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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Food and drink

Saturday March 23 2019

I am ill.  Not very ill.  Just: ill.  A symptom of which is not eating solid food.  So here, to compensate me for not eating food, is a photo of some food which I ate in France in 2008:

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I like squares and rectangles.  Always have.  So, I especially like the idea of eating something that is usually round but which has been made square.

Friday March 22 2019

Chistine Macdonald complains, in an article recently linked to by Arts and Letters Daily that:

Street Art Used To Be the Voice of the People. Now It’s the Voice of Advertisers.

Given what Ms MacDonald means by “the People” (the people who ruin all the places they get control of), this development is to be welcomed.  Compared to ruination by a diverse array of people, all with the same ruinous opinions, advertisers trying only to sell you stuff are a breath of fresh air.

Here is an example of this process at work, spotted by me in Stoke Newington, the day before yesterday:

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And here is another van from the same stable, which I spotted and photoed on the same day that I spotted and photoed these other exercises in profit seeking and actual people helping, nearer to the middle of London, while out and about a while back:

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Vans like this are different, and thus attract attention.  They certainly got mine.  Many beer drinkers will surely have been persuaded to wonder what this particular beer tastes like.  If it tastes like crap, advertising won’t save your product.  But if the product is good but is being ignored, advertising is just what you want.

But, all you graffitists who have sold out or who would like to, be warned.  Soon, this style will look rather ordinary, once lots of others have started doing it.  At which point people like me won’t photo it any more, and commerce that is trying to attract attention will be on to the next aesthetic fad.

Wednesday March 20 2019

Yes, I and a friend took a stroll around Stoke Newington this afternoon, and despite the drabness of the weather, spring was in the air.

And as if to confirm Spring will indeed be with us very soon, if it’s not here already, this was the scene outside the Anglo Spice Grill:

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There were many other Stoke Newingtonian sights - animal, vegetable and mineral - to be seen and to be photoed, but today was a tiring day, with another activity in the evening before I finally got around to doing this.  So that will have to be your lot.

Saturday March 09 2019

Another shop window photo, photoed by me on the same day as I photoed, this, this, and this:

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Click on that to get it quite a bit bigger than usual.  It deserves the detail.

I have long considered the stuff in tourist stuff shops to be an underrated object of photo-devotion.

Friday March 01 2019

The summer of February 2019 has now ended, but I still have some photo-memories of it to stick up here.

These photos, for instance, of a man whom GodDaughter2 and I encountered in Hyde Park, back on February 15th.  As I have already related, there was a lot of feeding of birds going on that day, but before all that bird frenzy, we had already encountered a guy who had taken the feeding of birds (and squirrels) to a whole new level.  He wasn’t so much feeding these creatures as laying on a free canteen for them.  And they obviously knew this, and greeted him like a long lost friend.

I photoed him and his friends (who included two green parrots), a lot:

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You can see evolution taking a distinct turn towards something different, can’t you?  The most trusting and friendly and fearless creatures are the ones who get best fed.

Tuesday February 26 2019

On Sunday evening, and then again yesterday during the day, my water supply was interrupted.  This has never happened before.  Electricity, yes, that has been interrupted, I seem to recall.  And once, my hot tank refused to stop heating its water, which was alarming.  I had to switch off all my electricity myself, to stop my boiler boiling itself and perhaps exploding like a steam locomotive having a crash.  But, no water?  That was a new one for me, here.

When my taps first ran out of puff, I didn’t know what was causing this.  At first, I thought the problem might be my own personal arrangements, as it had been with that over-eager heating system.  But, I knocked on the door opposite and discovered that my neighbour had received an email threatening water disruption, and it all started to make sense.  One of our neighbours was having work done which necessitated a block-wide water switch off.  This was on Sunday evening, but the email concerned threatened disruption on Monday, disruption that duly occurred.

I wasn’t even completely sure if the water, when restored, would automatically fill up my pipes again, once it had abandoned them.  You know how you can get water to to go up and down in pipes, in school physics lessons.  What if interrupted water supply created a permanent unwillingness of the water to travel along my personal pipes, to my personal taps?

When the water returned later on Sunday evening, it was quite a relief to see it gushing out of my taps again, of its own accord, with no suction pump needed to coax it back into action.  But then, disruption happened again, exactly as threatened, on Monday.

