2019 started at midnight with some traditional fireworks by the locals (aka read Birk) and was followed by well-wishes, some more bubble, and a good night of deep sleep. All ready for a beautiful sunny day. (readers discretion adviced, this was supposed to be a short Happy New year post and turned out into a much longer soapie post, proceed with caution)
We got ourselves into a little historical trip down the Swedish history lane with some photography, spa and fine dining. You know the kind of weekend excursions one tend to take to disconnect from the stressful day to day life. Getting some time off. Enjoy some headspace. You know what I am talking about. Even if it is the middle of the week, and they call it “mid-week mys“
Vadstena, a stone cast away from Stockholm (some 25 Swedish miles). The city of Vadstena is known for Birgitta Birgersdotter, who in 1350 founded the hotel monastery of Vadstena and is today one of the six patron saints of Europe. Not an easy task. Being the patron saint of Europe.
Today the convent of Birgitta is turned into a hotel and part of the historic hotels of Europe. A chain we bumped into earlier this year in Gotland, when we stayed in Hotel Slottsbacken. Hmm. I just noted I did not share that story yet.
In order to support W. new and upcoming travel blog in the making about the exclusive spas around the world, we did had to visit the annex spa of the convent hotel. A most wonderful experience and warmly recommended by yours truly if you happen to be in Vadstena and like some headspace and a little swim. I would not call a 65 degrees sauna, a Finnish Sauna (that is what the door stated), but those are details. The steam sauna was my absolute favorite, not to mention the cold bucket shower (8 degrees). An idea I will happily steal for the summer. In the winter we have the Baltic here to dip in.
Some long exposure IPA
After our relaxing spa experience, we took a stroll through the small city of Vadstena (5K inhabitants) and enjoyed some long exposure shooting and a ship full of IPA in the Kitchen just around the Corner, before we went back for a two dinner meal in the convent own restaurant. All inclusive in our package. A happy relaxing ending to a wonderful day in Vadstena.
Our dinner invitation stated to present ourselves at 20.15 and at 20:16 we were well seated and got introduced to the assorting wine package by a wonderful young blond swede we soon started to call Mac.
20:18 – The wine was served. 20:21 – We got our delicious hummer soup. Six minutes after we seated. I wondered if they would consider a refill of our (tiny) soup plate, but at 20:27 we got confirmation that there was no refill and the plates were cleaned. No more lobster for the wicked. 20:29 – Mac presented the red wine. Both me and W. looked at eachother, as we still had half a glass of the (again) delicious lone wolf white wine. 20:32:31 – I asked Mac if we were in the local Mac Donalds and she looked at us and said, ahh, you want to talk to each other for a while. OK. I will come back. 20:43 – Both our white wine glasses are finished and we wonder if Mac will be a sport, and yes, she is … 20:44 – Mac returns and asks if we are good to continue. 20:44:30 – Red wine served. 20:45 – The main course is served, and the food is delicious.
I lost track of time, but somewhere around 20:63 we asked Mac for an extra refill of our red wine. The look on her face was gorgeous. Yet she acted professionally and she recovered swift. After all, 30 EUR for two glasses of wine felt like a stretch. Especially when all the other tables were getting a refill. With the same wine.
21:12 – The deer has been eaten, and yes, it was delicious. Slow cooked and stirred to perfection. Thank you.
21:14 – Mac arrives and asks if all was good. 21:14:30 – Mac asks if we want to pay. Uhh. Wait. Really?
21:15 – What about some dessert, we ask? Mac tells us that we took a no dessert menu, and they are all accounted for, so not possible. We ask her if she is really sure, and she says yes. But she will check with the chef.
21:17 – Mac returns and dessert is available.
21:19 – Dessert is served and indeed very nice. We eat slow and enjoy. Very slow. Will Mac see the opportunity for coffee and avec? The tables around us start to get them served. There is an upsell opportunity here …
21:27 – Dessert finished. Mac arrives and asks if she can now give us the check. The bill. The Konto.
I give up. We could have had tea. Or coffee. Or a nice cognac or a 10 years old single malt Glenmorangie. Nope. I paid.
No tip, Mac. Maybe next time. When you create the headspace for your guests. And take it slow. It is not because it is called the “fast meny” you need to rush your guests.
Today’s post is a quick reflection on past, present, and future. This weeks word on #SiPgoes52 is Inspiration. And it is the 47th word of the series. Only 5 more weeks and this challenge of 2018 is coming to an end. Actually, 2018 is coming to an end in only 5 weeks. Time flies they say.
So how am I doing. Not that awesome. I am more like Julien, who got caught up with life. I too have a seriously backlog. And I kicked them today in a little list. Thirty words completed (with some backtagging today). Twenty two to go. Seventeen in the backlog. Five to look forward. I mission I will complete, and report back here in the last week of 2018.
So back to the King of Pop. I bumped into the King of Pop when we had our art exhibition in Birmingham last year. He has been traveling along for a long time. I have to admit I was not inspired by Michael Jackson. Yes, it is Michael Jackson and not Elvis. I mean the real one. The singer. Not the one from Minifigures.com. It is a bootleg. Not an original LEGO one. But then again, I never have been a big music fan. I am sure the King of Pop has inspired whole generations. Bootleg or not.
This is my tribute.
Twenty-two to go.
Why now? Well, it was one of those creative brain twists, triggered by that other King that has shown up on my foot. King Kalle. From one King to another.
This week’s word on SiP goes 52 is Trust. And I am seriously late. Quite a few words to finish. And a few other projects to get on the tracks like SiP goes Korea (yeah, how cool is it to have your own work exhibited on the other side of the globe).
Now there is more to this sweet Unicorn. Who does not want to be a mythical character and who does not want to be a 1B valued startup company. Another definition of Unicorn.
My creative challenge this week was not so much how to trust a Unicorn. That tagline stuck with me. Trust me. I am a Unicorn., Soon it turned into how I could shoot not one but at least three (and maybe four) Unicorns, ready to post. A creative challenge in its own. The rest of the week will see if I managed. Or not.
Last but not least
I am taking a Big Bad Unicornlook at all my social accounts and you may want to subscribe to my new FB page (ot not). Anyway, here it is.
King Kalle is back. Not the Kalle you all know. But one of my plastic friends I have been traveling with. King Kalle and his little red bike. I first bumped into King Kalle when visiting Drottingholm just outside Stockholm somewhere in two thousand fifteen. He was bicycling around in the garden, we connected and he decided to tag along.
Fast forward to the spring of twenty sixteen and King Kalle ran off. I looked for him, but the only thing I could find was a letter that he was off to discover the world. King Kalle and his little red bicycle. And while I missed his companion during some of my travels, I fully understand that even Kings need to broaden their horizon, discover new worlds, and learn from travelling.
And then last month we traveled to Skærbæk for a pop upexhibition with the rest of the crew of Stuck In Plastic, and guess what. King Kalle bumped into W. and the rest is history. Or at least we are traveling again together. Reunited. Until such time little King Kalle and his red bicycle are off again.
We had some great fun shooting plastic selfies in Skærbæk with our bowl of awesomeness and I could not resist putting King Kalle through the same today for me getting back on track with SiP goes52. You may remember what it was all about. One word a week. One reflection. And one image. I kind of succeeded to somewhere around the word Respect. Which was April. And we are now October. Week 42 and a new word. I for sure have not been leading by example.
Week 42. Leadership
A little known fact is that when we started with the idea for SiPgoes52 I got inspired by a leadership training I took part in the year before. We got offered a deck of cards (which is made up of 52 cards, equally as much as weeks in a year) with human values written up. And we had to select our top five. Not an easy task.
Down-selecting them to twelve is easy. But getting to the core. To what really matters for you as a human being was (and is) not an easy task. I remember Humanity jumped out for me. Then. And still today. But back to leadership.
