Simply Sunday 10 November

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Ollie- 12 weeks old. Male.

It’s been a very hectic week but more pleasant than the previous week.  Readers will know we lost our lovely Odie last week. We were going to adopt another puppy as our older dog Molly is missing him. We wanted to get one from the Dog’s Home but they seldom have puppies that are small breeds. As we’re getting older we need a dog we can lift if needed. Odie needed to be carried a lot and we struggled with his weight. We saw a lovely litter of Jack Russells that needed a home. I checked it wasn’t a puppy mill turning them out and it wasn’t. A lovely family with six children had a pair of pedigree Jack Russell puppies. The mother is from Queensland and the father is a Tasmanian.  A good gene selection.

Ollie came home on Thursday this past week. Molly has taken over keeping an eye on him. As she’s 15 years old in March she is an old hand at raising a couple of puppies and a few kittens. She seems livelier since he has joined our family and has cheered all of us up immensely though he will never be a replacement for Odie. We named him Ollie as it is a combination of the names of our past two dogs, Wally and Odie. He seems to be getting used to it. So he will continue to feature on this blog in future posts here and there.

Snip20191110_1As we’ve been so incredibly heartbroken over the past couple of weeks I needed to find a book to read that offered comfort. I downloaded the audible book of All Creatures Great and Small read by actor Christopher Timothy from Audible.com. I have been listening to the wonderful stories of the Yorkshire practice before World War II in England. The family of characters, the country folk, everything about the series is lovely. Christopher Timothy played Mr. Herriott in the series that aired on television in the 1980’s. The series was wonderful and I have seen it a couple of times.  It is my go to comfort watching/reading.

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Alf Wight

 

Mr Penguin and I went to Yorkshire in the 1980’s and were lucky enough to be in the town of Thurso while James Herriott was still practising. Known as James Alfred (Alf) Wight, not Herriott we were told in the local bookshop we visited that he would be in his practice the following day talking to visitors. With a newly purchased book in hand, we trotted over to his practice and waited with a handful of others as he turned up from a day’s work and invited us into his parlour. He chatted with us and autographed our books.  It was a lovely day and we enjoyed meeting him very much.

The other book I’ve started as a hard copy is one Simon of Stuck in a Book (see his review here which I agree with) discussed awhile ago about a family who moved to Hay on Wye in Wales and decided to raise their family there. It was when Hay on Wye was in its heyday of bookshops in the early 2000s. The title of the book is Sixpence House: Lost In A Town of Books by Paul Collins.Snip20191110_3

I’m only about a quarter of the way into it but am enjoying it very much.

I also realise several bloggers are doing the Non-Fiction November readings this month. I haven’t joined in this month but it turns out I have only been reading non-fiction lately so I guess I’m participating despite my plans not to actively join in.

I’m looking forward to the new year of 2020 and am making some bookish, photography and dog training plans.  I’m hoping it will be a more uplifting year than the past couple of months have been.  I know life is cyclical so we can only continue to go up now.

As I have previously lost one book per puppy. (You cannot leave them unattended- books that is); I am hoping Ollie does not continue the tradition.  I will let you know how we go.

Who can believe we’re in the middle of November already?  Until next time….Snip20190825_5

Our Lovely Boy Odie

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Odie’s Bell

It is with a heavy heart I must tell readers that we lost Odie this week.  He was doing well while we were away and then this past weekend he began to deteriorate. It was as though he waited for us to return before saying goodbye.  By Thursday he was in pain, couldn’t stand and had stopped eating.  We knew it was time to act.  He went peacefully in my arms with a loving staff of veterinarians and vet nurses.  He was happy up to the last minute. Everyone was fussing over him and he seemed relaxed.

It is lovely we can show such kindness to animals in their last moments but not so humans yet in this country.  The time is coming but it is not here yet.

I have a Japanese maple tree in our front yard. When we lose a loved pet I hang a bell in it as a memorial to that wonderful animal. When the wind blows I can hear the small tinkling sound of the bells. Odie and I used to sit on the porch every night in the dark after he did his business. He would come up the stairs and sit with me for a moment and often we would hear the bells.  Now he has his own bell hidden in the green leaves of summer.

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A very happy dog.

I can sit in my reading chair in the bedroom, with the window open and often hear the bells. It causes me to pause and remember some funny memory from the pets we have loved over the past 30 years. There are now seven bells in the tree.

