Framing the view

Barcelona, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Harrogate, London, National Trust, North Yorkshire

For this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge, Ann-Christine asks us to think about curves. What a big subject! Flicking through my photos, almost every one has a curve in it somewhere or another. How to limit it? In the end, I decided to go with curves-as-frames.

There are deliberate curves as framing devices, as here in Studley Royal, where the estate gates are placed to emphasise the view straight down towards Ripon Cathedral.

Or here where the band on a bookshop barge on the Regent’s Canal in London has organised an arch above the musicians.

Or here, where a metal arch has provided an impromptu frame, so long as you choose your point-of-view. This is Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate ….

… or here, where a handy metal arch can be encouraged to frame the Maritime Museum in Barcelona.

Bridges may be arched, and garden entrances, even if not curved themselves, are often softened by climbing plants.

Let’s go to more serendipitous framing in the natural world. Here’s my grandson at Brimham Rocks.

And finally, we’ll go to Fountains Abbey, where I spend so much time. I’ve chosen two different views of the Abbey, one taken in high summer, then the other, shown as the featured image, in autumn. In each case, Huby Tower has been framed by leaves cascading in gentle curves.

As well as the Lens-Artists Challenge, this post fits the bill for Sarah’s Friendly Friday Challenge: Framing your subject.

I remember, I remember … the River Thames


The Lens Artists Challenge this week asks for Memorable Moments. I was all set to embark on a virtual journey to Moorish Spain, or Seoul, or Pondicherry. But then on Monday, I wrote a post about fog, and I found myself making comparisons between the smog-bound, dirty, industrial and horribly polluted Thames that I knew as a child, with the vibrant highway that has become the face of modern London.

I have no photos of 1950’s London. I’ll give you instead, with sincere apologies to John Masefield’s Cargoes, a word-picture of the working craft on that busy river – traffic which still exists today.

The Tyne coal was then. The tonnes of waste are now.

The header photo combines old and new: one of those barges, still busily doing what Thames barges have done for several centuries: with a twenty first century backdrop. The gallery below shows recent photos which contain memories of the rusty workaday river I once knew.

Any minute now, I’m going to get marks deducted for not answering the question. But I am, in my own way. Those early memories are etched into my head, and on my visits to the Big City now, every trip along the Thames in a Thames Clipper – always a treat – adds fresh memorable moments, as I savour the clash and contrast between old and new which brings piquancy and added flavour to my long held recollections.

The Tower of London, founded 1066, meets the City of London, largely re-invented after WWII, and especially in the last twenty years.
The building on the right is London’s County Hall. As a teacher, my mother had access to its wonderful library, and it’s where we often went on Saturday to choose books. Nowadays, it’s a hotel, and utterly dwarfed by The London Eye.
The Thames at Greenwich. Not much changed.
Further out still, beyond Woolwich: the flood defence of the Thames Barrier, which formed no part of my childhood.

Building a Skyscraper: Crane required

Barcelona, London

What a doddle it must be to erect a modern high-rise building, compared with the difficulties faced by those builders in mediaeval times. Their churches and cathedrals soar dizzyingly heavenwards without benefit of modern scaffolding kits, cranes and mechanical diggers.

It’s the view of Cádiz shown in the featured photo that prompted thoughts like these. The modern industrial hub is visible from the older city centre. Here’s another view:


Let’s go to London, a city so changed from the days when I lived there in the 1950s and 60s. Here’s a gallery of soaring towers, and the cranes that made building them possible. There are even cranes surrounding St. Paul’s Cathedral. And The London Eye makes a useful picture frame for yet another high-rise office.

And here’s new and old, juxtaposed: from Gherkin to Tower of London

Slightly off-topic, I have to include a few shots from the Gasholder development in Kings Cross. From dirty industrial back streets to desirable address in an imaginative few years.

There’s one cathedral still under construction that’s taking even longer to build than its mediaeval antecedents: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Look.

Did you notice the builder in his hi-viz gear and safety equipment? He’s not the only one who needs to have a head for heights on these modern buildings. Here’s a team of window cleaners in Warsaw:

Tina has invited us, in this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge #173 to choose interesting architecture. I’ve chosen to focus on how the buildings I’ve selected reached such immense heights.

The London skyline seen from Greenwich

Black Monday? Or Grey Monday? Or Out-and-About Monday?

England, London, Spain

It is a grey Monday outside. And Jude has invited us to celebrate grey and black in this month’s Life in Colour challenge. Let’s go on one of our mini-breaks and see what we can find. We’ll start in London:

We’re walking down the South Bank here. That’s the Oxo Tower in the distance.

Oh, but maybe London’s too obvious as a starting place. Let’s start from Gateshead instead, and join a group gazing out of the window from the Baltic Centre.

We’re off to Spain now. We’ll stop off in Seville. You may need a comfort break by now, so we’ll stop off at the public toilets in Plaza de España, and enjoy the reflections we can see in its glass walls.

Plaza de España, Seville

Shadows from street lights as evening falls, but we get away in time to see the Alhambra in Granada illuminated at night – it’s the featured photo.

Shadows in Seville

We’ll pop across the next day to see my daughter in Premià de Mar. It’s silhouettes and sunny shadows there.

This is only a mini-break. We’ll go home via Whitby and just have a stroll to the end of the pier. There are always cormorants there. And seagulls on the rooftops.

Time for home now. Goodnight!

Just one day along the Thames


London last week was a time for me to enjoy the grandchildren’s company in museums and in parks during fine autumn weather, and in making a Christmas cake. On Friday though, the weather forecast was foul. We planned to go to Greenwich briefly to buy things we couldn’t get locally, then hole up at home. We bought pumpkins which, closely supervised by the children, Tom later translated into faces (‘Happy face’, said Zoe: ‘Scary face’ said William. Tom seems to have wanted a face with a head full of gnashers.)

As we finished our list of jobs, the rain unexpectedly stopped, and we decided on a jaunt to the Thames Barrier, which I’d never seen. A walk though an industrial estate offered us gravel raining down from a conveyor belt …

… and soon we were on The Thames Path. I’m always thrilled by the river in the city. I love the juxtaposition of new and old – the airy skyscrapers filled with office workers, and city types wheeling and dealing: on the water below them, rusting rusting barges plodding up and down like Dirty British Coasters, as they’ve done for centuries.

Ahead was The Thames Barrier, a buffer against the threat of flooding in London and which I think of as being rather new. It’s not. Its fortieth birthday is next year. The header photograph was our first sighting. And here’s a gallery of views as we approached, passed it, and came back the other way.

Then we were on our way back, as clouds turned dirtier, greyer, and the rain started once more to fall. Here were the buildings of Canary Wharf and Central London, viewed across ancient wooden jetties.

The promised rain had returned as a deluge. We scurried home, had lunch, and turned our attention to making Horrid Hallowe’en Biscuits and Perturbing Pumpkins.

Amy asked us to share just one day from our week for Lens-Artists Challenge #172. I chose last Friday.

The past meets the present along the South Bank


Enjoying grandchildren and blogging simply don’t mix, so I haven’t been part of Becky’s Past Squares lately. But old and new meet beautifully in London, so let’s finish the month by strolling along London’s South Bank.

I took this picture of my grandchildren because it reminded me of an iconic advert for Start-rite shoes which I can’t show because it’s under copyright. Instead I’ll show you a blast from the past: their dad’s first pair of shoes – yes, I still have them.

And later, as day became evening, here’s the London skyline: St Paul’s Cathedral, built after the Great Fire of London by Sir Christopher Wren, with a forest of cranes showing the continued growth of this city.

Thanks Becky, for yet another month of fun and squaring. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Portugal.

Street art: a tour of Berlin, Spain, and ending up in England.

Blogging challenges, Catalonia, England, Germany, London, Spain

It was in Berlin that I first really discovered a love of Street Art. Maybe it’s because I got some background understanding by going out for the afternoon with Dave, of Alternative Berlin Tours. I learnt the difference between graffiti, street art, stickers and transfers, and something of the political anger and activism that can inform so much of it: particularly near the former Berlin Wall. This has now been re-invented as The East Side Gallery and I don’t show anything of that here because many of its images are so well known. Here are some examples we saw in Dave’s company, or exploring later on our own.

Having done Street Art Module One in Berlin, I was ready a year or so later to do Module Two in Valencia, It was here that I met an irrepressible type who peoples doorways and random bits of street furniture, painted by David de Limón.

Our tutor introduces us to David de Limón

And it was here too, as we once had in Seville, that we encountered street artists doing their day – or occasionally night – job.

Here are a few more:

I like the way that the windows become part of the fantasy here.

And here’s one just for Past Squares

And we’ll have a whistle-stop tour of Spain and view a few more:

Catalan independence is always the story in Berga …
… whereas relaxing over a drink with a friend is more Seville’s style

Maybe this is my favourite image of all, a bit of fun created from damaged plasterwork in Seville:

Another Past Square for Becky, and worth another outing, I think.

Although – hang on – no. My real favourite has got to be in Manor House Gardens, Hither Green, because the artist appears to have designed this image with my granddaughter in mind.

With thanks to Patti for providing us with a chance to wander city streets this week in quest of images that amuse, provoke and stimulate us. It’s the perfect moment to join the Photographing Public Art Challenge too. As well as Monday Mural. All this and Past Squares and Monday Window too … This is taking multi-tasking to a new level.

The header image comes from the top floor of an apartment block in Málaga.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #170

Monday Mural

Monday Window

Past Squares

Photographing Public Art