31 October 2018

Autumn


 Autumn

Another year dying
Under scurrying clouds
Trees breathe in
Undressing proud
Mantles of burnished gold
Naked as the truth


Waterlogued pictures - Hagg Side Plantation in The Derwent Valley & Birley Grange Farm

30 October 2018

Mauricio

Stop the press! News sensation! Read all about it! Your intrepid correspondent has been for another walk!

Yesterday I parked Clint in the peaceful hamlet of Oxton Rakes west of Chesterfield. There are only five house there but each one is substantial - built of stone and they enjoy big gardens, driveways with gates and various outbuildings. 

One of the first things I noticed was two creamy white alpacas in a meadow. I always find this an odd sight as alpacas belong in the foothills of the Andes mountains in South America. These two had recently been shorn so with winter approaching I felt a little sorry for them and wondered why the shears had not been used in the middle of our gorgeous summer.

Then the plodding began and your intrepid correspondent moved across the landscape like a beetle. I had a circular route in mind and at first the light was splendid but soon a massive grey cloud eased westwards from Chesterfield and an hour into the walk I found myself sheltering beneath a hawthorn tree as sheets of cold rain stabbed downwards like mini-stilettos. And I swear there were icy beads in that rain shower too.
The southern suburbs of Sheffield were visible on the horizon
It only lasted ten minutes but as the grey blanket moved on, I looked at my watch, thought about how far I had travelled and decided to alter my planned route - knocking off a little more than a mile. 

When I got to the head of an old track called Oxton Rakes Road, I noticed a stone in the middle of a grassy field and climbed over a nearby gate to investigate. It was a parish boundary stone defining the limit of the parish of Brampton. I waited for another pesky cloud to drift away - thereby allowing sunshine to illuminate this ancient stone. 
Mauricio the Alpaca
Of course Oxton Rakes Road leads to Oxton Rakes and as I passed the alpaca field the creatures came to greet me as if I was a long lost friend or another alpaca. It was probably the highlight of their day and a welcome relief from their constant grazing.

Unusually, I stopped at a nearby pub for a pint of "Black Sheep" and a bag of "Mini Cheddars". I read my book in the empty pub warmth before saddling up Clint once again and riding home into the sunset that was arriving an hour too early.  Changing the clocks twice a year is very stupid.
Selfie - I am waving to you.

29 October 2018

Poem


The Reservoir

In our valley’s sweet embrace
We were sheltered.
'Twas indeed a pleasant place.
On summer nights
We played, laughing
By the old packhorse bridge
While above yon brooding ridge
Swallows whirled in August air.
Back then we did not care
Where
Our futures might lead
As long as we’d
Still got our pretty home
By that tumbling river
And our old church spire
Rising higher
Than early morning mist -
Swirling and gently kissed
By golden sunshine from the east
On Derwent village now deceased. 

Beneath the surface
Far below
Sleep remains
Of those lanes
We used to know
Where fish and watery shadows glide
As echoes of what was subside.
A distant view of Ladybower Reservoir last Thursday

27 October 2018

Derwent

Can you guess what I did on Thursday? Did I wrestle with a brown bear? Did I bake another amazing banana loaf? Did I handwash Clint and then wax his sleek silver  surface? No dear reader - none of these. I went for another walk.

After parking at Ashopton Viaduct, I headed up into the hills between  the Derwent and Woodlands valleys. There was a wintry chill in the air but the day was bright enough. Nonetheless I was glad I had donned my fleece jacket. First up to Crook Hill Farm and then along to Bridge-End Pasture before skirting Hagg Side plantation.

I reached remote Lockerbrook Farm which is now an outdoor activity centre before heading down the valley side, through Lockerbrook Coppice to Fairholmes - in the shadow of The Derwent Dam.
At Fairholmes there is a visitor centre run by The Peak National Park. Because I had a few coins in my pocket I decided to take a break. After all, I had already been walking for over two hours. There was just enough money to buy a large mug of tea and a slab of date and walnut cake. Delicious.

The last part of the walk took me along the eastern shore of Ladybower Reservoir. This artificial lake was formed in 1945 as water from the moors backed up behind the newly constructed Ladybower Dam. 

This deliberate flooding meant that the villages of Derwent and Ashopton would be lost forever - hidden  beneath the water... Except that very occasionally the level of water in Ladybower Reservoir sinks so low that visitors are able walk amongst the remains of what once was. And because the summer of 2018 was so very dry - the reservoir is presently greatly depleted.
Derwent Village had a school, a church, a vicarage, some humble dwelling houses and a grand Jacobean house called Derwent Hall. There were three little stone bridges and a small village green. It must have been an idyllic settlement, nestled in a green valley through which the infant River Derwent snaked or thundered its way towards the city of Derby and ultimately the sea.

I walked there on Thursday afternoon and came across the stone gates that once led into the churchyard and I spotted a carved stone related to the remodelling of the village church in 1867. Across the old village stream that descended to the old River Derwent I could see the remains of Derwent Hall - now little more than a sorry pile of rubble.
Derwent Hall before the valley was flooded
The remains of  Derwent Hall in 2018 - across the middle of this picture

26 October 2018

Nationalist

Health Warning: Trump supporters are advised to ignore the following blogpost.
"You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, okay? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist. Nothing wrong. Use that word. Use that word." - Donald J. Trump, Houston Texas - October 22nd 2018
_________________________________________________________

Actually there is something wrong with that word. You only have to look back through the annals of history and you will see why Trump's ignorant use of the term should be chilling to all of us.

There is a subtle but very significant difference between patriotism and nationalism. There's nothing wrong with being a patriot - proud of your home country. This is what Charles deGaulle had to say about the difference - "Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first."

Many other thinkers - far wiser than Donald J. Trump - have reflected similarly on nationalism. Here's what Albert Einstein said, "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." and here's Arthur C. Clarke - "It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars."

And here's Pope John Paul II - "Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many different forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. The challenge that is already with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery."

On a separate Trump issue, his conniving response to the recent pipe bomb deliveries has been breathtakingly audacious. He has sought to use these troubling events to his advantage by once again throwing mud at the news media. No word of sympathy for The Obamas, The Clintons, Robert deNiro, Joe Biden or staff at CNN New York - just another hefty slap in the face for "fake" media when ironically it is Trump himself who has stoked the kind of division and unhealthy nationalism that will produce such outrageous acts.

25 October 2018

Newstead

Two walkers approaching Newstead Abbey from the south
On Monday I travelled to Newstead Abbey between Mansfield and Nottingham. Once there was  a priory there - founded by King Henry II in the late twelfth century. It was inhabited by a small band of Augustinian monks.

It remained a religious retreat for three hundred and seventy years until King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries. Newstead Abbey was then reduced to ruins.

Later the estate fell into the hands of the noble Byron family and an impressive country residence rose from the abbey's ruins. At great expense it was landscaped in the early eighteenth century before once again succumbing to neglect.
Newstead Abbey and an oak tree planted by Lord Byron
At the end of the eighteenth century, the estate was inherited by a child who would later become one of England's most famous poets. He was George Gordon Byron - more commonly known as Lord Byron - born in 1788 he died in Greece in 1824.
"The Fort" stable block and The Upper Lake
Byron loved Newstead though he did not live there for very long. It is said that he hosted some wild parties in the old house but it soon became something of  a financial millstone around his neck.
Garden statue detail
I walked around the lakes and into the surrounding countryside on another diamond day. And when I had had enough of exploring I went into the estate's little cafe and ordered a pot of tea which I drank on a sunny terrace with only a peacock for company.

24 October 2018

Bake!

We had two over-ripe bananas but I didn't wish to throw them away so instead I decided to make a banana loaf. It was the first one I had ever made.

Eschewing all recipes, I was determined to bake instinctively. I poured a couple of handfuls of self-raising flour into a bowl. Then I broke in two eggs and added the soft bananas.  Next I threw in about twenty sultanas and some crushed walnuts. A little caster sugar followed along with some demerara sugar and a dollop of maple syrup.

Shirley's good at baking and I think she was appalled that this was my approach to baking a cake. She said, "Baking is a science you know!" and "Why aren't you following a recipe?". 

"Because I can't be bothered. I am happier just to make it up," I grinned like the insane antithesis of Paul Hollywood - he of "Great British Bake Off" fame.

I whipped my mixture with a fork until it was nice and creamy with no dry flour to be seen and then at the last minute I decided to chuck in some small chunks of butter.

The mixture was poured into a lined medium-sized loaf tin and I stuck it in the oven for forty five minutes or so. The kitchen was soon filled with the pleasant aroma of  baking bananas and of course when the oven door was finally opened my banana loaf was a wonderful sight to behold.

It was light and airy and it tastes even better. Not too sweet and not too rich. Just right. Easy peasy! Eat your heart out Hollywood!

22 October 2018

Attention

Last Thursday, as I walked through Endcliffe Park, I saw something so amazing and unusual that I just had to share it with you.

A young mother was pushing her baby in a pram. It was one of those baby buggies where the baby is able to look up at whoever is pushing. I would say that the baby was about six months old.

As they moved along, the young mother was communicating happily with her baby. She was making funny faces and speaking in a kind of baby language and the baby was laughing and thrashing his arms with delight. They were really communicating.

The reason I mention this is that normally when I see young mothers pushing their babies around they  (the mothers - not the baies!) are glued to their smartphones - checking texts and Facebook updates and other important social media stuff.

It's as if the baby has become an irritating appendage. I mean who wants to laugh and make goofy faces at a baby when you can be reading the latest Strictly Come Dancing updates or checking out pictures of panini sandwiches? My question is deliberately ironic.

A child's earliest weeks and months are so important. It's a time for bonding and for learning in many subtle ways. What message is given to a baby when he or she sees Mum on her smartphone all the time? It's like saying - I choose to ignore you because whatever I am looking at on my phone is more interesting and more important than you are kid!

Small children need oodles of attention. If any young mothers with babies are reading this blogpost, please get off your smartphones! You can check out your phone stuff when baby is asleep. I worry about the long-term psychological effects upon babies who are frequently being ignored because of obsessive smartphone use.

21 October 2018

Wingman

Polish wingman Kamil Grosicki - terrorising the Preston defence
Last night I slept in Beverley. It's where I was a sixth former between 1970 and 1972 - pursuing A levels in English, Art and Geography at Beverley Grammar School. It's also where my mother died in 2007.

I was staying with my old friend Tony. He now lives with Pauline following an acrimonious divorce from his former wife. I was the best man at their wedding in the summer of 1988.

Yesterday, we went to see Hull City play Preston North End. Our team hit the woodwork three times and ended up drawing with The Lilywhites - as Preston are known. It was a draw that felt like a defeat.

In the evening, I enjoyed a couple of pints of dark mild beer in "Nellie's" before we went round the corner to the "Maa" curryhouse. It was a tasty meal but the portions were surprisingly small so every morsel was consumed. Then we went home to watch "Match of the Day".
The Black Mill on Beverley Westwood
I took this picture eight years ago.
This morning, before showering, I was out of the door with Tony. My walking boots were on and we were bound for The Westwood. It is an area of open common land to the west of the town, given to the townspeople in 1380 by royal decree. It accommodates Beverley race course and Beverley and East Riding Golf Club - the oldest golf club in Yorkshire.

Unfortunately, I had neglected to bring my camera and could have kicked myself because the light of the autumn morning was quite stunning. I missed some great photo opportunities.

Back at Pauline and Tony's house I went upstairs for a shower while he made a full English breakfast and later we chattered some more with Pauline before I drove home - over The Yorkshire Wolds and along to North Cave before meeting the M62 motorway. Over The Ouse Bridge and on to Doncaster via the M18 which in turn leads to the M1 and then the signs say "Sheffield". It is a journey I have done countless times.
Tony at 25 - outside our old house at Crookes thirty six years ago

20 October 2018

Tramping

Boot's Folly
To Hollow Meadows where Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a road accident in 1984. Unlike, that famous drummer I wasn't speeding. I left Clint by Rod Side Road and soon set off on my planned circular walk.
Lady Gaga
Over Ughill Moor with its broken stone walls, sheep pastures and grouse butts. Down to Wet Shaw Lane and then across Hoar Stones Road. By now I was above  Dale Dike Reservoir. A grouse shooting party were gathering by Thompson House on the opposite slope. Soon I was to hear the yelling of beaters and the blasting of shotguns as they flushed birds out of the woods. Laughably, they call this sport!
Inside Boot's Folly
Through Andrew Wood and up to Strines Reservoir and then up to Sugworth Hall, passing the scenic stone tower known as Boot's Folly. I have blogged about that before. Over Lodge Moor to Moscar Cross and then along the moorland track that finally took me back to Clint.

Three and a half hours of tramping in beautiful autumn weather. I gulped water from Clint's boot and sat reading my current book for half an hour before setting off back to Sheffield. And that's all folks. Short and sweet like my aorta.
Thompson House - shooting party vehicles to the right

18 October 2018

Aneurysm

Chinese student in St George's churchyard
Nope! Before you ask, I haven't got an aneurysm so this blog will continue to trundle along in its customary fashion.

What happens inside a human body is mostly mysterious to me. Out of sight - out of mind. I know there are slippery things in there like kidneys and bowels and nerves like thin electric wires and little pipes that carry blood. Actually, one of them is not so little. The aorta is like The Channel Tunnel carrying blood from the heart down to the stomach and all other stations south. It's as thick as a chipolata sausage.

For the past five or six years every man in England has received a special sixty fifth birthday present courtesy of  our wonderful National Health Service. Not a gold watch or a Hull City season pass but an invitation to be scanned specifically for aortic aneurysms.
War Memorial in Barker's Pool and The Town Hall
My appointment was at 2.30pm this afternoon. Rather than drive into the city centre or catch a bus, I decided to walk. It was such a magnificent autumn day and I wanted to snap some photographs along the way.

First down to Endcliffe Park and up to Fulwood Road. Then along to Broomhill and into Weston Park, past The University of Sheffield where students were swarming - staring at their smartphones like zombies as they ghosted by. Across Brook Hill roundabout and then onwards to Rockingham Street and down to the medical centre for my appointment.
Endcliffe Park Cafe
I arrived five minutes early and waited just one minute before a male nurse led me to his room for the scan. He said I had an unusually short aorta which was an unexpected  blow to my self-esteem! He also said that my aorta looked very healthy with no sign of any aneurystic swelling whatsoever. 

It was a relief to hear that. Some guys with big or even medium-sized aneurysms are  called back for surgery but Julian - the male nurse - gave me a green light and said that research proved that it is now highly unlikely that I will ever develop an aortic aneurysm. No doubt God Almighty has planned a different way for me to go - one day - hopefully in the distant future.
Gull diving in Endcliffe Park
Pete McKee mural on the side of Fagan's pub
"Women of Steel" statue
- in memory of the women who worked in Sheffield's
heavy industries in both world wars

17 October 2018

Veganism

Vegan fried "chicken" at "Make No Bones"
Our favourite son returned to Sheffield at the weekend. He had a good rest and caught up with some old friends but this morning he took an early train  back to London - specifically for interviews with "The Evening Standard" and "The Metro".

On Monday, we went for lunch in a trendy, post-industrial unit by The River Don. It is home to the "Make No Bones" vegan cafe which arguably has the best 100% vegan menu in Sheffield.

Now I am not a vegan myself but I am not averse to eating vegan meals. After all fruit is vegan and so are vegetables. To enjoy vegan dishes, you do not have to be a card-carrying member of The Vegan Society. It's okay to dabble. The vegan police will not get you.

Ian ordered a Moving Mountains B12 Classic Burger with french fries and fried "chicken" made from seitan. I went for the California Salad - roast tender stem broccoli and butternut squash salad with pomegranate seeds, avocado, quinoa, pistachio nuts, spring onion, poppy seeds and fresh herbs with an avocado and lemon dressing. It was gorgeous - the best salad I have had all year - so many tastes, colours and textures.

Of course I also sampled the french fries and fried "chicken" with its barbecue dip. Also delightful.
My California Salad
There has been a lot of talk recently in the news media about the need to reduce meat consumption for sound environmental reasons. Far too much land and energy is required to produce the meat products we find in our supermarkets. In addition, farm animals create vast amounts of carbon dioxide and methane.

Our ancestors did not expect meat to figure in just about every meal they ate. Only refrigeration has made that possible. The majority of people of the past customarily ate vegan meals. Meat was an infrequent treat , usually consumed within hours of the animal's slaughter. We should not be surprised that when the contents of bog people's stomachs are examined they are found to be almost exclusively plant-based.

In May of this year  an article in "The Guardian" said this:-

Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.

The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.

There's certainly a lot to be said for veganism.
Moving Mountains B12 Classic Burger

16 October 2018

Armstrong

Last Friday was a grey, rainy day just as meteorologists had predicted. I donned my new Marmot jacket, grabbed my senior citizen bus pass and headed into the city centre to watch a film at "The Showroom".

It was the two o'clock screening of "The First Man" starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong - the first man on the moon.

It begins powerfully. Armstrong is on a test flight - heading to the stratosphere. It is an intensely physical and noisy experience. The shaking is almost unbearable but Armstrong is focused, calm and determined even when this test flight goes horribly wrong.

