily there in the woodsy area, next to the pond where the ducks hang out, is a little shelter. You can see it on the below picture, on the left:
So on this day, it started raining and I, being in its vicinity, quickly hid in the shelter. The little pond was full of ducks then, but were they bothered? Naah. They didn’t move a feather. Unlike me, a loser human who had to run from a bit of water.
ducks 1 – 0 me
See it here (this was shot with my old compact, hence the low quality, but you can see the raindrops falling in the water):
That particular trip was a surreal experience, because it suddenly got very dark and I lost the network on my phone and for a while it seemed like I was the only person in the whole park, but that is a story for another day.
Water off a duck’s back.
~an old saying
Here they are sharing their pond with a heron.
On this occasion I observed that ducks, when they land on the surface of the water, look like they’re surfing–and what’s cooler than that?
Now, check this one out:
I snapped this one with my phone on the way from work. I remember it was one of those freezing cold days we had at the end of March. The area in the middle of the picture is called Cathedral Gardens and far on the left side, not visible on the picture, is National Football Museum. The terracotta-ish coloured building on the right is Chetham School of Music. Behind me is Victoria Station. What’s a duck doing there? I thought that maybe it got lost; there’s an arm of a river not far from here, where I have seen ducks before, so I just thought it lost its way. People were smiling and laughing at the sight and the duck actually quacked as if to say, wot you lookin’ at?
Then, not long ago, one evening I was coming back from the city centre where I was taking some pics and was passing Cathedral Gardens again, when I saw them:
There’s a fountain and that’s where the duck was going!
Of course, I should have known that a duck wouldn’t be so stupid.
I guess for ducks, any pool of water will do. Or, if you’re Joey and Chandler from Friends, a bath is fine.
I’m glad I found an image of them which features rubber ducks. It just proves the awesomeness of ducks, because if ducks weren’t awesome, why would we be making toys of them? For kids to play with while they bath?
I also have a pencil sharpener at work shaped like a duck.
Being the boss of the canal.
Ducks are awesome.
Bonus: a video of ducklings
So–how you feel about ducks? Love, hate, indifference? Do you like photographing ducks or other waterfowl? Share your thoughts in the comment box.
I attended a Stop Brexit March in Leeds on Saturday, my second march of this kind. I’m posting about it somewhat late; I felt exhausted all day Sunday as I also went to a friend’s son first birthday party when I got back to Manchester. I normally barely set a foot outside on weekends if I don’t have to. My body can’t quite handle so much action!
This march was one of similar marches taking place around the country to mark the first anniversary of the triggering of the Article 50. The Leeds march represented North.
This was my first time visiting Leeds and I will definitely visit again, properly with my camera; this time my attention was dedicated solely to the march. All pictures were taken with my smartphone.
It all started on the train:
I caught the same train as some fellow protesters, who hung EU flag on the window.
Of course the giant EU flag wasn’t missing.
More pics and signs and banners:
One of the speakers at the march was Richard Corbett MEP, you can see him on the above picture on the very left, talking to the woman with blond hair. I’ve met him before at a Q&A session he did at the University of Manchester last year.
I suppose the next picture should come with a trigger warning!
I was pleased I got to photograph the Brexit Monster up close, it was too far away from me at the Manchester march.
Will this message get across?
What’s been frustrating to me recently is not the events that are happening, it’s the fact that people don’t seem to care a bit. They’re going about their lives, probably thinking it’ll all work out or possibly believing that Brexit won’t happen, whilst doing nothing towards it not to happen. It’s this apathy that that’s the worst. I’ve not heard anyone outside my circle even mention the Cambridge Analytica story. Even Remainers say we should just “get on with it”. Um, no.
One day they’ll wake up in the morning into a first day of dictatorship and will keep asking, how did this happen? Like this, motherfuckers. Sigh.
To end the post on a positive note, it’s been great seeing news about March for Life in USA. To all the people that came out to the streets, I want to say: you absolutely rock!
This sign is outside one of the many University buildings on Oxford Road in Manchester.
Why have I taken a picture of such a random thing? Because 1. that’s what I do and 2. it reminded me of something.
