Tuesday, 29 June 2010

On Lithuanian Summers

It might take a long time for a Lithuanian summer to start properly (in June we had just a few sunny and hot days), but when it does, it is something to be happy about!

The meadows then are full to the brim with wild flowers. White chamomile, red poppies and blue cornflowers – I wish Lithuanian landscape would never change.

Even the air is full of life. Someone’s buzzing; someone’s changing their flight path and accidentally bumps right into you!

The water must be getting warm. And even if your first dip this year is making you anxious (is it warm enough already? I remember skating here last winter…), the others will be enjoyed to the full.

And let’s not forget the garden. When would you have a better opportunity to become a florist and make the prettiest arrangements?

Everything’s just perfect – any worries? Hmm… How to scare the birds away from all the cherries and to make such summer last forever!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Wild Horses

They’ve been here, next door, for eleven years and I had never seen them! I can’t believe this; although I’m sure than not a lot of Lithuanians know that they could have a glimpse of wild horses in our neighbouring country – Latvia!

A few weeks ago I heard on the radio a woman called Velta talking about some Nature Park. It turned out it’s the one based right next to the Lithuanian-Latvian border (Pape Nature Park). I knew that this park is an ideal place for birdwatchers as there’s a big lake and lots of marshland, but Velta was talking about a possibility to see the wild horses!

Anyway, here are the photos from our trip.

I must admit, on the way to see them, I hoped they‘d be very big and gallop around, and I’d get lots of good shots of the mustangs, but when we got there I saw a gang of grey ponies (actually 41 of them) that seemed to lazily graze the grass.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t disappointed as I love nature, but I was informed that in England (yeah, in England!) somewhere in the New Forest the view would have been much better. So I guess there’s one more place worth visiting to put on my list.

Some action shots that I got when one of the horses tried to come closer to us, but was guided back further away by their pack leader.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Icons of England

As expected my long summer evenings have been devoted to reading. At 10 pm. my body starts craving for a soft bed, but it’s still light outside, so while the mind is alert, a good book keeps me company.

At the moment it’s “Icons of England” – a compilation of short stories written by “high profile and well respected commentators” portraying their feelings towards the English countryside. And I’d recommend it to anyone who’s been to the country and fell in love with it.

The English might seem a bit strange to the rest of the world (just think about the separate taps for cold and hot water, their habit to put milk into their tea, endless conversations about the weather), but I admire them for sticking to their way of doing things without worrying if it looks funny or weird. So if anyone can preserve the best things from the past it will be the English. Although it seems that even they might have to club together in order to achieve the goal.

This book was where I first heard about the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) - http://www.cpre.org.uk/ strangely enough led by a famous American writer Bill Bryson. (Even HRH The Prince of Wales starts his foreword with “There is perhaps a rich irony in the fact that it takes an American … to recognize, celebrate and fight to preserve so much of what is precious about our country.”) An initiative that I would welcome in any country, that wants to conserve what is unique and so dare to its nation.

So what’s so magical about England? What do we have to save that we wouldn’t ruin the spell? If you are intrigued, read about the icons of England – red post boxes, country churchyards, hares, estuaries, rural branch lines, ancient trees and many more.

I’ve been to England many times, but now I’m dead set to see Land’s End. “…Land’s End is magnificent. Even with the vast ocean on three sides, it still manages to make it’s mark – rather than engulfing it, the giant Atlantic has taken it in its lap. … When the summer sunshine beams down on the water and the mild wind blows inland from the ocean, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.” – Muhammad Abdul Bari

I’d also love to buy some fossils from Mary Anning’s shop in Lyme Regis. “Around ninety-nine per cent of all the species that ever lived are now extinct and only a very small fraction are preserved as fossils; and even smaller fraction are ever actually found. And at Mary Anning’s shop, you can get all this for just £2.50.” – Rosie Boycott

Oh, and plant an apple tree that would produce those special apples. “Old pearmain, recorded in the thirteenth century, is probably the only one of our contemporary English apples that Shakespeare would have recognized.” – Raymond Blanc

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Moments that Were Caught

I’d say that after taking lots of photos I have developed something that might be described as a “frame vision”. I’ve been catching myself looking at something and then thinking – that would make a brilliant photo! But guess what, most of the time during such insights I’m nowhere near my camera. Call it sods law or, even better, blame me for not dragging that thing everywhere I go, but I agree myself that sometimes I loose moments that I’d like to share and keep in digital form or on paper forever!

It seems that just the other day I looked at some lilacs and decided that these would look good with the bright blue sky as a background. I think I had more than a week to take that photo (the sky can’t have been grey for the whole week as it’s summer and that lilac grows just the other side of our gate), well, I lost the opportunity as the blossoms have died down…

So that is why these little images are moments that I MANAGED to catch this June before they disappeared. It’s our crab apple tree in full bloom, my dog spying on the busy bees, our first BBQ this year, a duck diving in the river and the very white tip of one of my cats’ tail.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Lithuania 6 a.m.

I can finally feel that the summer has begun – I can no longer stay in bed after it gets light! Some would say that I need better blinds, but to tell the truth I prefer the world with not so many people in it. I wouldn’t say I dislike people; it’s just that sometimes city or, in other words, that busy ants nest can get me down.

I like empty roads and nice mist, that you sometimes get early in the morning. I also love to be able to just stop and take photos that in other circumstances wouldn’t be taken.

This morning I deliberately returned to a field of lupines, that we passed just the other day.

I’d love to get into the middle of it and take some flowers home, but after having heard so much about ticks I guess it’s better to admire them from a safe distance…

Later on I spotted a stork. I think I scared it, as after I took my camera out, it started to fly away.

Then there was a very friendly horse in between white flowers. It was the best model I ever had – just a few nice words and it turned round a few times! Probably expecting a carrot or a piece of sugar...

Oh, and that very Lithuanian shrine – just by the road, in the middle of nowhere, next to a forest: yet the candle was lit.

Today all our prayers go to the people who had been deported to the Soviet Union/Siberia. June the 14th marks the day when the first mass deportations started in 1941.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Best Novels

I think it is exciting how looking for one thing you might find something else that might interest you. I guess it’s not that hard when you’re surfing on the net, otherwise I don’t think time would just disappear while I’m on my computer…

This time I was looking up Vladimir Nabokov – multilingual Russian-American novelist. I have read one of his books recently (I‘m ashamed to admit I haven‘t read his famous "Lolita") and stumbled upon something called Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels list.

As this is a list of the best English-language novels of the 20th century, selected and compiled by the Modern Library (publishing company) in 1998, I decided to have a look how many I’ve read or at least heard of (by the way, V.Nabokov's "Lolita" is number 4 on this list).

Oh, my… I’m a keen reader, but obviously not keen enough. I will have to make up for this as soon as possible; just after I finish my Virtual Trip around Europe… Well, long summer evenings and light nights are perfect for reading!

If you’d like to test yourself, you can find this list just here:


Don’t get upset if you haven’t read many of these books - the list did not include enough novels by women, and not enough novels from outside North America and Europe. In addition, some contend it was a "sales gimmick", since most of the titles in the list are also sold by Modern Library.

Friday, 4 June 2010


Although the summer has just begun and everything’s in colour, my mood is pretty grim. (Been thinking about life in general a lot and felt so small after realizing that nothing changes after someone’s gone – the sun still rises, the birds sing their songs and the whole world keeps moving forward...) I love colours, but influenced by the recent atmosphere I decided to apply the black and white test to my photos.

Black and white photography has always seemed very sophisticated to me. You need such photos to carry so much more feeling within them in order to portray the mood or emotion, to capture one’s eye.

I guess I’d be the one who’d say that there’s never only black and white – there’re so many shades of grey; still sometimes it feels as if the darker side is stronger...

Maybe that’s why it is important to hang on and to put as much effort as you can so that the light and the good would prevail?