Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Zagreb Courtyards - Zagrebacka dvorista

In the past, when I was in my beloved native town of Zagreb, I would take as many photos as possible of everything and anything. I would come back to England with hundreds and hundreds of random images, which would just sit (and still sit!) on an external computer drive. There was just too many of them to organize in any sort of way or edit for that matter. This year I thought I would do something more sensible and coherent with my photography in Zagreb; I thought I would start working according to a theme; I would only take pictures on a chosen subject or place which would also form material for a blog post. That way I was going to be free of that frantic feeling by which I had to go different places to take as many photos as possible, and in turn I would be able to spend more relaxed, quality time with my family and friends.
For a start I chose a theme that is very familiar to the people of Zagreb; a subject that every Zagreb photographer must have tried their hand at - Zagreb's Old (Upper) Town courtyards. I thought I'd put in my own contribution to the existing images of these distinctive architectural creations.
To reach one of the courtyards you usually enter a big, wooden arched gate from the street. Typically, between the gate and the courtyard there is a vestibule with a staircase (on each side) leading to the upper floors of the building. The courtyards exude character and charm and all have a story to tell.

The staircase belongs to the courtyard above.

The ancient and quaint nature of the courtyards made me experiment for a first time with some Lightroom presets....

The vestibule of the lovely restaurant called "The Witch". The entrance to the restaurant is to the left, and there is also a very pleasant outside eating area across the road from the gate. I have lovely memories of dining here with one of my oldest and very dear Zagreb friends.

This is the site of an old Zagreb beer inn (1721-1848) where theatre shows took place as well as public dances. There are two small courtyards here......

.........one of which is this one. This is my favourite image for a couple of reasons: I like the composition, setting, colours and the vitality of the image; I didn't know about this courtyard and I came across and discovered it by myself; oh, and I like those jeans a lot, particularly the ones with the lace front!

In recent years Zagreb has been organizing an annual event around some of these historic courtyards. Selected courtyards, mainly those recently renewed and belonging to manor houses where Zagreb aristocracy or influential people of the past lived, become meeting places where you can have a drink, a bite to eat and listen to live music.

This is the courtyard of the baroque Balbi family manor house which is now the Slavonic Institute. It features a beautiful old well, the only existing one in the Old Zagreb Town. The last private owner of the house was Baroness Kornelija Balbi known for her exquisite cross-stitch craftwork examples of which are exhibited in the nearby Museum of Zagreb.

The courtyard of the Gvozdanovic family manor house which is awaiting reconstruction at the moment. At the beginning of the 20th century the house was the venue of many stately receptions, concerts, balls and garden parties.

The famous courtyard where the cult Croatian movie "Tko pjeva zlo ne misli" ("Who Sings Means Well") was filmed. The movie is said to be the "most Zagrebian" movie ever made.

I could not resist a little mirror reflection selfie :)

The Zagreb Courtyards Event takes place in July and it makes for a great summer night out. I am not a fan of a very hot weather, so I usually avoid going to Zagreb in July, but next year I may do just to experience this unique and inviting happening, as well as the courtyards which are only open to the public during the ten day event.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Brand New Park at Gric, Zagreb Old (Upper) Town, Croatia

Last Sunday I came back from a visit to my beloved native town Zagreb. This time my intention was to spend as much time as possible with my ailing Mum and therefore, to put my photography on the back burner. I decided I would only take a few photos for a small blog project, which I shall reveal in one of my next posts, and while doing that I came across this beautiful new park which completely took me by surprise.

The area that only contained trees and grass was attractively landscaped with beds of gorgeous purple flowers and winding footpaths; benches are dotted around thoughtfully in the way they used to be in the distant past; gas lantern type street lights are installed (not connected yet). The bronze statue of a boy playfully sitting on the floor has been moved to a nearby location and a white fountain placed instead. The fountain is a replica of the original one that stood in the park in the 19th century. There is also a beautiful antique style drinking water fountain, also a replica of the one that used to be there in the 19th century.
The park has assumed a lovely romantic and historic look and will no doubt become a new favourite meeting place for the people of Zagreb, as well as an attraction for the ever increasing number of Zagreb tourists.

