Ministry of Propaganda

Welcome to the Ministry of Propaganda - Armin Grewe's Weblog

First visit on this blog? Then also try Old Favourites and Frequent Topics, Blogging Abroad (Expat Bloggers) and to find out who writes this blog try my personal homepage. Also visit my other blog,, a blog about the Isle of Islay, Scotland.

Since August 2015

This blog is back. And it has moved to a new address.

After a 5 year hiatus the Ministry of Propaganda is back. However, it has moved to a new address. Please update your bookmarks, feeds and whatever else needs updating and head over to (or in other words, replace the www with blog). The name and logo is still the same, but the software and content is fresh. You can also comment again. So please head over and enjoy.

From 2010 until 2015

This blog was on hiatus

The last post on this blog was in March 2010. Nothing has happened since apart from the comments stopping to work. So I thought I better make this official. This blog is now on indefinite hiatus. It might come back, it might not. The Blogging Abroad (Expat Bloggers) list is not being maintained any more, many of the entries will now be outdated. However, as there's a lot of history in all the entries I've written over the years I've decided to leave the whole things otherwise untouched.

For the time being my interests and efforts have shifted and I'm focusing my time mainly on running, a blog about the Isle of Islay, Scotland as well as my Islay Pictures photoblog. I'm also active on Twitter (@islayblog) and Google+ (Armin Grewe)

This blog might return, it might just stay like this. Depends on how I feel in a few years time.

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Saturday, 20/Mar/2010

Burned Out Boat on the Canal

Quite a lot going on the canal at the moment: British Waterways have gone ahead with the felling of the Poplar Trees in Aldermaston Wharf, most of them are gone by now. However, that is not what this entry is about, I'll write about the trees in a week or so once they are all gone. Today I'm going to mention a boat fire I now see the results of in the morning. I go jogging along the canal towards Woolhampton every morning. The last few months I passed a small sports boat every morning, wondering if it was abandoned as I never saw anyone in it. On Thursday morning I was greeted with this sight:

Picture of a burned out small sports boat on a canal

Having seen it perfectly fine the morning before it must have happened the day (or night) before. Not too many people normally are in the area, there's one house nearby and a canal boat was moored 100 yards or so away (I guess they will have raised the alarm, assuming they were around). Today I found a bit more background, Newbury Today writes ‘Fire crews called to suspected boat arson’, mentioning it happened around 22:00 hrs on Wednesday.

Picture of a burned out small sports boat, another canal boat in the background

Luckily the trees above didn't catch fire and there was no other boat moored in the immediate vicinity, otherwise the outcome could have been much worse. According to the report the police and fire services treat it as suspected arson. I wonder how they're going to remove the wreck, for now they've just put a barrier around it, I assume to stop oil and other chemicals to spread on the canal:

Picture of a burned out small sports boat surrounded by a swimming barrier


[20/Mar/2010: "Burned Out Boat on the Canal"]

Saturday, 13/Feb/2010

Enjoy them while you can - Pop(u)lar Trees to be Chopped Down

One of the reasons I moved to Aldermaston Wharf are the lovely Poplar trees lining the canal outside of my flat. During the summer they provide some nice shade while during the winter when the leaves are gone they still let light into the flat. They are very tall, so any visitor is getting a first view when driving into Mallard Way on the way to Lockside Court:

Picture of a block of flats with a line of tall Poplar trees behind it

Looking out of my lounge the view of the trees along the canal is very nice, in particular with the calming green of the leaves during the summer:

Picture of a view of a canal lined with Poplar trees, seen from a flat next to the canal

Another impression of the view can be gained with the Canal at Aldermaston Wharf Photosynth I created last year:

Unfortunately it looks like the pictures and memories will be all that is left soon. Yesterday I came across a leaflet from British Waterways left in the entrance to our block of flats:

Tree Management Works Notification

Following a tree survey undertaken along the length of the Kennet & Avon Canal, we have been advised that the current lines of poplar trees on both sides of the canal adjacent to Aldermaston Lock, have now reached a condition in which they are no longer appropriate or sustainable for their current location.

Due to their position, size and maturity, the survey has recommended that these trees now be removed due to concerns over long term stability and be replaced with a more practical and appropriate species. As a consequence, it is the intention of British Waterways to follow this advice and commence on work to remove the existing poplars and replace them with native alder species. This is with the consulation and approval of both the Forestry Commission and West Berkshire Council.

Works have been undertaken in recent years to remove dead and decaying limbs and to prevent the falling of branches on to the adjacent roads and properties. Whilst this helps to temporarily address safety issues, this does not resolve the long term maintenance concern posed by these trees, especially with their proximity to residential properties. Some local residents have already expressed concerns about these trees.

British Waterways understands the aesthetic appeal of these trees and that this decision might be unpopular, but in the interests of long term maintenance and safety on both the canal and our neighbours, must undertake this recommended work. This decision hasn't been taken lightly, the works are considered to be essential. We are proposing to commence these works towards the end of February and during March 2010.

If you have any queries or would like any further information about this work, please contact Richard Harrison of British Waterways on 01452 318501, or via email

I'm no expert on trees so I have no idea if the assessment is right and chopping down these beautiful trees is really necessary, but I will certainly be sad to see them go. They don't look sick to me at all, but then again I've heard that trees can look fine from the outside and be rotten from the inside. Knowing that I will never get to see this view in real again makes me very sad though:

Picture of two rows of poplar trees along a canal behind a lock

I don't know if dogs have a memory for their environment and the views they get to see on their walks, still I would like to think he'll be sad as well:

Picture of a dog on a tree lined canal tow path

Even bare and without leaves during the winter the Poplars looked very nice against the blue sky after some heavy snowfall:

Picture of a canal lock and tree lined canal path after heavy snowfall

In a few weeks all this will be history…


[13/Feb/2010: "Enjoy them while you can - Pop(u)lar Trees to be Chopped Down"]


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Saturday, 09/Jan/2010

Snow Picture of the Day - Snow in Tree

The ‘novelty’ is wearing off a bit and I'm getting a bit bored with all that snow. In a way ‘cabin fever’ is setting in as well, having involuntarily worked from home the last three days with the roads being so treacherous. Yet there are still nice points: At lunchtime today I went for a long run along the Kennet & Avon Canal, from Aldermaston Wharf to Midgham Lock (3.5 miles one way, I think, i.e. 7 miles return). I took a lot of pictures of the snowy landscape, but this only happened by chance, and I really like it:

Picture of snow covered branches on a tree

I had stopped to take a picture of the snow covered towpath along a bend of the canal. The picture turned out fine, but nothing spectacular. Almost by chance I looked up and noticed the snow on the green-brown-ish branches above against the pale blue sky. Not thinking too much I snapped a few pictures of it. Looking at it again now I quite like it, the textures, the colours, the mood, it just seems to play together quite well.

I hope you like it.


[09/Jan/2010: "Snow Picture of the Day - Snow in Tree"]

Friday, 08/Jan/2010

Snowmen and Icicles

Unless you are a hermit you will have noticed that it currently is rather cold in the UK and we had a lot of snow, so much snow that almost the whole country has been turned white. Many pictures and videos have been published about the snow and what comes with it, so I thought I might as well add mine as well. For this evening they are of the Snowgiant and his wife as well as some icicles:

Picture of two snowmen, one large male and a smaller female

This giant snowman (my estimate is 8ft tall) and his wife (she was much smaller, I'd estimate 5ft) were built outside Lockside Court in Aldermaston Wharf on Wednesday. I took the pictures on a wonderful sunny morning on Thursday. Unfortunately they are gone already, not sure if they just collapsed or if someone took them down.

Picture of two snowmen, one large male and a smaller femalePicture of two icicles hanging from a roof, sunset in the background

The other thing we are getting now are rapidly growing icicles, in particular along the roofs. The two above were outside of my bedroom window, picture taken with the nice background of a winter sunset. Below some from my spare room, in the background the frozen and snow covered pond and the houses at Mallard Way:

Picture of icicles hanging from a roof, a wintry landscape in the background

That's all for tonight, I'll probably post a few more snow pictures over the next few days.


[08/Jan/2010: "Snowmen and Icicles"]


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Friday, 01/Jan/2010

New Years Walk 2010

Picture of a block of flats next to a canal

Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing 2010 instead of 2009. While the snow from just before Christmas is now all gone New Years Day in West Berkshire turned out to be a very nice day. I spent the morning and lunchtime listening to the New Year´s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic while having some nice food and later on opening a bottle of Bruichladdich PC8 Islay single malt whisky. A good start into the new year. Then I went for a walk along the canal in the afternoon:

The stretch at Aldermaston Wharf Lock with Lockside court looked very nice in the bright sunshine. Next a view you might remember from the Snow at the Kennet & Avon Canal entry, the alley just before Fronds Bridge:

Picture of the sun shining through trees along a canal

Half a mile further down the canal I spotted a nice view: Earlier in the week parts of a field had been flooded and then frozen over. The water had since run off leaving the ice behind high and dry, where it now started to break up.

Picture of ice breaking up after the water under it had run off

After about 45 minutes I reached my destination for the afternoon, The Rowbarge in Woolhampton. It was very busy, but I managed to find a seat at the bar, where I enjoyed a pint of ‘Good Old Boy’ from the West Berkshire Brewery and some crisps.

Picture of The Rowbarge pub in Woolhampton in the January afternoon sun

Refreshed I started the walk back, knowing I had enough time to get back home before it went completely dark. The sun soon set, but it being a clear day the twilight provided enough light to take me home safely. Not to forget providing some great views of the canal in the gloaming, here's the stretch near Fronds Bridge again, this time with the light slowly fading:

Picture of a tree lined canal in the twilight after sunset

Let's hope this afternoon was a good sign of what the year will bring and we're going to have a great year 2010!


[01/Jan/2010: "New Years Walk 2010"]

Sunday, 20/Dec/2009

Aldermaston Wharf in The Gloaming

Picture of a canal lock with an apartment building in bright winter sunshine

The (long) weekend finished as it had begun, with snow and wonderful weather. Some of the snow from Friday was still around and a further dusting had been added over night. Not much, but enough to make it all look pretty again. Through the day we had brilliant sunshine with clear skies, leading to some fantastic light after sunset, also known as ‘the gloaming’ or twilight.

With the help of a small tripod and the self-timer in the camera I tried to capture at least some of the view from my window, hopefully also capturing a bit of the calm mood. These are three of the pictures I managed to take, the white spot on the wider angle pictures is the moon:

Picture of a view over a canal at last light on a clear cold winter day

The branches of the trees without their leaves looked great against the dark yet light sky:

Picture of tree branches against a winter evening sky in the twilight

The moon is just a crescent at the moment, looking very nice through the branches:

Picture of a crescent moon through the branches of trees

That's the best I can offer, I hope you like the pictures! For more pictures of the twilight/gloaming I recommend the (previously mentioned) Scotland In The Gloaming.


[20/Dec/2009: "Aldermaston Wharf in The Gloaming"]

Friday, 18/Dec/2009

Snow at the Kennet & Avon Canal

Should today turn out to be the only nice snowy day this winter I picked the right day to take a day off. While it wasn't very much snow it was enough to make the landscape along the Kennet & Avon Canal look very nice. When the sun came out late in the morning I went for a long run along the canal, all the way from the lock between Froudes bridge and Aldermaston Wharf to Midgham Lock (near Thatcham) and back. Here are a few pictures I took during the run:

Picture of view along a canal towards a canal lock in the snow

The most easterly point of my run, looking east towards the lock between Froudes bridge and Aldermaston Wharf. Looking very nice in the sun with the trees lining the canal.

Picture of a canal basin below a lock

We've moved on to next to the road bridge in Aldermaston Wharf, just below the lock (on the left). The barrier on the right is from the lifting bridge, not a railway. The railway is a bit further away. The side arm with moored boat used to be a bit longer and led to the railway to transfer cargo.

Picture of an apartment block next to a canal in the snow

Looking west from right next to Aldermaston lock, on the right is Lockside Court. That's where I live when writing this. Nice, isn't it?

Picture of a tree lined canal towpath in the snow

This is just before the bridge at Fronds Farm. I just liked sun light coming through the trees and snow sticking to side of the trees.

Picture of a black and dark brown sheep standing in fresh white snow

Just across the bridge (I think it's called Fronds Bridge, but I'm not sure) are a few fields which usually have some sheep in them. Most of them are of light colour, except for this dark one. It seems to be of the curious type and usually comes up to the fence when you stop. It certainly did so today, looking photogenic against the white snow.

Picture of footsteps in the snow on the bridge

This bridge is called Oxlease Bridge and can be found between Woolhampton Lock and Midgham Lock. I think I was the first one to cross it today, at least there were no other steps when I was there. The footsteps you see are mine from the way, this picture was taken on the way back from Midgham Lock.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I enjoyed being out during my run and occasionally stopping for pictures.


[18/Dec/2009: "Snow at the Kennet & Avon Canal"]


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