Tag Archives: Photographs

Setting sun over Brandenburg

A recent visit to an old friend living near Müncheberg in the Land of Brandenburg on a glorious late autumn day provided a wonderful opportunity to experience the special landscape and wide open skyscape of this part of Germany.  The quickly fading light rendered the leafless silver birch trees a rich red colour, contrasting beautifully with the green sown fields alongside.  The sun setting behind a hemispherical tree in the distance also provided a wonderful silhouette against the vast sky beyond.  The pictures below hopefully capture something of this fascinating part of Germany, with its contrasts between wide open fields and dense areas of woodland.

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I couldn’t resist adding one image from earlier in the day: a field filled with a vast flock of migratory geese!

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Barbarians 31 – Fiji 33, Killik Cup 2019

It was great to watch such a free-flowing and open game of rugby at Twickenham yesterday (16th November 2019).  The referee Tom Foley rarely had to stop the game, and when he did both teams chose to kick for touch and further possession when they were awarded penalties, which added to the entertainment.    Having been behind 17-33, the Barbarians fought back to within two points at the end, making it a very exciting finish.  The handling was impressive, and despite the cold the crowd of 51,213 left invigorated by a most enjoyable afternoon!  I hope that the pictures below capture something of the entertainment and excitement.

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For match reports see:

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Marching for a “People’s Vote”, 19th October 2019

Panorama

Today is the first day that Parliament has sat on a Saturday since 1982, and only the fourth time it has done so since the end of World War II.   The gathering had been called to discuss Prime Minister Johnson’s new Brexit deal with the EU.  It was also the day chosen for the latest People’s Vote march.  It is estimated that around a million people joined the march which wound its way from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square,

Central London was brought to a complete standstill, but despite the much larger police presence than previously, it was generally good humoured and festive.  Marchers came from all corners of the UK and beyond; they were young and old; men and women; people from all different background, religions and colours; in wheelchairs and on their feet…  They carried a wide array of amusing, clever, and sometimes challenging posters and banners.  The atmosphere was full of trepidation; Parliament was set to accept the deal.  The day started brightly.  England had thrashed Australia at the Rugby Union World Cup in Japan, and the sun was shining brightly over London.  As the afternoon progressed, though, the clouds began rolling in. After hours of discussions, Members of Parliament (MPs) were voting on the so-called Letwin Amendment, which would withhold approval of the deal, until it had been fully discussed by Parliament and the legislation passed to enact it.  This would have the effect of triggering the “Benn Act” which would force the Prime Minister to request a further postponement of Brexit until 31 January.  The rain started in Parliament Square, and the big screen revealed the tellers coming back into Parliament.  Everyone held their breath, hoping that the ayes would have it.  And so it was, by 220 votes to 206, a majority of 16.  The square erupted in cheers.  Prime Minister Johnson’s rotten deal, widely seen as being worse for the UK than that brokered by his predecessor May, had been delayed, if only for a while.

I hope that the pictures below capture something of the diversity and passion of those marching for a people’s vote, most of whom wish to remain in the EU.  It was a wonderful example of democracy still being alive and well in the UK.

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I have often been a critic of many of our MPs, and their failure to serve our citizens, but the quality of speeches by MPs and others from the platform today was of very high quality: passionate, committed, eloquent, accurate, and above all advocating the democratic principles that lie at the heart of our country.  It was a very special, indeed an inspirational, day.

See also my reflections on the People’s March on 20th October 2018.

