France is big

In the part of France where GodDaughter2’s family live and with whom I recently stayed, there are two ways to make a car journey. You can take what looks like the long route, along two or even three sides of a motorway rectangle, only travelling on little roads when you have to, to get to and from the motorway. Or, you can attempt to travel more directly, along little roads, by the scenic route. The scenic route looks quicker on the map, at first glance. But the motorways are quicker because they always go straight where they’re going. They don’t wiggle back and forth up and down mountains, or get stuck in little villages.

I was taken on various car journeys during my stay, of both kinds. The trips involving airports were on motorways, as were others. But there were also various journeys along those scenic routes.

Here are a few of the many, many photos I took while on such expeditions:

The thing is, France is (see above) big.

On one of these expeditions we drove for about four hours, hither and thither, up and down, through kilometre upon kilometre of gorgeous scenery, encountering about three other oncoming vehicles per hour. We crossed over numerous bridges as we switched from going down or up one side of a valley to going up or down the other side of the same valley, often able to see past nearby trees to distant mountains, but often not, passing through and sometimes stopping in towns or villages with orange tiled roofs.

Countryside in England of this desirability, in weather like this, would be swarming with motorists, all making it impossible for each other to have a good time. In the south of France, where this sort of weather is only average (too cold and windy) and where they have endless supplies of such scenery, we had the entire route pretty much to ourselves.

Also, in England, if you were to drive for half a day at the slowish but steady speed we were able to drive scenically in France, you’d take a visible bite into the map of England. In France, such a trip doesn’t register, nationally speaking. You’ve gone from this little place here, to this next little place right next to the first place, here, two milimetres away. As an exercise in crossing France, forget it. You have made no progress at all.

It’s not just places like America, Africa and India that are big. Compared to England, France is big too.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Death in France and death on television

A week ago now, I photoed this photo in the graveyard of a little village up in the mountains of southern France called Taulis (already mentioned here) (LINK TO THE OLD BLOG). Today being Good Friday, I thought I’d do a little nod towards Christianity by showing a few crucified Christs, France being very full of these rather gruesome sorts of sculpture. Everywhere you go in France, or so it seems to me, you see these, and not just in graveyards:

Even more striking, however, in that photo, are the dead body storage units in the background. Do we have those in England? Not that I recall seeing.

They remind me of the dead body storage units that you see in TV police dramas. Every so often there’s a scene where a grieving relative is asked to identify a cadaver, and a drawer is opened, and closed. We see grief enacted.

Are police dramas on the telly replacing graveyards and crucified Christs as the main means that we now use to contemplate death?

As I get nearer to death, I think about it more and more. What will it be like? Will I know I’m dead? Will I still be “alive” when I am incinerated? Will there by bright lights in the distance? Will it hurt? Will I be reunited with the enemies of my schooldays? Will I still be able to write about it here, but in a way that is unpublished? What, historically speaking, will I miss by a whisker? Or by decades and centuries?

Maybe France is not so full of crucified Christs. Maybe it’s just that when I now see them, I notice them.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Something I forgot to mention

There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection. All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.

So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated. But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France. Silly old me. I’m getting old, I guess.

Here’s how the south of France was looking:

Those are the Pyrenees at the back there. In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.

The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy. Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Four Channel Islands and a fifth Channel Island

These are technically terrible photos, but I had a lot of fun photoing them, and I get a lot of pleasure when I stumble upon such photos-from-airplanes in the photo-archives. What are these exactly?:

Well, I cranked up Google Maps, and also maps like the one here, and set to work. That photos have exact timings attached to them is very helpful when you are trying to work out what photos from airplanes are of.

And yes, those are the four big-name Channel Islands, TopLeft: Jersey, TopRight: Guernsey, BottomLeft: Alderney, BottomRight: Sark.

I reckon that Alderney, from that angle, looks a bit like a hippo.

But for me, the most intriguing puzzle was this:

What is that? Turns out, it’s the island of Herm. Herm’s sales pitch: There’s no place like Herm. Herm, island of triangular stamps.

Never heard of it, until now. Photo and learn. Blog and learn.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space?

On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos. Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.

But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:

KanaBeach seems to be some sort of Brittany based clothing brand (“Kanabeach est une entreprise de vêtements bretonne”), which a few years later seems to have crashed and burned, after which catastrophe it may or may not have made a recovery. (A recovery attempt which involved a giraffe, for some reason.)

But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is. And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space. Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.

A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959. And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu). But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space? Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this. But in this matter, rien.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Food photo

I am ill. Not very ill. Just: ill. A symptom of which is not eating solid food. So here, to compensate me for not eating food, is a photo of some food which I ate in France in 2008:

I like squares and rectangles. Always have. So, I especially like the idea of eating something that is usually round but which has been made square.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Social media actually being rather sociable

Dominic Frisby, on Facebook:

Yeah, yeah, you all think you’re really clever and successful and stuff but how many of you have been to an anarchy conference in Acapulco and got selfie with David Icke?

Like. I’ve not done either of these things, let alone the two of them together.

Also like, from the comments: “Anarchopulco”.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

When Elvis met Tommy in Bermondsey

This afternoon I was in Bermondsey, seeing a man about a blog, and without doubt, the oddest photo I took in my Bermondsey wanderings today was this one, of a garage door:

Here is a closer up view of the writing at the bottom:

Right click to get that a lot more legible.

Do you care about this? It made me smile, but I really do not care if it is true. If you do, and haven’t already acquainted yourself with this tale and made up your mind about it, then read this, which merely reports on the claim (made in 2008 by a mate of Tommy Steele’s), or this, which is more scornful, or this, which is very scornful indeed. Elvis did fleetingly visit Scotland, apparently, but was stuck at the airport. The most scornful of these reports is Scottish, assuming that I am correct in believing “Shields” to be in Scotland. Can’t have the damn Sassenachs steeling their thunder. Ho, ho.

Rather surprisingly, I only found one other photo featuring what I photoed today, here. But that could just reflect my inadequacy as an internet searcher.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Complicated scaffolding effects in the morning sunshine

Today, as I promised myself on Tuesday, I went east. The weather was even better than was forecasted, and among the very first photos I photoed was this, before I even got to the tube station:

But the good weather came at a price, paid in degrees of temperature. No clouds and there’s nothing to keep the warmth in. It was cold. And all the walking I did has taken it out of me. Also, I met up with occasional commenter here and good friend Alastair, and that meant me getting up and out earlier than usual. So, I am knackered, and I can’t now even summon up the energy to explain what exactly is going on in the above photo, let alone show you any more photos. It doesn’t now help (although it will) that I have nearly six hundred photos to look at and pick from and ruminate about.

Now: early to bed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

On Thursday I will go east

Thursday looks like being the first properly sunny day (though still with plenty of clouds) since I don’t know when:

That’s what the short-term weather forecast forecasts, and short-term weather forecasts are very dependable. (Longer than short-term forecasts (more than a few days) have a random connection to the truth, and ride entirely on the authority earned by the the short-term forecasts.)

So, Thursday will be the day for my first big photo-walkabout of the new year. If I don’t think of anywhere better, I will start by visiting this place.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog