Saturday, 31 January 2009

Stating the obvious - # 09/14

Isn't it funny how local Councils are always looking for more and more innovative ways to spend our local tax money?

I snapped this "innovative idea" at Teddington Lock.

Those who know the place will agree that between them the Local Council, The Port of London Authority, The Department of the Environment, The Health and Safety Executive, Transport for London etc etc have been vying with each other over who can put up the most signs trying to tell us what we must and must not do, and how terribly dangerous this place might be if we even dream of going near it! The result is a complete mess of "signage", the curse of our civilised urban society.

By the way: Suburban sundown hasn't finished, but you will have noticed I'm resting (no postings for this past week). The weather and the sunlight must be right - and at the moment they are not. Also the mode and the inspiration must be right. At the moment they are not.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Suburban sundown - Modernism! - # 09/13

Suddenly I understand what cubeism, and the 1920s were all about. Why has it taken me so long? These two were put up in the '60s. I did not like them then, and I still don't, because I always felt they are out of context for what they are, where they are. But after snapping them carefully with my new super-wideangle lens, just before sundown, I suddenly appreciate them - but a only a little bit .

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Suburban sundown - Stop messing about! - # 09/12

What are you doing?!

Well, it's raining hard outside.

I know that!! Now answer the question!

Well it's something for Jilly, Richard,
a chap called Blognote in Arona
and a lady in Birmingham

Birmingham, for heaven's sake?? !!!!!!

Yes, in Alabama.

Birmingham, Alabama! That's even worse than our own Birmingham!

Yes, but..................well, not only those. Also some other blogger friends.

Hmmmm. But, answer the question! And......what's all that beeping?

It's the camera.

Why? What are you doing, exactly?

The rest you can imagine...................the above is a photo of an excellent Stilton Cheese from an artisan workshop "Cropwell Bishop". The cheese is unique and, in the right context, delicious.

Camera: Olympus E3. Lens set at 400mm equiv., telephoto. Minimum focus range about 1.2 meters. Settings all Manual at F8. Available light. Tripod.

In Suburbia, when it's wet, things get really nerdy.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Suburban sundown - Sun's up in my kitchen!- # 09/11

Taking a rest due to foul weather the hunt is on for a special kind of "red". It has to be light, with a nice balance of very light fruit and acidity. I'm looking towards the rarer "northern" reds grown under gentler heavens - perhaps Teutonic rather than Gallic.

So why show a Languedoc pinot noir? Only because I drunk the others before I could get the camera ready.

My wine merchant revealed a merlot from the Veneto (Italy) grown on the cooler gentle pre-alpine slopes at the very north of the region. I was suspicious that as a merlot it would be much too soft, but he correctly assured me that the cooler conditions had left it fresh enough for my palate and stated criteria.

Then came a gamay, from the Tourainne. Normally a Loire area wine is white, so this red fitted my search criteria.

I was highly suspicious of the above featured Languedoc pinot noir. Far too sunny. It will be too well delveloped and a bit too "tough", I complained. "Trust me" he said. He was right - but only just. It is a light and nicely balanced wine, that can be appreciated. One senses the South, but it's not too overbearing.

Now the search is really on for the very rare but serious German reds, followed by Austrian and even Swiss reds. This is what I am really keen to ferret out and sample.

What's provoked this sudden excursion? As I said; the weather, and Zurich. ( I suspect he's flying a kite with a hidden agenda).

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Suburban sundown - the Tower of Babel and Satan's Pit! - # 09/10

The Tolworth Tower, overlooks the thundering Kingston Bypass. It's typical of suburban London.

I was amused to compare it with this estate agent's blurb discovered recently, attempting to encourage people to buy property in Dubai......................

