Tag Archives: cold

Christmas Lights in Calvados, Normandy, France

It’s the first week of January in an icy cold winter and we had a short ramble around Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives on a Friday night after Christmas. It was only 8 PM and we were rather surprised at just how few people were out and about. The streets were practically empty — but that did allow me to get some good photos of the Christmas lights.

Enjoy!

Christmas lights in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in the Calvados region of Normandy, France.

Christmas lights in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in the Calvados region of Normandy, France.

Christmas lights in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Christmas lights in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Christmas lights on the town hall in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Christmas lights on the town hall in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

A cold and wintery night outside the medieval market hall in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in the Calvados region of Normandy, France at Christmas time.

A cold and wintery night outside the medieval market hall in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in the Calvados region of Normandy, France at Christmas time.

The only place in the village that was busy on a Friday night -- the kebab shop!

The only place in the village that was busy on a Friday night — the kebab shop!

And finally — my favourite image — Mark in silhouette as he walks down a narrow street near the market square.

A man walks down a darkened street in northern France in mid-winter.

A man walks down a darkened street in northern France in mid-winter.

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Black and White from Ballarat

Just a quick flashback to a walk around the lake in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia in the winter. With the exception of one bizarrely bright bird, absolutely nothing was colourful that day and the wind was icy cold and quite gusty.

I briefly glanced at these when I first took them, but since we were already up to our eyeballs in packing boxes and mess, I didn’t have the energy to devote any time or inspiration to them back in August.

Here I am back in France, happily and cozily parked in front of the fire in December, and now I’m glad I saved these for the right time. Some of these are potential book covers or perfect for doing a matte and frame treatment. I can tell when my heart is happy again because my productivity level just soars. That’s a lovely thing to be able to say at my age!

All of the images in this short photo essay are from Lake Wendouree in Ballarat. Enjoy!

Unidentified woman and child walk along the lakeside on a cold winter day.

Unidentified woman and child walk along the lakeside on a cold winter day.

Partially submerged tree and water grasses in a rain-swollen lake.

Partially submerged tree and water grasses in a rain-swollen lake.

A bench at the edge of a swollen lake.

A bench at the edge of a swollen lake.

Wind whipped dunegrass alongside the water's edge of a lake.

Wind whipped dunegrass alongside the water’s edge of a lake.

And finally — the ONE SPOT of colour…

An Australian bird with a bright red face and deep blue chest picks its way through the marsh grass of an inland lake.

An Australian bird with a bright red face and deep blue chest picks its way through the marsh grass of an inland lake.

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Ice Cream in Winter — By The Sea?

When Mark and I met in London at the beginning of 1994, I commented one afternoon on an activity that the Brits engaged in — quite regularly — that I considered to be quite odd behaviour given the weather.

That activity? Eating ice cream — LOTS of it — usually in cone form — in the dead of winter. No matter how icy the temperatures were, we saw people in every city we visited perched on a ledge eating an ice cream cone or sitting on a bench at the seaside doing the same thing. There might be ice on the roads, occasionally even a smattering of snow, but there they sat, bundled up to the eyeballs and eating an ice cream.

What I found even odder, and sweetly funny, were the people who would drive to the seaside to purchase their ice cream from a mobile van or a beachside hut and then sit in their car with the heater running as they gobbled it down whilst watching the icy waves crashing upon the seashore.

 

Even on the coldest winter day, British people seem to love to go to the seaside to sit in their heated cars, staring at the crashing waves in freezing temperatures, and eat an ice cream cone.

Even on the coldest winter day, British people seem to love to go to the seaside to sit in their heated cars, staring at the crashing waves in freezing temperatures, and eat an ice cream cone.


 
The lighthouse at Whitley Bay, a seaside town near Newcastle UK, on a stormy winter day. B&W

The lighthouse at Whitley Bay, a seaside town near Newcastle UK, on a stormy winter day.


 

So here we were on a wintery day two years ago in the north of England, at Whitley Bay on the seacoast just outside of Newcastle. The wind was so high that afternoon that it knocked me sideways when I got out of our own vehicle! The second picture that is just of the seaside and the lighthouse is a more accurate idea of how bleak it was that day. Absolutely no one was game to sit on those seaside benches to watch the waves on that particular afternoon. Brrr!!!

But back in the parking lot — yes — the Mr. Whippy van was doing a good business. The lot near the lighthouse was full of people happy to sit with their engines running and the heater on as they ate their ice cream and watched the crashing surf beyond. Crazy, eh? Or just sweetly eccentric perhaps.

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Blue On Blue in Melbourne, Australia

The thin blue light of a cold and wintery day matches the tonality of these blue Yarra Trams on Swanston Street right in the heart of the CBD (Central Business District) in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Blue trams in Melbourne, Australia on a cold winter day

Blue trams in Melbourne, Australia on a cold winter day


 

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Below Zero in Brehal, France

This may be the Normandy coast of France and yes, I know that our temperatures here are a few degrees warmer than they are at our friend Polly’s house 35 minutes inland from here. But the below zero temps we’re having are a shock to the body!!!
 

Oh my! It is below zero in Brehal, France!


 

Brrr!!! It is below zero and windy in Brehal, France!


 

Deborah is smiling in the sunshine in spite of the below zero temperatures in Brehal, France.


 

Each and every puddle in the road that is left over from last week’s rains is frozen solid and the pond at the end of the lane looks like a small skating rink.
 

Iced-over puddles in Brehal, France


 
We kept the walk with the dogs briefer than usual because every intake of breath was a bit painful. As you can see in the photos above, I was bundled to the eyeballs and underneath that heavy wool coat, long wool scarf, wool hat, and lined leather gloves that are visible, I had on lots of layers — leggings, a thick pair of baggy track pants, a long-sleeve thermal shirt, a turtleneck, a long-sleeve cashmere sweater. I was still freezing and my face ached!

Mark seemed fine as he wrangled with the spaniels, but he did admit that his face was feeling icy.
 

Mark walking the spaniels on the beach in winter in France.


 
I can’t even imagine sailing on a day that was so cold, but the sun was bright, the skies were clear, and this man with the red sailboat was dressed in waterproof sports clothing and he decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, the boat seems to have been hit by a wave and shoved onto the beach a bit too far up the beach from the preferred destination. So, after making certain that the small boat was firmly wedged against the sand and it wouldn’t float way, the sailor gave up and walked down the beach to get his truck and boat-trailer.
 

Walking away from a red sailboat to get the boat-trailer


 
Ah well — back to the sofa with a blanket around my legs while I edit photos!

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Scooting Through The Stedelijk

Icy, icy cold and gray. With skies as flat and colourless as a dull nickel coin, we headed down the street to catch the tram and the wind set our eyes streaming as soon as we walked out the front door.

Our destination was the Uitburo (ticket office) at Leidseplein where we planned to purchase a Museumkaart, a museum card for both Amsterdam and the rest of Holland that covers more than 400 museums or sites. Two trams later we arrived and noticed that the lights were on in the area around the ice skating rink and on the front of the Uitburo. They didn’t seem out of place because, even at 10:30 in the morning, it was rather dim outside.

Uitburo (ticket office) at Leidseplein

Lights on in Leidseplein at 10:30 AM on a dim winter morning

The charming young woman inside the ticket office apologized to us and explained that she had sold the last of the Museumkaarts the previous day and another shipment was not expected until later in the afternoon. Our plans were rescued when she phoned the Stedelijk, the modern art museum and they did have some in stock. So we thanked her and backtracked via tram to the museum district.

Central stairwell at the Stedelijk Museum

Upper central stairwell at Stedelijk Museum

What we expected to see versus what we did see was altogether different than those expectations that we had as we left the apartment in the morning. The museum is currently undergoing a massive renovation and a new wing will be constructed that will transform both the amount of space needed to house the collections and the climate control for preserving what is on display. As a result, well over half of the building is a series of empty rooms and that was quite disappointing since we hadn’t known that prior to entry.

When a young woman with a clipboard approached me as we prepared to leave an hour later and asked me to rate my experience on a 1 to 10 basis, I told her quite honestly that it was a 5 at best since there was almost nothing to look at.

None of the permanent pieces such as the Bauhaus or Post-Impressionist works that I had been expecting were there. What is within is sparsely sprinkled over two floors with long walks through empty rooms in between.

We had a nice coffee and pastry in the cafe which is still open and fully functional and oddly, that ended up being one of the highlights of our visit to that particular museum.

Here are a few examples of the artwork that is still ‘in residence.’

Exhibit at the Stedelijk Museum

Modern art exhibit at the Stedelijk Museum

NOTE OF THANKS!
Thank you to the staff at the Van Gogh Museum. Someone sent them a copy of my article from two days ago, A Visit With Vincent and they sent a note on Twitter around the world that increased the number of visitors to this site dramatically over the next 2 days. The museum staff also took the time to write me a personal thank you note for the article, so I am reciprocating by letting you know about that charming courtesy.

Copyright © Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.

A Visit With Vincent

The morning weather report had a forecast of snow and the startling cold air against my cheeks as I left the apartment made me believe that smiling weatherman. He was wrong — and I was relieved. There was already enough residual ice on the pavement all over Amsterdam to make the simple act of walking require alertness, concentration, and good balance.

Appropriately bundled up and laughing about the fact that a mere four days ago we had been at the beach in Australia, we caught the #3 tram and headed for the area known as Museumplein and the Van Gogh Museum at Paulus Potterstraat 7, trying to arrive right at the opening time of of 10 AM. The visitors were quite sparse and, feeling rather smug about that, we headed into the first of four floors of artwork. But by the time we emerged from the last gallery into the museum shop, we were walking in stops and starts due to the sheer number of people who entered the building in the two hour period since our arrival.

Van Gogh Museum exterior side view

This is a moving collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s work that clearly shows his evolution through various stages as an artist. The mental struggles that he endured are evident as you see the colour palette and brushwork change over the years. The pieces produced during his lighter and more upbeat years are a startling contrast to the heavier-hearted and more frantic works of art. I highly recommend this museum if you have at least a two hour window in your own visit to Amsterdam.

We are travelling now — finally — after planning this life change and free-fall adventure for over two years. So we have no place to call home right now, no walls to hang artwork on, no shelves to stack books on, no cabinets to place things within.

Books on display in the shop at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

I looked at the posters, opened the books, touched the scarves and t-shirts, and walked away from them. In the end my sole purchase was a handful of postcards. And Mark had quite a surprised expression on his face when he heard me say aloud, “I have no desire to acquire.” And I meant it!

Posters and prints in the Van Gogh Museum Shop

This is a beautiful museum inside — light and airy and contemporary. But there is no photography allowed inside, so I can only assure you that it is lovely and urge you to go and see it for yourself. Although the artwork is spread out over four levels, there are both stairways and elevators for easy access. And there is one of the nicest self-serve restaurants on the ground floor that I have seen in any museum. We took a break for a coffee and a pastry at 11:30 and were quite impressed with the food that was available.

After leaving the Van Gogh Museum, our plan was to walk next door to the Stedelijk Museum — the modern art museum — but it is closed on Mondays, so we will have to try again later this week.

Realizing that the crowds at the Rijksmuseum would be considerable so late after the morning opening time, we decided to spend the rest of the day gently meandering through the park area in Museumplein and then take a tram into the Central District for some window shopping.

Here are some of the sights that I spotted along the way. Enjoy!

Lunch Kiosk Microvan (made by same company that manufactures Vespa scooters in Italy)

Wooden clog holding sunflower on cafe table in Museumplein

Copyright
© Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.