Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


30.6.12
  I'm Back Online

After a good deal of fiddling with cables - I'm not good at deciphering the odd glyphs that come with manuals these days - and trying to find the places where to type in the starter code and other information, both my computer and the laptop are back communicating with the net, and the phone works as well.

So I can go back to the usual work, but for now I'll leave you with some lovely pics of the Kiel Canal in the evening.

The Kiel Canal in the evening

It's way too hot here, and in the evenings we get the usual thunderstorms. This is going to develop into the typical German summer of heat, thunderstorms, rain, cool weather, hot again, thunderstorms ..... We've been through that the last two years as well.

Another view past sunset

I'm hunting down some reliable information about the Kiel Canal for a post, since I have so many photos of that one - it takes about 8 hours to cross it and there were plenty of views - not to mention the lock at Kiel-Holtenau we passed on the way to the Baltic Sea in the morning after we'd been traveling through the canal during the night.
 


20.6.12
  Views from the Ship - Some St.Petersburg Impressions

A smaller ship like the Albatros has a few advantages, among them the fact that the ship could get closer (in)to the towns than the big monsters that have to stay in the larger outer harbours. So the Albatros sailed up the Neva to anchor directly in town (same with the Daugava in Riga; and we got pretty close to the Old Town in Stockholm, too). That will make for a little series of photos.

Cranes in the inner freight harbour

I took those photos when the ship left St.Petersburg - with an extra swing towards the first of the bridges that connects the Vasilyevsky Island with the mainland to the south. There had been a thunderstorm in the morning after a hot day before, and towards the evening, the clouds started to let up, though they still were pretty impressive. I liked the surrealistic look of the cranes against the sky.

Annunciation Bridge, with St.Isaac's Cathedral in the background (mainland side)

Above is a view of the Blagoveshchensky Bridge (Annunciation Bridge, for those who don't want to get a knot in their tongue by pronouncing Russian, lol), the frist of the bridges that span the Neva, coming from the direction of the Bay of Finland. The second bridge in the background is the Palace Bridge, and the golden cupola belongs to St.Isaac's Cathedral.

Annunciation Bridge, on the Vasilyevsky side

The Annunciation Bridge has been renovated in 2007 when it also got its current name; before it had been known as Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge. Both bridges are drawn up for some hours every night to let transport vessels pass; thus effectively cutting Vasilyevsky Island off the mainland. This can end in a not so nice surprise for those who missed the time; they'll get stuck until about 5 o'clock in the morning.

The Vasilyevsky side of the Neva

The southern embarkment of the river - on the Vasilyevsky side - has some of the oldest houses in St.Petersburg (early 18th century). I got a nice view from my cabin, too, but the upper decks are a better place for taking photos. The canals and streets on this part of the island show a regular, square pattern that indicates a town planned on the drawing board.

The four masted barque Sedov

Another pretty sight was the four-masted square rigged barque STS Sedov; a training ship for cadets of various schools of navigation in Russia (mostly Murmansk and St.Petersburg). She was just preparing for a voyage around the world and would leave two days later.

The ship has an interesting history. She was built in Germany in 1921 as Magdalene Vinnen (later Kommodore Johnsen), a freight carrying sailing ship, and one of the largest, too, with 117,5 metres length. Today she's only surpassed by the Royal Clipper (134,8 m).

The Sedov against the Vasilyevsly skyline

After WW2 she came to Russia as war reparation and was renamed Sedov, after the Arctic explorer Georgy Sedov who had died on an expedition in 1914. She served as sail training vessel of the Soviet Navy until 1957, then she was used as an oceanographic research ship until 1966. In the following years, the old lady was only infrequently used until she got overhauled in 1981. Besides new technical equipment and a fresh layer of paint, she also got a glass-domed restaurant and cinema. The Sedov must have been the most luxurious training ship after that. After the independence of Latvia, she got transfered from Riga (her home since 1982) to Murmansk.

