Vienna: Tiergarten Schoenbrunn

Aug. 16th, 2017 01:27 pm
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
Fish
Keiki squats down to look at the fish in the polar bear enclosure at the Vienna Tiergarten.

The Schoenbrunn should definitely make the top ten of every visitor attraction list of Vienna, if not the top three. It’s the gigantic former summer palace of the Hapsburgs, and the grounds alone merit at least a half-day stroll to explore fully. There are gardens, fountains, hidden playgrounds, an enormous glasshouse full of palm trees, and even a zoo.

Despite having visited the Schoenbrunn grounds many times, I’d never been to the zoo, which is allegedly the oldest in the Western world (founded in 1752). Now, with two small children, one of whom is animal-obsessed, I had good reason to go. The children and I set out early one morning to travel via the Viennese underground to the palace.

Humuhumu was keen to learn how to navigate the transport system. She got very good at spotting the way to the correct train lines, and proudly announced when the next train would be arriving after we got to the platforms.

It took us 45 minutes to get from our temporary abode to the Schoenbrunn and, conveniently, it was just about Cake O’clock when we arrived. We detoured around the palace entrance and stopped off at an Aida Konditorei, a chain of inexplicably pink cafés that serve extremely nice cakes, coffees and hot chocolates (apart from the one near the opera house – avoid that one; everyone who works there is sick of tourists and very grumpy).

We walked into the Aida and chorused “Guten Morgen” at the round-faced, unsmiling woman behind the counter. She broke into a beaming grin and showed us to the table next to a tiny play area containing toys and books, which the children pounced upon. (Throughout the trip, I encouraged the children to greet everyone we met in German, to say please and thank you in German, to order their food using the German words and, when I felt confident in my knowledge of the right phrases, I coached them to make requests in German. I was astonished at the abundance of goodwill toward us that this produced.) Humuhumu ordered her hot chocolate and cake in German, and was rewarded with an additional pink meringue, which she received with an unprompted “Danke schoen”. When we left, Keiki crowing “Wiedersehen” over my shoulder with his dimpliest smile, the server came out from round the counter and gave each of the children an extra biscuit, which, to be honest, they didn’t really need after all that sugar!

Full of energy, we bounded into the grounds of the Schoenbrunn and raced around whilst waiting for the grandparents to join us at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Zoo). As vast as the Schoenbrunn grounds are, they are not big enough to house a comprehensive collection of the world’s animals, so cleverly the Tiergarten is focused on a limited number of species and provided them with luxurious accommodation.

Keiki and Humuhumu loved the place, particularly Keiki. Once he spotted the meerkat enclosure, we couldn’t get him to finish his lunch. Neither could we readily tear him away from the penguins. In fact, Granddad had a bit of a job keeping Keiki from clambering into their pond to join them. We communed with the seals. We watched a polar bear chewing meditatively on a traffic cone. And, of course, Humuhumu found a climbing wall and had to try everything.

It was a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon, and we will certainly return to the Tiergarten on our next trip to Vienna.

Further photos beneath the cut.
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The Blood is the Life for 16-08-2017

Aug. 16th, 2017 11:00 am
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Rotten boards and Dip in Road

Aug. 15th, 2017 05:27 pm
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[personal profile] primsong
Still poking away at repairing my house for eventual sale, learning all kinds of stuff - with Hubby down in CA I am free to run amok with power tools unsupervised, hee hee....

Finished replacing the rotten boards on the back deck with some caveats on it being 'successful' - I can't figure out why some of them refuse to lay flat when the boards themselves are not bent and the under structure was still sound. Better luck, I hope, with the rotten boards in the front steps that are next, I have them cut, sanded and half-stained in the garage at this point. Woot!

Busy chipping away at our very hard soil trying dredge up enough dirt to fill a dip the torrential rains this last spring dug by one corner of the house. Got a chunk of new gutter so I can do my best to replace the bad gutter section responsible for that - hope I can figure that one out, as the October Rains will be here before I know it. Also learned how to play with the air compressor so I could get the car's tires back up to snuff. ;-) Learned air compressors are fun!

Hope everyone else is also getting some of those summer projects out of the way while they can.

Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum

Aug. 15th, 2017 01:26 pm
nanila: (me: art)
[personal profile] nanila
In early July, the bloke & I went to Amsterdam for a couple of days for my (very) belated birthday celebrations. His parents kindly looked after the children so we could have our first holiday alone together since they were born.

One of the things we did was go to an art museum and wander around for a couple of hours. This is not a thing you can do with small children, unless you have imprisoned them in a pram, and then there would (not unreasonably) be screaming.

I’d previously been to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The bloke had never been to the latter, but as it was the height of summer, it was not a good time to go. The place cannot cope with the number of visitors it receives, and unless you book days in advance, you can’t get in. When you do, you still have to queue, and you end up shuffling in a slow-moving crush of people past all of the artwork. It’s not a great experience. We opted, therefore, to go to one we’d never been in: the Stedelijk Museum, which is dedicated to modern art.

I really enjoyed the collection. It was well curated and I now have a little list of new (to me) artists to keep my eyes peeled for in the London exhibitions.