Indeed, that is how he comes across in his home life with his wife Janet played by English actress Claire Foy and his young son and daughter. The daughter's name is Karen and very sadly she dies at the tender age of two from a malignant brain tumour. That was back in 1961. The film suggests that Armstrong's private grief over her loss is even present during the moon landing.

He is shown standing by a small lunar crater into which he casts Karen's bracelet. In reality, this never happened. It is a dramatic device dreamt up by the screenplay writer Josh Singer in league with the director -  Damien Chazelle. It adds an element of emotional poignancy but in any case filmgoers ought to remind themselves that "The First Man" is an entertainment and not a documentary.

There are many wordless phases in the film. Armstrong comes across as rather taciturn which frustrates his wife. Janet even has to bully him to speak to his two sons before heading off to join the historical Apollo 11 mission.

Later I watched an interview with Armstrong's sons - Eric and Mark who played an advisory role in the making of "The First Man". They were very comfortable with the way their "old man" had been portrayed. "He didn't say much but he had a good sense of humour", said one of them.

"The Last Man" is not science fiction. It is about an important event that happened in the middle of the twentieth century. Along with his beautiful first name, Armstrong will be remembered forever in the annals of world history. I was gripped by the film and I applaud Ryan Gosling for his studied and convincing portrayal of a rather unlikely hero.

For a different - and in my opinion unfairly damning - review of this film you might want to read Richard Brody's article in "The New Yorker"  His agenda is clearly a big one but the film was only two hours long and as I have already suggested - its purpose is surely to entertain not to win points for political correctness which is partly what Brody's verbosity appears to be advocating.

15 October 2018

Babies

Frances and Ian - London - Oct 7th 2018
Shirley and I were blessed to have two normal, healthy babies. They enjoyed happy childhoods and have grown up to become thoughtful adult human beings who relish the gift of life. 

But of course it isn't like that for everyone. Here are some close-to-home references that confirm that reality. Our son, Ian has many good friends - guys he has known for years. Though Ian remains a carefree bachelor, several of his mates are settling down and becoming fathers. 

How quickly the joyful anticipation of pregnancy can be replaced with a massive weight of anxiety. One of his old school friends became the father of a very premature baby that struggled to survive through his early weeks of life and is now permanently impaired both physically and mentally. Another friend's new baby has been in and out of hospital since birth. She has had two corrective operations because her organs were somehow arranged incorrectly within her chest cavity. She is bound to have breathing and digestion problems throughout her life.

A friend of mine's ex girlfriend has a four year old child who cannot walk, has a floppy head and drools when he eats or drinks. It is unlikely that there will ever be much improvement

Though we did not know him personally, a  local young man well-known to friends, recently leapt to his death from a multi-storey car park in Manchester. He  was a university student - just twenty one years old. Imagine how his parents must be feeling now.

Yes, we were blessed even though Shirley suffered not just one but two ectopic pregnancies in the eighties. One before Frances came along and one after. Sometimes I think about those little flames of life that burned so briefly and then went out but it is as nothing compared with the stories I have alluded to above.
____________________________________________________________
Reading News
I have just finished "Time and Time Again" by Ben Elton. It was well-written fiction that poses the question - if there was a moment in history you could change what would it be? Hugh Stanton has the opportunity to travel back in time to prevent the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on June 28th 1914. He hopes to stop The First World War and for good measure carries on to Berlin to kill  Kaiser Wihelm II, the German Emperor. But does his mission work and what kind of path will history take if he is successful?

It is I suppose a kind of fantasy novel - not normally my cup of tea but this was a stonking good read. Very well-considered by an intelligent  author whose roots were in comedy script-writing for the BBC - including "The Young Ones" and "The Thin Blue Line". Let's leave it at that.

14 October 2018

Repeat

Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd
in "The Last Picture Show"
I first watched Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show" in Suva - the capital of the Fiji Islands - back in January 1973. It was spellbinding. And over the years I had remembered the understated and rather melancholic atmosphere of this iconic black and white film. However, after forty five years, most of the fine details had left my mind. 

Although it's not my habit to watch any film more than once, I finally made an exception for "The Last Picture Show" after noticing that a DVD copy of it was available quite cheaply via Amazon. My copy duly arrived and last night I turned off the lights and hunkered down to watch it once again. 

