Tag: photography

Rock bottom globes

For my birthday, Damjan and I had a weekend away in Canterbury. I could have asked for the world.

It wouldn’t have cost Damjan that much.

Instead, he bought me pigeon risotto with barley pearls.

And then there were the guys in asbestos suits playing big band numbers. They were really cool. One of them was a girl but it’s hard to tell which one.

Photos from Germany

Here are some photos from my trip to Belgium and Germany last month.

A gate in the treasure room of the Belfry of Brugge.

The moon over a building in Brugge.

There are secret courtyards dotted throughout Berlin. Mo, our host in Berlin, took us to one that was the urban canvas of artists. We found this giant mechanical bat, which sprang to roaring and whistling life once we fed it a euro coin.

The Jewish Museum in Berlin. The museum space has no windows except for these slits through the metal walls.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. The square columns of the memorial ‘are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason’. Having walked amongst the looming columns while rain drizzled down, I can say that the architects and engineers managed to create the atmosphere they were aiming for.

The Neptune Fountain in Berlin.

Rooftop statues in Dresden.

In Leipzing, Damjan managed to get a water bell to resonate by running his hands back and forth on the handles. The water shimmied too.

This comes from the Marriage Carousel in Nuremburg, which represents ‘marriage from the first stages of ardent love via exhausting struggles, and right through to the death bed’.

German cities are dotted with public bicycles, managed by Deutsch Bahn. You need to call a phone number in order to get a particular bike unlocked. I only ever saw one person riding a DB bike. I wonder if the bikes are used much?

The very impressive, very Gothic Dom in Cologne/Koln.

And here is on the inside, full of tourists who defy the rules in the hope that they can somehow light the awesome space with their puny flashes. I hate dumb tourists.

Pangea Day

Today, I volunteered at Pangea Day, ‘a global event bringing the world together through film’. I surveyed people about how they travelled to the London event. We will use this information to work out the carbon footprint of Pangea Day in London and Los Angeles.

The films were great, really thoughtful and often funny. The hosts and speakers were a little bit too earnest for my taste. My favourite part of the evening was at the very end, when percussionists all around the world played to the same rhythm. We had video feeds with drummers from USA, Rwanda, Egypt, India, and other places, as well as Planet Drum live on stage in London. I was dancing on our picnic rug.

Watch all the films here. One of my favourites is Elevator Music. My friend George recommends More, which I didn’t get to see because I was surveying people.

Back in from the cold

It was very cold for most of the two weeks we were in Germany. No one warned us that it could snow in March. March should be the start of spring and last year, there were record high temperatures. I guess the Germans were taken by surprise as much as we were!

Coming into the St Pancras Eurostar terminal yesterday, London felt balmy in comparison. It was sunny, almost warm, as I went about the neighbourhood today to restock my bare pantry cupboard.

Tomorrow, I’m back at work. Two weeks ago, I left team mates with three big reports to finish off. I hope there weren’t any hitches!

I feel newly inspired to improve myself. I think that being on holiday gave me time to think about what I have achieved so far, and what I want to do next. I haven’t made a formal resolutions list or wish list. I just have a vague notion of wanting to be ‘better’. Perhaps I will start by slowing down so that I can think more before speaking or making a decision.

The train platform in Dresden.

Travelling from Leipzig to Nuremburg.

Someone who must be quite cold in Bonn.

Damjan and I are Aussie battlers, tough as nails. We eat ice-cream even when it’s snowing. This photo shows me eating delicious mango and macadamia ice-cream from a European gourmet food chain called ‘Australian Homemade‘. Weird, eh?

China in London

We had planned to have a good time on the Chinese New Year weekend in London. Damjan and I met up with Jon and Pey at Covent Garden on Saturday morning. Covent Garden is my favourite part of London. Only a few days ago, while watching the historical crime series City of Vice, I found out that Covent Garden was a seedy hotspot of brothels in the 1750s.

These days, it’s a centre for shopping, performing arts (the Royal Opera House borders the piazza) and street theatre. As Damjan likes to say, ‘It’s the only place where I’ve ever heard opera busking!’

Wikipedia says, ‘Today Covent Garden is the only part of London licensed for street entertainment with performers having to undertake auditions for the Market’s management and representatives of the performers’ union and signing up to timetabled slots.’

I do my hiphop dance lessons at Covent Garden. Damjan and I also have a favourite restaurant here called Food For Thought.

We took Pey and Jon around Covent Garden, then through Chinatown, which was gearing up for Sunday’s major Chinese New Year celebration. We then went to Trafalgar Square, which was also being tarted up for CNY. After popping into the National Gallery to see van Gough’s Sunflowers (I can’t see why this painting is so famous), we went to St James’s Park. The flag was flying over Buckingham Palace so the Queen was home.

Our London day tour ended with ice cream at Hyde Park and a home-cooked meal at my home.

The next day, Damjan and I took on 中国在伦敦 (China in London) celebrations in earnest, despite being warned about how crowded it would be. We started with lunch in Chinatown with Debra and John (Debra is a workmate of mine). For dessert, we bought opportunistically-overpriced Chinese pastries being sold on the main Chinatown drag.

Because shimmying through the CNY crowd was so tiring, we ducked into a French café, where I had my favourite French treat, mille fueille. It was the third one I have ever eaten (well, I’ve only ever eaten half of each so it was my 1.5th).

Rested, we battled through to Trafalgar Square, where we watched a rather strange Chinese/Western crossover band perform. After taking another break (in St James’s Park), we visited Hamley’s, the most famous toy store in London. It is six storeys of toys.

After dinner at Tuk Tuk in Soho (the present day red light district), Damjan and I ran to the station so that he could catch his train home.

Setting the tone for the weekend, we listened to this fellow play the Chinese pipes (if you’re reading, mum, what is this?) while waiting for Pey and Jon to arrive.

These street performers are very good at sucking in crowds. It’s always a ‘full house’.

Covent Garden is where the first Punch and Judy puppet show was performed, as recorded by the famous blogger diaryist, Samuel Pepys.

One of the gates to Chinatown. For a really big city, London has a disappointingly small Chinatown.

Here they are setting up Trafalgar Square for the party.

We wondered whether or not the lanterns get reused every year. I doubt it. Cathay Pacific probably had to pay a lot to sponsor the lanterns.

I feel a kinship with any woman in a high vis vest.

And here are the fruits of their labour — a packed out Trafalgar Square.

That’s Nelson’s Column. I believe it to be out of proportion to anything you might use as a reference in its surrounds. So it has to be said: Is someone compensating for something?

Christmas in London and Cambridge

As I said in my last post, I had a three-part Christmas, reflecting the main parts of my life now. These are ‘home and housemates’, ‘work’ and ‘former Cambridge life’.

(The Damjan part of my life is in Melbourne right now.)

So, Christmas started with our house Christmas dinner.

Andrea cooked a delicious roast chicken with vegetables. I have never had such tasty carrots and brussel sprouts before.

Damian made that beloved New Zealand dessert, the pavlova.

We had a living Christmas tree. An array of Neo’s toys held on for dear life. Every now and then, one of them would commit suicide by throwing itself off the tree.

Headgear quickly got silly. It’s inevitable when you have Christmas crackers. For those not aware, Christmas crackers always have inside them a paper crown, a bad joke and a toy.

Now, onto Christmas at work. It started with an exchange of Secret Santa (Kris Kringle) presents. We had to buy something a person could wear for less than £5. I was given a pink sequined cowgirl hat and a gigantic red feather boa. There are pictures so I might be able to post it on here later. Other people got checkered bow ties, reindeer antlers, helium balloons and snowman masks.

We all put on our silly gear and caught the train to St Paul’s. In the tube, Londoners laughed and pointed. We crossed the Millenium Bridge with the sun setting over the Thames. Lunch/dinner was at a Turkish restaurant.

Being the sustainability team, Juhi and Mariane made office decorations out of old magazines.

Isn’t it intricate? I took my cue from this and wrapped some of my presents in magazine paper.

I went to work on Christmas Eve and then caught a 6:30 PM bus to Cambridge. Rebecca and Ian had invited me over for Christmas lunch. I didn’t realise that in England, everything shuts down for Christmas. There are no tube services, no buses, no coaches, no trains. If you don’t have a car, you’re stuck within a walking or cycling radius of wherever you end up on Christmas day.

Which is why I travelled to Cambridge on Christmas Eve and went home on Boxing Day. Luckily, Bec found a place for me to stay overnight.

I had a really comfortable and happy time. It was good to be with friends for Christmas.

We had rosé wine and quality Christmas crackers.

The jokes were not as cheesy as usual and the toys were keepable. From the crackers, I kept a four colour pen and a shower puff.

For our soup starter, Bec blended cauliflower and leek, then garnished with chestnuts. YUM!

And look at this! Roast chicken and vegetables. At London home, I was amazed by the carrots and brussel sprounds. Here, the sweet potato, potato and parsnips were a revelation.

We had Christmas fruit pudding with custard, plus jelly and ice-cream. But before I could tackle dessert, I requested we go for a walk. My tummy couldn’t handle not having a break between mains and dessert.

This photo was taken at 3:15 PM…

…And this was 40 minutes later! The sun went down very quickly.

Merry Christmas!

Shepherd’s delight

It could have been a lonely Christmas but my friends rallied around me. Our house had a Christmas dinner on Sunday night. On Monday, I had a relaxed yet productive day at work. Then I took the bus to Cambridge, where Rebecca and Ian welcomed me with open arms, food, wine and presents.

These photos are of the Cambridge sky above Jesus Green at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Christmas day. It was spectacular.

I learned the adage as:

Red in the morning, shepherd’s warning.
Red at night, shepherd’s delight.

Wikipedia dissects this piece of weather folklore.

A walk in the park

The mysterious sign from the previous post in this series is now spelled out in English: bird hide! Maybe it should be a ‘human hide’ because from inside the wooden shelter, people can do covert bird watching.

This is the view from within that bird hide. This large suburban park is dominated by a large man-made lake.

It’s hard to take photos of a lake without being a bit high up. If you’re at the same level, your photo is filled with sky or foreground and a thin, boring strip of brownish lake. I tried to take a more interesting photo by focusing on the lake edge. Although perhaps more interesting, this photo doesn’t show anything of the lake’s size.

It was a beautifully sunny day, though, with white fluffy clouds. Ah, it’s a nice memory while I sit here in my room, rugged up for London’s winter. I didn’t leave the house all day today. I’m like a hibernating bear.

I spotted the rusty pump wheel(?), which was some distance off the path. I wonder what it’s for? I’ve posted a few photos of the wheel. Although I tried, I don’t think I produced a photo that made full use of the interesting subject.

I know much of this is overexposed. I was trying to make it look like a hot dry day. I haven’t had the chance to look at this on a CRT. On my LCD laptop screen, is lightly sepia in tone. I suspect this is too pink on CRT screens.

This version has the same tone as the last one and is probably more ‘correctly’ exposed and therefore more detailed. Sigh. I don’t know. I don’t know if this is an interesting photo.

This photo is even less interesting. The colouring is more correct here. I think some people will like the sky. There’s no creativity in taking a photo of a pretty blue sky.

Anyone got any ideas about how to take a photo of this pump wheel?

This bird is a purple moorhen, very common at this park.

Awful lot of birds crossing the road.

Some of these birds migrate between Victoria and Japan every year.

I think this is a messmate stringybark because of its messy stringy bark. I’m not sure, though. I learned about messmates on a first year ecology fieldtrip to Sherbrooke Forest. It’s a beautiful cool temperate rainforest of Eucalyptus regnans. Only now, reading the Wikipedia article, do I realise (remember?) that E. regnans is the same as Mountain Ash.

Last time I said I don’t like animals. Some people probably think this is strange for an environmentalist. Instead of animals, I love forests, more specifically, trees. I think I trace my environmentalist roots back to bushwalking with my family in the Grampians. I wish I could go back soon.

This sign reminds me of one I took a photo of at Dove Lake in Tasmania. Let me see if I can find it…

…Here it is!
This photo from Tasmania was taken on 23 January 2005. It was one of the first photos I took with my Olympus E-300 camera. By the end of this month, I will have had my camera for three years.

In those three years, I’ve figured out how to take photos of myself.

The end!


After the last two episodes, we’ve made it through some Aussie bush and are now at the paddocks.

Here is the general vista for the next two kilometres: paddocks on the left, bush on the right.

I was here on a work day. There was a large group of walkers here too. I know why I wasn’t at work, I wonder what their excuse was?

These paddocks aren’t the pastoral paradise that much of England is. The paddocks on our left are owned by Boral and just beyond the paddocks, the company is carving out the hills to make bricks or something. I don’t have a photo of the mine but here are some electricty pylons in the middle of the field.

In the same field, animals graze. As promised, here are horses.

The Melbourne Spring Carnival this year was threatened by EI — not emotional intelligence, but rather, equine influenza. I don’t really know what the drama was. The horse gets a cold, right? Doesn’t it get better? Anyway, the Victorian gambling industry was on the verge of disaster but luckily, signs like this one helped save the day.

Look! Baby horse! Isn’t it cute? Cuuuuuute… Actually, I’m not big into horses but lots of little girls are. In fact, I don’t really like animals much in general. I like them in a theoretical way. I want them to exist and I feel bad about extinction. But I don’t like to pat them. Well, maybe pandas, I like pandas.

More horsies.

Sometimes, there is water in this channel. It doesn’t happen so much now, I think. The Victorian drought has been going on for almost ten years now.

This is typical Australian grass, sparse, dry and yellowish. When I first visited England, I remember being on the bus from the airport to Damjan’s house. As I watched the lush landscape go by, I felt anxious. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘They’re wasting so much water! Look at all the green grass!’

Australian flora (and fauna) is well-adapted for the dryness. You can recognise European trees because their leaves are fat and round. Such leaves are a liability in Australia! The big surface area means that all the water is sucked right out. Australia trees have thin leaves with less surface area for evaporation. Leaves also droop down to reduce exposure to sunlight. Aren’t they clever?

We are now approaching the park, which will be our final blog stop. This sign is at the park entrance. You know you’re in Australia when you see a sign that says: welcome to the park; shared pedestrian and bike path; dogs welcome; pick up your dog’s poop; beware of snakes.

Here is another sign with the same warning. However, we also have a new message here. What’s that third symbol mean? Can you guess? I’ll show you what it is in the next installment.

There will be a proper photo of me in the next installment. In the mean time, here is a preview!