Travel

Magic Puddles at Meji

Japanese garden

Tokyo’s Meji Shrine is not that far from the Gyoen’s (The National Garden in Shinjuku), Sendegaya gate, but heavy rain might hamper your ability to navigate there correctly on foot. It will be particularly difficult if you’re holding a tiny Japanese umbrella over two people, and trying to navigate using your smartphone’s apps at the same time.

You have had fair warning.

9:00 am: We had begun the day at the Gyoen National Garden, a photographer’s dream, well before any rain started.

If you want to know more about visiting that spectacular Garden, click here.

We worked out that taking a wrong turn isn’t always a bad thing, in Japan. Some of the streets are really quite interesting and surprisingly devoid of traffic. Which is really unexpected, in a city of 38 million people.

Going to the wrong way out of Meji

1pm: After the wrong turn or two, we spotted the enormous Torii gate which signals the entrance to the Meji shrine. Having advanced knowledge that the Shinto shrine is located well inside Yoyogi Park, and given it was raining heavily, we looked for temporary cover before entering in the hopes the rain would abate.

It didn’t.

Shinto shrine Torii gate Japan
The Torii Gate – or entrance, to Meji Shrine in Tokyo

Our vain attempt to shelter under the eave of the guard’s box at the entrance was met with howls of protest from the guard himself, that I interpreted as, “No standing here, – you must keep moving.”

And move we did, passing through the Torii gate and taking the long, now dismal, walk up to Meji. This is normally a pleasant ten minute stroll through Yoyogi park when the sun is shining, but can be a miserably cold trot if it is teeming with rain, and it was teeming with rain.

Despite the inclement weather, I noted that the gardeners was highly focused on the task at hand, which was commendable, but I pondered if it might have been a religious penance of sorts to continue sweeping the leaves with a primitive straw broom amidst a torrential downpour?

Just keep sweeping..

In any case, I admired his resilience and fearless immunity to discomfort, despite the heavens opening up. No down time for outdoor workers in rainy Japan, it seems. And we complain about poor working conditions here…. gulp.

history

The Meji Shrine, itself, dates from 1920 and being a Shinto shrine it is considered the resting place of the souls, but not the earthly remains, of Emperor Meiji, and his empress.

The Meji period marked the beginning of Modern Japan, transitioning as it did, from a feudal power to centralized control under the Emperor, and therefore this shrine is significant, in Japanese history.

It is also worth mentioning the surrounding Yoyogi park contains over 100,000 trees that originated from donations from throughout the whole of Japan.

tips on visiting Meji Shinto Shrine in Japan

We were later to learn that it is customary to purify your hands and face prior to entering a Shinto shrine.

What every tourist needs to know:

After washing your hands and face, be sure to let the dirty water drain outside of the stone basin and tip the blessing bucket up so that clean water runs down the handle, so that it is clean for the next person.

This is Japanese custom but also altruism and thoughtfulness.

Respect for others. I like that.

shinto shrine cleansing fountain

You do not want to pollute the clean water in the vessel…….

How to Purify Yourself at a shinto shrine

  1. Take the wodden dipper in your right hand and scoop up some water. …
  2. Wash your left hand. …
  3. Change the dipper to your left hand, and wash your right hand. …
  4. Change the dipper into your right hand again, and rinse your mouth with your left hand. …
  5. Wash the handle of the dipper by letting the water run downward …
  6. Put the dipper back on the basin, scoop side down. ( The Japanese always think of the next person)

Meji Shrine 1:30 pm:

Like the many other tourists caught in the downpour with or without umbrella, we sat for over 60 minutes, waiting again for the rain to abate, as we were sure it would. It didn’t.

We sat meditating – watching the cleaner; watching the white zig zag shaped streamers fluttering in the breeze wondering of their significance; watching the rain; watching a wedding couple posing for pictures; watching the rain; watching the other tourists sitting and waiting for the rain to stop. We were patient. We watched and meditated 🙂

The rain Gods were not happy with us.

The deluge became heavier.

Another tip: There’ s not a whole lot to do at Meji Shrine, once you have taken some happy snaps and checked out the shrine. No cafe on site, No souvenir shops. That is a good thing, I think, however not such a fortuitous thing, if you are waiting for rain to stop.

A roving street vendor would have made a killing that day.

shinto shrines

Meji Shrine 2.25 pm:

There were some beautiful blossoms to admire whilst the rain fell. I got some great pictures.

We also got up close and personal with the cleaner going about his sweeping.

I noted he had updated his broom – a modern design, this time.

Meji Japan

An hour and a half later, we decided the rain wasn’t going to stop.

Meji Shrine 2.45pm:

The rain continued. We decided to make a run for it.

It rained all the way back home to the hotel. About 3 kilometres.

Later than night, I researched the Shinto zig zag streamers that we had seen hanging at the Shrines. Their purpose was to encourage the Shinto Nature spirits to, of all things, bring a plentiful rainfall to ensure a good rice harvest. Rice needs so much rain….

No wonder it was raining at Meji. The Zig zag streamers were hanging everywhere.

At least the shinto gods were swiftly responsive. After that day, there was one thing I was sure about – there’ll be no shortage of rice this year in Japan.

stpa logo

Something to Ponder About

Community, Photography

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Looking Up

Much of the time our focus is spent looking down at our smartphones, at a book or document, or even on young children? In keeping our focus downward, we often miss important details or sights above and around us.

Have a look at the following photo : –

Not one person in this photo is LOOKING UP at the splendor above them.

There is immense beauty above our heads, if we open our eyes to it.

This week on Friendly Friday I am asking you to join in and create a post sharing your interpretation of the prompt : –

LOOKING UP

Here is something I would have missed if my daughter had not LOOKED UP –

Unusual things can be found Looking Up.

Instructions for Joining In:

  • Write and publish a post, tagging the post ‘Friendly Friday’, and adding into your post, the URL link back to this Friendly Friday post.
  • Include the Friendly Friday logo, found below, in your post if you wish.
  • Copy the link to your LOOKING UP post, in the comments here, so we can find you.
  • Please note there are no deadlines for participating. New prompts each week.
  • To see participating bloggers’ version of the weekly prompt, please browse the links in the comments section. It can be quite interesting to see the other interpretations.

Find more Instructions on joining in with Friendly Friday here

Friendly Friday

Everyone is welcome to join in with the Friendly Friday Photography challenge.

The challenge is alternately hosted each Friday by the bloggers:
Something to Ponder About  and The Snow Melts Somewhere

Pingbacks – Needing help creating a link back or pingback to your post – click here

This guy who filmed that video must be glad he Looked Up, after the earthquake

Something Fun to Ponder About this Friday!

raindrop
Community

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Raindrops

We have been so very desperate for rain in many parts of Australia, and finally the rains have arrived. They have come late in some areas, have received far too much in other areas, and not quite enough in still other areas. But the raindrops have been falling. Yay!

This is the same flower that has pride of place on my blog’s cover image

Rain is appreciated also by the thirsty plants which respond with a flush of growth and some with flowers.

Raindrops are also a photographer’s delight. After the rain is the best time for photographs.

flowers

The photo below is a microcosmic world in itself. The leaf forms are a metaphor for our planet, the raindrop a metaphor for the oceans, the individual drops the rivers and streams running into the oceans, and the minute hairs the people of the world, dependent on the water drop for life.

raindrop

Some organisms are 90 % water. 60% of an adult human body is comprised of water.

Water is essential resource for life. Raindrops are precious.

Unfortunately, some creatures like the ones below also like the rain.

art street
Mozzies

They are not so welcome.

Create a post sharing your interpretation of this week’s Friendly Friday prompt –

Raindrops

Instructions:

  • Write and publish a post, tagging the post ‘Friendly Friday’, and adding a url link back to this Friendly Friday post.
  • Include the Friendly Friday logo, found below, if you wish.
  • Post a link to your Raindrops post in the comments here, so others can find you.
  • Please note there are no deadlines for participating. New prompts each week.
  • To see participating bloggers’ version of the weekly prompt, please browse the links in the comments section. It can be quite interesting to see the other interpretations.

