Saturday Surprise — Snow Monsters and Jingle Trucks!!!

Hello friends, and welcome to Saturday Surprise.  I had hoped we could travel this week, but it has been frigid here all week, and I have managed to contract a bit of a chest cold, so I’m afraid we’re stuck indoors today.  But … I found some really cool things to show you anyway!

This first one I thought worked well with the theme of this week’s Polar Vortex …


Snow Monsters

High against the slopes of Mount Zaō, in central Japan, the cold, moisture-laden winds from Siberia slams into creating a natural wonder that brings thousands of tourists every winter from all over Japan. The tiny water droplets that the strong wind carries freezes against Mount Zaō’s pine trees and their branches forming icicles. These icicles grow nearly horizontal, owing to the strong winds, over which falling snow settles creating towering, grotesque white figures that the Japanese call “snow monsters” or juhyo.

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A specific combination of strong winds, low temperatures and snowfall on evergreen conifer trees is required for snow monsters to form. Juhyo forms at a few other places in Japan, but Mount Zaō is the most accessible.

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A phenomenon similar to juhyo is observed in Finland at the Riisitunturi National Park. The Finnish call it “tykky”.

Riisitunturi National Park is situated in the southern part of Finnish Lapland near Posio, in Finland. The park covers an area of 77 square kilometers and represents the fell and hill landscapes in Koillismaa, characterized by colourful hanging bogs. Being part of the large taiga forest zone on the northern edge of Eurasian continent, the park is covered, for the most part, with candle-like spruces and thick moss. The air gets relatively more humid as one goes up, and during winter the moisture condensates on the trees, turning them into “tykky” – the Finnish word for the accumulation of hard snow and frost on trees. The mountain tops, although just 400 metres above the sea level, experience low cloud cover and mist, combined with moderate winds, so the ice and snow stick to the trees and a thick layer accumulates during winter, especially during the months when the sun is low in the sky. Most trees cannot bear the immense weight of the snow, and bend over into sharp curls. Some trees break down.tykky-1tykky-2tykky-3tykky-4


Those were all really interesting and unique, but let’s take a look at something that doesn’t involve snow for a few minutes, shall we?

Jingle Trucks

A typical Pakistani truck driver spends more time with his truck than he does with his wife. Which explains why he wants his 10-ton six-wheeler to look like a new bride.

These trucks plying across Pakistan’s national highways and the neighboring country of Afghanistan are distinctively ostentatious. The entire trucks, from top to bottom, are a riot of colors. Lavishly painted panels containing a mosaic of birds, flowers, landscapes, saints, and actresses in hyper-saturated color palette adorn the exterior, while plastic flowers, draped beads, mirrors, ribbons and velvet grace the interior. The cabin is crowned by a custom built wooden prow wrapped in more kitschy artwork, while a string of metal bells dangle from the chassis all round the periphery. When the truck is in motion, these bells clang against each other like a new bride’s ghungroo. This is where the nickname “jingle trucks” come from—coined by US troops deployed in Afghanistan.jingle-1.jpgAnd it isn’t just trucks alone. Passenger buses, water tankers, transport vans, rickshaws, and even vendors’ pushcarts are psychedelically decorated with eye-popping colors. It’s like a rolling folk art, “a national gallery without walls, a free-form, kaleidoscopic exhibition in perpetual motion,” as Richard Covington puts it.

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The tradition of decorating trucks began sometime in the 1920s with the introduction of the long-distance Bedfords—a British-built truck with rounded cab and seven-feet high paneled sides that was to become the country’s most prestigious and dependable truck for more than half a century. Originally trucks were painted with each company’s logo so that illiterate people could recognize who owned the trucks. Gradually, these logos became more fanciful, flamboyant and competitive. By the 1950s, stylized murals and frescoes had begun to replace them. It was only in the 1960s, as the country’s economy boomed, the decorations became increasingly sophisticated to reflect the growing wealth of the drivers and the rise of a new urban class.

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It isn’t unheard of for a driver to spend the equivalent of a year’s worth, or more, of profits on truck decorations. According to a 2005 article, a basic painting and body job costs a minimum of $2500, equivalent to two years of the average truck driver’s salary. Some spend upwards of $10,000 outfitting their rigs.

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Truck painting is also a big business. In Karachi city alone, more than 50,000 people are engaged in this unregulated yet lucrative industry. Family-run workshops comprising of apprentices and highly trained artisans, and small shops selling all manners of outlandish ornaments and accessories crowd around truck yards.

