Saturday, 9 February 2013

Nordenskiöld's Vega in Naples in 1880

The Vega in Naples on 14 February 1880.
The SS Vega in 1879 became the first ship to complete a voyage through the Northeast PassageReturning by way of the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Suez Canal, Vega also became the first vessel to circumnavigate the Eurasian continent. On 14 February 1880 the ship arrived in Naples, where the it was received by an enthusiastic crowd. The overwhelming welcome was probably due to the fact that one of the members of A.E. Nordenskiöld´s team, the hydrographer Giacomo Bove, was Italian. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Portraits of two Swedish horses

This afternoon these two nice horses posed for me at the local stable:

Millan (left) and Jim

And here are four individual portraits of the two friends:

Saffron harvesting in Spain a hundred years ago

Saffron - consisting of the stigmas from the Saffron crocus - has been used as a key seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine for at least three thousand years. Saffron has also been - and still is - one of the most expensive spices in the world - it can cost up to $300 for one ounce. The fact that the flowers and the stigmas have to be hand picked - a very time consuming activity - makes saffron so expensive; you need up to 250,000 flowers to produce just one kilo of dry saffron!

Spanish saffron was considered the best in the world already in the early 20th century. The photos below show saffron harvesting in Spain in 1905:

Spanish saffron pickers out in the field.

Removing weeds.

Picking the stigmas from the flowers.

Roasting the saffron.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A garden lion in winter

The lion in my garden is on duty, come snow or come shine ...

Father Gapon - the priest who "bargained with the devil" in revolutionary Russia

Father Gapon, the priest who was prepared to "bargain with the devil", here shown with the Prefect of the St. Petersburg police, general I.A. Fullon. 

The Russian orthodox priest on this photograph Father Gapon, the man who on 22 January 1905 organized the workers' demonstration in St. Petersburg, which transformed into the first act of revolution in Russia. After what later was to be called the "Bloody Sunday", Tsar Nicholas began according to historian Edward Crankshaw "to lose his magic for that mass of simple-minded workers who were not caught up in the revolutionary movement but simply looked to the Tsar for succour". "A monarch cannot allow his personal guards to shoot down in droves in front of his own house an unarmed assembly of working-men, to say nothing of harmless onlookers, and contine to be revered as the source of all wisdom and kindness."

Father Gapon, the instigator of the demonstration, was not blameless either. Most of the demonstrators lacked, according to Crankshaw, "even an inkling of an idea of the inflammatory nature of their plea: they thought they were prostrating themselves before the Tsar and begging him for his protection".

"Gapon, of course, knew what he was doing, but it has never been decided whether he was master or tool. Since he was very shortly, in exile, to show himself megalomaniac to the point of insanity it does not seem to matter very much. The idea that he had become so uplifted by the discovery of his power over large audiences that he believed himself to be the chose one who would, on behalf of the Almighty, open the eyes of the Tsar to his true path is not in itself far-fetched. On the other hand, the duplicity and peasant cunning he displayed when being lionized in Geneva by the émigré revolutionaries suggests that at hear the man was more charlatan than man of God."

(Quotes from "The Shadow of the Winter Palace" by Edward Crankshaw)

After the "Bloody Sunday" the Swedish weekly Hvar 8 Dag sent a correspondent to cover events in Russia in 1905. Below are some of the photographs which illustrated his reports:

 A demonstration in front of the Saint Isaac Cathedral in St. Petersburg a few days befor the "Bloody Sunday".

At the Peter & Paul fortress, where many political prisoners were interned.

Troops close to the Winter Palace.

Cossacks, which  had arrived in St. Petersburg  before the "Bloody Sunday"

Soldiers guarding the Neva Quay. 

Soldiers guarding the square in front of the Winter Palace.

A bakery shop, which had been robbed during the unrest,  guarded by soldiers.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

An early P&O cruise liner in Stockholm in 1905

S.S. Vectis at Christiania  (Oslo), water colour by William Lionel Wyllie
(sold  by Bonhams)

Cruising is nowadays an important part of the tourist industry, with hundreds of cruise liners plying the Seven Seas. The first years of the 20th century were still early days for cruises, but both German and British shipowners had already begun to see the vast possibilities pleasure voyages offered to them.

The first ship built exclusively for cruising was the Hamburg-America Line's  Prinzessin Victoria Luise, which was completed in 1900.

In 1904 P. & O. refitted its screw steamer Rome as a cruise liner (it had been built in 1881 for the Australian service) and renamed it Vectis. She took passengers on a variety of cruises, including Scandinavia and the Baltic.

The photograph below is from early September 1905, when Vectis visited Stockholm as part of her Baltic cruise.

The P & O cruise liner Vectis in Stockholm in 1905
The Vectis was sold to the French government in 1912, which intended to convert her to a hospital ship. For some reason this proposal did not proceed, and she was broken up the following year.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A pair of Wild ducks in the Helsingborg marina

This afternoon I photographed this nice pair of Wild ducks (Mallards) in the Helsingborg marina:


These two chose to stay on land:

Monday, 4 February 2013

A rainy February day

On this rainy February day, I preferred to stay inside. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Views from my balcony (7): A morning in early February

A light snowfall the other day, again made the landscape look more wintry - and also quite beautiful, particularly in the morning hours: