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Friday, 22 April 2005
Retro modernism

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We are in the middle of a general election campain in the UK, and this photo is a study from a Conservative Party election campaign poster, which I found on a farm fence outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch.  I found a few things interesting about the poster:

Posted by bigblue on 22/04/2005 at 10:48 AM
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Thursday, 21 April 2005
Ashby sunset

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This afternoon after work I went for a cycle on my new bike (my old one is still languishing in Haguenau).  This is the sunset I spied on the way back. 

The sky was clear, albeit hazy as can be seen in the photograph. It was perfect for cycling because there was little wind and it was cool. When you are on a bicycle you notice more hlls than when you are in a car.

The warmer weather was welcome, not just by me but also by the little lambs being killed by rain.  Unfortunately, frost is forecast overnight.

Posted by bigblue on 21/04/2005 at 10:34 PM
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Wednesday, 20 April 2005
Kugelhopf Recipe

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This is a view from the main courtyard of the Château de Falkenstein facing the entrance.  On the right you can see one of the chambers of the castle carved out of the Alsatian sandstone. In these chambers can be found the graffiti carved by French soldiers during the First World War. 

This week I have been thinking about Alsace, and the few years I lived there.  On Monday evening I made Kugelhopf, an enriched bread of German or perhaps Austrian origin.  It is also an Alsatian speciality and you can buy savoury or sweet versions.  I use a traditional recipe, obtained from my Alsatian friend’s mother. She makes the best kugelhopf I have ever tasted.  The secret is in using vegetable suet instead of butter or margerine. You also need to know how to prepare yeast and mix bread dough. You can adjust the recipe by adding (for example) slivers of almond and/or raisins.  I normally just lightly sieve a sprinkling of icing suger over the top when cooked.

Kugelhopf

Ingredients
600 g flour
2 eggs
250 ml milk
140 g sugar
150 g vegetable suet
1 pinch salt
biological yeast

Method
Mix the ingredients to form a dough in the usual way. Leave dough to rise in the mixing bowl, in a warm place. Scrape dough into a kugelhopf tin which has been lightly greased with butter or margerine. Leave to rise again. Bake for 45 minutes in a 150 C oven.

I usually have the kugelhopf with rooibos or honeybush tea (or sometimes coffee instead), with a bit of eglantine spread on a slice of kugelhopf.  Eglantine is a wild rose jam and is also a speciality of Alsace.

Posted by bigblue on 20/04/2005 at 10:41 PM
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Tuesday, 19 April 2005
Château de Falkenstein

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This is the view of the Château de Falkenstein, over l’Étang de Hanau, a lake situated in the middle of an area of bog.  There are some good walks in the forest.  I imagine that at the heyday of the castle (approximately 700 years ago) the forest would not have been allowed to grow so close to the castle, as the inhabitants would have liked a clear view of any approaching armies.  The castle is situated on a outcrop of pink Alsatian sandstone, and provides a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

These days that countryside forms part of the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord.

Posted by bigblue on 19/04/2005 at 08:52 PM
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Monday, 18 April 2005
The Road Not Taken

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Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear.
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1874-1963). Mountain Interval, 1920.

I took the above photograph on the path leading up to Château de Falkenstein, near Philippsbourg in Moselle, France.  The castle was built in 1128 on a sandstone peak overlooking the forest.  It was struck by lightening in 1564 and badly damaged by the resultant fire. There are several natural caves in and near the castle, where the sandstone has been worn away by water.  In one of the caves we saw graffiti carved into the rock by French soldiers in the First World War.  According to the tourist literature the ghost of a tonnelier (a cooper) haunts the cellars of the castle at midnight, and strikes with a maillet (mallet) the number of casks of wine the local vineyards will produce in the coming year.  I found this story odd: who has heard of a ghost with a mallet, and furthermore I never noticed any local vineyards.

Posted by bigblue on 18/04/2005 at 11:04 PM
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Spring blossoms

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When I saw these flowers this morning (in Surrey) they reminded me of the spring blossoms I photographed last year along Route de Redoute in Haguenau.

Posted by bigblue on 18/04/2005 at 01:53 AM
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Saturday, 16 April 2005
Sunset on the M1

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This was taken on the northbound carriageway last weekend.

I found this quiz site today, which attempts to answer the question: Who should you vote for? (in the UK elections).  I don’t think it got my choice right. One’s choice will depend on the exact options available in one’s constituency. Also I suspect it is not weighting the Greens and UKIP properly.

Posted by bigblue on 16/04/2005 at 09:18 PM
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Friday, 15 April 2005
More open than usual

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I thought it was interesting that within days the Ashby Van Hire Company had this glossy banner up advertising business as usual but their website still hasn’t caught up with recent events.

It seems the fire hit a furniture company severly but the van hire business still operates around the back of the building somewhere.

Posted by bigblue on 15/04/2005 at 09:21 PM
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