Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tall and reflective

Finally I manage to post a picture the same day that I took it! It's gorgeous today, a little bit of summer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More wildlife!

(and also another pond picture.) 

I really liked the under-water-lilies in this one.

Mole! I've never seen a real-life mole before. We don't have them in NZ, and I'm quite intrigued by the elusive little creatures that leave piles of dirt here and there as proof of their existence. All I need now is a badger, and a water-rat, and I will have spotted all of the Wind in the Willows cast! Granted this one might not have been totally alive... okay it was more than a bit dead. But it was still a Mole! I didn't know they were so small.

Yesterday was another slightly damp day, which meant that my favourite little frogs were out and about, hopping all over the path! This time I had the presence of mind to work out how demonstrate their size in a picture without the frog just hopping away from the big scary moving thing. I felt a bit bad for him, but it was for less than a minute, and I did let him go on some nice ground on the side of the path he was aiming for!

As you can probably see, I've been enjoying the local wildlife here. There were also some lovely butterflies I wanted to take a picture of, they were nice and settled on some flowers so I got out my phone and sure enough, they lifted their wings (causing a hurricane in South America no doubt) and fluttered about until I put it away again, at which point they re-settled. I wasn't quite in the mood to stand around for hours getting impatient with butterflies, so I gave up after we played a few rounds of Hide From the Camera and kept walking. They were pretty though!


 Roof goats!!!

I liked the roof goats. Can you tell? 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A series of pictures

I have already mentioned that I am lucky enough to count a walk in the forest as part of my schedule several times a week. What I may not have mentioned is that my walk usually takes me past a little pond, which at this point in time is full of water lilies (and frogs, apparently!). I have been taking pleasure in photographing it, particularly in the different weather we have had- it's quite different with the sun behind it, or mist swirling through the trees. So, here are a few samples!

We had a few really gorgeously sunny days, which have some wonderful effects in the forest! I was quite distracted while out for a cycle ride by staring at the evening sunlight filtering through the trees, quite a striking image I am still holding in my mind, but unfortunately not one I had a camera handy for.

It hasn't all been sunshine though, and one rather atmospheric day I was out it was rather misty- also a rather memorable sight! The mist swirling through the tree tops and settling down between the long trunks, over the mossy logs was quite lovely. As were the minuscule frogs hopping about all over the path- you've already seen pictures of those!

It hasn't all been sunshine though, and one rather atmospheric day I was out it was rather misty- also a rather memorable sight! The mist swirling through the tree tops and settling down between the long trunks, over the mossy logs was quite lovely. As were the minuscule frogs hopping about all over the path- you've already seen pictures of those! I took the picture on the left on my way out for a walk, and the one on the right on my way back, when the sun was just trying to break through the mist, although that isn't so clear in these pictures unfortunately.


The other two pictures here are from some more of the lovely weather we have had- just sunshine and loveliness! I really like the way everything reflects so much on the pond, broken up by the water lilies and debris floating in the water.

Okay folks, one of the things Blogger doesn't do so well is formatting with pictures, and I just can't be bothered trying to make it co-operate any more! Hope it's not too much of a mess :-/

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In the forest...

We are on the edge of a forest and, fortunately for me, my job requires adventures (or at least a stroll) in the woods each day, which is quite interesting. It's a big forest I gather, but criss-crossed with trails and even roads in places. Going for a stroll in the morning is just fine, but I must confess that I would find it outright creepy in the twilight. I'm constantly looking around for the Big Bad Wolf, or maybe a bear. I am assured the most dangerous thing in there is the mosquitoes, but it's still creepy, all those tall trees and quietness. However, aside from the non-existent baddies I keep looking for, there are some neat non-evil things too.

Spot the frogs!!! I promise there is one in each picture, and they're hiding in plain sight! They're tiny little things, the size of a fingernail. I thought they were beetles for a while, till I decided the movements were a bit too odd, and actually bent down to examine them, and was quite captivated by them.

Hint: this one has really good cammo!

Hint: he's making a get-away from the camera!

You really can't miss this one!
And yesterday, to spice things up a bit, I encountered something I haven't seen before- a wild deer. I know this isn't the best picture, I had to zoom a lot so I didn't scare it off, but it's right there under the tree!

