Water Village, Yangtze River, China


On arriving by boat to the Water Village, you used to anchor up by this pavillion.  Facing the new, big cruisers, another, bigger pavillion has been built.

The evergreen waters, the silent mountains – and the lifting fog –  brightened my spirit. I knew this would be the highlight of our journey.

Cruising along the Yangtze River, you can still see fishermen rowing a wooden boat from which they fish. The history of fishing on the Yangtze River can be traced back seven thousand years.

The small wooden boat is usually twelve feet long and three or four feet wide, the boat usually has five to six cabins including the navigation cabin, engine room and the living cabins. With the rise in living standard along the Yangtze River, fishermen have installed diesel engines on their boats to save manpower.

To catch fish, there are usually two ways: net casting and using hooks. Daytime, fishermen cast nets with large stones as anchors. Then, one or two boats drag two ends of the net to catch the fish. Fishing hooks are put out before sunset and reeled in with the fish in the morning.

Every year, the fishermen repair the boat during the hot days of July and August. When the Chinese traditional Lantern Festival comes, the family usually eats a reunion lunch in the cabin and sticks incense on the fore at the same time burning papers and shooting off firecrackers to sacrifice to the water god for good sailing and good catch.

On our walk along the river, we were first met by stone faces speaking to everyone about what to do to fend off Evil…

Then – soft flute music reached our ears. A beautiful girl standing on the deck of an old wooden boat, and a man playing the flute, releasing its silvery tunes over the river.

Of course they were posing for us – but the old ways of this people, the Tujia, were both breathtaking and esthetically shown to us. As a visitor I could not but use my eyes and ears in silence. It hurts to watch the beauty and the sad loss of the old ways  – even if we know about the hardships they meant as well. It is the same everywhere in the world.

Following the wooden pathway by the river, the silent calmness and serenity  overwhelmed me. This was indeed a picture of a Lost Paradise.

The lush bamboo  and the stillness in the air, the boats and the fishing nets – and the sun lifting the veil of mist.

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Only the faint sound of the flute faraway, and the sound of birds rustling in the foliage. Tears in my eyes. It doesn’t matter if this gloryfying of the old is just…gloryfying. This little village shows the essence of old Chinese life, art, painting and poetry.

Leaving this Paradisiac painting and hiking further into the river valley, we approached some water wheels and an old homestead.

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On the little arched bridge, a young couple was standing – obviously this used to be a popular place for lovers to meet.

Soon we were to see a little performance on the marriage customs – Weeping Marriage of the Tujia Ethnic Minority.

The marriage date for girls of the Tujia Ethnic Minority ia usually welcomed with crying. According to custom, the new bride should begin to cry half a month or one month before the wedding ceremony. Whether a girl could cry about her marriage became a criterion to value the girl’s ability and virtue.

In order to be regarded as a good girl, the girl begins to study how to cry for marriage when she is twelve years old. Some will invite an experienced person to teach them. When 15 years old, girls will invite each other to match who cries best and teach each other.

There are songs which are sung when weeping for marriage. These include singing for parents, sisters, brothers, the matchmaker and ancestors. When singing the weeping marriage songs, the emotions are fully expressed through the mournful tones. They say that on hearing the vivid and strong words of the song, even the toughest man can’t fight back his tears.

The weeping songs can be sung by one person or by two. If one girl sings, she will cry for her destiny, the deep affection to her relatives and the feudalistic marriage custom she suffers under. When two girls are weeping together, it is called ”sister crying.” The bride cries and sings first, and then the other one will sing together with the bride to console her.

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The Bride unveiled

It is said that the weeping marriage custom originates from the marriage system in the old times. Girls sang and cried denouncing the marriage system and dreaming of flinging off its chains. Today, although Tujia girls can choose their loved ones freely, they still cry out of tradition.

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Our lovely Tujia guides. The basket on their back will show if they are married or not. Carrying flowers – free, carrying a baby – married.

Before reaching the waterfalls, we saw the bamboo forest swaying – monkeys! Maybe we would get closer on the other side of the river.

But first – the falls. Not very big, but fresh  mountain water falling through the lush bamboo forest. Have you ever seen an old  Chinese painting?

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The narrow gorge ahead of us.

Hiking back, quietly, everybody pondering and reflecting on their impressions…

…I suddenly found more reflecting and pondering faces – monkeys. This one became my favourite during the short time we were listening to them and watching them climbing rocks and branches. He was sitting there on the rock with his wise little face turned slightly upwards. Sometimes he glanced at his hands and into the greenery, but never jumped around making ooooooooooo – sounds like the others. I called him the Philosopher.

These monkeys had bushy tails instead of sleek ones to use for gripping branches. Unfortunately none of our guides could name the species. I tried to find them when I got home, but the closest I get is Rhesus Makak. If anybody knows – please write me!

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This trip back into the China of old; customs, art, painting and writing, I am certain will stay with me forever.

Because this is no more




















The Latvian Etnographic Open – Air Museum – an Island of Harmony

Lettlands Etnografiska Friluftsmuseum inrättades 1924 och är Lettlands motsvarighet till vårt svenska ”Skansen” – en av de tidigaste efterföljarna till vår stolthet. Området är stort, hela 88 ha, och det ligger naturskönt och avskilt från Riga stad. Genom åren har gamla hus och tillhörande byggnader flyttats hit, så att friluftsmuseet idag omfattar 118 olika byggnader. De äldsta från 1600-talet, de yngsta från 1930-talet. Hela Lettland speglas områdesvis på ett förtjänstfullt sätt.

The Ethnographic Museum of Latvia was established in 1924.118 folk architecture objects and more than 3000 household items from all Latvian historical and ethnographical regions (Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale) , evidence from life and culture of the rural population from the 17th century until the 1940´s. the museum researches, exhibits and promotes the monuments of traditional life, as well as educates and informs about Latvias cultural heritage.

Den protestantiska kyrkan från 1704, har en fantastiskt vacker interiör.

The Lutheran church (1704) is a silent beauty.

Fantastiskt träsnideriarbete i altare och predikstol, och ett lika fantastiskt bemålat tak. Här hålls gudstjänst varje söndag klockan tio.

Magnificent wood carvings and the ceiling in soft blue, white and golden brown. Service every Sunday at 10 a.m.

Lägg märke till att ljushållaren vid predikstolen är i form av en människoarm!

Holding the candle, to the left, is…a carving showing a human arm.

Silence and Serenity

På väg nerför backen står ett vägkrucifix från 1907, en katolsk företeelse som var vanlig på den tiden.

Riga med omnejd 2015 675_copyKorsen dekorerades med blommor, särskilt under festivaler. Man hade också som tradition att samlas vid korsen och sjunga psalmer under majkvällarna.

Den här mannen hade sin atelje/verkstad på en bondgård från 1850. Han svarvade skålar, men tillverkade också slevar och gamla tiders leksaker för hand, vilka han gärna demonstrerade och sålde.

This man worked at a farmstead from 1850. His bowls were for sale, as well as spoons and toys made according to old traditions. He was very good at showing visitors how they worked.

Många skolklasser besökte förstås – och förundrades över dåtidens leksaker.

Many school classes visited, of course, and wondered at the old time toys.

Vi kände igen alla leksaker från förr, bland annat snurra, ”helikoptervingar”, ”brumma” och slangbella.

We recognized all the old toys, like this one below, made swirling through a twist with your hands only.

Till gården hörde ett praktfullt boningshus med vasstak, en köksträdgård, ett magasin för spannmål och textilier, samt en badstuga.

The farmstead had a main building with reed roof, a kitchen garden, a storage house for cereals and textiles, and a bath cottage.

Det mest intressanta var biodlingen, mycket tack vare en besjälad idealist, Janis Snikvalds, som tillbringar en del av sin tid på friluftsmuseet för att informera och även sälja produkter. Vintertid jobbar han också med bin, men då handlar det om kontorsarbete.

The most interesting thing was the bee-keeping and the stories from the bee-keeper himself, Janis Snikvalds. A beautiful idealist and passionate bee-lover with a warm and loving heart. He works part time at the museum, informing about his work and selling healthy products from his bees.