Before long we will contact the Dog’s Home and offer to foster any puppies they may have that are not old enough to be adopted, with a view to giving one a home. If that doesn’t work out we will wait for a puppy to become available. We have given many animals who needed rehoming new lives and this will continue as long as we live.  We are looking forward to new adventures with another goofball. We miss Odie so very much but he had everything a dog could ever want and he would want this for future pets. Our work was finished.  His kindness always shone through above all else to other animals.   So, don’t feel sad. This is all part of life and all any of us can ever do is be kind to the animals we meet and the people that await introduction.

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Odie and Wally…………….Together Again

Back With the Living

We returned from our month long Moscow to Prague trip last week. I have photos from Moscow, St Petersburg, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic to sort through. As this blog has been dedicated to travel photography for the past month I thought it was time to get back to reading and books.

However I have grouped some photos together that I think readers of these posts might enjoy and will post them up in upcoming weeks for Travel Thursday. But first things first.

One the home front:

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Getting used to the vet’s office.

Odie is doing well for the time being and was great while we were away. Our house sitter kept us posted. However this week he is quite under the weather and he will be spending time with the vet. We are keeping him pain free and as happy as we can.

On the photography front:

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Our photo club has our big exhibition opening Thursday night, on 1 November and will run until 12 November. There will be more than 100 photographs on display, of all genres, at the Waterside Pavilion on the Hobart waterfront. I have four photos being exhibited. As it is my first exhibition I am looking forward to it. However I will be working quite a few two hour shifts so will be busy with it until it closes. Then hopefully things will go back to normal. I’ll let you know how it goes.

On the book front:

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I have actually been reading and enjoying it. My airplane read was the newest Michael Connelly book (Bosch series), The Night Fire. It’s exactly as one expects from his books, a mystery to solve with an interesting detective who now has more freedom to bend the rules now he’s retired.

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I am up to the last chapter of Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self which I have enjoyed very much. It is a retelling of many chapters of her life that she discusses with a great deal of honesty that doesn’t hold back any punches. She grew up in Ireland with her sister and mother with an alcoholic father lurking in the background (a tale we’ve all read before) that influences them greatly. The first chapter is about his ageing and illness in Greece, where he now lives, as they are called to attend his bedside in a very under-resourced hospital. How do you care for your father’s bodily functions when you barely have a relationship with him? He is a person who they both love and hate.  Growing up with alcoholic parents in my own family I could really relate to the emotions that surfaced. The next chapter is her quest to have her first child in her late thirties. To say more would spoil this story.

The third story explains the divorce laws in Northern Ireland (with the first divorce granted 17 January, 1997. Her parents split when the sisters were quite young but the laws of the country really reverberates throughout their life. Her father, of course plays a role in this story quite a bit and how the sisters dealt with their emotions related to him  throughout their early lives.

The book is well written and quite a quick read but it expresses some powerful emotions and I got taken right into their lives while reading it.

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I listened to this on the long bus journeys between the countries we visited. 

The audio book I’m listening to is one I began at the start of our trip to Moscow. Thomas Keneally’s book Schlinder’s Ark. As we visited many places where Arthur Schindler lived and worked in Poland I thought it would be beneficial to finally address this book. We also visited the museum dedicated to his life in Krakow of which I will write about in a later post.  I am sure I’m the only person in the world to have not seen the film, Schindler’s List, but I have been waiting to read the book beforehand. Despite the horrific events within the story it is a story that all should be familiar with. We were immersed in so much history on this past tour between Stalin, Hitler and the events of Jewish cleansing it did become a bit much at times.  Stories of the impact of life under the Soviet Union in the Baltic countries also filled our heads. Our group visited Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps but as Mr. Penguin and I have gone through it previously we chose to not attend again.  It is certainly not a tourist attraction as much as a sobering memorial to the six million people who perished. Not only the Jewish population, but homosexuals, intellectuals, gypsies and the list goes on.

We only had 11 people in our group and it was good to have discussions with some of them as we toured the museums and we visited the atrocities in stories and photographs around us. There were a couple of days we did need to debrief.

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My new coffee cup I bought in Prague.

Well I guess that catches everyone up for now. Today I am going to see Downton Abbey, the film, for the second time. I loved it so much, I cannot let it pass by without seeing it again on a very large commercial screen. My friend who is going with me hasn’t seen it yet so we should have a good time. Then off to my favourite spot in town, Fuller’s Book store for afternoon tea break. Until the next time.,,,, all the best.

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So good to be home.

Riga, Latvia Opera House Visit

When architects Otto Dietze and Johann Daniel Felsko redesigned the centre of Riga in 1856, they chose one of the most exposed and significant spots in town for the new theatre: it was to be erected near the city’s canal, on the grounds of the former bastion of the city’s fortifications. In 1860, the design by architect Ludwig Bohnstedt was deemed the best of all for Riga’s new theatre. The building was opened in 1863. The great fire of 1882 destroyed the major part of the building. Riga’s chief architect Reinholds Schmaeling was in charge of the reconstruction Project which strictly followed Bohnstedt’s original design. The reconstruction, along with several improvements, was completed in 1887.

The following years saw many improvements and renovations on the original design with the most recent addition in 2001.  (taken from the LNOH Webpage)

The opera house is home to both opera and the national ballet. Our group of eleven enjoyed a narrated tour of the entire building from the stage to the high level seats in the gods, the practice rooms and the many nooks and crannies around the place. I think the guide stated this opera house is the third largest in the world. It was certainly beautiful and we enjoyed the tour immensely.  It was a welcome break from the many cathedrals and palaces we have visited.

Tour Photos (I left the best photo until last.)

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The beautiful chandelier
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I love the way the seats are numbered
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A rack of costumes in the hallway
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Mikael Barishnikov performed here
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A rehearsal room.
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Some ballet performers practising
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The enormous stage.
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The seat for officials or the Muppets.

And Last But Not Least……………………….

 

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And LOOK!! who has the attention of the theatre!

 

Street Scenes St Petersburg, Russia

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One of the arches in the city. There are many statues of horses in the city which I love.

Hi again- We have had a rest day today with only an hour long boat ride through the canals to the river. The river empties into the Gulf of Finland but we didn’t get anywhere near that today.  We have enjoyed the three days here. It is a beautiful city and there are many gorgeous things to see. Palaces, forts, cathedrals but everyone takes photos of those and google has far nicer photos of those than I can take.  The Hermitage museum with its five buildings is completely overwhelming and I must admit we are satiated with too much of it. I don’t think we can handle one more cathedral or one more palace.

Yesterday was a cold, rainy day as we went from place to place. We were to have gone to a folk dance performance last night but it was unexpectedly cancelled. I can’t say we didn’t love some extra rest time in the hotel.

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Cold, rainy day. 

When I travel my favourite thing to do is to take pictures of people. I love street scenes. I like to see what the locals do and how they dress. I like to watch them going about their business.  To me that is what travel is all about. The locals here are a bit more reserved than many places but you can get a smile out of most of them.

It has been cold and rainy so I am sharing some street photography from our city tour on the bus we took yesterday afternoon.  There are only 11 in our group, plus Peter, our Latvian tour director who will be with us for the whole trip and Tatianna, who was our St Petersburg guide.  The group size is lovely and we all get along famously.

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Enjoy some simple street scenes taken on a rainy, cloudy day through the windows of a bus.

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We have seen some beautiful fall colours. 
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Penguin is loving the cooler weather.

 

Arrived In St Petersburg

4:30 am start today. Train from Moscow to St Petersburg 7 am to 12 pm. Then a city bus tour then several hours at the Hermitage Museum with a million tourists. Then heavy traffic to hotel and finally a meal out. Very tired tonight so am sharing a few photos from museum.

From top to bottom:

*Rembrandt

*Goya

*Can’t remember, just liked the horses

*Titled the Three Graces

*Michaelangel

*Canal outside

*View out the front through window

Sorry not more info but time to bed. Penguin is already asleep❤

Moscow Metro

We are very fortunate on this tour as only 11 people signed up. It is a very manageable group and everyone is very compatible.  We are instant friends it seems and having quite a few laughs.

Yesterday our small group was taken underground to visit the much heralded Moscow metro stations. Each station has a different decor of art, chandeliers, sculptures and other decorations. Some are quite opulent while others are more modern. We spent more than an hour hopping off and on trains to visit several stations.  The trains are very frequent, often no more than three or four minutes apart. There are lines leaving the city plus the ‘brown’ line that is circular and goes to all of the tourist spots. Cost is about 55 cents Australian.  The train stops very quickly, doors open for only a very short period of time (Sydney train doors open for much longer). We were instructed to not all go into one door as we wouldn’t make it. The train arrived, we picked our door and jumped hurriedly on. Our guide would tell us how many stops until we reversed the process and quickly exited. I don’t know what the disabled or parents with prams do as there is next to no waiting for anyone. The trains accelerate quickly as many people are transported all over the place.

The history of the metro is extensive and interesting.  To save time I have included the Wikipedia link if you are interested. Click here if you’d like more information.

For my part I will share some of the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them.

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On the way to the train station
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The architecture here was beautiful
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The train arrives

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People watching
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This was on the ceiling
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One station had many stained glass windows
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I loved this sculpture and as people pass it they pat the dog. You can see the wear and tear on dog’s face.
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Coming and going.
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The cleaning lady outside of the station. So many pigeons.
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Penguin has always enjoyed trains.