Find more Instructions on joining in with Friendly Friday here

Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday Photography challenge is alternately hosted each Friday by
Something to Ponder About  

and

The Snow Melts Somewhere

Pingbacks – Needing help creating a link back or pingback to your post – click here

Something Fun to Ponder About this Friday!

Community

Heavenly Gardens of Shinjuku Gyoen – Japan

Bolstered by the large and eventful breakfast, which I wrote about here, and visiting Tokyo in Crimson Leaves Season, we were keen to explore a traditional garden, on our first day in Japan. At the top of our list was the Gyoen National Garden, a green oasis that is completely amidst the busiest commercial district in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Garden
Gyoen National Garden, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Background of Gyoen

Originally a residence for one of Japan’s feudal Lord during the Edo period, the Gyoen National Garden fell under the control of the Imperial family in the twentieth century. Although much of the garden was then destroyed during World War II; you would never know it, as Gyoen is nothing short of a tranquil, well tended masterpiece of Japanese horticulture.

Traditional Japanese Garden Design at Gyoen

With the NTT Docomo building towering stoically above Gyoen’s tree line like an old world Imperial Guard, it is easy to remember the Shinjuku-Shibuya metropolis is never far away. However, the hard concrete lines of modernity are significantly softened by the more natural lines of the leafy foliage and traditional Japanese garden fixtures.

Very photogenic.

NTT Docomo Building from Gyoen

The Gyoen Guide Map offers us the chance to fully comprehend the scale of the park and orientates ourselves to ensure we see all the individual gardens and differing botanical features contained therein. Entrance, (with guide map in English), costs 200 Japanese Yen.

We don’t want to miss anything!

Gyoen’s Shinjuku Entrance Gate

chrysanthemum shows

The small fee we pay to enter the garden is truly value for money, as the day we visit there is also a special floral display of cultivated chrysanthemums, which attracts the attention of many Japanese citizens.

How glorious are these?

Light rain only enhances the organic beauty around us, as the raindrops linger on the leaves. This delights my daughter as it makes for excellent photographic opportunities.

And we have the ubiquitous, clear-plastic umbrella to shield us. Very Japanese.


“Maple trees can be seen in large numbers around the Japanese garden and Momijiyama (maple mountain) on the [Gyoen] park’s eastern side. The colors typically appear from mid November to mid December. “

Tokyo Tourist Guide
One small Maple tree showed its Crimson coat. In a few weeks time, the others would too.

Our arrival is a week or so early to see the majority of crimson leaves in Tokyo, for the temperatures are unusually warm. Despite this, I find the trees are magical and remind me of a medieval Northern forest, or a scene from a Lord of the Rings novel.

The leaves are still golden and green, but soon to be crimson red.

Pavilion

Each path within the garden invites in us, a different mood, vista and experience.
You can see hanging bouquets of chrysanthemums in the display in the background.
Despite the overcast conditions, the Pavilion was a place of tranquility and reflection, in more ways than one.

The carp pond

No Japanese garden could be complete without a Carp pond – and Gyoen has one.

Again the city reminds you it’s not far too away.

Carp pond – Gyoen National Garden
A serene spot to reflect, meditate and rejuvenate in Gyoen. Lucky Carp fish.

Autumn avenue awesomeness

However, for this sub-tropical Australian resident, the ultimate heavenly experience is yet to come when I discover the avenue of Sycamore trees, a feast for local photographers. It is such a delight for me. I truly am in awe of these trees and their burst of colour.

Photography
What photographer wouldn’t want to capture this?

This is Autumnal earth, resplendent in shades of sienna, brown, rust, bright yellow and green, all coalescing in an intense and harmonious collection of wholesome organic beauty.

The child in me wanted to run and kick up the fallen leaves, throw them in the air, rake them into a pile and jump on top of them. An Autumnal experience that exists only in my dreams.

Gyoen national park is a Japanese treasure, particularly if you visit at Crimson Leaf Season
Stunningly picturesque

Never before had I seen an avenue of trees that captivated me in such a way and I didn’t want to leave. [You have to remember we don’t have such deciduous trees in my home zone, so I’m super excited.]

sendagaya gate

Reluctantly, after several hours exploring and a gazillion photographs taken, we walk towards the park’s Sendagaya gate and find yet another magical path through the trees.

