27 February 2009

Switzerland is Beautiful

Switzerland is a beautiful country with many varied views and sights:

Castle Oberhofen on the Lake of Thun

Federal Square - Bern

Hoher Kasten Mountains Canton Appenzell

Basel on the Rhine with cathedral

Matterhorn Mid Afternoon

Matterhorn an hour later

Castella Canton Ticino

Sunset on Lake Lucerne

Eiger Mönch and Jungfrau Mountains Bernese Oberland
Rock on the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen

Glacier Express in Canton Graubünden

Rhine Bridge Basel

At the beginning of summer the farmers move their animals up onto the alps where the grass is greener. There they milk the cows and goats every day and make mountain cheese.

Up they go

They stay up there until autumn when they come down laden with lovely cheeses

Madonna del Sasso cloister above Locarno
Kleine Scheidegg under the Eiger north wall

The Jungfrau mountain
'Top of Europe'

19 February 2009

More Papua New Guinea from the 60s

I dug up some old black and white  photos I took while working in Papua New Guinea between 1967 and 1970. I was fascinated by the culture of the people up there and went with my cameras to every cultural event possible. I had my own darkroom where I developed black and white photos.

The first lot of picture here were taken in Port Moresby in 1968 at the Cultural Centre. These people performed for the passengers of a cruise ship in the harbour.

Very colourful costumes

My brother-in-law David Speakman was the Deputy Clerk of the House of Assembly (National Parliament) and got me to take some photos of John Guise who was the Speaker of the House.

I was employed as an electrician with Carrier Air Conditioning and in this shot here, supervised a couple of locals in the disassembling of a switchboard in a government building.
Metu and Tommy, two of our nationals who were employed as tradesman's assistants who helped the Electrical department.

16 February 2009

Papua New Guinea

In 1967, shortly after arriving in Brisbane, Australia, I started work with an American Air Conditioning Company. A few months later, they sent me for a 3-week project to Port Moresby in the then Territory of Papua & New Guinea. These 3 weeks extended and extended. I met my wife Diane up there and we got married in Port Moresby. I ended up staying 3 years.  During my time up there I travelled extensively for the company throughout the country and with my trusty 16mm film camera was able to capture quite a lot of cultural events, of which I'd like to share a few with you here.

This first clip I shot at the Cultural Centre in Port Moresby in 1968. Various folk groups were performing for passengers off a cruise ship.

We had a project at the Australian Navy Base on Manus Island where we employed a couple of local lads to help us with the installation. On Sunday, one of the boys asked us if we wanted some coconuts. They proceed in climbing coconut palms without any mechanical help or harness they simply 'walked' up the tree and picked some coconuts which they cut loose. Interesting how they opened the coconuts once they were back on the ground.

In 1968, we hopped on a charter plane from Port Moresby to Goroka to see the famous Goroka Show which is held every 2 years alternating with Mount Hagen. During this weekend Festival, villagers from all around New Guinea congregate on the the oval and perform their traditional dances and music in their traditional costumes. It is a most colourful display and of course I had my movie camera with me.

After Diane and I got married in 1969, we decided to return back to Australia to set up home. But we both fondly remember our years in this amazing country.

13 February 2009

DS Blümlisalp

Today I'd like to tell the story of a remarkable ship that would not die.

In March 1905 the steamship company that owned a fleet of passenger steamers on the lake of Thun (pronounced Toon) in Switzerland, ordered a saloon steamer from the Escher-Wyss shipyards of Zürich. The boat named 'DS Blümlisalp' was commissioned on the 31 July 1906 and serviced the people around the lake as well as thousands of tourists for over 60 years.

The company, decided unanimously on the 20 October 1969 that the DS Blümlisalp should be scrapped and replaced with a more modern Diesel ship which they ordered and named MS Blümlisalp. The communities around the lake were not happy with that decision. And when on the 1st of August 1971 their beloved paddle steamer DS Blümlisalp sailed onto the lake for the very last time, there was outrage. 
DS Blümlisalp in its heyday

Newspapers throughout Switzerland carried stories about the death of the paddle steamer D.S. Blumlisalp.  However, the company was relentless and they had the boat towed out of their shipyard and tied up in bushes until they could decide where to place her.

The ship is anchored out of the way

The DS Blümlisalp on it's way to her grave

In her final resting place

In the meantime, the people around the lake formed a group called 'Friends of Steam Boats' with its aim to keep the DS Blümlisalp alive. They petitioned the owners and governments but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Weekends were used by volunteers to go and maintain the boat. Rust was constantly removed and repainted.

Volunteers paint the hull

The engine was polished and greased and generally kept in first class operating condition.

Volunteer maintains the engine

Volunteers remove rust and paint the ship

On numerous occasions the company complained to the authorities that 'vandals' had broken into the quarry and had damaged their property. In fact, Friends of Steam Boats' used to camp on board the ship precisely to prevent vandals from damaging the ship.
Open Day for public to inspect the boat

After 17 years in exile, the Friends of Steam Boats' had finally put enough pressure upon the owners and local, cantonal and federal governments that the company decided the Friends of Steam Boats' could have the boat and transferred the ownership to the by now renamed Vaporama group. Since they had lost the battle and if the DS Blümlisalp was once again to be taken into service it needed major renovations.
The saloon, the highlight of the ship

These renovations were completed and on the 24 April 1992 the DS Blümlisalp sailed out of the quarry for tests and was found to be once again seaworthy.
The DS Blümlisalp during a test trip

The DS Blümlisalp back in service

In September 2008, we were in Switzerland and traveled on the DS Blümlisalp for lunch. My schoolmate Roland who is a member of the Vaporama Group organised for me to go down into the engine room to film the young female engineer who operated the engine single-handedly.  A real honour and not something that anyone can do. 

To see this young lady in action, please view my short video here:

As you can see in my film, the captain up on deck issues his commands into a speaking tube which can be heard in the engine room by the engineer via a trumpet bell. She in turn acknowledges his commands by an electric bell.

11 February 2009

Swiss Apricot Pie (Aprikosenkuchen)

Our daughter Carol-Ann and son-in-law David are staying with us again for a couple of days before they return to London. Apricots are in season here so I decided to bake them a Swiss Apricot Pie (you can substitute plums, cherries or apples)

It is a quick and easy fruit pie to produce if you have unexpected guests arrive at short notice.

Preheat oven to 200 deg C.

Lightly grease a flan dish with butter or margarine.

Separately mix the filling which is very simple. 2 table spoons custard powder dissolved in a half cup milk.

Add 1 egg

Mix well and add a teaspoon vanilla essence and 3 table spoons of sugar.

Place sheet puff pastry onto greased flan dish

Trim excess pastry

Prick bottom pastry with a fork quite liberally

Sprinkle bread crumbs onto pastry to about 1 mm thick to help the pastry to bake thoroughly.

Wash and slice apricots into 6 wedges each
Place apricots onto pastry to centrally align
Pour mixture over apricots
Place pie into preheated oven at 200 Deg C and bake for 30 minutes. If you use a glass dish, you might have to bake the pie longer as it will not get as hot as a steel dish.
Check the pie after 30 minutes and make sure the bottom is thoroughly baked. If it is, remove from oven and let it cool down completely.
When the pie is cold, sprinkle icing sugar over it depending on how sweet you like it. Apricots may be quite tart and may need more sugar.
My masterpiece.
It is best served with either a dob of cream. yoghurt or ice cream on top.
(Photos courtesy of Diane)