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Sunshine and snow in Tirol

The Swiss Alps were a summer holiday destination when I was young. Since then, I’ve visited the mountains in all seasons: spring, autumn and winter. Every season has its own charm, I think. This month, I finally had the opportunity to visit the Alps again, this time in Tirol, Austria. No skiing for us this time, but we had some lovely time hiking and snowshoeing. It was a beautiful week with fresh snow and sunshine – winter and spring.

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Lovely view of the village church from our balcony.

 

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One day rain in the valley, snow higher up the mountain. The next day: fresh snow and sunshine.

 

With sun and clouds, day and night, the view changes dramatically.

 

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First flowers of spring

The mild winter we had this year in England made the first spring flowers come out early.  Last year, it was about halfway through February when I first caught primroses, crocuses, ranunculi, and snowdrops on camera, as you can see in the blog post I made then: Spring is in the air.

While the primroses were already past their prime, it appeared to be a bit cold for the ranunculi.

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The snowdrops were magnificent today.

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The best of the crocuses are still to come, followed by the narcissus. It’s so nice to see nature coming back to life…

The bright yellow ranunculi certainly added a cheerful note.

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Orange clouds and red sun

It was the strangest of sights yesterday. From daybreak onwards, the clouds had an orange hue to them. As if a thunderstorm was continuously looming. Around midday, the sun was briefly visible and it was as red as you would expect it to be around sunset.

Apparently, the orange sky had to do with hurricane Ophelia raging over Ireland. In England, we had certainly no hurricane-like storm, but it was quite windy.

RedSky-3According to the BBC, dust particles in the air cause blue light to scatter, leaving longer-wavelength red light to shine through. The dust travelled a long way before it reached the West Midlands: it was brought in from the Sahara and the forest fires sweeping over Portugal and Northwest Spain.

RedSky-2Around 3 pm the clouds broke and the orange tint disappeared. But it returned in the clouds around sunset.

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Purple bells with black & green pods

On one of my last visits to the Oxford Botanic Garden, the Nicandra physalodes caught my eye. Apparently, the plant goes by a number of English names: shoo-fly plant, apple of Peru, apple of Sodom, and Peruvian bluebell.

I just like the way the plant grows: a single, bell-shaped flower followed by a row of pods. The pods – or calyces – reminded me of their better known, bright orange counterparts: Chinese lanterns.

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Concrete cathedral

How rare a sight this is: A big, bold industrial building surrounded by nature. And these two not clashing, but creating something truly remarkable.Radio Kootwijk-1Radio Kootwijk is such a site I think. The radio station in art deco style -nicknamed The Cathedral- was built in the early 1920s and rises like a monolith from the open field. The grey concrete and purple heather shrubs create a strong contrast, especially by the end of August when the heather is in bloom.Radio Kootwijk-6

 

 

I took these pictures on a warm summer evening. The rays of sunlight were filtered by thin clouds. You could look right through the building. In the glass pane behind the wrought iron door, you can see the reflection of the nearby water tower.

On Open Monumentendag, the Dutch equivalent of England’s Heritage Open Days, the radio station is open to the public (free entrance). I find the inside of this building designed by architect Julius Luthmann (1890-1973) just as striking as the outside, especially the tiled floor in the main hall.

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From the tower, you have a wonderful view of the surrounding heath and woods.

 

 

The architect had a sphynx in mind when he designed the radio station. Especially from the back, the building gives the impression of a resting animal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Green tunnel

You can find this little lane sheltered by old lindens in Vaassen (The Netherlands). It’s called ‘Kersendijkje’, Cherry dyke. (No idea though where that name came from. You won’t find any cherry trees along this dyke). The lane is right next to Cannenburgh Castle. I was told many teenagers in this village share their first kiss under these trees. It does make sense: the lane is totally sheltered from spying eyes. I just love the way the trees are leaning.

 

 

 

 

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Sweet smelling roses

 

Rose-14The beauty of a rose can -with a bit of luck- be captured with a camera. Unfortunately, a photo can’t convey its sweet smell. But maybe you can imagine their scent looking at these pictures. These shots are from the Oxford Botanic Garden, and one or two from the Orto Botanico di Padova.

 

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Maybe you’re familiar with Cicely Mary Barkers painting that accompanies the poem of the Rose Fairy. If not, you’ll find it here. I bought the print years ago, had it framed and still admire it. The poem is lovely as well:

Best and dearest flower that grows,
Perfect both to see and smell;
Words can never, never tell
Half the beauty of a Rose —
Buds that open to disclose
Fold on fold of purest white,
Lovely pink, or red that glows
Deep, sweet-scented. What delight
To be Fairy of the Rose!