Sunday, 19 September 2021

Inspired Sunday


Today elections are held in the Church of Sweden, i.e. the Evangelical Lutheran national church in Sweden. Liturgically and theologically it is "high church". It was state church from the Reformation until 2000, and is still the largest Christian denomination in Sweden with over 5 million members. It is an open national church with a democratic organisation, including the right of members to vote in elections, which still resemble political elections. To which extent they should continue to do so is one of the questions debated in later years; but for now, that's how it is. In the church elections, candidates are listed either with a political party group, or with a 'non-political' group (there are more than one of those as well). I'll refrain from trying to explain further, as I'm rather confused about it all myself!

Back in the previous century I usually didn't bother to vote, but in later years I have. The possibility to vote in advance in this election opened two of weeks ago, and I went to do so one of the first days; in the parish house next to the church above. It is the oldest church in town, dating back to the late 1600s. In later years I've attended church services and concerts here every now and then; but not since the pandemic.

On my way back from voting, I took the opportunity to go into the church and play tourist - i.e. wander about a bit and snap some photos with my phone. (I think it is usually kept open in the daytime on workdays; but I don't normally pass by it.)

If you wish , you can light candles for prayer.

A "christening" tree - a rather modern addition .They add the names of recently baptized people on it. (I've seen similar trees in other churches visited on holidays in recent years.)

If all goes to plan, Sweden will be lifting the last of its corona restrictions at the end of September. For my own part, I'm still feeling a bit hesitant about "crowds", though. Not sure yet when I'll feel ready for a well-attended church service or choir concert...?

InSPIREd Sunday

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Memories from Devil's Bridge (Sepia Saturday 588)



The prompt for Sepia Saturday 588: "a covered bridge going to who knows where"

I can't recall that I've ever been on a covered bridge like that one. However, in the past, I have been on a lot of old railways and steam trains, because of my dad's love of them. Most of our family holidays (by car) back in my teens, both in Sweden and in Britain, involved visits to various railway museums and other remains of old railways and station houses. 

The combination of railway + bridge brought back one such memory in particular: From Devil's Bridge in Wales, visited on a family road trip in England and Wales in 1974.

Postcard (1974)

We went there by steam train from Aberystwyth, through the Vale of Rheidol:

Ticket (1974)

Postcard (1974) -  Rheidol Valley

I'm afraid the only photo of my own from Devil's Bridge is not really blog material - even after an attempt to enhance it digitally - but here it is, anyway:

It shows my parents (well, dad's cap and mum's jacket) having climbed down to some lower platform beneath the bridge, to look down on the river (Mynach) - and perhaps also see the construction of the bridge(s) from below.

Wikipedia is more helpful when it comes to reminding me of details:  

The bridge is unique in that three separate bridges are coexistent, each one built upon the previous bridge. The previous structures were not demolished. The top one (from 1901) is an iron bridge. Beneath it are two older stone bridges, the oldest one from medieval times. This Wiki photo shows the construction more clearly than the old postcard:
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
( 2005)

According to folklore, the first bridge was built by the Devil - hence the name.

According to legend, the original bridge was built after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. When the bridge was finished, the old woman threw a crust of bread over the river, which her dog crossed the bridge to retrieve, thus becoming the first living thing to cross it. The devil was left with only the soul of the dog.

Besides the postcards in my album, I have another souvenir to remind me of the visit to Devil's Bridge - a piece of jewelry I bought in a gift shop there. I guess one reason it has stuck in my mind where I bought it is the contrast between the name of the place vs the item itself: a Celtic cross.  It is one I have worn quite a lot over the years, as it has a very clever design - it can be used both as a pendant and as a brooch.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Rainbows and Water Lilies


"It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them." / Claude Monet

“Where does the rainbow end, in your soul or on the horizon?” / Pablo Neruda


Weekend Reflections

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Stop and Smell the Roses


Photos from the rose garden in the town park (last week).

“Take time to smell the roses.” – Proverb

“The world is a rose, smell it, and pass it to your friends.” – Persian Proverb

“Those who don’t pick roses in summer won’t pick them in winter either.” – German Proverb

“The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change: Yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” – Paulo Coelho


Our World Tuesday

Monday, 13 September 2021

The Geraniums


My geraniums on the balcony, today. All of them together probably at their best just now! :)

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Sepia Saturday 587 - Playing Cards


This Sepia Saturday prompt of a man playing cards evoked memories for me. We used to play cards and board games quite a lot in my family when I was growing up. This was way back before the digital era, when there also weren't more than one or two TV channels to watch. But we quite often played games later in life too, when my brother and I were visiting our parents for a weekend, or during the Christmas holidays etc. 

But would I be able to find any photo in my own albums to support those memories?  Offhand, I could not recall any.  I suppose that back then, one usually got too caught up in the game itself. (Unlike now, when one constantly seems to have at the back of one's head to also snap a photo of whatever one is doing for posting on social media!)

I decided to randomly pick an album from my teens and have a look, though - and didn't actually have to search long before I came across this photo, from around Christmas 1971. 

Above: The faded colour photo as it looks in my photo album - 50 years later.
Below: An attempt to digitally adjust contrast and colour a bit.

I rarely play cards nowadays (actually can't recall when I last did!), and can't say what game they (or we) were playing here. Maybe I was done with my part in it, and that was what made me go and fetch the camera? Anyway, we're at the kitchen table in our house, where we lived back then. There's a small Christmas tree in the background (we had a full size tree in the living room), and a red 'Christmas' plastic cloth on the table. (From spring through autumn, the table cloth and curtain were yellow. The seasonal change of colour scheme in the kitchen is a tradition I still practice in my own home.)

I recall that one game we used to play was Canasta. I don't remember the rules now, only that I preferred that to Bridge, which at some point dad tried to teach us as well. (There was too much afterward analysis and argument involved in bridge for my liking.)

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Info about Email Subscriptions

I received an email from someone asking me how to receive updates from this blog. This reminded me of the FeedBurner changes announced by Blogger back in the spring, which I have to confess I never quite managed to make heads or tails of.

However, I have now installed a new email subscription gadget in the sidebar. If you signed up for emails in the past, and that stops working (or has perhaps stopped working already), you can sign up again with this one from (Please note that no old email subscriptions have been, or will be, transferred automatically.) 

You will find the new email gadget just under my profile at the top of the sidebar. The image below is just to show you what to look for. (If you are reading an app version of the blog you will need to go to the web version to find the sidebar.)


Friday, 10 September 2021

New Me

About a month ago, I decided it was time I booked an appointment for an eye exam. (Put off for a year or so because of the virus...) As I suspected, new eyeglasses were recommended. 

As anyone who is really short-sighted will know, trying out frames is a dilemma in itself, as one cannot see oneself in the mirror from a distance without actually having the right glasses already fitted... However, I got to take four frames home with me, so was able to take some selfies to help me with the final choice.

I played around with the photos a bit for my own entertainment (and made the collage above), but as I had pretty much made up my mind already in the shop, I decided not to involve anyone else in the process.

Left: my new "allround" progressive glasses. Right: my new "computer" ones. (Those have progressive lenses too, but are optimized for computer work and reading - not for looking at things at a distance.)


I picked up both pairs at the shop yesterday (paying a small fortune). So far, I'm happy with both. As for the computer glasses, I only use those at home, so very few people will ever actually see me in those. But if anyone should get the honour, I suppose it should be You - i.e. my "online" friends! ;)

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Book Review: The Essex Serpent


The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (2017)
Audio book narrated by Juanita McMahon (14:44 h)
(I read the book mostly on Kindle, but also listened to parts of it.)

The story starts in London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne's husband dies, she finds herself more relieved than sad. She had never found herself really happy in her married life. Neither did she ever feel quite at home in her role as mother to her 11 year old son, Francis, a rather peculiar boy (in modern times he would no doubt have had some sort of "diagnosis") - even if she does love him. However, in caring for him, she also has help from Martha, who serves both as nanny to Francis and friend/companion to Cora. Together, they break up from London and move to Essex.

Both mother and son find a new freedom living in the countryside by the coast - exploring their new surroundings separately rather than together, though. Martha is the one who misses the city life the most. 

