Coffee, Cake and Sunshine

IMG_3717I hadn’t planned to stop for refreshments.  Really, the plan was to walk around the town to see the changes since I’d been here last, but I’d already been waylaid by my friend’s boutique and a cotton jumper like the one I bought there last year and have worn and worn.  Furnished with my new acquisitions (yes, there were some trousers involved too), I thought I’d spend some time watching the sea in the sunshine.  It would have been rude not to have a coffee and a cake too, wouldn’t it?

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Blue Skies Over Berlin

IMG_3703I’m still pondering many of the things I saw on my trip to Berlin; some of the monuments and memorials made a deep impression that I need a little time to think about before writing.

In the meantime, let’s talk about the weather.  My friend Jill commented on the greyness of the sky in the photo I posted yesterday, so as we were very lucky to see sunshine and blue sky on a couple of the subsequent days, here’s a shot of the bottom end of Unter den Linden.  I was standing with my back to the Brandenberg Gate looking east.   Unter den Linden is, historically, the main promenading boulevard of central Berlin, named for it’s shading by rows of lime trees.  At the moment it’s a building site, involving some sort of improvements to the Underground system.  Promenading is currently out of the question – indeed on one day the whole road was blocked by the police. On our enforced detour we did come across  places we hadn’t known we had wanted to see, but were glad that happenstance had put on our path.

I like this composition not only for the blue sky, and the fact that you can’t see the mess of construction, but for the cranes in the distance, the old East German TV tower, so familiar from Cold War iconography, the flags, with which were evident everywhere we went, and I simply can’t resist a bit of curvy ironwork on a street lamp.

And for good measure, here’s some more blue sky over Potsdamer Platz where all of the buildings date only from the 1990s and the construction boom that followed the fall of The Wall.

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A Different Perspective

IMG_3563I’d not intended to be quiet for so long (again), but my technology has been letting me down a little bit, and denying me access to the WordPress sites, for some mysterious reason.  Not only have I been kept out of my own page, I’ve had only sporadic access to the blogs I read regularly.  I’ve missed you!

So here, in this possibly temporary window of opportunity is a little symphony of trumpets.  It’s the moss and lichen on the wall outside, and it fascinates me.  Are there little people under there spying on me?  Or are they playing music I’m not attuned to hear?  Or is it a Rogers-esque ventilation system a la Pompidou Centre?

Juxtaposition – A Photo

IMG_3579I’ve not participated in the Weekly Photo Challenge for a while, but in the spirit of trying to re-establish some regularity with the blog, there’s no time like the present.

Here is a photo I took over the wall of Hill House in Helensburgh last November.  I like the way the shapes of the seed heads echo the shape of the gable end of the house, and the almost complementary colours, of those elements as well as the colour of the sandstone wall.

And yes, that is a Scottish sky.  Such brilliant blue is rare in these parts, but all the more appreciated when they do appear.  I never go out for a walk now without my camera.  I suppose it is a sort of measure of maturity that I can now see the beauty of this environment, while, when I was a teenager growing up here, I felt stifled by the town, in its small town-ness, and the great distance there seemed to be between me and anywhere interesting…….. that was before the world rediscovered Rennie Mackintosh, the National Trust for Scotland acquired the house and built a car park, and a steady stream of multilingual tourists made the pilgrimage to the top of the hill.  Then it was a slightly crumbling enigma, held together with string and sticky tape and in the hands of the Royal Institute of Architects of Scotland

Looking on the Calm Side

2013-12-29 13.32.39To watch the BBC television news it’s almost to believe that there is nothing happening in the world but for some terrible weather in the UK…..well perhaps bad weather in the Eastern US as well, but only in so far as it may or not be the same storm that has frozen the US eastern seaboard that will soon soak the UK in more rain.

Helensburgh even had its own little moment in the limelight, when 10 seconds of footage of waves lashing over Clyde Street by the Henry Bell monument was shown on the News as Ten, disappointingly referred to only as ‘the tide surge on the West Coast of Scotland’ (even though really it’s only at the very start of the Firth of the Clyde, not the sea per se…..)  The local Scottish news, using the same footage described it as ‘the worst residents can remember seeing on the Esplanade’. But then ‘Esplanade’ is a word not frequently used hereabouts no matter what the weather.

So as an alternative to all this thrashing and lashing here is the Reservoir, safely up the hill and away from the tides, a couple of days ago.  Water, it’s all about the context and conditions isn’t it?

A Double Rainbow

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We Could Almost Be Abroad……

IMG_3447Where in the world have I been for the last couple of days?  Well, looking at this photo you might well think it was somewhere outside Britain, (unless of course you recognise it.)  A little chapel on a continental lake, perhaps, or a remote place of pilgrimage to a church rescued from an inundation?

Well, it’s in the Midlands.  It’s Normanton Church  and is all that was left standing above water when this valley was flooded in the 1970s to form Rutland Water, a reservoir providing water to the East Midlands.  It’s a surprising sight in quite an odd place.

It’s hard to put my finger exactly on why the place feels a little bit peculiar; but I think it’s to do with the newness and neatness of the environs.  It’s obviously not natural; it has that inauthentic faux feeling of a golf course, or the sailing ponds created out of the quarry pits beside motorways, pretending it blends naturally into the surrounding environment.

It’s pretty though, and on a sunny day we had a pleasant walk along the tarmac path which, according to the information, is 40km all the way around.  Its popularity with cyclists is evidenced by the hangar like size of the cycle hire franchise.

My curiosity as to its history could only be satisfied once we got home and consulted Mr Google: the information boards along the path were devoted exclusively (and disappointingly repetitively) to the osprey which have been introduced to the area.  It’s almost as if we should believe that it has always been there.  This made me even more curious to know about the engineering and the controversy of its creation.

In the meantime, I quite like the incongruity of the stranded church with all the stones banked around it, and it’s odd proportions because its base is flooded.

It’s a Pig (or two)

2013-07-18 10.35.54Sometimes, when I’m looking through my photos, when I should be doing something more productive instead, I come across one that I either can’t remember taking, or if I do remember it, can’t remember why.

There’s the holiday snaps, and maybe one or two too many of the same view, taken in the hope that the next shot will be the definitive one, or the ones of the flat in a state of upheaval following one domestic drama or another, taken in case they’ll help in an insurance claim; there’s the ones I’ve taken of the outsides of theatres and museums to use in the blog posts I write about my experiences of them……

And then there’s this one.  It’s a pig.  Or more accurately it’s two pigs.  I know where I took it, at Ardardan Estate, farm and tea shop near Helensburgh, when we went to buy some things for the garden.  But I can’t really remember why.  Maybe because they are so odd looking.  They have names; unfortunately I didn’t take a shot of the board on which that information was imparted, but they are something like Ki and Wi, or Wi and Fi, that sort of thing.

About the only other thing  I can tell you is that Ardardan do nice cakes, but I don’t think that’s anything to do with the pigs.

Benign Neglect

IMG_3440The reluctant gardener’s focus has been on tending the cropping plants, watering things in pots, and keeping the lawns respectable, she hasn’t paid much attention to the rest of the beds.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to appreciate there.

I don’t know what these flowers are called, but they are a popular perennial in the gardens hereabouts; or maybe they’re popular everywhere, it’s just that I don’t notice them, or can’t see into so many gardens elsewhere.  They appear to require no particular care, and sprout out of the bases of walls and other tight places, nodding their orange and golden heads through summer to autumn, as gradually the buds on each spear open into flower.

In this garden they appear to be thriving in amongst lots of other flowering things which are generally a little bit neglected, but may be all the better and brighter for it.

Benign neglect might be the best implement in the reluctant gardener’s tool box.

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Not Quite Finished with Edinburgh

I didn’t take masses of photographs during my time at the Edinburgh Festivals, because mostly I was inside being entertained.  But I have come away with an eclectic little collection…..

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