Month in Photos: April 2016

I create this monthly photojournal for myself so I get reminded of the places we’ve been to, a monthly summary of what we’ve done as well as the beautiful, the fascinating, the insolite, the weird and the strange things we’ve seen which I will always enjoy browsing years later.  And for my loyal readers, it’s also a way of discovering some traditions, art, culture, food and habits of the Europeans we meet from day-to-day.

Thanks for browsing.

01_bowls01 April 2016
Restaurant near home, Alsace, France

You’d think that those stack of bowls are meant for the sink.  No, they are part of the decor of this restaurant where we went for dinner.  Good idea, actually!
02_IMG_209402 April 2016
Baden-Baden, Germany

Driving along Baden-Baden road, we noticed the ad of this van ahead of us.   As if the silly image of the doctor checking the loo with his stethoscope is not enough, they have to highlight the word CHRIST, which could be the surname of the company owner.  And read this:  I tried looking at their website for more information and guess what?  I was welcomed by the sound of a flushing loo.   Gross, hahaha!

03_IMG_219603 April 2016
Rastatt, Germany

So impressed by this attempt of the local government of Rastatt to disguise ugly street structures (such as this telephone box) by covering them with Art.  They could have been drawn by kids which makes it even more splendid!

04_IMG_221904 April 2016
Neighbourhood,  Alsace, France

Among the emblems of Alsace which I see widely displayed are the images of stork,  grapes,  heart and cake mold (used for baking their favorite kougelhopf).  But to see cake molds, and I mean half a dozen of them, adorning the fence of a neighbour’s house, I thought it is just over the top!

05_IMG_160205 April 2016
Neighbourhood cemetery, Alsace, France

A glass-encrusted gravestone.  He/she must have been a diamond collector or simply, once a lover of the good things in life.06_horse06 April 2016
Neighbourhood, Alsace, France

Very Alsatian  and very German (parts of Alsace used to be part of Germany), metal signs deck many facades of  shops and establishments, even houses such as in the photo above.  They often display images relating to the business,  e.g.  stork if the hotel’s name is Stork Hotel.   It started in medieval times when most people didn’t know how to read so the image helps them to identify a place or its purpose, e.g. pair of scissors for a hairdresser.

The house above is neither a shop nor an establishment so the horse sign is probably just a decoration.

07_waiting
07 April 2016
At home,  Alsace, France

At the strike of 7pm every  working day, Charlie would look out of the window waiting for Papa to arrive.   As soon as he sees the car and Papa opens the gate, he would go berserk jumping towards the door, demanding that I open it for him, and when I do,  he would go galloping like a horse, licking Papa from head to foot, including his bag as if asking, “Where’s my pasalubong (goodies)?”

08_IMG_2221
08 April 2016
Home garden, Alsace, France

My favorite Spring flower is coming out – the tulips, yey!

09_IMG_2474
09 April 2016
Baiersbronn, Black Forest Germany

Easter Sunday is over but Easter eggs are still left hanging on trees which is great as it brings colour to an otherwise grey and leafless Winter.

10_IMG_2581
10 April 2016
Freistatt, Germany (near the French border)

There’s no stopping Spring!  The signs are there!

11_rapeseed
11 April 2016
Alsace, France

In the middle of the vast agricultural fields near home is a track road where joggers, cyclists, dog-walkers and trickle of cars go through each day.  We’ve walked Charlie along that road few times but  could only go as far as it gives the impression of unending emptiness.    Today, H is determined to find out what lies at the end of the road so we hopped into the van  and drove farther and farther.

There was nothing there except fields that seems to go on forever, and then this spectacular sight of yellow rapeseed field appeared before us.  That made our day!

12_mustik
12 April 2016
Neighbourhood park,  Alsace, France

Finally, the signs are up in the forest park where we walk Charlie everyday.  Of all the many descriptions written in them such as why a dead tree is left to rot in the forest, or the type of deers roaming around, or the name of a tree and how old it is, that sign above is what I dread the most.  Who needs mosquitoes anyway?  (I know you will say it’s what frogs and lizards feed from, but surely, there are other insects they could eat…)

13_weathervane
13 April 2016
Road to Achern, Black Forest, Germany

This tiny hut along the motorway to Achern is so cute but what is that written on its roof?  Curious,  I looked it up on the net and found that it’s a German weathervane manufacturing company.  Here are samples of its products taken from their website.

weathervane

 

14_stickywillyvelcro
14 April  2016
Neighbourhood park, Alsace, France

Could this be the weed that paved the way for the invention of the  Velcro?  Find the whole story  here: http://www.livescience.com/34572-velcro.html

15_Pedunculateoak
15 April  2016
Neighbourhood park, Alsace, France

The base of this oak tree looks like the foot of an ostrich.

