Archive for

More photography

Posted on December 19th, 2014

Many of you offered kind comments about my black and white photographs (posted July 2014). Thank you. I have updated the collection, added some new ones and retained some. The revised collection can be found HERE.   Hope you like them.  

Danger in the forest

Posted on December 19th, 2014

The woods have been quite damp lately, with mushrooms sprouting everywhere, particularly under pine trees, though some varieties prefer scrub-oak garrigue. France has 5,000 different mushroom species of which 50 are dangerous. Reported cases of poisoning have totalled 460 in three months, with 188 requiring emergency care. Sixteen cases were classified as severe, including one death and an 18-month old child requiring a liver transplant. Health authorities advise checking with local pharmacists, who are trained to recognise poisonous varieties. If you suffer effects within six hours the consequences are generally benign; longer requires hospitalisation. One common factor among victims is they all think they know……………………

Christmas in Provence

Posted on December 19th, 2014

Salon-de-Provence is celebrating Christmas with a street market and some dubious decorations. The 12th century Eglise Saint-Michel is the only church inside the walls of the town and this year hosts a large nativity scene, with parts played by local characters including sheep, lambs, geese and a cow. A rather grumpy-looking Joseph (another mouth to feed?) was tempting sheep with hay, but they preferred to munch the Christmas tree just outside their enclosure.  

Unpredictable

Posted on November 30th, 2014

Saturday in Lourmarin with friends for an afternoon of rugby at Cafe Gaby. Two good matches: Toulon-Clermont, followed by England-Australia. During the first match a very smart group arrived unannounced, directly across the pedestrian street. Impeccably dressed in 1930s clothes they set up a loudspeaker and began to dance the tango. No-one seemed to know who or why they were there. The brilliant show lasted almost an hour and they were gone. Such events seem to happen often in France. Unpredictable and very delightful.

Deadly pastime

Posted on November 30th, 2014

The hunting season is in full swing. I met two hunters with three dogs in the forest last week – they seldom seem to kill anything, but this time were proud to show me an elusive becasse, or woodcock. There have been 25 deaths from hunting since the season opened in August. Seven were shot dead, while other deaths include falling from cliffs or shooting towers, motor vehicle accidents on hunting trails, drowning or heart attacks. Fortunately only one non-hunter has died so far, but even he was a member of an ancient wolf-hunting society. These statistics do not include the many injuries however, some comical, some less so. A fortnight ago two hunters were crawling around the edge of a pond to stalk…

Pictures in the Louvre

Posted on November 23rd, 2014

The Louvre

It has been several years since I visited the Louvre. Crowd numbers are much the same, but what struck me was how smartphones have changed the experience. Everyone was taking selfies or pictures of friends and family. I watched as people forced their way through the crowd surrounding the Venus de Milo or the Mona Lisa. Having reached the best viewing spot, they promptly turned their backs and lined up a selfie. Task completed, they moved off without a second glance.

The LouvreThe LouvreThe LouvreThe LouvreNapoleon III apartment, The LouvreThe LouvreThe Louvre

 

 

Unwelcome visitors

Posted on November 16th, 2014

Every autumn the house is invaded by several families of loir, seeking suitable nesting sites for hibernation. Resembling a miniature grey squirrel, the loir is also known as the edible doormouse because they were considered a delicacy by ancient Romans and Etruscans, who ate them as a snack, roasted and dipped in honey or stuffed with pork and pine nuts. They are still eaten today in Slovenia, particularly in autumn, when they fatten in readiness for hibernation. Loir live for three years, enjoying long winter breaks, but generally die in the fourth hibernation, having worn down their teeth to the degree they cannot eat properly. In late autumn they enter walls, ceilings or cellars and this year tore a hole to nest inside a…

Remembrance

Posted on November 11th, 2014

Today ceremonies have taken place across France to remember the fallen in World War One and all wars since. Almost 1.4 million French soldiers died in WWI, nearly double the losses of the United Kingdom. These simple ceremonies always take place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, recalling the signing of the armistice to end the Great War. The French President lays a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, while village mayors conduct simultaneous ceremonies at war memorials in every village and town throughout the country. Many people wear a cornflower, the Bleuet de France. Like poppies, cornflowers continued to grow in shell-ravaged areas of the trenches and young conscripted soldiers…

Shabby and shameful

Posted on August 2nd, 2014

Just when you thought that President Hollande’s popularity ratings could not sink any lower, along comes a golden opportunity for him to show some backbone, integrity and moral leadership; to restore sagging French pride and behave honourably. I am of course talking about Israel’s savage and spiteful aggression in Gaza. So what does Hollande do? Three weeks ago he issued a statement to express France’s solidarity with Israel in the face of rocket attacks from Gaza. He reminded Netanyahu that France firmly condemns these attacks and that it is up to the Israeli government to take all the necessary measures to protect its population from these threats. The following day he expressed “regret” at civilian casualties and recommended restraint. Since then silence. At long…

Photography

Posted on July 28th, 2014

Last year I bought a new camera, with the intention of taking better photos for this blog. A friend observed: “Now you can take expensive bad photos”. But I persevere and gain much pleasure from my recent hobby. It took me a year to understand basic camera controls and their effect. There is still so much to learn, nevertheless I am pleased with some of the results. I love French black and white masters from pre-war days such as Doisneau and Ronis, so I have concentrated on black and white for now. A few of my images that I find pleasing are: HERE. I hope you like them. Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst – Henri Cartier-Bresson