slow down siogn for cyclists
blogging

Chronic Stress

One thing to remember about chronic stress is that it’s only because our thoughts deem something to be stressful that we can actually feel the sensation of stress. 

“Viewed mindfully, no situation is truly chronic. There are always calm moments to notice and be present for,” [amidst the chaos.] “Moments that can be lived in with ease.” (Stacy Young)

Do you Agree?

Can you ever totally eliminate stress from your life?

yellow and pink tulip
blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Challenge – Colour Harmonies

Do you have an eye for colour in your photography?

Using colour helps to create mood and feelings in photographs and may result in a photo that is more pleasing to the eye.

trondheim
baklandet buildings

Photographers can create a heightened level of visual interest and enhance photos by seeking out particular colour harmonies in the environment.

Such colour combinations may be

  • analogous
  • complementary
  • monochromatic

Capturing Reds, Yellows and Orange tones is an example of an Analogous colour scheme.

Seeking out or deliberately combining the following colours may complement and enhance each other.

  • Oranges and Blues
  • Reds with Greens
  • Yellows with Purple

Keep in mind the saturation and the value of colours will alter the way they go together.

gardens

A split complementary colour scheme might include shades of Red, Orange and Blueish-green. Josef Alber’s images are an example.

traditions

Using a certain background colour in our photographs can also influence how our subject appears. There is more of an explanation here relating to using colour to enhance food photography.

This week’s prompt for Friendly Friday is for you to find or create

Colour Harmonies

Trondheim river

Create a Friendly Friday Challenge Post

Simply add a pingback and tag ‘Friendly Friday – Colour Harmonies‘ to your own post, then return here, leave a comment below adding your published link, so we can find your post.

If this is your first challenge contribution, there is a full set of instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge on my blog header.

Everyone is welcome to join in.

I will return in two weeks time with another Friendly Friday post.

Next week, you will be in the able hands of Sandy, my Friendly Friday co-host, who will post the new Friendly Friday prompt.

blogging logo
Australia, blogging

Maintaining a Blog

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

WordPress recently told me it was my Blogging Anniversary. Really? What of it?

It has been almost ten years since I first created Something to Ponder About, after trying for a few miserable months with the Blogger platform. I never really got how you connected with other people on that platform, so quickly moved to WordPress, as a penfriend in Norway recommended it.

Purpose of Blogging

I really had to think about whether I should celebrate this Anniversary, or commiserate that I haven’t done better over the years? Some Bloggers have used their blogs as a venue to receive all kinds of free gimmicks, products and even discounts on holidays. What have I been doing?

Contemplating my navel in a semi-public way?

Don’t be misled into thinking I have been writing solidly for ten years. I have taken many a blogging break, here and there, when I have been on extended vacations and for the first three to four years, my frequency of posting was ‘hit and miss.’ That is, it wasn’t really conducive to comment conversations, or consistent readers.

In all honesty, I wasn’t a serious Blogger early on; merely posting interesting information to do with nutrition or D.I.Y. Craft that I might reference later, or using my blog to document my travels to, what I thought, were special parts of the world.

But then, something happened.

I began to connect with people worldwide. I started using my words in a way that was more constructive, ostensibly I wished to share information that might help others. The Blogger community responded with kindness and open arms, enveloping me on a truly wondrous journey that I am happy to say, continues to this day.

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Connecting with Other Bloggers

Many of the early Bloggers I connected with have now left the blogging world. A few remain, including Leya, Tina and Cyranny. In the early days, Christian Mihai ‘liked‘ every one of my published posts, but never ever did he post a comment. He is a huge Blogger now.

Strangely, I noticed I have only recently connected with fellow Aussie bloggers, but rather most of my readers were in locations around the world. That may be a comment on where my interest is directed, perhaps? I am not sure.

blogger friends
Way back in 2010

Ineke, in New Zealand, but from South Africa, has been a blogger friend and reader of mine from the start. She was the first Blogger I chatted with and the first Blogger I met, in person. When we met up in her home town, it was like we were already old friends.

It seemed easier to communicate with her over the blogosphere, as we were in a closer time zone, generally speaking. She was always, always supportive and assisted me in various Blogging challenges and joint projects in the blogging community. I thank her for her friendship and hope we will meet up again someday.

