Mirrors can reveal something different or be a reverse reflection of the chosen subject.
Friendly Friday Challenge Prompt
The challenge this week is to post photo/s of, “Smoke and Mirrors.”
It might be a magic illusion, a symmetrical reflection, an accidental or deliberate set-up shot, or an image within an image.
It is really up to you how to interpret the prompt.
How to Join the Friendly Friday Challenge
To join in add a linkback, (aka a ping-back), and a Friendly Friday tag to a new post or link, addressing the prompt, then return to this post and leave a comment with your published link, as pingbacks are notoriously unreliable.
I was washing the Schnauzer Dog this morning and the young pup and rest of the family kept interrupting me, pushing open the door hitting me in the shoulder, when I was working with the dog in the tub, full of shampoo.
If it wasn’t the pup pushing open the closed door latch, it was the Moth a.k.a. ‘Man of the House,’ (New homes appear to have internal doors that don’t securely latch closed, unless you slam them).
Each time the door was opened, the very wet and soapy Schnauzer, now full of shampoo would repeatedly try to leap from the tub, and and you can just imagine how slippery a fully soaped up dog was. It was a slightly exasperating situation.
Dog washing complete, I then set about cleaning the laundry and the same scene repeated, much to my dismay. Newly cleaned floors covered with either Schnauzer paw prints or Moth footprints as suddenly everyone wanted to get into the laundry for some reason. Grr.
I felt the tension rising in my body. I was irritated by the door latch not staying closed and the laundry suddenly becoming busier than Central Station. After a few grumbles under my breath, I paused, took a deep breath and tried to remember the wise saying I read earlier this week:
If there is something you don’t like, you can either change it or change the way you think about it.
Each and every day, the real battle for freedom takes place in your mind.
Do you have a way of dissolving tension that works for you?
Many years ago, whilst travelling through country Australia, I snapped a photo of a patch of forest in an old park, where we’d stopped to have lunch. This was the days when you had to drop off your camera film and wait for several days, for it to be developed.
Weeks later, a friend saw the photo in my album and insisted the photo depicted a fairy pointing her finger towards something in the bushes. It was a mystery and a tad spine-tingling to remember there was a plaque, on a monument in that same park where I’d taken the photo, which said, “ in memory of the first white child who died in the valley.”
Photographers often claim to have captured photos with unexplained objects in them. Some turn out to be a simple case of double exposure, minute dust particles or even reflections, called Orbs, whilst others cannot be fully explained at all.
Do you believe in UFO’s or the Unusual?
More recently, as you can see in the photo below, I was in the picturesque town of Sandane, in Norway. I’d arrived in the early afternoon and was snapping photos of the fjord. Actually, it is pretty difficult for me not to take photos when I am presented with such natural beauty.
Walking further along the fjord, a shower of rain interrupted my progress, so I snapped a few photos and quickly turned back for the Gloppen hotel, where I was staying that night. Something strange appeared in the photos, that I noticed only when back in the hotel.
There was a pacman in the sky.
Or was it some kind of chopped Photo Orb?
What is an Orb?
Orbs are a somewhat new phenomenon that appeared at the dawn of the digital camera in the 1990s. At first, the camera manufacturers believed these orbs to be malfunctions of the camera, but to this day they claim that these balls of light are microscopic particles floating in the air. On the other hand, those in the paranormal community hold firm that these orbs are the presence of spirits.
How to Tell if an Orb is Dust or Something Unusual
From the abovementioned website, here is some information:
*If the orb or orbs in the photo seem to be behind a person or thing, as if peeking out or passing by, it could be supernatural. That’s because reflections don’t fall behind an object or person in a photo.
*If the orb has more density in the photo, it might not be a natural particle like dust.
*On film, if the orb or orbs seem to have a light of their own and move independently of wind or motion, it could be a spiritual encounter.
There are ‘Unusual’ things all around us.
Have you ever seen anything unusual?
Weekly Friendly Friday Prompt
For this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge, show us something you have photographed that was –
New Zealand has often been compared to Norway. In fact, on the way to Kastrup airport in Denmark, I saw one of those massive billboards, illuminated with a photograph of a snow-covered mountain.
The caption read,
No! New Zealand!”
Several years ago, I took a bus from Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand all the way to Queenstown, via Mt Cook. I am hoping that I will be able to do this trip again.
If you are tempted to travel this section of New Zealand, I recommend taking a power block, or back up batteries for your phone or camera, because, if you are anything like me, you will find many jaw-dropping photo opportunities, as you pass through the Southern Alps.
One of the sights we passed by, that got the attention of fellow bus passengers, was a location that was one the film sets of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Movie trilogy.
Apparently, the local farmers were called in to provide extras for the Horse Stampede scene. This involved a large number of horsemen, a battle charge and horse stampede. The crews were set up and ready to film and had organized a large group of local farmers to be on standby as horsemen actors, but Peter Jackson felt that the weather and light was not optimal for filming so he cancelled the day.
This went on each day, for seven days. The farmers dutifully turned up each day, at the appointed time, ready for their big-screen break. After Peter Jackson cancelled filming again on the seventh consecutive day, the Farmers walked off the set.
They complained they couldn’t afford to be away from their farms, for so many days on end, twiddling their thumbs, so it was decided that their wives would step in and provide the horsemen extras for the stampede scene.
Next time you watch one of the movies and you think you are witnessing a cavalry charge of men, think again!!!
The Lindis Pass
The 60 kilometre stretch of road, known as the Lindis Pass, is considered by some to be the most beautiful passes in all of New Zealand. With the tussock grass covering all but the high snowy peaks, it is a great place to stop and view the majesty of the Southern Alps.
Be sure to check road conditions for the pass in the town of Omarama before you embark on this journey, as the pass crosses 971 metres above sea level, at its highest point. As such, its often closed due to bad weather conditions. It can even have black ice, making driving treacherous.
Approaching Lindis pass in our bus, I spotted a road farther up encircling the peak of the mountain; one that would give Norway’s “Trollstigen” a bit of competition.
Traffic through the pass will often queue up when weather conditions force road closure for a few hours, or days. Oftentimes, travellers waiting along the road, will leave their cars and walk around collecting piles of rocks which they turn into cairns.
Norwegians would call these trolls.
Yet another parallel between New Zealand and Norway.
In many ways, travelling through this area I that if I squinted, I could easily fool myself that I was somewhere in Scandinavia or Iceland again.
And that brings us to Lake Dunstan. It glorious aqua colour indicative of the glaciers that feed it.
Ski Fields and Lake Dunstan
Andrew our bus driver, explained how Lake Dunstan was created when a river was dammed, so the old township of Cromwell had to be relocated and the locals rehoused.
If you’re a ski bunny, the ski fields of Queenstown are a manageable driving distance away from this spot, (50 minutes to The Remarkables and 40 minutes to Wanaka). This is a great alternative to staying in Queenstown itself, which can be a tad more expensive.
Activities in Otago and Queenstown
Besides Skiing, activities for individuals and groups who prefer to explore and experience places at their leisure, include:
Four-wheel driving the many hill tracks, or guided 4WD tours
Trekking and mountain biking
Visiting the Central Otago vineyards
Exploring the heritage stone buildings
Museum and Old Cromwell Town
Old mining landscapes
Guided fishing trips on Lake Dunstan
Snowmobiles (winter only)
Jet boating the Kawarau or Clutha Rivers
Continuing our bus journey meant only a short Tea stop at the roadside Fruit stall. I took the opportunity to purchase a couple of serves of breakfast fruit at farm gate prices.
The stall also displayed some of the largest pine cones I have seen.
Easter is a time when Norwegians head for the hills, or in Norway’s case, the mountains.
Most families have a cabin they own in the ‘fjeller’ – or mountains, decorated in traditional Norwegian ‘Hytte’ style. ‘Hytte’ means cabin, plural ‘Hytter’, in Norwegian.
