Saturday, 30 November 2013

DFDS ferry Crown Seaways on its way to Copenhagen this morning

The Copenhagen - Oslo ferry Crown Seaways looked great this morning, when it was on its way to Copenhagen with full "Christmas" lights on:

Christmas Markets in Helsingør

The Christmas "season" in Helsingør (Elsinore) begins officially tomorrow, but a lot of activities and decorations were already today brightening the grey late November day:

Kronborg Castle and the Christmas tree.

A close-up of the Kronborg Castle Christmas tree.

The route to the Christmas market inside the castle is well marked.

This Christmas "hut" is standing in the inner castle yard.

Two "Christmas" swans, with the Christmas tree in the backround.

The swans again.

The largest Christmas market is the one at the Axeltorv square.

Christmas decorations for sale.

Roasted almonds.


Christmas flowers.

Waiting for customers.

The small flower market close to the railways station.

Ordinary shops in Helsingør of course also had their "Christmas markets", with
many customers from Sweden. This one volunteered for the picture.

The wine and liqueur stores had a good day.

A quiet Christmas street.

The start of the Christmas music season: Monteverdi's Maria vespers performed by the Copenhagen Soloists

Conductor Jonathan Ofir rehearsing with the Copenhagen Soloists in the Church
of St. Mary this afternoon.

One reason for why I always look forward to the Christmas season, is that there is such a wide variety of music on offer. The Christmas music season opened today, although I was not able to go the concert that I had planned to attend - Monteverdi's Maria vespers, performed by the outstanding Copenhagen Soloists in "Buxtehude's church", the beautiful Church of St. Mary in Helsingør.

Rehearsing Monteverdi's Mariavesper.

Fortunately I had a chance to listen to parts of the rehearsal in the afternoon. Based on what I heard, those who made it to the concert were in for a treat!

Tomorrow the concert is repeated in Copenhagen's famous Marble Church.

The Church of St. Mary is ideally suited for baroque music performances.

The Copenhagen Soloists is a solistic vocal and instrumental ensemble which specialises in baroque music. It consists of leading vocal soloists, who perform both soli and choir parts, and instrumentalists on period instruments.

Friday, 29 November 2013

An 1890s photograph of Moorish women in Algeria

This photograph from a book published in 1898 is titled "Moorish women in Algeria" :

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Norwegian subsea vessel Havila Phoenix on its way to Gdynia

Multi Purpose Offshore Vessel Havila Phoenix on its way to Gdynia. When it returns
it will probably be 17.4 m longer.

The Norwegian owned Multi Purpose Offshore Vessel Havila Phoenix entered the Sound in the morning mist today on its way to Gdynia. The ship is currently undergoing a major conversion, done by the Havyard Ship Technology's shipyard in Leirvik, Norway:

Havyard Ship Technology’s shipyard in Leirvik in Norway has won the contract for a major conversion of the subsea vessel Havila Phoenix. (September 16)

Havila Shipping has signed contract with Deep Ocean who has chartered the subsea vessel «Havila Phoenix» for cable laying and trenching operations. The contract is for seven years with four one-year options and means that the vessel needs to undergo a major conversion before commencing the contract. Havyard Ship Technology will do the conversion, which is scheduled to be finished in March 2014.

Havila Phoenix» is a Havyard 858 design, delivered from Havyard’s shipyard in Leirvik as a construction vessel in 2009. Since then the vessel has had different charterers and executed several different operations in connection with subsea oil production installations. The contract with Deep Ocean includes cable laying and trenching for offshore windmill installations. To enable the vessel for these operations it needs to be lengthened with 17,4 m to accommodate the new equipment. The lengthening means that close to 700 tons of new steel will be installed.
There will be installed a lot of new equipment both on and below the cargo deck. The stern will be reinforced and a 250 tonnes A-frame will be installed, operating together with the existing offshore crane for launching the biggest trencher. This trencher is the world’s largest self-propelled trencher.
Equipment for launching a smaller trencher over the side will also be installed.
A big part of the conversion will be to install the cable laying equipment. This includes installation of a horizontal cable drum with capacity to store 2000 tons of cable.
Havila Shipping is in charge of the marine operations of the vessel while Deep Ocean controls the cable laying operations. Totally around 100 persons will stay onboard during the operations.

The fact that the Havila Phoenix now is on its way to Gdynia probably means that the lengthening of the ship will be done at a Polish shipyard.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Great Buddha of Kamakura photographed in the 1890s

The Great Buddha is a monumental outdoor bronze statue in the city of Kamakura in Kanagawa PrefectureJapan. The 13.35 m high (incl. platform) statue, which dates from 1252, is one of the most famous icons of Japan.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura, photographed in the 1890s.