WordPress Challenges

Living as I do in this far-flung corner of the earth, the long delay in sending and receiving comment replies on blog posts does hamper the flow of conversation, at times. Thus, it was highly unlikely that I would sync with Snow, in Finland – yet something clicked between us. After a time, I discovered she had a similar childhood to me, growing up in Australia! We could share memories and she seemed to understand my typically Aussie ways.

Together, Snow and I launched the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge, which I now run with the extremely resourceful Sandy, in Canada. I love the Global connections blogging affords from all corners of the world! It’s truly a multicultural phenomenon.

A pivotal moment in keeping my Blog active was starting the now-defunct ‘Monday Mystery Photo Challenge,’ which ran for close to three years. I had a lot of fun interactions and learnt lots about blogging, in general. Photography was definitely a major way I found and connected with other like-minded folk.

Motivation to Keep Blogging

A key to maintaining my motivation for blogging is to write about things I am passionate about.

If you really are passionate about something, your writing comes alive and your Blog will be interesting for others to read.

I like to use humour or satire in my posts, although I cannot claim to be any good at that. Keeping posts topical to some extent, seems to me, to be a way of starting and maintaining a conversation with readers.

An early criticism I received from another Blogger was that my Blog lacked focus. The comment was that I had, “a lot going on,” at StPA. Back then, travelling was something I posted frequently about, but I also wrote about craft, painting, nutrition, mental health, traditional sayings, quotes and cooking. Given the current global situation for Travel Bloggers, I am very grateful my Blog was diversified in its focus.

Something to Ponder about. Blog about Arts, crafts, Cooking Travel and Photography
Denmark

So, somewhat embarrassingly, I am still here, ten years later, at Something to Ponder About, prattling away to anyone who will listen. Blogging still provides me with a great deal of satisfaction. As more Bloggers fall away or take an extended break due to Covid or Blogger fatigue, new Bloggers begin their journeys with WordPress, filling that void. That bodes well for WordPress and for Bloggers, in general.

I hope to still be around in another ten years, but who knows? What will WordPress and the world itself, be like then?

Start a Conversation

What about your Blogging journey?

How did you start Blogging?

Have you ever considered giving up, and if not, why did you perservere?

computer
blogging, History & Traditions

Google will Help You

In the almost forgotten days B.C. meaning, “Before Covid,” we might search for holiday accommodation, or sightseeing spots using Google. Sometimes Google suggests places we didn’t even know we wanted to go, based on our search history and we don’t have to ask.

hotel entrance stained glass

Whilst away on vacations, we might need to know a good place to eat nearby. No need to ask the concierge or at the Reception desk, as Google can tell you. Do you want to know what people thought of the atmosphere, the food, the service of that restaurant? Google knows better than any food critic. Directions to get there? Google will be delighted to share various routes and time frames. Not sure of the constituents of a fancy French dish on the menu: Google will be happy to elaborate.

You might have consulted the medical form – Dr Google – who compiles a list of potential medical conditions from your given symptoms.

Can’t find that recipe for Turmeric flavoured Brownies? Chef Google to the rescue.

So much of our news and information stems from social media pop-ups, short headlines or excerpts on Google. News services and some newspapers have been made redundant by Google. We are now so good at finding out information for ourselves, via Google, I wonder if journalism will become redundant too?

Syndicated news doesn’t seem to reflect differing viewpoints any longer. Instead, reporters grow more like the mouthpieces of social media behemoths, reporting on what they personally think of a topic, rather than any balanced, objective or original perspective.

There is little need for a media launch or PR campaign for a new product. With a small amount of money, social media marketing will use targeted advertising will reach your chosen audience and Google spiders automatically do the rest.

Google is omnipresent and listening. If you don’t believe me, try saying, “Hey Google” to your cell phone.

Flowers
Time – less flowers

Google has made the world better by improving access to information, but it has also eliminated a multitude of jobs. How did we ever manage without it?

In referring to time, our future years may be B.G. and A.G. – Before Google and After Google.

1980’s was a year B.G. – being that time when we used Telephone books, Street Directories, read broadsheet Newspapers and Hard copy Dictionaries and more people had full time employment.

I remember those days.

sun rising over water at the baech
Philosophy

Ways to Improve Life during the Year of Covid

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless, diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples to build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Robert F. Kennedy
water
The ripples that might build a current

Are you wanting to find more peace and contentment in your life, in this the year of instability?

Giving and assisting others is one way in which you can make people’s lives better and simultaneously feel a sense of satisfaction, achievement and contentment.

If you want to make a difference in your own world, start with the world around you.