If you’ve watched Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, then you will recognise “Everything is connected” as a sort of tagline of the show. (If you haven’t watched it, then I highly recommend it–it’s funny and clever and has amazing characters, so basically everything a good TV series should be.)
It also reminded me of another thing, non-fictional.
Bridges are one my favourite things to photograph. In fact, they are one of my favourite things ever. Bridges are great, really. I even like the word bridge. It looks nice written down (or typed) and is easy to pronounce for a non-native English speaker.
I decided to go for this one for this week’s photo challenge.
The bridge is a metrolink bridge in inner city Manchester. Not quite aesthetically pleasing, perhaps, but that’s the point. If it wasn’t for all that glorious sunshine, it would be a proper grim shot!
Inspiration for this photo came from a scene in The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’ve taken a few similar shots after reading the book.
I’ve also been listening to my mega 90s playlist, which of course features the Red Hot Chili Peppers song Under the Bridge; probably one of the most iconic tunes of the decade. The song deals with feelings of loneliness and past drug abuse.
Under the bridge downtown
Is where I drew some blood
Under the bridge downtown
I could not get enough
Under the bridge downtown
Forgot about my love
Under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away
-lyrics by Anthony Kiedis
Speaking of music, a bridge is also a section of a song, but I have no idea what exactly it means. If you know, please do enlighten me in the comments.
Another bridge that comes to mind is captain’s bridge on a ship. Or better–a spaceship.
So that would be it regarding the bridge. Have a great week/month/year and remember:
My native language, Slovak, and English. At school I did German as well as English and later I learned a bit of Spanish but I forgot a lot as, living in UK, I don’t have the need to use any other lingo. I’ve always liked languages, who knows maybe one day I’ll speak another one fluently. Though nowadays knowing a different kind of language would be more beneficial–a programming language.
What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?
I’m reading Robot Visions, a short story collection by Isaac Asimov. I’ve blogged about Asimov before, he’s one of my favourite authors.
I’m watching a few things. American Gods on Amazon Prime, The 100 on TV and I just started Narcos on Netflix. I must mention the last series I finished watching and enjoyed immensely was Parks and Recreation. I think it must have been one of the best things on TV; funny as hell with a meaning behind it and characters that I now miss like old friends.
I’m not listening to anything in particular because my taste in music is all over the place at the moment. I’ve been listening to some Beatles as I recently visited the museum in Liverpool but otherwise I mainly listen to new-ish stuff. Though last week I searched for Ode to Joy by Beethoven on my Amazon Prime Music app and listened to every version they had. I was overjoyed about the result of the French election and Ode to Joy is an EU anthem and I’m basically Euro-trash and I’m not sorry about it.
My eating habits have much improved from the past, but I still eat too much junk food and chocolate. Also it turned out I had high cholesterol so I swapped my breakfast bacon sandwich for avocado on toast.
What was the last photo you took with your phone?
What is your favourite time of day?
Evening and night. I’m a night owl.
Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
What am I grateful for from last week? I guess Eurovision was alright. And you know, just being alive and healthy and all that. And the world looking more green.
There’s always weekend to look forward to if nothing else. And some pictures to take!
25 March 2017 marks 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – which eventually led to the formation of European Union
This entry is unapologetically Eurocentric.
EU has always meant a lot to me. I was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, in former Czechoslovakia. I was nine when Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communists happened. I still remember bits of it; my mum taking me with her out to the streets, the banners, the slogans. This was 1989. Mere fifteen years later, both Slovakia and Czech Republic joined the EU–an astonishing achievement. It enabled me to make something of myself in UK, where I first came to in 2003 as an au pair. As 2003 was before we joined EU, I still had to wait a line outside the British Embassy early in the morning to obtain a visa.
I’ve never been patriotic, I’m just not wired that way. I’m a European. I am fiercely loyal to my home city of Bratislava (don’t let me hear anyone badmouthing it!) but that’s about it. People usually call me Eastern European, however I reject that label because that’s not what I am.
Bratislava sits on the border of both Austria and Hungary, the only capital city in the world located at a tripoint. You can easily walk between the three countries as you would in your favourite park. Some people even pass the border twice a day on their commute to work.
I came across this article by Guy Verhofstadt published in Guardian. Guy Verhofstadt is a former Prime Minister of Belgium, a Member of European Parliament and the leader of Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
In the decades since [the Treaty of Rome] was signed, European countries have worked successfully to fight against the return of the rampant nationalism that led to two world wars and the slaughter of millions of Europeans, finding a way to work together to create a largely peaceful, free and prosperous continent.
In 2017, the EU stands at a crossroads. Our common project is consistently attacked and denigrated by nationalists, often working with authoritarian regimes outside the EU, who wish to destroy the EU and once again set our communities and societies against each other.
It is ironic that, as we saw in the Brexit referendum, the postwar generation that benefited so much from European integration is now driving an explosion of Eurosceptic nationalism. Young people, a majority of whom deeply value their European citizenship, too often face barriers to full political participation.
Ah, but Brussels demanded they use low-energy light bulbs… or something.
Nationalists tell us that the nation state is best placed to deal with common challenges, but their argument fails the test of reason and ignores the nature of the trans-national threats we face. Climate change, international terrorism and the negative consequences of globalisation cannot be tackled by individual countries acting independently. If the European Union of today did not exist, we would have to create it.
And you know what’s funny? You can argue that UK is NOT a nation state. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.
Ultimately, nationalism will be rejected because its politicians are incapable of resolving the challenges we face. It is time for those who believe in a united Europe to stand up and be counted.
Beautifully put. I hope he’s right.
28 Members of EU
UK (for now)
I love you all.
Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, an Anthem of Europe, performed by Banco Sabadell Flashmob:
Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet. –IMDb
I admit, after the first couple of episodes, I had a feeling as if I was in one of those YA dystopian series that are in vogue now, but this is not a bad thing. (In fact, the TV show is actually based on books by Kass Morgan.) I loved Divergent. And well, why not? YA has always been a good age group to write for and dystopia–have you read the news lately? Though The 100 is post-apocalyptic rather than dystopian. What I like about this series is how the characters find themselves in situation where they have to make very difficult decisions. Do we kill 100 people to save 1000? Someone like Captain Picard would refuse to even answer that but here, it’s sure, let’s pull a trigger. And while the hundred from whom the show’s title is derived are all in their teens, there are plenty of older characters to root for.
Now to my quote. As it happens, the humans on the spaceship, The Ark, were not the only survivors of the nuclear war; there are people living on the ground, who are soon referred to as Grounders. The Grounders nickname those from the Ark the Sky People. Naturally, tensions rise between the two groups, culminating in a big battle. This is said by one of the main characters, Bellamy (played by Bob Morley), in Season 1, Episode 12 – We Are The Grounders Part 1.
Bellamy’s full speech:
This is our home now. We built this from nothing with our bare hands! Our dead are buried behind that wall, in this ground. Our ground! The Grounders think they can take that away? They think that because we came from the sky we don’t belong here! But they have yet to realize one very important fact. We are on the ground now. And that means WE are Grounders!
I’m speaking as an EU citizen living in UK in this crazy post-Brexit time. The government have refused to guarantee us any rights, instead they are using us as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations. We will give you rights, as long as the other EU countries give rights to UK citizens living there. Because that’s how it works. UK decides to leave EU and then demands rights for their citizens that live in there. Have your cake and eat it, anyone? I am aware that some nations think themselves superior to others but surely there is a limit. But I digress.
Of course, probably not many of us have built anything here with our bare hands, but we have built our lives. You know, got married, had kids, bought houses, got university degrees, got promotions at work. And yes, buried some dear ones too. We are here now, we are the residents! (Gosh, how I hate the word immigrant.) At least the House of Lords is arguing for our rights, let’s see whether it’ll do anything good.
If you were a great explorer, what would you explore?
There are sooo many great places to explore on this planet! I’d like to see with my own eyes all the nice places that I admired on pictures. To answer something particular, something that could be quite feasible–castles and coffee shops of continental Europe.
Quotes List: At least three of your favorite quotes?
I narrowed my million favourite quotes down to four:
Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
My willpower for keeping up with eating well and losing a whole kilo from the previous week.
I’ve got a week off work so I’m looking forward to more reading, watching TV and just chilling.