Over the years, however, the business has changed. Now instead of meticulously hand painting each truck, mass produced stickers and adornments are used.

“Truck decoration is not stagnating; it is dead,” laments R M Naeem, an assistant professor at the National College of Arts, Lahore. “This is because truck painters treat their work as a source of livelihood. They do not have the time or the luxury to innovate; they repeat the same old patterns, images and icons over and over again.”

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Well, folks … it is the weekend, and I’m sure you have a million things you want to do.  I have certainly enjoyed spending a bit of the morning with you.  Keep safe and warm, and enjoy your weekend!

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Saturday Surprise — Sukeroku!

It’s funny, for I was reading a story written by a friend/fellow-blogger a few days ago, a children’s story, and I mentioned that all she needed now was an artist who could turn her characters into whimsical pictures to accompany her words.  Then this evening, as I was bopping around the internet, trying to decide with what I might surprise you guys today, I came across some of the most adorable pictures imaginable.  The Japanese artist is known only as Gotte, and his (or her– not sure which) little hamster, the subject of his art, is Sukeroku.  The pictures depict Sukeroku in everyday settings & situations, and they are absolutely guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of young and old alike!  If you enjoy these, you can check him out on Twitter,  Instagram  or on the artist’s own website.

And by the way … Jolly was bored, so I let him create the captions …  jolly

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WHEEEEE!!!!

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I’m late, I’m late, for a vewy important date!

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Yum-yum-yum … er … what?  Not supposed to sample da goods?

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zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Please, please, please … lemme drop it in da hole …

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Me Hamtaro!!!  King o’ da hamsters!

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Garçon … more bread please.

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Wanna help me build a fort?

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Mewwy Cwistmas!!!

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Sewf Portrait … d’ya think I’m any good?

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Chores … sigh.

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Gettin’ bootiful!

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I loves a scawy movie …     

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What kinda pie you want?

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Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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Nite-nite … zzzzzz

Have a great weekend, my dear friends!!!  

Saturday Surprise — Let’s Go Places!

Hello friends!  No no … don’t take your coats off, for we are heading out on the Filomobile in just a second, as soon as I find my bloomin’ keys.  JOLLY!!!  Have you seen my keys?

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Okay … c’mon gang … we’re going to visit some fun places today, for I am getting tired of sitting home and listening to depressing news, aren’t you?  Yes, Hugh, I promise to get you back in time to shovel your snow!shovel snowHop aboard … sorry, but I don’t have a working heater in the Filomobile, and cannot afford to get this one fixed, but we’ll be where it’s warm in just a few minutes …

For our first stop, we’re heading to Mexico!  It’s been some 40 years since I’ve been to Mexico, though I used to go several times a year.  One of my favourite things when I was young was cabrito from street vendors … what?  You never had cabrito?  Roasted goat meat … they slow roast it over an open fire overnight, then sell it from carts on the streets … never has anything tasted so good!

cabritostreet vendorSigh … memories.  But today we are heading to Hierve el Agua, located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  Hierve el Agua is Spanish for “the water boils”, or “boil the water”, and the name comes from the bubbling natural mineral springs that are found here, that run into bathing pools on a spectacular cliff-top location. When you approach Hierve el Agua, from a distance, you see what appears to be a massive waterfall frozen on the side of the mountain. But ice is impossible in this hot climate. These are actually mineral deposits formed over thousands of years as a result of the mineral-laden water spilling over the edge of the cliff and trickling down the rocky mountain side. As the water runs down the rock face, it forms large stalactites like structures similar to those found in caves.hierve el agua-1Hierve el Agua consist of two waterfall-like rock formations. These are formed on cliffs that rise over fifty meters from the valley floor, with one “waterfall” reaching down twelve meters and the other reaching down thirty meters. The twelve meter one is called “cascada chica” (small waterfall) and “flows” off a base which is about sixty meters wide. The other is called “cascada grande” (large waterfall), and extends down from a base with which is about ninety meters wide and eighty meters above the valley floor. The more easily accessible and more often visited of the two waterfalls is the “cascada chica”. It is also called the Amphitheatre.hierve el agua-2.jpgThe waters of the spring are over saturated with calcium carbonate, which is what gets deposited forming the waterfalls-like rock structures. The waters, with their high mineral content, are reputed to have healing qualities, and you will see tourists soaking in the waters in one of the natural pools at the top of the rock.hierve el agua-3

I want to run over to Austria in a minute, but while we’re on this side of the globe, let’s pop over to Mexico City, for there is something I want to show you …coyote fountainThis, my friends, is Fuente de los Coyotes, or Coyote Fountain, a bronze statue fountain portraying a pair of beautiful coyotes surrounded by jets of water.  Coyotes were once a common sight in this part of the Mexican valley. During the reign of the Aztec empire, what is now buildings and roads would have been covered in pine forest and scrubland where coyotes and other animals dwelt. What’s more, the coyote was an animal with much significance in the Aztec cosmovision.coyoteOkay, now let’s travel across the pond to Austria.  Now, who else do you know that will take you halfway ‘round the globe to show you … traffic lights???  Bear with me now, whilst I tell you the story behind the lights …traffic-lights-1It all started with the Eurovision Song Contest. Held annually, the contest sees overs 50 countries battling in front of a live television audience of over 180 million to have their song proclaimed the Eurovsion winner. In return, the winning country gains the rather dubious honor of staging the next year’s contest, though the cost of this would, in actuality, bankrupt many of the tiny micro-nations that compete.

Several notable recording artists have begun their careers here, including ABBA and Celine Dion. Eurovision is also loved for its high-camp costumes and performances, making it a firm favorite with Europe’s LGBTQ community.traffic-lights-2The 2014 Contest was won for Austria by Conchita Wurst, a drag queen with a surname that means “sausage” in German. Thrilled by this success, and eager to welcome Europe to its capital in 2015, the Austrian authorities commissioned three new diversity pictograms for Vienna’s traffic lights.traffic-lights-3These Ampelparchen show three different paired figures (straight, gay, and lesbian), each holding hands and surrounded by hearts. Originally intended as temporary, a Facebook campaign led to them becoming permanent, and today they can be seen throughout the center of Vienna. Indeed, the Ampelparchen have been so well-received that cities as far afield as Salzburg, Utrecht, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, and London have all installed their own versions.

I love the diversity … the recognition of diversity, don’t you?

We have, I think, time for one more stop before we head home.  Are you hungry?  Since we are already in Austria, it seems a shame to miss these rolls, which I hear are delicious. buchteln-1In Austria, pull-apart rolls known as buchteln often house a dollop of plum or apricot preserves. But throughout history, bakers have studded the center of these brioche-like buns with various ingredients, from squares of chocolate to poppyseed paste to lottery tickets!  During the Biedermeier era of the 19th century, a time during which Europe’s middle class expanded considerably, buchteln were referred to as “lotteries” because of their play-to-win filling.

Though the yeasty treat originated in the Bohemia region of Czechia, today, Austrians consider the warm, fruit-filled style—often served fresh from the oven—a local classic. Bakers press jam in the middle, then place the dough side-by-side to create the finished bread’s pull-apart effect.  Let’s try a few, shall we?

Home cooks also turn plain, unfilled buchteln into a decadent dessert by serving them in a pool of vanilla cream. The fluffy rolls absorb whatever sauce they touch, so it’s best to avoid attempting this style with the ticket-filled version.buchteln-4Well, folks, now that our bellies are full, we better head home so you guys can get on with your weekend plans.  I’m so glad you made a bit of time to join me in this little jaunt here and there!  I will be hibernating for the rest of the weekend, as we are supposed to have an ice storm, followed by up to 9 inches of snow, and with sub-zero temps!  Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friends!

Saturday Surprise – Pothole Art!

Whew … finally, the weekend!  That first full week after a couple of short weeks and all the holiday hustle and bustle always seems longer than average.  Back to the grind, catching up, making up for lost time … Friday afternoon always seems like a long way off.  But, we all survived another week and now it’s time for a bit of fun, yes?  Jim Bachor is 52-years-old, lives in Chicago, Illinois, and is known locally as ‘the pothole guy’.  Now, you might think that’s not a very becoming nickname, but just wait ’til you see what earned him that title.  Jim is a professional artist, stay-at-home dad and former corporate branding executive who turns ugly potholes into mosaic art.  It was in 2013 when Bachor began filling potholes with a clever 16-by-24-inch mosaic, modeled on the design of the official Chicago flag but with the word “Pothole” through the center.pothole.pngIn a 2014 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Jim said …

“This started a year ago. I watched these pothole crews going up and down my street, and there was a defiant pothole in front of my house that was just staying, that wasn’t being fixed. I thought I should fill it in. So I waited until nightfall. I was paranoid about attracting attention, and because it was toward the center of the street, I wanted to be careful. My wife asked me if she should set aside money for bail. Our 87-year old neighbor, from his porch, served as my spotter. I mixed cement, poured it in the hole, let cars go by, poured some more. It worked great. The thing is, these mosaics would last forever if I could just control the canvas.”

Since then, Jim has taken his show on the road, filling in potholes in New York City with his mosaic tiles in a project he calls “Vermin of New York”pothole-2

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pothole-3.jpgBut last July, an interview with the New York Post gained him some unwanted attention by the city, and they began ripping his work out of the ground.

“It’s unbelievable. And they’re not just pouring concrete over it, they’re using a jackhammer to actually dig it up and that takes work.”

jim-bachorIt’s especially sad since each one costs Jim around $50 to create!  The city claims that the mosaics were a safety hazard — because drivers might be distracted.  Um … hello???  And the potholes that nearly swallow a car alive aren’t a distraction and a safety hazard???

At any rate, Jim has done several series of Pothole Art, mainly in Chicago, so let’s take a look at a few …

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Aretha Franklin

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I found a rather interesting interview with Jim, if you’re interested, and of course, he has a website!  On arriving at his website, you will notice a mosaic picture of an old fashioned ‘tv dinner’ that he has for sale … only $2,400!

And finally, in case you’re in need of just a bit of animal humour …

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Winter Birds!!!

A fellow critter-loving friend of mine posted a few pictures of winter birds a few days ago on Facebook, and a link to an article featuring lots of such birds.  Some of them are so gorgeous that I knew right then I would share them for Saturday’s surprise!  It amazes me that these small, seemingly-delicate creatures can withstand the cold of winter, but somehow they do!


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American Goldfinch

American Robins

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Anna’s Hummingbird

Barred Owls

Black-Capped Chickadees

Blue Jays

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Bohemian Waxwing

California-Scrub-Jay

California Scrub Jay

Cedar-Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Common-Grackle

Common Grackle

Common-Redpole

Common Redpole

Coopers-Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Downy-Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Bluebirds

Great-Grey-Owl

Great Grey Owl

Mockingbird

Mockingbird

Mourning Doves

Northern Cardinals

Northern Flicker (left); European Starling and Northern Flicker (right)

Snowy-Owl

Snowy Owl

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Tufted Titmouse

White-Breasted Nuthatch

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Yellow-Shafted Flicker

Aren’t they beautiful?  I hope they made you smile this Saturday winter morn!  Be sure to check out the website for some tips about feeding winter birds and winter bird photography.  Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Holiday Humour

Since most of my recent posts have been a walk on the dark side, I decided perhaps you would enjoy a bit of holiday-themed humour.  I came across a few short poems and ‘toons that brought a smile to my face, as I hope they will to yours.


snowball-eeyoreSnowball
~ Shel Silverstein

I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be,
I thought I’d keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.

I made it some pajamas,
And a pillow for its head,
Then last night it ran away,
But first – it wet the bed!


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snowmanOnce There Was a Snowman
~ Anonymous

Once there was a snowman,
Who stood outside the door,
He wished that he could come inside,
And run about the floor.
He wished that he could warm himself,
Beside the fire, so red,
He wished that he could climb
Upon the big white bed.

So he called to the North Wind,
“Come and help me, pray,
For I’m completely frozen,
Standing here all day.”
So the North Wind came along,
And blew him in the door,
And now there nothing left,
But a puddle on the floor!


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Xmas-toon-8And my very favourite one of all …

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Saturday Surprise — Squirrels!

I came across something a few days ago and thought it would be perfect for this week’s Saturday surprise, since with Christmas coming at mach speed, I am short on time this week and don’t have time to take you traveling in the Filomobile to exotic places.  What I came across was squirrels!  Let me explain …

Meet Geert Weggen

Geert Weggen

Geert is the one on the right.  I’ll let him tell you a bit about himself …

“I am a Dutch/Swedish international awarded photographer specializing in photographing Red squirrels. My work has been published wide abroad in newspapers, books, calendars, radio and television, and magazines.

6 years ago, there was a fox standing on my doorstep, and I immediately rushed back inside to fetch some meat. The fox would come back daily to get more food and I used that as an opportunity to take some photos.

By the end of a second week, the fox would come to the balcony where it interacted with various props I used for photography. Soon before late, a Russian bird paid me a visit and continued on doing so daily. Suddenly, my balcony had become a studio filled with nature props, cameras, mirrors etc. The bird followed me and I followed the bird with my camera, as it searched for hidden food in scenes that I had created. Some photos of this encounter were awarded and published.