If making a difference, all at once, seems a too tall an order or impossible for you, or the process of trying too stressful, consider that we can instantly make a difference, fairly easily. 

Start by focusing on one person at a time – maybe that is the person closest to you.

When we don’t have time or cannot visit elderly relatives or neighbours because of work or Covid constraints, or even personal inclination – (a lack of interesting conversation), a small note, text message or phone call will always be welcomed by them.

Spread loving thoughts to cherished ones.

It is all too easy to assume family members are going to be there for us and thus, we might forget to make any kind of effort towards them. Ironically, those relationships are the ones we often need to nurture the most.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Humanity

  • Pay it forward – pay for the next person’s coffee in the queue, without expecting anything in return.
  • Donate to a charity something that you value – something that might bring joy to someone in unfortunate circumstances.
  • Give a homeless person, a home-baked treat or a fresh meal, a warm coat or bag of toiletries.
  • Help out at an animal shelter for a day or a week. Animals are incredible healers of the human spirit.
  • Smile at each person you met in a genuine time considered way – (being cognizant of cultural and social norms).

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

You do not need to convince anyone, only yourself.

Break Down Goals into Smaller Pieces

Always useful is the tip to break down seemingly impossible tasks or goals into baby steps, and work steadily towards your goal. This is a great life skill and a way to move forward when negative feelings overwhelm us.

happy smile-beach

If you make one person smile, or laugh, even just for a moment, their smile just might make others smile too.  In this subtle way, you can touch the masses with thoughtfulness.

Aim to make a bunch of small splashes, and let the ripples spread naturally. 

If you want to change another person’s mind or mood, you might have to change a little of yourself, at first and then work on enhancing the environment and the people around you.

monument 9 11 christchurch
Architecture, Travel

Christchurch Cathedral – Now Lost

Church

The Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, was an impressive piece of religious architecture and a tourist draw-card for the small city. Sadly it’s now gone, due to two large earthquakes that occurred back in 2010 and 2011. I was lucky enough to visit just two weeks before the first earthquake.

History of Christchurch

For Christchurch to be declared a ‘city’, with all the privileges that entailed, it had to have a cathedral, so the pilgrims that sailed on the immigrant ships in 1850 and made Christchurch their home, built the cathedral in the historic style of the time. Clearly, they had faith that the city would develop.

The Church though a little damaged, remained intact after the first earthquake, in 2010, but the beautiful tower fell in the second event barely six months later. An earthquake-proof cathedral, presumably of a different design will be re-built on this site.

mosaic christchurch cathedral
Reproduction in mosaics on the floor of the Cathedral depicting one of four pilgrim ships that established Christchurch in 1850.

Early Pilgrims

Some insight into days on board the immigrant ships was provided:

Life on board was cramped. Steerage passengers were confined to a small space below the main deck. Single men slept in bunks. Married couples had a curtain for privacy. This space was used not only for sleeping, but also for storing everything needed for the voyage. There was a lack of fresh air, and dampness was a constant concern. Basic food was provided, such as salted meat, flour, rice, biscuits and potatoes. A bucket was supplied for washing and laundry.

Many suffered from seasickness. The worst, during the first two weeks, but for some, it continued for the whole voyage. Passengers passed the time at sea plotting the ship’s course, writing letters and diaries, sewing, playing cards and games, and dancing. Prayer meetings were held every morning and afternoon, and there was a full church service on Sundays. There were also school lessons for the children. Source: http://www.firstfourships.co.nz/

The Altar

Christchurch cathedral
Before the Quake….

Christchurch cathedral

A door like the Cathedral entry door could withstand any earthquake.

christchurch cathedral


.

Christchurch Cathedral’s Stained Glass Windows

Christchurch cathedral
Christchurch before the Quake….

Not able to withstand the quake were the stained glass windows and curiously patriotic cushions on the pews.

Christchurch before the Quake....

Mosaics

christchurch cathedral

The mosaic theme continued all along the wall and floor tiles. They loved these sorts of things in the mid 1800’s. Didn’t they? A real treasure.

Mosaics

Part of the design included a Swastika, a symbol that held a different meaning, prior to World War II.

The Swastika is known as the Fylfot and is an ancient symbol found in the ruins of Troy, Egypt, China, and India. In Sanskit, it means prosperity from the belief that it brings good luck. The Victorians loved the symbol and I have a Victorian hat pin that is a swastika. It gives me the creeps, but historically, that was not the intention.