There is a special light through here. It is hard to define and see in the photo, but it is there.

Gyoen National Garden – A perfect spot to sit and ‘Ponder About Something.’

Linking to Friendly friday photo walk a challenge hosted by me and Snowmeltssomewhere

logo


 #aroundtheworldWP

Community

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Feelings of Spring

I might live in Australia, where the seasons are upside down, a somewhat moot point if you are Australian, but I am always acutely aware just when Spring has sprung in the Northern hemisphere. That is because the Northern ‘hemispherians,’ often get so excited about the first appearances of spring, their shouts are heard all the way ‘Down Under.’

This time of year, my inbox gets spammed with messages of glee and endless photos from the North, of the first snowdrops buds, or blades of greenery that poke their head through the final remnants of snow.

Sunflowers epitomize the essence of feelings of Spring.

I can’t say I blame them for having this Spring zeal, as I suspect they are glad to feel some warmth, while I am glad to have a break from the relentless heat. I thought we might celebrate the onset of Spring by making it this week’s Friendly Friday prompt. If you live in the Southern hemisphere, where Spring blurs into Summer, and thence into Autumn, you may have other photos to choose from that make for a different interpretation of the theme. It is entirely up to you.

Create a post sharing your interpretation of this week’s Friendly Friday prompt

Feelings of Spring

Instructions:

  • Write and publish a post, tagging the post ‘Friendly Friday’, and adding a url link back to this Friendly Friday post.
  • Include the Friendly Friday logo, if you wish.
  • Post a link to your Feelings of Spring post in the comments here, so we can find you.
  • Please note there are no deadlines for participating. New prompts each week.
  • Browse the other participants’ posts using the links in the comments section, to see how they’ve interpreted the weekly prompt. It can be quite interesting.

Find more Instructions on joining in with Friendly Friday here

Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday Photography challenge is alternately hosted each Friday by
Something to Ponder About  

and

The Snow Melts Somewhere

Pingbacks

For help creating a link back or pingback to your post – click here

Something Fun to Ponder About this Friday!

shinkjuku
Community

The Contrasts of Japan

Think of Japan, and what comes to mind? The perfect symmetry of Mt Fuji, the controlled calm of a Tea Ceremony, Kimonos, or Sushi? Japan is all that and more. This East meets West paradigm can be a place of extreme contrasts, as we found out not long after settling in to our hotel in Shinjuku, west of Tokyo.

From our hotel, the contrast between concrete jungle and green space of Chuo Park, is obvious

Shinjuku

With 20 tracks and 12 train links, Shinjuku Railway station is the busiest railway station in the world. Each day, up to 3.5 million commuters pass through its gates.

Given the vast metropolis that surrounds them, Japanese are fortunate to have a green oasis Shinjuku Chuo Park, a few steps away.

Chuo Park

This tribute to Zen incorporates gardens, a children’s, playground, waterfall and contrastingly – smoking cabins!

SMOKING cabins and Tai Chi

As I walked through this delightful park, I thought the smoking cabins seemed counter-intuitive to the objective of tranquility and Zen. Yet that did appear to be the objective of not only, the Tai Chi group, but also the gentleman playing the bamboo flute. (Even with the slight off key notes). This is Japan!

Again, we found it hard to believe another world was around the corner. What a contrast.

And if that wasn’t enough of a contrast, for us, we were about to discover the Pachinko phenomenon.

Pachinko MADNESS – What is it?

To the novice, Pachinko parlours are without doubt, a full on assault to the senses, bordering on sensory overload. But if Ikebana and Shinto Shrines are where Zen reaches its ‘zenith,’ Pachinko parlours must represent the flip side as leisure pursuits.

Pachinko parlours are full of loud, colourful and very noisy fantasy games. By day or night, grown men, mostly wearing suits, obsessively shove thousands of tiny beads into the hungry mouths of their electronic fantasy machines. Here is a taster: –

Not familiar with Pachinko? That might be because, to my knowledge, the game is purely a Japanese phenomenon.

As Gambling for cash is restricted to horse racing in Japan, the Japanese play for tiny beads, which can be exchanged for cards or tokens, redeemable at a separate location. At least, I think that is how they play it. To me these grown men were terribly reminiscent of teenage boys addicted to W.O.W or Fortnite! Crrrazzyy…

Thinking it is a harmless pastime of little consequence? Think again. “In 2015, Japan’s Pachinko market generates more gambling revenue than that of Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore combined.”[2]

The Pachinko Parlour at the Shinjuku Washington Hotel operates seven days a week from 10 – 2300, and boasts 500 seats and a SMOKING section!

Note: Smoking in public places in Australia has been banned for many years and to do so immediately relegates one to some back alley or rooftop alcove, usually beside large air-conditioning units, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that the Pachinko parlour lists the smoking room as one of their assets!

Another contrast for me to ponder about!

Community

Walking Around in Whitby

Named after British explorer, James Cook, this place is as far from its namesake town locality as it could possibly be, so what is there to see in Whitby?

Join me for a walk and see….

 

New Zealand Whitby 137
A suburban street in Whitby

 

You may have read about my previous visits to New Zealand, but it is Whitby, a suburban area, located north of the capital, Wellington, that featured on our walk today.

There is strong evidence of middle income suburban New Zealand, here, but Whitby also offers some unique but lesser known features, which I was to discover on a family walk among its well manicured streets.

trees

Coniferous trees relish a cool, temperate climate, quite different to the sub-tropical flora my kin might see at home.

Seeing them along dotted along the littoral fringe and stream that bisects this town, our minds filled with thoughts of hobbits and elves and ‘Middle Earth.’

Well, we were after all, in New Zealand!

New Zealand Whitby 078

The path, to the right, next to the tunnel of trees, along the littoral fringe.

 

 

New Zealand Whitby 077

 

The flowers alone are worth walking miles for….

 

New Zealand Whitby 140//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 

Plants like the Protea, above, and this spectacular hydrangea bush, that I struggle to grow back home, relish the cooler, more wet humid climate and seem to grow like weeds!

 

natureiphonephoto4thfeb

What is that definition of a weed?

Just a plant in the wrong place!

 

But it is not all trees and flowers we spotted on our walk.

 

The Kiwis are not at all overly formal in their manner, their sense of humour being evident in this unusual garden statue.

 

New Zealand 2013 088

Who wants a regular garden gnome, anyway?

 

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard
Pexels.com

 

Besides being named after the British birthplace of explorer, Captain James Cook, the attraction about Whitby for me, was found in the unique, natural beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Visible from practically any street in this locality, it is easy to be mesmerized by the distant mountains which remind me of convolutions of a green Giant’s velvet brain.

Our walk encompasses a stop at a flat-topped Spinnaker Summit Lookout, at which the mandatory photo stop was required.

 

New Zealand 2013 133

The mountains of green velour on the far side of the lake look as if a giant laid down a carpet and then slept on it, failing to smooth the grassy covers when he arose from his slumber.

One feels like you could rub your hand over them just to feel their soft, velour texture.

I have never seen hills like this anywhere else in the world.

It is said that New Zealand has some similarities to Norway, well, maybe not in this area…..

 

A backdrop of mountains and hills like the convolutions of a green velvet brain

 

A walk around a suburban area often gives one a feel for the personalities who live there.

The diversity of boutique letter box designs was a delightful recurring theme in Whitby.

 

letter box

 

I would like one of these letter boxes!

letter box

Walking further from the lake and Summit lookout, we spotted several Tui birds relishing the blossoms, hunting, as they were for some food.

This species of honey-eater is not under any threat, having adapted well to the urban environment in the North Island.

Wiki states that apparently the early European colonists called it the Parson Bird but, as with many New Zealand birds, the Maori name ‘Tui’ is now the common name.

