It's Remembrance Day, Poppy Day, so here's a poppy on my jacket lapel.  

In World War 2 I lost cousins on my mother's side on the Russian Front, I was named for my father's eldest brother who died as a Japanese POW in Burma and my father, who lied about his age to enlist in 1938, saw service in North Africa, Italy and Austria. I remember the war dead today.

On the other hand, I'd really like to be able to share one of the Peace Pledge Union's white poppies too. Why? During World War 1, my maternal grandfather was a Consciencious Objector and was sentenced to hard labour in Dartmoor Prison for the duration of the war. (I believe he served about 18 months.)

I would prefer to honour the dead, not war.

Last week my lady wife and I travelled up to Sundsvall in northern Sweden to help celebrate our friend North of Sweden's brithday. We travelled up on the night train and stayed two nights at Hotel Knaust in the middle of the Victorian heart of Sundsvall, the "stenstan" (stonetown). The first day there, November 2nd, the weather was cold crisp and autumnal and we went for a long walk on the North Mountain (Norra Berget). The second day, we woke to find it had snowed.

Blurred reception Knaust stairs 2 Reflected window Knaust beast Knaust stairs distorted
Through the window   Snow comes to town   Through the window when the snow came
Sunlight on pine branches Tree embrace The aluminium smeltery is working Circling tracks The Founder in the Square

We lived in Sundsvall for ten years between 1988 and 1998. It was nice to be back, and also as tourists without committments.

Since August, I've been writing weekly for a teacher's circular which goes out to about 150 schools here in Sweden. I translate a news quiz on current events and write a commentary, and then also I contribute some teaching material of my own. I've been trying illustrate the material with some pictures of my own. I thought I might share a few with you. The ghost to the left was an illustration for Halloween ...

... and to the right, well, this is how Darwin's expedition in HMS Beagle (and his experience of an earthquake in Chile) affected him. No, really!

One of the reasons for the long pauses between uploads and blogs here has been the newsletter - the deadline for which always seems to be pressing. Another has been the bouts of depression I have from time to time. I posted this picture a little while while back without much of an explanation. Let me try now.  Colour me For over a year, I've been colour coding my days. Every morning I write up a colour code for the day just gone. Green is good, or at least OK, Yellow is a warning, Blue is the blues (naturally). The ends of the spectrum are White for when I'm feeling white hot creative and very happy (not often) and Black is for the oposite. Though it has to be said when I'm that low I usually can't be bothered to keep a note. Mostly it's a mix of yellow and green, but the other week I had a bad dip into blue. I had to take two days off work. This picture was my attempt to illustrate that week.

And if you're wondering I'm pretty Green right now.

Well, well. I just spent too much time on this and still have an article to write up for the teachers' circular. With any luck I'll have some time in the evenings next week and can come back to visit a few other pages and be social. For now, though ...