Photographer Zanele Muholi takes photos of LGBTQ+ community members in Africa. I definitely want a book of her work. It was a little irritating to find, at the end of our visit, that of all the special exhibitions on display, hers was the only one without a corresponding product available in the shop. No books, no postcards, nothing. Hmph.

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From her “Brave Beauties” series.

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It R Caturday

Aug. 12th, 2017 09:04 pm
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Telstar
Handsome tuxie sticks his tongue out at you from his sunny perch atop the wood shed.

The Blood is the Life for 12-08-2017

Aug. 12th, 2017 11:00 am
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the most cutest

Aug. 12th, 2017 01:28 am
nenya_kanadka: cartoon teddy squees with joy (@ squeh!)
[personal profile] nenya_kanadka
Mucca, holding the cat, and turning to me: I have a serious question.
Me: Okay...
She: WHO'S A KITTY??

I'm afraid Kaylee-cat has just lost the title of Most Cutest after only two weeks. It reverts back to Mucca. ❤ Kitty still holds world record for Best Cat Ever, though.

Kitty is doing MUCH better (further updates, as well as pictures, forthcoming from somebody or other here). Does not like the taste of antibiotics, but they've had a magical effect and she's bouncing around with a far more normal-looking properly healing spay site. Didn't need to take a taxing trip to the vet (so far! fingers crossed!) after all. Out of her cone collar all day today for the first full day, without worrying at that bit of her tummy, so we've left her free tonight as well.

She is the loveliest, snuggliest, silliest little critter. Hilariously enthusiastic about catnip mice. Bemused and determined when faced with the mystery of a paper grocery bag with a catnip mouse inside it??? *pounce pounce etc* Just a delight to have around.

We've named her Kaylee after another small, cheerful, enthusiastic, curious, calm in a crisis favourite of ours. So far no signs of spaceship engineering, but she's kinda into the parks radios, so give it time.

Friday Five

Aug. 11th, 2017 03:35 pm
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[personal profile] miss_s_b
(questions via [community profile] thefridayfive)

1) What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?

When I was a young 'un, there was that brief period when shell suits were incredibly fashionable, but before they had been discovered to be ridiculously dangerously flammable, and we had a non-uniform day at school. Every single other person in my class came in a shell suit. Some of them had those colour change t-shirts that showed your armpit sweat even worse than grey marl does. I wore cut-off denim hot pants, fishnet tights, an Alice Cooper t-shirt and a leather biker jacket.

I think that tells you everything you need to know about my attitude to fashion.


2) As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?

Um. I never could be bothered with the make-up requirements for goth, but I suspect I tended more that way in other respects, with bits of punk and grunger too. I mean, I never did do the blue stonewash jeans classic rocker look, I always wore black and purple.


3) Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?

Ever since I was 18 right up until the present. I'm normally one or more of blue, purple, or pink, but I've been other colours too. Went jet black once; didn't like it.


4) Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?

I certainly haven't. But then I was quite elderly in outlook from about the age of 18 months, so... (this is possibly down to the autism, which obvs was undiagnosed when I was a young 'un.


5) Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?

It's not the confidence, it's the tolerance for pain. I wish I could wear halter neck tops, but my boobs are so heavy that they give me horrific neck ache within seconds of putting them on.

Friday Five: Fashionista

Aug. 11th, 2017 12:08 pm
nanila: me (Default)
[personal profile] nanila
  1. What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?
    Probably this one:

    (That's me in 2003, wearing a green vest, black trousers & boots, sunglasses and very long dreadlocks. I'm carrying the tiny metal box that functioned as my handbag in those days.)

  2. As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?
    As a young teen, I was trending toward goth, but I didn't go full rivethead until I was at university.

  3. Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?
    I have worn unnatural shades of hair colour: green, blue and purple. I don't really think of dreadlocks as "crazy".

  4. Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?
    Um, yes, definitely. Thank GOODNESS.

  5. Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?
    I would definitely love to be a bit more goth/rivet still. It's not that I lack the confidence, it's that I don't have the time, the money or the energy to maintain the look. I spend what resources I do have on my kids' wardrobes, not my own. Also, it would be pretty incongruous at my work, which is small-c conservative.


Questions are from the [community profile] thefridayfive community.

The Blood is the Life for 11-08-2017

Aug. 11th, 2017 11:00 am
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The Blood is the Life for 09-08-2017

Aug. 9th, 2017 11:00 am
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A Center Parcs Anniversary Adventure

Aug. 8th, 2017 04:06 pm
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
20170722_184533
The bloke’s parents with their heart-shaped homemade cake. The chalkboard next to them colourfully reads: “Welcome to Lodge 106. Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary! Have an excellent holiday. 😊”

A couple of weekends ago, we went to a Center Parcs with the bloke’s family to celebrate his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Each family stayed in separate lodges, and we joined together for lunches, activities, tea and evening meals.