[Source: Wikipedia]

TuiTui

 

 

 

After a good hour of strolling the suburban streets, Miss H and the young ‘uns were getting that glazed look in their eyes that said,” I’m soo bored” – you know the one that teens do so well, thus, a extension to our walk was quickly made to Adrenalin Forest, Porirua, on the outer edges of Whitby!!! Now it was the kid’s turn to dictate the direction of the “walk,” as the “Adrenaline forest” is an aerial obstacle course consisting of flying fox, high ropes, climbing through barrels, nets and steps, suspended above the ground, which makes for a fun and energetic few hours. The kids are harnessed with two dual locks, so it is impossible to remove both clamps from the harness at the one time, making it a perfectly safe activity, even for the most reckless individual. Furthermore, the attendants give full instructions and a good dose of practice on ground level before starting the course.

Adrenalin Forest

 

I venture to say it is a kids only activity, as I didn’t see any adults participating in the course.

Why?

The parents/carers were all down on terra firma, shouting encouraging thoughts above, who were hanging by the harness up to 60 feet above them in the tree tops.

The course becomes incrementally more difficult, and Miss 11 who was part of our group, piked out at Level 3, and had to be ‘rescued’ – which meant that an attendant had to climb a ladder and disengage you from the course.

Miss 13 and 16 kept going till Level 4, but were exhausted afterwards. A real endurance activity for some.

 

https://forestwoodfolkart.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/img_20131201_101736.jpg

The Adrenalin forest is loads of fun if you are ever in Wellington, or Whitby surrounds.

Kids have exercise, fun, learn new skills, conquer their fears and the bonus is they are sun safe (in the shade) and cannot check mobile devices whilst they are up there!! I noted there was limited seating, (and nowhere to purchase refreshments) for adults who are watching, and the constant looking upwards was a posture most adults are not used to.

Like me, I suspect most of them could use a neck brace of sorts afterwards.

Something the young 19 year old me would not have to Ponder About

New Zealand
Restless Jo
Monday Walks

Sharing to Jo’s Monday Walks

pensive thoughful looking upward
Community

Travel theme: Paths

Walking is something most of us do, and we take it for granted. Our feet take us along paths of life, paths of careers, family and nature.

Come walking with me along my the paths of my travels in this fascinating planet:

Vejen, Denmark
Kicking the leaves in country Denmark

Paths can take you to new discoveries, and invite you to experience a sensory adventure. They instill a feeling of anticipation, or mystery, of what lies beyond.

Family 2013 274
Boardwalk in Australia

A path might lead to a place where each of us will imagine something different, based on on own microcosmic experiences.

Sunshine Coast
Pandanas Palms shelter the stairs to the Beaches of the Sunshine Coast

Family 2013 080
A stairway to where?

As a child, I was completely fascinated with spiral staircases. Not often seen in Australia, they are subject to strict building regulations but regulations have no impact on a child’s imagination.

Iceland
Path to the Magical Blue Lagoon in Iceland

This was a path I will never forget – a special memory for me and my daughter. A wintry swim in the geothermal waters.

Europe 2011second batch 408
You never know how you might meet on the path in Austria

Site of the ancient fortress
A path to Else’s house and Viking history in Norway

Do you have a favourite walking path? Is it near of far from home?

Others share their path at Where’s My Backpack.

Community

Hanging Around in Helsinki – Part I

“So what’s Helsinki like?” I am often asked, when people know that I’ve visited Finland.

helsinki-montage

“Well, there are loads of great things about Helsinki, itself, ” I usually tell them, “…not the least of which is great design in clothing, architecture, romantic historical sites and a great summertime atmosphere.” [N.B. Most Australians only travel to the Arctic in summer!]

“But first up,” I then say, “you need to know that the people of Helsinki eat a good deal of fish, freshwater fish, that is. Even sometimes three times in a day. So when I think of Helsinki, I think of Salmon, and lots of it.”

And I remember it is not just ordinary salmon, because the thing that struck me about Finns, was that they had taken Salmon to a whole new level, like as in Heinz 52 different varieties.

