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Category archive: France

Monday June 04 2018

imageI find signs to be an endless source of fun and revelation, and I frequently photo them.  So I was much entertained by this New York Times story, about a sign that went wandering.  Across the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Sandy grabbed this sign from the town of Brielle, on the eastern coast of the USA, in October 2012.  But, on or around May 14th 2018:

A man walking along the Plage du Pin Sec, near Bordeaux, spotted it. The faded sign was missing a chunk, but he could still read the legend “Diane Turton Realtors 732-292-1400.”

“It was curious,” the man, Hannes Frank, 64, a semiretired software consultant who lives in Brussels, said by phone on Thursday. “I looked at it and found it quaint.”

And he got in touch with the enterprise advertised on the sign.  By their nature, signs can be very informative.

The NYT says that its preferred expert on flotsametrics reckons that, given how long this sign took to make its way to France, it may well have crossed the Atlantic not once, but three times.

Flotsametrics is the study of things that float.  Now that the Lefties – like the Lefties who own, run and write for the NYT - are giving up on the claim that capitalism is ruining the planet by ruining the weather, they are back to bitching about how capitalism squirts out lots of rubbish, and they have become particular obsessed with rubbish that hangs about in the sea, especially if it floats.  So this story is actually part of The Narrative, even though it is presumably also a genuine and a genuinely good story.

Once the capitalists work out how to transform all the world’s rubbish into – oh, I don’t know – something like gunk for 3D printers to turn into replacement body parts, the lefties will have to think of some other insult to throw at capitalism.  But for now, this rubbish thing is getting back to being their biggest complaint.  Again.

But just clearing the rubbish up is no good.  Oh no.  The rubbish must be stopped at source by stamping out capitalism, starting with plastic drinking straws.  The actual source of this oceanic rubbish is mostly rivers in poor countries.  But that’s a mere fact.  The Narrative is what matters.

This has been a spontaneous rant, which is why I am keeping it here, rather than switching it to there.

Saturday June 02 2018

Indeed:

image

Usual story.  Started to write a piece for here.  Realised it would go better there.  Carried on writing it anyway.  So, here?  That.

Friday May 25 2018

Those photos of Oscar would appear to have made quite a difference to Oscar’s life, because he went missing last Monday, and three of these photos helped to find him and get him home again:

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GodDaughter2 will be telling me more about all this soon.  Like: Were there any other recent photos of Oscar that would have worked the same trick?  I don’t want to jump to conclusions, as people say when they do want to jump to conclusions, but maybe without my photos, Oscar would have ended up having a totally different life.

The heart of the operation was the much grumbled-about social media.  The above poster was concocted in London by a friend of GD2’s, and then socially media-ed all over the local area in France.  Facebook, take a bow.  In addition to being an actual friend of mine, GD2 is a Facebook “friend”, but I hadn’t been paying attention to her Oscar postings, until she phoned and then emailed me about all this excitement:

About 300 people shared various posts I posted on Facebook to find Oscar. He left Monday, I started looking for him last night and we got him today!

GD2 made all this happen while in London, that email having arrived was yesterday, last night being Wednesday evening.  It seems that Oscar, having got lost, was then cared for by another family.  But when, thanks to the above social media activity, they got in touch and Oscar got back to his original carers, GD2’s family, he apparently spent many hours sleeping, which is not the routine I recall when I was there.  This tells to me that he was very stressed while away, and was relieved to be home.  With home needing no sneer quotes, the way it might with some cats.

6k has also been impressed by these Oscar photos, this one in particular …:

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…, and he has been making that the basis of various would-be internet memes, of which this one is the latest:

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Reuniting lost loved-ones is a classic excuse for the Total Surveillance World we now live in.

And actually (see above (sometimes)) quite a good excuse.  If I, or someone, had not been surveilling Oscar, he might still be lost.

I also remember how, in the past, GD2’s parents would grumble about how much time she would spend social-media-ing, instead of doing “real” things, like sleep or homework.  But finding Oscar was very real.

Thursday May 24 2018

In Quimper, the city in Brittany which I recently visited on account of having friends who live there, I photoed this:

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My camera’s ability to notice details that I didn’t notice at the time …

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… immediately enabled me to learn who did it, and what else he has done.

I love the internet.

Monday May 21 2018

I spent most of the time I had available today for blogging working on a piece about Dominic Frisby, in connection with this.  I want to sleep on it rather than shove it up tonight, but it should be up at Samizdata tomorrow.

So here is a quota movie poster, on the side of a bus, which I photoed in Paris, when I was there recently:

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I don’t love movies as much as I used to, but I still love movie posters.  And I especially love them when they are advertising an Anglo-movie to non-Anglos.

