A quick summary of the last few weeks, courtesy of Instagram. If it were completely accurate it would contains a great many photographs of beer bottles, but I’m with-holding them for a later post, and so I don’t look like an alcoholic.
Posts Tagged ‘Photos’
Went to Pride today; lovely as always to join in the festivities, especially as we went to hang out with our friends Oli and Sanj beforehand, in what they cheerfully term their ‘gay house’. Sanj was ashamed to have no sparkling water to hand, and rebuked me for folding my arms at one point. “I need you to relax”, he told me, wrenching my posture. “This is a gay house”.
I’m limbering up towards feelings of Christmassyness; this weekend Lynds and I trotted up to Cambridge to see my folks, and were given gifts of hats, scarves, socks and gloves. As always, my parents’ were liberal in their provision of alcohol. Over a long boozy lunch on Saturday, we managed to sample delicious ale, Italian wine, sloe gin, amaretto and spiced rum – bravely fighting off the offer of prosecco to finish. A long afternoon nap followed.
Best bit of the weekend was a lovely walk around a lake near their house – it was a beautiful winter morning, crisp and crunchy with frost but the sky was a clear and brilliant blue. Lyndsey picked some lovely purple catkins.
They’re now our christmas tree, following an aborted attempt to construct one out of cardboard.
Not many people flying red flags in rural Cambridgeshire, but I take your point. This sign actually denoted a little archery change in the village of Offord Darcy, just up the road from where my parents live. The archery looked fun, but I didn’t like the look of the ultra-modern bows. These sorts of things shouldn’t, I don’t think, be allowed to move with the times.
While we were in Alsace earlier this month, Anne-Sophie took us up into the Vosges mountains, where we spent a few hours clambering through a series of impeccably preserved, incredibly interesting, World War One trenches. It was quite an experience, although one that seemed to spark in all of us – except perhaps Anne So – a vague feeling that there was something important missing from our individual knowledge about the events of the Great War, or just a dissonance so huge between our lives and those lost then that punctured a hole in our capacity to imagine what it must have been like to have been living and fighting on the Front. We tend, here in Great Britain, to see the wars from a very British perspective, and unless my lack of awareness is atypical, we have a far more realistic sense of the travails of the Second World War than we do the first. We speculated, walking around, that much of people our age’s visualization of war in that environment comes not from books, nor even films, but rather from video games – although I’ve never played a war video game in my life, so I guess that’s not the case for me.
What did I feel? Mostly I think I just felt a sense of serenity, inspired by the stunning views and pin-perfect temperature, and a kind of placid fascination, which manifested itself in the kind of self-indulgent over-intellectualization you’ll find in these paragraphs. We talked a lot about how it must have felt, without really understanding. But once or twice, down in the cool dark chamber of a trench, I felt a glimmer of panic, a sense of the immensity of what was faced in that place. I need to read more about it. At times we stood at points where the French and German trenches were a matter of 20, 30 metres apart – a stunning contraction of distance in a vast landscape. Then, seeing a branch shiver in the wind or hearing the snapping of undergrowth, you could get something of that claustrophobic closeness – the notion of your enemy appearing suddenly before you.
Mostly we talked, paradoxically, about the near-century that has passed since. We speculated – in an uninformed kind of way – about how the forest would have slowly been repopulated with trees, about wildlife timidly returning to a landscape pockmarked with the echoes of gunfire. The incredible thought of a century of near-peace in a mostly unchanging landscape is quite something. It made us wonder, actually, if there might not be some potential in a book which was called something like ‘A Natural History of War in the Twentieth Century’ – a study of the impact of conflict on the natural world, on flora and fauna. Oddly I can’t find anything online that does that. We spent a lot of the weekend, actually, talking about bats, frogs, butterflies, the sound of cicadas. On the way down the mountain we passed a stationary deer, and it was – unsurprisingly – quite magical. We drove past and it stood alert in a pose which was simultaneously full of movement and perfectly still. Unmoving, and yet taut with the expectation of flight.
Here are a few photos from the afternoon.
This Sunday afternoon, I sat outside the lovely Berthom bar, in central Strasbourg, with my friends Vic, Alec, Ant, Anne-Sophie and Rich. We actually stumbled upon the bar about eight months ago and immediately fell in love with it; the stylish font on the sign, the dazzling menu of beers, the dark alcoves and friendly waiting staff. This time, barely recovered from clambering breathlessly up hundreds of steps (and 66 metres) to the viewing platform of Strasbourg Cathedral, we collapsed gratefully into our seats and ordered:
A Maredsous 6 Blonde and a Bel Pils, for me. The former a very refreshing Belgian beer, slightly sweet and dry, with a nice, burnt, orange colour, the latter a plain but hugely drinkable pilsener from the Duvel stable.
A Faro Lindemans and another Maredsous 6 Blonde for Vic, who (rightly) found the former – a Belgian Lambic beer – unbearably syrupy, although it also had a counterbalancing (but not very pleasant) sourness, too. The latter, as mentioned above, made up for the ordering faux-pas.
A couple of strong beers for Ant; I forget what the first was, but it was a heavy, dark, bitter concoction (and very nice for it). The second was the dark variety of the first beer I had – a Maredsous 8 Brune which was lovely – malty, thick, and laced with something spicy. Both these beers were 8% ABV and upwards. Brills.