Hytter are timber cottages decorated with Norwegian crafts such as Traditional Rosemaling Art, woodcarving, weaving and embroidery, with mostly rustic interiors, fitted with benches topped with reindeer furs, (sitteunderlag), and other traditional furnishings.
Norwegian ‘Hytter’ Mountain Cabins
Hytter, or cabins, are quite rudimentary houses, partly because of the remoteness of their locations and partly due to the Norwegian tradition of getting back to nature. Visiting a family mountain cabin at Easter is a therapeutic time for Norwegians to ski, breathe in the fresh mountain air, relax and for a short time, not rely on everyday modern conveniences.
So when I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Hytte in Beito, high up in the Norwegian mountains with Norwegian friends, how could I resist?
The area known as Beito is part of the community at Beitostølen, an elite skiing location where the likes of the Norwegian Olympic ski team spent their time. Norwegian-Australian friends who heard I was going to visit Beitostølen, were quite rightly jealous, reacting with comments like,
“That is where the ski team practice.”
“Do you realize how lucky you are to be going to Beitostølen?”
I did. It was different to any other holiday I had experienced.
The Hytte at Beito comprised three timber cabins, with adjoining composting toilet and washroom; that would later hold a shower at some point in the future.
The cabins, themselves, were not equipped with running water, so we sponged ourselves using a bucket, with water sourced from the nearby spring. Fetching the water is a chore that would traditionally be delegated to children.
Living as I do in Australia, meant things like fetching water in the snow proved to be a novel experience. I was the first to volunteer for this task as it was another chance to be outside in the hushed, cosy silence of the snow-covered hillside.
If it meant I was to traipse through knee-deep snow to collect water, those mediative moments of silence, amidst the breathtaking mountain scenery, inhaling fresh Norwegian air and hearing only my muffled footsteps, were merely a comforting, restorative practice for me.
Norwegian Hytte Meals
Hytter meals are simple, apart from breakfast. The traditional hytte breakfast is a feast of eggs, salmon, cheese, bread, jam and vegetables, such as cucumber and carrot and also perhaps some yoghurt/kefir or waffles. Our bodies needed lots of food, ostensibly, to keep warm and active out in the snow.
Lunch is almost non-existent, but really after the filling Hytte breakfast, who needs lunch? A Norwegian chocolate bar, known as a ‘Quiklunsj’ (Quick lunch), or an apple, would suffice.
Dinner is mostly a laid back affair of home-made soup, cold meat such as lamb or boiled sheep and bread, or ‘Lompe’ – basically a hot dog, with a bread-like wrap made from potato flour, cooked on the outside barbeque or grill, of course.
Things to do at the Hytte
We spent the daytime out of doors, unless it was snowing heavily. We skied, tobogganed, slide down snowy slopes with the ‘akebrett,’ a paddle like slide, or the snow bike; walked about in snowshoes, built snow castles, threw snowballs and made plenty of snow angels, and snow “candles,” just because.
Once darkness arrived, it was time to ‘play’ inside, talking, drawing or Rosemaling – another Norwegian tradition, which is actually my great passion. If it was snowing hard outside during the day, there would be more Rosemaling as wells as card games or puppet shows, for the children. We read books too, as there was no TV, nor phone reception, unless you visited the grocery store a few miles away.
To get into the full spirit of the Norwegian Easter experience, I read one of the rivetting crime novels from Norwegian crime fiction author Jo Nesbø to complement my surroundings. He is a compelling writer and if you have not come across him before, you can read a Book Review.
The Hytte was good, clean fun and a really healthy, energetic holiday.
Was it cold by Australian standards?
Yes, but did I like it?
Absolutely. I loved it.
Being at the tail-end of a Norwegian winter, the weather towards Easter is generally calm, without storms. After a cold night, the sun could be so warm, my face became tanned!