Now I love Salmon, so I was pretty happy with this, until I realized how hard it would be be to choose which one to buy! I needed help to choose between Tsar’s salmon, Cold Smoked Salmon, Flamed Salmon, Lemon Salmon and Rose Pepper Salmon, etc. and in the end, feeling rather befuddled, I settled on Cured Salmon with Basilic??

salmon

“But freshwater fish? Why only freshwater fish?” –  my Australian friends might continue to ask.

Apparently the waters surrounding Helsinki are extremely low in salt, due to the existence perhaps of only one, narrow channel entering the Baltic sea from the open ocean, (and that is around Denmark, for the geographically challenged). Therefore, the Baltic waters contain a multitude of freshwater fish varieties, but almost no prawns, (read: shrimp), or mussels, as those are the species that need salt water to flourish.

On a perhaps unsurprising side note: fishing or angling, in Finland is free and does not require a special permit, as it is considered every man’s basic right.  – Yay for Finland!!

mhall-2

“But, surely there is not just fish to eat in Helsinki?” they continue to ask me.

“Certainly not!! There are many other indigenous styled foods, such as ‘Bear’ pate and ‘Reindeer Snacks.’ ” I venture.

If truth be told, when I first saw the reindeer ‘chips,’ I started to wonder if the Finns were chewing on Rudolph’s antlers for morning tea??? Feeling slightly bilious at that thought, I opted for a tin of reindeer pâté instead. But then I thought of home. And how I would explain a tin of reindeer/bear meat to Customs officials? I mean, Customs officers in Australia, take CITES and moreover, bio-security, very seriously: just ask Johnny Depp and Amber – if you haven’t – Heard. (apologies –  bad pun!!).  Thus, I ended up buying neither….. window shopping was the mantra at this store.

20160527_130343

I digress. We were discussing Helsinki, itself, weren’t we?

If you do want to try any of the aforementioned foods of Helsinki, the place to go is definitely the covered and historic Market Hall, located right on the main square, adjacent to Helsinki’s harbor. It’s usually crammed full with locals, but is truly the best ‘old world-foodie’- style atmosphere, you can find in the 21st century and the food is good, seriously good.

market-hall

From 8 am, visitors cram like sardines, into the deli stalls, micro-cafes, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, (well: gourmet soap and candle stalls), for candles, seafood or cheese supplies or, they do as I did, they just hang out there for a delicious lunch.

markets-and-architecture-helsinki

Outdoors, I found more food and craft markets on the harbor square, selling both hot and cold foods, fruit and vegetables, fresh berries to die for and a variety of furs and traditional handicrafts of the kind that seem to fascinate cruise ship tourists, but few others!

Once I’d  filled up on Finnish food, I decided to work off the extra calories with a stroll uptown, through both the Helsinki Botanic and Observatory gardens. In early summer, the gardens are lined with the omnipresent Birch trees.

p1000348

That made me muse romantically that their delicate branches hang like the braided locks of a long-haired girl, lazily swaying in the cool breeze.  I was also besotted with the tulips naturally peppering the garden verges and bare spots in the grass, almost like weeds, whilst the local squirrel population delighted me with their frivolous antics in the lower treetops.

20160528_130558

I wanted to tell you about Suomenlinna and the marvelous architecture that you find in Helsinki, but that will have to wait for the next post.

Find my earlier post Finding my Feet in Finland here

Something to Ponder About

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Ethereal
Community, Gardening

CFFC- Blue and Purple Flowers

This photo challenge spoke to me, and after a quick flick through my media library, I realize they do attract my attention wherever I am!

I hope these images give your eyes Something beautiful to Ponder About

wpid-2015-10-10-16.12.32.jpg.jpg
In my garden

Ethereal Water Lilly
Noosa, Australia

 

Blue and Purple Flowers that I have in my garden and seen on my travels in New Zealand, Australia, Italy and Norway.