Han berättade att hans far var biodlare, att han själv först var rädd för bin, men genom att hjälpa sin far vann intresset över rädslan. Den harmoni han känner när han arbetar med sina bin är svår att beskriva. ”Man måste älska bin för att kunna arbeta med dem.” Vi fick provsmaka tre fina honungssorter, varav en ljunghonung.

He told us about his fear of bees when he was a kid, how his father made him help out and how this made him develop a deep harmony in working with these interesting animals. ”You have to love bees to work with them”.

Sedan provade vi andra biprodukter (!), bland annat små pollenkulor som bina får med sig på bakbenen när de suger nektar, och ”bee bread”, som kommer från cellerna i honungskakan. Båda är erkända naturmediciner och är, precis som honung, välkänt verksamma mot bland annat inflammationer och förkylning. Janis berättade att man kommer till honom även från närliggande länder för att köpa. Vi köpte ett par pollenburkar med hem.

We tried both the pollen products and the bee bread – both recognized natural medicine working anti inflammatory and fighting infections. Janis told us that people came from neighbouring countries as well to buy these products. We brought home a couple of the pollen products – knowing from old that bees work magic. If you are interested – Janis Snikvalds is also on facebook. Go for ”Baltu Drava”, and find out more about him and his products.

Janis berättade också om hur kuporna transporteras med bil till t ex ljungområden för att kunna få ljunghonung. Biodlingen i världen är i kris, men Lettland är det land i världen som förlorat minst bin och samhällen.

Janis told us about the hives sometimes being moved to, for example areas with heather, in order to get heather honey. But, they were not like in for example the US, transported for days or weeks in big trailers, stressing the bees. These hives were only moved over one night and one day. Latvia is the only country in the world that is not in a critical situation of losing bees .

Han berättade också om de gamla bikupor som vi såg på många håll i friluftsmuseet. De är helt enkelt urholkade delar av trädstammar. Sådan har använts från 1500- till början av 1900-talet. De höll i 100 år. Från början placerades de vertikalt med trätak över, senare horisontellt med en lös bräda som lock. Han experimenterade själv med sådana i sin verksamhet idag.

Vi fortsatte sedan förbi en vävarstuga och ett hus med spinneri till en kvarn, som ligger längst bort i friluftsmuseet. Det är en vindmölla av holländsk typ, där övre delen vrids efter vinden. Den byggdes 1890, och var faktiskt i drift ända till 1950. Man satte segelduk på vingarna när den brukades.

A Dutch windmill – from about 1890. This one was working until 1950.

Rysk ortodox kyrka, tidigt 1900-tal.

Russian orthodox church, early 20th century.

Vi var många som stortrivdes här – mysfaktor hög. Alla katter och fina hus, vacker natur och tystnad – en underbar totalupplevelse av gamla tiders lugn.

We were many people – and animals – feeling good here. Not least the beautiful cats we met. A totally wonderful day in the harmony of olden days.

Tidig vårvandring med mamma – An early Spring hike with my mother

Vi bestämde oss förra helgen, men vädret ville inte som vi. Den här dagen blev det i alla fall som utlovat.

Last weekend we were prepared to go – but the weather finally said no.

Redan på morgonen fann jag den första blåsippan som blygt tittade fram under fjolårsbladen. Vi packade smörgåsar och bullar, kaffe och gott humör.

Early in the morning I found the first anemone – shyly coming up from under the leaves. We packed sandwiches, buns, coffee and high spirits.

Ett fint dis mellan trädstammarna och känslan av frid och lugn infinner sig direkt.

A shimmering haze and a feeling of peacefulness arrived when we started walking.

De stilla vattensamlingarna har börjat få liv – småflugor och flyn i de värmande solstrålarna.

The pools of water are already alive with tiny flies and moths in the warming sun.

Plötsligt två fjärilar svirrande mellan träden! Men de måste sätta sig och vila i solen både nu och då – värmen räcker inte så länge.

