Spring Bulbs in Amsterdam




Amsterdam’s Flower Market had a huge selection of bulbs of all types and sizes on display.  I’m sharing them in monochrome as part of Cee’s Black & White Challenge: Small Subjects.

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Puzzling Windows


This shop window on Ile Saint-Louis looked pretty in the Spring sunshine, with its well-known art works and interesting reflections.

It is actually a shop specialising in jigsaw puzzles, shelf upon shelf of them.


 Linked to Lingering Look at Windows.

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Kitesurfing Heaven

-Look Up, Look Down Challenge, Week 36

Every Thursday, I publish a post containing photo(s) taken from above or below, and invite you to join in the challenge by posting your own photos with an up or down perspective.

This week I’m taking you back to the windswept beach of Scheveningen to share the photos I couldn’t upload the other week.


The wind that threatened to blow me over was clearly a kitesurfer’s delight.

aDSC00907c DSC00919 aDSC00913



The Challenge

Click here to enter the challenge

Every Thursday, I publish a post containing photos taken from above or below, and invite you to join in the challenge by posting your own photos with an up or down perspective.  Just publish your post as normal and then link it to this challenge.

Welcome to week 36 and I extend a big thank you to all who entered last week.

You can see all of the entries from previous weeks on my Pinterest board if you are seeking inspiration, or are  just plain nosy.

So please show us what you have; share your up or down perspective with us.  Simply create your own post as normal, create a link to this challenge and then click here to enter your link and to view other entries.  If you have any difficulties with the linky, please just leave your link in a comment below and I will upload your thumbnail.

Finally, please don’t forget to go and visit the other challengers and pass on your views and encouragement.

To find out more about how to enter, click here.  The linky list will open each Thursday at 00:01 GMT (or a bit before) and will be open for a week.

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Posted in Netherlands, Uncategorized, Up Down Current Challenge | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Happy 450th Birthday

It’s 450 years today since William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on Avon.

“Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men.”
-Quintus Ennius

Stratford itself always celebrates the birthday on a weekend and this year is no exception.  This coming Saturday and Sunday will see a birthday procession, street entertainers (including Morris Men), a special lunch and even a visit from Lady Godiva.


Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-on-Avon

The Globe Theatre’s 2014 season opens tonight and this year they are featuring their usual wide range of Shakespeare’s productions, including All’s Well in Gujurati and Midsummer Night’s Dream in British Sign Language, plus Hamlet, Much Ado and King Lear will all be on tour.

Personally, I’m hoping to get to see a performance at the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-on Avon.  Needless to say, the RSC has a range of the bard’s works in performance this year in Stratford and London, and on tour.  They even have a special version of The Tempest, one of my favourites, redesigned to appeal to children with autism. I’m aiming to see Two Gentlemen of Verona, in its first appearance on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage in 45 years. For those of you who would like to see it but can’t get to Stratford, it will be showing live on cinema screens on 3 September this year.

If you have children and would like to introduce them to Shakespeare, you can’t do better than choosing an Open Air Theatre production.  The setting alone will captivate them (it always does me), and this year they have a children’s version of Twelfth Night.  I just need to borrow a child to give me an excuse to join the fun.


Pride and Prejudice, Open Air Theatre, Regents Park, 2013

Linked to Shoot and Quote: Celebrate.

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A Story of Stalks and Eels


This stork is really strutting his stuff – he is obviously very proud of the black eel he has caught!

This  white stork on a gold background is part of the coat of arms of Den Haag.  The whole coat of arms consists of a golden escutcheon with the stork and eel, a count’crown and two golden lions rampant regardant. In 2012, the motto Vrede en Recht (Peace and Justice) was added, referring to the city’s global recognition as the home of international justice. 

Storks are generally regarded as bringers of luck and prosperity here in Den Haag. Back in medieval times, the many storks that nested in and around the Binnenhof would tidy up after the fish market, removing the filth and smell of rotting fish remains and reducing the likelihood of infectious diseases.

Sadly, the storks had all but disappeared in Den Haag and surrounding area until 1998, when eight pairs returned to stork stations that were set up to entice them back.

Linked to One Word Photo Challenge: Metallic.

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Happy St George’s Day


This was going to be my Wordless Wednesday but then I decided I wanted to say some words!

St George is the patron saint of England, so really I should have featured the St George’s Cross, not the Union flag.  But hey, I like this photo.

St George is a popular chap: he has many patronages other than England.  I knew that Catalonia was one, but according to Wikipedia so are all these:
GeorgiaEgyptBulgariaAragonRomaniaEthiopiaGreeceIndiaIraqIsraelLebanonLithuaniaPalestinePortugalSerbiaMacedoniaUkraineRussia and Syria, as well as the cities of GenoaAmersfoortBeirutBotoşaniDrobeta Turnu-SeverinTimişoaraFakihaBteghrineCáceresFerraraFreiburg im BreisgauKragujevacKumanovoLjubljanaPérougesPomoriePrestonQormiRio de JaneiroLyddaLvivBarcelonaMoscow and Victoria.

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P is for… Pussy Willow



These delightful branches of pussy willow were on display at Columbia Road Flower Market this weekend. I adore these branches; they are a real sign of spring for me - and for many others I discover upon doing a spot of research.

The silk-like buds that cover the branches appeal to the Chinese apparently, who use them as a major display at Chinese New Year.  In Northern and Eastern Europe and in America they are often used as a replacement for palm leaves (a practical issue rather than aesthetic, I think – palms don’t grow naturally that far north) on Palm Sunday.  In Poland, it seems, the pussy willow is a part of their lively Easter Monday (Dyngus Day) celebrations, when boys throw water over girls they like and hit them with pussy willow branches.  A strange seduction method, if you ask me!

The pussy willow has uses beyond decoration and spanking.  Willow branches have long been used for weaving baskets and furniture, and even coffins.  Back in the eighteenth century, and Oxfordshire man used ground willow bark to cure rheumatic pain and this eventually led to the development of aspirin. A more recent use is in biomass burning to generate electricity, for example at the Drax power station in Yorkshire.  

The term pussy willow is actually used for a number of willow trees at this time of year – any that have this soft silver fluff before the catkins develop their green colour.  Later in the year, once the fluff vanishes, they just go back to being known by their normal names, such as goat willow and grey willow.   We are likely to suffer a bit of a shortage of willow in the UK this year: willows grow in wet ground, by rivers and lakes, but the massive floods this year have proved to much for many of them.  In the Somerset Levels  at least one willow farm was completely devastated after sinking below water.  

I’ll now just leave you to enjoy their beauty.


Linked to Frizztext’s Tagged P Challenge.

Posted in Alphabet Challenges, Easter, Trees and plants | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments