Travelling is the ultimate addiction, combining relaxation with adventure. Latin America strikes a good balance between the familiar (European languages) and the unfamiliar (tropical) but I am very fond of other locations from Morocco to Uzbekistan. Message
  • Day74

    London-on-sea

    April 7 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 8 °C

    As noted before, the empty shop fronts in the town centres of these southern seaside towns are a shame. There are three causes: internet shopping, Covid (blamed for so many things) and out of town shopping centres. On the bus ride from Ramsgate this morning, I pass a monstrous one half-way between the two towns, featuring the usual suspects. I won't give them free publicity by naming them but we know who they are.

    One solution could be the use of these towns for commuting to and from London and while the trains are not particularly fast, they're frequent and residents can enjoy the fresh North Sea air for half of London prices. In Margate some artistic pioneers seem to have moved in---it is after all, home of J.M.W. Turner and Tracey Emin. Traditional beachside pursuits however, have still to wake up from the long winter.

    I'm taking the 7-mile walk round the North Foreland, a repeat of last June. There's no heatwave like then but a cruel Gale 8 westerly; however it does wonders to clear the air (if you look closely at the 6th image of the stone bollards on the foreshore, you can see a massive wind farm on the horizon). The Viking Coastal Trail mostly follows the cliff top but with periodic drops to Botany Bay, Joss Bay and others. Later comes Broadstairs, more genteel than the rough and ready Margate, and finally another climb for the home stretch. A good bracing walk!
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    Speak, World

    Did you ever find out what kind of group this was, wearing the yellow vests? I have my guesses, but they’re a bit rude.

    4/15/22Reply
    Speak, World

    There is certainly something for everyone here. I’m torn between the large conch and the bucket and spade combo.

    4/15/22Reply
    Speak, World

    I love all of the ocean and beach shots.

    4/15/22Reply
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  • Day71

    Club with a view

    April 4 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    For the third time since the pandemic started, I am in Ramsgate and with a friend this time, Louise, for the first two days. This time lodgings are at the Royal Temple Yacht Club, a place oozing with character that I would have stayed at before, had I known it was open to non-yachties. Actually decades ago our family was yachty too, and we often used to put in at Ramsgate harbour, a long day's sail from the Essex coast where we kept the boat. Although we always stayed on board, we must have used the RTYC bar at times. The view from the balcony is matchless and the sumptuous bar attests to a long history of doing battle in the south North Sea.

    Like other south coast resort towns, Ramsgate struggles to keep up with those in the more fashionable Devon and Cornwall, but puts a brave face on it. Various craft shops have drifted into the town and the seaside stalwarts, fish & chips and ice cream, are abundant. The sculptures on St. George's church could do with cheering up, however.

    Needless to say, the drinking options are plentiful. The "Sorry no Whitbread" sign at the Churchill Tavern refers to the dark days when keg beers of this ilk almost pushed decent beers like Gadd's to extinction. The stained glass comes from another fine old-fashioned pub, the Artillery Arms.
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    Speak, World

    I love the contrast between the dark front and the light golden back.

    4/15/22Reply
    Speak, World

    The bar and the furnishings are so gorgeous that I nearly missed the humble barmaid in attendance.

    4/15/22Reply
    Blogarithms

    Thanks! It's a favourite technique to have dark objects in the foreground. I started using it in Joshua Tree National Park , would you beleive!

    4/25/22Reply
     
  • Day731

    South Bank revisited

    March 7 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Almost on my doorstep, the South Bank carries its charm through the seasons even in the depths of winter. It's a good opportunity for back-lighting at a low angle. The elegant arches of Waterloo Bridge are ever-present and and the bookstall is coming back to life.

    Slightly upstream, the Covid memorial wall is constantly being updated, with the hearts of last year already fading, to be replaced by memories of the recent departed. The final picture with the red roses makes a particularly poignant statement.

    As I write this, regarding the C word we are in a much better place than this time last year. But those who didn't fall ill or die somehow survived punishing lockdowns and the fear of infection. And now there's war raging in Europe. Let's hope we can all learn from what's gone wrong.

    It is 2 years to the day since the return from my last long-haul trip, so it's perhaps a good moment to close this blog, for no other reason but that I spent 9 days in Spain recently. More of that later........
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    Speak, World

    This has been a lovely and inspiring blog. I have appreciated all of your artistic photos and comments about home. You truly made lemonade.

    3/7/22Reply
    Blogarithms

    Thanks so much!