Suddenly two butterflies were dancing in the sunrays . They had to rest and sit down to absorb warmth very often.

Och vi är fler som måste sätta oss en stund när kaffetarmen gör sig påmind.

And…there were more of us who needed a rest, especially when coffee time approached…

Pigga igen vandrar vi vidare i solskenet. Mamma fyller 80 i sommar – men av det ser man ingenting…

The coffee made wonders and soon we were on our way again. My mother is turning 80 in June – but of that we can see almost nothing…

Vi bestämde oss för att ta vägen bortom tjärnen – det blir inte så ofta. Men idag är det varmt och skönt, och nästan alldeles stilla. Vi blir rikligt belönade.

We decided to take the path to the small lake – we don’t go there often, maybe once every second year. We were richly rewarded.

Speglingarna är skönheten själv, och det blir inte en enda bild helt ovanför vattenytan.

Grey, silent beauty, and I didn’t take any photos at all above the surface.

Gråskalan är en dröm.

A dream.

Men längre upp väntar en underbart blå himmel. Kanske är det grå så vackert för att jag vet att det väntar en blå himmel ovanför…ändå?

But above the surface and further up the infinte blue sky is waiting. Maybe this is the reason why I appreciate the grey so much…because I know the blue sky is waiting up there?

Spängerna är tillräckligt breda för att vandraren inte ska tappa balansen.


Som en fjolårsfjäril sitter lövet där i allt det mjuka och låter solstrålarna värma en sista gång.

Almost like a last year’s butterfly the leaf is sitting in the soft moss, basking in the sun one last time.

Ännu en backe besegrad! Kom nu, matte – så dryg du är! Mormor och jag är redan uppe!

Another hill conquered! Hey there – why so slow? Grandma and me, we’re already here!

På tillbakavägen har vi fortfarande ett fantastiskt ljus. Totti rullar sig i mossan och vi skrattar och är nöjda med turen. Synd att den snart är slut för den här gången.

On our way back, we are still blessed with this light…Totti loves to roll in the moss and we all laugh and feel satisfied with our day.

Inne bland träden ringlar en helt övervuxen gärdsgård. Längst bort i bilden går den nedåt och försvinner in i mörkret. Man ser aldrig slutet.

Between the high trunks, there is a stone fence totally overgrown. You cannot see the end of it, it moves into the darkness of the forest. Enigmatic.

Mossor och lummerväxter bildar en drömlik matta vid varje sankmark. Jag kan inte motstå den trolska stämningen. Kan sitta där i timmar om jag får…

Moss and club moss creates a dream like carpet wherever there is humid ground. I can sit for hours, feeling the spell of it…

Fler som inte kan motstå ljuset! Tröga fortfarande, myrorna, men de ligger ovanpå varandra och försöker absorbera solens värmande energi.

More creatures who cannot resist the sun and the light! Slowly, slowly, they crawl on top of each other to absorb the warmth and energy of the rays.

Långt där nere gnistrar åns vatten. Vi är tillbaka där vi startade på morgonen. Totti har badat och grävt – han är också nöjd.

Down there the river is dancing and glittering. We are back to where we started this morning. Totti has taken a bath and also tried to dig his way down to some mice – he is satisfied too.

En fin tur och vi känner oss redo att möta resten av dagen. Tre, fyra timmar ute i naturen kan läka mycket och göra dig redo för veckan som kommer.

Jag är tacksam för att mamma fortfarande kan och vill göra mig sällskap på mina vandringsturer.

This was a great start of the day. Three or four hours of nature will heal so much and get you ready for the rest of the day and week to come. I’m very grateful that my mother still can and wants to accompany me on my hikings.

Some Hours’ Winter Walk a Sunny Day in Skåne

Vintern är kort i år – jag tror den varade en dag eller två. Att ta vara på den var viktigt, och jag hade faktiskt möjligheten. Följ med på min korta tur!

Winter was short this year in Skåne – I believe it lasted for a day or two. I had the opportunity to take a walk and enjoy it. Please join me this short afternoon of sun!

I walked to the lake nearby, and found that some little friends had been there before me…

Apartement to let, single room with a view…or at least the house is waiting for its summer guests.

On passing the lovely tree bridge, I reached open water – shimmering in the sun, exposing its blue sky secrets.

Driving home some hours later, I took the road through the woods to see the fog coming and the sky turning cold.

The forest has been cut down in some areas, and only lonely trees are still standing, solemnly overlooking the disaster.

About 5 p.m. the sun was gone since long and the skies were left with the last colours. This tree is standing guard outside a house on a hill. I will soon be home, but first a last firy glimpse of the day going to rest among the dancing, frosty fog.

Vintervandring i Vedema II

Vi hade vandrat en bit på fel stig – och solen dalade allt mer. Men jag fick helt nya vyer på denna del av leden, som nu var Skåneleden. Det är bra att gå fel ibland.

We had been walking on Skåneleden instead, without noticing. But here we found new, interesting views of the forest – marvel unseen by me…Sometimes it’s good to take the wrong turns. The only trouble was that the sun now was heading for the horizon this day, so we had to hurry back on the right track.

Totti poserade snällt på en ”tron” av en trippelbok som reducerats till en dubbel. Med lite godis går det mesta att genomföra.

Totti posed nicely on a ”throne” I had never seen before. A triple beech with only a double left. Needed some candy though…

Vi hittade slutligen en fin liten tjärn att doppa honom i…han var både törstig och smutsig vid det här laget. Inga framgrävda möss i alla fall…

Finally we found a welcoming pool for Totti to drink and do some cleaning up in…

I skuggorna frodas fina mossor och lummerväxter. Troll och annat knytt måste trivas här. Om vi stannat lite senare är jag säker att vi fått se älvorna dansa…

In the shadows moss and club moss thrive. I could imagine the elves dancing here…their tiny feet barely touching the soft ground.

Nu blev det allt kyligare och hungern gjorde sig påmind. Den där extra timmen var inte medräknad från början.

The air was turning cooler and Totti and I started thinking about a hot meal.

Tillbaka på rätt stig igen begav vi oss hemåt.  Allehanda fina små pölar lyste upp vägen med starkgröna mönster i olika nyanser.

Back on the right path again, we headed towards home. After all the rain, the small pools are little beacons in the dark, shining green in every nuance possible.

En fin dag för både kropp och själ – och för Totti. Inte många mötte vi heller – underligt med tanke på så få fina dagar vi har denna vinter.

A lovely, mindful, hiking day for the two of us, Totti and me, and for body and soul. Not many hikers out – a bit strange since the fine days are very few this winter.

Vintervandring i Vedema I

Som vanligt, klicka på bilderna för att förstora – Click the pictures to enlarge.

Eftersom min mamma inte kände sig riktigt bra, så fick jag göra vandringen med bara Totti. En fin, solig dag – men utan snö. Vid den här tiden på året brukar jag aldrig gå här, men ju grönare vintrarna blir, desto lättare blir det. Annars finns inte mycket positivt med de snöfria vintrarna.

My mother didn’f feel well today, so my hiking had to be with only Totti. I seldom visit here during this season, but the greener the winters become, the easier this walk will be. Not much else is positive about a winter without snow.

Tidig förmiddag och en blek sol skiner in.

Early sun is shining in when we start.

Snart skiner solen ordentligt och de mossiga stubbarna är som självlysande.

Soon we have glorious weather and the mossy stubs and stones are all aglow.

Inga kreatur på ängarna, men ett fint ljus att glädjas åt. Det har kommit mycket regn senaste tiden och allt från pölar till hela sjöar översvämmar öppen mark.

No cows, but a lovely light making me smile. There’s been much raining the last month.

Den kyliga morgonen bjuder på egna konstverk

The chilly morning has its own art work.

Snart dags för lite vila och fika, tycker Totti och jag

Some rest would be right now, Totti says – and I agree.

Eller kanske gräva lite? Finns det några goda rötter eller kanske någon mus att jaga fram?

Maybe some digging? Are there any appetizing roots or some fast mice to be had?

Efter fika- och grävpausen vandrar vi vidare, men jag upptäcker inte förrän efter 20 minuter att vi tagit fel stig. …

Some rest, some coffee and some digging – then on our way again. It’s not until after 20 minutes I realize we are heading in the wrong direction…

Winter – where are you?

En vandringstur på en av de få soliga dagarna i jul. Vart tar vintern vägen?

One of the few sunny days this Christmas – Where is Winter?

Vi bestämde oss för att starta tidigt, mamma, jag och Totti. Jag hade noga kontrollerat vädret timme för timme, och den här dagen skulle inte ett moln finnas på himlen.

We started out early this morning, my mother, Totti and me, and I had made sure that the weather was going to be perfect. Coffee, bread, buns and fruit – and a little something for Totti.

Några av fjolårets rotvältor ligger fortfarande kvar, och vatten finns det gott om.

Some of the fallen trees from last year is still here, and there is no lack of water.

Mamma  och Totti trivs bra tillsammans, men båda saknar Mille. Här brukade han rusa ut och hämta de första kottarna att lämnas till mamma.

My mother and Totti  go well together, but both are missing Mille. Here he used to run ahead of us to get cones for mum to throw and hide.

Tunn is på tjärnen – det närmaste vi kommer vinter.

Thin ice on the water – the closest we get to real winter.

Vad dessa kapslar/frön är kunde jag inte lista ut, men lätt och fint svängde de i vinden.

What tree this is I couldn’t figure out – but these little capsules were dancing gracefully in the wind.

Stigen vindlar vidare, och snart vill vi nog ha kaffe…och Totti är redan törstig.

We follow the winding path and soon…we will want some coffee. Totti is already thirsty.

Två rör sticker fram vid vattnet – det ena mossklätt och det andra plastigt vitt. Undrar om det mossklädda röret är av plast eller betong? Jag vet vilket jag föredrar …

Two pipes here – one in moss and one in white plastic. I wonder if the moss clad one is concrete or plastic? I know which of these I like best…


Ah, finally…!

För stora kontraster sol/skugga, så mamma får bli svartvit!

Too much contrasts sun/shadow, so my mother ended up in black and white!

De sista solstrålarna på väg nerför horisonten, och då blir det snabbt kallare. Men vi njuter alla.

When the last sun rays are leaving the air is rather chilly after some hours of walking. But we all just love it.

De sista? Vi förevigar oss på den finaste dagen av sol.

The last rays? We had to have a group picture from this lovely walk.

En sista lövrullning kanske?

A last roll in the leaves?

Alla nöjda – och avslutningsvis en fin lave, med möjligen ale eftersom den är såpass rödaktig.

Everybody satisfied with the day, finishing with these fine trees, possibly alder wood since it is red.


Tillbaka vid vägen hem igen. En härlig vandringstur till ända.

Back to the road leading home again – a lovely hiking day has come to an end.

Light Air

When the air is crisp and cold, your mind soars and your feet are barely touching ground. Breathe.

Breathe again. Let the crispness fill your lungs.

Follow the road…no matter where it takes you – you shall be free.

The old oaks will be watching over you. Learn from their wisdom.


Trees and Ruins in Rome

Are there really any interesting trees in Rome? In this ancient world city where people have lived for centuries and centuries…and everything built by humans is of interest…Maybe a funny question – but as I’m a tree lover, the question is relevant to me!

Well, let’s start in Ostia Antica, the old port of Rome. The oldest archeological remains so far discovered date back to the 4th century BC. The most ancient buildings currently visible are from the 3rd century BC.

Where is the tree…and where are the bricks? Nature’s patterns have always been an inspiration used in the architecture of buildings and art of humans.

Pine trees are very monumental, and somehow they just…belong together with old ruins. Walking the cobbled stones and narrow paths this early morning here, birds singing and the stillness in the air…

The ruins are very well preserved throughout the whole area, clad with cement on top. The old Forum looking like a maze because of it.

The theatre is well preserved – click the link above to my post on Leya. But, I’m convinced nothing here would be as beautifully shown off without the pine trees.