..........."Welcome to Al Barari, the most perfect place on earth. Those lucky enough to belong in this wonderland can expect a life filled with enchantment and beauty, each day more fulfilling than the last. Whether you lie by your pool listening to the fountains and the birds or spend each day at one of the world's finest spas. Whether you explore the dreamlike parklands or wander the specialist craft stores, hobby shops or other niche retail outlets. Even a day at the office is a surreal experience - it's a life of endless wonder.Not since the legendary gardens of the Moors has there been a place that so celebrates the human intrinsic love of nature and beauty. As though surrounding the palace of a great sultan, Al Barari is a delight to the senses and a tribute to the wonders of the planet.Set like a magnificent emerald within the golden desert sands, Al Barari is a sanctuary where man and nature live in harmony, where the flora and bird life of the Arabian Peninsula intertwine with luxurious residences. Cobbled paths and shimmering waterways wind amongst vast Botanical Gardens, past Islamic Perfumed Gardens, Music Parks, open-air theatres and fine organic restaurants. It is a place so tranquil that the silence is only broken by the symphony of life, a soothing melody of birdsong and cascading waterfalls, laughter and age old breezes whispering through the foliage. In this same lavish style, a unique Arabian Boutique Hotel welcomes travelers.If you would like more information on the above property please contact us on the form below and one of our sales consultants shall contact you shortly with the answers to all your questions regarding the property....................."

How long will it be before the sound that is "the symphony of life" becomes the thundering roar of the Al Barari Bypass? I wonder if a day at the office in the Tolworth Tower is "a surreal experience - it's a life of endless wonder" ? By the way: you can "Google" Tolworth and find out everything you want to know about its origins and the tower.

Suburban sundown - as the sun sinks it also rises.

Camera: Olympus E3 Lens 9mm 1:4 (18mm equivalent) Time: Sundown. This is one of the first test photos I took with this new Olympus super-wideangle lens. So far I'm very pleased with it.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Suburban sundown - artistic pretensions - # 09/09

At sundown I escaped from Camp Malden Manor (Post - # 09/07) and dashed into the nearby woodlands. To my surprise I came across the exact spot where Millais painted his famous picture of Ophelia drowned.

This is the Hogsmill river. We are standing not very far from the spot where it rises out of the North Downs and then begins to find its path towards the Thames at Kingston. Being winter, the banks have no flowers to decorate them, but nevertheless one gets a good sense of the Ophelia "atmosphere" that inspired Millais.

I did not see Ophelia, but I you must admit that the two old motor tyres really do look the part! The Bypass (Post - # 09/08) is very close, so it's easilly accessible by car ;-).

Suburban sundown - not always quite so awful as it often looks. Also......cut and paste the link in my Postscript note below. It's an unexpected insight into Millais's work.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Suburban sundown - Bypass on the road to doom! - # 09/08

The low angle of the sunset gives a pleasant golden glow to the misery of the Kingston Bypass.

The Domesday Book was the record of the great survey of England completed in 1086, executed for William I of England, or 'William the Conqueror' (The Anglo-Norman word gave us our modern "Doom" i.e. Day of reckoning.) William wanted to know the full value of the great land he had accidentally conquered when an arrow (most likely a completely fluke shot, un-aimed and random) killed the Saxon King at the very moment when the Norman soldiers were about to give up, thinking they could not win.

The green, rolling hills - now covered with asphalt and houses between 1927 and 1938 - became, for a little while, the possession of the Bishop of Bayeux.

The Bishop acquired this wealthy, beautiful, rural landscape of farms and productive capacity entirely by the accident of a loose arrow going nowhere. We have covered the land with a thundering, incessantly roaring road by the design of planners following population growth and economic imperative. Where are we going? Are we that arrow? Or are we the random arrow's final target? Do we plan a true path, or is it all random chance?

The suburban sundown series.........where's it going? (Well, actually, if the clouds do not dissolve and allow back the sun,........... hmmmmmm??? But we will keep trying. The English weather is not a great help right now, but that problem, like all things, will pass.)

Monday, 12 January 2009

Suburban sundown - Camp Malden Manor! - # 09/07

The 1937 utilitarian, poured-concrete equipment tower of Malden Manor suburban railway station unwittingly looks forward to the unpleasantness of the imminent WW 2. The tower has not aged elegantly, although the station is still rugged, clean, and fit for purpose.

Below it another shock awaits us! The unexpected, and very much enjoyed, echo of Britain's colonial past - the Indian Take-Away: strategically placed to catch home-bound commuters, and all tooled up with a little VHF transceiver antenna to communicate urgently with all patrolling Honda delivery mopeds.

Suburban sundown - sometimes it gets you down. (Lessons in English vernacular cost extra!)

Friday, 9 January 2009

Suburban sundown - Tolworth Station! - # 09/06

I'm not sure where this is going to end up, or where it will pass through on the way. It's about London's "suburbia" and how the great boom of the 1930's has morphed it's way into the 21st century. I suspect that occasionally it might be a bit "dark", sometimes rather bland (what suburbia isn't?) but I will attempt to make it photographically palatable. I might even become so depressed that I can't bear to continue it. Then again, I might become inspired and find the strength to go on for a week or two. We'll see.

Tolworth railway station is a concrete Bauhaus/Art Deco-ish creation thrown up alongside the new Kingston bypass to serve a vaste new suburbia that mushroomed from zero in the 1930s. When new it probably looked quite stylish. It was simple and relatively cheap to build. It probably had in mind the same future vision of the Autobahn age that was also dawning in Germany.'s definitely "sundown style". Too much Auto and not enough Bahn.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

So; here's the field. Now where's the horse? - # 09/05

Travel just 7 miles south of Richmond and you reach the countryside. Sometimes you can forget that cars and millions of people exist.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Kingston upon Thames! - # 09/04

Looking down from Kingston Bridge we see a collection of house boats and derelicts awaiting repair and resale. In the brilliant December sunshine the garden screen looks more Mediterranean than "England in Winter".

Across the water we see where the old industrial quays have undergone the typical make-over that swept through Europe's derelict old industrial waterside areas in the 1980's and 1990's. New "luxury" apartments and "entertaining bars and restaurants" replace the old sites of grubby labour and toil.

We are looking at the next stage of Kingston's long history that stretches back at least 1,000 years to a time when Saxon Kings were crowned at Kingston before the invasion by the Normans under William the Conqueror transformed English society and established new systems and laws we recognise even today. This invasion transformed the language into the rich mixture of old French and Anglo-Saxon which today we know as English.

Nothing is permanent. Everything changes - quickly, and suddenly.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Champagne birthday - # 09/03

.........the glass is waiting to be filled a second time. (The tilting bottle is the caused by the parallax effect, not the poleaxed effect).

{The photo's a bit wierd because I messed up the resizing, but it looks great when you click on it and it comes up as it should be}

Friday, 2 January 2009

At the Half Mile Tree - # 09/02

......winter, sundown, very cold.

There are very cold winter days when the sun is very bright, but when it goes down the atmosphere becomes ever so slightly misty and the cold takes on a special quality. These moments can move your feelings and sentiments and the scene becomes what I call a "gut wrencher". The special light lasts for only a very short time.

It's difficult to capture this mood, but it is something that a photographer may strive to do. Personally (i.e. very much for myself) I feel I've captured it, and am satisfied with the image.

The photograph was taken standing at "the Half Mile Tree" where the narrow Lower Ham Rd. meets the bank of the Thames as you walk from Ham towards Kingston. The location in itself is, for a number of reasons, very evocative, not the least because of its name. The signs of a highly developed urban scene shrink and become insignificant in the context of time and history.

Camera: Olympus E3. Lens 14-35mm 1:2 set at f16, ISO 125

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Three red chairs (and one for the host) - # 09/01

So, who will pass through Richmond and sit with me by the river on the terrace of Tide Tables cafe this year?

Various comments on previous postings indicate that you all like the texture and colour of the gravel. The chairs and tables are nice, too; and the several images of this terrace over the past two years of postings have never failed to win applause. It's clear - the place speaks for itself.

Thanks to all of you who regularly drop into the blog; regardless of whether or not you leave a comment.

A Happy New Year to all.