Mary's Annunciation Church on the Vasilyevsky side, seen thrugh the rigs of the Sedov

I saw a TV report just a few days ago that she had another thorough renovation in the dock of Wismar in Germany in 1995. She had been a white bird until 2005 when a movie about the Pamir that sank in 1957, was filmed on the Sedov and she got the black paint

The Sedov participated in windjammer races already during Soviet times and won a number of prices. Today she still serves as training ship but also accepts paying guests. Though I'm not sure I'd like to climb the riggings. *grin* Albeit seeing her in fulls sails might be worth it.

Another surrealistic photos of cranes in the freight harbour

This was a first glimpse of St.Petersburg from a side not everyone's going to see the town. I have more material to be back with pretty palaces and shiny cathedrals some day. Or even some Russian kitsch - they sell that stuff everywhere around the Famous Sights. :)

Source:
Website of the Sedov

 


11.6.12
  Raised Bog in the Solling-Vogler Nature Park

The weather didn't play nice last week, raining on the Queen's jubilee and generally making a nuisance of itself. Though around here the trees and plants needed the water; it had been very dry. Still, it's a good reason to post some sunny photos.

Timber trackway in the Mecklenbruch bog

I'm also pretty busy at work, and to delve into the photos of the places I visited during my last voyage and post about them will require lots of research about the Hansa League (last I dealt with that topic was in the 80ies), the Teutonic Knights and other subjects. I suppose there will be some older stuff first, like the Porta Nigra in Trier.

A tower for a better overview

But let's have a look at the place in the title of this post. The Solling-Vogler Nature Park lies to the north-west of Göttingen, stretching down to the Weser river. The other Nature / National Park I've been posting about several times, the Harz, is to the north-east. The mountains in the Solling are gentler than the highest Harz ones, but both landscapes belong to the German mittelgebirge (another word the English language snagged out of our pocket, it seems).

View from the tower over the bog

The Mecklenbruch bog encompasses 63 hectares; only a small part of it is accessible via the timber trackway, the rest is left free of any human influence. The bog was endangered like so many others (a lot of which have disappeared entirely during history) by drainage and adjacent tree farms, but a project to undo those human-made changes at its fringes is going on for some years now and the bog stands a good chance to survive. It is the home of a number of endangered flora (fe. sundew, a sort of cranberry - Vaccinium oxycoccus) and fauna (dragonflies).

View from the tower, different angle

A raised bog needs a cool and wet (minimum of 800 mm rain per annum) climate to develop, because raised bogs don't have any contact to groundwater. The second requirement is an acidic substrate that's impermeable to water - in case of the Mecklenbruch that is provided by weathered loess. Raised bogs are also called ombrotrophic (rain-fed). It tiook 4500 years for a 5 metres high peat layer to develop under those conditions.

View to the trackway

And that's how it works. What started out as lake would over time turn into a marsh, then fen, carr (a peat or silt filled lake; see photo below) and eventually a bog. Sphagnum mosses will settle on the saturated ground; they can take up 20-30 times their own dry weight in water. While their lower part slowly decays and turns into peat, they grow in height, eventually raising the ground beyond groundwater level. At that point, we call it a raised bog.

A carr in the Mecklenbruch bog

Thus the centre of an ombotrohpic bog is a treeless dome with true bog conditions, while on the outskirts there are strips of fen, carrs, and wetland vegetation (birches and shrubs). Those areas may be reached by groundwater. The trackway in the Mecklenburch bog leads through that sort of terrain for the most; the true bog can best be seen from the tower.

A little lake

There are similar raised bogs in the Harz, and most of those are not accessible to the public, either. The Harz had another problem that endangered the bogs: the waterworks needed for mountaineering (esp. silver). There is a whole system of artificial lakes that would provide water power to wash ore out of the stone. That system today is a Cultural Heritage; the Oderteich is part of it.

Some drama queen clouds

The clouds on the last photo looked very dramatic, but they didn't pose any real threat; the day remained fine and dry. I plan to go back there in autumn; I'm sure the bog will look even more atmospheric then - maybe with a bit of mist for a suitable ghost hour. :)
 


Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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