.


Not sure what the relevance of this was for, other than what it says.

Christchurch before the Quake....
Christchurch cathedral

Here is what the cathedral looked like until recently – Reduced to rubble but the door remains intact.

Work was scheduled to begin in 2020, on the re-build.

Linking to Norm’s doors

shadows
blogging

Friendly Friday Challenge – Shadows

Sandy’s prompt for Friendly Friday reminded me of a visit to the Skansen Museum in Stockholm,where I felt the presence of old world shadows.

In the midst of a Swedish winter, the shadowy silhouette of the bell tower in Stockholm’s Skansen Museum was an imposing and slightly daunting sight set against the crepuscular morning light.

Swedish farm houses were dark and the winters bitterly cold. Many families lived in the same house for generations and the darkest corners of the room echoed with imagined shadows of the past.

Skansen’s Farm labourers cottage

Taking refuge inside, farmers and their labourers would enjoy consuming a hearty meal, particularly at Christmas.

For those who have Swedish heritage, visiting Skansen is a way to bring history alive and feel more of a connection with the past.

Linking to Friendly Friday- Shadows

shadows

Sandy is hosting the blogging challenge which runs until Thursday, this week.

A new prompt will be released here at StPA, next Friday.

winter windmill skansen sweden
Traditional Art, Travel

Swedish Skansen Museum

Overlooking Stockholm, Skansen Open Air Museum is a walk back in history that every visitor should make when visiting Sweden.

Skansen is the first open-air museum and zoo in Sweden and is located on the island Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden. It was opened on 11 October 1891 by Artur Hazelius to show the way of life in the different parts of Sweden before the industrial era.

In a few hours, oner can stroll back through time to pre-industrial Sweden and imagine life in the beautifully preserved collection of traditional buildings.

All levels of society are featured here from the humble bonded farmer to the wealthy Corn Chandler, a dealer in grains, whose quaint summerhouse is a postcard-worthy.

Summerhouse cottage of the Corn chandler

If you are visiting at Christmas and through early January, there are extra activities organized with attendants in period costume singing Christmas songs and dancing around the tree as well as reindeer sled rides for the children.

history
Head coverings for.both men and women, were a practical and significant feature of life

The Old Church in Skansen is reminiscent of a turbulent period in religious history. The Church in Sweden was heavily influenced by the traditions of Martin Luther whose idea was not to start a new religion, but rather to reform Christianity. He extolled the virtues of finding, “Salvation through Faith.” Although there are very old Swedish Churches dating back to the end of the Viking era with heavily decorated ceilings, later buildings were more austere in decoration.

Photography is encouraged throughout the museum, but the interiors of many buildings are quite dark and in order to preserve any painted objects, such as a splendid Swedish Mora clock, the use of a camera flash is prohibited. The clock at Skansen was painted in Swedish folk art style similar to the one below and dated back to 1799.

In years gone by, it was customary for art students to travel to Stockholm in order to learn to paint and later, return to the countryside to decorate household items and furniture for wealthy farmers, in typical folk art style.

sverige museet i vinter
Farmers cottage

Accompanying the collection of historic buildings is a small zoo, which would delight the younger members of the family, and features arctic animals such as reindeer, moose, lynx, bear and grey wolves.

Don’t forget to snap your panoramic shot, as the view from Skansen gives you an opportunity to capture the Stockholm skyline and city centre.

sweden
Stockholm and Sami Hutsami Tepee

I recommend the various lunch options nearby. You could easily spend the afternoon here visiting other attractions such as Grona Lund Amusement Park, Vasa or the ABBA museums and the Art Gallery.

Lunch options in the area range from cafes to a la carte restaurants. One of which claimed to serve the best salmon in the world so I just had to try it. Served with potato and dill it was definitely a ‘melt-in-the-mouth,’ flavour and the freshest salmon I have eaten. In archetypal Swedish style, a simple dessert of fresh raspberries with ice cream and raspberry sauce was a fitting complement to the meal.

market
blogging

When Marketing Gets It Wrong

Do you read Product Reviews before buying a product?

The content of product reviews are increasingly influential for the public, when it comes to future purchasing choices. The opinion of the majority, or, the ‘herd,‘ also known as ‘Group think,’ is seen as paramount, as we discussed in a previous post .

Marketing techniques that target this type of thought and purchasing pattern, could be seen as lazy and fundamentally flawed.

Post-Purchase Screening of Customers

Consumers are more often than not, badgered by, not one, but several automated, emails asking them to give up their free time to:

“Tell us about your purchase,” and follow up if you do not reply to the email with a friendly:

“It’s not too late to tell us your thoughts.

Sometimes it is a text message asking,

How did we do?” in serving you and requesting your idea of a numeric rating.

All this in the name of improving customer service.

Do you like this level of attention after you have purchased a product?

Can you imagined if I badgered my readers like that?

Do you like my blog?

How often do you read the posts?

Do you want a daily update?

Are you sure?

It is not too late to subscribe!

Receiving a 5 star rating in a review might boost product sales more than any media advertisement and costs the company nothing. In short, shoppers are doing the marketing work for the company.

Canvassing Customers can be Risky Business

A product review can cut both ways. Badger a customer for a response and you might get a response, but not the the company likes.

A poor review might damage reputations, especially if it remains published. The veracity of the review itself is always at the mercy of customer competency and subjective biases.

Marketing Fail # 1

For example:

Recently I purchased a kitchen appliance for my new house that intermittently stopped working.

Frustrated, I wrote an online product review with a poor rating, whilst the ‘Moth’, (a.k.a. Man of the House), took it back to the store, asking for a replacement.

The product tested perfectly well in-store, but with an explanation that it was an intermittent fault, as we thought, the store replaced it without hassle.

Back home, the replacement product malfunctioned again!

So. Hmm.

Maybe, just maybe it wasn’t the product, after all, but a faulty power source? After all, ours was a new home, with newly installed power points.

To our horror, the appliance worked without fault in a different power point.

With a guilty feeling in our gut, we had to admit the appliance wasn’t faulty at all. Yet what damage had I done to that product’s reputation with my poor review, in the meantime?

Marketing /Product Review Fail # 2

I purchased a bra online through a popular department store and the automated email follow up I received after store pick up, is seen below.

I was asked to add photos, a video and location information!

In a young lady who purchased intimate apparel, this might be considered intrusive, but can you imagine photos, or video footage, of a 50 something lady, modelling a bra?

Probably not the content the store was after for their site. Aside from the fact they would surely filter out such content, it begs the question what else would, or could, they filter out?

As for the question of location – I can see the rationale to that question, but in the context of a bra purchase, it felt voyeuristic and slightly creepy.

Generic email and privacy filter arguments aside, this exemplifies how this style of marketing fails miserably and just serves to defeat its intended purpose!

Imagine if I had purchased underwear, or God forbid, a sex toy!

eye
Photography

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Capturing a Feeling

How seriously do you take your Photography?

Is taking photos just a whim, a bit of fun? A hobby you would like to improve? Or a serious pursuit? Whichever category you fit into, (or don’t), we notice photos that are striking, ones that capture attention, (pun not intended).

This old portrait captures a strong emotion in the eyes

Scott Bourne has some thoughts on the magic behind photography and it was his post that made me re-consider how we take photographs.

Do we snap a shot just as a record of what you saw?

Do we compose for interest?

We might even find an angle that portrays a little more emotion, particularly for street or portrait photography.

If so, we convey a feeling through the photograph to the viewer.

Great ocean Road
Not the standard tourist stop portrait

Scott explains a little more of what he looks for in a photo:

Unfortunately, in today’s instant gratification-hungry world, it’s rare to find someone who will look past the superficial to find something special. Everyone just wants a magic camera, or lens, or camera setting or post-processing, preset. Unfortunately there is no magic anything. What there is well, that is all about SEEING. I want to encourage you to “feel” your way to a photograph.

Scott Bourne – picturemethods.com
daisy

Some people have an eye for photography. Others have to work to develop it. Regardless of your camera budget, if you do have an eye or can develop it, your photos will attract attention.

seeing
Such expression in this cropped photo of eyes.

Friendly Friday Theme – ‘Capturing a Feeling’

This week for Friendly Friday, when you take a photograph try to compose to capture a feeling or emotion.

If you are using your archival photographs, you might crop a photo or edit to exhibit a particular mood that you wish to create.

Today for example, we made a new friend.

A young magpie landed on our fence, literally right behind our heads, as we sipped our morning cup of tea. The bird was bold and curious and his reward for that, was a morsel of cake. We watched his confidence and trust, in us, slowly grow as I hand-fed him a small piece of ham.

I cropped the following photograph to create a feeling of intensity, of concentration and to convey the beginnings of trust in the bird’s eyes.

