A Weekend Diary

…words and images from England's green and pleasant land…

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Full moon over Finchley…

I chanced upon a news item this morning, that listed ‘the most and least burgled postcodes in Britain’ and lo-and-behold, discovered my own postcode area is the most burgled in London ;). It immediately brought to mind this tale about the Zen Buddhist Monk, Ryōkan (1758–1831).

One evening a thief visited Ryōkan’s hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryōkan returned and caught him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.” The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.” This story may be an interpretation of an account mentioned by Ryōkan in a haiku:

The thief
Left it behind-
The moon at the window.

(source: Wikipedia)

So, what else could I do, but upload a couple of photos that I took this evening of a full moon over Finchley ;).

Moon beyond lamplit branches..

Moon beyond lamplit branches..

Moon among clouds...

Moon among clouds…

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Saturday Night in London’s West End – steady rain, lights, shopfronts…

St. Paul's Cathedral, as seen through through trees on the Victoria Embankment, from near Charing Cross...

St. Paul’s Cathedral, as seen through through trees on the Victoria Embankment, from near Charing Cross…


Large Chinese lantern, hanging above Wardour Street, at the western edge of Chinatown...

Large Chinese lantern, hanging above Wardour Street, at the western edge of Chinatown…


A lighted passage, running south off of Shaftesbury Avenue, near Piccadilly Circus...

A lighted passage, running south off of Shaftesbury Avenue, near Piccadilly Circus…


Austin Reed shop window, in Regent Street...

Austin Reed shop window, in Regent Street…


The World Comes Together on Regent Street 2013...

The World Comes Together on Regent Street 2013…


Hamleys toy shop, window in Regent Street...

Hamleys toy shop, window in Regent Street…

A snowy walk from London Bridge upstream…

I was up with the lark this morning, to accompany my partner to Gatwick Airport, for her midday flight to Beijing, to see in the Chinese New Year with her family. After we’d said our zai jians I caught a train up to London Bridge, and then wandered westwards, upstream towards Charing Cross, which is a pleasant ramble through some historic parts of London…and the falling snow was no deterrent at all ;). So here we go :)…

Standing on a deserted London Bridge, looking towards The Shard, London's tallest building, which opens its viewing platforms to the public next month...

Standing on a deserted London Bridge, looking towards The Shard, London’s tallest building, which opens its viewing platforms to the public next month…

Misty view downstream from London Bridge, towards HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge...

Misty view downstream from London Bridge, towards HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge…

St. Paul's Cathedral, as seen from the east...

St. Paul’s Cathedral, as seen from the east…

The following picture deserves a few lines of explanation; you’ll see three people at the bottom left of the photograph. One is a young Japanese (I think) tourist with a camcorder, and to her left is her companion. The third individual, the chap being filmed, was actually doing a performance of ‘Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)’ from the film ‘Mary Poppins’, so I’ve provided the lyrics to the same, directly after the photograph…

St. Paul's Cathedral, as seen from the top of Ludgate Hill...

St. Paul’s Cathedral, as seen from the top of Ludgate Hill…

‘Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s
The little old bird woman comes.
In her own special way to the people she calls,
“Come, buy my bags full of crumbs.
Come feed the little birds, show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do.
Their young ones are hungry,
Their nests are so bare;
All it takes is tuppence from you.”
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.
“Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries,
While overhead, her birds fill the skies.
All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
Look down as she sells her wares.
Although you can’t see it, you know they are smiling
Each time someone shows that he cares.
Though her words are simple and few,
Listen, listen, she’s calling to you:
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.”
Though her words are simple and few,
Listen, listen, she’s calling to you:
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.”‘

At the bottom of Ludgate Hill, beyond Ludgate Circus, lies Fleet Street, and Valentino, is the first shop on its northern side...

At the bottom of Ludgate Hill, beyond Ludgate Circus, lies Fleet Street, and Valentino, is the first shop on its northern side…

By now, the snow was coming down rather heavily, so I took refuge for a while in an Irish pub,’The Tipperary’, opposite Valentino’s, on the southern side of Fleet Street…

A pint of ale called Doom Bar, and a packet of Tayto Cheese and Onion Crisps ;)...

A pint of ale called Doom Bar, and a packet of Tayto Cheese and Onion Crisps ;)…

At the western end of Fleet Street, stands a rather splendid church called St. Clement Danes

At the western end of Fleet Street, stands a rather splendid church called St. Clement Danes…

...and here's St. Clement Danes, as seen from the west...

…and here’s St. Clement Danes, as seen from the west…

A bit further along the road, I caught sight of both bird and human footprints in the snow :).

A bit further along the road, I caught sight of both bird and human footprints in the snow :).

Beyond Fleet Street, lies The Strand, and at the western end of it, opposite Charing Cross Station, are these four red telephone boxes...

Beyond Fleet Street, lies The Strand, and at the western end of it, opposite Charing Cross Station, are these four red telephone boxes…

Alongside Charing Cross Station, running down to The Embankment is Villiers Street, and this is the entrance to Victoria Embankment Gardens, as seen from the bottom of Villiers Street...

Alongside Charing Cross Station, running down to The Embankment is Villiers Street, and this is the entrance to Victoria Embankment Gardens, as seen from the bottom of Villiers Street…

Within Victoria Embankment Gardens, are several statues, and this is part of one dedicated to W.S. Gilbert. The engraved quotation , copied below, comes from 'Yeoman of the Guard'...

Within Victoria Embankment Gardens, are several statues, and this is part of one dedicated to W.S. Gilbert. The engraved quotation , copied below, comes from ‘Yeoman of the Guard’…

‘Is life a boon?
If so, it must befall
That Death, whene’er he call,
Must call too soon.’

