Monday, November 12, 2018

Kalmar – Museum, Old Shipwreck and City Wall

Road Trip 2018, Part 21 (19th July)

From the Kalmar Cathedral (link to an earlier post), we walked along another few blocks of wooden buildings, down to the Kalmar County Museum near the harbour.

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One of the Museum’s permanent exhibitions is about the 17th century warship Kronan, which served as the flagship of the Swedish Navy in the Baltic Sea in the 1670s. When built, she was one of the largest seagoing vessels in the world. However, after only four years of service, the ship foundered in rough weather at the Battle of Öland on 1 June 1676 and sank quickly, taking about 800 men and more than 100 guns with her, along with other valuable military equipment, weapons, personal items, and large quantities of silver and gold coins. Most of the guns were salvaged in the 1680s; but after that the wreck fell into obscurity, and it wasn’t until 1980 that its exact position was rediscovered. Since then the wreck site has been excavated by divers and more than 30,000 artifacts recovered; many of which have been conserved and put on permanent public display at the Kalmar County Museum.

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Minature models of the ship

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Life-size reconstructions of the interior

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… and scary displays to help us imagine the terrors of the shipwreck!

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Carved wooden figures salvaged from the ship

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Ship’s bell

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Various artifacts

2018-07-19-03 Kalmar Museum

Before leaving the museum, we had lunch at their café overlooking the harbour.

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Museum building in the background.

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Going back to the car, we chose the walkpath on top of the old city wall again.

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Through My Lens

Our World Tuesday


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Shadow Shot Sunday – November

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A somewhat surreal shot of the moon from my window a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging my holiday photos, now that November is here and the trees have dropped most of their leaves to the ground. But even with mostly grey skies this week, the weather has still been rather mild (around +10’C), still and pleasant for walking; and so I have been out and about on various errands quite a lot this week. And once one reaches the city centre (or enters a supermarket), it’s a bit like walking through magic doors and suddenly finding oneself a lot Closer To Christmas than one thought when one started out…

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On Tuesday I went into town to get my seasonal flu shot (which I did, no problem). But then I noticed that the big Christmas tree had been put up in the main square (even if no lights in it yet). This inspired me to go into my favourite tea shop and get some teas (including a favourite Green Christmas blend)…  And then when I got back home, the stamps I had ordered to use for Christmas cards had arrived… So all in all, I realised it might be as well to surrender and accept the Christmas preparations mode; including one or two more walks into town later in the week to also get some cards and calendars and whatnots. After all – the shops are not likely to get any less crowded as time hurries on…

However, to make room for all the New Red and Glittery and Extra Extra Festive Everything, most shops just now seem to also be having Big Sales to get rid of all the stuff that was new and fresh only a couple of months ago, but now evidently old and tired already. I try not to get too carried away by sales signs any more (I really need to keep clearing out some stuff rather than collecting more for no other reason than it being on sale); but I did make use of a gift card I got for my birthday, only valid in one specific chain of stores. So I bought a long black cardigan that I’ve looked at before, but while it was full price I would have had to pay extra for it (in addition to the gift card). Now it was 50% off, which means that (thanks to my generous friend) it cost me nothing. (Even left me with a little bit more to spend in the same shop. It will be a challenge to break even though, as they don’t give any cash back…)


Shadow Shot Sunday 2

Monday, November 5, 2018

900 days of Duolingo

Duolingo

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I happened to notice today that my Duolingo app shows a 900 days streak.

Tracing my digital footsteps back to when I got started… yes, it adds up! Smile

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It was through fellow blogger Janet that I first learned about the app. (The screen shot above is of a comment of mine on her blog.)

Although I got started on a whim, just to check it out –2½ years later, here I am still, doing at least one lesson of Spanish per day (often more). I have also gradually kept adding more languages to the list. (Something that would certainly never have happened without the convenience of a smartphone app).

The app has gone through some development since I started: for one thing they’ve skipped the original % “fluency” levels, which weren’t very accurate anyway. Further changes in how to level up vs keep up one’s skills have been a bit confusing (and much debated on the app forums) - but I decided not to be too bothered about that, but just keep going. (Have to admit I was relieved when “test out” options were re-introduced again, though – offering the possibility to skip too many boring repetitions of things one already knows.)

The statistics say very little about one’s actual skills; they really only show how much one has used the app for each language.  (Alas they also don’t show when one added each individual language.) A comparison some months apart shows that I have kept practising, though!

15 April 2018

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5 November 2018:

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Next to Swedish and English, my third best language is really German; which I studied at university back in the 1980s. I’ve only been using the Duo app to check and freshen up my skills and vocabulary.

The need to freshen up old knowledge has been even more noticable with French; which I learned for five years in school back in my teens, but hardly used at all since then. I still have some “basics” stored in my memory, while other things have obviously withered away…

Norwegian and Danish are a lot like Swedish – we usually manage to understand each other tolerably well, each keeping to their own language (especially Swedes and Norwegians). I’ve just been using Duolingo to increase my understanding of the differences.

Dutch comes across to me as a mix of German, Scandinavian and English. With Duolingo I’ve now learned enough “basics” to read it a little. (Reading Het Achterhuis, The Diary of Anne Frank, in Dutch on my Kindle – now and then, and with my old Swedish paperback copy at hand for comparison.) If I try to speak/write it (outside of Duo exercises) my brain seems to automatically switch to German, though. And I’d probably better leave it a that! ;-)

Spanish is the language I’ve put the most effort into on Duolingo, learning it “from scratch”. Actually rather proud of my progress; even if I know from watching Spanish TV series on Netflix that they speak way far too fast for me, and I’m still totally lost without Swedish subtitles…

Turkish I decided to try because I was curious to see what it was like to learn a language with very different grammar - but without the extra trouble of a totally different alphabet. Similar reasons with Welsh, which I’ve been about to give up on any number of times. But somehow, with both these I still find myself struggling on, one lesson at a time, without even feeling really sure why – except that it’s a challenge, kind of like crosswords! And something like that also with Russian, where even just the alphabet still feels like a challenge. (I’m pretty sure I’ll never be reading the great Russian classics in the original language…)

Swahili (African language using “our” alphabet) I only recently had a peek at, not sure yet if I’ll continue at all… Just a bit curious to get some idea of how it compares to the other languages I’ve tried!


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Read in October 2018

The Clockmaker's Daughter audiobook cover art

The Clockmaker's Daughter
By: Kate Morton
Audiobook narrated by: Joanne Froggatt
Length: 17 hrs and 3 mins


Kate Morton is one of my favourite authors from later years and as I had an Amazon gift card to spend as well as my monthly Audible credit, I got this new novel of hers both as Kindle and as Audible. I’m glad I did, as the construction of the novel is of the complex multi-layer kind, moving between different periods of time and different narrators; and it is definitely an advantage to be able to turn back to previous chapters sometimes. That said, once I felt I had kind of grasped the structure of the story, I really enjoyed listening to Joanne Froggatt reading it, though. (Best known perhaps as the actress who played ‘Anna Bates’ in the TV series Downton Abbey.)

The novel could be said to be a kind of ghost story; but at the same time, even though some gruesome mysteries of the past are involved, it’s not really an all dark and sinister atmosphere that dominates the book, but – as for most of us – a mix of both good and bad memories, not always easy to separate from one another – and with the dead continuing to play their part along with those living here and now.

The contemporary frame of the plot involves a young girl, Elodie, working in an archive; and a forgotten old box labelled “Contents of attic desk drawer, 1966 – unlisted”.

But rather than attempt to summarize all the plot layers, and risk spoilers, I think I’ll just give you this quote from the author’s own notes at the end of the book:

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a book about time and timelessness, truth and beauty, maps and map-making, photography, natural history, the restorative properties of walking, brotherhood ---, houses and the notion of home, rivers and the power of plce; among other things. It was inspired by art and artists including the English romantic poets, the Pre-Raphaelite painters, early photographers --- and designers --- with whom I share a passion for houses, and who drew my attention to some of the unique ways in which the buildings of the Cotswolds mimic the natural world.”


As an aside, I just have to mention that I still seem to be haunted by The White Horse of Uffington. It’s mentioned in The Clockmaker’s Daughter as well – although in this book, more in passing.

Those of you who read my post Read in September, might remember that this landmark also turned up in Lethal White by Robert Galbraith; for me coinciding with also then just having read about it in a blog post Chalk Horses and Ancient Mysteries by Jenny Woolf (including pictures).


Lethal White (A Cormoran Strike Novel Book 4) by [Galbraith, Robert]

Lethal White
by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym for J.K. Rowling)
4th in the series about private detective Cormoran Strike and his (female) assistant Robin.

Read on Kindle in September/October.


I think this book may be my favourite in this series so far. The previous one especially – Career of Evil – I found a bit too gruesome for my taste. I found Lethal White more of a classical detective novel, both in the type of investigations they get involved in, and in the development of the main characters. At the same time, parallells with the Harry Potter novels also come easily to mind. (That can be seen in the previous novels in this series as well, but keeps getting clearer.) In Lethal White, set against the background of London hosting the Olympic Games, Cormoran and Robin get involved in two cases which turn out to have some common ingredients.  One involves a mentally unstable man saying he keeps having flashbacks of having witnessed a murder back in his childhood; the other starts out as a case of blackmail against a government minister (but develops to events even more serious). This also places Robin for a while working undercover as an intern in the Houses of Parliament. (The underground Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter world comes to mind, even if Robin does not have access to Polyjuice for disguise). It’s a long book with quite a lot of sidetracks. There are also some developments in both the main characters’ personal lives going on in the background. Not all easy to keep up with all the twists and turns and details in the plot, but I quite enjoyed it.


The Blackhouse audiobook cover art  The Lewis Man audiobook cover art  The Chessmen audiobook cover art


In October I also re-read Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy – The Blackhouse, The Lewis Man and The Chess Men – this time as audio books. I first read them on Kindle back in 2012-13; but enjoyed listening to them now – read by Peter Forbes, in what I presume to be proper Scottish accent with the correct pronunciation of names etc. ;-)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Weekend Postcards: A Touch of Magic

The postcards dropping in this week all had a touch of magic to them,
one way or another…

It's magic time...

From Maria in Singapore:
A “more-cute-than-spooky” Halloween greeting

De lezende kip

From Jarina in the NL: De lezende kip / Reading Hen
(gevelsteen/gable stone from Amsterdam)

Gable stones came into use in the 16th century, in the days before house numbers, taking over from hanging signs as a way of --- identifying and adorning a house. The tradition is alive and has moved with the times – new stones are still commissioned, and in Amsterdam, many old ones have been conserved. [Wikipedia]

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

From Ginny:
Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy (in magic evening light)

Mersey Morning Ferry

From GB: The Mersey Morning Ferry, Liverpool
(in magic morning mist)

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From John: Landscape of the Albert Dock, Liverpool - “bathed in winter sunshine”
(photograph, but reminds me of paintings by William Turner)

The Liverpool cards also came with magic Harry Potter stamps Smile

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