27 November 2008

Fleeting Beauty

Domiciled in Berlin for the past 4 months has meant that I'm experiencing my first real Summer to Autumn to Winter because, in the Southern Hemisphere places that I've lived in, this just doesn't happen with the same intensity.

Dog_LakeDog Lake through the trees

We've been on walks around one of the nearby lakes with our friends S&C who have 2 dogs that need regular exercise. This particular lake is a dog area, and thousands of dogs and owners converge on it during the weekend to run free and socialise. It's been quite beautiful in the afternoon.

CiroCiro (Chiro) pauses from retrieving sticks to enjoy the sunset

Lake_Sunset3pm sunset

We were graced with a visit by a beautiful butterfly who sadly didn't survive much longer after I took the photos, given the combination of cold weather and its naturally short life span. I was surprised that there were still butterflies around so late in the season.

Late_ButterflyKaleidoscope Wings

The colours of autumn have been stunning and I've taken to a new sport which I call Power Photography. Run with a camera in my pocket; see something worth photographing; stop; power up the camera; fire off a couple of shots and carry on before my pulse rate drops by 10bpm. It's challenging!

We're also now faced with icy pathways on our exercise runs around Schloss Charlottenburg park - 'tis almost time to get out the skates.

Berlin has now seen the last of autumn, and winter fired a warning shot this week, with the first snowfalls of the season. Unfortunately, it didn't hang around for long. I really want it to snow heavily, and then I'll be sick of it equally fast, I'm sure!

The first fall didn't touch the ground before melting.

First_SnowfallFirst snow for the season

The second heavier fall happened at about 1am last Sunday morning and was mostly gone 12 hours later, leaving slow-melting patches in park areas.

2am_SnowThat's more like it!

We're ensconced in our friend H's apartment while she lives in Pakistan, but she's now back in Berlin for 3 weeks. It's been great getting to know her better, as my time with her up until now has never been for more than a couple of hours per visit. While J was in Dubai for 4 days closing down our business, H and I took to the streets for long walks in the cold.

Pigeon_holedPigeon holed

Most of my travel around Berlin has been in the subways, but this time H suggested that we take a tourist bus tour which proved to be very interesting, and for me it was a time to get a good sense of the city's layout. I didn't get any photos on the trip, as taking blurry shots through glass in a moving bus just isn't my thing.

We did notice a lot of Christmas markets being set up, and hopefully there'll be a few images in the making when we visit these after they open this weekend. H is a fellow camera buff, so I have found an accomplice with whom to mount night attacks on photogenic places. Hopefully we'll get more images like these ones.

Watch this space - and pray for snow so that the images are more interesting!

9 November 2008

Do not adjust your set

Yikes - who chose this colour combination for the tennis courts in Doha which hosted the women's WTA final event of the year?

I realise that they are Sony Ericsson's (major sponsor) colours, but still! My camera's sensor doesn't do justice to the real colour of the court - it's actually more purple than the image shows. The lime green shows ok.

I'd have to wear sunglasses to play there. It's a wonder that the ball doesn't get lost against the green, as they are similar in colour.

Shame that Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic pulled out with injury and illness, but that's the way it goes. I wonder if they get to keep their substantial appearance fees?

Qatar Tennis Federation - your dismal website needs an overhaul.

Sony Ericsson - both of your websites here and here are better - at least all the links work. Anyway, what's with the two sites promoting the same events?

2 November 2008

Quality Football

FIFA logoHaving come from a Southern Hemisphere country where Rugby Union is the main sporting event, soccer has not been a game that I've followed with any sort of zeal. That is, apart from staying up with my mother into the early hours to watch the FA Cup Finals in the UK - a long time ago when they were still interesting and a rare corner kick pretty much guaranteed a goal.

Since being with J who is a football fanatic, by default I've become more interested in the sport - particularly after we were in Berlin during the 2006 World Cup fever, and now following the German Bundesliga since we're currently again ensconced in Deutschland.

We're bemused by the lack of quality play that we see from most of these teams of so-called professionals - especially the testosterone-charged, thoughtless and careless kicks aimed at the goals which miss by 10m or more.

Apart from showing the football, German TV is pretty dismal when it comes to showing other sport. The free Eurosport channel has been hellbent on showing endless re-runs of old snooker games, summer ski jumping or highlights of Valentino Rossi winning his 6th 500cc title and signing his helmet. During the Beijing Olympics, we were tormented with repetitive showings on 30 minute cycles of the same events - usually involving a German or European winner.

This week, we've seen a change and, to our delight, Eurosport has been showing games from the inaugural FIFA Under 17s Women's World Cup held in, of all places, New Zealand.

The quality of the matches has been superb. These young women can play. We've witnessed accurate passing, brilliant goal shooting and awesome set plays that would bring shame to most of the professional men's teams that seem incapable of training their star players to play in a team - instead of going for egoistic personal glory and failing to win matches.

This morning, we watched an extremely polished and highly skilled Japan team annihilate a favoured France 7-1 with some superb plays and exhilarating flair. Japan also downed the USA in pool play.

Germany is very strong with Forward Dzsenifer Marozsan leading the way with 4 goals for the tournament so far. Her first class crosses and corner kicks are incredibly accurate and beautifully struck.

It's been fun reading the German team blog. They love New Zealand, however they think that it's like the USA. The shopping is wonderful, the beach is great, but the food is weird and there's not enough sauce served with the food - only tomato sauce! Germans cover everything they eat with gravies, cheese and white sauces, so the unsauced kiwi cuisine comes as a shock to them!

If you're in NZ, I would strongly recommend getting to a stadium to watch some highly entertaining sport and cheer on these young sportswomen.

If you're not in NZ, FIFA is showing highlight packages on their tournament website, minutes after the completion of each game, as well as showing live coverage in some countries.

The final 8 has been decided and the business end of the tournament commences this week with the final to be played on November 16th.

At last - some sport about which we're excited!