16_AsianBuffet
16 April  2016
Achern, Black Forest, Germany

This Asian Buffet restaurant next to  where we park the car is a lucky find.  For 7,80 euros, one can have an unlimited trip to the buffet table until he drops.  The food is delicious that we made it  the place for our Saturday lunch dates.17_Rheinau
17 April 2016
Freistett, Germany (near the French border)

Looks like there’s a tournament going on in the lake.  Half a dozen men with their  fishing hooks but no audience, which is great so they can fish in peace and I could take shots without any one blocking the view.

18_lettuce
18 April 2016
Home  garden, Alsace, France

Last week, I bought some lettuce for our week’s supply of salad and when I was about to clean them, lo and behold,  I found the roots still intact and each bunch composed of three individual plants.  Instead of putting  them on the fridge, I searched for the trowel, split them apart and came out with six heads of lettuce plants.   Above is the photo taken one week after my planting spree!

20_IMG_3761
20 April 2016
In the fields near home, Alsace, France

Photographing horses is fast becoming a passion, what with the horse farm just a stone’s throw from the house.

21_forestclass
21 April 2016
Neighbourhood park, Alsace, France

The forest park where we take Charlie for walks is also an outdoor school for these pupils.  We see them here very often, trailing their teacher who patiently explains all creatures great and small in the forest floor.

22_watercolour
22 April 2016
Home garden, Alsace, France

I always wanted to do watercolour painting but I have two left hands, glad there’s Photoshop to do the job.   Cool!

 

23_lowmirror
23 April 2016
At  home, Alsace, France

Let it be told, that the house we are renting now is pure bliss: wide open spaces, warm, bright, unlimited hot water, immense garden for Charlie to run around, ultra-nice landlords, quiet neighbours.  The only problem is:  the bathroom mirror is designed for towering tenants only!

24_IMG_3497b
24 April 2016
Kappelrodeck, Black Forest, Germany

Saw these children’s boots turned into plant pots in a school garden. although cute, they probably bought these boots new as they all look similar!

25_fertilizer
25 April 2016
In the fields, Alsace, France

On our way back home today, we saw this enormous farm equipment driving on the road.   It’s a pneumatic seeding planter, a 21st century version of the simple seed  drill  invented by Jethro Tull in 1701.  This machine will sow tens of thousands of seeds on vast expanses of fields in few hours!

 

26_IMG_3795
26 April 2016
In the fields, Alsace, France

Using my zoom lens, I managed to get this “close” shot of the family of deers which frequent the fields around us.  So cute, hope they don’t run out of habitat and will forever stay around.

27_IMG_3737
27 April 2016
In the fields, Alsace, France

A sheep and a dog (Charlie) getting too close and personal.

28_IMG_3753
28 April 2016
In the field near home, Alsace, France

This region of Alsace and nearby Black Forest in Germany are home to the white stork and you see them everywhere – above lamp posts (where gigantic nests are built for them) or  pecking for worms on the fields or flying overhead.  For centuries, these birds have been a common sight that they became an emblem to Alsace.  In the Black Forest, images of stork are displayed infront of houses to announce the birth of a baby in the household.

The stork above is just one among many we see everytime we walk Charlie out of the house.  Shot was blurred so I (digitally) converted the image into watercolour.

29_bird
29 April 2016
At home, Alsace, France

Charlie found a  baby nightingale today.  It was limping beneath the garden steps and we wondered if he bit the poor bird.  We took him out in the open so he can fly  but realized we’re dealing with a fledgling,  which means he probably just left the nest but still struggling to fly.   His left claw is twisted, poor bird.  All we could do was to put him out of harm’s way, outside the fence and away from Charlie, and hope his mother comes and take him away.30_IMG_4040b
30 April 2016
Offenhofen, Black Forest, Germany

For our Saturday out, we went exploring the town of Offenhofen in search of their famous waterfalls, the Edelfrauengrab-Wasserfälle, but we got lost, couldn’t find it, and ended up ambling in the forest.  We love trekking in the forest so no big deal, so much to discover beneath the towering pine trees like this white sap oozing out from some of them.   This is the resin used in making glue and not only that, if you find yourself lost in the forest, this sap comes very handy  as survival aids.

 

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