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  My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Cheshire Cat Blog > 2011  
back The Cheshire Cat Blog
January 2011
Winter wonderlands at The Cheshire Cat Blog
Without fear or favour, The Cheshire Cat sent our intrepid reporters out into the cold to capture
scenes from the frozen northern hemisphere of our favourite planet. Some have not been heard
from since. Those who did make it back through the blizzards sent us the following icy views.
 
winter photos by Lesley A. Smith, Massachusetts, USA at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Lesley A. Smith

Massachusetts, USA
  winter photos by David Elis-Williams, Bangor, North Wales at The Cheshire Cat Blog

David Elis-Williams

North Wales, UK
  winter photos by Gordon Mcleod, Menai Bridge, North Wales at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Gordon Mcleod

North Wales, UK
  winter photos by Martine Passagez, Eupen, Belgium at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Martine Passagez

Eupen, Belgium
 
winter photos by Peter Hinze, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Peter Hinze

Berlin, Germany
  winter photos by Konstanze Gundudis, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Konstanze Gundudis

Berlin, Germany
  winter photos by David John, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

David John

Berlin, Germany
  photos of Rhodes, Greece by Mark Mallett at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Mark Mallett

Rhodes, Greece
Lesley A. Smith

Massachusetts, USA
Frozen berries by Lesley A. Smith, Massachusetts, USA at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Frozen berries, anyone?
 
Jack Frost decorates the woods, photo by Lesley A. Smith, Massachusetts, USA at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Jack Frost decorates the woods
 
Icicles on the chicken coop by Lesley A. Smith, Massachusetts, USA at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Icicles on the chicken coop

photos: © Lesley Smith, Massachusetts, USA
David Elis-Williams

Bangor, Gwynedd, North Wales, UK
Bangor Cathedral by David Elis-Williams at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Ancient Bangor Cathedral has seen a lot of snow in its time.

One of Britain's oldest cathedrals, it was founded by Saint Deiniol in the the 6th century.

Bangor, a university town situated on the North Wales coast, is one of Britain's smallest cities. Its name is derived from the type of fenced compound of the original monastic settlement on the site of the present cathedral. Having been destroyed and rebuilt several times, much of the cathedral's present fabric dates from the 16th century, including the bell tower (right), and the 19th century when it was renovated by Sir Gilbert Scott, who built the central tower (left).

This photo shows the north side of the cathedral as seen from the grassy hill, formerly the bishop's orchard, below the university's Main Arts Building.
  Bangor Diocese coat of arms at The Cheshire Cat Blog
 
Bangor in the snow by David Elis-Williams at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Shoppers trudge home through the snow along Ffriddoedd Road, Bangor, North Wales.

For most of its considerable length, Ffriddoedd Road is lined by pleasant middle-class houses,
set back from the road amid well-kept gardens. Here also are student halls of residence and
buildings of Coleg Menai, including the former Technical College (left), and a little further on
the former Friars grammar school, founded in 1557.

photos: © David Elis-Williams, Bangor, North Wales, UK
Gordon Mcleod

Menai Bridge, North Wales, UK
Bangor Town Clock by Gordon Mcleod at The Cheshire Cat Blog

The Town Clock, High Street, Bangor. Built 1887.

There was a time when every self-respecting British town had a town clock, either as part of a civic building or housed in its own tower. During the 19th century Bangor enjoyed an economic boom due to the growth of the local slate industry and its position on the new road and rail routes between England and Ireland. New houses, shops, hotels, banks and places of worship appeared, the cathedral was renovated (see above), a university was founded by public subscription, and by 1896 the city could even boast a 472 metre-long (1,500 feet) pier.

During the 20th century the town clock, situated at around the mid-point of the High Street (said to be one of the longest in Britain), became the focal point of Bangor's centre: the bus station, main post office, library, registry office and town hall are nearby as well the row of businesses which included the Art Deco facade of Woolworth's (right in the photo, now a pharmacy) which was largest store in town.
 
 
Bangor railway station by Gordon Mcleod at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Snow-clad wall of the railway station, Bangor, North Wales.
 
Menai Suspension Bridge by Gordon Mcleod at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Snow covers the mighty chains of Thomas Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge (completed 1826).
 
Welsh igloo-building by Gordon Mcleod at The Cheshire Cat Blog

CAUTION, icetect at work!

Mia practices her igloo-building skills on the Menai Straits, beneath Telford's suspension bridge.