It’s only when you are deprived of something you are used to having that you realise how much you depend upon it.  For washing, of me and of the things I eat from and off.  For flushing the loo.  There was an event I wanted to attend on Monday evening.  No go.  Unclean.

I had never had anything to do with my lady neighbour before this little water drama.  Interesting that things not working properly and “community” go together like this.  When the great machine we all depend on stops working, we suddenly become more dependant upon each other, if only to find out what the hell is going on and when it is likely to stop.

Friday February 22 2019

When GodDaughter2 and I took a walk through Hyde Park last week, we inevitably walked past the Serpentine, and next to the Serpentine, there was a lot of bird feeding going on, and I mean a lot.  Great screaming flocks of birds, birds of all sorts all muddled together, were assembling themselves around happy humans, who were chucking stuff at them.  It was also noticeable how very insistent birds were about checking out strangers, like me, to see what stuff we might have on our persons to chuck at them.

Here is a particularly fun photo I took of all this avian drama, fun because it turned out so artistic, being mainly monochrome (because photoed into the sun) and monochrome is artistic.  Monochrome, that is, apart from the bright red feet of one of the bigger birds (also because photoed into the sun – this time with the sun shining through those feet), which makes the photo even more artistic:

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But why was all this bird-on-human excitement happening, so intensely and on such a scale?

The answer lay in a shop next to the water.  To my extreme shame, I did not photo the outside of this shop and cannot recall what it looked like.  I only snapped interior scenes, of intriguing products on sale inside the shop.  One of these products was the answer to this bird-human mystery.

The usual feelings that humans have about feeding birds in parks are (1) Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to feed the birds?  But also (2) Don’t feed the birds!  It will give them a stomach ache.  It might even kill them.  Don’t feed the birds!  Often there are signs to this effect.

But at the Serpentine, there is a different and non-contradictory regime in place.  Feed the birds … this!  And all was explained:

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I computer enhanced that to make it less dim and dreary, what with the dim and dreary (at least compared to the bedazzlement outside) interior light.

You can bet that the shop assistants in that shop spent a quite large proportion of their day explaining to customers that yes, we know, you want to have fun feeding the birds!  But, no indeed, you must not feed the birds human food!  So, feed them this food!  Fun for you!  Food for the birds!  Win win!

Friday February 01 2019

This is definitely my favourite Other creatures story of recent months. Months because this was reported on before Christmas, and I’ve only just got around to mentioning it here.

Parrot used Amazon Alexa to order items while his owner was away:

So far Rocco the African Grey, from Didcot, Oxfordshire, U.K., has demanded treats such as strawberries, watermelon, raisins, broccoli and ice cream.

He has also ordered a kite, light bulbs and even a kettle.

Rocco likes to dance too and tells the voice-activated device to play favorite tunes. Sometimes they are slow numbers, but he generally prefers rock.

Where is voice recognition when you need it?

Alexa needs a setting, for junior members of a household, for whom she is allowed to play musical requests, but from whom she is not allowed to take purchase orders.

You’d think that with lots of kids in the world, many causing havoc, Alexa would be able to make the necessary distinctions.  But it sure is entertaining when she doesn’t.

Sunday January 27 2019

There was a meeting in my home last Friday, at which Simon Gibbs spoke, most eloquently and engagingly, about “What Libertarian Home Has Done Right”.  (I made him choose this title.  He is far too modest to have chosen it himself.)

Also on Friday, at this blog, I had already featured a cat photo, taken by my friend Dominique Lazanski.

What I had not expected was that Dominique Lazanski would get a mention in Simon’s talk, but she did.  Very favourably, as a Libertarian Home speaker who did much to soften the atmosphere of a series of meetings that might otherwise have remained rather beery and blokey and not sufficiently female friendly or, to use a word Simon likes a lot and which he himself epitomises, not “kind”.  Libertarianism is, after all, all about making the world better, which definitely includes kinder.

I had been intending to put up more than one Dominique photo on Friday, but meeting preparations meant that only the cat made it, that day.  Here are all the other photos I had already liked and set aside for here, along with a photo of a cup of coffee, which I added to the collection to get the number back to a convenient one:

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Click and enjoy.  Most of these little squares are mere excerpts from the originals, so you will have to click to enjoy.  But even if that doesn’t appeal, the basic point here is that Dominique Lazanski is, like many others these days, someone who combines taking very good photos with having a very full life doing other things besides taking photos.

This is the big photography story these days.  This big story is not how good the very best photographers, the Real Photographers as I refer to them here, are at taking photos and how very, very good their very best photos are.  No.  The big photography story these days is how good people like Dominique Lazanski are at taking photos.

To find out more of who Dominique Lazanski is, go to her website, or to here Twitter feed.  To explore all her Instagrammed photos, go here, that being where I encountered all of the above photos myself.

I chose my favourites, partly by particularly noticing the last two and the most recent of the above photos when they showed up on Facebook.  In addition to being a Dominique Lazanski friend I am a Dominique Lazanski “friend” on Facebook.  And the rest I found by simply clicking through all of her Instagrammed photos very fast, and noticing which ones I found myself pausing at.

Those drinks are included because I drank one of them myself, on Christmas Eve.

It could be that I am mishandling the Social Media, again, and spilling beans that are not mine to spill.  If Dominique finds out about this posting and informs me that she regrets it and would prefer to be living in a world which did not contain it, then this posting will be expunged forthwith.

Monday December 31 2018

At the end of April and the beginning of May of 2018, I visited the city of Quimper, almost certainly for the last time.  The friends I have stayed there with several times are now living in the south of France, and their Quimper home is now someone else’s.  So, farewell Quimper.

On May 4th, on my last full day in Quimper, my hostess drove me to see the superb lighthouse at Penmarc’h, which is on the south west tip of Brittany.  And no, I don’t know how “Penmarc’h” is pronounced, and nor do I know what is really the correct name for this mighty edifice.  It seems to have many names.  But, it is a lighthouse, and it is in the town of Penmarc’h, so Penmarc’h Lightbouse it is.

Although she needed to get back in quite a hurry to prepare supper, she let me take the time to climb up the Lighthouse and savour the views of the town of Penmarc’h and of the Brittany coast.  Which were spectacular, as was the weather that day:

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The lighthouse I went up is the furthest from the sea of three structures, which would appear to have been doing, in succession, a similar job.  As time went by, they got smaller, nearer to the sea, and more dependent upon electronic technology.  Photo 3.1 shows the two smaller ones, as seen from the big one.

That same morning, I also checked out a huge and totally marvellous second hand shop in Quimper, and an equally huge and totally marvellous cheese factory, which was really more like a cheese refinery.

So, a really good day.  One of my favourites of 2018.  Except that the day after that day, in Paris, was probably even better.

Friday December 28 2018

Samizdata Supremo Perry de Havilland likes hippos.  A rather disconcerting thing that happens to you from time to time if you are a Samizdata contributor is that if you do a posting, but forget to add categories to it, the default category that gets added automatically is: Hippos.

So, anyway, yes, Perry likes hippos, so a friend of his gave him a hippo for Christmas.  It was presented to him at Chateau Samizdata on Christmas Eve, where I was also present.

I photoed it:

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Trouble is, the hippo is all black, and my camera didn’t do very well.  (The above result reminded me of this Samizdata posting that I did last year, about a very black sort of black.)

I tried lots of photo-editing, but I’m not sure that this was really much of an improvement:

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But yes, this really is also a bottle opener.  (I’m pretty sure it’s this one.) The friend who got it told me beforehand that it was a bottle opener also.  Would Perry really want it, if the bottle opener turned out not to work very well.  I said: if it’s a hippo, Perry will want it.

Saturday December 08 2018

Stow-Away is a recent arrival in Lower Marsh:

Stow-Away is a new sustainable and eco friendly apart hotel concept. Stow-Away Waterloo is our first London base made from 26 re-purposed shipping containers, stylishly designed to provide a snug comfortable Stow-Away sleeping experience.

Lots of people have tried to do architecture with old shipping containers, but personally I doubt if it makes much sense.  But, if your task is to sell hotel rooms, then shipping containers are perhaps a good gimmick, for attracting attention and for giving guests something to talk about.  “I slept in a shipping container.” Etc.  I’ve never done this.

It got my attention:

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I enjoy in particular the various reflections there.

All but the last of these photos were photoed in one burst, last September.  The final photo was photoed more recently, in the evening.

I think this hotel is quite good fun, especially those strange looking shades, red on the inside, that are a feature of the front.  But, I regret the trend of which this “apart hotel” is a part, which is the transformation of Lower Marsh from a fascinating and quite cheap thoroughfare, full of diverting shops and eateries, into a dreary and expensive thoroughfare, stripped of all those diverting shops and eateries.

This happens all the time.  A street contains lots of lively and amusing stuff.  Word of that liveliness spreads, and the rents then go through the roof.  The liveliness is priced off to another part of town.  Such is urban life.

What I am really saying is: RIP Gramex.  Follow that link and you find “an important message to our much-valued customers”.  That would be me.  But this “important message” is dated 4th August 2017.  I gave up hope at least a year ago.

Sunday November 25 2018

Yesterday I found myself in Duke of York Square, which is just along the King’s Road from Sloane Square.  So, what with the Duke of York being one of Britain’s most under-rated military leaders, at any rate according to this book, I thought that, this might be a statue of the Duke himself.

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But a closer look at the plinth told me different:

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Wikipedia tells us more about this, the original Sloane, from whom, of course, Sloane Square took its name, and because of whom Sloanes are called Sloanes.  Sir Hans Sloane, it seems, was the collector of scientific specimens who first got the British Museum started.  Plus, this:

He is credited with creating drinking chocolate.

Blog and learn.  Here is a rather more artistic close-up of this same statue:

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This statue is a recreation by Simon Smith of a statue carved in 1737 by John Rysbrack.  Smith’s new statue was unveiled in 2007:

The original statue, now deteriorated, is housed in the British Museum, with a cast in the Chelsea Physic Garden. The sculptor, Simon Smith, said: “`I wanted the sculpture to show Sir Hans Sloane as a kind man with a sharp intellect and an enquiring mind. An approachable man of principle and logic, who’s morals and philanthropy are still of benefit to us today.”
The light yesterday was very dim, even early in the afternoon.  But whereas buildings often respond well to bright sunlight, I find that statue photos are often deranged if sunlight is unimpeded, and better when the light is more spread around and is coming from lots of different directions, as happens under cloud.  Less light, but of the right sort, does the job.

Wednesday November 14 2018

Nothing says Christmas to me quite like Special Christmas Edition packs of Walkers Potato Crisps.  And actually, I came across these in Sainsbury’s … it must have been nearly a fortnight ago now:

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Photoing a shiny package, with information directly under the shininess, is somewhat above my photoing pay grade, what with my photoing pay grade being: zero without expenses.  On the left there, we have Turkey & Stuffing, Brussels Sprout, and Pigs in Blankets.  On the right, Glazed Ham, Turkey & Stuffing (again), and … well that’s not so clear.

So here’s another photo which explains that it is Cheese & Cranberry:

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However, my favourite bit is this little disclaimer, concerning the Brussels Sprout crisps:

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I love it.  Guaranteed entirely made with artificial flavouring.  No natural flavouring at all.  Real turkey.  Real stuffing.  Real pigs.  Real blankets.  Real ham with real glaze, real cheese, ceal cranberry.  But: fake sprouts.

I don’t always hate the twenty first century.  Today, I love it.

One way to photo such packages as these more clearly is to empty them, and flatten them out, like they’ve done here, because that brings the light under control.  At lest, I think that’s what they did.  Those photos certainly look flat.  But a package that is flat rather than curved stops looking like a package.  Such photos literally take the crisps out of the picture.  And who wants that?

Saturday November 03 2018

Photoed by me, on the same day that I most recently photoed Bartok:

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As I get older, I find myself, every so often, getting crosser.  Not all the time, you understand, just in occasional eruptions.

But I am not cross about this photo.  That is exactly how it came out of the camera.  No cropping or Photoshop(clone)ing.  Just as was.  I love that light, as I have been saying here for about a week now.

I love that effect when the light is very strong and almost exactly in line with the wall but not quite, at a just sufficient angle to light it up, and at the slightest excuse cover it in big shadows. If it didn’t say: “City of Westminster”, you’d think you could be in the South of France or some such sunlit place.

More about the Compton Cross.