Friday May 18 2018

My friends in Brittany have a new cat: Oscar.  (He replaces this cat.)

I, of course, took many photos.  I like these ones:

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And I like this one best of all:

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Oscar has reached the stage in life where he is still a kitten in his behaviour, but not any longer in his appearance.  Sort of a cat teenager.

Oscar has a very short attention span, and is currently programmed to check out everything he sees, like some obsessively exploratory robot.  He sees a lot and he keeps on seeing something else.

So, for instance, you click your fingers at him to initiate some sociability, and he sees that, and runs towards you, but then, while still on his way towards you, he sees something else behind you, and carries right on towards that, after only the most perfunctory acknowledgement of your fingers, in which he has already lost interest several tenths of a second earlier.  Or he has simply forgotten why he is is motion, and he just carries on.  Very strange.

But as he calms down, he will presumably start to treat people more in the way they like to be treated.  When I took an afternoon nap, he also fancied a nap and had his on top of me.  But, had there been a more satisfactory household appliance, like a warm fire, he might well have preferred that to curl up next to that.  It didn’t seem personal, just a matter of comfort.

But I still liked him.  Cats are just so likeable, whether they are actually being likeable, in their own minds, or not.  All they have to be is non-objectionable and not too scared to check you out.

Wednesday May 16 2018

I was rootling around in the archives for something interesting, and this time I really went back, to the time of my very first digital camera.  And in among lots of photos of my friends and GodDaughters all looking eighteen years younger, I found this photo, taken while on a trip around the Wheel, of the Guy’s Hospital Tower, looking just as brutally (because Brutalist) ugly then as it does now:

image

That’s right, no Shard.

But more to the point, it shows what a Big Thing that building in the middle there used to be.

And I’ve said it here before.  This was London’s Montparnasse Tower.  What Paris concluded from the Montparnasse Tower was: never again.  But what London concluded from the Guy’s Hospital Tower was: we need to build lots of bigger towers, so that this one won’t be any part of the definition of London.  And in particular, we need to put a really big Big Thing, right next to this big old thing.

So, in the photo: Guy’s Hospital, and no Shard.

And: without Guy’s Hospital, also no Shard.

Monday May 14 2018

Having spent a week appreciating the Frenchness of France, I now find myself especially noticing the Englishness of England:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

1.1 (cricket in Vincent Square) and 1.2 (Prince Albert outside his Hall) were taken yesterday afternoon.  2.1 (Westminster Abbey plus Big Ben smothered in scaffolding (plus a tiny bit of Wheel)) was taken yesterday evening.  2.2 (a Handley Page Victor recently acquired by a friend) was taken earlier this evening.

Sunday May 13 2018

One of the things about travel in foreign parts is that you regularly see things which you just do not understand.

And for me, when I was in Paris on May 5th, this photo, hastily snatched while crossing a road, definitely falls into the I Do Not Understand This category:

image

The buildings reflected in the window behind me introduce a note of sanity into an otherwise incomprehensible scene.  Why the upside down chickens?  And what has this to do with fortieth birthdays?

Shop windows are an endless source of photo-amusement for me.  I can enjoy it for ever, but without paying a thing or taking up any of my scarce home-space!

Busy day today, so that will have to do.

Saturday May 12 2018

I believe that many of the best photoers have a touch of the perve about them, and quite a few other photoers also.  At the very least, photoers sometimes have to be okay with people thinking they’re perves, which I suppose is part of what being a perve is.

So, for instance, in order to take these photos, I had to be using a camera in a public toilet:

imageimageimage

After we had done passport and baggage checking in for our Eurostar journey from the Gare du Nord back to London, nature had summoned me to the gents.  After I had answered my summons, I washed my hands, and then dried them in the hand dryer that you see above.  I had to leave to get my camera, and then go back there to photo the hand dryer.  Happily, nobody saw me at it.

The solidity and cleanability of the device inspired confidence.  I could see everything, so it would also need to look clean, which increased confidence that it almost certainly was clean.  Best of all, the heat was concentrated in a sort of horizontal sheet, if you get my meaning.  And you could move your hands up and down to where you needed to, to get rid of the last of the moisture.  It felt like it needed less power to do the same job, better.  And that of course is what its makers claim.

Those makers being Dyson, known to me until now only for their vacuum cleaners, and this is, as my photos had already told me, the Dyson Airblade dB hand dryer.

Capitalism just keeps on getting better, tiny step by tiny step, that being why this fact seldom hits the headlines.

Friday May 11 2018

When you go by train to Quimper from London, you start by going by Eurostar to the Gare du Nord in Paris.  And when you step outside the main entrance of the Gare du Nord, you find yourself next to a big red bear with wings.