In the village where they settle, there are superstitious rumours being spread about the Essex Serpent, a mythical creature haunting the marshes. Sudden deaths, sicknesses or anything odd that happens are blamed on this mysterious creature having returned from the seas. Some claim to have seen it and heard it, and fear keeps growing in the community. 

Cora, an admirer of the legendary 19th century fossil collector Mary Anning*, does not believe in neither superstition nor religion, but is hoping to find the beast to be some previously undiscovered species. Meanwhile, she is introduced to the parish vicar William Ransome and his wife Stella, who is suffering from a terminal disease. William, as a man of the church, is concerned about the rumours of the Serpent for different reasons. While he's anxious to put a stop to superstition and fear, he also feels threatened by Darwin's ideas of evolution. Nevertheless, Cora and William strike up an unlikely friendship, and in spite of their differences in matters of science vs faith, find themselves increasingly drawn to one another. However, William also still loves his wife; and Cora is not really looking for another relationship at all - which also shows in her attitude towards a male friend back in London, Luke - the doctor who cared for her husband. (Some parts of the story are told from Luke's perspective.) Martha, the nanny/companion, is also very fond of Cora. The only one who seems strangely free of jealousy is William's wife, Stella - who also seems to understand more than anyone else about her own illness. While her own children are sent away for a while during her convalescence, Stella also strikes up an unlikely friendship with Cora's son Francis; who is otherwise always very wary of strangers. But one thing the two of them have in common is an obsession to collect strange objects...

I found this a captivating but rather unusual sort of novel - hard to quite categorize. It's far from a straight forward love story; and at the same time, the Essex Serpent remains more of a background mystery than the real focus. Themes of love, friendship, grief, fear, obsession, superstition, faith and science keep intertwining throughout.

And the Serpent? Well, one or two explanations do turn up eventually... (But who knows?)

Other history fiction novels I was reminded of while reading this book were * Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (about Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot), and The Physic Garden by Catherine Czerkawska. (Links go to old reviews of mine on this blog.) There's also quite a bit of "Dickens" spirit to it. Moreover, there's a lot of letter-writing going on back and forth between the characters in this book, also reminding of the style of several classic novels from the time period. 


Monday, 6 September 2021

Through My Lens: Down By the Riverside


Some more photos from a recent walk "down by the riverside" (a few days ago). While I can't see the river from home, it's only about 10 minutes walk away.


Through My Lens






Saturday, 4 September 2021

Weekend Reflections


Walking along the river on a sunny and calm day, I can never resist taking yet another reflection photo of familiar sights...


"Late summer" made a return this week, tempting one to be out and about. At the same time (for me) it's also been a week of crossing other things off the "to do" list; which hasn't left a lot of time for blogging. And when I finally get round to that, I find my internet connection, as well as my own brain, in "slow mode"... So I'll just post these reflection photos for now.

Weekend Reflections

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Inspired Sunday

Ramnakyrkan, Ramnaparken, Borås, Sweden

Picking up where I left off in my Thursday post A Visit to the Past.

Like all the other buildings in our Museum Park, the wooden church too has been moved here from its original place, a village around 10 km south of Borås. The central parts of the church date back to 1690. As with many old churches it went through some changes over the centuries, even before it was moved here (1912). During the first 20+ years here it was only used as museum, exhibiting objects collected from various other old churches as well. In 1930 the building was again sacralized to be used as church, for special occasions like weddings and christenings.

I've been inside on several occasions before, but of course that did not stop me from going in again to snap some more photos, when I had the chance. (The guide had by then returned to other duties, so I was in there alone.)

The church's double function as church and museum shows in that it houses an unusual amount of old altar pieces and sculptures and other objects. And also not just one but two old pulpits at the front.

Inside the porch.
Old keys etc on the wall,
and a collecting box.




The bell tower comes from some other countryside church; and the actual bell from yet another one. (The book that I have about the buildings in the park does not mention the gate, but that too probably comes from somewhere different.)

Looking up from the computer in my study, on the wall right above my monitor hangs this picture:

It's a water colour painted some time in the past by my maternal grandfather. Undated, but my guess is from the 1930s or 40s. (It's one my mother kept after he died, and I in turn inherited it from her.)


 InSPIREd Sunday


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