Posts Tagged ‘travel’

The following post tells the story of the once (still?) famous Irish bog country, complementing my 2008 images from Ireland (on Flickr). The images below were taken of sections of the display at the Connemarra National Park visitor’s centre (the centre gives an insight into the park’s flora, fauna and geology as well as showing maps and various trails; bog biology and the video Man and the Landscape are particularly interesting). 

The pictorial story told here is not just one of the nature of bogs but also one of human impact, past and present, and and its repercussions for the future of the peatlands. And sadly, most likely one of Ireland’s famous (and once infamous) landscapes is slowly dieing.

But bogs did not only provide challenges for humans; we also discovered them as a seemingly vast area of resources, especially for wood and peat.

Axe to split the bog logs

Peat cutting tools

Collecting peat:

A historical perspective on the boglands in Ireland:

 

And another sign of the relevance of the bog in Irish culture:

The future for the peatlands though looks grim, as these two maps show:

But of course: even National Parks are no guarantee anymore for the survival of the peatlands; global warming might be the final determinator.

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Little Hartley

Posted: April 27, 2008 in creativity, travel
Tags: ,

I took those images last year in Little Hartley, a small historical place between Mt Victoria and Lithgow in the Blue Mountains, Australia.

BBC News is reporting that the European Commission is backing the use of mobile phones on aircrafts once a plane has reached an altitude of 3,000m or more. The decision to offer the services will fall to individual airlines, but first the European Aviation Safety Agency still needs to approve any hardware that would be installed in aircraft to ensure that it did not interfere with other flight systems. Initially, only second generation networks will be offered but growing interest would mean that third generation, or 3G, services will follow.

The plan is to install small mobile phone base stations, called pico cells, in aircraft that will be switched on after take-off. The base station generates a bubble of coverage in and around the aircraft. Calls made via the pico cell will be routed to terrestrial networks via satellite link. Across Europe radio spectrum has been set aside for the technology. The services could stop working once aircraft leave European airspace. Flight captains also will be able to switch off the on-board service if they felt it necessary.

Having people yelling into their phones on a train carriage can sometimes be rather irritating. Will we have a chance then to see new forms of war breaking out on planes where you sit in much more cramped economy class conditions and the number of seats are measured in multiples of those on trains? Or will just the number of stomach ulcers increase dramatically increase in the frequent flyer population? At least at the beginning the threshold for either should be low given the probably high costs of making phone calls via satellite. Thank god!

kolmanskop.jpg

In the early 1900’s, diamonds were discovered in the desert area just outside Lüderitz in what is now Namibia (and was then the German colony South West Africa). Sometimes these diamonds lay fully exposed on top of the sand. This caused a diamond rush from all over the world and the once desolated lonely desert was engulfed with the influx of fortune seekers.

Out of this desert grew the elegant town of Kolmanskop, which included facilities like a casino, theatre, skittle alley, butchery, bakery, soda water and lemonade plant, swimming pool and a hospital with the first x-ray machine in the Southern Hemisphere. Some 700 families lived in the town, including about 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 Owambo contract workers.

Each morning the ice – vendor came down the streets, which were even then smothered with sand, to deliver the daily ration of ice blocks and cold drinks to each household. Wages were good and virtually everything was free, including company houses, milk deliveries and other fringe benefits. Large metal screens around the gardens and corners of the houses helped to keep the sand at bay and a sand-clearing squad cleared the streets every day.

Shortly after the drop in diamond sales after the First World War and the discovery of richer deposits further south at Oranjemund, the beginning of the end started. So within 40 years the town was born, flourished and then died. One day Kolmanskop’s sand-clearing squad failed to turn up, the ice-man stayed away, the school bell rang no more. During the 1950’s the town was deserted and the dunes began to reclaim what was always theirs.

Soon the metal screens collapsed and the pretty gardens and tidy streets were buried under the sand. Doors and windows creaked on their hinges, cracked window panes stared sightlessly across the desert. A new ghost town had been born.

A couple of old buildings are still standing and some interiors like the theatre is still in very good condition, but the rest are crumbling ruins demolished from grandeur to ghost houses. One can explore the whole area within the fences and it creates the perfect set up for good photographic opportunities.

It is important to buy special permits before visiting the town. Permits can be bought from the travel agency next to Pension Zum Sperrgebiet in Lüderitz. The area is still mined and it is part of the ‘Sperrgebiet’ (Restricted Area). Visitors who apply for a permit must prove that they have no criminal record.

Tourists must provide their own transport from the town. To get to Kolmanskop, drive east on the B4 from Lüderitz for some 10 km and turn south on a well sign posted road. English and German tours are conducted from Monday to Saturday at 9h30 and 14h00.

The other ghost town in the Namib Desert is Elizabeth Bay, but tourists are not allowed to visit it.

Information thanks to Encounter South Africa; image thanks to Fogonazos.