Although I noticed this big red bear with wings when I first got to Paris, I only photoed it on the way back, a week later, when I and GodDaughter 2’s Mum were in less of a hurry between trains and when the weather was much better.

Also, on the way back, we didn’t suddenly see the big red bear with wings.  We could see it as we approached the Gare du Nord, and I had my camera ready to go, as it had been all afternoon:

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I quite like this big red bear with wings, but I am less sure about whether I admire it.  It seems like a mixture of too many unrelated things.  The lots-of-holes style of sculpting, which I associate with 3D printing, is one thing.  Making a bear look like a bear is something else.  And then, there are those wings.  On a bear.  Wings with holes in them.  The idea of the wings is that they turn the bear into an angel bear.  Something to do with global warming and the melting icecaps, I read somewhere and then lost track of.  The artist, Richard Texier, is not big on logic.  He prefers to stimulate the imagination.  To evoke magic.

The big red bear is called, see above, “Angel Bear”, and it has an inescapable air of kitsch abou it, to my eye.  Like something you’d buy, smaller but still quite big, in a posh gift shop, for far too much money.  I prefer a bull that Texier has also done, in the same 3D printed style.  No wings.  Much better, to my eye.  Cleaner, as a concept.

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But still a bit gift shoppy, I think.  Which is another way of saying that I bet these big old animals are by far his most popular works.  I suspect that Texier may be a bit irritated by this.  He likes being popular and he likes these big animals.  But he also likes his more abstract less gift shoppy stuff, and wishes the populace liked them more too.  Things like this:

image

I found both of those images at the Richard Texier website, at this page.

Despite my reservations about the big red bear with wings and my preference for other Texier works, I can, when I look at his big red bear with wings, feel Paris trying.  Trying to become that little bit less of the big old antique such as, compared to London, it now is.  I mean, you can’t miss the big red bear with wings.  Personally, I don’t find it to be wholly successful.  But it is holey.

Wednesday May 09 2018

I had in mind that the whole of this week would be about my recent trip to France, but I find that doesn’t suit.  If feels wrong.  This blog usually bounces around between different times and different subjects, and putting that on hold for a week feels, as I say, wrong.

There is also the problem that I don’t like doing long and complicated postings every day, and all the things I want to say about that French trip are quite long and quite complicated, if only because I want to attach copious photo-illustration to each of them.  So, today, no France, apart from that observation.

Instead, I will today confine myself to noting with satisfaction that, following a disastrous last weekend, when their rivals Chelsea won and they lost, Tottenham Hotspur, the football club that I like to do well ("support" would be to exaggerate ridiculously – I never actually go to games), earlier this evening defeated Newcastle, while Chelsea could only draw against Huddersfield.  All of which means that Huddersfield will not be relegated and Spurs will play in the early stages of the next Euro Champions League, until such time as they get eliminated.  But, bright side: Spurs finished top out of the London clubs.  Chelsea we’ve covered.  Arsenal also got beaten this evening, and are far behind, hence them firing their noted French manager, Wenger.

One of the subheadings in this has Spurs managing to “limp” over the line, by which is meant guarantee to finish at least fourth and definitely ahead of Chelsea.  The Spurs pattern seems now to be to have a basically good season, but to end it falteringly.  Sounds to me like: they’re tired.  Their manager apparently trains them extremely hard, which means they do well.  But towards the end, they run out of puff.

I do that every day, just before I go to bed.  One other thing about my France trip, I’m going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, than I was, I mean.  And I’m trying to keep it that way.

Tuesday May 08 2018

Yesterday I recounted that, after climbing to the viewing gallery towards the top of one of the twin towers of Quimper Cathedral, I had hoped to see a lot of bridges, but I didn’t.  I also said: never mind, because I am bound to see other things that I wasn’t even hoping to see.

Things like this:

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That is the inside of the spire, above the viewing gallery that we climbed up to.  You could just step into the space below that, directly from the viewing gallery.  Amazing.  I did not see that coming.

The medieval towers of Quimper Cathedral were rectangular, like those of Durham Cathedral.  The spires were nineteenth century additions, as is explained here:

Building started in the 12th century and continued at intervals until the 19th century, when the two spires were constructed and new stained glass windows were installed.

I would say that those spires were inspired additions, ho ho.  I like them in particular because they greatly increase the number of spots in Quimper from which you can see the tops of the Cathedral, which the spires made both much taller and much more recognisable.  Thanks to these spires, the Cathedral is far more of a local landmark than it would have been otherwise.

Monday May 07 2018

The pattern with all my best photo-expeditions is that there is an Official Designated Destination, and then there is all the other stuff I get to discover.  The principle purpose of the ODD is to get me out of my snug little home and into the big wide world that is Outdoors, to see both the ODD and whatever else I bump into in the vicinity of the ODD.

