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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: Travel

Thursday September 20 2018

To me, nothing says Abroad quite like a poster, somewhere in Abroad, advertising an English speaking movie, whose English title I already know, with a foreign title that is different, but with all the same star names:

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La Taupe means The Mole.  I preferred the TV series, but I love this poster.  Photoed by me in Paris in February 2012.

As was this, on the same expedition:

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In the same directory, I encountered other photos of posters advertising the following movies: Drive (Ryan Gosling), Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage), Underworld (Kate Beckingsale), and Star Wars Episode 1 (whoever).  But in those posters, the titles stayed in their original English.  Why?

Friday August 17 2018

imageThis is the exactly kind of thing I joined Twitter to be informed of.  Pinker, it seems, is a Real Photographer, or at least Real enough for me not to know the difference.  I’m sure that The World has known about Pinker’s photoing for as long as he has been doing it, but The World did not include me, until a few days ago.

Also rather Real Photographer is that if you left-click on any of the photos here, you get a little dark rectangle with little blue writing in it saying this:

These photos are copyrighted by their respective owners. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.

So I hope that the small and cropped repro that I have included here, of one of the more eye-catching of these photos, of something called a frigatebird, will not incur the ire of Pinker Inc., or whatever it is that might be irate.  If Pinker Inc. does demand the removal of even this little photo, that will happen straight away.

But if it does, no matter.  Follow the above links and feast your eyes and your mind on the weird and wonderful creatures of the Galapagos Islands.

Tuesday June 26 2018

It is called, at any rate by the people who built it, The Peak.  What it is called by others, in the event that they notice it at all, I don’t know.  But it’s more likely to be something along the lines of “that peculiar and asymmetrical lump outside Victoria Station with the big curved metal roof on it, that looks like it was stuck on the top during a refurbishment of some ugly old block built in the sixties or seventies”.

Today, personal business took me to Victoria Station, but before descending from the main concourse of the station into the Underground, and encouraged by the spactacular not-a-cloud-in-the-sky weather, I took a look around outside.

And saw this:

image

That being the top of “The Peak”, and on top of that top, the rather splendid window cleaning crane that periodically emerges from that bizarre roof.  I love these cranes, especially when they have odd hats on the way that one has, to make them merge right back into their roofs, when they resume their hibernation.

But today, that peculiar curvey metal bit that sticks out on the left, as we look, was also looking wonderful.

Although almost any building looks good on a day like today was, that particular combination of sights particularly appealed to me, and made me particularly pleased that I had interrupted my journey.

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.

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:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

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.

image

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.

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:

image

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:

image

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.

Saturday May 05 2018

I’m back home now, but yes, earlier today I had lunch in Paris.

I don’t normally do food photoing, but I reckon this one came out pretty well:

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This photo was an afterthought, but that helped because I photoed the food while it was being eaten rather than before we started, which worked out better, I think.  And it tasted even better than it looked.  It’s liver of some kind, and it didn’t come cheap, but boy was it tasty, and it kept us fueled for the rest of the day.

But now?  I’m now knackered and am off to what will by my tardy standards be an early bed.  More about all this tomorrow, unless there’s some unignorable drama.somewhere, like someone dropping an H-bomb or some similar foolishness.

Saturday April 21 2018

I reckon that, if there were some kind of competition for selfie photography, this selfie would, if entered, be a definite contender for a medal spot:

image

I am fond of arguing that you should judge a new technology or communicational device or software application, not by its merely average, everyday uses, but by its most significant uses.  So long as the average uses do no great harm, then if the highly significant uses are very good, that’s proof of the extreme goodness of the thing.  Don’t judge telephones only by all the silly but harmless chitchat they transmit, judge them by those life-saving 999 calls.  Don’t judge Skype by people just gibbering at random even though there’s no big problem with that, judge it in particular by how it connects people with relatives who are dying on the other side of the world.  Judge it when doctors use it to do long-distance and life-saving diagnoses, or when an absent father, working abroad, is able to keep in touch with his kids back home.

The same applies to selfies.  Most of them don’t do any harm, even if they aren’t great works of art.  But some are terrific.  See above.

As you can see very clearly, this one was taken with a mobile phone.  Look closely, and you’ll see that there is a perfect shadow of the photoer, just to the right of the mobile phone.

Found it here.

Thursday March 01 2018

A tweet reminded me about this wonderful rant from Louis CK:

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That’s the version of it, with dots inserted by him, that Steven Pinker quotes in his new book about the Enlightenment.

Pinker is concerned to explain why increasing affluence doesn’t seem to make everyone ecstatically happy.  Deidre McCloskey, in her Bourgeois trilogy, is fond of talking about how the Great Enrichment has made regular people as of now nearly three thousand percent richer.  So, why aren’t we three thousand percent happier?  Because we don’t seem to be.

Lots of reasons.  First, you are happy not according to your absolute level of affluence, but rather according to how affluent you get to be and how meaningful your life gets to be compared to what you were expecting, and compared to how well everyone else seems to be doing, because that tells you how well you could reasonably have expected to do.  You may well have been raised to expect quite a lot.  Second, although technology hurtles along, for most this hurtling is both pleasing and rather unsettling, the less of the former and the more of the latter as time goes by.  We don’t experience, in our one little life, how much better things like Twitter are than is looking after cows, out of doors, all year round, with not enough food or heating.  What we experience, as we get older, is how confusing things like Twitter are, or alternatively, if we ignore something like Twitter, how demoralising it is that it has defeated us and denied us its benefits.  Or how tedious air travel is, compared to what we’d hoped for rather than compared to a horse drawn wagon in a desert.  Yes, I live three thousand percent better than that wretched cowherd three hundred years ago, and if a time machine took away my life and gave me his life, I’d be three thousand percent more miserable.  But that’s not the same as me being three thousand percent happier than he was.  Happier, yes, definitely.  But not by that much.

It’s because we don’t feel that much happier that Louis CK has to rant, to remind us of how lucky we are.  And that Steven Pinker has to write his book, to make the same point.

But what if progress continues to hurtle forwards?  What if someone reads this posting, centuries from now, and he says: Good grief, those Twenty First Centurions were very easily satisfied.  Five hours to get from New York to California?

It must have been hell.