Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: spring

April 2019

It’s almost the end of May and I am only getting to the April 2019 post…very late, I know. During the past weeks I’ve been contemplating ending the blog for a variety of reasons, but perhaps not just yet. I might write a post about it – I say that about a lot of topics and never got to them, which is one of the reasons why I want to stop blogging altogether – but before that, let’s recap the month of April, the final reasonably comfortable month in Wuhan in terms of weather…

During the Qingming holiday (early April), J and I went back to his hometown in the countryside and enjoyed breathing fresh air away from the big city. We encountered a cat who seemed to be contemplating its own existence and pondering the meaning of life at a neighbour’s house…or maybe it was just in a daze and waiting for food.

One of the items on my bucket list was to fly a kite and it was achieved during this trip! Well, I’ve flown a kite before this, but not successfully. I was really young and only remember that the kite somehow didn’t work properly – in hindsight we probably just didn’t know how to handle it. This time, I was super ready! J and I reached an open area and the early April weather was just perfect, breezy but not cold! See that kite fly! Higher up, up, and up!

It’s nice to get away from the city once in a while, especially one with so much distraction like Wuhan. Going back to the countryside allowed us to spend some peaceful time where the only thing we heard was the wind in the air and carefree birds chirping.

But of course we had to come back to the city. April was getting warm but not so hot that it was unbearable to go for a walk outside after lunch. The area around my workplace offered some beautiful nature, though the types of flowers weren’t as diverse as those that I saw in March.

Oh hey, almost didn’t see you there, little thing.

This was taken near the station where I usually take the subway to go home after work, capturing the final moments of daylight emitting from the golden globe.

During a random walk on the HUST campus, J and I encountered an event held by a department celebrating their 20th (I think) year of establishment. Naval engineering, I think? There were performances and a small party in the pavilion in the middle of the small lake. I remember very clearly that I got angry at J that evening, though I can’t for the life of me remember why O_O

On the last day of April, I arrived in Nanjing before the entire nation went traveling for the Labour Day mini-holiday. It was definitely a good call because most people didn’t begin their travels until May 1, and so the crowds in the tourist areas of Nanjing were quite bearable. I especially enjoyed hanging around the Qinhuai River, which has quite a lovely atmosphere when it wasn’t smothered by people!

And in Nanjing, of course I didn’t hesitate going to the Fuzi Temple tourist area for the famous street food! Wow there were so many goodies that I couldn’t resist even though I was suffering from a bad cold. I realize that a lot of these typically tourist areas were remodeled to resemble an old town and are heavily commercialized, but even knowing that, I rather enjoyed Nanjing. Then again, that might be because I would rather be anywhere else than Wuhan…

It seems like I can’t write a post without dissing Wuhan or expressing my strong dislike for it, and I don’t think my feelings toward this city will change any time soon. May is also the month that marks the one-year anniversary of my arrival in Wuhan so hey, at least it hasn’t defeated me yet – or has it already defeated me by changing me into someone that even I dislike?

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March 2019

Spring is here! I’m hoping it stays awhile before the impending doom of Wuhan’s summer arrives and sucks the life and sweat out of me. March has been a month of generally good weather that made it comfortable for going out, especially to view the various types of blooming flowers, including tulips and cherry blossoms. But I’ll write an individual post about the seasons of Wuhan in the future. For now, let’s talk about spring and March 2019!

This month was all about nature and one of my favourite phenomena to observe is dramatic cloud formations. Like THIS. Let’s ignore the fact that Luoyo Road was madly congested in the opposite direction and enjoy the smooth ride on our electric scooter (operated by J, with me as a passenger), against this fabulous sunset hour!

Dramatic cloud formations #2 – at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology campus. Again I was on the scooter and I told J, “STOP! I need to take a photo of this!”

Dramatic cloud formations #3 – enjoying another sunset, before the sun turns into a monster in the summer. The road was rather crowded with people when I was taking this photo, but I was sufficiently distracted by the unexpectedly lovely scenery and wasn’t as annoyed as I usually would have been.