Her frozen friend guards the building site. Note the latest seaweed hairstyle - very trendy.
 
An igloo on the Menai Straits by Gordon Mcleod at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Mia ponders over how to arrange all the Ikea furniture she's just ordered for her new home.
 
A snowpunk near Saint Tysilio's island by Gordon Mcleod at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Another of Mia's flaky buddies goes punk near Saint Tysilio's island.
 
Saint Tysilio's Church, Anglesey by Gordon Mcleod at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Saint Tysilio's Church on Ynys Tyslio, Anglesey, North Wales.

Saint Tysilio's Church on Ynys Tyslio (Tysilio's Island, also known as Church Island), said to have been founded by the saint in 630 AD during the seven years he lived here as a hermit. The present building dates from the 15th century (refurfished in the 1890s) and is surrounded by many old graves and war memorials.

Ynys Tyslio, between Menai Bridge and Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch,
Anglesey, North Wales.

photos: © Gordon Mcleod, Menai Bridge, North Wales, UK

See more photos of Bangor, Menai Bridge and Saint Tysilio's Church at:

www.davidjohnberlin.de/english/gal-04/britain/index.htm
 
Martine Passagez

Eupen, Belgium
Freshly-baked mince pies by Martine Passagez at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Freshly-baked mince pies, straight out of the oven.

Mince pies are among the consolations of the bleak mid-winter, along with roast chestnuts, porridge and other Great British comfort foods.

If you have never enjoyed a British mince pie you may be confused. The "mincemeat" in the pastry has nothing to do with dead animals or "hamburger meat", but is more like marmalade: a mixture of fruit, spices and sugar cooked into a thick, dark, sweet, sticky mass. The name goes back to ye olde English, when confections were known as sweetmeats (time to brush up your Shakespeare). Some mincemeat lovers will eat the stuff straight off a spoon, but baked in a pie it's simply irresistible.

In Britain (and now Belgium, apparently - Ed.), mince pies are traditionally eaten at Christmas, and commercially produced pies are usually only available around this time. So those who wish to enjoy these winter warmers outside the festive period have to bake their own. Good fun too. They come in all shapes and sizes, and real aficionados have their own recipes.

These scrummy-looking morsels were made by young Noah who has gone for the pastie shape. (Sorry, we can't go into the history of the Cornish pastie here. Maybe some other time.)

Right, that's quite enough of this warm, cosy fireside chit-chat. Let's get back out into the fresh, bracing winter air. No sneezing at the back there ...
 

this photo has a mouseover effect

Belgian icicles by Martine Passagez at The Cheshire Cat Blog


Belgian icicles on the attic.

Cold, long, sharp, nasty looking things. We wouldn't like
to be standing under this roof when they start to fall.
 
Trees in the snow by Martine Passagez at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Ah, this is more like it: a sunny open space with crunchy snow underfoot
and a sprinkling of the stuff to cover the modesty of the bare tree branches.

Ideal place for a snowball fight at the OK Corral.
 
Snow-covered tree branches by Martine Passagez at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Did we say "a sprinkling" of snow on the tree branches? A slight Belgian understatement, perhaps.

photos: © Martine Passagez, Eupen, Belgium
Peter Hinze

Berlin, Germany
A snowman celebrating New Year's Eve by Peter Hinze at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Happy New Year!

A real Berliner party animal gets in the mood for the Silvester (New Year) celebrations.

In Germany New Year's Eve means plenty of Sekt (German champagne)
and fireworks - the louder the better.
 
Dog-sledding on Langer See near Grünau by Peter Hinze at The Cheshire Cat Blog

The call of the wild.

A couple enjoy the thrill of dog-sledding on Langer See, near
Grünau, one of the innumerable lakes which surround Berlin.
 
Schönhauser Alleee, Berlin by Peter Hinze at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Underneath the arches.

Beneath the steel arches of the "Magistratsschirm", the newly-renovated overhead section of the U2 U-Bahn (underground rail, built 1910-1913) line along Schönhauser Allee in Berlin's trendy Prenzlauer Berg district.

Much of Berlin's underground train system was badly damaged during World War II. After the war it was patched up with the help of British military engineers. Their efforts were not made any easier by the tensions between the city's Western and Russian occupying forces. With the division of the city by the Berlin Wall, many U-Bahn lines ended at either side of the border and much of the network was left to rot, especially in the eastern part of the city.

Since German reunification vast sums of money have been spent renovating railway lines and stations, a process which seems endless and the cause of continual train delays and cancellations, not to mention ticket price rises. Still, Berliners love their U-Bahn, which still remains one of the cheapest and most efficient urban rail networks in Europe.
 
 
Measuring the depth of snow in Bernau by Peter Hinze at The Cheshire Cat Blog

23.5 cm of snow, measured with a special patented German snow-measuring device.

Bernau, a small suburban town north of Berlin where many Berliners have holiday / weekend homes.
 
Deep snow in Bernau by Peter Hinze at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Piles of snow in Bernau, where giant moles have been at work.
 
Delivery bicycle in Bernau by Peter Hinze at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Snowbound delivery bicycle in downtown Bernau.

photos: © Peter Hinze, Berlin, Germany
Konstanze Gundudis

Berlin, Germany
A great tit by Konstanze Gundudis, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

A great tit (Parus major), one of a family of six which lives in Konstanze's garden in the centre of Berlin.

Great tits in Britain are notorious for drinking the milk left by milkmen on customers' doorsteps.
They have learned to peck through the aluminium foil bottle caps to get at the cream on top of
the milk. Their cousins in Berlin seem to show absolutely no interest in milk left out for them.
Perhaps German milk just isn't creamy enough.

They also prefer salted peanuts to unsalted or various types of seeds and cereals.
Do they need the salt, or are they becoming junkfood junkies?
 
Sparrows by Konstanze Gundudis, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Bird's nest soup

Sparrows (in German Spatzen) hang around in large, noisy gangs, and are the cheekiest critters
around. They're not above pilfering from other birds: when the swallows return in May they are
likely to find that in their absence a sparrow gang has plundered their homes for building material.

"Spatz" or "spatzi" is also what German lovers coo to each other, like "dearest" or "little turtle dove".
How romantik.
 
A blackbird in the snow by Konstanze Gundudis, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

This blackbird usually skulks around in the undergrowth, and only
ventures out to defend its territory or if it senses a feeding opportunity.
 
A blackbird in a tree by Konstanze Gundudis, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

The tits have discovered some peanuts left out by humans, and the blackbird deigns
to venture up a tree to see what's going on. Just as well, because here comes Sarkozi ...

Sarkozi in the snow by Konstanze Gundudis, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Oh, oh! Hey guys, here comes Sarkozi!

Local residents have dubbed this cat Sarkozi because of his imperious nature. When he's not
doing his rounds of the neighbourhood, from one lunch appointment to the next, he's taking
a nap somewhere cosy. Despite being slow and overfed, he occasionally makes a feeble effort
to climb a tree to get at the birds. Fat chance.

photos: © Konstanze Gundudis, Berlin, Germany
David John

Berlin, Germany
The frog prince by David John at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Some day my princess will come ...

The frog prince suffers a winter of discontent, but still dreams of one warm kiss.
 
A great tit by David John at The Cheshire Cat Blog

A great tit (Parus major) who seems to have been pretty successful at building up its winter fat reserves.
 
A great tit in profle by David John at The Cheshire Cat Blog

"Yes, but I look far better in profle."
 
A masked blue tit by David John at The Cheshire Cat Blog

A stylish blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), complete with Zorro mask.
 
Berlin sparrows by David John at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Berlin sparrows at a feeding station.
A red squirrel in Berlin by David John at The Cheshire Cat Blog

A red squirrel indulging in a bit of January tree-hugging in Humboldthain park, Berlin.

photos: © David John
Mark Mallett

Rhodes, Greece
A chapel in Rhodes, Greece by Mark Mallett at The Cheshire Cat Blog

After the bus and the tourists have gone.

This could be Rhodes in January, since the Mediterranean island enjoys far milder winters
than northern Europe. Actually, it's Rhodes in Summer. But you had guessed that already.

So, that's that! the Cheshire Cat has had quite enough of winter for this year, thank you very much.
So we leave you with serene dreams of warmer times.
 
Farmers on a tractor in Rhodes, Greece by Mark Mallett at The Cheshire Cat Blog

This is the life: a lad, a lass, blue sky, a tractor and the open road.
Hang on to your headscarf, Maria, I think I've finally found fourth gear.

photos: © Mark Mallett, Swindon, UK
 
 
Photos: © 2010 - 2011 Lesley A. Smith, David Elis-Williams, Gordon Mcleod,

Martine Passagez, Mark Mallett, Konstanze Gundudis, Peter Hinze, David John

Many thanks. Let's do this again some time.


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