Going to a big resort-type thing in a forest in the school holidays seems to be a rite of passage for English children. Everyone else in the family (actually being English) had this innate understanding of how things were going to work and what was going to happen. I, on the other hand, was completely in the dark. I didn’t know that the “swimming pool” was going to be a massive indoor waterslide park with separate areas for children of all ages, for instance. Or that bringing our bicycles was not just so we could get some exercise, but so we could pop out to the shop for some milk for five minutes rather than have to walk for half an hour. The place was gigantic and – it being the start of the summer holidays – completely full.

The wildlife, being accustomed to the presence of humans, was very nearly tame. If you left the sliding door to the patio open, the ducks would waddle confidently inside in search of whatever food you had foolishly left out. The squirrels would take nuts from your hands. The muntjac deer would walk up to the patio door and stare in, and not run away until the toddler came outside and tried to pet it.

We had a truly typical British summer holiday experience in that it rained nearly the entire time, so we spent a good amount of time in the water park. Humuhumu was, at first, slightly afraid of the water slides. Subsequent to our first trip to the water park, we bought her some goggles and that flipped the switch. We couldn’t get her off the water slides after that. She went round them so many times that when we went to the changing room to get back into our clothes, she could barely stand, she was so exhausted. I only got the chance to try the water slides once for about ten minutes (during which Keiki apparently screamed for me the entire time), so I went for the biggest one (twice): the Cyclone, which you went down on a rubber raft in a group. I got to go with my niece and her mum, aka the bloke’s sister. I shrieked like a banshee the whole way down. It was fantastic.

Despite the filthy weather, we managed to sneak in some outdoor activities. We played boules. We climbed around the adventure playgrounds. I took Keiki to the pond, where the nearly tame baby moorhens nibbled at his wellies, to his boundless delight. We also found a peacock, with whom Keiki had a half-hour conversation. I turned my back on him briefly and when I looked at him, he had moved close enough to the peacock to stroke its tail feathers. The peacock held itself very still, almost as if it didn’t want to frighten him, when really it should have been the other way round.

The wedding anniversary celebration came off very well indeed. There was a huge, heart-shaped and delicious sponge cake, baked by the bloke’s sister, and a “cheese cake”, which was a mountain of stacked cheeses. The bottom layer, an enormous squishy brie, had to be served separately because it would have collapsed under the weight of the wheel of harder cheese above it. This was not a problem because we devoured it over the course of two days. Most importantly, the bloke’s parents had a wonderful time being surrounded by, but not in the pockets of, their children and grandchildren.

Further photos below the cut, including a series titled “Keiki Points at Things”.

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In case you’re wondering why there aren’t so many photos of Humuhumu, this is because (1) she wanted to go to the water park pretty much every waking moment, (2) you couldn’t take photos in the water park and (3) Keiki did not want to go to the water park more than once a day, so someone had to stay with him.

The Blood is the Life for 08-08-2017

Aug. 8th, 2017 11:00 am
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The Blood is the Life for 07-08-2017

Aug. 7th, 2017 11:00 am
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The Blood is the Life for 06-08-2017

Aug. 6th, 2017 11:00 am
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The Blood is the Life for 05-08-2017

Aug. 5th, 2017 11:00 am
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Friday’s Unscientific Space Post

Aug. 4th, 2017 01:02 pm
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
[personal profile] nanila
August is, apparently, the season for Certificates of Appreciation in spacecraft engineering!

First up is the one for Solar Orbiter.
IMG_20170726_181743_360
This has an image of the spacecraft approaching the Sun in the upper right corner. It reads, “This certificate recognises the significant contribution of [nanila] to the development of the magnetometer instrument on the Solar Orbiter spacecraft. In recognition of this contribution, your name will be carried within the memory of the magnetometer instrument on its voyage to explore the Sun and the inner solar system.” It’s signed by the instrument PI (Principal Investigator) and instrument manager (my fantastic colleague and labmate Helen).

My name’s going to the Sun! (TBH I’m glad it’s just name. It’s a bit...lethal-radiation-y out there.)

Second is the one from Rosetta.
IMG_20170802_151404_097
This as, as its backdrop, a stunning close-up image of Comet 67P taken by the OSIRIS instrument. There’s a sketched Rosetta spacecraft in the upper left corner, and a sketched Philae in the lower right. It reads, “European Space Agency presents this certificate to [nanila] in recognition of your outstanding contribution to the ESA Rosetta Mission.” It’s signed by the Director of Science at ESA, the Rosetta Mission Manager and the Rosetta Project Scientist.

Finally, here’s an old one from the Cluster and Double Star anniversaries.
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This one has an image of the Sun and the Earth (not to scale), as well as the Earth’s magnetic field in blue. The four Cluster spacecraft are in formation at the bottom right and the two Double Star spacecraft are closer to the Earth. Also not to scale (“These are small and those are far away”).

The certificate reads “Cluster 15th and Double Star 10th anniversary. ESA and NSSC present this certificate to [nanila] in recognition of your outstanding contribution to the Cluster and Double Star missions.” It’s signed by the Chinese National Space Science Center director, the Cluster & Double Star project scientist and the Director of Science & Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency.

The Cluster mission is now in its 17th year since the commissioning phase ended and still going strong. The Double Star spacecraft are no longer operational.

I’ve worked on the Cluster mission since 2006.