söndag 28 augusti 2011

The island of the penguines of the North..

Yesterday, on the hottest day of this summer - with a cloudless sky and some 25 degrees C - I set out in a small ferry onto the heaving sea to visit an island I had never been to before.
I was heading for the famous bird island of Stora Karlsö in the Baltic close to the coast of Gotland.
This visit had been high on my agenda for years so finally:
"Stora Karlsö. Here we come!"
This little limestone island that rises from the sea like a rock in a storybook, is situated 30 minutes boat ride some 6 km west of Gotland. The island where I was going is a nature reserve, after Yellowstone National Park the oldest established protected nature area in the world.
Gotland, Sweden with the two islands: Stora and Lilla Karlsö

This fossil rich limestone island rising majestetically out of the sea is mostly known for its rich birdlife and flora.
En route, we had to pass the smaller sister island, Lilla (Minor) Karlsö, which can be spotted here through the spray made by the speeding the ferry.
Little Karlsö with its steep rocky slopes.
Norderhamn (The Northern harbor) of Stora (Major) Karlsö with its small museum and a resturant and café, is a fairly sheltered port with a jetty.
The pink marble of Karlsö.
There is evidence that Stora Karlsö has been inhabited since the
stone age. During the Middle Ages there was a marble quarry, which provided material for a number of Gotland's churches.
Deep caves were used for storage in the old ages. Needless to say, many interesting findings..
..has been dug up here by archeologists through the years.
A cave with a view
- actually, certain parts of the island quite remainded me of Capri, Italy
..and the smells of a Greek island in summertime..
The scents of the flora here is heavenly- especially on a sunbaked day like yesterday! Oh, how I want to bottle this feeling and take it back home with me !

Karlsö is mostly covered with
alvar, with many juniper bushes and some small groves of deciduous trees. In spring, there is an extraordinary number of orchids-mostly elder-flowered orchid and early purple orchid. There are also several very rare plants for Sweden such as Adonis vernalis, Lactuca quercina (called 'Karlsösallat' in Swedish), hart's-tongue fern (actually depicted on the Swedish 100-crown bill!) and Corydalis gotlandica (the only endemic plant on Gotland).
The island is mostly known for its rich birdlife, however. It has large colonies of Common Guillemot - the penguines of the North - (about 7500 breeding pairs).
(Above:Wikipedia photo)
Here at the small museum you can get an idea of the mighty performance every year when the Guillemot chicks after hatching are beaconed by their fathers at sea to jump off the steep cliffs and land on the rocks 100´s of meters below (they bounce on their fat bellies and are presumably not hurt)

An impressive King´s eagle hanging from the museum ceiling with a nameplate between his claws: "May I introduce myself..!"
The Stora Karlsö lighthouse. The rooms here can be rented per night and is supposed to be a great stay - if its lady-teacher ghost lets you rest quietly, that is!
The smells, the humid spray from the sea, the wild thyme, well it all reminded me so
much of a Greek island! Just missed a chilled Retsina!

Limestone pebbles and fossils form a long beach. I couldn´t resist a dip in the clear water after a couple of hot hours guided walk across the island. Nice!

The island vehicle, alas!
The farewell committee acting up like an Hindu godess (Shiva?) waiving!
The 9.00am-3pm trip is about 300 Swedish crowns. (48 US dollars) The guided tour included.

onsdag 24 augusti 2011

Have you ever encountered Tuttivillius - the devil?