Back in Rome City, the plane trees are a feast along the Tiber. Trying to reach the water…the sound of their leaves rustling and reaching out in the soft wind…

On our way to Circus Maximus there is heavy traffic, but we are greatly rewarded. The old arena is almost empty and not many  people around. A lonely tree stands in the middle of the remains of the old racing course. Imagine the old days, what buzzle and crowds of people and animals! A magnificent place.

The old city walls are still standing, clad in green. Surprisingly well kept.

I was lucky to hear and spot thousands of starlings on the Avantine. They all moved like One and the flocks were huge and amazingly loud. I sat watching them for at least 15 minutes. In Sweden the number of starlings have decreased terrifyingly fast, and we don’t know why. It’s been suggested they get shot and eaten on their way north – but I don’t know if there’s any sustainable truth in this.

In every city I visit I just have to go to the botanical gardens. I realized I hadn’t been to the one in Rome before, and I wonder how many people who really go there…We had great difficulty even to find the entrance. In the park itself, I think we met about three other persons besides the lonely, reading guy in the ticket ”box”. He was very sweet though and reminded us about their closing the gates within two hours. Two hours in a botanical garden is not enough for me – generally. But, when it’s not really season for plants and flowers that should be enough. Still, we had to hurry in the end. I’d love to go back another time of the year too!

Almost directly I came across an old friend – this strange plant. Flowers and the empty seed shells here below. I first saw this plant in New Zealand, near Auckland zoo . No one knew what it was – and I still don’t have a clue. The foliage reminds me of Nerium Oleander – but the flowers? No…I would be very grateful if someone could tell me what this is! A fascinating plant – small tree.

Ricin, the Castor oil plant, is beautiful but very poisonous. Grown in many gardens for its lush green and red colours.

Many old trees grow here, and the oldest ones are the oak trees. Some of them have fallen and lie on the ground. New to me was a method of heaping up a mound of earth at its roots , making it survive to give new life. Amazing.

Other old trees were fascinating too, and an enchanting ruin was hidden by old plane trees. Magical.

Maybe not a tree, but a bamboo forest is special.

Norfolk spruce hiding a dead palm tree.

Japanese maple.

And an old favourite from China – Gingko Biloba. I have walked a golden autumn alley of these  in Beijing – something I will never forget.

On leaving the grounds, we encountered this beauty, a Verbena,  raining down a stone wall.

Lastly, from Central Asia, ”Rosaceae”, Prunus. Standing dry and leafless against the patched wall of the house – I found it immensely enchanting…

From Aberdeen to Perth – Balmoral Castle

Balmoral is of course a must when you are here – and we were not disappointed. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the castle, and Prince Albert renovated it around 1855. They spent much time here and the Queen was very well liked as she showed great interest in the Scots and their traditions.

Prince Albert also planted the trees in the park and was the architect behind the garden. I was extremely pleased to find the Beware of squirrels sign! As my love for animals – and particularly dogs – is great, I very much loved the gallery of pets in the Royal family. Queen Victoria’s favourites were collies and Queen Elisabeth’s is of course welsh corgies.

We also found a snow trac made in Sweden – and still in use!

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The gardens were very grand and both flowers and vegetables very fresh and colourful. I spent some time enjoying the little greenhouse given as a present to Queen Elisabeth.

The sign above the door says:  One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else. A most delightful thought.

We enjoyed the walk through the gardens, visited the Ballroom, and then headed for Perth. A road of beautiful, serene  views – a landscape of green hills, meandering rivers and grazing cattle.

In the evening we reached Perth and found it very beautiful and welcoming. A lovely evening walk. In fact we would have liked to stay longer – so, maybe next time!

Beautiful houses and intriguing sculptures – a truly interesting city, once the capital of Scotland. In the vicinity is Scone Palace where the Stone of Scone once was kept in the Abbey. (Also known as the Stone of Destiny, and often referred to in England as The Coronation Stone,  used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland.)

The river Tay in blue evening gown.

Time to walk back to our house for a good night’s sleep. Roses find a certain glow in the light of street lamps – almost magical… Good night.