Uncle Henry´s Universe.

MalvarinaTravel

Posted by Uncle Henry Tue, December 13, 2016 22:07:55

Blog imageWe spent a week in October at Malvarina Agriturismo, an organic farm that also has cozy accommodation and a fantastic restaurant. The farm is run by a family and a few employees; it is really genuine and breathes calm and peace. (No TV in the room!) It is a wonderful oasis on the slopes of Monte Subasio, where a brisk walk through olive groves takes you up to the Mt Subasio national park and a wonderful panoramic view over Umbria.

The kitchen offers genuine old-fashioned Italian diet, completely built on their own organic products, adapted to the seasons and availability. Their prosciutto crudo is heavenly, mouth watering just thinking about it! And their freshly pressed olive oil, early pressing, emerald green and smooth as velvet! An experience which should be on everyone's bucket list.
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Dinner is served at 20.00, then you eat and socialize, drink good local wine (the best was the one who actually had no name), dish follows dish, one tastier than the other. The meal lasts until towards midnight, when you rounded off with a cappuccino and a little grappa. After a week of partying on the Mediterranean diet, I have lost more than 1 kg! (Try to do so at a hamburger menu!)

During the week there were only two things that did not taste me, and it was not due to the kitchen, it was because of me. I hate liver! It did not help that it was cooked in a pear; it just tasted even more liver.

And then the thing with the snails. I love French snails in garlic but the herbs in the Italian did not suit me. Or size, fully grown specimens, giant monsters who must be forced out of the shells. As large recalcitrant arionidae, who must be cut into slices to be swallowed. But this is like saying a parenthesis; Malvarina is fantastic and well worth a visit. Try it!
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Verbalism.Everyday life

Posted by Uncle Henry Tue, November 29, 2016 16:17:34

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My ambition to develop proficiency in English continues. I have previously read; How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, and loved it. When I strolled around in a bookstore in Windsor, and discovered that they had her latest book; How to Build a Girl, I could not resist buying it. And I do not regret it, it was hilarious.

Roughly told, but with insight, warmth and great love, both in terms of everyday, working-class, urban neighborhoods and teen years. It was a fantastic trip, although I must admit that the language was different than what I'm used to.

Cunt, twat, wank, hymen and knackers not belong to my everyday language ... And if I would put it in Swedish, I would fucking blush like a baboon's ass! So I do not. (But in English I might dare and then it enriches my language) You have to dare, or as Caitlin writes at one point in the book, and I have not yet managed to find the meaning of ... Go on! Stuff it up the cow!

Sometimes I do not understand everything I read. I do not have full control of the concepts, "Poxy bunch of suites" or "They've gassed The Hive". Although I might have a clue. However, it is extremely interesting for a Swedish ornithologist to hear about the gloom that probably comes from Hebridiean ancestors with puffin - strangling DNA!

Maybe not a Christmas present tips for your gift for grandma or grandpa, or eh heck, why not! If nothing else, read it for yourself.

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And then winter…Everyday life

Posted by Uncle Henry Sat, November 05, 2016 12:39:44

Time flies. We had a wonderful time in Italy, in mid-October, and I was about to write a blog post about it, when suddenly it was the first of November and the snow pouring down! Life goes so fast sometimes.

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Tracking season got a flying start, suddenly needed miles and miles of gravel roads to be searched over in pursuit of traces of wolves and lynxes. Being first on the road, with a new yet untouched snow, is a great satisfaction that I think I share with all my colleagues. It's exciting. The day is still a blank slate.
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After a good tracking day, with a lot of tracks and samples collected for DNA analysis, ended the day at Bastutjärn. The freeze begins on the little lake and the track of the wolf pack disappears towards the Norwegian border.
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Autumn.Everyday life

Posted by Uncle Henry Sun, September 11, 2016 20:28:37

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It was midsummer. We ate our herring with new potatoes, chives, sour cream and everything else related to the weekend. We enjoyed cold beer and schnapps. Then swoosh, the autumn was here! What the heck happened?