As you can see, I've been enjoying the great outdoors here... to be honest there isn't much else to do. Luckily I do actually like nature, and appreciate little froggies hopping across the path, and a glimpse of a wild deer, or I might actually go crazy! This is the closest I've been to living in the country since I was a child. Still, Frankfurt is a decently sized city and very well connected with the third busiest airport in Europe and of course the trains. Perhaps I can even find an English cinema there...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Cycling Autobahn

Well, last I posted was from Isola d'Elba, that gorgeous island in the Mediterranean that I so love. I have since, and somewhat unexpectedly, spent a few weeks in Britain, where I caught up with boring paper work, did a few assignments for a short course I did, and bought a bike. However I have since had to leave the bike in Britain, but for all the right reasons. There was a bike here waiting for me when I arrived! Well, almost anyway. It's a little on the big side, which makes things interesting when I have to stop and wait for traffic (getting on/off is difficult when you can't reach the ground!) but that's okay. It's a bike, and it's here. And this place is amazing for cycling!

Where I am living for now is sorta out in the sticks, but not completely. And certainly not if you're on a bike.

The front of the sign, facing to Gelnhausen
This is where our local trail meets up with the Cycling Autobahn (I happen to think that simile is awesome, I've totally adopted it!), called the R3, which goes from Fulda to somewhere the other side of Frankfurt, totally 228km which you have to grant is a pretty damn long cycle ride!

So on Sunday I took myself to Wachtersbach (see back of sign), a total of 5.9km according to these signs. Wachtersbach itself was, as promised, not particularly exciting, so I just had some sorbet (it was really hot, it has been really hot a lot actually) and set off again, this time for Gelnhausen, 9.5km away.

At this point, I have to confess, it was not smooth sailing, nor was it particularly enjoyable, and I was quite concerned about getting back because I could tell that the path was more or less flat. There was strong headwind which made me feel every single kilo of what is a rather hefty bike (and the rider is none too light either!), not to mention the somewhat too soft tyre pressure (to be fixed as soon as my pump arrives!). Luckily, there was an ever-present back-up plan, in the form of good-old fashioned train. Germany has particularly nice ones, and on time to boot.

The back of the sign, facing to Wachtersbach
There is just one slight, small flaw with the train back-up plan, which is that Wachtersbach is actually our nearest station, so it's still 6km home from the train station! There are buses between Wachtersbach and Bad Orb, timed to meet the trains (Oh, German efficiency!!!) but I doubt you can get a bike on them. Thus, at points during my trip to Gelnhausen, I was really dreading the trip home. Even with the train I would still need to cycle another 6km, with the last bit uphill too.

Turns out that headwind had a lot to answer for. Coming home was a breeze. Sure it took an hour, but actually it only took an hour, and it wasn't a hard hour either.

I am really, really liking the cycle networks here. I was going to go out and ride this evening, but I was put off by the world's most epic thunderstorm, it was better even than the incredible ones Phuket had to offer when I was there. I love a good thunderstorm, and this was the finest, and possibly closest, I've ever had the fortune to watch, but it was accompanied by a lot of rain. I'm not keen on that horrible warm, sweaty, sticky dampness that comes from exercising in the rain. In fact I detest it. Thus I skipped a ride this evening, although I might do something else instead.

Anyhow, back to the Cycling Autobahn. If you have a separate road for bikes, you have separate bridges. Obviously. It has a ramp so that you can cycle right on up, over, and back down again without getting off. Nifty! Other good features of the Cycling Autobahn aside from the obvious lack of people in cars trying to run you over, are the lack of traffic lights, which, trust me, is a big deal when you can't reach the ground from your seat. Another good feature is the signposts. The ones in these pictures here are them. They're on the Cycling Autobahn. For cyclists. They don't tell us boring stuff like how far to the next motorway entry, or that you can't park a car here. They just tell you how far it is to whatever is in that direction. Brilliantly simple! (I may have learned to hate road signs in Britain while learning to drive. Far too many of them, far too many).
Nifty cycle bridge on the Cycling Autobahn (R3), and also my bike. 
That is my experience of the Cycling Autobahn so far, all 30km that I've explored. Well, technically only about 26km of it was even part of the R3, the route down to it from Bad Orb followed a dinky little train line (I believe an actual, real train line used to run there some time ago) which I think has tourist trains every now and again, or something. It was pretty cool anyway, and I definitely have a few more adventures planned for my lovely red bike on the Cycling Autobahn.