During these sun-filled days, the Norwegians would enjoy sitting against a sunny wall, their face upturned towards the sky, taking in much needed Vitamin D that their bodies had missed during the long, dark winter. They even have a word for this kind of activity: Solveggen.
Warming the soul and the body!
This is what the Norwegian Easter did for me, too!
Wherever you are in the world, you can still travel virtually. When are you going this Easter?
Norwegians, Easter, cabins and crime literature belong together like horse and carriage – a tradition that started over 90 years ago. Here you can find out how to celebrate a typical Norwegian Easter.
First: Ensure that you have skis – either bought or borrowed. Also, make sure you have ski wax even if you are not sure how to use it. There is always someone along the tracks that can help a ‘forlorn wretch’.
When it comes to clothing it is important that it has red color, preferably with a home knitted wool sweater that smells of last year’s bonfire.
But wait a minute. If you do not know it already: Norwegians love skiing, especially at Easter, and many go several miles to their cabins where to spend the vacation. Surprisingly many people ski into a different era where outdoor toilet, drafty cabins and totally deserted landscape are considered paradise.
When I was researching the topic for this week’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge, I realized that all my relevant photos were located in Europe. Except for one! I hope that you can show me some more balconies, or patios, or verandahs from all over the world.
The oldest balconies I spotted were in Germany – in Berlin and Frankfurt and in Italy.
Juliet’s balcony was a popular tourist attraction in Verona.
I noticed the fashionable balconies, in Italy, have window boxes that are more often filled with greenery or Geraniums.
And I couldn’t possibly exclude balconies found in Scandinavia from this montage, seeing as that region is my first love.
Sweden has a very famous indoor balcony.
Do you know what special purpose it serves?
Norway has some spectacular balconies in Dragon Style
How to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge
Post a comment below and include a pingback to ‘Friendly Friday- Balconies’ post, so others can find your blog.
Each week the following bloggers will post a new prompt for ‘Friendly Friday‘:
Since medieval times, one of the main routes Traders and Pilgrims used to traverse Norway between Oslo and Bergen, was via the Numedal Valley, which stretches from Kongsberg in the south, to Geilo and the Hardangervidda Plateau, in the North west.
Due to this long history, Numedal has one of Norway’s most concentrated collections of medieval buildings and artefacts, comprising over 40 heritage timber buildings dating from the Middle Ages. www.visitmiddelalderdalen.no
The Norwegian Stabbur
By necessity, Norwegians had to find an effective way to store food over a long harsh winter and designed a uniquely shaped log ‘Stabbur’, or food storage house, that would prevent food from spoiling, or being eaten by mice and rats.
In latter times however, the visitor to the Numedal Valley will find that most of these historic Log buildings have been converted into authentic and traditional guest lodgings.
You can sleep the night in one of these beautiful Stabburs, some which contain walls and everyday objects that have been decorated with the traditional Norwegian Art known as Rosemaling, in a style peculiar to the Numedal Valley.
The highest number of Stabburs of any Norwegian valley are located in Numedal. And if that is not enough medieval history for you, the Valley also is home to no less than four Stave churches.
Rollag Stave Church
The Rollag Stave church is one of the better known Stave Churches in Numedal, but as all are off the main highways, they are a little hard to find. ‘Rollag Stavkirken‘ is located a few kilometres north of the village Rollag, in the Numedal Valley. It was probably originally built in the second half of the 12th century, though not all of it is original.
Initially, the church has been a simple church with a rectangular nave. First mentioned in 1425, it was rebuilt around 1660 into a cruciform church. Around 1760, the church was extended to the west.
Early Rosemaling and Hanseatic Art
The walls of Rollag Stave Church are adorned with fruit and biblical motives, which were painted in 1683, and the forerunner to the more traditional forms of Rosemaling. This was following on from the reformation. The close ties with the Hanseatic countries is exemplified in the religious figures of Mary with child, which originated in the German city of Lubeck, around the 1500’s.
The baptismal font dates from the middle ages whilst the altar dates from 1670. The blue lattice like structure in the left of the above photo is known by the archaic term which translates as: Wife’s or Widow’s ‘cage.’
Shocking as it may seem, women were seen as property in medieval times and as such, if a married Priest passed away, the next Priest assigned to that Parish, would inherit not only the Church and its land, but the Widow and any children as well! Times have changed!
This was a logo I painted and tweaked in a photo editor for my artwork. One of the reasons for visiting Norway in such depth was to study the Norwegian Rosemaling first hand, as inspiration for further artwork and fabric designs.
Forestwood is the name of my website and online shops.
Interested in seeing breathtaking views, experiencing a relaxing atmosphere, walking mountain trails through a UNESCO heritage valley and staying somewhere where an Emperor has stayed and with, shall we say, a chequered history? If so, then Stalheim hotel, in the mountains of Norway, between Gudvangen and Voss, on the West Coast, is the place for you. It certainly was a favourite spot for Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.
I arrived here on the famous Norway in the Nutshell Tour, which takes you from Oslo, by train, across the eternal snows of the Hardangervidda plateau.
The train then takes you as far as the mountain station of Myrdal, and from there you are required to change trains to traverse down the mountain range to the fjord below, on a spectacularly steep cog railway, (or Flambåna).
The trip doesn’t end at Flam either, for it is there that you move on to a boat for a cruise through the fjords, before finally reaching the town of small port of Gudvangen on the way to Stalheim. The cruise passes through Aurlandsfjord, Sognfjord, and into the narrowest parts of Nærøydal fjord, listed as UNESCO World Heritage areas and spectacular and unearthly scenic vistas such as this:
From the port of Gudvangen, you then take the public bus to the high peaks of the ‘fjeller’ – that’s Norwegian for mountains, to Stalheim where the hotel is located.
Stalheim hotel is only open in the summer months, as the mountain road leading to the hotel consists of 13 hair-raising bends, and is considered too dangerous for public transport, in winter. If your heart doesn’t falter going up, this is the reward.
Unrivalled views can be had down the UNESCO protected Nærøydalen Valley where mountains look so like ‘trolls’ and people tinier than ants.
If you are into exploring, you can even find a Machine gun bunker underneath the terrace which dates back to the days of the Second World War.
You will want to have dinner and breakfast at Stalheim, for there is little alternative options close by, and the meals are usually included in the tariff. That leaves you with more time to savour that wonderful view. There is also a small folk museum behind the hotel to wander through.
A Chequered History
The original hotel was built in 1750 as a postal inn, and during the late nineteenth century was modelled into a guesthouse on the road between Oslo and Bergen. It has burnt to the ground several times and been re-built each time.
In 1939, during Nazi German’s occupation of Norway, Stalheim hotel was taken over by the German Army as a site for Soldiers on R and R leave. The notorious Heinrich Himmler then concocted a plan to address the low birth rate of German citizens and produce more of his so-called Master Race, by setting up Stalheim and other places as a ‘Lebensborn’ home. This was to be a place where Norwegian woman who were already pregnant, or were willing to become pregnant, to German soldiers, could stay and give birth. There were eight Lebensborn homes in Norway – the former Stalheim hotel was one of them.
The hotel was again cursed by a fire in 1959, and sadly, 34 lives were lost. However, it was rebuilt into the current structure we see today.
Here is a video of the road down to the fjord and village of Gudvangen.
The ancient Egyptians are believed to be the first to invent a four-legged seat with a back,… The earliest examples have been found in tombs dating as far back as 2680 B.C”
The most common theories are that the chair was an outgrowth of indigenous Chinese furniture, that it evolved from a camp stool imported from Central Asia, that it was introduced to China by Nestorian missionaries in the seventh century, and that the chair came to China from India.
Thanks to Snow for this week’s excellent prompt for Friendly Friday. I’ll be back next week with a new prompt. Be sure to check out all this week’s participants linked in the comments section on Snow ‘s blog.