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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

Saturday February 06 2016

Today I have been what passes with me for busy.  By this I do not mean that I have been doing anything along the lines of work, of benefit to others.  Oh no.  But I have been paying attention to a succession of things, all of which involved me not being in much of a state to do anything else.

There was a game of cricket, there was a game of rugger, and a game of football.  England defeated South Africa.  England defeated Scotland.  And Spurs defeated Watford.  So, three for three. And then I went to hear a talk at Christian Michel’s, about The Unconscious, Freudian and post-Freudian.  Freud, it turns out, was right that there is an Unconscious, but wrong about a lot of the details.

On my way home from that talk, I took a photo.  Technically it was very bad photo, because it was taken through the window of a moving tube train.  It is of an advert at a tube station.  But my photo did the job, which was to immortalise here yet another assemblage of London’s Big Things, in an advert:

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That’s only a bit of the picture, rotated a bit, lightened and contrasted a bit and sharpened a bit.

The advert was for these visitor centres, which sound suspiciously like what used to be called “information desks”.

I see: the Cheesegrater, the Wheel, the BT Tower, Big Ben, the cable car river crossing, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s, and the pointy-topped Canary Wharf tower.  I forgive TfL for plugging the embarrassing Emirates Dangleway.  If they didn’t recommend it, who would?

Because of all that busy-ness, I have no time to put anything else here today.

Tomorrow: Super Bowl!

LATER: AB de Villiers, talking about South Africa now being two down with three to play:

“I can’t help but think, shit we have got to win three games in a row to win this series. Shucks, I mean. But that’s the fact of the matter. In situations like this, whether you are 2-nil up or 2-nil down, you have to take a small step. The next game is important for us. Shucks.”

We all know what shit is, but now learn what a shuck is.

Sunday January 31 2016

This picture of a taxi ticks two BMdotcom boxes.  First, its a black cab which isn’t, either because it just isn’t, or because it is covered in an advert.  In this case, it’s a bit of both:

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But better, we observe in the advert on the not-black cab two Big Things.  The Big Thing on the left says: London!  And what is actually the much Bigger Thing, on the right, says: New York!  I am collecting imagery that says: London!, and this fits that bill very well, even if it does say: New York! as well.

I quite like the replacement for the Twin Towers, but it seems to me rather bland, in a picture, when you can’t see how very big it is.  Bland being what you do not want in a Big Thing for saying: New York!  But I guess, the Twin Towers having established themselves as the Big Things that formerly said: New York, whatever replaced them was going to have to do that job as soon as it appeared, bland or not.  The Empire State or the Chrysler would no longer do, them having already been dethroned as the sayers of: New York!, by the Twin Towers.

I think it is very telling that in the New York picture there is a clump of skyscrapers rather than just one.  Because New York is not any one skyscraper.  It’s a forest of skyscrapers.  Each individual skyscraper may be rather bland, but what it all adds up to is anything but bland.

But New York is not my town, and that is only me guessing.

Friday December 25 2015

Following a solitary posting here (in August) about an expedition with G(od)D(aughter) Two (in July) to Richmond Park, here, at last, is another.  So, this is some serious catching up.

Once again, the topic (du jour) is deer, this time the non-rein type deer of Richmond Park.

Here are some of the lady deer, looking very cute:

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And here are a few of the deer lads, on their way …:

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… to join the rest of the lads:

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And here is another shot of the ladies, this time with a single gentleman deer in their midst:

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I’m guessing that this is the deer who hits the annual genetic jackpot.  He locks antlers with all the other male deers, and comes top, and wins … the ladies.

But I may have all this totally wrong.  What do I know about what goes on in parks? Anyone really know what’s happening here?

Whatever it is, it sure makes for pretty pictures.

Monday December 21 2015

I did a posting at Samizdata in 2012, about a trip I made to One New Change, but I don’t believe I ever displayed this photo, which I took soon after visiting the top of that excellent venue:

image

It is quite clear that this is a drycleaners.  Its name, alas, is not, in my photo, quite so clear.

Photo of this enterprise taken without my deliberate and rather malicious mistake here.

