All posts filed under: Travel

You have to be there very early.

The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, except perhaps, when it has swarms of tourists all over it. Sue and I were there at the end of 2007. We arrived in the extreme cold and dark of an early morning. Abhishek had got us out of our beds saying “you have to be early”. As the sun came up the Taj appeared from the obscuring still mist, The rays of the sun glinted off pieces of pieces of semi precious stones inlaid into the dome. It was a truly wonderful experience. Shortly afterwards masses of tourist appeared, all vying to sit on the “Lady Diana” bench to get a selfie with the glorious Taj behind them. The moment was lost. Yes these images are touristy, but that’s what we were, simply tourists. Just two amongst the throng. And would I have missed it? Not a chance. Exquisite and wonderful. PDBarton Lincoln 2019  

Faded Grandeur.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Wikipedia. I’m not sure this image shows that principle exactly, but somehow, the imperfection of dilapidation and the consequent transience has a beauty of its own, albeit the process has perhaps gone just too far. Nevertheless, this image of an old French Colonial townhouse in Pondicherry, Southeast India, for me anyway, has a faded grandeur and a presence all of its own. Peter Barton July 2019  

A visit to the Barbican in the City of London.

I don’t know about you, but I thought the Barbican in London was simply an arts centre – “simply an Arts centre” there’s an understatement for a start. Just how wrong can you be? My wife, Sue, knowing I like Brutalist architecture bought me a ticket for a guided architectural tour of the ‘complex’ and complex it is. Not only is it an arts centre – by the way, this section of the development was finalised and built last – but it is a housing project comprising around 2000 flats.  First, throw away all preconceptions of what a ‘housing project’ of this size would look like. The project was conceived in the late ’50s by architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. They planned and delivered a high quality, wonderfully detailed living space, and due to the management of the terms of the letting or sale of the units, it has remained so ever since. Strict conditions apply regarding what the occupants can and cannot do –  but I’m getting in front of myself. If I may backtrack; The area …

Meridian landfall, Holderness. A Line Runs Through It, PDBarton

A Line Runs Through It

For the purpose of navigation, the earth is notionally divided into Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The line which divides those hemispheres is the Prime Meridian Leaving the North Pole the line travels towards the South Pole. The first land it reaches is on the East coast of England, just above the Humber estuary in the ancient coastal area of Holderness, an area of chronic coastal erosion. The  Meridian project, entitled “A line runs through it “ involved travelling along this line from landfall in Holderness in the North, south across the Humber to the seaside towns in North East Lincolnshire and onwards into Lincolnshire, passing through the Lincolnshire Wolds and the fenlands around Boston and Holbeach, and finally to the Lincolnshire/ Cambridgeshire border. The whole distance travelled from Landfall in the North to the Cambridgeshire border in the South is 121.4Km ( 75.43 miles). The Images were captured along the line and to either side over the space of 6 months. These images are bound together by nothing other than their geographic proximity to a …

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 …