Perfect patterns

It’s been a busy week, and I’ve a feeling I shan’t be blogging again before Christmas, but I just had to have a go at posting a few photos for Ann-Christine’s Lens-Artists Challenge this week : Perfect Patterns. I’m going to let the images speak for themselves this time. We’ll have two galleries: man-made patterns, every one of them from Spain …

And now the natural world, not one of them from Spain, or indeed from outside the UK:

Click on any image to get its label: and only a label this time: no stories, no history, no nothing. Sorry!

The featured image is a ceiling in the Palau de la Musica, Barcelona.

What have diagonal lines ever done for me?

That is the question posed by Patti, for this week’s Lens Artists’ Challenge #228. Well, not done for me exactly, but done for my photos. Have a photos diagonal lines invited us in, encouraged us to explore the picture, or to focus on some detail?

Let’s have a look, and have a bit of a trip out too.

We’ll start off close to home, one cold wintry morning as I went to get the paper. Those rays of sunshine enlivened the scene, and my mood.

Here are two more, from just down the road. A tree which instead of reaching skywards, leans across the woods to demand a place centre-stage for the whole shot. And ox-eye daisies splicing the image in half, showing us there’s countryside, not a garden beyond.

A trip to the seaside? Alnmouth in Northumbria?

This quiet beach looks dramatic when the tide’s out.

Brussels now. A bank of plate glass windows reflects the opposite side of the road to dramatic effect. Monochrome too, for Bren’s Mid-Week Monochrome.

Off to Spain now. All those dizzy hairpin bends in Cantabria invite us to explore.

Then two more scenes – one from Cádiz, the other from Valencia. Those diagonals pull us in to explore the cathedral in one, the reflections in the other.

This shot, from Alicante, uses the ropes on a yacht as a frame for the scene beyond.


I’ve hesitated over whether to include this last shot in what is essentially a light-hearted post. But this photo – not a particularly original one as so many others have taken similar shots – has stayed with me. It’s Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. These are the railway lines that brought so many thousands of Jews on their very last journey. I wrote about it here.

I decided on balance to include it, as the relative optimism I felt when I wrote that post five years ago has disappeared in the light of world events over the last couple of years: and we shouldn’t forget.

The Abstract Geometry of Valencia

Team Spain is with us at the moment, so blogging and bloggers are taking a back seat. All the same, I’m going to take a virtual trip to Valencia, which we’ve often visited after being with the family near Barcelona. This time though, as requested by Amanda for a Friendly Friday challenge (collaborating with Frank at Beach Walk Reflections). I’m focussing on just a few of the shapes I’ve seen there.

And where better to start than the futuristic Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències?

And quite nearby, in the Turia Gardens, you’ll find this bridge. which I highlighted recently. But this is a closer view.

Roof spaces: How about the Mercat de Colom? Or the so-very-different La Lonja – the old Silk Exchange?

And let’s finish off with something that may no longer be visible. Valencia’s big on street art, but I liked the bold geometry of this piece under construction.

This is scarcely a Tourist Info Guide to Valencia: but it’s a glimpse of some of the places worth hunting for in any visit there.

The oddly charming drainpipes of Valencia

Mooching round Valencia old town, you may notice at roughly eye-height, little faces adorning the drainpipes. Quite what they’re for is in dispute: they may be the logos of local metalworks from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, or they may be some kind of local tradition connected with warding off evil spirits. A few are fairly new, but mostly, they’re beginning to vanish as old and rusting fixtures and fittings disappear. It’s a shame, because these are charming: if a little odd.

For Becky’s Square Odds.

And Marsha’s Photographing Public Art Challenge #36

A Pair of Oddballs

This year, it’s not too early to go to the fantastic street carnival, Las Fallas, which takes place in Valencia in February and March every year. You’ll find fanciful figures, fireworks and fun. But if travelling’s still tricky, we can join this pair of oddballs on their motorbike, whom I found a few years ago in the museum devoted to this special festival.

For Becky’s Square Odds

With thanks to Sue of Words Visual, for reminding me about this doughty pair of old crones,

Love your Library visits Valencia

Walking down a busy main street in Valencia a few years ago, my eye was caught by a welcoming shady square. Through the palm trees I could glimpse a few columns – maybe Roman remains? and a steady stream of people drifting in and out of a handsome building.

Curious, I investigated. It was a library. The Central Public Library of Valencia. I went in.

How spacious, airy, beautiful and welcoming it was! Later, I discovered that this building had once been the first psychiatric hospital in Europe, founded in 1409 as the initiative of one Friar Juan Gilabert Jofre, to care for the mentally ill. It was called Hospital de Folls de Santa María dels Pobres Innocents – the Hospital of the Poor Innocents. This actual building was begun in 1493, and was and is in the form of a Greek cross, which housed the different wings of the hospital. It added general hospital facilities in the 16th century and also suffered a destructive fire.

During the 1960s, hospital facilities were moved elsewhere in the city, and the authorities began the site’s demolition: the church, the pharmacy and old medical school are gone. There was an immense public outcry. What was left was saved, and the building retained and developed as a library and archive service. Those columns I saw outside are not Roman, but surplus to requirements when the building was redeveloped.

It’s a fabulous place. Not only is it a welcoming, light-filled and serene space, it’s a busy one. It’s right by two of the city’s universities, so study areas are busy with students as well as the general public. The collections seem vast: the English section, for both adults and children was well-stocked, At one point I sat down in the section devoted to newspapers and periodicals and browsed through recent copies of the Times and Sunday Times and some more academic publications in English. Of course other European nations were represented too. There were book groups advertised, including a monthly one for children in English (obviously aimed at Spanish children, rather than any resident English ones); an ‘introduction to philosophy’ group for children; reading groups for dissidents; for theatre-goers; for students of Valencia’s social history, as well as the usual more general ones; photography and cookery workshops; lectures (‘Football now and as it used to be’). I was beyond impressed. Here’s a gallery of this library community at work on one ordinary weekday afternoon – before the pandemic – I don’t know how it will have changed.

Meanwhile, what have I been reading this last month? Reviews for most of them will appear over the next few Six Degrees of Separation posts.


Gabriel Chevallier: Fear.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Delphine de Vigan: Based on a True Story.⭐⭐⭐

Donna Leon: Beastly Things.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Patricia Lockwood: No One is Talking About This.⭐⭐(abandoned)

Sakaya Murata: Convenience Store Woman.⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jane Smiley: The Strays of Paris.⭐⭐ (skim-read)

Sarah Winman: Still Life.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Non Fiction

Allan Ahlberg: The Bucket⭐⭐⭐

Charlie Gilmour: Featherhood.⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ann Patty: Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin.⭐⭐⭐

For Bookish Beck’s Love your Library.

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

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

‘How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun’

At the moment, we all need the glow, the zing that a good splash of yellow can provide. Luckily, Jude has provided the perfect opportunity for us to hunt down all our yellow-rich images, in her challenge Life in Colour. Let’s have an injection of gutsy, vibrant lemon, amber and gold alongside our long awaited Covid vaccines.

I’d thought of showing those springtime flowers we all love – aconites, daffodils, primrose, tulips and kingcups. But maybe I’ll save those for another day. Here’s a complete hotch-potch of yellows to cheer up a day which, here at least is thoroughly and dismally grey.

To view any image full size. just click on it. The quotation of the post title is by Vincent Van Gogh. No wonder he liked sunflowers. And the header photo shows one word from another quotation. Wander round the St. Paul’s area of London and you’ll eventually uncover the whole sentence, from Virginia Woolf’s novel, Jacob’s Room: ‘What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?‘ What indeed? In this area of London, enough to fill an entire guide book.

Zest up your day with toast and marmalade!

It’s that time of year when the house is permeated by the bitter, bright, clean and honeysweet smell of marmalade-in-the-making, as a pan of carefully cut up peels, juice and sugar bubble away enticingly in the kitchen to make this year’s supply of Seville Orange Marmalade. Is anything more guaranteed to wake you up and start your day with a zing than a couple of slices of toast and home-made marmalade?

I first wrote about it here, on this day in 2011. I wrote about it often. But our most memorable marmalade year was two years ago, when I wrote about it again, on almost this day.

Up above your head, in many a Spanish street, are oranges, glowing orbs of colour that brighten the cityscape. And two years ago we were in Valencia, home of the orange. Finding windfalls abandoned in the Turia Gardens, we gathered them and brought them home. What could be better than marmalade made, by you, from oranges you’ve harvested yourselves?

Oranges growing in Valencia

Flashback Friday

Square Up

It turns out that my first marmalade post was written on 21st January. Today is the 22nd. I hope this isn’t a hanging offence, in the world of Flashback Friday.