Rain-filled tire track It’s foul weather again. The rain has been falling and the wind lashing it against the windowpanes for most of the day. Really, not a lot to choose between this and the weather we were having during July. Colder, of course, and the days are much shorter (dawn this morning at about 8.30, dusk coming up in about half an hour or so at 3.30). But while it is daylight, the sky is just as heavy and grey and the rain is just as persistent.

On Wednesday 19th December, the first day of my Christmas holiday, it looked quite hopeful. The temperature had dropped below freezing the day before and the moisture in the air had frozen and danced in the sunlight like glitter –too fine and ethereal to catch with the camera. All through the Tuesday, hoarfrost built up on the leaves of grass, on the branches of trees, on the lattice of chain link fences. Then when the snow started to fall, not flakes, but a fine salting of light grains, the frost burden on every surface grew thicker but uneven. Wednesday morning, I had a train to catch, but I put off travelling for an hour, took the camera out and tried to catch the look of the world. Here are a few of the pictures I was most happy with.

Grass under frost Hedge under frost Branches under frost Frosted apple  

Post frost-furred Look at this. It’s a metal pole holding up a street sign. The hoarfrost and then the snow have furred it so differently in texture from the frost-and-snow-covered branches of the hedge behind. The sharp edge is the metal of the pole in what I guess was a wind shadow. It’s so sharp you’d be forgiven for thinking I manipulated the picture, but I didn’t.

All that was in Falköping, which is inland and about 200 meters above sea level. Down by the sea in Gothenburg, an hour away by train, there was no snow, and the forecast for a grey-green Christmas held good.

 I didn’t use the camera much for the next few days, though I did play around with pictures. Poor Fredrik Reinfeldt, our Prime Minister, always looks so sad. It’s those big dog eyes he has. I think he was probably a bloodhound in a former life.

I also had a go at making some clipart and animations. I was working with MSPaint  – also known in this household as MSPainfullySlow. My poor laptop seized up more than once when asked to render a relatively simple Gif. It seems that something the WindowsOS needs to work (svchost.exe) was multiplying and stealing more and more of the working memory – I only have 512K in that machine. Oh well, I managed to produce an e-Christmas card in the end.

Greetings Candles reflected

 Christmas Eve was celebrated Swedish-style with my wife’s family, and the only picture from that occasion I want to share is this candle flame with a triple (triple-glazed) reflection. (After looking at it for a while, you’ll realise the reflected image can’t possible be of the same candle flame, but must be from another candle which is just out of the picture.)

On the 27th, yesterday, that is, we took a long walk from Hjuvik to Torslanda by way of Sillvik. It was a blustery day, and the ground was waterlogged, but there were glimpses of blue sky and even some sun. At one point the sun spot lit a little rocky skerry out on the sea just off shore.

In amongst all the grey and muted colours, sometimes a spray of dry grass or a blanket of green moss would stand out in sharp contrast. I tried to catch some of these. Then there were the tracks in the mud. There were plenty of paw prints – big and small – but finding one with good contrast and holding some water proved more a lot more difficult than I expected. When you look, you never know what you’ll find, though this Rex-the-Runt-look-alike was a surprise.

Spray of dry grass Moss on dry stone wall Windblown rushes Rusted bucket on cairn Tracks in the mud Found object 2

My final offering (and a complete change of mood): these two self-illuminated mannequin torsos in a window on the way into town. I took these this morning at about 8 a.m. Appearances to the contrary, this isn’t Gothenburg’s red-light district and the shop isn’t a sex store, just a down-market retail clothes shop.

I reckon this will be my last blog of the year, but I’m planning to continue to add to this on and off during 2008, and especially during and after the summer. I have a sabbatical year coming up, from June 2008. My intention is to spend much more time writing and working with pictures. I’m also hoping to create my own Internet site, though I’ll carry on publishing here. Watch this space!

Happy New Year!