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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

Wednesday February 18 2015

Today was the first first day of spring, so to speak.  By this I mean that it was the first day of 2015 which made in clear that winter would eventually end and that summer would eventually arrive.  Cool, but blue sky and sunshine.  Meanwhile, winter may soon resume but spring at least is now officially on its way, and will happen.

As a technically rather incompetent photographer, heavily dependent on good light, I rejoice.  The season of rootling through the archives is nearly over.  The season of adding to the archives is getting started.

And, also today, I went to a funeral, in Salisbury, which is about an hour and half out of London by train, in a south westerly direction.  The last time I ventured out of London into that part of England that is not-London for a ceremony, the weather was similarly excellent

As soon as we stepped out of Salisbury station, strange and exotic sights presented themselves, such as this Stonehenge Tour Bus:

image

But there was something odd about it.  It appeared to be leaning over somewhat, away from us.  When I got round to the front of it, I saw that appearances had not deceived.  It was leaning over:

image

How can a bus do that?  Was the suspension malfunctioning?  Was the Stonehenge Bus leaning over on purpose, in order to help a wheelchair bound passenger to embark?  Was it partly parked on the pavement, and was a suspension computer overcompensating?  Was there a kink in the road, downwards, next to the pavement?

I couldn’t hang about to investigate or to ask.  We had a funeral to get to.  But, odd.

Friday February 13 2015

One of the many pleasures of visiting my friends in Quimper, i.e. Goddaughter 2 and her family, is their cat, who is called Caesar.  Is?  Alas: was.  When I said goodbye to Caesar before coming back home last January, I feared that I’d not be seeing him again, and so it has proved, all too quickly.  A few days ago his faltering liver finally gave out completely, and to spare him more grief and pain he was put to sleep.

I took no photos of Caesar when I visited for the New Year, but took several last August, when I last visited.  Here is one of those pictures:

image

I took that at the same time I took the two photos of Caesar in this earlier posting.  If you try, you can imagine from that picture that Caesar has only two legs and is standing upright.  Not that you’d want to.

He is and will continue to be much missed.

I just came across this Economist piece from last November (I think that link will keep on working), saying that there may soon be ultra-cheap trans-Atlantic flights.  I did not know this.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, a low-cost carrier that has been expanding rapidly across Europe, has begun flying across the Atlantic and to Thailand. Next March Wow Air, an Icelandic carrier, will start flights on routes such as Boston to London, via Reykjavik, with introductory prices as low as $99 one way.

Time was when …:

… the fuel burned by long-haul planes made up a large proportion of the cost of operating the flights. That made it hard for budget carriers to find enough cost savings elsewhere to cut prices sufficiently to tempt flyers to switch from carriers offering more comforts.

This is now changing, with the launches of some new and far more fuel-efficient planes: Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, already in the air, Airbus’s A350, which will start flying within weeks, and a revamped version of Airbus’s A330, coming in 2019. Ryanair’s boss, Michael O’Leary, recently reiterated a promise that he would eventually sell transatlantic flights from as little as €10 ($13) one-way and with average return fares of around €200-300. The full-service airlines will also be ordering these new planes, but their cost disadvantage compared with the nimble budget carriers (because of such things as their legacy pension schemes and labour agreements) will become more stark.

Perhaps I will one day set foot in the USA after all.

As for that Economist link above, no, unless you subscribe.  You have to google “making laker’s dream come true”.  Then you can read it.

Or: this link seems to get you straight to a recycled version of the piece.

Wednesday February 11 2015

One of the better kept secrets of the popular entertainment industry of the modern world is how very good certain people are at faking reality, with quite small but very well made models.  Thoughtless people say they can always spot such fakery.  But the truth is that they only spot what they spot.  What they don’t spot, they don’t spot.  Obvious, if you think about it.  The same principle applies to things like men wearing wigs.  We can only see them when they are done badly.

So, I’m guessing that not everyone in Hollywood will be pleased about the internet presence of this guy, who contrives pictures like this ...:

image

… by doing this:

image

I found out about Michael Paul Smith from this Colossal posting, which is also where I got the above photos.

Much of the success of such fakery is to do with the camera being in the right place.  In particular, it needs to be low enough to see things from the same angle that a human would see them if the scene was real.

I remember first working this out when, as a kid, I went through a model railway magazine phase, a craze I caught from my best friend just a few doors away in Harvest Road, Englefield Green.  Most of the pictures in those magazines were obviously of models, but this was not because the models were always badly made.  It was because the camera was looking down on the scene, just as you do when you are looking at a model.  On the few occasions when the photographer would take the trouble to get his camera at real eye level, so to speak, it was amazing how realistic everything could suddenly look.

By the same token, and being only an occasional flyer, I have never yet tired of the thrill of looking down at the ground, preferably at built-up areas, from an airplane in the process of taking off or landing.  Everything looks like toys.  Really, really well made toys.  Your frequent flyers have got used to the idea that this is really just boring old reality, seen from above.  But to me, what I see from an airplane is something totally different from reality.  It is an entire world, painstakingly faked in miniature, for my personal entertainment.

Saturday February 07 2015

Yes, I spent the whole of today telling myself that it was only Saturday but feeling it to be Sunday.

For starters, the first of this year’s Six Nations games happened yesterday, on Friday.  I don’t remember that happening lately.  Isn’t the first 6N game usually on Saturday?  And then today, I went to a birthday party at Rob Fisher’s home, in the afternoon, out in the deep suburbs. Which was nice, but that’s something I associate with a Sunday rather than a Saturday.  It was the quite early start and the quite early finish that did it.  Saturday jollifications usually seem to start later and end later.  I’m not complaining about the timing, you understand, just saying that it messed with my head.

I was telling myself this all day long, yet still, when I was in the train back to London, I was thinking that I needed to buy some milk and some bread, but reckoning that I’d be too late for any of the big supermarkets, which are the ones which have the cheapest milk and the sort of bread I like, on account of these big supermarkets closing early, what with today being a Sunday.

Not that I mind any of this.  It’s been a great weekend so far, and there is still a whole day of it left.  England beat Wales in that 6N game last night, and today, Spurs beat Arsenal.  Spurs are my favourite football team, but I’m not a proper Spurs fan, because if Arsenal are involved but if Spurs aren’t, I like Arsenal to win.  Your real Spurs fan wants Arsenal thrashed, by Sporting Beelzebub if that’s who Arsenal are playing.

It actually is now Sunday, and I am cheating on the timing of this posting, by a short while.  The day ends when I got to bed is my rule, and I make the rules here.  What are you going to do?  Cancel your subscription?

Sunday February 01 2015

Adverts can be very revealing:

image

I spotted this advert at a bus stop in Quimper, Brittany, on January 2nd.

The point is, this is not Paris.  Quimper is a provincial French city rather than a big French city.  So this really got my attention.

More fun being had with the Union Jack there.

Tuesday January 13 2015

From time to time I go looking for pictures of bridges, preferably new ones, but seldom find anything I don’t know about.  And then, quite by chance, while clicking through these old photos, I chance upon this:

image

It’s the Golden Gate, being built, in 1937.

I recall doing a pen-an-ink type sketch (as opposed to something theatrical like a comedy sketch – odd double meaning that), when in my teens, of the Severn Road Bridge, when it only had a chunk of road in the middle, suspended in glorious isolation, going nowhere in either direction (like in the photo here).  This photo reminds me of those times.

I never actually drew any decent pictures, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about composition, by which I mean that I chose quite good pictures to do, but actually did them very badly.  Now I take good pictures, rather less badly.  How I wish there had been digital cameras when I was a teenager.  My cycling expeditions around France, and then Scandinavia, and then Iceland, would have been far more fun, and now far easier to remember.  The old cameras, with “film” in them, were ridiculous.  You had to “develop” all the damn pictures, very expensively, just to find out that about three of them weren’t total crap.  But you tell young people this nowadays they think you’re mad.  And if you did all this, guess what, you were mad.

I have never shared the contempt that most people show - or pretend to show - for Adolf Hitler’s paintings.  Okay, so they aren’t Rembrandts, but even so, I would have loved to have been as good hand-done picture-making as he was.  Could it be that people just can’t bear to accept that he ever did anything well or anything good?  Just a wild guess.

Wednesday December 31 2014

My journey from home to Quimper in Brittany involved a nervewracking change in Paris.  I only had an hour and a half to get from Paris Nord to Paris Montparnasse, during which time I had to buy a Metro ticket as well as do the actual journey.  The Metro ticket was the scary bit.  The Metro ticket selling system at Paris Nord is or at least looked that day like in-your-face fuck-you nationalisation, on full throttle.  Three windows for selling.  One imperturbably relaxed seller, at one open window, like in a British high street bank of the sort that is bullying you to do everything online.  A queue like something in old Moscow when a meat shipment was rumoured to have arrived, caused by two trains having just arrived at Paris Nord, mine being one.  Luckily there was also a slightly shorter queue for a machine, and by begging help from the lady in front of me, I managed to extract a ticket from the machine, and I then sped to Montparnasse.  On the way back, I will buy a ticket on the train from Quimper to Paris, which I can apparently do.  I will have four hours to make that work.  Should be enough.

At Montparnasse, I of course had an hour to kill, and although I had a good book with me, I killed the hour by taking photos like this:

image

That was taken quite high up in the Montparnasse station, through thick glass, hence the linear interruption and the yellow reflections.  But, being high up, I got a better view of a little of the magnificent roof clutter that Paris offers.  Those chimneys, with their pointy tops like something in a fairy tale book, are unlike anything I have seen or at any rate noticed in London.

Here is another picture which I took just before the one above:

image

Here we see a roof clutter refinement which I do not recall seeing in London much either, namely an illuminated sign right in front of whatever other roof clutter is behind it, advertising the business down below.  Given how I adore roof clutter and am also very fond of signs, this photo gave and gives me deep pleasure.

In among more formal expeditions to local beauty spots, I have got to walk around a bit in Quimper, of which I am very fond.  Back from some walk on the beach, somewhere or other, I had my hosts drop me off in the centre of town and I walked back in the amazing late afternoon sunshine.

In among much else, I took more roof clutter pictures, like this ...:

image

… and this:

image

The first is good because it shows more chimney pots.  The second I include for artistic impression.  I just like how it looks.

But what interests me about this clutter, aside from mere prettiness, is that whereas the chimney pots seem to be specific to France, the electronic stuff is the sort of thing that I recognise from the UK.  It would appear that a TV aerial is a TV aerial, anywhere in the UK or France.  Ditto a satellite dish.  How much do these things vary in the rest of the world?

French roof clutter
Touch typing or no typing at all
Playing away
A French film poster advertising a British film
Tired in France
Marginal Eurostar economics
Fuck the duck until exploded
My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
Back from France (plus cat photos)
GARBAGE SHED AND JUMP INTO THE SEA IS PROHIBITED
Will England get lucky?
The Not-V2 at London Bridge Station
I need a new passport but just now passports are a problem
Pylons behind fence
The joyful excitement of the Festival lyrique international de Belle-Île-en-Mer
Michael Jennings talking about Russia this Friday
A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
Three more Paris pictures
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
The text of my talk for Christian Michel last night
Digital photography as telepathy
Tough going in Australia
Mercedes-Benz W123
Big Things and small things
Michael Jennings photoes Cape Bojador
Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
Digital photographers holding maps
Sidwell (and me) on selfies
Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Two favourite photos from September 5th
London Gateway from above
Wedding photography (7): Evening
Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
What Michael Jennings has been learning about and will be saying about globalisation
Multilingual botanical gardens in Cyprus
Croydon cats
An afternoon in Croydon
Michael Jennings on why iPad photoing is not ridiculous
Little Lady Liberty - still in France
Dream and reality in Mumbai
What’s up with that?
Space launch monster
Rainbow Bridge
James Tooley discovers private schools for the poor in the slums of Hyderabad
Quota frogs
Infrequent flyer
Possible light blogging for the next week
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Health and safety on a mountain in Borneo
The Armstrong Gun
Subconscious cricket
A Spanish geography lesson
Delayed action Dubrovnik cat
Alex Ross on Hollywood film scores
Another ephemeron for David Thompson?
Abandoned Bangkok tower
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Another link enema
Farnborough redirect
Yesterday and today
Peaceful time in war zone
Shard sitings and and an agreeably honest rabies prevention sign
A busy blogging day?
Voice and exit
Two bridges in Portugal
Chained cat in Vietnam
Two red cats
My sleep and luggage and bus and fluid travel hell
In Alicante
Possible holiday interruption
Cricket talk tonight
Towers under the weather - and a steam engine steams to the rescue
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
David Farrer photos
Shadows on rings
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Back lit by the sun
Saturnic majesty
Signs of the times in Belfast
Long platform ticket
Ancient Sheffield dwarfed by modernity
Monsal Viaduct
By bus to Sheffield
SwivelCam
TARP stuff - and a trip to Sheffield
Rock faces
Second Class power
Happy New year (if possible)
Power
A view from Vauxhall Station
Snapped in Egham
My Oxford talk on Google video – or summarised by a friendly blogger
Resized picture done with Jesus but quickly
Preparing for Oxford
Blogging elsewhere and talks elsewhere
First picture posted to this blog from the wild
Now I’m going to try to stick up a picture with Jesus
Brisbane church dwarfed by modernity and this posting behaving very strangely
A thin bridge in Wales
Euston Arch
Resizing Slim with Expression Engine
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
Two adverts in the tube
A new British citizen
French cats
What I have seen so far while abroad
Nanpu Bridge in Quimper
Keyboard blues
Posting here may be sporadic for the next few days
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Self-guided photo-tour of the streets of San Francisco
Paying a visit to Mum
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Posting with Jesus at the far end of the Kings Road
Moore versus Stossel on Cuban medical care
Eee PC not eeesy to get in Asia either
More St Pancras snaps
The A380 bulge
Samsung SPH-P9200
Comment is free and WiFi should be too
Adriana and Ivan in Addis
The (very) slow fade of Bolshevik Cuba
Toy train to Darjeeling
Taipei with skyscraper
Very very low cost kitten in space
DMZ