Monday, 18 December 2017

2017

And so 2017 is coming to an end, its been a crap year for many reasons. Its been a year of Donald Trump as President, with perhaps 7 more to go.

It was a diastrous year for Puerto Rico.

A horrible year for many in Venezuela - I know one story of a man who came to London a few weeks ago, struggling to speak English in a foreign land. A proud man who had his own business back home, but because he was in a situation where he had a little when so few others did he was unable to go to work each day and earn for his family with the certainty of coming home at the end of the night, instead had to come find work at Heathrow airport on a low paid job so at least then he would know he would be alive tomorrow and have something to give his loved ones each week.

It was a year that the arrogance and predatory behvaiour of Weinstein and Spacey, and others came to the fore.

Another year of Brexit and its lack of direction from government, and accountability from any sort of opposition. A year of rising prices, and wage stagnation for limited job security for the many.

A year when a man knelt down for a cause, became the symbol of a just movement and yet lost a year's worth of work, and maybe more.

And Cheggars died.

There has been good things that have happened this year too. The long overdue #metoo might well not put an end to predatory behaviour by arrogant men in powerful positions but it might help draw a stronger line in the sand of what is and isn't acceptable. It might make more men consider their mothers, sisters, and daughters before they make any selfish advances.

When sport allows so many to make vasts amount of money on a week by week basis its heartening that a man such as Colin Kaepernick can put his liveliehood at risk by standing up for a cause that he deeply cares about.

Mugabe is no longer leader of Zimbabwe. I have no sure that the next leader will be any better, it might well be more more of the same but here's hoping that a once proud nation can find the strength to kick on and the people prosper once again.

Max Clifford died in Prison. I have no words.

Coco, the movie....it might be the end of the year but at last here's a movie I have to see. Anyone else?

Listening to Mau y Ricky, Karol G - Mi Mala Where's mine?

Monday, 28 August 2017

Carnival

So this weekend was Notting Hill Carnival weekend.

I've been living in London for 4 summers now, and never had the Monday off until now. So I have always missed out on this spectical. Today having the bank holiday I was determined to enjoy the show. Turned out having an appointment earlier on in the day and unsure of when it may end I was jimmy no mates doing it by myself.

The atmosphere starts early. As soon as you get off the underground train at Notting Hill Gate you are met with a wall of sound. 'Bu bam bam bu bamm bamm bu bamm bamm' as the metal sheeting of the escalators is hit in rhythm by eager festivity goers. For one horrible moment I thought the vuvuzelas of the South African World Cup were going to be heard throughout bu thankfully were mostly only heard on the way up to the street level. Had to feel sorry for any police whose duty it was to keep an eye on the happenings underground though - a few hours of that party sound might not be as enjoyable as it was for the rest of us.

Once you hit street level, its somewhat chaotic, you are dragged along by a sea of crowd - some of which knows where they are going, but a heck of lot don't. Some are going against the tide. Which just adds to the confusion. Eventually though you get on path and start the parade proper..where the fun begins...apologies for the photographs...a lot of them are just overhead shots trying to get past the  camera phones and above the fantastic hair line level which puts my lack of effort in the hair style  to shame.

























It was a fun day, not without troubles. For most its an excuse to party and celebrate like any carnival should be. For some its an excuse to use the crowd as an opportunity, I had a backpack that was a temptation. But with one camera around my neck and another in my hand I had nothing in it worth taking. An unfnished book intended for the travel home wasn't pilfering but its certainly worth being smart about what you take with you. Other than that a couple of moments of chaos when the crowd surged is nothing to really write about - its to be expected, not so much when a line of police run away from the surge....that was more worrying. Just as I was about to take a picture of what at the time looked like some very bored policemen. My timing sucks!

Monday, 29 May 2017

I'm usually a glass half full kind of guy. I'm very much a realist with an optimistic viewpoint. I try not to look at the past too much other than to learn lessons and grow in life, we are after all not the same person at 17 as we are at 37, or at 57. However despite generally being a forward focused optimistic guy - at this time of year, around May 29th its just fucking hard for me.

You see this would be my anniversary. I loved being married. It was the first time I knew what it was to love someone that I wasn't related to. It was the first time I knew what it was to be loved. In that marriage I had two kids that may not have been flesh and blood but for all intensive purposes felt like my kids. I miss those kids every day. Quickly aprroaching 40, maybe having kids of my own isn't part of my future. I miss the sassy little dog that gave love unconditional and just wanted long walks or to sit on my lap.

Love isn't always easy. Love can be difficult. And sometimes you have to learn when is the right time to walk away. At certain times of the year though, as try as I might to look forward I do miss that feeling that comes when you are committed to someone. Don't ever believe that men are scared to committ. I have yet to discover something that provides a greater happiness than comes with committment to someone you love. The simplest things give a man pleasure. The first smile you see in the morning. Having the honour that comes with going to that same smile at night, it might be more tired but its every bit as beautiful feeling. The day to day of trying to nurture that love, can be tiring, can be an effort at times, but still its an honour every day as a man you receive that duty.

