Tube strike to hit London in less than 2 hours

Service Info London Tube
Service Info London Tube – empty, could be for August 6, if the strike goes…

The union representing the drivers of the London underground trains have decided to call a strike for today beginning at 18:30 hours and lasting through all day tomorrow Thursday august 6 2015. the spat is in the Mayor’s wish to run trains all night on weekends. I spoke to the taxi driver that brought me into the city from Heathrow upon my arrival a couple of days ago and he – like myself, thought it would make a lot of sense to have the trains running all night weekends.

Tube Walkway
Tube Walkway – may be empty if strike goes – so many more people in the streets…

Everyone expect total chaos in the streets of London and for us visitors it is very inconvenient, makes it so much harder to get to where we want  to be – museums, galleries etc. it’s a shame to schedule something like this at the height of the summer season – then again, I suppose that’s the exact point of it.

Last Train South Kensington
Last Train South Kensington
Here is a message regarding the strike from Transport for London, the authority in charge of running the underground service. We also looked online and Googled for anything public from the unions involved but was unable to find anything, please contact us here if you would like us to post something from you as well. Here is the message from Transport for London:
“05 August 2015

I am sorry that your journeys this evening and tomorrow will again be disrupted by the unions.

We listened to their concerns over work-life balance and put forward an extremely fair, revised offer:

  • An above-inflation average two per cent salary increase this year and an inflation-proof rise in 2016 and 2017
  • Staff on Night Tube lines or stations will be paid £500 once the service is introduced on 12 September
  • Station staff will receive a £500 bonus in February 2016 for the successful completion of the modernisation of customer service, currently being carried out
  • Drivers, who already work shifts covering 24 hours, will receive an extra £200 per Night Tube shift during a short transition period, after which they will have the choice whether or not to work Night Tube shifts

Drivers will have the same number of weekends off as now and no one will be asked to work more hours than they do today. Everybody will remain entitled to two days off in seven.

Annual leave will remain at 43 days for a train driver and 52 days for station staff.

The unions rejected this fair offer outright and instead demanded more money, the hiring of even more staff – including for ticket offices that customers no longer use – and a 32-hour, four-day week.

No employer can afford to meet those sorts of demands.

We continue to urge them to call off the strike, put the new offer to their members and not subject Londoners to further unnecessary disruption. We remain available for talks at any time.

If the strike goes ahead, please complete your journeys on the Tube by 18:30 tonight.

There will be no Tube service on Thursday 6 August.

Find out more on our Tube strike page.

Nick Brown

Managing Director, London Underground”

Parikkala sculpture park

A Swimming Pool of sorts...
A Swimming Pool of sorts…

In the midst of the forest in the very Eastern part of Southern Finland you can find a pool of people amidst the Pine, Birch and Fir-trees. Parikkala sculpture park is the work of Veijo Rönkkönen (1944–2010) who was a self taught artist and a full time paper mill worker that lived in this part of Southern Finland, very close to the Russian border.

Below are some of the more interesting pieces in the garden, but there are many more to see. If you have a chance, take the 3 1/2 hr drive or so from Helsinki to see the gardens – I think you will appreciate it!

Here is a link to the website – http://www.patsaspuisto.net/the-parikkala-sculpture-park/

The Gardener
The Gardener
A closer look at one of the sculptures in the "Pool"
A closer look at one of the sculptures in the “Pool”
A detail of one of the sculptures in the "Pool"
A detail of one of the sculptures in the “Pool”
The Preacher & the Lady
The Preacher & the Lady
Egyptians maybe?
Egyptians maybe?
Napoleon
Napoleon
Row of people
Row of people
Close-up of Row figure
Close-up of Row figure
Soldier
Soldier
Woman in Chains
Woman in Chains
Woman and Death
Woman and Death
African scene
African scene
Detail of Africa with Women Washing Clothes
Detail of Africa with Women Washing Clothes
Funky Tree
Funky Tree
Moss Covered
Moss Covered
Moss Covered detail of Head
Moss Covered detail of Head
Gardener at rest on rock
Gardener at rest on rock
Figure
Figure
Flowers
Flowers in the garden

 

 

Canal to Russia

Lappeenranta harbor with the Church
Lappeenranta harbor with the Church

Lappeenranta in the Southeast of Finland is beautifully situated on lake Saimaa and is connected to the Bay of Finland and Russia via the Saimaa Canal. The canal was built between 1845 – 1856. It was formally opened on September 7 1856. It was later overhauled and widened 1963-1968. The canal is 42.9 km long (26.7 miles). the difference in elevation between lake Saimaa and the lower laying Gulf of Finland is 75.7 m (248 ft). The Finnish part has three locks, the first one in Mälkiä.