A very sweet, light, fruity Pêcheresse for Anne-Sophie, which came – like all the beers at Berthom – with a really beautiful label. And I can’t recall exactly which beers Alec and Rich had, but I recall a very pale Vedett Extra White sat on the table, and also another brune, so thick and dry it was essentially stout. There may have been more.
Given false confidence by all this booze, we took these (very transparent) photographs of a guy we liked the look of. He totally knew.
Nothing in Marseille was a disappointment, in that the city was everything I expected and a bit more – a bit more relaxed, a bit friendlier, a bit hipper, a bit more beautiful. But I did expect something from the daily market – held down at Vieux Port each morning – which it didn’t quite deliver. But it was nothing more than size; and the fact that it was smaller than anticipated – just a row of perhaps ten stalls set against the waterside – didn’t in any way reduce the amount of colour or life. Indeed, with most stalls stocking a still-wriggling haul, life was in no shortage.
The fish themselves were a wonderful variety of colours, and magnificently ugly. We seem to be obsessed with eating beautiful fish in the UK – Waitrose’s fish counter is a measured display of smooth, silver scaled treats. Here in Marseille, I discovered, they draw little distinction between the perfect, shimmering form of a sardine and a wonderful series of red, blotchy, lumpy, out of proportion little fellers – heads bigger than their bodies, fins apparently replaced with malformed little wings, twisted at the edges like loose leaves of lollo rosso.
The nicest sight of all was the fisherman, unloading fresh catches and untangling nets. The most compelling the fish surgery; heads getting roughly seperated from bodies on blood-stained plastic trays. Seagulls – lacking the rude manners of Brighton’s flock – waited patiently for the remains to be discarded into the water.
I’m back in Brighton after a couple of pretty wonderful days in Marseilles; me and my girlfriend decided a last minute city break was in order, both as a celebration of my having resolved a precarious job situation, and in order to recharge our batteries with a bit of sun. Sun in March is, of course, hard to secure – but Marseilles, a fantastically vibrant city on the edge on France’s Mediterranean coast, provided it in spades; so we spent two days walking, eating, drinking, and basking as the Mistral – a cool wind which rushes down from the Southern Alps – met the heat at Vieux Port, a gloriously serene harbour which is right at the centre of the city.
There was plenty more than just the port, of course – but for now here it is; as nice a focal point for a city as any I’ve yet encountered.
You might have noticed that for the first time in 2011 there’s no new song up today; never fear, I haven’t fallen at hurdle number 7 – just didn’t quite get time to mix it all and sort the video in time. Had a topsy turvy week.
PLUS: I have a slight problem. I’ve recorded two takes of the song and I’m not sure which to use. If you use Twitter and don’t follow me at @jonathas or @weeklysongs, follow me today and, later on, I’ll post links to both versions to see which people prefer. One is mostly acoustic, and features a drum track, the other is electric and consists just of guitar and vocals. Really unsure which to pick. Either way – whichever it is – it’ll be up this weekend.
Here’s a picture I took just outside work.
Last Sunday was perhaps the first real sunny day of 2011; and not just bright – in pockets of calm when the wind fell, it was warm and faintly blissful sat down on the beach, scuffing my shoes through sand watching four Italian men play volleyball in the artificial beach outside The World Famous Pump Room. Warm enough to enjoy an ice cream, warm enough to sit basking watching the ball fly back and forth while dogs, restrained on leashes, looked on eagerly.
Kids wander round these campuses barely looking at the mountains surrounding them. I guess they get so used to them. I can’t. I nearly bumped into about four people walking round the campuses, head (almost literally) in the clouds. If it wasn’t so cold here, I might refuse to leave.
It’s funny, I’d never dream of walking around Brighton taking photographs of graffiti, much less post the results here, but whenever I’m away I’m transfixed by paintings, doodles and blocks of colour on walls and doorways. I have a very vivid memory of going on holiday to Lisbon when I was young, with my parents and our family friends, John and Wendy, and spending an entire afternoon dashing enthusiastically around the city taking photographs of the walls – communist graffiti and ripped Whitesnake posters.
I spotted this downtown in Salt Lake City; not even sure what the caption means, in all honesty.
Me and Ali went over to Paris to see Sam and Laura the other week; we had a truly lovely time and very much enjoyed the chance to charge enthusiastically around beside the Seine, in the Marais, and round Montmartre. The following drawing/collage was composed on my iPad on my return, comprising as it does a mixture of photos from the trip, tracings, freehand drawings and slops of virtual paint. Thanks so much, Sam and Laura, for hosting us!
For those interested in the details; the black and white background is a photo I took of frayed posters on a wall in Belleville; the colourful green overlay with a drawing of a dove is the wallpaper of a bar called La Barourq by the Quai de la Loire where we played boules. Laura is riding a velib just round the corner from the same place, and Sam is stood, drenched, by the Seine, where we’d just run through a sequence of fountains. The sign is from the Bellevilloise, a little theatre space where we saw a Burlesque show on Sunday afternoon. The boy, stood centre, was scribbling happily on a large blackboard down by the Seine on Saturday. There was a ukulele workshop in the same place. And the scribble to the left is an abstract sort of thing drawn over the orginal background, as is the protester above the map. The face right of centre is based on a stencil spotted on a wall in Montmartre. Anyone know who it is? Too handsome to be Camus.
Photo taken at the rather wonderful Brighton Toy and Model Museum.