Eventually, red squirrels appeared and they still come daily to my outside studio. Little did I know back then that it would become my living.”

Geert is the author of eight squirrel photo books and there are hundreds of his gorgeous pictures available to view online, but I picked a few of my favourites to share here with you this morning.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, and if you visit Geert’s website, you can see many more of these delightfully whimsical photos.

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And for an extra treat … how ’bout a short video …

Have a fun and wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Office Christmas Party

If there was one thing I dreaded even more than the Annual Review in my other life as an accountant, it was the office Christmas party.  I generally avoided them at all costs … as it was, I spent most of my waking time each week with these people, about half of whom I didn’t even like, so why on earth would I want to spend what little ‘free’ time I had with them, too?  And, as you probably all know by now, I have a stubborn streak about the length of a football field, so telling me that I must do something is the best way to ensure that I won’t do it.toon-Maxine-office-partyAs the season, I am told, is upon us, I thought it might be fun to indulge in a little Christmas Office Party humour.  And besides, we all need something to laugh about, right?party-1

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I went looking for funny stories about Christmas office parties, sure there must be many, but every one I found pertained to either people having sex with co-workers, or getting drunk and being disgusting, none of which do I find humorous.  And so instead, to wrap up Saturday Surprise, I give you this …

Saturday Surprise — A Little Jaunt

Last night when I was contemplating how we should spend our time together this morning, I thought that it’s been several weeks since we’ve travelled together and maybe now, before the snows come, would be a good time for it.  So, I checked into some things and I think you’ll enjoy the places we’re going to visit today!  So, hop aboard the Filomobile and let’s go to …


Krong Ban Lung, Cambodia!  There is a simply gorgeous lake here, but also a couple of interesting tidbits.Yeak Laom-1It’s believed that 4,000 years ago, a volcanic eruption created a crater that, over time, filled with water. The lake was once surrounded by thick forest on all sides, but today only a thin layer remains, with most of the land having been farmed.

The waters of Yeak Laom are crystal clear, and they stand in stark contrast with the bright green in the background—if you visit during or shortly after the rainy season. Exotic birds and butterflies are common sights, and wild pigs may also come around.

Although the lake is considered sacred by the local people, swimming or playing in the water is common for both locals and tourists. Wooden docks with steps have been built to facilitate access. In 2018, bureaucratic procedures were started to register Yeak Laom and the land around it as state land to better protect the environment. Other measures to protect the lake forbid people from using detergents, gambling, or having arguments while in the lake.  Okay, now the detergents I get, but gambling or arguing???princess-thaiIn February 2016, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand was planning to pay a visit to Yeak Laom, and in preparation for her visit, as toilets are not common in the area, a special toilet was constructed for the princess to use during her visit.  An air-conditioned toilet.  At a cost of $40,000.  That she never used.  That was thrown away after her two-hour visit, during which the urge never hit.cam-photo-toilet.jpgIt took 10 labourers 19 days to build the eight-metre square toilet.  It has silver railings up its white-washed steps and an all-white tiled roof.  This area of Cambodia being a particularly poor region, I’m sure this toilet is far more luxurious than most of the homes in the five villages that surround the lake.  The building was allowed to remain after the princess’ visit, but the toilet was disassembled and thrown out.  Why?

“If you have a king—well, just, normal people can’t use the king’s toilet.”

Ah, arrogance is world-wide, isn’t it?  But isn’t this lake just beautiful?Yeak Laom-2


Next I thought we’d travel over to France … Équihen-Plage, France, to be precise, for I am told there are some interesting holiday homes made of boats.  Upside down boats, that is.  You’ve heard of houseboats, yes?  Well these are upside-down boat houses!  Ah … we have arrived … let’s take a look …boat houses-1Équihen-Plage is a fishing port and farming village some 3 miles south of Boulogne on the English Channel coast with a population just under 3,000.  The tradition of the boat houses began after World War I when old boats unworthy for the sea were dragged up to high ground and turned upside down. The hull, which now became the roof, was covered in tar to ensure that it was watertight. A door cut out on the sides provided entry, while windows let in air and light. Even then, the interior was dark and stuffy. The entire length of the boat served as a single room. Space for cooking and sleeping were shared.