At this time of year I feel the sadness of something lost. I'm sure in future I will get it again with another, but for now.....this time of year....sucketh!!!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

More Barcelona

Spending 5 days in Barcelona and 4 days in Glasgow, after over 2 years without a holiday was a sweet relief. It sure helped to blow some cobwebs to the side that had been built up when a 5 week job turned into 2 years of  long hours and not a lot of room for life.

Barcelona in particular had been a long held ambition of mine. For some reason Spain in general has never been on the radar for me, but since the 1988 Olympics the city of Barcelona has been drawing me in. Something about those Gaudi buildings, the streets, the football club left an imprint on my mind from a young age. Life though always had me going in other directions and destinations.

When I finally got there the city did not disappoint. The weather was every bit as good as it was in Glasgow. One morning of rain that delayed me going out as early as I could have but other than that more blue skies and warm temperatures to enjoy the city with. When I forgot to do something about my sim card before I left for Spain, I used the rain delay to spend extra time indoors to enjoy the wifi to better plan my day's iternary. Not that it worked to good effect on that particular day. I arrived at Parc Guell to enjoy the Gaudi mosaics at 12:30ish climbing up the hills and steps in 27C only to discover if I wanted to enjoy that part of the Parc I would have to wait until 8pm...well no, paitience isn't a virtue of mine when there is so much of the city to see, and so little time. The best laid plans of mice and men....I usually work better on spontanaetity when in strange cities.

One of my favourite places in Barcelona, when so many of the tourist spots seemed to be overwhelming busy was a chance discovery off Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas itself is a busy promenade where tourists tend to get their bearings for the city, along here they can drink Sangria by the jug, or enjoy the La Boqueira Food Market, which sadly now seems to cater more for tourists than the locals. Personally although I liked the area, I wasn't tempted to eat along this street as I felt though there was plenty of options to do so along the length of the promenade it didn't really have a local vibe and certainly for the prices charged I felt there was probably better options in other parts of the city. 

It was actually away from the hustle and bustle of this area, just up one of the side streets that I found my favourite place in the city to chill. I'm an explorer my nature, I like to get lost in strange places in order to find my way around, It was on one those let's get lost and explore, that I came across this area.
Doesn't look much at first glance. but through this opening, a mere 15 minute walk away from Las Ramblas is a little piece of heaven in Barcelona. Here you won't see too many tourists. Its a locals spot where people chill out in the hot sun, play with there dogs, talk to old friends. When I had enough of the city and its tourists, I came here for a little bit of quiet time on 3 seperate days.
Here the people of Barcelona claim a secret spot of the city as their own, but on each occasion i'd spend enough tine here to chat away to some local people. On my first day a couple of old Spanish ladies were chatting away to me, after a dog decided to say hola first. I was really struggling, I couldn't make out a word they were saying, either my Spanish needs some serious practice after being under used over the last 4 years or they were speaking Catalan (always a possibility in Barcelona), but together we were trying to communicate, mostly me nodding my head alot wondering what they just said and throwing in the odd Spanish phrase here and there and opportune moments. That dog was the one pushing it though. Once we were up and running he decided he'd done his good work for the day and went off to play ball on his own again.

The next day you see a man the siting next to the pigeon, we were chatting away for half an hour, my Spanish was a little better by this stage, still struggling but between my bad Spanish, and his slightly better English, I was finding out a little about his life story and how he ended up coming from Morocco and settling in Barcelona. You don't get too much of that in the tube in London. Everyone is always on their phone in their own little world, not even wanting to interact with much in the way of eye contact. In this little oasis in the city of Barcelona though, noone brought their phones out. they were either just chilling in silence happy to be away from the buzz of the city, having something to eat or drink in a small restaurant to the right just out of  viewpoint from this photo above. Playing chess with giant pieces on the slabwork, or chatting to old and new friends.

When in Barcelona, explore. Beyond the tourists hotspots the true city hides little gems.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Had I planned this better, had I had some foresight of what I was going to do in Barcelona I might either have taking more pictures here than just the one, or at least straightened this one up and had more foreground. But really I don't really plan my shoots too often, instead I tend to go with the flow and see what I come across.

The reason I took a quick photo of the lawn bowlers in Glasgow was after 9 years away I completely forgot it goes on. In America, all bowling is indoors and involves pins. In London I don't know of any outdoor sites where bowls is played. There may be, but in a city where space is at a premium I certainly haven't seen any. In many towns around the Scotland its a sport played by middle class old ladies, but here in Glasgow judging by the voices of many of the anticipants it seems to be played by the young working class men of the city.
Its certainly not as nerdy as dressing up like Harry Potter and putting a fake broom between your legs that can't fly and playing a game of quidditch - that went on in the same park, I kid you not! Sadly at the time I was too confused at what the hell was going on to take that picture. It was only when I was some distance away that I put it together.

Un, Dos, Tres!

Vamos!