[Click on the individual image for a link to the media file]

More details  from Cee’s page here

 

Ethereal
Community

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – The Colour Purple

Cee’s the colour Purple challenge

Purple can be a magical colour in nature, so  much so that it almost looks ethereal in its different shades and tints. Some would call it lilac, or that dreaded word…. mauve….. I am not fond of that word. I am not a pastel person. Mauve reminds me of bland pastel colours, that can make me feel physically sick! Bright, bold, clean colours stimulate me. Yet this soft lilac waterlilly is one of my favourite photographs. To me the photograph is mystical and ethereal, but then I do have a vivid imagination…

Ethereal Water Lilly

 More inclining to magenta, I still call the flower in the following photo a purple cabbage flower.

Cabbage flower or fruit - Narita, Japan
Cabbage flower or fruit – Narita, Japan

Does Colour affect your mood? Something to ponder about.

Australia, Gardening

Travel theme – Gardens

This challenge was made for me!!

 

LauncestonGardens in Tasmania

 

banksiaAustralia

 

 

Singapore orchid gardensSingapore

Singapore Orchid Gardensand

New Zealand

gardenscollageNew Zealand4

Some more gardens, in this theme at Ailsa’s Where’s My Backpack

Related:

http://tvortravels.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/travel-theme-gardens/

Something to Ponder about

Gardening, Painting

Meeting Blogger friends Overseas

gardens6

One of the best things about blogging is that one’s friendship group is not limited by geographical boundaries and living in the isolated ‘bottom end’ of the world and I love that.

My blogger community has members from many countries across the world and thus, I can expand my perspective, hear different viewpoints, see and learn different things, and experience the world through other people’s eyes, all without leaving my desk.

But when I do leave my desk, and travel abroad, I might just have an opportunity to meet one of the fellow bloggers with whom I have had an ongoing virtual conversation, and that is a very special experience indeed.

I was in Wellington, New Zealand recently, in order to visit some cousins and have a short holiday, and planned ahead to catch up with Ineke of Scrapydo. Having a common interest in Schnauzers, (we both have one), as well as photography, we have come to know each other through  blog posts, so it seemed quite natural that we should meet, should we have the chance.  A pleasant forty minute drive from Central Wellington, one can reach Upper Hutt by road or train. We arranged to meet Ineke at her place, in order to meet the very famous and quite handsome Trompie, who know writes his own blog, Scrapydodog (and we had our Schnauzer fix). Trompie wasn’t so sure about us!

PetchallengemeetingtrompieNew Zealand

Ineke suggested visiting Birchville teagardens, a delightful garden oasis with a tea-house and craft centre in TeMarua, in  the Upper Hut Valley of New Zealand’s North Island. Tea and craft, I thought? I’m in!!!

New Zealand

Ineke is a keen patchworker, and the Sawmiller’s Quiltery run by the serene and friendly Yvonne Matthews is definitely worth a visit, for inspiration alone.Yvonne run classes at the Quiltery and is full of suggestions, tips and ideas for the budding crafts person. If you are not into patchwork, there is, nevertheless, a feast for the eyes in terms of colour and design. I fell in love with a wonderful fabric from America called ‘Savonnerie’ (top left in the collage) – the designer of which has clearly been influenced by Norwegian and Swedish Traditional art, as I could recognize elements of Rosemaling, in the designs. Why didn’t I buy a fat quarter or two?

Sawmillers Quiltery

Two steps away along a pebble path was the Tea house, run by Kevin Bold, who is also Yvonne’s partner in Ballroom dancing.

Birchville

The tea- house operates from a 19th century cottage complex set in tranquil gardens complete with babbling brook and paddling ducks. In short: picture perfect.

Gardenscollage3

Kevin’s scones are legendary and one is more than enough with a Devonshire tea. There is a variety of teas, to chose from, and I can recommend the seasonal Christmas variety, full of cardamon and clove aromas, which fuelled my mind’s images of the Christmas markets of Europe and glögg. Yum!!

Christmas tea

Also quite the authority on the flora at the tea-house gardens, Kevin doesn’t always find time for chin wag, due to the popularity of his establishment. Unlike Ineke and I, who found loads to chat about, almost as if we were old friends meeting again after some years apart.

gardenscollage7

Miss Teen became bored with all the talk, as teens can do, and went off to photograph the flowers, which looked gorgeous after the light shower of misty rain.

Birchville

Have you met any of your blogger friends?

Something to Ponder About.