Monday, August 24, 2009

Kiel Canal and wind turbines


The Kiel Canal (called the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal until 1948) links the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. Ships travel through the canal instead of around the Jutland Peninsula and save themselves 500 km.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hamburg Rathaus

The Hamburg Rathaus (City Hall)is an imposing building with lots of windows and ornamentation and a green copper roof. There is a cafe right opposite with a wonderful view over the town square to the Rathaus. I sat on a high stool there looking out the window to draw this.
Then I thought it might look good as an etching as well, so I took a prepared zinc plate to the coffee shop and drew onto that.


After a first acid bath the initial etching looked like this.

then I worked on it some more and dunked it in the acid bath again to bring out the highlights.
More ink/watercolour sketches of Hamburg Rathaus.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Schleswig is about an hour and a half north of Hamburg by car, up near the Danish border. It is the sort of town you stumble over by accident and then want to send all your friends to visit because it is so pretty. The famous Schloss Gottorf which is surrounded by water is in Schleswig. It is a museum now and has wonderful art exhibitions (which was why I was there).
But the town too is worth a visit. There is a yacht harbour and lots of wind to sail by.

Dom in Schleswig

The Dom in Schleswig looks huge from the outside ...but only when you go inside do you realise its dimensions. The part below was built originally in Roman times but then the whole things was surrounded by a new church in the Renaissance.
Among the extraordinary collection housed by the Dom is the Cenotaph of Friedrichs I, King of Dänemark und Norwegen, Prince of Schleswig und Holstein. It was created by the Flemish sculptor Cornelis Floris and is one of the "most extraordinary masterworks of Dutch Renaissance-Art in North Europe.“ (Wikipedia, what else!)

Aboretum Thiensen

In the countryside near Ellerhoop, not far north of Hamburg, is a wonderful Arboretum which was started privately but which has grown to over 17ha and is now supported by the local council. It is worth a visit and if you are not interested in the dinosaur...... you might be interested in the flowering lotus plants
... or in the artful gardens.

Hanny's Mutter

Hanny's mother will be 90 years old next month. This is the first time she has been painted.

Gallery making software

I just put the watercolour/ink work I did in Zürich online at artsmitten.

I use the help of a little shareware program called HtMLSS to create web galleries (then change the template with dreamweaver) but HtMLSS doesn't seem to work well in downsizing watercolour/ink paintings as it produces broken black lines. I just had to repair them all with Irfanview. If anyone has better gallery making software, please let me know.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hidden surprises

I drew Suzanne reading the morning papers in a Cafe in Zürich on a Saturday morning. The Cafe (I have forgotten the name)was a pleasant place and not particularly flash. Not, that is, until you took the trip upstairs to the ladies loo...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weeping, laughing, grinning

I visited most of the museums in Zürich but the first I visited was Villa Wesendonck where Richard Wagner wrote his Wesendonck Lieder. The villa is a fine old house in a lovely park and is now called Museum Rietberg.

As I was walking there I got a phone call from Greta saying her baby had been born an hour before. A daughter. Greta held the phone to the baby and I heard her cries. I wept and laughed alternately there on a Zürich street corner as I listened to new-baby cries from the other side of the world.

By the time I got to the Museum and looked at their collection of Swiss masks I was grinning just like the mask above.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zürichsee and Arboretum

Zürich is built right on the edge of the tranquil Zürichsee...
and there are parks along the edge of Zürichsee where people play and relax on warm weekends. This one is near the city center and is called the Arboretum.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zürich is pretty

Zürich is not only a pretty city, it is friendly and everything works. Trams run through the city streets at frequent intervals and there is so little other traffic that people wander across the streets at will.
A river runs through the city to the lake around which the city is built. It is peaceful and serene and a perfect bathing spot as the water is clean enough to be drinkable. After spending a few days in Zürich I now understand why it regularly comes top in 'most liveable city' surveys.

Remembered culture shock

The train to Zürich stopped at Wiesbaden, a city I once lived in and which always reminds me of difficult days and culture shock.

On the train to Zürich

Weisel is 5km from the Rhine at Kaub and this 'castle' which was built by a local nobleman to collect money from boats using the Rhine. Those not wanting to comply were diverted into a side water until they changed their minds. Was it a tax or water piracy?
School holidays and the train was full.
My water bottle.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


This house is the first house you see when you arrive in Weisel from nearby Kaub. Weisel is not a large village. If you drove through you might think the only shop in town is a small grocery store but there are many more that you don't see. They are in peoples houses. As well as the grocery and the pizza shop there is a hairdresser, two banks (knowing their clients personally is the security they offer), two backeries, a bottle shop, animal care store, optician and several others you only know are there because of the small notice on a door. I am told there are 75 associations as well, the life blood of every village.
These two pictures are exhibited in Hannots, a local restaurant that serves very good food in a lovely old building. It is worth a visit.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Old, very old

Boppard is a picturesque town with a lot of half timbered houses, some of them very old.Occassionally you see a date engraved in the wood. This house was built in 1353.
Boppard town center, with lamp and church.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


If you are on the Rhine near the Loreley and want to get across the river you take one of the ferries. This photo was taken on a ferry to Boppart which is in the background.
Boppard is pretty with lots of cafes on the foreshore.

and houses like this one. Note the matching cushions on the chair.

An attic in Weisel

This attic is in Ulla's house in the small town of Weisel, perched among the hills along the Rhine.
Some houses in the village date from 1770 and I would guess Ulla's house is at least 200 years old. It has crooked floors, narrow hand cut wooden stairs and a half timbered barn. It was a ruin when she bought it, but is now a real charmer. It is a pleasure to go up and down the handmade narrow staircase to the top floor attic bedrom.
View from the attic window.