After tasting the morsel of carrot cake, he must have thought his luck had changed.

I like the contrast of nature and the stark white and ultra modern built environment behind, but feel that some editing would help the photo stand out. But today, I left it as is. What do you think?

This afternoon the bird returned with his mate, who was much more cautious about the ham and preferred a lawn grub or two which is far better for them, anyway.

Posting a Friendly Friday Challenge?

Don’t forget to comment here, tag and pingback to this post.

Instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge

Friendly Friday

I will be back in two weeks time with another prompt. Next week, for Friendly Friday, you will be in the able hands of Sandy, my Friendly Friday co-host, who will post next week’s challenge.

polish folk art mouse pad
craft, History & Traditions, Painting, Photography, Traditional Art

Kashubian Embroidery

Traditional Tuesday – [A look at traditional Art Forms]

Poland is a country of deeply rooted culture and pursuits, not the least of which, is iconic Polish Folk Art forms, such as a specialist kind of stitching, called Kashuby embroidery. Initially used as a decoration for clothing, particularly folk costumes and women’s caps, these distinctive motifs have been transformed and used to decorate items as diverse as pottery, furniture, tableware and a range of merchandise from lanyards to mouse pads.

Kashubians are a proud people with a separate language, craft and folklore to other Polish areas. Their motto is “There is no Kashubia without Poles and Poland without Kaszubians.”

Product available in Zazzle and Redbubble

Previously considered an activity for Grandmothers, girls of all ages and even men, in Kashubia, enjoy decorating clothing with Kashuby Embroidery.

Colours

Kashubia, [a province in coastal Pomerania], is famous for its distinctive embroidery that consistently features seven main colours.

http://www.wilno.org/culture/embroidery.html

The palette used in Kashuby embroidery utilises seven main thread colours and believe or not, this tends to be strictly observed, i.e. 3 shades of blue, yellow, red, green and brown/black, for it to be called Kashuby Style.

Each of the colors used symbolized something from nature and the people.

BLUE: –

  • Dark Blue – represents the profound depth of the Baltic Sea
  • Medium or Royal Blue – the colour of the Kashubian Lakes
  • Light Blue – for the sky of Kashubia

YELLOW :-

  • Light Yellow – representing the sand on the beaches and the sun.
  • Medium Yellow for the grains ripening in the fields
  • Dark Yellow symbolizing amber, commonly found washed up on the beaches, in these coastal areas.

GREEN :-

  • Symbolizes the meadows and plant life
  • Indicates the forests teeming with animal life

RED :-

  • The use of the colour red indicated the heart and love
  • also indicative of the blood of every Kashubian. They are a fiercely patriotic people, and would die to defend their homeland.
  • Red also represents poppies in girl’s hairs

BLACK or BROWN :-

  • representing sorrow and adversity
  • symbolizing the earth in the fields awaiting to be sown seeds.

Motifs

hafty

Because of the poverty of the surrounding soil, the Kashubian landscape produces flowers that are stringy, but still colourful. Nature is an important inspiration for floral motifs, especially bell-flowers, lilies, daisies, roses, cornflowers, pomegranates and clovers. Tulips and Acanthus motifs, derived from Christian religious traditions were incorporated as oak or thistle leaves and restricted to embroidery executed by Nuns in the convents.

Adding Beetles and bee motifs to the embroidery stemmed from connections to the ancient pagan traditions of honouring nature.

A lovely element used in Kashuby embroidery is the ‘tree of life.’ Ideally, the branches mustn’t cross or intertwine because it symbolises that life ought to be simple and clear.

In the nineteenth century, fashions changed and traditional folk art patterned outfits began to slowly disappear but some crafts hung on and were printed on to modern merchandise to appeal to tourists.

Formerly, the different style of embroidered costume was related to the particular job the person was doing. Farmers had different motifs and outfits to that seen on fisherman.

In modern times, these outfits are rarely seen outside of special occasions, events or musical performances yet the popularity of the embroidery style, lives on.

More posts on Polish Folk Art

melbourne
Australia

Road Cycling and Safety

I leant out the car window this morning and had a conversation with a road cyclist at the traffic lights. I wanted to know why so many cyclists appear to choose NOT to ride on the outer or footpath side of the road, but position themselves on the inner side, dangerously close to where the cars travel. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t concern me, but it’s been a hot topic of whinging and conversation in the community, so I was a tad curious.

