Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sing Me a Song Early in the Morning

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In German we call this bird "Amsel"; in English they're just "Blackbirds". No matter their name, they're lively birds - and while we were in Europe we saw them often. Very often. They are one of the most common birds there. Interestingly enough you can also find them in Australia and New Zealand, but not in the Americas.

The male blackbird is also a lively singer - and when I heard him again for the first time during our trip, I suddenly knew what I have always missed here in California - this kind of bird song. It is beautiful! The blackbird is such a talented singer - and I will never tire of his beautiful song.

If you happen to live in an area where there are no blackbirds like this, you can hear their beautiful call here.

Our little friend here was busy catching worms - can you see the earthworm in his beak in the top picture? During my childhood when I was still living with my parents every evening there was a blackbird sitting on the roof of the house across from ours singing his little heart out - especially in spring and summer. They also start singing very early in the morning, often before dawn.

I do miss this beautiful and sassy bird. Our blackbird here is the red-winged blackbird, whose call is completely different.

I am linking to Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday for the free and easy edition.


Not a songbird at all, but a beautiful red-shouldered hawk.
You can get this card in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Royal Fences

In London, of course, all the Royals have their palaces and posh houses. When you go down the Mall from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace you pass quite some of those palaces. Of course all the palaces have their own fence with quite impressive gates.

Buckingham Palace, the London residence of the Queen, of course is the most beautiful one. The top picture shows you the fence that runs around the palace. In the following photo you can see how high it actually is. This was shot from my normal height.

And of course the gates here are the most ornate ones. Lots of gold.

I am linking up with Teresa's Good Fences. Want to see more fences? Just follow the link.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The capital of bicycles

Amsterdam is a busy city, bursting with life, and the main transportation vehicle is - the bicycle. They are everywhere.

Near the central railway station we even saw a huge bicycle garage, three levels, and it was full. Where I used to live before we moved to California there were many bikes, and I biked a lot, but nothing compares to this. It was simply amazing.

The bicycles in Amsterdam are not modern, stylish bikes. Most of them are older, what we used to call in Germany the "Holland Rad" (Holland bike). Some of them are painted. All of them are locked safely when left on the street.

We even saw a bicycle made from wood!

Many bicycles carried baskets or boxes, and some of them were lovingly decorated.

This one was a true Netherlands fan or a good patriot - someone who loves her or his country.

Wherever you go, there are bicycles parked on the side. I think we only saw one bridge without any bicycles. Do you have an idea how many bridges there are in Amsterdam? M-A-N-Y.

You can't even take a picture of flowers without some part of a bicycle in the image.

We also discovered some bicycle art - it seems to be only natural that someone would start to make art using old bicycle parts.

Almost no one wears a helmet, not even the children. I saw parents with little children in a bike seat - no helmet. Wearing helmets while riding a bike is not popular at all. There are bike lanes everywhere in this country which makes riding a bike a pure joy and very comfortable. Everybody seems to bike to work - in a full suit; wearing high heels. I thought it was wonderful. I wish it was that easy here in the US, but riding a bike is scary here. It is so wide spread and popular not only in Amsterdam, but generally in Europe. It's a lively part of a different way of life. I love it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Good Scottish Fences

While in South Queensferry taking pictures of the Firth of Forth bridge, I also noticed some of the fences in that little town and thought they might come handy for a "good fences" post.

This one was at the pub right under the bridge - I liked the "holes" in it.

The following one was just a regular fence at the quay, above the little bit of beach there was. In the background you see some of the huge pillars of the bridge.

And this one was my favorite - I love how it shines in the late afternoon sun.

I'm linking up to Teresa's "Good Fences" - if you want to see more fences, just hop over to her blog.


Beginning today, July 10th to July 20th I'm having a
Christmas in July sale in my Etsy shop.
Everything in the store is 20% off when you use
coupon code ETSYCIJ14 during checkout.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Bridge Spanning the Firth of Forth

The Firth of Forth is located west of Edinburgh, and there are two bridges that span it - one is the modern motorway bridge and the other is the beautiful railway bridge. It's the second one that we wanted to see, and we went to South Queensferry, from where you have great views of the bridge, right after we had landed at Edinburgh Airport. It was a lovely, sunny day, and we thought it was a good idea to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Good thing we did, because it was raining the following day!

This cantilever railway bridge opened in 1890 and spans a total length of approx. 2.5 km (1.6 miles). It was the first major construction in Britain made of steel (the Golden Gate Bridge is made of steel as well). It has a similar color as the Golden Gate Bridge, however, I could not find out what the color is called (the Golden Gate's color is "International Orange"), but that painting the bridge is more or less a permanent maintenance job. During the last painting which was completed in December 2011, 230,000 m² (275,078 yd²) paint was used.

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It's an impressive bridge! While we were there, we saw several trains going over the bridge. Approx. 200 trains run across the bridge every day. It is quite busy!!!

I am not sure that you can really sleep well in these cottages under the bridge! I don't think I would rent a room in this inn. I would drink my pint there, though!

The bridge is a great backdrop for portrait photography. I am practicing portraiture pretty often these days since I want to take Kaefer's senior picture next summer myself and not hire a photographer.

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I'm linking to Texture Tuesday for the free and easy edition. 


Photo cards of another famous bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, 
are available in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

You Have To Love Red...

... when you go to London, that's for sure!

There is so much red in London - and it's not a dull or shy red. No, the London red is bold and bright.
Phone booths, mail boxes, buses on busy roads. Red wherever you look.

The tube stations are announced with a bright red circle, and the dominating color at Piccadilly circle is red.

The famous guards at Buckingham Palace wear red uniforms, and of course red is an important color in the  flag of the City of London.

You find red on Tower Bridge as well - like in this image where you can see the middle part of this famous Victorian bridge and the hyper-modern Shard behind it.

Why so much red, one might wonder. While I don't have an answer, I think it's just to set a vibrant accent to the often grey and rainy days. You can see red quite well in the fog!

This one is a classic - I couldn't resist!


Do you like those red British phone booths?
This set of photo cards is still available in my shop.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

All About Fences in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has a lot of fences, but it is easy not to notice them. Most of them are black, and on a rainy grey day they kind of blend in. However, since my eyes seem to be trained on fences - after all it's one of my favorite thing to photograph - I saw many of them - too many to take pictures of them all.

They were all wet and shiny the day we explored Edinburgh. Surprisingly they were all different; I guess fence designers had (and perhaps still have) to be quite inventive. Of course the black looks good with all the old buildings and against the green that seems to be everywhere, in lawns, parks, trees.

If you put a little red phonebooth (aka a pencil sharpener) in between like my daughter did (remember the traveling phonebooth? It came with us), the color really pops, especially on a grey day.

This one probably was my favorite fence, and so I also took pictures of it without the phonebooth.

Beautiful, isn't it? You can spend an entire day in Edinburgh just looking for fences and take pictures of them. If we had had more time...

I like the long spires on this one - and no, this is not the same one as above. The middle spires were set lower in the fence. Little details to set them apart from each other.

This one, though, was the "sharpest" of them all - literally. I discovered it up at the castle, probably used as some kind of defense. It thought it was pretty neat.

What better thing to do with all these fences than linking up to Teresa's "Good Fences" at the Run Around Ranch?


Fences are also available in my shop -
both as photography prints and as cards.