Mälkiä Lock on Saimaa Canal
Mälkiä Lock on Saimaa Canal

Mälkiä lock is the first lock when traveling towards Russia on the Saimaa Canal, it is also the lock with the biggest difference in elevation, 12,4 m (41 ft).

Mälkiä lock
Mälkiä lock

The lock port is rising from below to seal off the lake side of the lock so that the transition downwards can begin.

Mälkiä lock
Mälkiä lock
Mälkiä lock locking towards the lower part of the Canal
Mälkiä lock locking towards the lower part of the Canal
Mälkiä lock locking back towards lake Saimaa
Mälkiä lock locking back towards lake Saimaa
Mälkiä lock looking back towards the lake and Finland
Mälkiä lock

The gates have closed and lock is being drained of water, lowering the boat to the level of the lower part of the canal.

Mälkiä lock - Ready to move out
Mälkiä lock – Ready to move out
Back in the Canal, 12.4 m lower
Back in the Canal, 12.4 m lower

Take a two hour cruise on Lake Saimaa and the lock at Mälkiä with El Faro, it is a great experience!

Weimar Republic

Weimar Republic Coat of Arms 1919 1933
Weimar Republic Coat of Arms 1918 – 1933

Weimar in the state of Thüringia in Germany was the place, where after the First World War, the first German Democratic constitution was signed. This was also where the Weimar Republic period in German history (1918-1933) was formed. It was the home of the period in art called the German Enlightenment and also the home of two of the main characters in the Weimar Classicism literary genre – Goethe and Schiller. Weimar was at one point home to such artists as Franz List composer and pianist. Artists and architects such as Paul Klee, Wassili Kandinsky, Henry Van de Velde, Lyonel Feininger and of course Walter Gropius the founder of the Bauhaus movement.

Weimar City Castle
Weimar City Castle

The Weimar City Castle, (City to distinguish it from other castles in the area) was a center for the arts in Weimar. The church attached to the castle was a place where J.S. Bach premiered many of his compositions.

Candleholder in the city Castle in Weimar
Candleholder in the city Castle in Weimar
Carl August Von Sachsen Weimar
Carl August Von Sachsen Weimar

The Archduke Carl August von Sachsen Weimar was a supporter of the arts and used some of his wealth to purchase art and also brought in artists to the city and sometimes employed them to help them support themselves when their art could not.

Schiller and Goethe in front of the Opera house in Weimar
Goethe and Schiller in front of the Opera house in Weimar

Goethe and Schiller were two of the intellectuals that were present in Weimar. Goethe, who was brought in to the city by the Arch Duke Carl August von Sachsen Weimar to ply his craft wound up working for the city in many capacities as he was well educated and had administrative capabilities in addition to his artistic ones. The two became fast friends and collaborators.

Goethe's Summmer House in the park and der Ilm in Weimar
Goethe’s Summer House in the park and der Ilm in Weimar

Goethe had a summer house in the park which was a gift from the Archduke. The above pictured house is a replica of the original to preserve the original it from the wear and tear brought on by the many visitors that come every year to see it.

Viola tricolor in Goethe's garden
Viola tricolor in Goethe’s garden

The garden at Goethe’s summer house is said to look exactly as it would have during the time Goethe lived in the house.

Shakespeare statue in Park and der Ilm in Weimar
Shakespeare statue in Park and der Ilm in Weimar

Weimar is home to the largest Shakespeare society outside of England in the world and there is a statue of the Bard in the Park and der Ilm. William Shakespeare lived April 1564 – April 23 1616 and was born in Stratford upon Avon in the U.K.