I remember that long beard lichen was inventoried, and we actually found a new location, which is quite unusual. That was nice.
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And I know that the haymaking was good, we had perfect weather throughout the mowing season. (I forgot to photograph this year, the picture is from 2015.) Do not worry if you forgot the knife to the snack bread, it goes equally well with a scythe.
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It was a great summer for strawberries, flower meadows, butterflies - and gnats. I remember them very well! Gnats and other biting insects are really a plague during work in the forest during the summer, as terrible as butterflies are gorgeous. The biting should I forget but the memory of the butterflies is to be cherished and enjoyed on cold winter days. I had the most, nearly a hundred butterflies swarming along the spice garden, where I sat and tried to think wise thoughts.
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We have had the first frost, the leaves have begun to change color but the heat persists. It's still summer warm during some days. Perhaps it will be a long and warm autumn, which in recent years. Beautiful, but it can easily become too much of a good thing, both nature and wildlife trackers have to get a real winter to feel good. But why be in a hurry! We enjoy autumn's high and clear air, the rich scents of everything that has matured, melancholy strophes from migratory birds and heat as long as it is offered. Have a nice autumn everybody, enjoy life.





Mary-Ann´s Polarrigg.Travel

Posted by Uncle Henry Mon, July 04, 2016 21:19:50

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We have stayed at many peculiar places around the world, Mary-Ann's Polarrigg in Longyearbyen, is definitely one of them. Old miners' barracks assembled into a small hotel, with mining tools, coal and driftwood lying in the corners and images of half-naked ladies on room doors. And with a polar bear in the corridor which reminds you of the importance of being able to defend yourself in the Arctic.
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Polar bears rarely freeze ass off, neither this one. It has its rear end in a wonderful conservatory, also the dining room, where you can have breakfast with the whole nature panorama outside the window. (Maybe you will see a drooling arctic fox, a glowering Svalbard reindeer or any other exciting thing ...)
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If you suddenly need a beer (Longyearbyen has the world's northernmost brewery) or any other strengthening, the pub has open until 02:00. It's just tiptoe away in stocking feet (No shoes indoors in this village!) sneak through the kitchen, say hello to the chef if he is there, pass slugger bear and swish you're there.

The beer is very good! The place is quite charming and the style really relaxed! Go there, be cool.





SvalbardTravel

Posted by Uncle Henry Sun, June 26, 2016 18:16:01

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The chance or risk, depending on how you see it, to encounter a polar bear near Longyearbyen this time of year is probably as good as non-existent. But only almost! They have four legs and like to hike, so you can never be absolutely sure, suddenly stand exception there breathing down your neck. Therefore it is best to stay within the safe range, at least without armament.
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This year we wanted to do something extra on the summer solstice, it became kayaking in the Arctic. Only a small day trip, but still, pretty awesome! Advent fjord in Longyearbyen is located at 78.13 degrees north, so it's a bit of traveling but it was really worth it!
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Blog imageThe landscape is wild and enchanting beautiful. Northern Fulmars glide past on stiff wings, only a few meters away from the kayak, eider and long-tailed ducks resting in the coves and snow buntings sing intensive from the beach. A quite long and enjoyable observation of an adult ivory gull, round off the day.
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The beaches are full of driftwood from Siberia, a lot of plastic waste from the world's oceans, aircraft remnants from the war and rusty relics from abandoned coal mines. Nothing to come before 1946 may be moved or removed, it counts as cultural heritage.
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A fantastic day trip with MS Langöysund gave, among other things, steep bird cliffs, bearded seal, a large family of Beluga whale and not the least; a loud popping ancient piece of glacier ice in the whiskey!

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The endemic Svalbard reindeer, a separate subspecies of reindeer that overwintered the last ice age in the islands, is a charming and quite fearless little chubby thing that you suddenly can meet on the street, when you go to shop in the village.
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The local supermarket provides gun cabinets directly inside the front door; they do not want anyone carrying weapons in the store, civilized in any way ;-)