I have just got back from a party at Mchael J’s, having failed to do anything here before departing to it, and this was all I could manage.

But, I can add this.  During that party Michael said, while travel-talking about the Middle East:

The thing you have to remember about that part of the world is that Hezbollah are the good guys.

I think he was talking about Syria, but I could be wrong.  It was a good party.

Perry de Havilland also said something else very funny, but I have forgotten what it was.  It was a good party.

Good night.  Sleep well.  I will.

Friday December 04 2015

These are Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing, London, New York:

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The rest here.

Saturday October 31 2015

It seems that I am not the only one reminiscing about photos taken nearly a decade ago.  The Atlantic is now doing this, with the help of NASA and its Cassini orbiter, and the Cassini orbiter’s oresumably now rather obsolete camera:

Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus (504 kilometers or 313 miles across), is the subject of much scrutiny, in large part due to its spectacular active geysers and the likelihood of a subsurface ocean of liquid water. NASA’s Cassini orbiter has studied Enceladus, along with the rest of the Saturnian system, since entering orbit in 2004. Studying the composition of the ocean within is made easier by the constant eruptions of plumes from the surface, and on October 28, Cassini will be making its deepest-ever dive through the ocean spray from Enceladus - passing within a mere 30 miles of the icy surface. Collected here are some of the most powerful and revealing images of Enceladus made by Cassini over the past decade, with more to follow from this final close flyby as they arrive.

Here is a picture of Enceladus taken on June 10th 2006:

image

That is picture number 25, or rather, a horizontal slice of it.

Beyond Enceladus and Saturn’s rings, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is ringed by sunlight passing through its atmosphere. Enceladus passes between Titan and Cassini ...

That’s right.  Those two horizontal, ever so slightly converging white lines and the edge of the Rings of Saturn.

Picture number 10 is even more horizontalisable:

image

A pair of Saturn’s moons appear insignificant compared to the immensity of the planet in this Cassini spacecraft view. Enceladus, the larger moon is visible as a small sphere, while tiny Epimetheus (70 miles, or 113 kilometers across) appears as a tiny black speck on the far left of the image, just below the thin line of the rings.

That one was taken on November 4th 2011.

My thanks, for the second time in as many days, to 6k for pointing me to these amazing images.

Saturday October 24 2015

The week’s latest manifestation of the Michael Portillo Train Journey Show took us to Austria, and featured a spectacular viaduct, which made it possible for trains to go from Vienna to Trieste, the one big seaport of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.  This is the Kalte Rinne-Viadukt, which gets the trains through the Semmering Pass.  I think I have that right.

Here is what it looks like, from above:

image

The man who designed and supervised the building of this railway would appear to be a very big cheese in that part of the world.

Now for another picture which tells you about something else that is going on in that part of the world, something Michael Portillo did not mention.

They’re building a tunnel:

image

I found that map (here it is bigger) at a place placed on the www in 1996.  Amazing. 

As part of an on-going programme to improve national and international railway links for the year 2000 and beyond, Austria embarked on excavation of a 9.8km-long pilot tunnel ahead of full construction of the planned 22km-long Semmering base line tunnel through the Alps. The new tunnel is on the domestic route between Vienna and Villach, which is on the main Trans-European railway route between the states of middle and eastern Europe and the Mediterranean harbours in Italy. The new alignment will supplement the existing 41km-long route, which was built more than 100 years ago and winds slowly and steeply up and over the Semmering Pass. At the lower elevation the new tunnel will allow for higher train speeds, ensure continued services through severe weather conditions and reduce travel times substantially. When complete, the new ‘fast’ track will carry high-speed passenger services and heavy freight trains while the existing mountain pass railway will continue as a local community service and as a tourist attraction through the spectacular Alpine landscape.

Work began on the tunnel in 1994, checking out the route, preliminary drillings, that kind of thing.  Amazingly, the tunnel only got the actual green light to be actually made, constructed, dug, drilled, built, tunnelled, in May of this year.  The present schedule says that the thing will only be finished in 2024.

In other words, it’s going to take thirty years from first use of a digger in anger, so to speak, to the last.  That sounds to me like a lot of years.