[In most instance where I photographed an individual close up so that they are easily recognisable, I specifically asked if I could share the picture on social media and permission was readily granted.  It was impossible, though, to ask everyone in crowd scenes.  Where possible, I tried to take photos primarily of people’s backs, but again this was not always feasible.  Should anyone wish me to remove an image please let me know and I will do so.  I do hope that none of these images cause anyone concern]

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Filed under Brexit, Photographs, Politics

Nairobi National Park

After several weeks “on the road”, a free morning in Nairobi provided a wonderful opportunity to spend some hours with friends visiting Nairobi National Park.  It is many years since I was last there, and people have said that building encroachment as well as the new railway and roads are increasingly affecting the lives of the wildlife.  However, following two days with rain and an early start, we were very fortunate to have a sunny morning during which we saw a wealth of animals and birds.  I very much hope that the images below capture some of the beauty and richness of Kenya’s wildlife.

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VQueueistors should, though, be warned that passports/identity cards are needed to enter, and that payment (currently US$43 per foreign visitor) is required by card rather than cash.  It was amusing to reflect that the introduction of digital payment means has led to lengthy queues; although it may have reduced fraud, it has certainly lengthened the time it takes visitors to enter the park!

Many thanks to Pauline who collected us from the hotel, and our driver John who did a great job in locating the animals!

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Filed under Africa, Photographs, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Tram 37A

“Tram 37A” would make a great title for a novel!  Travelling every day on this tram in Budapest provided a fascinating insight into life across a transect of the city that not many visitors glimpse.  From the hustle and bustle of Népszinház u., past the decaying Fiumei úti nemzeti sírkert (Kerepesi cemetery), across railways lines and road junctions, to the railway station at Kőbánya felső.  The images below provide just a quick overview of the everyday life of Tram 37A!  Perhaps the novel will come later…

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Reflections on Buenos Aires

The invitation to give a Keynote Address at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) excellent President’s meeting last month, provided me with a wonderful opportunity to spend a little bit of time exploring the fascinating city of Buenos Aires.  I had never been there before, and I left with many contradictory memories in my mind.  I hope that the pictures and reflections below capture something of these.

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My lasting memory, is of the diversity yet uniformity of the city.  Laid out on its grid plan from the 19th century, blocks are dominated mostly by 6-10 storey grey buildings, in various states of dilapidation, with a wide range of different commercial uses on the ground floor.  There seemed to be little attempt at commercial zoning; shoe shops were next to ones selling fruit and vegetables on one side and mobile phones on the other.

It is hard for people living in Europe or North America to appreciate that in the early 20th century Argentina was among the 10 richest countries in the world in terms of per capita income; it was richer than either France or Germany, and had outgrown Canada and Australia in population, total income, and per capita income.  This huge wealth is still visible in the moumental buildings spread widely apart across the city: the theatres, mansions, and buildings of state.  Yet its subsequent economic decline and political turmoil also remains all too visible.

The city’s large size, and the dispersed character of its monuments, made me feel that it had little obvious centre.  Yes, people point to the Obelisco at the crossing between Av. 9 de Julho and Av. Corrientes as its centre; others emphasise the importance of the Plaza de Mayo and the Av. de Mayo leading west towards the Congreso de la Nación Argentina from the Casa Rosada.  However, for me it still lacks a central throbbing heart.  New growth and development is scattered apparently haphazardly through the city, in parts of Palermo or to the east by the old harbour.

It is also amazingly ethnically and culturally diverse; hugely European, yet little like Europe.  Somehow there remains the sense of an indigenous undercurrent from before the Spanish conquests of the 16th century, but this has been almost completely obliterated by the waves of European settlements; mainly Spanish, Italians, and Germans.  By the early 20th centry it is estimated that just under a third of the population had been born overseas.  This European identity of the 19th and early 20th centuries remains very visible in the built landscape and in the culture of the city.  The grand opera house, the Teatro Colon, is reputed to be one of the five best concert venues in the world in terms of acoustics.  Nearby are other theatres, such as the impressive Teatro Nacional Cervantes; the Teatro Gran Splendid to the north-west opened in 1919, and a century later the bookshop that now fills its balconies has been described by National Geographic as the most beautiful in the world.