It appears that the western tourists posing in this 1890s picture of the Great Buddha, did not fully respect the text at the entrance to the grounds (or perhaps it was not there at the time?):

"Stranger, whosoever thou art and whatsoever be thy creed, when thou enterest this sanctuary remember thou treadest upon ground hallowed by the worship of ages. This is the Temple of Bhudda (sic) and the gate of the eternal, and should therefore be entered with reverence"

The grandeur of the statue inspired Rudyard Kipling to write the poem "The Buddha of Kamakura", which includes the following lines:

"And whoso will, from Pride released,
Contemning neither creed nor priest,
May feel the Soul of all the East
About him at Kamakura."

The Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy has given this description of the temple and statue in Kamakura:

"For me, it is one of the most peaceful places on earth. There are thousands of statues of Lord Buddha in existence, but the large statue at Kamakura embodies boundless peace. When you go there, no matter how restless you are, no matter how much your mind has been bothering you the whole day, no matter how involved you are in the hustle and bustle of life, as soon as you stand before the statue, all your inner turmoil is washed away. The statue embodies the most powerful peace you can ever imagine or feel."

A recent picture of the Great Buddha:

(image by Wikipedia)

Chamonix in the 1890s

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in the 1890s.
"Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains; They crown'd him long ago On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds, With a diadem of snow"

Chamonix, with the mighty Mont Blanc above it, was a rather spectacular place already in the 1890s.
A recent picture:
(image by Wikipedia)

The Cliff House Restaurant in San Francisco in the early 1890s

This picture of the famous Cliff House restaurant in the San Francisco Bay area is included in the book "Jorden Rundt" (Around the world), published by the Swedish publishing company Bonnier in 1898:

The Cliff House in the early 1890s, before it was destroyed on Christmas night 1894.

The Cliff House has had five "incarnations" since the first one was built in 1858. The one on the picture must be the second one, built in 1863 and destroyed  on Christmas night 1894 due to a defective flue.

In 1896, the owner Adolph Sutro built a new Cliff House, a seven story Victorian Chateau, which burned to the ground on the evening of September 7, 1907, after existing for only 11 years:

The Cliff House Chateau, which burned down in 1907.
(image by wiki)

The present Cliff House is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, operated by the National Park Service.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Container ship Stefan Sibum going to Copenhagen

The container ship Stefan Sibum (152 m x 25 m, Cyprus registry) was late yesterday afternoon approaching Helsingør on its way to Copenhagen:

Stefan Sibum approaching Helsingør.

November afternoon in Øresund

A quiet late November afternoon in Øresund.

Reefer Baltic Meadow in the sunset

The reefer Baltic Meadow (145.5 m x 22.6 m) was going northwards in the Sound when the sun was setting yesterday:

The reefer Baltic Meadow was built in 1986.

A couple of minutes later.

St. Petersburg on Epiphany Day 1905: The Blessing of the Waters Ceremony Takes an Ominous Turn

The ceremonial Blessing of the Waters of the Neva.

The Blessing of the Waters on January 6 (January 19th on the Gregorian calendar), the Feast of Epiphany, was one of the most picturesque ceremonies in Imperial Russia. It took place in a temporary pavilion, erected on the edge of the Neva, right in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.

On Epiphany Day 1905 the ceremony took an ominous turn:

Tsar Nicholas II, members of the royal family and diplomatic corps attend the ceremonial blessing of the waters of the Neva River in front of the Winter Palace. This is a longstanding tradition celebrating the baptism of Christ in River Jordan transposed to a frigid Russian winter setting. A hole called the Jordan is cut in the ice of the river and the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Saint Petersburg immerses his cross in it, blessing and purifying the water. People flock to collect the holy water which is believed to have protective and curative powers.
The Tsar and some of the dignitaries observe the blessing from an elegant pavilion built overlooking the river, while the Tsarina, Grand Duchesses and members of the diplomatic corps watch from the windows of the Winter Palace. The blessing is marked with a military gun salute.