Baltic GraylingNature Conservation

Posted by Uncle Henry Sun, June 19, 2016 20:24:33

From the middle of Sweden and north, you can now see a gray-brown butterfly patrol around the sunlit pine trunks in the mire landscape. It's the Baltic Grayling (Oeneis jutta), a species in the subfamily Satyrinae with a circumboreal distribution. It occurs in bogs and tundra in the north of Europe, the Baltic States, the Urals, Siberia, Northern Kazakhstan, the Russian Far East, Northern Mongolia, Northeastern China, North Korea and North America. (In Canada it occurs from Newfoundland to British Columbia.)
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In Sweden, it flies from early June to mid-July every two years, so you could not see it last year and will not be able to see it next. It flies only in even years, so take the opportunity; the next time will be in 2018!
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The butterfly often starts at the root and then flits rapidly upwards along the stem, sometimes up into the crown of the smaller pines before popping down to the next pine and continues.
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Flights season varies in different places in the world. In Canada, for example, Baltic Grayling flies from late May to mid-June in eastern Ontario, from late June to late July at Churchill, and into August in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is biennial, flying in even years in southwest Manitoba and the west and mainly in odd years from southeastern Manitoba eastward; at Churchill and in the Mer Bleue bog near Ottawa it flies every year.
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New Buddy in the neighborhood.Nature Conservation

Posted by Uncle Henry Sat, June 18, 2016 15:05:30

This year seems to be a pretty bad year for the golden eagle, at least in the central parts of Sweden. In Värmland, we have only found one successful breeding so far, in which a fairly large and nice kid has been ringed.
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In addition to weighing and measuring, takes bird ringers now also blood sample for DNA analysis. Here is the “Lord of the Rings” in place in the nest for sampling.
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Big feet and sharp claws, they have the resources, yet they are surprisingly calm and kind while they are handled.
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Wolf Pups.Wolf

Posted by Uncle Henry Sat, June 11, 2016 16:57:02

This time of year, nature is like one big nursery. It is a lovely time to gently roam around. Listening and watching, with all senses open to impressions.
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At one point during the nineties, in the middle of June, I ended up by chance only a few meters from two wolf pups. They were quite busy, playing with a bone from a moose calf, the adult wolves left with them. They quarreled almost silently and very gently, the only sound that could be heard was a little panting breathing and occasional, puffing snort sound.
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One of the puppies discovers me almost immediately and sneak away, the other continues energetically its struggle with the bone. It pries and hauls snorts and puffs but barely manage to dislodge the bone without the other's help.
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It tire of after a period of struggle and put a sudden course straight toward me. Detects me; at first frightened, then curious. Thinking whether I’m friend or foe, and then strolling slowly away after the sibling who had disappeared under a dense spruce.

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… Yet still unaware that within a few months it turns into a bloodthirsty beast; hated and persecuted by humanity.





La Grotte de VillarsTravel

Posted by Uncle Henry Wed, June 01, 2016 14:05:36

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When the guide locks the massive steel door behind me, I feel the claustrophobia creeping like an iron band around the chest. It ceases, however, immediately when she knowledgeable and committed invites us in an amazingly beautiful world with stalagmites and stalactites from floor to ceiling. 13 km caverns and halls in different levels and only one who has the key to the doors – I know who I will hold in, if the light suddenly goes out!
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We got during our drive through southwest France the opportunity to visit the Grotte de Villars, something that can really be recommended. It is an amazing and unforgettable experience. There is forbidden to photograph, therefore I borrow here some of the resort's image and hope for forgiveness, given how they are used.

Blog imageThere are more known caves, such as Lascaux, where the paintings are of a totally awesome and unique quality. But if you are content with simpler paintings, so is the Grotte de Villars a good option. Plus, you get to see the originals, at Lascaux, you make do with copies. Because of e.g. fungal infestation are caverns with paintings closed; only a few researchers are permitted to visit them. The visitors are now referred to the caves with cave painting replicas.
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Claw marks after cave bears that once scratched out a sleeping place from the soft clay.
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Cro-Magnon man painted with manganese oxide mixed with animal fat. Paintings, that still remains 19,000 years later. With time, however, they will disappear because the calcium deposits slowly covering them. In the Grotte de Villars is the famous "man - bison" picture, one of the very rare pictures where man depicted in pre historic art. (One of two sites in France) I have no good picture of it so it got to be a small horse instead.

There are no photos available in the souvenir shop, which nearly describes the experience that rests in my mind after our walk in the cave system. It must be experienced. Both my wife and I agree the visit to the cave to one of our absolute greatest experiences so far in life.