All posts filed under: Blog post

Travel: My fellow passengers.

Like just about everyone, I travel. Sometimes on buses, trains, planes; you know, public transport. People on the move are fascinating. Often they are immobile. Sitting, waiting, standing. It’s at those times when their bodies are in transit but still at rest and their minds are thinking of other things they most intrigue me. When they are moving patterns develop and present themselves. People watching is an endless and engrossing occupation. I simply capture some of those experiences.   Advertisements

UK Closed doors

The order of things in Britain has changed over the last few years. It has changed at a pace unlike any I’ve seen in my life. Or, does it just seem to be changing faster because I’m getting older? I can’t tell. I can only view the pace of change from my own perspective, distorted or otherwise. Many of our institutions we once thought rock solid have gone or changed so they’re no longer recognisable. It’s inevitable, I suppose. Change has altered much of the fabric of our society,  none more so than the media. The BBC, long regarded as the bastion of independence and autonomy seems to have buckled with its new apparent right leaning bias. The Newspaper industry, always powerful, now seems to have gained a renewed influence as its many independent elements have coalesced around certain powerful individuals. It wasn’t always like that. Britain has a fine record of independent newspapers dotted around the country. The Stamford Mercury, for example, Britain’s oldest continuously published newspaper title having been running since the early …

Exhibitions: The Reportrait exhibition, Nottingham

Today I traveled a few miles to Nottingham to view the ‘Reportrait’ exhibition at Nottingham Castle and Art Gallery. I have an interest in portraiture. I like to see the works however they were created. Whether they have been made by hand or captured through a camera’s lens they fascinate me. The last exhibition of painted portraits I visited was many years ago at the National Portrait Gallery. Things evolve, fashions change, new artists appear, so I was unsure what to expect. Not only were there examples of work made by hand using a range of drawing or painting implements, but there were photographs, 3D plastic busts and…well… just so much to involve the interest and curiosity of the observer. I can’t speak profoundly about the art works. The contextualisation of artwork is beyond my limited grasp of fine art. Mine is a simplistic, visceral reaction to each of the works. I employ little or no intellect in my artistic appreciation I’m afraid. They move me, or they don’t. However, even from that simplistic standpoint …

Documentary: That humble cup of tea.

Here in England, we drink a great deal of tea. It’s drunk throughout the day by much of the population. According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, the British consume 165 Million cups of tea a day (60.2 billion cups a year). By comparison, 70 million cups of coffee are consumed daily in the UK. The title of World champion tea drinkers (by head-of-population that is) goes to the Republic of Ireland. Great Britain is the 2nd largest consumer of tea. The largest producer of tea is China with an annual production of about 2.2 Million tonnes, with India next, producing just about half that amount. As tea is drunk so much here in the UK you would think we would know all about it. Judging from my own lack of knowledge that isn’t so. For example, tea – Camellia Sinensis from which tea is obtained- is a small tree*, not a bush as we would have thought. And, it’s so rigorously trimmed by plucking the leaves it could almost be considered a Bonsai ( …

Documentary: Washing clothes in India

One thing immediately noticed when in India is, no matter how relatively poor the people are their clothes are clean and bright. Rarely do you see people wearing dirty or even unpressed clothes? How is this achieved in a country where the use of washing machines, though growing, is very rare? The answer, of course, is the same way it has been achieved for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The dobhi washerman is the man instrumental in the process of keeping India clean.  Hundreds of thousands of these workers exist all over India hand washing clothes all day. It’s a grueling task in the hot sun, often up to their knees in water, these workers soap, scrub, soak, rinse, wring and dry, – and even press with coal-fired irons – the full range of clothes for every type of household or business. Even the higher priced hotels seem to use this services, as marks inside my collars seemed to show when they returned from the ‘hotel laundry’. On top of the long and hard hours of work, there …

Travel: Hampi, Karnataka, India

What a place! If your ‘gob is not well and truly smacked‘ by this place then you have no soul. The natural landscape is strewn with huge granite boulders, some piled precariously atop one another, some say, they have been there for thousands of millions of years, formed by the ancient tectonic plate movements of the earth’s crust. It’s certainly a landscape which dwarfs the visitor, not only in scale but in time. It’s also been a natural quarry for the indigenous people for many centuries. Working with the hard crystalline granite – not an easy task I’m sure – artisans and artists first quarried the stone by splitting boulders – you can see evidence of this all around. Boulders with pockets chiseled in line litter the area. It’s said these pockets were filled with balsa wood which was soaked with water. The expansion of the wood split the stone. The boulders were then worked to produce exquisite objects, some huge in themselves, and elements for building construction. There is much to see in Hampi but, for …

Travel: Gandhi in the back of a truck.

McLeod Ganj, high above Dharamshala in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India is the home of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan school of Buddhism. His Holiness escaped across the Himalayas to this region of northern India following the failed  Tibetan uprising against the Chinese in 1959. The Dalai Lama lives in a monastery in this small mountainside town on the edge of the ever present snow-capped foothills of the Himalayas which set an impressive backdrop. Part of the ritual adopted by Tibetan Buddhists is to ‘circum- perambulate’ the temple on a daily basis. A path has been built on the vertiginous slopes around the temple to facilitate this activity. It’s no mean feat. The inclines are steep and at nearly 7000 feet above sea-level, the air is thin for people not used to this altitude. His Holiness is in residence and is teaching so the town is bustling. McLeod Ganj normally attracts visitors from around the world, monks, mendicants and just the curious. But, when there is the opportunity to see His Holiness and …