Onto the flowers – first up, white magnolias in the technology park where my company was based. Well, I think they’re called magnolia, as that was what a colleague told me. One day they just appeared out of nowhere and sprouted and bloomed around the park. It instantly lit up my lunchtime stroll and I couldn’t stop myself from taking way too many photos of these beauties ❤

And here’s a collection of the many types of flowers that I noticed during my walks around the park. I can’t name them all or…any of them, to be honest. I’m going to guess the bright red ones at the top right are late-blooming plum blossoms (peak bloom happened about three weeks ago) and the others are various types of peach blossoms. Someone please tell me what they really are??

As I mentioned previously, peak plum blossom season was approximately three weeks ago (early to mid-March). On a gorgeous Sunday, I went to the plum blossom garden at East Lake and it seemed like every resident of Wuhan was also there – it was so crowded! Can’t blame them though, the weather had been so horrendous for weeks prior to that, so even the slightest sliver of sunlight was able to attract anyone to spend the day outdoor. Though crowded, the garden was beautiful and the plum blossoms were magnificent! I might even have to say that they are my favourite March flowers, compared to tulips, magnolias, and yes…even cherry blossoms!

This shy feline friend of mine appeared around my neighbourhood one day and kept trying to run away from me, but stopped to stare every few seconds. It reminded me of the fox who asked the Little Prince to tame him before they could become friends, and if I could have, I would have brought home this little fella with me. I wonder if it’s still lurking around somewhere nearby…

Almost-obligatory-monthly-photo of me and J, this time in a Ferris wheel (which you probably can’t tell). I was smiling but that was to hide the fact that I was hella scared. And J tried to make me look down at the highest point of the ride… not cool at all.

This height-free photo was certainly a lot more pleasant, phew. Apparently in addition to white magnolias, there were also red/rose/violet magnolias blooming in an area around where I live. Here’s a rare capture of a candid (or intentional?!) goofy moment. It seems like my fiancé isn’t all about all that serious research and teaching stuff, after all!

I still don’t like Wuhan but admittedly the city has been made a lot more bearable with nature’s beautiful exhibitions in March. I can’t emphasize enough that I’m NOT looking forward to the arrival of summer, which is inevitable and the single most detestable thing about Wuhan. Summer, please skip us this year??

Spring begins at Spectacle E’e Falls

The arrival of the Scottish spring means that it’s finally time to go out and walk that list of trails that I’ve accumulated over the months! Last year, I began my venture into the Scottish landscape by visiting Kinnoull Hill near Perth, falling in love with the lush rolling hills in the unspoiled countryside. Now, with the sun brilliantly shining for such an unusually long time (2+ week!) it was almost a crime not to catch it before it leaves again. The target this time isn’t a big mountain and not even a small hill, but a circular trail hidden in the outskirts of an unnoticed town not too far from Glasgow – Strathaven. The destination is clear – Spectacle E’e Falls, a set of waterfalls along the Avon Water. Funny name, but there’s a story behind it that I will tell you about later on.

On Saturday morning, two of my buddies headed to Strathaven with me in couldn’t-be-better weather. To get to Strathaven, we had to take the train to Hamilton, a nearby town, and take a bus to Strathaven. It almost felt like a field trip, with food in our backpacks and the excitement of adventure in our hearts. Looks at the clouds! They were so spectacular that day as we headed away from Strathaven into the surrounding countryside in search of the waterfalls.

The sky did become slightly dark for a bit during our walk but at no moment did we think it was going to rain. I led us forward using a guide from WalkHighlands, a godsend for hiking enthusiasts who don’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere. Despite having all the instructions with me, we missed a crucial part of the walk – a stile, whose definition I had to look up – and consequently did the walk backwards. No big deal though, we still knew where we were going most of the time…just that we had to reverse the directions!

My friends had quite a heated debate on whether these are ducks or geese. I don’t actually remember the conclusion of the debate but I think…they are geese?!

Before reaching the Spectacle E’e Falls, I told my friends to withhold their expectations because I had no idea how impressive these falls were supposed to be, nevermind not knowing what they thought would be “impressive”. Along the way, as we were looking for the main waterfall, we passed by a few small cascades that we THOUGHT were the actual falls, being quite disappointed several times. But when we reached the real Spectacle E’e Falls, there was no question that this was the real thing – the viewing deck gives it away! The drop and volume were quite large and rather exceeded my expectations, especially after seeing those deceiving little cascades. And here you could literally stand right next to the falls on slippery rocks – if not careful you might even fall into the water!

As a part of my “Food & the Scotland Hikes” photo series, I had to snap this one – Spectacle E’e Falls with my snack of the day, a strawberry (out of many). This might be my favourite photo of the series so far because the contrast between the strawberry and the waterfall is so striking, and what can I say – waterfalls are beautiful and so are strawberries!

Finally a photo of me and my companions of the day! (I am the one on the right 😛 ) Time to test our selfie skills as we had to stand in a small area on the slippery rocks that I had mentioned earlier, very close to the waterfall. In the midst of finding the best picture angle, we had to make sure none of us slipped, which was easier said than done! I had intended to do this walk on my own but these guys joined me when they found out that I was planning to sneak out during the weekend…oops! I didn’t mind them coming along – if I REALLY wanted to go somewhere alone, no one could convince me to tag along, ha! Such a fun day out with them 😉

Another view of the Spectacle E’e Falls, and I suppose I should finally explain the name, which allegedly came from a local tale. It was said that a young lad fell in love with the daughter of the owner of a mill nearby, but the father did not approve of the relationship and ended it. As revenge, the lad put his eyeglasses on the mill so that when the sun rays struck them, they caught on fire and destroyed the mill. Interesting story, and as someone who appreciates waterfalls immensely, I loved that the falls had history behind it.

After snapping a million photos at the waterfall, we continued on the path going back to Strathaven. And we had to hurry because we were hungry! The narrow trails along the Avon Water were quite lovely though. What an enjoyable walk!

I was actually quite glad that this walk turned out to be more relaxing and not as strenuous as some of the hills that I’ve hiked (even though none of the ones I’ve conquered so far were really THAT strenuous). At least there wasn’t any ascent and we were able to just enjoy the day as it was, almost like an afternoon stroll.

Behind us, an old man and his dog were fishing along the river, and I took this chance to practise taking some photos with my new 70-300 mm lens for Mr.Nikon. Ah, yes, I hadn’t mentioned this. This gentleman became a generous model for my trials of the day, but I definitely still need to get the hang of this lens with more shooting opportunities.

Eventually we reached an area of vast grassland without any defined trail or path, which was expected according to the guide (that I had to read backwards). A flock of sheep were chilling in the open grass and as if alerted, immediately turned away from us and began retreating as we approached. We joked around by quoting John 10:10, saying that our friend YX was the thief that came to take the sheep away. After all, the sheep know the voice of their shepherd, no?

Another selfie was warranted to showcase how blessed we were to have the weather on our side XD We didn’t have the “selfie master” with us that day, but with the combined power of three people who usually never take selfies, we did pretty well…I think? 😉

Toward the end of the trail, as we were leaving the flock of sheep, we met these three chatty fellows who I assumed were locals around the area. One of them insisted taking a photo of our group of three along with his two buddies, and we were only glad to oblige. Of course I had to do the same, so I took a photo of their group of three along with my two buddies. Heh, it’s always the cherry on top of the cake to meet some locals on a walk. This certainly reminded me of Mr. Andy Sharp in Callander and Chris in Perth 😉

At the end of a long hike (and it was long because we spent about 40 minutes wandering in a wrong direction), all we wanted was LOTS OF FOOD! A restaurant was serving all-day breakfast and as soon as we saw the menu I thought…I’m down! And this was no ordinary breakfast – this was the EXTRA LARGE breakfast. Two eggs, two lorne sausages, two slices of bacon, beans, grilled mushrooms, slices of toast, hashbrown, pancake, tattie scone…what an indulgent Scottish breakfast for lunch!