A simple enough question that had a surprising answer.

journey with a cyclist riding in a fog early morning

Road cycling is the most widespread form of cycling. It includes recreational, racing, commuting, and utility cycling. Road cyclists are generally expected to obey the same rules and laws as other vehicle drivers or riders and may also be vehicular cyclists.

Wikipedia

Upon hearing my enquiry, this rather brash, lycra-clad rider put up his hackles. His stood tall on his bike, puffed his chest out, and his body language indicated he was ready for battle.

“It is not a dedicated bike lane back there,” he spat. “Read your road rules, love.”

I will admit Australia is slow to join the party when it comes to accommodating cyclists. The vast majority of major roads have no bike lanes, so cyclists must compete with trucks, cars, buses and all road users. Cyclists pay zero registration costs to contribute to the upkeep of the roads which earns the ire of the driving community. Rules vary from place to place but here we must keep 1 metre away from the bikes, when driving on the roads, due to the many cyclist deaths in commuter traffic.

Keeping 1 metre away would be simple if the cyclist kept to the outer or even the middle section of the emergency stopping lane, or roadside verge or bike lane, where there is one, but almost all seem to prefer to stick close to cars, which means the cars need to veer into the next lane, in order to comply with the 1-metre distance rule.

Bridge
A Norwegian cyclist

But I digress. Let’s go back to the discussion with the lycra-clad cyclist. As my intention wasn’t to debate the road rules, I clarified that I wanted to understand the motives behind the cyclist’s choice, so I persisted and, the traffic light was still red.

“On a Sunday morning”, he continued, “there’s so much glass on the road after Saturday night, that if I was to ride on the left (footpath), side of the road, I’d get nothing but flat tyres. So we all ride on the inside near the cars.”

– Road Cyclist in Red Lycra

As the traffic light then changed to green, I thanked him for the explanation and wound up my car window. His body language relaxed and he took off in another direction.

Yet, I was still left wondering – could there really be so much glass on ALL the major roads in our city? It just didn’t seem plausible. Is a flat tyre less preferable than safety?

Is this a problem in other countries without bike lanes?

Less than 30 minutes later, I was walking with friends along the beach with our dogs and recounted my story about the cyclist. We were all in agreeance, questioning the validity of the flat tyre argument, when one of the girl’s mobile phone rang.

On answering it, my friend let out a hearty laugh.

Her daughter had called to say she was on a bike ride on an inner city road and had just got a flat tyre!

Sometimes strange coincidences are not that strange after all.

Skiing Bitihorn Beitostolen Norway
Travel

Skiing in New Zealand

Several years ago, we endured a heart-stopping trip to The Remarkables Ski Fields in the South Island of New Zealand. Australians flock to the NZ ski fields, every year, as it is more cost effective for them, than skiing in the limited fields in Australia.

Finally, we arrived!

After the 8 Kilometre, nail-biting transfer to the Remarkables Ski Field, in a very old bus, we checked “in,” to receive our NZ Ski My Pass Card, microchipped to follow our progress around the ski fields and were measured for clothing, boots, and skis.

Hiring Skis and Clothing on the Ski Fields

The Ski Centre, (at 1610 m a.s.l.), was awash with bodies of all sizes in snowsuits, teeny tiny kids sliding about on snowboards and loads of skis resting in the snow.

Travel tip: Visitors can hire ski gear for their skiing adventure, (pants, jackets, and boots etc) but they do have to bring some items of their own, as I was to soon discover.

No, you can’t hire gloves, Ma’am, for hygiene reasons” – the attendant in the Ski shop told me sternly, upon enquiring. What was I thinking? (Even in this pre-Covid vacation). Ski gloves would be a personal item you couldn’t and wouldn’t want to hire!

I regretted not thinking through the Travel agent’s vague advice: “Travel light, you can hire everything over there.” I cursed leaving my own super-thick Norwegian gloves at home and regretted passing up the opportunity to buy a pair at our local supermarket, (which had so many on sale, as ski gloves aren’t usually a popular commodity in Australia). Thus, having a captive market, I succumbed and purchased a pair for $50.00 at the small mountain Ski shop. It would be impossible to ski/toboggan without gloves.

Storage Lockers for Hire at The Remarkables

I also regret not hiring a storage locker at the ski centre; however, the locks appeared dubious and I preferred to have my passport, drink bottles and asthma medication with me so chose to carry it around on my back, whilst skiing, not realizing how destabilizing this would be on my balance.