This European culture is embedded in its music; it helped me understand why the cultural evening generously laid on for us included, surprisingly for me, classical ballet and music, alongside the challenging songs of Nacha Guevara, and the stunning beauty and passion of the tango.

And the wealth of a growing middle class is increasingly visible in the plush shopping malls of the Galerias Pacifico or in the old railway arches of Distrito Arcos in Palermo; gated communities nearby enable the rich to watch out over the city, in which poor beggars sleep on the streets underneath any shelter they can find.

I have never been anywhere in the world where there have been so many people calling out “Cambio”, “Cambio”, wanting to change your money on the streets; scarcely surprising when it is so difficult to change it legally elsewhere, and the cashpoint machines charge almost 20% for transactions!

Many people like the old cemetery at Recoleta; I found it depressing, and an omnipresent reminder of the faded past of the city.  But the white brightness of the adjacent Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Pilar next door was a reminder of the vital present, and the neighbouring Centro Cultural Recoleta a vibrant, colour-filled explosion of life.  The lively market nearby provided me with the opportunity to purchase a much-wanted multi-coloured gaucho belt.

Thanks to all those in Buenos Aires, for this wonderful opportunity; and I haven’t even started on the huge steaks and the delicious Malbec wines…

 

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Filed under capitalism, Conferences, Dance, Inequality, Latin America, Photographs, Politics

The Champagne stained glass window in Reims cathedral

Over many years I have gathered together a wide range of imagery about grape growing and wine making, but although I have visited Reims cathedral on several occasions, I have never before had a camera with the right lens to take close up pictures of the famous stained glass window representing wine growing in the Champagne region.    Last weekend was different, and a leisurely afternoon provided the opportunity to share the imagery below.

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The window in the south transept was completed in 1954 following the removal of earlier glass in the 18th century, and damage to the cathedral in the 1914-18 war.  Funding came from  the Champagne Houses, winegrowers, overseas agents and others who wanted to help restore the cathedral.  The imagery shows many of the stages in making Champagne, but does so in the style of medieval glass.  It provides a fascinating insight into Champagne production as it was in the middle of the 20th century.

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Filed under Photographs, Wine

Birds of south-east Australia

A short visit to Victoria and South Australia provided a wonderful reminder of the richness and diversity of Australia’s wildlife, and especially the birds.   Many are very elusive, and walking quietly through the landscape, far away from cars, trains and aeroplanes, it is lovely hearing all of their calls and seeing the flashes of colour as the flit through the vegetation.  Travelling light, I did not have my large lens with me, but I hope that the pictures below capture something of this richness and diversity.

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Lotus’s 70th Anniversary Celebration

Lotus celebrated its 70th Anniversary in style today at its Hethel site near Norwich.  The sun joined in the celebration and shone brightly throughout the day.  It was a huge privilege to be one of the company’s guests, and I’m very grateful to the hospitality and generosity of everyone involved.  The day’s celebration finished with a procession of the largest number of Lotus cars ever to be on a track at the same time!

I very much hope that the images below capture something of the great history of the company, its cars, its staff and its owners!

 

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Thanks once again to the Board and staff of Lotus for making it such a memorable occasion!

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Imagery of Tirana (in the daytime…)

Participating in a conference in Tirana over the last few days has provided an opportunity to explore something of this fascinating city – a mixture of new constructions, communist era buildings, and a few much older medieval remnants.  I hope that the images below capture something of its wide diversity: Skanderberg Square hosting a World Cup fan zone just a few days after it won the European Award for Urban Public Space (2018); Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox religious building reflecting the diverse beliefs of its people; the communist era bunkers and surveillance museum reminding us of the past; superficially refurbished shops beneath crumbling old housing blocks; the nearby woodland park and lake; diverse restaurants serving unusual combinations of food, with delicious local beer and wine…  To these, though, need to be added the generous hospitality of our hosts!  Thanks to Endrit Kromidha, and all those who made this visit possible.

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Filed under Europe, Photographs, Uncategorized