Today I made an extensive excursion to the eastern coast of Gotland (Östergarnslandet) and en route made a brief stop at the pretty parish church at Bäl. Luckily the church was open and I got a chance to view its many fresks recently unveiled, renovated and conserved. During the Enlightment era however, it was commonplace to try to cover and white wash the many old 1300-century fresks in churches to emphasize the theological purity of the places of worship.
Well, it is not difficult to realize why!
Now, here is one hell of a fresk that emerged and met the conservators: Say hello to Devil Tuttivillius! Just love that name!
Take a good look at his
horrifying feet and bulging eyes!
Tuttivillius is sitting by the church entrance forever taking stock of people gossiping in church!
Note the angel trying to hit the devil on the head!
Here, some devilish gossiper has his tongue painfully pulled to the degree that he is involuntarily relieving himself! This poor fellow must really have been quite some blabbermouth!
They all are great proof of some 1300-century cartoons/graffiti styles with quite a bit of humour in their presumably deterring efforts!
( Painting by Johan Bartsch 1664.)
And, above the altar, this lovely apple cheeked and red nosed Jesus is happily enjoying
the Last Supper!
Who is resting in his knee looking like he had a bit too much of the good wine from the calice and what kind of little strange animal is it on the plate ready to be devoured?

Who ever said that visiting old churches were boring?
A tuttivillius function was to collect in his sack any words omitted or stumbled over by a careless clerk, as well as to record the words of any who joked or gossiped in church.)
Tuttivillius to you all for now!
And remember to watch your tongues today and ever after!

Washington minutes after..

..the earthquake yesterday - 5.8 o in the Richter scale. People leaving buildings on Pennsylvania avenue - shaken but not stirred.
(Photo: Malcolm Ehrenpreis)

The spires of Washington National Cathedral snapped and broke in the quake. Thanks God no one was hurt or injured yesterday - according to preliminary reports..
(Photo: AP)

lördag 20 augusti 2011

Young Obama..

I found these lovely photos of a very young Obama on the net.
But have no idea
who snapped them on a happy day on Waikiki, Hawaii a long time ago. His grandma, perhaps?
Embrazing life and the whole world.. I sincerely hope and keep my fingers crossed that he will make it through these rocky times of global financial distress and he´ll be able to lead his huge country away from dreary, repulsive tea parties for another presidential round of global common sense.

fredag 19 augusti 2011

Sitting by the dock of the bay..

Mid august morning on the Trouville jetty at Sandhamn, watching (as I have been doing ever since childhood) the clear water ripples..
..playing giddily over the sandy sea floor.
Same spot long ago - other ripples, primitive jetty, young, non-rippled sisters breakfasting on that same beach in their nighties ..

måndag 15 augusti 2011

Summer pictures..

Full moon. The harbour.
Mid August in Sandhamn, the Stockholm archipelago.
The Club house jetty, Friday.
(Photo: Nena G)
Dansberget, Sandhamn Friday night.
My hammock- brought home in the handluggage from Nicaragua.
Sunday on the main jetty- popular Swedish artist Plura of Eldkvarn, entertains.
Sun filtering through the shrubs in my archipelago garden.
Beautiful rocks at Kniphalsen.
Tasty beauties on the veranda..
Water reflections
Brandskär - one of the outmost skerries in this part of the Baltic..

fredag 12 augusti 2011

Paraphernalia Nostalgica..

I recently visited a small neighbouring cottage in Gotland where the local historic parish society has been collecting a number of everyday use objects and touching countryside memorabilia over the years.
The little historic cottage is situated in Stenkyrka in northern Gotland, Sweden.
An intricate knitting machine of anno dazumal caught my eye here, for a long time. (Thinking about the warming socks, mittens and pulls that had been produced here on snowy winter nights in the light of a kerosene lamp.)
Good stuff and useful farm utensils..
.. in the kitchens of the old days ..
An old anchor I found in a small fishing village in Boviken, Gotland. No museum here!
It was just sitting there on the ground!I just love is simple construction!

Stenkyrka parish cottage.
Mouse trap of the old days -so called clump trap.
(The times of flat dead, departed and deseased mouses?!)

Cashier´s receipt board in the old - still thriving- Sandhamn bakery in the Stockholm archipelago
The pretty bakery in the Sandhamn village.

"Farmer´s pride"- old marine print, Gotland
Traditional cupboard, Swedish country style, (Gotland) today very much in demand at auctions. How I would love to have one of those!