Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Dream Light festival in Helsingborg

 If you have a light, share it with people; if you have a darkness, share it with the Sun! 
Mehmet Murat ildan

Dream Light (Drömljus in Swedish) is the name of the wonderful festival of lights, which has brightened up the city of Helsingborg during this week. I only wish it had gone on for a couple of weeks more ...

Friday, 15 February 2013

A record breaking Scania truck (model 1909)

On its webpage Swedish Scania describes the reliability of its trucks:

But reliability and uptime don’t come out of thin air. They come from Scania’s long tradition of delivering exactly what your business needs.

It appears that Scania's claim is not unfounded. While looking for something else, I accidentally noticed this picture in the 26 September 1909 issue of the Swedish weekly Hvar 8 Dag:

The happy Scania "crew" on the road to Stockholm. 

The above Scania truck had in the same week finished the trip from Malmö in the South to the capital Stockholm - altogether 692 km -  in just 33 hours. This was a record for trucks in Sweden, which was duly celebrated. The journalist who described the trip was particularly proud of the fact that not only was the truck made in Sweden, but also the ball bearings - which were "of better quality than foreign ones" - were Swedish, too (most likely from SKF, which had been founded two years earlier. NNoN). 

The "original" sail training ship Georg Stage

A picture of the first sail training ship Georg Stage
(photograped before the collision in 1905).

The present Danish sail training ship Georg Stage (launched in 1934), one of the the "regulars" at international tall ship races, had a predecessor carrying the same name. The original Georg Stage, (launched in 1882) was somewhat smaller than the present one, with a length of 36 m, compared to 54 m of the successor. The ship had a crew of 80 sailors in training an 10 officers. 

On 25 June 1905 Georg Stage collided with the English steamship Ancona in Øresund, not far from Copenhagen, causing the death of 22 sailors in training. 

The damage was not as extensive as was first thought.

The sunken ship was not as badly damaged as first thought, and it could be raised and repaired. The first Georg Stage continued as a training ship until 1934, when it was replaced by the present ship with the same name. 

The famous Australian novelist, adventurer and Master Mariner Allan Villiers bought the full-rigger, thus saving it from the scrapyard. Villiers renamed the ship Joseph Conrad, after the famous Polish novelist, and embarked on a tour around the globe which lasted for two years. (Villiers described the tour in two books, The Cruise of the 'Conrad' and Stormalong)

In 1936 Villiers went into bankruptcy and had to sell the ship to the American millionaire George Huntington Hartford, who used it as a personal yacht for three years. In 1939 the Maritime Commission of USA aquired the Joseph Conrad, which again become a training ship, serving until 1945. Two years later the original Georg Stage reached its final destination, the Museum of America and the Sea, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, where it still continues to educate visitors about the rich history of sail. 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Colorful contemporary art

I have to admit that I am not a great admirer of contemporary art. But sometimes one can find pieces which at least are colorful - not a bad thing during the otherwise grey and cold winter months here in Scandinavia  ...

These young ladies took delight in walking through artist Jacob Dahlgren's piece "The Wonderful World of Abstraction" at the Dunker's Culture Center in Helsingborg. 

This "ball", also at Dunker's, is rather decorative. But is it art?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The famous Swedish explorer Sven Hedin after his third expedition to Central Asia

Dr. Sven Hedin and his Tibetan servants at the mission Poo on the border between Tibet and India in the fall of 1908. During the expedition Hedin was dressed as a Tibetan in order not to be detected. (Hedin's own photograph). 

In the early 20th century the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin was one the most celebrated personalities in Europe. In the fall of 1908 he had completed his third daring expedition to Central Asia, which took him  to the western highlands of Tibet and Transhimalaya, which for a time was called the Hedin Range after its discoverer.

In Simla Dr. Hedin was warmly received by the Lord Minto, Viceroy of India and Lady Minto. 

Before his return to Europe Dr. Hedin visited Japan, where he received this traditional Japanese dress as a gift.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Persia in 1909: The old shah and the new shah

The old Shah.
On 16 July 1909, Mohammad Ali was deposed as the Shah of Persia.  

The new Shah.
On the same day Muhammad Ali was replaced by his 11 year old son Ahmad. 
Ahmad was deposed in December 1925. 

As fate would have it, every future Shah of Iran after Mohammad Ali would also die in exile. 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Ships in Øresund on Februari 11, 2013

This afternoon the reefer Green Bergen (98 x 16m) was on its way northwards in the Sound. The ship's destination  is Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland:

Green Bergen is carrying foodstuffs to Iceland.

The small cargo ship Lammy (95 x 14m) was also going northwards on its way to Gothenburg:

Chemical tanker Chemtrans EMS (128 x 20m) took a Swedish pilot on board when it entered Øresund:

A Swedish pilot boat ready to set a pilot on board the tanker.

If you look closely, you can see a Danish sailing boat behind the rear of the tanker, braving the cold winter weather!

Bulk carrier Baltic Star (199 x 28m) was heading southwards, destination St. Petersburg:

A crow among seagulls

Cold winter weather and snow make it difficult for many birds to find food. Hunger made this crow join the seagulls in search if something edible among the alga this afternoon:

A Swedish king as a British Royal Navy Admiral

The official photograph of King Gustav (dressed as a Royal Navy Admiral) and Queen Victoria, taken at the Windsor Castle during the Royal visit in 1908. 

Traditions have been - and still are - of particular importance to the British armed forces. The custom of the Royal Navy to appoint foreign royals to be honorary Admirals is one such tradition, although nowadays very sparingly used. 

When King Gustav V of Sweden together with his wife, Queen Victoria made an official state visit to Britain in the fall of 1909 (less than a year after the king had taken office) he arrived dressed as a British Admiral of the Fleet. 

The arrival ceremony in Portsmouth.

The Swedish royal couple arrived in Portsmouth on board the British Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert.


Also the present King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, is an Honorary Admiral of the Royal British Navy, although I have not seen him wear the uniform.  

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming - a great show

Finland's Andreas Romar in action in the downhill comptetition, which was won by Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal. Romar was fifth.

Although I have never done any downhill skiing myself, I find it quite enjoyable to watch the ongoing Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria. One cannot but admire the skill and bravery of the participants.

Sulphur mines in Sicily a hundred years ago: "The nearest thing to hell"

The  temperature in the sulfur mines could rise to 50 degrees
Celsius (122  Fahrenheit).

Already in ancient times, sulfur was found in the volcanic regions of Sicily. Originally Sicilian sulphur was extracted from open-pit mines, but later on the mining was done under the surface of the Earth:

Eventually the surface-borne deposits played out, and miners excavated veins that ultimately dotted the Sicilian landscape with labyrinthine mines. Mining was unmechanized and labor-intensive, with pickmen freeing the ore from the rock, and mine-boys or carusi carrying baskets of ore to the surface, often through a mile or more of tunnels. Once the ore was at the surface, it was reduced and extracted in smelting ovens. The conditions in Sicilian sulfur mines were horrific, prompting Booker T. Washington to write "I am not prepared just now to say to what extent I believe in a physical hell in the next world, but a sulphur mine in Sicily is about the nearest thing to hell that I expect to see in this life."

Thank God, things have improved since those days!

A sulphur mine in Sicily in the early 20th century.
Sicilian sulphur miners. The 13 - 17 year old mine-boys - the carusi - had to carry the sacks of sulphur - often weighing up to 20 kg - to the surface along the hot and slippery tunnels. (Photo probably from 1908).
The smelting ovens.
A cableway was used for transporting the ore.