My nineteen year old self had not been wrong for the sixty five year old man who now occupies this body was equally absorbed by the film. It stars Timothy Bottoms as Sonny, a young Jeff Bridges as Duane and Cybill Shepherd making her screen debut as Jacey Farrow - the most beautiful girl in town.

For years I thought that town was Abilene in  central Texas but it's not - it's a fictional place called Anarene in  northern Texas - closely based upon Archer City where Larry McMurtry grew up. In 1966, he published the novel on which the film is based - also called "The Last Picture Show".
Sam the Lion with Sonny and Billy
at the lake or "tank" where he once swam with Jacey's mother Lois
Though there's usually country music playing in the background, this is a quiet film set in the dusty heart of America - miles from anywhere. Analene is a small town where people endure private struggles for contentment and love. It is wistful, subtle and if not heart breaking then certainly heart aching. 
Though released in 1971, the film is placed twenty years earlier. California and New York City are a million miles away and they are never mentioned. The horizons of the inhabitants of Anarene are very restricted. Somehow this reminds me of  Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" where the enormity of distance seems to weigh down on the lives of the people. Only Duane really gets away - to fight in Korea. Sonny is left behind running the decrepit old pool hall once run by Sam the Lion played by Ben Johnson.

As Sonny admits, "Nothin's really been right since Sam the Lion died". Sam the Lion had also run "The Royal" - the town's only cinema. In his will he left it to his longtime employee, Miss Mosey who soon called time on the failing business - "Nobody wants to come to shows no more. Kids got baseball in the summer, television all the time. If Sam had lived, I believe we could've kept it goin'. But I just didn't have the know-how."

"The Last Picture Show" - still five star brilliance in my book.
"The Royal" - former cinema in Archer City, Texas - courtesy of Google Streetview

13 October 2018

Trumpish

In the latest jaw-dropping edict to emerge from The White House, President Trump has instructed that henceforth the language name "English" will be replaced by "Trumpish".

Trump said, "We need a great language that is businesslike and speaks clearly to people... like the word 'sidewalk' for example. It's what you walk upon by the side of the road. Hence - sidewalk". Trump went on to outlaw the words "pavement" and "footpath" calling such terms "British bullshit".

Often using "sidewalk" as a guiding principle, the revered president has begun his Trumpish war on English by outlawing several commonly used words. From January 1st 2019, these changes will be required by law.

ENGLISH         TRUMPISH
roof                     housetop
window               lookiethrough
ladder                 upwalk
staircase             downwalk
tightrope             cablewalk
kettle                  waterboiler
Democrat            Redmouth
lucidity               covfefe
tax evasion         initiative
important            trumpant
illusion                wall
intelligence         trumpence
trump                  fart
librarian              book stamper
crab                     sidewalker

His Regal Majesty Emperor Trump is seeking further additions to his new Trumpish  lexicon and welcomes suggestions. Make Language Great Again!

12 October 2018

Details

You might not wish to accompany me on an urban walk as I am always pointing my camera at things. You'd be yelling, "For heaven's sake Pudding! Let's move along mister!" But I wouldn't care. Though I have now reached the grand old age of sixty five, my eyes are still filled with childlike wonder - an insatiable appetite for the endless eye-catching images I see around me.

How should one capture London in a group of photographs? Perhaps Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Tower Bridge and The Shard? Or maybe it's better to drill down and record little things - the details of the city. Yes - perhaps that's the way - to discover the essence of a place through details that are so often overlooked.

Up at the top of this post there's a lion's head from the facade of The Alexandra Palace near Wood Green and below a box of heritage tomatoes I spotted at the farmers' market in the adjacent park.
Above - as we were walking through Ravenscourt Park on Tuesday morning, I looked up to the leafy canopy above - painted in gorgeous autumn sunlight. Below, a young seabird explores the edge of The River Thames near Albert Wharf, Hammersmith. I like the way she is reflected in the water as she seeks nourishment before nightfall.
Above - in The Rose Garden at Alexandra Palace there's a fountain with carved lion heads on each face of the supporting column. I was attracted by the green algal growth on one of those heads. Below - this picture was taken in Kew Gardens from beneath the incredible "Hive" structure designed by Wolfgang Buttress for the Milan Expo of 2015. There's a man standing in the very heart of the structure and he has no idea that I am beneath him pointing my camera towards the sky.
Finally, this is The Dutch House at Kew Palace. On the lawn in front of it there's a sturdy bronze sundial like a sail upon a circular pool of water.