The Penmarc’h Lighthouse

At the end of April and the beginning of May of 2018, I visited the city of Quimper, almost certainly for the last time. The friends I have stayed there with several times are now living in the south of France, and their Quimper home is now someone else’s. So, farewell Quimper.

On May 4th, on my last full day in Quimper, my hostess drove me to see the superb lighthouse at Penmarc’h, which is on the south west tip of Brittany. And no, I don’t know how “Penmarc’h” is pronounced, and nor do I know what is really the correct name for this mighty edifice. It seems to have many names. But, it is a lighthouse, and it is in the town of Penmarc’h, so Penmarc’h Lightbouse it is.

Although she needed to get back in quite a hurry to prepare supper, she let me take the time to climb up the Lighthouse and savour the views of the town of Penmarc’h and of the Brittany coast. Which were spectacular, as was the weather that day:

The lighthouse I went up is the furthest from the sea of three structures, which would appear to have been doing, in succession, a similar job. As time went by, they got smaller, nearer to the sea, and more dependent upon electronic technology. Photo 3.1 shows the two smaller ones, as seen from the big one.

That same morning, I also checked out a huge and totally marvellous second hand shop in Quimper, and an equally huge and totally marvellous cheese factory, which was really more like a cheese refinery.

So, a really good day. One of my favourites of 2018. Except that the day after that day, in Paris, was probably even better.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

City views from 2004

In search of worthwhile photos to show here, I find myself digging further and further back in the archives. I looked for photos taken a decade ago, but found nothing that stirred any thoughts. However, these four, from over fourteen years ago, do now seem to be worth showing.

The first is of the ghostly pillars of the old Blackfriars Bridge. These are still there, looking now just as they looked then. But, then there was no Blackfriars railway station on the more recent Blackfriars Bridge. Blackfriars Station then only happened on the far side of the river, as we look north.

Second, a rather striking view of the City Big Thing Cluster, the striking thing being that most of the City Big Thing Cluster had not yet happened. The Gherkin stands in almost perfect isolation, visible from all directions. No Cheesegrater. No Walkie-Talkie. And definitely no 22 Bishopsgate, already the biggest of the lot of them so far.

The third of these photos I include simply because I like it, or at least I like what it shows and how the photo is composed. (Technically these photos are all very blurry and primitive. The Canon A70 is the cheapest camera I have ever owned and used, and it shows.) In particular I like how we see so clearly the truncated end of the Millennium Footbridge. (I should have a go at that view again, with my current and much better camera, on a much better day.)

And finally, the grey of the dying light suddenly looks blue, as grey did look with that Canon A70. Tate Modern was there, of course it was. It isn’t that modern. But, the Tate Modern Extension, which now stands behind Tate Modern itself, is still way in the future.

I show this photo because it very clearly says “Collection 2004” on Tate Modern. Windows Image viewer, cross-examined, also says 2004, January 17th, and I am a lot more inclined to believe that, given that I know that the 2004 bit is right. I’m guessing that Jan 17 is right also. Goodness knows, it’s gloomy enough to be January. So, nearly fifteen years ago.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The Advent of a new keyboard

Below, on top, the old keyboard:

Above, at the bottom, the new keyboard.

Below, a close up of the problem with the old keyboard:

Below, the solution with the new keyboard:

There was a problem. I tried sticking new labels on the keys. Didn’t work. So, I threw money at the problem. Problem solved.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Hippo bottle opener

Samizdata Supremo Perry de Havilland likes hippos. A rather disconcerting thing that happens to you from time to time if you are a Samizdata contributor is that if you do a posting, but forget to add categories to it, the default category that gets added automatically is: Hippos.

So, anyway, yes, Perry likes hippos, so a friend of his gave him a hippo for Christmas. It was presented to him at Chateau Samizdata on Christmas Eve, where I was also present.

I photoed it:

Trouble is, the hippo is all black, and my camera didn’t do very well. (The above result reminded me of this Samizdata posting that I did last year, about a very black sort of black.)

I tried lots of photo-editing, but I’m not sure that this was really much of an improvement:

But yes, this really is also a bottle opener. (I’m pretty sure it’s this one.) The friend who got it told me beforehand that it was a bottle opener also. Would Perry really want it, if the bottle opener turned out not to work very well. I said: if it’s a hippo, Perry will want it.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A flash photo of Stephen Davies

I just spent all my blogging time on another Samizdata posting, about Stephen Davies, the historian, who works for the Institute of Economic Affairs.

I included this photo in that posting:

I took this photo with my very first digital camera, a Minolta Dimage EX.

I chose this camera because it offered the strange – then or since then – feature that you could separate its flash … thingy, from the bit of the camera that did the actual photoing. I had to have flash, because indoor photoing of the people I wanted to photo without flash just did not then work. Direct in-your-face flash was a feature of photo-portraiture at that time, and not in a good way. But with my Minolta Dimage EX, I could hold the lens out to the left, at the other end of a length of wire, and thus light my victim not from head on. I could shift the shadow from directly behind to off to the side, as in the above photo of Steve Davies.

I still have this old Minolta, somewhere. I must dig it out, and photo it. But not tonight. Tonight, early (ish) bed. Tomorrow, a party, for which I am very late with the preparations. So, that is all.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The Boxing Day posting

And here, as promised yesterday, are the other dozen of the Christmassy (Google reckons it’s double ss at the end there rather than the single s I used to name the photos) photos that I was gathering together yesterday. They, like the previous lot, are shown in chronological order, the first one being from 2015 to now, the most recent from earlier this month:

I used half a dozen of these two dozen photos to concoct a Merry Christmas photo-posting at Samizdata, in the small hours of this morning, what with there having been nothing there yesterday, until I did that. And then faked the timing. Just like I often do here.

Which means that, for the last week, I have not only done something for here, every day, but have done something there, every day. More on the thinking behind this sudden burst of Samzdating here, some time soon, maybe, I promise nothing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The Christmas Day posting

I haven’t been out photoing a lot lately, so here are some Christmas-themed photos picked out from the archives, taken during about the last five years or more.

There’s two dozen in all that are ready to go. Here are the first dozen:

Another dozen tomorrow.

I hope your Christmas is going well, with some of the right people with you, and not too many of the wrong people.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Renzo Piano’s new Genoa Bridge

Here is Renzo Piano’s design for a new bridge in Genoa to replace the one that collapsed:

Nice, I think. Does the job, with no fuss and much elegance.

A lot of the “photos” make this look like the Millau Viaduct. However, the spikes on the top are light fittings, not structural columns. All the load bearing is done by the columns under the roadway.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

St Paul’s interrupted

Today, it is once again tomorrow, and almost the only thing I can think of to say here is that I once again managed a posting at Samizdata, concerning some graffiti.

But here, for today, is a rather fun photo I took in October, from a train, of St Paul’s Cathedral, with lots of rather bulbous South Bank modernity in the foreground, modernity which is blocking the view of most of the cathedral:

If you think that it would be better just to see St Paul’s, well, Google image should solve your problem. But if, on the other hand, you were wanting a photo more like the one above, how else would you come across it?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

I’ve kept it going at Samizdata – so far – just

So now, it’s five Samizdata postings by me in the last five days. And the last two (this one and, posted moments ago, this one) were done the following morning. Hurrah for backdating.

And hurrah for me backdating this one also.

The way I see it, the day ends when I go to bed.

I note that the Radio Times, one of my favourite publications, follows the same rule.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog