Happy 3rd Blogoversary

Today marks three years since I started the blog.

I have had phases when I posted very little, but overall it turned out quite well.

The only reason why I hadn’t started blogging earlier was that I worried about running out of ideas–or indeed having ideas in the first place. It was when I came across the word “photoblog” somewhere that I was finally confident to set up one. Because I could just post pictures and nothing more and I had lots of pictures. I have since bought a new camera and got my own domain. And did a dystopian series.

Here’s today’s picture, taken yesterday:

september berries

I still worry about running out of ideas, I admit. I want to know, how do other bloggers feel? What made you start your blog and what about the blogging process do you find is the hardest?

Ducks Are Awesome

Ducks are awesome.

Let me tell you.

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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:

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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.

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See it here (this was shot with my old compact, hence the low quality, but you can see the raindrops falling in the water):

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Rain, what rain?

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.

ducks with 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:

duck in the city

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:

ducks in fountain

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.

Oh and rubber ducks. Rubber ducks just prove 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.

duck swimming

Conclusion:

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.

My Godson is a Cat

Yes, you read the title correctly. My godson is a cat.

If you think it’s too late for an April Fools’ joke, you are quite right. It is not the 1st of April and it is not a joke, because I’m serious. I also dislike April Fools’ tradition, I hate pranks and I find majority of jokes I hear desperately unfunny and lame. Now that’s out of the way, let me tell you about my godson Anthony and why he’s a cat.

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This boy is now between 18 months and 2 years old and is also a half-brother to the boy whose hand is in this picture. I thought it would be better to post a photo of him where his face is not visible, even though his parents gave me permission to post about him.

Why is Anthony a cat? Well, I came to this conclusion when I visited his home last Christmas Eve Eve.

  1. I brought some presents with me in a bag. When I put the bag on the coffee table in the living room, he immediately went to the bag to look inside and inspect the contents. Just like a cat.
  2. Then, with one sweep of his small arm, he knocked down everything from the said table. Just like a cat.
  3. He is very agile, easily climbs the furniture without falling down. Just like a cat.
  4. His mum went to do her cooking and instructed us not to let him into the kitchen, to prevent him getting burned but he insisted on going there anyway, even as I kept picking him up and carrying him back to the living room. Just like a cat.
  5. Following on from the previous point, he wanted to go into the kitchen because he was so nosy about what was going on there. Just like a cat.
  6. He knocked the Christmas tree down. Just like a cat.

Any further questions?

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Peace out.

 

 

Silence

Well it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! Late to the party but here it is:

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No noise allowed

The hardest thing about this Weekly Photo Challenge has been choosing the right picture–I have so many that would qualify. In the end this one won. This little piece of woodland is Prestwich Clough in Manchester and I discovered it in April 2017.

It’s amazing how quiet a place in a city, that is not even very far from a main road can be. It must be the trees.

I remember reading a children’s story back in my home country about a guy who collected silence and he had this big house with many rooms and every room had a different type of silence. Forest silence, beach silence, field silence, cave silence and so on and so on. Anne Shirley in Anne of Windy Poplars also talks about different types of silence in her letter to Gilbert.

I’m sure if I were totally blind and insensitive to heat and cold I could easily tell just where I was by the quality of the silence about me.

So it’s never a total silence then. I imagine that would only be in space.

Break the Silence

I’ve been going back and forth with this paragraph, typing and deleting, typing again and deleting again. This is only a photo posting challenge, nothing more but even Cheri asks at the end of her post whether silence can be a negative thing. Because I believe it can (in a different sense than my photograph) and I was thinking about the #MeToo movement and other horrible things that have been happening and are happening, so I just want to add this: if you see a case of injustice happening, please do speak up.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
~Martin Luther King, Jr

 

 

Silence

Be Your Own Hero

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Because the others are not all that.

If you disappoint yourself, you change it and un-disappoint yourself. If someone else disappoints you, well, it’s… disappointing.

So, be yourself. And every once in a while, if you’re unsure how to carry on or you feel somehow hopeless, take inspiration from the fictional ones. Be Xena Warrior Princess. Be Tony Stark. Be Hercule Poirot. Be Brienne of Tarth. Be someone amazing.

I’m not saying that holding up two autumn leaves and taking a picture of them with your smartphone is being a hero but hey, it’s a start. #IHeartMe

Hit The Wall?