This year, however, the ceremonial gun salute has an unexpected bite. The 17th Battery of the First Horse Artillery of the Guard, one of the most aristocratic of corps in the Russian army, firing from Vasilyevsky Island in response to shots from the Peter and Paul Fortress, has among all the blank saluting cartridges at least one weapon loaded with live ammunition. That gun happens to be aimed right at the Imperial pavilion. A charge of grapeshot peppers the Jordan, injuring one police officer and snapping the flagpole of the Marine standard. The shot also breaks four windows in the Window Palace, where the Tsarina and company stand. Nobody is harmed, but the Tsar’s mother is sprinkled in broken glass.
The official story is that this was negligence, an accident caused when the artillery was not properly cleaned after target practice two days earlier. It’s not a satisfying explanation. The guns can only take a single charge at a time, so how come nobody noticed there was already something in there when they attempted to charge the saluting cartridges on the day of the ceremony? Also, ceremonial salutes aren’t generally aimed right at the Emperor.
On the other hand, any artillery expert would know that grapeshot is not an effective tool of assassination when it has to cross a river to reach its intended target. If one of the soldiers of the battery had been attempting the life of the Tsar, surely he would have loaded the gun with something that had a chance of working. One the lead pellets lands not three feet away from the Tsar, but it’s unlikely it would have harmed him beyond a contusion had it made contact.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The sky after sunset in Øresund on November 25, 2013

The sun sets early this time of the year here in the Øresund region - today at 15.47 in the afternoon. A minute or two after the sun had set I shot this picture of the sky above Danish Zealand:

The sky above Zealand just before 4 p.m.
On the Swedish side, the sky was still fairly bright:

The Hittarp reef and the nicely pastel coloured sky.


Houses in Hittarp.

A seal in Øresund

Today was my lucky day - I was able to get a couple of photos of a nice harbour seal (Phoca vitulina, also called common seal) resting on the same small rock close to the Hittarp reef, where I have seen seals (and grey herons) before.

Regrettably I did not have a powerful enough tele lens to get really close, but by cropping the picture I was able to get some decent images. As I am not very familiar with seals, I am not quite certain that the seal actually was a harbour seal, but to me it looked like one. The other fairly common seal in Øresund is the grey seal. But to me the one pictured here seemed to be somewhat smaller than a grey seal.



Maritime Helsinki

The closeness to the sea is one of the Finnish capital Helsinki's main assets:

The droshkies of Imperial Russia

Writer Ross Browne observed the droshkies on this quay in central St. Petersburg.

On this early 20th century photograph of the Nicholas bridge (the present Blagoveshchensky bridge) and surroundings in St. Petersburg you can see (on the left) a number of traditional open four-wheeled horse-drawn carriages, droshkies, waiting for customers. The American writer
J. Ross Browne, who visited St. Petersburg in 1861, gives this vivid description of  the  droshkies, which once were such a common sight in the former capital of Imperial Russia:

The istrovoschik (sneeze and you have the word)—in plain English, the drosky drivers—are a notable feature in St. Petersburg. When I saw them for the first time on the quay of the Wassaly Ostrow, where the steamer from Stettin lands her passengers, the idea naturally impressed my mind that I had fallen among a brotherhood of Pilgrims or Druids. Nothing could be more unique than the incongruity of their costume and occupation. Every man looked like a priest; his long beard, his grave expression of countenance, his little black hat and flowing blue coat, gathered around the waist by means of a sash, his glazed boots reaching above the knees, his slow and measured motions, and the sublime indifference with which he regarded his customers, were singularly impressive. Even the filth and rustiness which formed the most prominent characteristics of the class contributed to the delusion that they might have sprung from a Druidical source, and gathered their dust of travel on the pilgrimage from remote ages down to the present period. It is really something novel, in the line of hackery, to see those sedate fellows sitting on their little droskys awaiting a customer. The force of competition, however, has of late years committed sad inroads upon their dignity, and now they are getting to be about as enterprising and pertinacious as any of their kindred in other parts of the world. The drosky is in itself a curiosity as a means of locomotion. Like the driver, it is generally dirty and dilapidated; but here the similitude ends; for, while the former is often high, his drosky is always low. The wheels are not bigger than those of an ordinary dog-cart, and the seat is only designed for one person, though on a pinch it can accommodate two. Generally it consists of a plank covered with a cushion, extending lengthwise in the same direction as the horse, so that the rider sits astride of it as if riding on horseback; some, however, have been modernized so as to afford a more convenient seat in the usual way. Night and day these droskys are every where to be seen, sometimes drawn up by the sidewalk, the driver asleep, awaiting a customer, but more frequently rattling full tilt over the pavements (the roughest in the world) with a load, consisting, in nine cases out of ten, of a fat old gentleman in military uniform, a very ugly old lady with a lapdog, or a very dashy young lady glittering with jewels, on her way, perhaps, to the Confiseur’s or somewhere else. But in a city like St. Petersburg, where it is at least two or three miles from one place to another, every body with twenty kopecks in his pocket uses the drosky. It is the most convenient and economical mode of locomotion for all ordinary purposes, hence the number of them is very large. On some of the principal streets it is marvelous how they wind their way at such a rattling pace through the crowd. To a stranger unacquainted with localities, they are a great convenience.