Tuesday October 13 2015

Here are the last pictures from my trip to Richmond last week that I’ll be showing you.  They are both of a house.

No cranes.  No roof clutter.  No scaffolding.  No white vans.  No taxis.  No Big Things in the background.  No me, reflected in it.  Nobody else photoing it, or even doing a painting of it.

Just a house, and some leaves:

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But not any old house.  It was once the home of Henrietta Howard, Mistress of His Maj King George 2.  How do I know this?  From this sign:

image

Click on that if you don’t believe me and the above picture is too small for you to read properly.

Tip for when you are out and about photoing.  Take pictures of signs. That way you record not only what you saw, but what it was.  Maybe you won’t care about that in five or ten or twenty years time, if and when you are looking back through your pictures.  Maybe “P1250679.JPG” will be enough for you.  But maybe it won’t.

Friday October 09 2015

Later on, in Richmond, still beside the river, but upstream, practically in the country, I espied a cat.  Here is the context, and the cat:

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In other cat-related news, 6k did a cat-related posting for me to link to last Friday.  He mentioned me in the first line, and then showed one of my photos, but I only realised that there was cattery later in the posting too late for last Friday so I had to wait a week.  He went on to mention that video of that giant white fluffy Goodie stroke James Bond villain kitten attacking the BT Tower.  Said 6k:

Yes. Kittens were huge (literally) in popular culture, even before the internet was around.

Very true.

And if Brian reads this before the end of the day, he’s got a lovely Feline Friday tie-in opportunity with his post from yesterday.

Better a week late than never.  (There is also a cat connection in this posting, which is about the head of another sort of big cat.)

6k is taking a bit of a break, or so he says.  I’ll still keep checking in, just to see.  “For personal reasons”.  Ah yes, there are lot of those about, rampaging the earth, closing blogs and generally causing havoc.  Me, I try to avoid having personal reasons.

Another favourite blogger of mine features more cattery here, in the form of East End high end graffiti.

Thursday October 08 2015

When I photo a scene, I like to get other people’s screens into my pictures:

imageimage

The weather was grim and grey today, when I took the above snaps, but the paintings were bright!

Painting.  Before computers, this was how they did Photoshop.

Saturday October 03 2015

Here being Epping Underground Station, which is not actually underground, but you know what I mean.

As already recounted here, I was recently in Epping.  But I just looked again at the photos I took that day and realised that, fascinating though the M11 is, this sign is even more interesting:

image

I did not know there was such a thing as the Epping Way.  But there is.  It is 82 miles long.  Did you already know about this “way”, from Epping to Harwich?  I didn’t.

This is not really a case of “blog and learn”, but blogging did help, because as so often I was looking for something interesting to pass on.  Which meant I first had to learn something more about it besides its name on a sign.

I also like the photo.  Without photography I would have completely forgotten about this.

When I was at Essex University, I used to go there from London by train, or by car, or by bus.  Now I learn that I could have walked, by what would presumably have mostly been a rather scenic route.

Thursday September 03 2015

This afternoon I was meeting someone at London City Airport, and while waiting for their flight to arrive I took this photo, of the big TV screen showing flight arrivals:

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Milan, Alitalia.  Amsterdam, CityJet.  Exeter, Flybe.  Isle of Man, British Airways.  Okay.  But what is Rotterdam, “Jet Centre”?  And what of London Biggin Hill, “Jet Centre”?  That was the one that got me noticing this.  Biggin Hill?  I didn’t realise that was any sort of regular London airport.

Googling, when I got back home to my desk, confirmed my earlier guess that wherever it says “Jet Centre”, this means it’s a private jet, leaving from the “Jet Centre” at wherever it was.  I am still not entirely clear about this, but that does seem to be what is happening.  Can anyone confirm or correct this?

Private jets, and the people wafted hither and thither in them, inhabit a world that I pretty much never encounter.  But at London City Airport, assuming I’m right about the “Jet Centre” equals private jet thing, the worlds of value-for-money regular-people aviation and of money-no-object plutocrat aviation overlap, to the point where both of these worlds appear on the same London City Airport TV screen.  Whether the plutocrats use the same airport facilities as the rest of us, I do not know.  Same runways, presumably.  But same arrivals and departures places?  I suspect not.

Either way, I bet it costs them.  I guess it’s a case of if you have to ask, then you can’t afford it, but I have to ask.  How much do they charge to land a private jet near to the middle of London?  Excuse me while I do some more Googling. …

Well, I still don’t know, but according to this piece, there is no London airport in the top ten on the list, so it must cost less than £2,530.  I was expecting it to be a bit more than that, somehow.

There is every chance that, by and by, Michael Jennings, globetrotter extraordinaire, will append a comment to this posting.  If he does, you can be sure that his comment will be a lot more informative than this posting has been.

Tuesday August 04 2015

Most of the things I tell you about at this blog are the sort of things that will keep for a month.

This view, for instance, looks exactly the same today, apart from any weather differences, as it did on the day I photoed it, nearly a month ago.  Okay, weather does make a difference, so these Things probably did look quite different today to how they looked on July 7.  But, they won’t have moved:

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G(od)D(aughter) 2 wanted to visit countryside.  And I wanted to visit Richmond Park.  At Christian Michel’s, on the July 6 manifestation of his 6/20 meetings, I had had a Distant Views of London’s Big Things conversation.  Hotel ME, Parliament Hill (click on that to see what a huge difference different weather can make, in the space of a few minutes), this rather hard to describe one, that kind of thing.  Richmond Park, said this most obliging woman.  Have you tried that view?  No, said I.  You should, said she.  So, Richmond Park was the perfect spot for me and GD2 to visit.  GD2 wanted rurality.  I wanted a new and exciting view of urbanity.

The picture above is a rather extreme case of a good photo taken badly.  (I will return some time Real Soon New and take it better.) But I like it, because it records the moment when I first saw that the woman the night before had been spot on.  Wow.  There’s London.  Mission accomplished.

But soon, the views got a bit better, and so did the photos:

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That’s a photo taken with my now maximum zoom (maybe this will get zoomier some time soonish).  The next two are me easing off on the zoom, to show not only London itself, but how London looks from Richmond Park, by including a bit more of Richmond Park.

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I like these snaps so much that I took a long time pointlessly fretting about how exactly to display them here.  In the end, I just did what Hartley always does.  I just piled them up vertically.

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The Walkie Talkie looks particularly fine in these snaps, I think.  However, it is becoming harder defend this building, even though I am determined to go on doing this.  Not content with firing death rays down onto the street in front of it, this building, it is now being said, is doing terrible things to the local weather.  The death rays were easily corrected, but changing these wind effects will be much harder.  Basically, those on the receiving end will have to get used to it, one way or another, which might include more architecture.

This is the kind thing that happens when you build a building which is a different shape to all previous buildings.  You find out that there are reasons why people mostly don’t build buildings this shape.  No, that’s not quite it.  You find out that whereas regular-shaped buildings, having been built a million times, have had all the bugs ironed out of them, this is not true of your building.  Simply nobody know exactly how to build it.  Not you, not anybody.

Saturday June 13 2015

A while back I visited a friend in Epping, and during our ramblings in Epping Forest that day, it was mentioned that there was a spot in that general area where the Big Things of London could be seen.  Seen from a great distance, but seen, in a gap between the trees.

Lured by the promise of this view, I returned, the Sunday before last, and was duly shown this view.  You could see what appeared to be the BT Tower, and when I got home I confirmed that it was indeed the BT Tower.  But, handsome though the BT Tower is, there is more to the towers of London than the BT tower.  Never mind.  I contented myself with photoing decaying farm machines.

But there are no decaying farm machine photos in this posting, and for that matter no photos of the BT Tower.  Because.  About an hour later, in weather that (as had been promised by the weather forecasters) was improving, we stumbled (if you can stumble in a car) on a vastly improved view of London.  We only got to that because my friend was using a hoped-for short cut to show me an antique railway station or a church or some such thing.  But suddenly I yelled that the view I had hoped to see an hour earlier was now viewable.  Stop the car.  Stop the car.  Let me get out and photo … this:

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There they all are: Strata (the one with three holes in the top) Shard, Walkie-Talkie, Gherkin, Cheesegrater, Heron Tower, Natwest Tower, Spraycan.  They’re all there.  Apart from the BT Tower which is away to the right and hidden behind a hill.

As so often at this blog, what you are looking at is a great photo, taken just about technically well enough for you to realise what an even greater photo in all respects this could have been, if taken by a Real Photographer at the top of his Real Photographer game.

The only reason it has taken so long for me to stick up this picture is that, as you can surely imagine, I took a great many shots like this one, but later could not decide which one was the least mediocre.  All were very striking (because of what was in them), and rather blurry (because I’m a blurry kind of photographer when I take shots like these), and interrupted by wires in the foreground (because I did not see those until I got home). 

imageBut I do have just one more photo to stick up here, containing as it does the vital information telling Real Photographers exactly where they need to go, to take this picture properly.

I took that photo on the right, of our location displayed on its map by my smartphone, in the car, just before we continued to what had been intended as our next destination.  As you can see from this, we were well beyond the M25.  The small blue blob in the middle is the location.  Subsequent google mappery confirmed that we were twenty miles and more from the centre of London.

Sadly, the small blue blob in the middle is pointing, very misleadingly, in a completely different direction to the direction in which I pointed my camera to photo London.  London is located below and to the left, i.e. towards the south west, the M25 being the road around London and the M11 being the road from the territory to the north east of London (involving such places as Cambridge), to London.

This spot is not all that far from Epping tube station.  On a better day, I will return.

This view combines great distance with definite visibility to a degree that I have not experience and photographed from any other place.  Does anybody know of any place that scores higher by this combined measure?

I include cranes in the category list below.  There are, as always with big pictures of London, cranes.

Monday April 27 2015

One of my favourite buildings that I’ve never seen is the recently completed (quite recently completed - 2008) Oslo Opera House, which looks like this:

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Sooner or later, some big public building was bound to be built like this, with a roof that doubles up as a big public open space, where you can walk to the highest spot on the building’s roof, without once having to go indoors.

Oslo Opera has become a new landmark for the city and proved an instant success with both locals and tourists.

And of course, that roof doesn’t have to be the bland and featureless desert that this one is, in this picture.  Sooner or later, it will acquire roof clutter!  Perhaps it already has.

As entire cities compete with one another for tourists, buildings like this, with walkabout roofs, will surely become ever more common, as ever more tourists search, as I search, for places up in the sky from which to take tourist snaps.  It is no accident that I found the above picture and quote at a site called Visit Norway.  (Although sadly, this Visit Norway site fucks with the links and causes them not to work, and these fucked links also fuck with subsequent links which are none of Visit Norway’s damn business. This caused me major problems, until I just stripped out all Visit Norway linkage, at which point sanity was restored.  So if you care, you’ll have to find the damn place for yourself.  I think Visit Norway was trying to help. It failed.  Norway, sort this out.)

Even as I praise this building, I make no judgement about what goes on inside it.  The point of these “iconic” buildings - horizontal Big Things - you might say, is that they are fun to visit, regardless of their mere indoor contents.  See also: Tate Modern.  After all, one of the advantages of a roof like this is that the roof can be enjoyed even as the inside of the building can be entirely ignored.

What got me writing about this Oslo building was a recent posting at Dezeen, featuring another proposed building by the same architects, Snohetta (which has a forward slash through the “o") which uses the same trick, of people being able to walk up to the top in a big zig zag.  This time it is a museum in Budapest:

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And oh look, I went to the Sn o-with-forward-slash hetta website, and here is another Snohetta proposal, using the same trick, for another opera house, this time in Busan, South Korea:

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With the design of the Busan Opera, the opera is no longer a passive playground for the elite but becomes interactive, democratic space, responding to the public’s ambitions and interests.

This is architect speak for:

People can walk about on the roof and take photos without having to sit through some stupid damn opera.

And oh look, again.  Snohetta have also proposed that a new media centre in Vienna should look like this:

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Look again, and you encounter the Barack Obama Presidential Center:

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These last two are not so zig zag, but the principle is the same.

London awaits you, Snohettans.