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I feel like I’ve been in a slump lately. Sort of like hitting a brick wall.

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I haven’t thought of anything to blog about and couldn’t even come up with anything for the last two weekly photo challenges. So I decided to post about how I don’t know what to post about.

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I hear talking about walls is in vogue these days.

I Heart EU

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.

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Construction of a new Metrolink line in Manchester, which has now completed

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.

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Development in Manchester – Allied London

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.

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Side of a bench on Market Street, Manchester

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.

blava map

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.

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Sign at Victoria Station, Manchester

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.

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EU flag above the Midland Hotel entrance, Manchester

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.

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Media City, Salford Quays, Salford

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

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK (for now)
Image credit: Pixabay

I love you all.

Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, an Anthem of Europe, performed by Banco Sabadell Flashmob:

A Good Match

In this week’s photo challenge post, Ben posts a photograph of a donut, a cup of coffee and a glass of sparkling water, but tells us not to limit ourselves to edible stuff–but this is exactly what I’m going to do, even though I don’t normally blog about food or post pictures of food.

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The colours are a good match too

Let me introduce you to my favourite breakfast. Bacon sandwich + a cup of black coffee = heaven. For me bacon sandwich is the second best thing in the world (the first is pizza). But there is more to this shot.

We hear of things typically British and we hear of things typically Continental European. Nothing more essentially British than a bacon sandwich, I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, coffee is continental, whereas the Brits like their tea.

Best of both worlds then. Imagine if referendums never existed, we could have breakfast instead of Brexit. Sigh.

Speaking of which…

Image credit: IMDb

A very Belgian private detective with his very British sidekick.

A Good Match

ETA: At the time of the posting, there was a different image of Poirot and Hastings. This has been replaced by the current one, as I couldn’t find the source of the first one so couldn’t credit it.

Love is Somewhere Around Me

For this Valentine’s Day, let me talk about about my favourite fictional couples (or, as is the fandom term these days “ships”).

Originally I was planning to post just one photo for Valentine’s–a shot of two figures from my favourite series with a simple card in the background–but a comment I made on this Goodreads Facebook post inspired me to expand it a bit more. At least this gives me an opportunity to blog about my favourite things.

The Couple That Gives Me All the Feels

“You’re mine,” she whispered. “Mine, as I’m yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first, we’ll live.”

Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin). Equally good in books and in TV show. And the only love story that can truly melt my cold, cynical heart.

The series has a lot of memorable quotes, such as All Men Must Die (which inspired my blog’s tagline) and Winter is Coming and–You know nothing, Jon Snow. She’s the one with the common sense, he’s the one with the  formal education. She teaches him about the Wildling ways, he shows her castles.

If I could show her Winterfell… give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us.

~A Storm of Swords

It was not meant to be, but I like to think there is an alternate universe where they stayed in that cave. And there is–Kit Harington and Rose Leslie are dating in real life.

Here’s the photo that I mentioned earlier:

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Not Your Typical Couple

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (the Millennium series). But not together as in together.

Lisbeth is one my most favourite fictional characters ever. She’s a brilliant hacker and she kicks ass. And she always look out for the vulnerable and the abused. I don’t ship her with Blomkvist in the normal way, instead I like to think of them as BFFs with benefits slash partners in crime. Besides, Blomkvist is a womaniser and Lisbeth is too much of a free spirit to settle down.

It was absurd to pretend that he did not exist. It no longer hurt her to see him. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.  

~The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

In the English version they are played by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. I once saw a comment on YouTube video of the trailer saying “Lisbeth Salander is so badass, James Bond is her sidekick.

The Couple That Should Have Been

Jo March and Laurie, aka Teddy Lawrence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, who ended up not together because the author threw a tantrum.

“O Jo, can’t you?”

“Teddy, dear, I wish I could!”

Then do, for god’s sake. Ugh.

I recently read Little Women for the first time in English. I love Jo, but I’m not a fan of the book. Some passages made me want to throw my (quite new) Kindle against the wall and it’s not because of the obvious mismatching of couples. It’s the constant preaching. Dog forbid you want to have fun once in a blue moon or a day off work… but I’m not here to talk about that.

If readers and Alcott’s publishers wanted Jo and Laurie to marry, there was a reason for it and that reason was that she wrote them that way. Apparently Alcott meant for Jo to remain single but the publisher was against it, so okay, 3/4 through he story Alcott introduces some German professor or other who would become Jo’s match but why, why oh why oh why OH WHY pair Laurie with Amy? Amy, that frivolous little shit that burned Jo’s book? Gosh, I hate her. She should have died instead of the loving, kind Beth.

Some fans say that Laurie was too immature for Jo. But he could have grown up, done something with his life and then come back and try asking her again. Like, character development, you know.

I can somewhat accept Jo with her professor but I will never be able to accept Laurie with Amy. Ah, what the hell, in my mind he never stopped loving Jo.

Forever and Ever and Ever…

Of course, it’s got to be them. The One True Pairing–OTP.

the back of the DVD – films are in English, I don’t know why the cover is in Dutch

Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series.

Poor Gilbert, though. It took years of suffering and almost dying for her to finally realise he was the one for her. The romantic hero she had dreamed about since her childhood didn’t belong to her life the way Gil did… and turned out not to be very interesting after all. Gilbert may not have written poetry but he could make her laugh, he comforted her. He got her.

There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.

~Anne of the Island

There was that time in Anne of the Island when Anne’s bosom friend Diana secretly entered Anne’s story into a competition for the best story featuring a baking powder Rollings. Diana simply took Anne’s story Averil’s Atonement, which failed to get published in magazines, added a line or two advertising the baking powder and sent it–and the story won the prize. Twenty-five dollars, which must have been a lot of money then. Anne felt very ashamed because she thought it meant, how we would say now, selling out. So when Gilbert came to congratulate her and she confided in him and told him she was afraid that her fellow students at Redmond will tease her for it, he had this to say:

The Reds will think just as I thought–that you, being like nine out of ten of us, not overburdened with worldly wealth, had taken this way of earning a honest penny to help yourself through the year. I don’t see that there’s anything low or unworthy about that, or anything ridiculous either. One would rather write masterpieces of literature no doubt–but meanwhile board and tuition fees have to be paid.

Contrast this with Jo March’s professor who got all superior over Jo’s silly stories. Jo wrote them to earn some money and thus help her family, the point that completely escaped the educated professor. (Maybe that’s why he’s penniless in his forties.) What’s interesting is, when Anne rejects Gilbert’s first proposal, her feelings are very similar to what Jo goes through when she says no to Laurie. At least one writer with initials LM knew how to satisfy her readers!

Boys Love Boys

Barca and Pietros from Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

I know Spartacus is not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. It has everything; profanity, violence, nudity, sex. It makes Game of Thrones look like a weak tea.

From what I’ve seen on Tumblr, another m/m couple from Spartacus: War of the Damned, Agron and Nasir seems to be the more popular one but I prefer these two. I was rooting for them so much and they had such a tragic end.

I do what I must, Pietros. I’ll return soon.

Girls Love Girls

Look who I just remembered:

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Image credit: IMDb

Xena and Gabrielle. Friends? Sure, they were friends. That’s how it started.

Quote by the Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless:

Now it wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was “Nope, they’re married, man.”

They were.

You know what, I changed my mind. I think Xena and Gabrielle are my OTP after all.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Colours for Blue Monday

The term Blue Monday was coined in 2005 and refers to the most depressing day of the year–usually third Monday in January. Well, in the Northern Hemisphere at least.

This idea has been dismissed by scientists and according to charity Mental Health UK, it’s been created to sell summer holidays. Quite likely, since Blue Monday was first mentioned in a press release by a travel company. Nevertheless, many people might be feeling very blue, so I thought I’d do a little colourful photoshoot.

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I know I have published beads and paperclips before, I just like colours, okay?

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One of the factors that supposedly contribute to Blue Monday is failed new year’s resolutions. But, isn’t it too soon to give up on them? The first month isn’t even over yet. There are 11 more months left. And whatever you have resolved to do, nobody says you should start on it on 1st (or 2nd) January. March is as good. Or April. Or June. I remember once reading some article which claimed that people would have more success if they set their resolutions in the beginning of September, as we still think of new academic year as the time to start something new. Certainly makes more sense to me that the middle of deep winter.

So, if you don’t think you’re doing well, please don’t throw in the towel.

{{{{{{warm hugs}}}}}}