It must be mentioned that beneath the park on the west side of the town walls, there is a large archaeology site which has been active for over a decade. Fascinating and important fragments and objects are excavated here on daily basis, among the most significant ones the remains of a three hundred year old building.
Zagreb has undergone an immense number of changes in recent times, a lot of them radical and dramatic, and I have to say what has been done with this park is amongst those changes I welcome the most. With its revival of traditional style and values combined with the archaeological research and findings the new park is bound to do Zagreb folk proud. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Summer Days in Haworth, Brontë Country

Last month, when we stayed at Ponden Hall, I couldn't but spend some time in Haworth as well. On the second day, after a walk on Stanbury Moor to Ponden Kirk, we went down to the village where the famous Brontë Sisters lived and wrote, and where we shall live too before very long hopefully.
We parked as usually in one of the small lay by car parks on Cemetery road, and walked the short distance to the part-flagged path in the field leading to the Brontë Parsonage.

We passed Rabbit Hill, as the locals popularly call this mound which belongs to the remains of Dimples quarry. With its lone tree to one side it makes for a lovely scene, and every time I am there I have to reach for my camera.

View of West Lane and Worth Valley beyond from the path to the Parsonage.

The field behind the Parsonage.

Once in the village we did a quick tour of some of the shops; had a couple of drinks at the Fleece; dinner at the Old White Lion, and then before going back to Ponden Hall, I had a little wander around the Parsonage to savour the evening mood.

The following morning, after a hearty breakfast we said good bye to Julie and Steve, our lovely hosts at Ponden Hall. G went back home to Leeds and I stayed in Haworth. The first thing I planned to do was visit the Parsonage. Its garden looked beautiful on this lovely summer morning.

The gardener was working outside the house while her dog was soaking up the sunshine.

In the Parsonage two things caught my eye on this occasion - some books and Brontë artefacts on top of the chest of drawers in Emily's/children's room.......

.......and "Palm Squirrel", the watercolour on card with silk-sewn binding by Charlotte Brontë. It is thought that Charlotte may have intended it as a needle-case cover.

Back outside, I decided to go for a relaxing walk in Worth Valley. I reached Sladen Bridge, a hamlet with a charming row of cottages all delightfully framed with colourful summer blooms.

Next I got to Milking Hill Farm where an attractive converted Mini Morris was parked.

On leaving the hamlet of Lumbfoot, where some houses were being demolished making what was a pretty village almost unrecognizable, I was looking for this charming old arched footbridge on the river Worth. It was hidden amongst the trees and I only found it with the help of a local lad. From here I followed the Worth back towards Haworth.

This is Long Bridge, an old packhorse bridge which is anything but long and thus makes me wonder where the name comes from. It straddles a confluence of the river Worth and Sladen Beck, and there is a ford beneath it. I find this spot magical and wonder if the Brontës knew it. So far I have not heard or read about any mention of this bridge in connection with the family.

For me this is one of the most serene, soothing and inspiring countryside places anywhere I have been; I keep dreaming of coming back here to sit on the rock beneath the tree on the right listening to the sound of water, reading poems by the Brontës, immersing myself into photography, or just losing myself in the wonderful feeling of becoming one with nature......

Back on the path towards Haworth I passed Lower Oldfield Farm. It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon....perfect for lighting a barbecue.... I wished.....

Near the end of the path on the northern edge of Haworth there is a metal gate to a small cemetery - I was back in the village.

As I turned left into West Lane and walked on, the pretty Brontë Street caught my eye with its shady late afternoon peacefulness.
I nipped into the Fleece Inn for a glass of wine and a light but scrumptious meal; and then, with a heavy heart, it was time to say bye to Haworth once again....but not for long .....not for long!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Summer Afternoon on Penistone Hill, Haworth, Brontë Country

Yesterday, after some shopping on Main Street and a lovely lunch with a friend in The Old White Lion, one of my favourite pubs in Haworth, I headed for Penistone Hill Country Park to do a bit of moorland photography and just enjoy the wonderful and inspiring landscape I love so much. It was nearly 5 o'clock in the afternoon, the sun was still shining and getting lower in the sky, and there were also big white clouds in the blue skies. The lighting was beautiful and varied with the sun often slipping behind the huge clouds and then showing its face again. I love being out with my camera on a day like that when you get a whole gamut of different light within as little as an hour or two.
I edited the photos with just basic and gentle tweaks in Lightroom, intending to just enhance the scenes as I found them rather than changing anything about them.

The main purpose of my visit to the moor was to take photos of the heather, which is at its best at this time of year, to use in my tribute image to Emily Brontë for her bicentenary birthday next year. I realized that heather on Penistone Hill is not quite as spectacular as further away on the moors, but I did manage to find some good stretches of it.