I selected King Kalle as my image for Leadership, as he combines a lot of different viewpoints and opinions. At one hand he carries with him the legacy of what is called the Divine rights of Kings. The blue blood thinking that one has the birthright to lead and truly not my cup of tea (although I have grown to appreciate the role the royal families in Europe play today, that is a completely different post). Other leadership models are based on individual talent and skillsets and put the individual first (regardless if she is a natural born leader or one that has been nurtured into her role). However, the individual leadership styles continue to greatly differ. From authoritarian (we have quite a few of those types today, even in the next category) over democratic to laissez-faire.
King Kalle on his little red bike has a little bit of everything. The red bike has for sure a reference to being one with the people. Exploring green ideas to preserve the planet. Yet he continues to wear his crown and his red winter cape with Ermine. And he loves to travel and explore. Listen and learn. And be a runaway.
A new project.
And that is not all. King Kalle just accepted a new mission. A secret project I will tell you more about in the not so distant future. But for now, back to packing and the little Riddikulus challenge we are running on SiP.
Today I reshoot an image that has always been special to me.
One of those images you remember.
That stick with you.
A transformational one.
When I first shot Padmé in November 2012 and posted the shot on IG as the Phantom of the Opera, it was the first of a series of really close up low key portraits. I remember discovering the technique of low key photography on a youtube video I was looking at, and I had to try it on my little friends.
And Padmé was the first.
When I was looking for inspiration this morning for this weeks word at SiP, my eye fell on little Padmé and I knew I wanted to see if I could reshoot her portrait.
A technical challenge combined with a creative one.
The whole reasoning on how I got to her you can read on the SiP blog. I left out the inner monologue on the sad events in Syria and the troubled times we are living in, although the dark red of her grandson may have a not so subtle influence on the image, after all.
I must say I am not unhappy with the results.
For sure, I will evolve.
Grow stronger and become better.
And maybe in six years time, I have to do a reshoot of Padmé.
For now, I need to get some football pictures edited.
The season has started.
This weeks word on Stuckinplastic is Passion, and after my musings on last weeks word with Friends, I was thinking what does passion mean for me.
Wikipedia calls it like this:
Passion is the feeling of intense enthusiasm towards or compelling desire for someone or something. Passion can range from eager interest in or admiration for an idea, proposal, or cause; to enthusiastic enjoyment of an interest or activity; to strong attraction, excitement, or emotion towards a person. It is particularly used in the context of romance or sexual desire, though it generally implies a deeper or more encompassing emotion than that implied by the term lust.
Hmm. Another topic listening to a letter W comes to mind, but that will be a different post, with different kind of images. Maybe. Later.
So, back to the eager interest Wikipedia was talking about. An interest that reminded me of fishing rods.
A good 15 years ago, when we moved to Sweden, we made the move from the big city of Leuven to the awesome country (or should I say water) side of the Stockholm Archipelago. We got ourselves a little boat and started to explore the Stockholm Archipelago from the water side. One of the first things I bought once we had our little boat was a fishing rod.
Being out on the water, trying to catch some fish sounded like a good idea. I managed to catch everything from seaweed to hats and caps of my fellow boatsmen, but actually never any fish. A few tries later, and I permantly exchanged my fishing rod for a new camera and have been out on the water taking pictures ever since.
P as in Photography
I am not sure what would have happened if I would have caught some fish on those first few trips, but for sure my passion for photography was rejuvenated the day I decided to exchange the fishing rod for a new camera.
The rest is history and photography has been my passion ever since.
When a few years later I returned from the dark ages, and added LEGO to my photography subjects, my passion extended into toy photography.
I took this picture of Albert this morning on the cliffs of Kungshamn while out and about with some good friends in the other Archipelago on the West Coast.
While our boat is still on land (two more weeks to go) my passion continues.
With plastic friends and their fishing rod.
Taking pictures of their adventures.
A passion for (toy) photography.