    3/11/22Reply
     
  • Day9

    Room with another view

    March 3 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    It's our final full day in Spain as we take a coach back to Valencia. The city centre is closed down, not through terrorism or Covid but the annual Mascleta ceremony which culminates on St. Joseph's Day in mid-March. Our hotel overlooks the Plaza Ayuntamiento where the fireworks have just gone off.

    The back streets are rich in quirky attractions. In the second picture we see one of the most outrageous baroque buildings in Valencia, now converted into a ceramics gallery. The ice cream and pastry shop shows what we in Britain are missing with our chain-store franchises, even though it might not be good for the waistband.

    Probing deeper into the Barrio Carmen, we come across more small-scale delights. It's one of the more bohemian quarters of the city, reminiscent of parts of Havana (or maybe, Havana is reminiscent of Valencia).

    All too soon we have to get the flight back to Gatwick. We didn't get to see the Mascleta properly but maybe some other time. With gritted teeth we acknowledge the contributions of everyone: Dave for organising the trip, Russell for his techie skills with the bureaucracy, myself as interpreter and Alan for his uncanny knack of spotting empty seats in bars and homing in on them faster than Usain Bolt. Team work!

    The passenger locator forms for re-entering the UK have worked but technology has eluded me at the automatic immigration gate at Gatwick and I have to wait for a human being to check me in. Maybe the recent haircut to match my current appearance with the passport photo was a waste of time!
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    Speak, World

    Wow, you found some really quirky places! I never thought of going to visit Valencia before but now it seems really tempting. There might be some nice small towns nearby as well. I liked the description of your teamwork. The techie and the interpreter were the most important people, obviously.

    3/14/22Reply
    Speak, World

    Also, this was really a good move, getting out of the UK for the first time in such a long lock-in. I’ve always enjoyed Spain, and have found great variety. You certainly inspired me, because the morning after reading this I booked a trip to Mexico City at the end of March 2022. Hooray!

    3/14/22Reply
    Blogarithms

    Yes, this is just one part of Spain which is rich in cultural pleasures. The city of Valencia alone would repay several more days of exploration, and the fact that we didn't get to see much of the hinterland only whetted the appetite.I'm sure you'll love revisiting Mexico City.

    3/15/22Reply
     
  • Day8

    Not Alican't but Alican

    March 2 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    No tram glitches this time as we travel the other way to Alicante for the day. It's about half the size of Valencia and having been ancient even in Roman times, it blends ancient with modern. The day of our visit sees the best weather of our trip and the cafes along the Esplanada are jammed.

    The third image shows the market, an intriguing mixture of Gothic and Art Deco, while in the alleys behind the sea front, the Mediterranean sun pierces the shadows. We note again how ancient streets are often better preserved in Spain than in Britain, without much of the 1960s Brutalism that we get here. Finally, we see some lovely tile work that's typical of the city.
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  • Day5

    A lottery in Benners

    February 27 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Benidorm? Benidorm! Porque no (why not? With all its rep for morning fry-ups and fish 'n'chips, it DOES have two beautiful beaches, which are what started it all in the 1950s. And with lingering Covid hesitancy and the schools back from half term, we have them almost to ourselves. The Poniente (sunset) stretches a couple of miles to the west and the foliage makes us feel half-way to Africa.

    Although there are numerous English voices in the town centre, they're outnumbered by Spanish voices and evidence of traditions remain. Masks out of doors are no longer obligatory but about half the people still wear them out of caution and courtesy. Evening entertainment is still ramping up but we find an English-speaking bar and watch the League Cup final, a goalless thriller (not an oxymoron) in which Liverpool defeat the now-disgraced Chelsea. We drown our sorrows at a ribald Blackpool-style club where a "comedian" sends me to sleep but Sticky Vicky (don't ask) wakes me up. Better class is to come with a highly competent Beatles tribute act, who remind me what great rockers "I saw her standing there" and "Day tripper" are.

    More comedy follows a day later when we travel by tram east to another resort town, Calpe. We'd intended to break the journey home at another beachy place, Altea, but running out of time, go for a straight return from Calpe. At Calpe station the booking office is closed but a man is selling tickets outside the station. They look a bit like lottery tickets but I put this down to a promotion of local attractions. Back at Benidorm, we find out that they ARE lottery tickets (compare these with the proper tram tickets). Much confusion ensues, with the punchline that each ticket wins the grand sum of 1.50 euros---enough to buy a replacement lottery ticket that's worth a big fat zero!
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  • Day1

    Spanish stroll

    February 23 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    The first picture says it all: the two stamps in my passport are the first for two years, and a side-effect of Brexit before which they were superfluous. Regulations require proof of full vaccination and a Spanish health control form but with the most techie-savvy of my three companions completing this on our behalf, we're good to go.

    We've chosen Valencia because a friend of one of my companions lives quite near there and we're due to visit him in the coming days. Valencia stands up as a major attraction in its own right. As Spain's third-largest city, it's bursting with culture and vivacity. An important Roman port, it later became a border town between the Spanish and Moorish regimes and was recaptured in the 13th century.

    The obligatory "room with a view" is the subject of the second picture, showing an ancient university building in early morning light. No. 3 is Plaza Ayuntamiento (City Hall), the scene of peaceful demonstrations and sometimes fiestas nearly every day. Nearby is an example of the fantastic Modernista architectural style, dating from around 1900, a fine mish-mash of Renaissance, Baroque and who knows what else.

    Needless to say, walking made us thirsty, so we had to slip into a hole-in-the wall restaurant. Set lunch was a vegetable paella from the "menu del dia" and a bottle shown in no. 6, named after Valencia's river.
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  • Day2

    "I told you I was ill"

    January 25 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    So said Spike Milligan, whose grave is at Winchelsea although the headstone (pictured) doesn't actually include this quote. The village, to which I return after a November visit, used to be a Cinque Port until its isolation by silting up from successive storms. The greyness on this chilly January morning is accentuated by the brilliance of the roses. An old-fashioned letter box shows also how Winchelsea is quietly locked in the past.

    A mile walk through fields takes me to Winchelsea Beach, which continues from Pett Level along a shoreline as far as the entrance to Rye harbour. It's a brisk walk over shingle until the tide falls back to reveal flat, wet sand. The elements, while almost inactive today with a gentle lapping against the shore, have shaped some of the groynes into hashtags. The colours are so muted that I've converted the beach scenes to black and white. The weather isn't clear enough to see the power station but the remoteness has all the desert-like quality that Dungeness offers.
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    Speak, World

    It looks as though a dog peed in protest!

    2/9/22Reply
    Blogarithms

    That's right---bright colours bring out the greys. Thankfully, no dogs in Winchelsea that day!

    2/10/22Reply
    Speak, World

    Lovely! Black and white does the trick.

    2/9/22Reply
    Speak, World

    I like the pops of red in the first photos.

    2/9/22Reply
     
  • Day1

    Just when you thought it was safe.......

    January 24 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    .........to go back to the south coast, I do just this to see out some final days of January. I'm back in Hastings, scene of a November visit. It's an unassuming place and strangely quiet, not just because of winter but typical of English seaside resorts that have seen better days. I find it hard to understand why the fresh sea air and glorious views on one's doorstep, haven't tempted people from Chiantishire (a.k.a. the Cotswolds). Mind you, a school of thought prefers it this way and would hate it to become hipsterised.

    Following the shark which eats only beach rubbish, on my first morning there's a lovely sunrise from my hotel balcony. At the other end of the day, golden hour lights up the early Victorian terraces, some beach art with a decidedly Moorish cast, and the pier. It's closed for January but in a way, more attractive than it would be in August.
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    Speak, World

    Lovely photos, James. This post reminds me of my friends who moved from there back to Bristol. They said the whole area was just too quiet—just the way YOU like it! (And me as well.)

    2/9/22Reply
    Blogarithms

    Absolutely---quiet is good!

    2/10/22Reply
     
  • Day670

    A foggy day......

    January 5 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 4 °C

    .......in London town, as goes the song by Billie Holiday. Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and many others! This winter so far, the weather has been too breezy for fog but an appeal from the Camera Club to submit photos of it for a competition got me digging through the archives. These views are taken from slides from many years ago before I took up digital, but they show how beautiful London can be, even in what train announcers call "adverse weather conditions". (Why don't they just say "bad weather"?

    The first couple come from my beloved South Bank with an appropriate poster for rum, and the next one shows Queen Boadicea's horse. At the time this photo was taken, Big Ben was free of scaffolding. More recently, it's been wrapped up in it for years, but they've just released the clock face again and perhaps the rest will follow before 2022 is up.

    The other three come from down river on the Isle of Dogs, the final one showing the Canary Wharf tower looming above some former warehouses now turned into apartments. While some might oppose the gentrification, at least they've escaped the wrecking ball and put to another use.
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    Speak, World

    Wow James, you certainly outdid yourself in those beautiful pictures! The first one is a really good find, don’t you think?! But then, they all are.

    1/5/22Reply
    Blogarithms

    Thanks! The Bacardi poster shows how to make best use of dull conditions by contrasting a bright subject with dismal weather. Bad weather, good pictures!

    1/7/22Reply
     

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