Cleopatra's Needle, on the Victoria Embankment...

Cleopatra’s Needle, on the Victoria Embankment…

One of two Sphinxes, guarding Cleopatra's Needle...

One of two Sphinxes, guarding Cleopatra’s Needle…

Having now crossed the river to the South Bank via Hungerford Bridge, here is part of the Albert Embankment, in front of the Royal Festival Hall...

Having now crossed the river to the South Bank via Hungerford Bridge, here is part of the Albert Embankment, in front of the Royal Festival Hall…

The London Eye, unsurprisingly less busy than usual today...

The London Eye, unsurprisingly less busy than usual today…

...and finally, not far from The London Eye, a row of 'Boris Bikes', doing even less business...

…and finally, not far from The London Eye, a row of ‘Boris Bikes’, doing even less business…

The uncluttering…

‘The Way is gained by daily loss…’

Ch. 48, ‘Tao Te Ching’, as translated by R.B. Blakney (1955)

The Book Maze, Royal Festival Hall, London, 29th July, 2012

The Book Maze, Royal Festival Hall, London, 29th July, 2012

I stumbled upon the above art installation one summer’s afternoon last year, and it brought with it a wry smile, given the gentle (but persistent) chiding of my partner, who’s forever telling me I buy too many books ;). However, I think too, it serves as a useful metaphor for the extract from the ‘tao te ching’ quoted above; there’s probably far too much clutter, both material and otherwise, in all of our lives…

Anyway, changing seasons from summer to winter, yesterday saw heavy snowfall in much of the UK, so here are a few photos of some Hampshire snow, taken in Fareham, Hilsea and Fratton…

Looking eastwards along Fareham West Street, about nine a.m...

Looking eastwards along Fareham West Street, about nine a.m…

Looking westwards along Fareham West Street...

Looking westwards along Fareham West Street…

Awaiting a westbound train, Platform 1, Fareham Station...

Awaiting a westbound train, Platform 1, Fareham Station…

Taken through the window of a Portsmouth Harbour-bound train, at Hilsea Station...

Taken through the window of a Portsmouth Harbour-bound train, at Hilsea Station…

The Portsmouth Harbour-bound train heading towards Portsmouth & Southsea Station, from Fratton...

The Portsmouth Harbour-bound train heading towards Portsmouth & Southsea Station, from Fratton…

Taylor Wessing Portraits and the London Ice Sculpting Festival

Too often, in the cornucopia that is London cultural life, I make a shortlist of films, plays, exhibitions, concerts, or whatever, that I would like to see, only to find that their run has ended before I ever get around to seeing them ;).

This Sunday, however, I did manage to visit two such events, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Exhibition 2012, currently on display at the National Portait Gallery, near Trafalgar Square, and the London Ice Sculpting Festival at Canary Wharf…and below is the evidence 😉

Entry ticket for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012

Entry ticket for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012

http://www.npg.org.uk/photoprize1/site12/exhibition_prize-winners.php

The £12,000 first prize was awarded to Jordi Ruiz Cirera for Margarita Teichroeb

Born in Spain in 1984, Jordi Ruiz Cirera studied Design at Elisava College, Barcelona before moving to the UK and gaining an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. His shortlisted portrait of Margarita, a Mennonite from the Swift Current Colony in Bolivia, is part of his long term project portraying the daily life of this community.

He says, ‘Almost all of the houses have tables in front of their windows giving fantastic light to the scene. Sitting in front of the camera was not easy for Margarita, photography is forbidden for Mennonites and having her direct portrait taken was quite difficult so I could only take two frames of her. Even though we were enjoying the situation, Margarita posed with this sort of awkward expression.’

The prize-winning photograph of the young Bolivian Mennonite woman, Margarita Teichroeb, was one of the highlights for me, as were the photographs of Hilary Mantel CBE, by Michael Birt, and of Sophie, by Wendy Carrig. I might add, I rarely take portrait photographs myself, but nonetheless find exhibitions such as this one fascinating.

Then it was off to Waterloo station, for a Jubilee Line train to Canary Wharf, for The London Ice Sculpting Festival, some photos of which follow…

Canary Wharf Tube Station Way Out

Canary Wharf Tube Station Way Out

Ice Sculpture 1

Ice Sculpture 1

Ice Sculpture 4

Ice Sculpture 4

Ice Sculpture 5

Ice Sculpture 5

Laser Show

Laser Show

Rambling on my mind…

BucksRamble

[Click on image to enlarge]

‘One fine autumn day last year, an old friend and I caught a train from Marylebone station up to Princes Risborough, to go for a ramble out to Chequers (the British Prime Minister’s retreat in the Buckinghamshire countryside).

This picture was taken from some high ground on the way back, with the sun slowly sinking in the west.

Camera used was a Panasonic Lumix LZ-1 digital compact.’

I’ve lifted the italicised text above directly from the equivalent photo in my flickr account, and that ‘fine autumn day’ was in fact the 7th October, 2006. I still do a fair bit of rambling, mostly with workmates in Hampshire now, but for the initial post in this occasional blog, it seemed appropriate to give some background to the ‘Background Image’ itself, so here it is ;).

Incidentally, the ‘old friend’ alluded to in the text, used to live in Finsbury Park in north London, and we’ve known each other for over twenty years. We’ve a shared history of not only country rambles, but also countless jazz gigs, mostly in Soho, and on the South Bank in London…but he moved up to North Yorkshire a couple of years ago to keep an eye on his elderly mum, so although we do keep in touch, our paths rarely cross nowadays.

Anyway, that’s quite enough rambling for this post methinks… ;).

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