28 Interesting images from 2019

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Of course I posted on my travels throughout the year, including on Vanuatu, Sumba Island in Indonesia, assorted Australia trips like the Torres Strait Islands, Armenia, fjord travel in Norway and Svalbard and polar bears in Norway, the wonderful mosaics of Ravenna in Italy, Lake Eyre in flood, the Victorian silo art trail and Erith Island in Bass Strait. That final island was part of my research for Islands of Australia which was published by the National Library of Australia in October 2019.




Here are 28 images which didn’t feature in those travels.

◄ As we departed from dinner at Alexandra and Leigh Copeland’s place just before Chrismas – click here for some interesting Afghan carpets we’ve bought from them – we noticed this collection of (mainly) Indian children’s toys scattered across the carpet. They were about to be conveyed to the National Gallery of Victoria.

▲ A toppling elephant sculpture beside the Brisbane River and outside the Gallery of Modern Art. I strolled along the riverside the morning after my ride on the Great Southern train.

▲ The night before in Brisbane, having dinner with some of the journalists who had been on the train ride with me, this guy in drag came by and momentarily made me into a star.

▲ 21 November and it’s typical Melbourne weather, the temperature hits a record high for the time of year (not even summer yet and it’s over 40°C) and then falls like Thelma and Louise driving over a cliff edge.

◄ A baby blackbird in our courtyard in Melbourne, Australia. They hatch out there and then hang around for ages – weeks even – before they get the nerve to fly away. I would have said they were perfectly safe there, no access to killer-cats, until a marauding magpie flew in and killed one.

▲ My grand-daughter Veda – age 6 months – checks out internet connection costs, you can’t start too soon.

▲ Detroit tourism advertised on the side of a London taxi, a few minutes later I discovered a Soho, London branch of that hip new Detroit brand Shinola.

▲ Memorials to Museum Directors’ dogs on a wall in the courtyard of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, from the days when the director and their family lived in the museum.

▲ Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid’s work, the cafe beside the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park.

◄ Probe 16 from the film Clockwork Orange at the Stanley Kubrick Exhibition at London’s Design Museum in Kensington. This Adam’s Brother’s styling exercise still looks amazingly modern event though it’s 50 years old. I noted how it emerged from the Marcos car ‘factory’ in Bradford-on-Avon and the same year I drove down the coast of what was then Yugoslavia in my own Mini-Marcos.

▲ Bathing on a Summer Evening in the ‘Painter of Disquiet’ exhibition of works by Swiss-French painter Félix Edouard Vallotton at the Royal Academy in London.

◄ At my local greengrocer in London a ‘spiritual healer’ offers assorted services including sorting out any problems you have with Bhoot – that’s the ghost of a deceased person or a disembodied spirit in India.

▲ Calshot Spit, at the mouth of the Solent south of Southampton, near where my father grew up and where, between the wars, British seaplanes used to operate. I drove down there to scatter my parents’ ashes.

▲ Fairies performing in Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre (near London’s Tower Bridge) – the four fairies, plus Puck, threw themselves through the air with considerable athleticism, they looked wonderful and scarily fit.

◄ A Morgan Three-Wheeler outside the London Morgan dealer at 6 Astwood Mews in Kensington.

▲ Full steam ahead, on board HMS Belfast, moored Thameside just upstream from Tower Bridge and across from the Tower of London.

◄ The William Walker statue in Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, England. The hard-hat diver spent six years from 1906 to 1912 shoring up the waterlogged foundations of the cathedral, a rising water table threatened the medieval cathedral with collapse.

▲ In the county of Hampshire, west of London, West Green House features a beautiful garden and looks wonderful at night.

▲ It’s also features English country opera during the summer, La Cenerentola – Cinderalla in English – by Gioachino Rossini was  treated in a thoroughly slapstick fashion. We’ve got the remains of a Citroën 2cv and an ancient Land-Rover as the principal parts of the set, a toy helicopter flies Cinderalla to the ball, the whole thing is so hilarious you can see Heather Lowe, playing Angelina, the Cinderella character, was having trouble keeping a straight face at times. Afterwards I chat briefly with Blaise Malaba – who sang Alidoro, the wise adviser and the make-believe-tramp – he’s originally from Congo DRC. Kisangani in fact, where I note I had the real Congo experience, getting arrested.

◄ George Orwell statue beside BBC Broadcasting House, near Oxford Circus Tube Station in London

▲ I was at the wonderful Ulisse Fest travel festival at Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic Coast. That’s Carlo Petrini of Slow Food in the middle and my equally wonderful translator Marina Astrologo. Carlo and I get a few laughs, he says that tomatoes and pasta are not originally Italian and I match that with tea, that English staple, coming from China and it was an Italian, Marco Polo, responsible for its introduction. Why doesn’t Africa food – apart from Ethiopia? – travel? Is sub-Saharan food the last great undiscovered cuisine?

◄ I was in the audience in Piazza Cavour for another session and the young woman sitting in front of me sported a tattoo on her arm quoting that Lonely Planet suggestion: ‘Just Go.’

▲ There were numerous train trips during the year including the new Great Southern service in Australia and earlier in the year the classic Oslo-Bergen train trip in Norway. On my way to the Ulisse Fest in Italy I took the high speed – and very comfortable – Trenitalia Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) train from Milano Centrale towards Roma Termini, although only to Bologna for me.

▲ On my way into central London I’d often ride a bicycle – sometimes my own, sometimes a ‘Boris Bike’ although today it should probably be called a Sadiq Cycle after the current mayor Sadiq Khan. Pedalling past Kensington Palace around 31 August the palace gates were decorated with letters and pictures by Princess Di devotees, commemorating her death in 1997.

◄ Another London statue, this is everybody’s favourite engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, sitting on a platform at Paddington Station in London.

▲ Just English wildflowers in a meadow in Wiltshire.

◄  I was in Wiltshire for the Chalke Valley History Festival and went along to hear Jacob Rees-Mogg, the clown-like pro-Brexit ‘honourable member for the 17th century,’ speak. One good thing to come out of the Brexit fiasco will be the unification of the two Irelands. I can see the day when statues of Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson will be scattered around Ireland with inscriptions noting that ‘the IRA could not achieve One Ireland, but these gentlemen did.’

▲  I did meet Prince Charles at a function while I was in London.