Lines of birds over Rye

Busy day doing other things besides this, but here are a couple of Other Creatures snaps, the Other Creatures in this case being birds.

Last Saturday evening, I and some friends were in the southern coastal town (one of the so-called Cinque Ports) of Rye. As it was getting dark, a big line of birds flew over us. I snatched this shot, which you can get all of by clicking on this rotated and horizontalised slice:

Then another squadron of birds flew over, this time in a V shape, which means that this next horizontalisation is a bit less thin:

So, two lines, joined at the front, all following the one top dog bird.

Again, click to get the original.

Rye is a “port” that isn’t much of a port anymore, because a thousand years of river mud has pushed the sea away from it. The houses in my two photos are recent, where there used to be sea, a bit away from the centre. The centre, i.e. the whole of the old town, is on a hill, which used to be an island.

I think the birds are geese, but I really do not know. For the benefit of birdophiles, this full-size crop from out of another photo I took, of the first line of birds above, should narrow it down:

Those look far too big to be – I don’t know – starlings. And, I surmise, rather too well organised. Starlings just swirl about in a big mob, like fishes, right? Come to think of it, do any fishes line up like these big birds? I ought to be asking the internet this, but I’m off to bed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Roof clutter viewed through an RCM window

Yesterday I attended a Master Class at the Royal College of Music, in which five singing students, GodDaughter 2 among them, were publicly instructed by distinguished tenor and vocal teacher Dennis O’Neil. It was fascinating. He spent most of the time focussing on the art that conceals art, which meant that I couldn’t really understand what he was saying. The minutiae of sounds and syllables, and of where the sound comes from, in the head or in the body. All like a foreign language to me, but it was fascinating to expand the range of my ignorance, so to speak. I am now ignorant about a whole lot more than I was.

This all happened way down at the bottom of the RCM, in the Britten Theatre (which you go down to get into but the theatre itself stretches up to the top again), On the way back up the numerous stairs to the street level entrance, I saw, through a very grubby window, and photoed, this:

Okay the window is indeed very grubby, but, you know, how about that? All that roof clutter, buried in the middle of the College. Although, I think that this particular clutter is part of Imperial College, which is next door.

Backstage architecture, you might say.

The Royal College of Music is as amazing an accumulation of architectural chaos as I have ever experienced. It must take about half of your first year to learn where everything is, and years later you are probably still getting surprises. I never knew this was here! Etc.

That corridor made of windows, bottom left, with the light in it, is something I have several times walked along, to a canteen or a bar or some such thing, I think. By which I mean that I think I have walked along it, but that this could be quite wrong. Like I say: architectural chaos. I took a look at the place in Google Maps 3D, but I still have only the dimmest Idea of where I was on the map.

The night before, I was at the Barbican Centre, also for some music, and that’s almost as architecturally chaotic as the inside of the RCM. But there, they don’t have the excuse that the architectural chaos accumulated over about a century of continuous improvisation. At the Barbican, the chaos was all designed and built in one go.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

150 great things about the Underground: Number 122


Photoed by me last night. And explained here. The Metropolitan Line came up with this logo just after the regular London Underground logo was devised. Now this version of it survives, but only on platforms at Moorgate that are no longer used.


In the twentieth century, weird is all it would have been. Then forgotten. Just another of life’s little mysteries. But, in the age of the internet, there are no little mysteries.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

What electrified track looks like when they really turn up the electricity

Photoed by me last night, at Blackwall DLR station:

It’s not really that of course. It’s just that I have learned that one of the best ways to photo a sunset is to photo railway tracks that are disappearing into it.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A bridge held up by giant hands

Not really, I don’t suppose. But that’s how it looks.

I can’t recall how I came across this amazing bridge, but I think it was my Twitter feed. My first reaction was that this was some very high class Photoshopping. But no. Here’s a report from July of this year.

This Thing is for real. It is in Vietnam:

I found that photo here.

Given that the flood of big and impressive new bridges now seems to have receded (and given that big “new” bridges are now starting to collapse), the emphasis has switched to small and impressive new bridges. Of which this one is by far the most impressive, in my opinion.

These giant hands are going to trigger a flood of similarly inventive small bridges, with sculptors and engineers collaborating to outdo each other. Not all will be beautiful, but all will very recognisable and distinctive, which is the next best thing, I think.

People love bridges. It’s not just me. Look at all the people on that bridge.

Does the bridge have a giant figure beside it, who is holding the bridge, or are there just hands? If not, maybe that will happen soon. A statue holding a bridge. Why not?

How about London getting the man who did these sculptures (LINK TO THE OLD BLOG) to design a London footbridge, somewhere, in which two more such guys are holding it up? Or four? Or six? I’ll leave that to him and his engineer. But, London, do this.

All over the world, now, people – people like me – are seeing the bridge in the photo above, and are saying: Why can’t we have something like that?

And others are saying: Oh no, how ghastly. But to hell with them. Put the first such bridge in your area somewhere really ugly, where there’s nothing to spoil. That should silence the grumblers.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

SQL error Sunday

Sorry about yesterday here. All now seems to be well.

Sadly, this SQL error crap seems to keep happening. Although as of now I promise nothing, a better answer than just correcting such things when they happen is now being worked on.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog