Thank you, Araminta, for the chance to judge this photography competition. As the deadline has now passed it is time to announce the results.
Araminta’s picture of a tea pot was a good way to start the competition. My intense addiction to caffeine made my sympathetic to this entry.
FEEG’s two entries were welcome additions, although I must concur with Christina that there is little normal or regular about Washington, DC. If you’re interested I can put you into contact with someone who is an expert on the US Civil War.
LW: thank you for the picture of the boat. The comment about scraping barnacles off the bottom gave me a chuckle. I often spend hours and hours at my computer researching and writing reports.
OZ: your picture made me a bit hungry. Well done.
The winner of this competition is Soutie for his pictures of the vegetable seller and the road to Cape Town. Both captured the spirit of the theme perfectly.
Last week I started reading Tove Jansson’s “Travelling Light” while on the Northstar Line between Big Lake and Minneapolis. One paragraph reminded me so much of our Ms Osborne that I couldn’t help but laugh maniacally.
“Dear child, make sure you bring your young man so I can have a look at him, but don’t go buying some expensive and unnecessary gift. At my age, I’ve got pretty much everything I want, plus better taste than most of my progeny. And I don’t want to leave a load of rubbish for others to clean after I’m gone. Just pick out something simple and affectionate. And don’t go bring art into it — you’ll only mess it up”.
Thank you to Araminta for giving me the privilege of judging the May photography competition.
The topic for the month is: let’s do the things we normally do. Submissions should be of life’s normal occurrences. Taking walks, cups of coffee, roasted wild boar, etcetera. The deadline is 18 May at midnight British time.
I found this old video on Youtube by accident and thought a few might get a laugh out of it.
It is early October and the weather is mild on the South China Sea. Hong Kong is beautiful as always, cooler and dryer than during the summer. The city is remarkable. Despite its reputation for being cosmopolitan, ostensibly a glorious marriage of Chinese and British civilisations the city remains at its heart thoroughly Chinese. That is not to say that the British have not left their mark on the city. Traffic flows on the proper side of the road, the left. Despite the best attempts of the Chinese government to undermine traces of the British past signs are still found now and again. The street names are often British in origin – Hennessey, Morrison, Queen’s Road East. Place names are much the same – George V Park, Aberdeen, Victoria Harbour. Even the tea here is a bit different. Of course the actual tea itself is Chinese; there is no other way about it. The preparation is different, never-the-less. There is milk and a bit of sugar in it. This is a-typical for the Chinese who prefer their tea mild and natural. Through the hustle one sees order. People queue prior to entering underground trains. There is a bit more attention paid to not simply ploughing others over. This is utterly unlike the mainland where a mad dash for anything resembling an open seat is seemingly inevitable and one learns simply to push ahead without regard for others, a sort of universal understanding that no offence is intended. There is no other way, after all, the move with so many people around.
Last week I went to Québec for a brief holiday; to be more precise, Montréal and la Ville de Québec. Other than a few difficulties in Minneapolis and at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport the flight to Canada went well. Not wishing to fly with a domestic carrier, US carriers make flying British Airways seem like a journey on a luxury spa, I spent a few extra quid to fly Air Canada. It was not an unpleasant experience. The first flight, from Minneapolis to Toronto, was 2/3 full. The air hostess was a comely young Québécoise with an odd accent. A native speaker of French to be sure, but her trilling of “r” was a bit unusual. Service was polite and efficient. Nothing spectacular, but drinks were provided. Read more…
Here is the definition of “paraprosdokian” -
A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation. “Where there’s a will, I want to be in it,” is a type of paraprosdokian.
OK, so now enjoy -
Landing in Paris on the 27th of December was a bit of a relief. My fears of flying Air France were unfounded as it turns out. The service was polite and pleasant. The flight departed San Francisco on time and arrived, if anything, a bit early. This made the connexion to Luxembourg all the less stressful. Passport control was simply. There was only one person in the EU/EEA/CH passport queue ahead of me. To say that the officer was indifferent would be to lend him more credibility than he perhaps deserves. He could not be bothered as he was chatting happily with his mate. I handed him my passport which he grudgingly picked up, glanced at, and promptly tossed back at me hardly looking at either me or my passport. Security was also reasonably quick, it being an intra-Schengen flight. Perhaps the most annoying part of the entire passage to Trier was a very slow cleaning woman who insisted on taking her time to clean the men’s WC after I had drunk a quart of water and 3 coffees. After giving a performance which could pass as a reasonable performance of Irish dance the WC reserved for parents with small children finally opened. The flight from Paris to Luxembourg on Luxembourg Airlines was a bit surprising. There were under 10 passengers including myself and almost all seats were empty. That we were able to fly at all was surprising. Even more surprising, then, was that my aunt who is generally as punctual as the Royal Mail actually arrived at the same time my suitcases were delivered. Her sons, my cousins, were there as well. One recently turned 18, the other will turn 10 next month. My uncles were there as well, one having driven up from Baden-Württemberg for the purpose of visiting my mother and myself. Read more…
I am now witnessing my first Minnesota storm. In the past 24 hours over a foot of snow has fallen and the wind has been terribly assertive in making its presence felt. While not yet utterly cold, that will be tonight when the temperature is set to fall to -24 C, I can now make a few observations about the weather and how it is dealt with.
The snow is nothing new to me. It snows in Germany, it snows in eastern California. The wind is notable but I have seen a number of gales in my life, nothing unusual in that. What is striking is how poorly the weather is handled. One would think that Minnesotans, infamous for living through some of the worst weather in the developed world, would have some sense in ploughing streets and pavement. None. None at all. The roads are covered with snow and the ploughs simply drive around doing nothing. In California that has never been the case, is not the case. The ploughs operate at all times during a snow storm keeping the roads clear and well-sanded.
My observations have been based on my walk to grocer’s and back, a total of just over two miles. A pleasant stroll in pleasant weather, a journey of slips and falls with a dozen eggs to think of as it is today. Naturally I have concluded that I will remain for the rest of the day in my warm flat drinking tea, looking at the snow fall through my windows, and being somewhat less than enthusiastic. A bit of good news is that I will be on a flight next week to Sacramento for Christmas before heading off to Germany and the UK.
Looking out over my balcony the snow that fell Thursday has turned into a block of ice. Cars that were not moved have been frozen in place, the neighbours resorting to salt to get their vehicles out. With any luck they can open their doors. Most have icicles hanging all around. It was cold yesterday that when I opened my door to step out on my balcony I didn’t even bother to complete the task — I promptly shut the door and sat by the fireplace and drank another coffee. Sometimes it’s not even worth trying…
That considered, I do have hope for a life in a place with better weather. I have received job leads for permanent positions in New South Wales. Should I receive a formal offer upon completion of my MA programme I will be on the next flight to Sydney.