So spring began with a blast at Spectacle E’e Falls and Strathaven, accompanied by my lovely companions, who were almost like my little brother and sister. We’re already anticipating the next outing together – where would that be?

The four seasons of Glasgow

When people ask me what time of the year is Glasgow’s rainy season, I tell them that every season is a rainy season in Glasgow. At least that’s what it felt like during my one year as a resident of Glasgow.

Nevertheless, the city is still beautiful in every season, even though it sometimes seems as if summer doesn’t exist. Aside from the rain, which is a constant in every season, we do manage to see different colours at various times of the year – a green spring, a blue summer, a red autumn, and a white winter. If you mix everything, the overall impression might still be “gray”, and any rainless day is a cause for celebration 😉

Spring

Spring is the time of the year when life begins to revive after having been asleep for a few months. Blooming flowers are to be seen everywhere, painting Glasgow in vibrant colours and the hope of warmth. Ditch not your umbrellas and rain jackets, however! Rain is aplenty and will wash the city at any given moment, but a forecast of sun for five days in a row (!) reminds me that the toughest months of November to February are over. Weekends can now be spent outdoors, hah!!

Summer

Ah, summer. It is rarely warmer than 25 degrees Celsius in Glasgow, and I’ve heard that the Scots consider it a heat wave if the temperature rises above 24 – is that true, my Scottish friends? Daylight is abundant, and the first rays of sunshine through the window often wake me up at 4am while the sun does not set until 11pm. How awesome is that! Then again, it is easier to lose track of time during the summer – you think it’s only 7pm but all of a sudden it’s midnight. Wasn’t it still bright half an hour ago?!

Autumn

While autumn is my favourite season in Toronto, I’m not sure if I feel the same way in Glasgow. The temperature begins to drop, and the transition into winter is especially difficult to adapt to as gray skies and drizzling rain dominate the atmosphere. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The sun becomes especially scarce and precious during this period of time, and we really do learn to appreciate every moment of sunlight. We do have some gorgeous red leaves, though, which is a source of consolation and at least adds some colour to my walk to work.

Winter

As a Canadian, I’m raised to believe that winter is incomplete without snow. Luckily (for me, perhaps unluckily for others) that there had been snow during the two Glaswegian winters that I’ve experienced, and I definitely prefer snow over rain! When I heard from my friends and family that the temperature went down to -15 degrees Celsius in January, I was quite glad to have avoided the bone-chilling shivers and thankful to be here with this gentle snow. This year, it really “snowed” only on one day, but that was enough to get me quite excited! Although the snow only lasted one day and pretty much melted away by the next afternoon, I was satisfied to say that it was a REAL winter, hehe.

And now, it is the beginning of February. Yesterday was Groundhog Day but I think the groundhog in Glasgow would have been pretty pissed off when he emerged from his burrow to see another rainy day. I’m not sure if spring is coming soon, but I’m happy to see that the sky is gradually getting brighter when I step out of the office at 5:30pm. And today was an entirely sunny day! What a gift! 😀

The question is not “Do you see my shadow?” but “Where’s my umbrella?” 😦 😦 😦

A very Belgian spring…finally

Spring has arrived in Belgium…I think. I can never really be sure, because Belgium has frequent unpredictable mood swings. It was snowing two weeks ago and I thought we’d skip spring this year. Alas, last weekend was a glorious 22 degrees, so it really did seem like the end of winter…I think?

I see a lot of cats in Louvain-la-Neuve, and this one I liked a lot. One day as I stepped out of the house to go to work, it ran over to my feet out of nowhere and whispered the softest “MEOW” I’ve ever heard from a cat. Then it ran off quickly, as if it was shy. Honestly, it may look badass in the photo, but on the contrary, it’s super gentle and adorable ❤

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