During the Second World War, nearly all the boathouses got destroyed, but their legacy lingered on. In the 1990s, about sixty years after their disappearance, the village decided to revive the ancient heritage and erected a couple of upturned boat houses and fitted them with modern facilities to entice tourists. They can be rented now with prices starting from about three hundred Euros, or $340 USD.boat houses-2

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All this traveling is making me a bit hungry … what about you?  Ready for a little bite before we head to our last stop?  Let’s just pop over to Nottingham … yes, the place of Robin Hood and the evil sheriff, but that isn’t the theme of the restaurant we’re going to.  Remember the Edgar Allen Poe story, The Pit and the Pendulum?  My dad read that one to me when I was … oh, probably 7 or 8 … and I had nightmares for days … er, nights.  Anyway, in the town of Nottingham is a restaurant named The Pit and the Pendulum that sounds intriguing.

Wow … this place is creepy, isn’t it?  But it’ll be fun.  Let’s take a peek at the drink menu …drink-menu-e1543644452708.png

Y’know … on second thought … I’m not all that hungry after all … perhaps we can grab a pack of crackers on our way to …


The former mining town of St. Blazey in Cornwall, England, home of the world’s largest greenhouse. For fifty years, a clay mine on the edge of the English town had slowly been abandoned, until in the late 1990s when a new concept was proposed for the area called Project Eden. Eden-1A near polar opposite to the crater left by the old mine, the Eden Project was designed as a massive greenhouse complex, consisting of two biomes bubbling off of the ground and reflecting both a tropical and Mediterranean climate.  After the deep depression left from the mine was filled in with thousands of tons of soil, construction began and the two largest greenhouses in the world were created over two and a half years. Inside the hexagonally-patterned biomes are over one million different plant species, each one reflecting the climates of their respective biomes.Eden-2The Tropical Biome features rubber plants, bananas, and bamboo stalks towering above visitors in the nearly four-acre dome. The Mediterranean Biome is only 1.6 acres, but is similarly filled to capacity with olive plants and grape vines.Eden-3Along with stunning flora, cascading waterfalls and footpaths wind past massive boulders and ponds and even a few statues can be found carefully placed around the Mediterranean biome. Although the greenhouses are the central attraction of the complex, the grounds of the Eden Project are also covered in temperate plants that can grow in an uncovered atmosphere. Eden-night


And now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired and ready to go home, perhaps for a 10-minute nap, a hot cup of coffee, and a bit of time spent with a good book.  I hope you’ve enjoyed our little jaunt today … we’ll do it again soon!  Have a great weekend … don’t forget, just 24 days ‘til Christmas … better get shopping!  I have mine mostly finished … no muss, no fuss … all done online! Amazon-Xmas-gifts

Saturday Surprise — A Nice Story And A Cute Video

Every now and then it happens that Saturday Surprise collides with Wednesday’s Good People and the result is … awesome, heartwarming and fun!  Today is one of those times!

The story begins at Thanksgiving 2016, when Wanda Dench made a text-a-boo-boo … or an erroneous text sent to the wrong person.  The story is told in the following text messages … the recipients of the original text inadvertently included Jamal Hinton, a complete stranger …

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Wanda DenchJamal HintonAnd so it happened that 17-year-old Jamal went over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for dinner! Wanda-JamalSince the heartwarming story first broke Dench has named Hinton as her ‘honorary grandson,’ which is quite fitting.  The two stayed in touch, and last year, he was invited back for Thanksgiving 2017.   In an interview with the Arizona Republic last year Dench said, “It was really nice having everybody here, we got to laugh about last year and reminisce about how it all blew up on our phone and how I had to change my number. We had a laugh and a good time.”

The two have stayed in touch, and ‘Grandma’ Wanda even sent Jamal a couple of gift cards at Christmas last year.  And this year … well of course Jamal was invited back and his girlfriend too!

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text-6Hinton finds the dinners and his newfound family meaningful. “The world is becoming a better place than it used to be. With all the Donald Trump going on and all the racial comments going on, it’s kind of good to see there’s still good people out there.” Dench gave her new ‘grandson’ an open invitation for all future Thanksgivings at her house, so this is a tradition likely to live on for a lifetime.

A small thing?  Perhaps, but … seems to me that a whole lot of these “small things” add up to a whole lot of good in the world, a whole lot of heart, a whole lot of love.

Okay, so that was nice and heartwarming, but the holiday season has now officially kicked off and I think we need to start the weekend with something funny, don’t you?  So, you know what that means … a funny animal video!!!

Have a great weekend, folks, and don’t let the crowds crush you if you go shopping!  I went shopping from the comfort of my own chair, in my jammies, while sipping coffee last night!  Keep warm & safe!