(image by Steve Bartrick Antique Prints)

Another writer, the Rev. Archibald Weir, who visited St. Petersburg a year before Browne, also wrote about the droshkies in the book Vacation Tourists and Notes on Travel in 1860, published by MacMillan and Co. in London:

Droshkies and their drivers, as well as the driving, are worth notice. The former are quite a national institution. From the Tsar to the serf, the droshky is the favourite conveyance. A man may keep any number and any variety of carriages he likes, but the droshky must be one. And no wonder. For one person they are very handy, neat turn-outs ; the horses are generally in good condition ; (a Russian merchant s ambition is to have a fat wife, a fat horse, and a fat coachman) ; the harness is very light, and when, as is often the case, studded over with silver, has a very elegant appearance. Moreover, those ugly appendages, blinkers, are not known in Russia. Droshkies are capable of great speed, and easily managed. Their size suits the build of horses, commonly used, low and short in the draught. One fault only is to be found with them the leg accommodation is scanty. I speak of the modern droshky, in which one sits as in a common chaise. The old-fashioned type, across which one sits astride, has well-nigh disappeared from St. Petersburg. A good many are to be seen at Moscow ; but they are the shabbiest on the streets, and will soon die out there. At St. Petersburg a tariff restrains the extortioning of the isvostchiks. It is true they never take the fare without a grumble ; but the fare is small enough, sevenpence the course. If they take you beyond the range, or with luggage, they make good use of their freedom from rule. But at Moscow things are different There is no tariff there, and consequently one must bargain before one hires, or pay any penalty the driver chooses to levy. There is also a marked difference in the manner of the Moscow isvostchiks. Such abusive, cunning, impudent fellows I never saw. Their eyes twinkle with roguery and insolence. No doubt every one who has ridden in a droshky associates it with insufferable jolting. But the blame is to be laid upon the roads, not upon the carriages. Over a smooth surface, such as the wood pavement in the Nevsky Prospekt, or the beautiful roads at Peterhoff or Tsarskoe-Selo, nothing can be more easy and pleasant than the swift motion of a droshky. But no springs in the world could ever soften the frightful joltings occasioned by the bad roads which mostly prevail. I thought nothing could be worse than the streets of St. Petersburg, till I got to Moscow, where, to the vileness of the pavement is added the hilliness of the ground.

A somewhat later description of the St. Petersburg droshkies is found in the book St. Petersburg (published in 1910) by George Dobson:

The most conspicuous of all the types of street-
life in St. Petersburg is the legkovoi izvostchik*
the Russian cabman, more commonly called simply
izvostchik. He is generally the first to attract the
stranger's attention, for he lies in wait for all new-
comers at every available point, and thrusts the
offer of his services upon them with persevering
insistence. Formerly he and his competitors used
to surround you at railway stations, theatres, etc.,
pull at your coat-sleeves, and argue with you in
the most persuasive manner. This habit of pester-
ing foot passengers at such close quarters is now
seldom indulged in, as the police regulations warn
the izvostchik off the pavements, and compel him to
keep to his seat. The droshky, on which he sits
and waits in every street (there being no regular
cab-ranks), is a small barouche, or victoria, with
more of a pony than a horse in the shafts. In its
present form, with rubber tyres and lifting hood
for rainy weather, it presents a great improvement
on what it was twenty-five years ago, when George
Augustus Sala described it as a perambulator on
four wheels, built for one and a half, and licensed
for two, with a moojick on the box driving like a
London costermonger. But although the droshky
is thus being gradually modernized, thanks to con-
tinual presssure from the police authorities, its
driver, the izvostchik, still remains a peasant from
the country, utterly indifferent to all progress.
More change has taken place in his droshky in the
course of a few years than in the whole race of
izvostchiks for the past century or more. The
political reforms which have bestirred other classes
have left him unmoved, and he seems to be resign-
ing himself to the prospect of being superseded by
electric trams, taxi-cabs, and other self-propelling

Sunday, 24 November 2013

A quiet Sunday afternoon in Helsingborg

It was rather quiet in Helsingborg this Sunday. During my afternoon stroll I shot these pictures:

Sunday afternoon in the city.

The Christmas circus has arrived.

The circus box office.

The Christmas circus is sponsored by the local energy company.

Usually the Knutpunkten ferry/train/coach terminal is filled with people.

A passenger on her way to the ferry.

The Scandlines ferry Hamlet leaving Helsingborg.

Quiet afternoon in the pub.
A nice and quiet late afternoon in the area where I live.


Next weekend will be much livelier in the Helsingborg city centre, with all the Christmas lights welcoming visitors.