And the ODD for my recent trip to Brittany via Paris was the top of Quimper Cathedral, from which I hoped to photo the numerous bridges across the river that flows through the middle of Quimper, past the Cathedral.  Civilians are only allowed to climb to the top of Quimper Cathedral on very particular and rare days, and you have to book in advance.  April 29th was such a day, which is why I journeyed to Quimper on April 28th.  (I could not leave home earlier than that because on April 27th I had one of my Last Friday of the Month meetings.)

My Hostess (GodDaughter 2’s Mother) journeyed with me from London to Quimper, via Paris, and my Host (GodDaughter 2’s Father) and I duly presented ourselves at the big front door of the Cathedral, at the appointed hour of 4pm.

As we approached, we had already seen from below where we were presumably headed:

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And so it proved.

So, how would all those bridges look?

Until this moment, the best picture of the bridges of Quimper that I had been able to take was this, which I found in a Quimper shop, way back in 2006:

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But alas, in April 2018, the trees of Quimper were all covered in leaves, and when I pointed my camera at the bridges, leaves was pretty much all I got:

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This was about the best I got of any of those bridges:

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I see four bridges there.  There are a lot more than four bridges in the middle of Quimper.  Trees I like.  But, I hate leaves on trees.

Was I upset about this, having come all that way?  Not really.  I’ve always wanted to see this view, and now I have seen it, along with lots of other things to be viewed from the same spot.  This spot turned out, bridge-wise, not to be nearly as good as I had hoped, but at least I now know this.  I’m not going to die wondering.

Besides which, the Official Designated Destination is not justified only by how good the thing itself is.  At least as important is what else it causes me to encounter, and I encountered plenty.  If the ODD is a disappointment, the trip as a whole can still be great, as this one was.

Now that I am home, I did a little further image googling, and in among a mass of photos of the bridges of Quimper from ground level, with the nearest bridge almost entirely blocking the view of all the others, I found this one aerial shot:

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I can tell you from the scaffolding that this photo, even though this is the first time I’ve ever seen it, was probably taken in 2006, because all my Quimper Cathedral photos when I went there in 2006 also had one of the Cathedral towers smothered in scaffolding.  That was in September.  My guess is that the above aerial photo was taken earlier that summer.

Tourisme Bretagne needs to get in touch with 6k.  If he’s not free to photo those bridges from above, maybe he could recommend someone.  Or maybe they could find a place towards the top of a building closer to the bridges whose owner would be willing to allow bridgists to come and photo all the bridges.  Those bridges are a huge tourist asset, and they need to get them seen, and photoed, by visitors in all their glory.

Sunday May 06 2018

I remember when the internet was nice.  My part of it, the blogosphere, was nice, anyway.  Every blogger, no matter what he thought about things, was a comrade.  Every commenter, ditto.  In those magic few years from about 2001 until about 2008 at the latest, when a whole generation of people the world over found themselves short of cash, the internet was a nicer, more trusting place than it is now.  Since then, less and less.  Now, the internet is not to be trusted further than it can be spat, and it can’t be spat at all, can it?

Which is why, when I go on holiday and leave my flat unattended, I tend not to broadcast the fact on this blog, by posting postings which are clearly from this or that holiday location.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: broadcast?  This blog, a broadcast?  Well, no, not to regular humans.  But to all those cash-strapped desperadoes out there, it is a potential opportunity.

I don’t know if there are any internet creatures who spend their time working out, from blog postings and social media postings, that this or that person has left his home unattended, and then selling lists of such trusting persons on to people who might be able to do something bad about that, but this is not a chance I now care to take.  I prefer only to be telling you about photo-expeditions after I am back home.

Also, as you get older, you get more easily scared.  The less you have left to lose, the more you fear losing it.  This may not make calculational sense, but does make evolutionary sense.  The young need to be willing to take risks, to be willing to bet everything for the sake of their gene pool.  The old have less to offer in such dramas.  Or something.  What do I know?  Anyway, whatever the reason, we oldies get more timid as we grow older.

So yes, I was on holiday last week, in Brittany, and then yesterday, on the way home from there, I was in Paris, as I yesterday reported, once I had got home.

I took enough photos while in France to last me a month of blogging, and I expect about the next week of postings here to be about nothing else.  Here is just one photo from my travels:

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That was my first view, again, this time around, of Quimper Cathedral, seen through the rather sunglassesy front window of my hosts’ car, on what was already quite a dreary afternoon, the day after I arrived, Sunday April 29th.  Quimper Cathedral – to be more exact, one of its towers - was responsible for the timing of this visit.  I’ll tell you more about that in a later posting.