Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Monday, 30 June 2014

In the land of the kilted pine

This year's trip to Austria seems to have encouraged a focus on the distinctly odd, like this interesting garden decoration, somewhat out of line with the general conventions of the area (as indeed was the same owner's idea for recycling old kitchen appliances and utensils).

Of course, the scenery remains stunning, the wild flowers beautiful, old buildings picturesque, baroque churches extravagantly fanciful and so on.

But why decorate a church pulpit with a halo-ed cow?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Munich again

Surprising what you can find when you follow your nose. Looking for quite a different building, and negotating a way through a mass of scaffolding and builders' equipment outside, led from a hot day outside into an extravaganza of cool grey plasterwork in the Theatinerkirche. No need for the black-and-white function on the camera, this is what it looks like in colour.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Words not quite failing me

Fulmination is rarely the best use of emotional energy, and that's not the sort of blogger I'd want to be, usually. But what else can one do when it seems our Prime Minister's unnamed spokesman thinks it's purely a matter for consumers whether or not the products of the theft of labour, of health and even of life itself (otherwise known as slavery) should be on sale.

Is he proposing that the police and courts should likewise apply that principle to the sale of stolen goods? And how does he propose that the Home and Education Secretaries should work together to include it in the much-touted forthcoming drive on "British values"?

Throwback Thursday

Last Thursday, it was Paris, this Thursday it's the Tirol via Munich I'm off to, so here's a photo from a good fifteen or so years ago of surfers catching the waves of mountain water as they burst through some constricting conduits, slap in the centre of Munich:

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Jardins Albert Kahn

A splendidly shady retreat on a baking hot day, the gardens surround the house of Albert Kahn, who devoted the wealth derived from his banking career to a variety of philanthropic causes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among many other projects he employed a number of photographic teams to go around the world documenting the lives of many different peoples in the hope of engendering internationalist spirit; many of the photos are in startlingly good early colour techniques.

His gardens were developed in much the same spirit, drawing inspiration from Japan, from his native Alsace, traditional French and English styles and so on, not all at their best all the time, but still presenting plenty that is striking and beautiful:

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Monday, 9 June 2014

Sunday morning in the park

Everywhere has its own oddities (we've got plenty, after all). This weekend's example of the Parisian version was to find, on arrival at La Villette, not so much the aerobics class/demonstration taking place on one of the hottest mornings of the year, but that it was doing so to the sound of sundry well-known Christmas songs and hymns, complete with a singalonga chorus, all to the same bouncy party beat. Up and down, side to side they went, with some particularly aggressive whoops and air-punching as they got to "peace on earth and mercy mild".

And all watched over impassively by the sculpture in the fountain, apparently of a woman having an enema.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Throwback Thursday

Just to mark where I am this weekend, here's one of the first photos I ever took of Paris, in 1963.

Arrival here these days is so much easier with Eurostar: an unremarkable two hours on a train (with no ferries or customs checks) and then just walking out of the station like a commuter.  Today, though, there was a reception committee: a guard of honour, flowers and banks of photographers. Not, as it turned out, for any old hoi polloi, but for the Queen, due to arrive for the D-Day anniversary events. Whether she had been on our train and was just waiting for all of us to be out of the way before making her way down the (rather narrow) platform to the big reception, or whether everyone was good and early for a later arrival, I didn't stay to find out.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Shoreditch strikes again

Six months ago, this building (which used to be a [cough] massage parlour, and was then left locked up for quite some time) suddenly appeared in this guise.

To judge from the quintessentially arty Shoreditch type unlocking the door the other day, it's now a studio; and now it looks like this: