Since I’ve been living in Slovakia, a little over 16 years now, I’ve seen some major changes. I’ve watched entire historical aspects of living culture vanish in the onslaught of globalisation.
I took this photo a year ago. It’s of an uninhabited neighbouring property and shows how the barn on the side of the house was hand crafted from hewn wood. This barn no longer exists. One storm too many and too little attention paid to it saw it come crashing down on itself. Just before winter the inheritors of the property came and removed the final beams and logs, leaving an aching chasm where once had been artisanship and daily toil.
So many of the buildings in my area will suffer the same fate and will ultimately be levelled in order for their land to be replanted with mortgage-ridden McMansions. Just a generation or two earlier and the houses and outbuildings were built by hand by the owners and a group of volunteers from the village paid in drink and food.
My eldest boy has just returned from ski camp. This is a photo he took on the bus as they passed the Tatra Mountains. With the socialist era flat blocks in the foreground, and the thick snow covering anything, it really sums up this country.
The early morning sun tries to break through the almost ever-present cloud cover over a Carpathian valley near Lake Domasa. This morning’s drive was so stunning that it was hypnotically beautiful. Every tree was white, their boughs heavy from snow fall
This stretch of back road is only a couple of miles from my village house in Eastern Slovakia. It’s the perfect motorbike road but today it was thick with snow and heavily pitted. Stunning views. Lots of wildlife.
We went to a steak house in Bardejov for lunch today and the place doubles up as a stunning garden centre. This gazebo is one of its dining locations.
In the centre left of the photo you can see Zborov Castle, which is located a few miles East of Bardejov, Eastern Slovakia. It’s an extremely large ruined castle which was once an important factor in the amber trade.
I really need to start photographing some other species but this Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) was just hanging around, stuffing itself on berries, so I thought ‘why not?’
Winter can be long and bleak, cold and monochrome, so it’s great when you can burn off some energy and have some fun. As there’s plenty of snow at the village house, my kids had a snowball fight. Me, I just drank coffee and avoided their icy missiles.
Just over a week ago I wanted to take Feisty out for a ride but couldn’t get her to start because of the battery. We’d had a cold spell but it had cleared up and it was warm enough to comfortably ride. Now, we’ve been plunged into Arctic temperatures and more than a few minutes outside is painful. The forecast for New Year’s Eve is so bleak that many towns in Slovakia have, for the first time, cancelled their celebrations.
There has been snowfall but nowhere near the amount seen in the Alps. Instead, the weather went from mild to frostbite-cold almost overnight. There is a dark, Gothic beauty to the landscape, though. Dusk brings with it plummeting temperatures but also, as seen in this photo of Svidnik, a certain noire mystique.