Archive for March, 2014

Birdsong in the dark

March 12, 2014

February 14th 2014

Mid-evening after nightfall. We were walking through the car park to the footpath that leads to the pedestrian gate to Belfast Boat Club. Suddenly we were aware that all around songbirds were singing. In the dark? In sodden February?  In Belfast?

But then we became aware that for the birds it wasn’t dark. The Boat Club is also one of the oldest and largest tennis clubs in Northern Ireland. Many of the courts are covered by the sort of bubble or dome which allow play and practice to continue in bad weather. There are all translucent and at that time they were all lit. So for the birds close by, it wasn’t dark. It was probably brighter than most February days!

When we left later, some of the domes were no longer lit, but some were still on. There was still birdsong, but less.

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Reminder of the Holocaust.

March 12, 2014

pamatce8th February 2014 Brno, Czech Republic
Several tram routes pass close to the family house where we stay in Brno. One tram stop where we often wait to get a tram into the city centre is on a major road and there are platforms for people waiting for and getting off trams. As we stand there waiting we face a primary school building. This building is 3 or 4 stories tall and, like a lot of buildings in Brno, is built round a central courtyard. The front is about 2 metres back from the pavement and has a hedge. But if you stand to wait for the back of the tram, you see a gap in the hedge and through the gap you see a memorial tablet on the school wall. It has a Star of David, an image of barbed wire, and an inscription. “Památce 9397 židových občanů kteří byli v letech 1941-2 z této budovy odvlečeni na smrt.” “To the memory of 9397 Jewish people who in the years 1941-2 were taken away from this building to their deaths.”
It doesn’t say where they went from here, but I think most of them would have been taken to Theriesenstadt, and those who survived the journey and that camp, would have gone on to the extermination camp in Auschwitz. Think of about 10,000 people from a city not much bigger than Havering being imprisoned and sent to their deaths within a few months.