Update: The Ski centre now offers secure day storage with automated pay lockers and if skiing the next day you can store your used gear overnight in the Rental Department. This is available downstairs in the base building and you can pay by credit card or EFTPOS.

Ski Lessons

Group and Private ski lessons can now easily be booked ahead of time, via the website.

I’d opted to introduce my daughter to the thrill of downhill skiing in New Zealand, so I attempted to teach her what little I knew from a trip to Thredbo Ski Fields, as a school student, some 30 years ago.

Unfortunately for my pride, it fast became apparent that following the lead of another beginner skiers in the very generous Beginner’s bowl as well as eavesdropping on a few instructors was far more successful for my daughter, than listening to Mum’s antiquated knowledge. Physically adept, she quickly got the hang of it, having been cross-country skiing in Norway, several years previously. Before long, she was going up and down the magic carpet in the Beginner’s bowl area, while I watched on from a distance.

Hands up in a Happy ‘Y’

Lifts at the Remarkables

It is useful to bear in mind that lift passes allow you to access both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski fields and do not need to be used on consecutive days.

From the ski centre, we jumped, (literally), onto the chairlift, to travel up to the Tubing area. With skis on, it is no mean feat for a 10-year-old, new to downhill skiing, to manage this without any assistance. What happened to those nice attendants I remember who were there to help you on and off the chairlift with a modicum of grace?

In this age of economic rationalism, they had been replaced by a single safety officer, who replied to a request for assistance with a lackadaisical, “You’ll be alright!”  That is Kiwi skiing for you and his confidence in my skills, as anticipated, was sorely misplaced. Getting on the lift, was managed fine, but getting off was quite a different matter.

Busily advising my daughter, Miss 10, on what to watch out for when alighting from the chair, (which she managed with incredible finesse), I suddenly realised I’d left alighting from the chair a second or two, too late!! By which time, I had to jump, as the lift had started to turn and the ground was fast disappearing beneath me. The sharp decline on the slope meant I promptly lost my balance, falling over right in front of the turning chair!

With not a soul to help, I got up with the help of Miss 10, which was humiliation enough. I was then relieved to see a friendly face approach me, thinking this stranger was going to assist me to maintain my precarious balance on the snow. Alas, she was a photographer out to take an obligatory-first time ski portrait- the kind they sell in kiosks at somewhat ridiculous prices.

Snap snap snap, clicked the camera.

I inwardly hoped she didn’t get one of me falling at the top of the chairlift. On second thoughts, that could have been a better tourist photo! With my mouth wide open, gasping for air and scrambling for something on which to gain a solid footing, (said backpack swinging around on my back), it is little wonder the photographer suddenly hesitated, thinking I was about to sneeze, or collapse. No, it was me with a mild bout of asthma, gasping for a little more air.

Tubing and Snow Fun at The Remarkables

After that mild mishap, and a few more falls and runs down the slopes, we arrived at the Tubing area – which is a short walk from the lift.

Riding a Rubber tyre tube down a huge slope is a real blast in the snow. I can’t tell you how much fun it is, even for a person of my age. It is not just for children.

Miss 10 and I tubed up and down for over an hour, and I would have continued if I could have. I think sometime we may have reached speeds of 20 -30 km/h. It was heady! I felt young again!

Back then, the Tubes are pulled up by a rope tow, which has to be held taut whilst you are seated on the large rubber tube. For me, that meant holding the tow rope in a position that rather awkwardly was between my legs! Yet this was so much more preferable to walking up the hill in the snow dragging the tube in thick snow. And it meant we could get more downhill runs in. Yay!

Of course, the ubiquitous Tourist Photographer was there too. I think two photos cost near to over NZD$60.00 – you have been warned!

After several more hours, I was utterly exhausted and needed some fuel and asthma medication to continue. We returned to the beginner area instead of attempting more advanced runs. We’d fallen over too many times to remember, by this stage.

Despite seeing a nasty beginner snowboarding accident which to me looked like a flip gone wrong, we had so much fun, going up, coming down, going up, coming down, throwing snowballs, sliding down the snow cave/tunnel etc.  And the view from the Remarkables was well, remarkable!

Ski Transfer to Queenstown from The Remarkables

The return trip from the ski fields is simple enough. No need to book as apparently shuttles leave the mountain every hour, or as soon as they fill up a bus load, from 2 pm onwards.

Something to Ponder About