Greetings from France!!
I’m excited to announce my new journal, which can be found at Through Strange Lenses. I will no longer be updating here. I hope to see you there!
French Journal Day 113 (Travel Diary Day 193)
Today marks the end of my daily travel journal and HDR photo. I’ll still have a travel journal. I plan for it to be a big part of our lives as we continue our journey. I’m taking a step back from writing it every day, however.
I wrote a couple of months ago that I had planned to stop doing daily HDR photos. I didn’t think the pressure of producing daily photos was conducive to good quality images. In the end, I’d simply be publishing pictures that weren’t up to scratch.
With the terrible weather we’ve experienced for the last 4 weeks, I haven’t had a chance to get out and really take photos. We are lacking in daily adventures right now. As with my daily photos, I don’t want to write something that won’t interest my readers.
So where does all of this leave my journal?
When I was younger my football manager used to remind us that we’re only as good as our last game. It doesn’t matter what you did in the past, it’s the last thing you did that counts. While this isn’t exactly true, it’s a philosophy I’d like to hold on my journal.
What it comes down to is that writing and photography are both art forms. They should be a reflection of many things but rarely constrained by deadlines and timescales.
With that in mind, I plan to publish images and journal entries when I think my material is good enough. There’s no set routine. With an optimistic mindset, I hope to update a few times a week. I imagine that as soon as we begin our European adventure, I’ll have a lot to yabber on about.
I hope you pop over regularly to see how things are going!
Today’s Photo – Another Vertorama
This is the night time verto at Vezelay abbey – a lovely place to be for some peace and quiet.
Until next time…
Click to enlarge
French Journal Day 112 (Travel Diary Day 192)
Through sleet and snow, we carved our path north to Paris this morning. This time we were headed to the airport to bid farewell to Rachel’s mother .
At one of the toll roads we were pulled over by the police. When they saw the right-hand-side drive car and the bushy-haired driver, alarm bells must have rang. Who is the clown-looking freak driving this backwards-looking machine?
I’d heard that the French police had a habit of being particularly unpleasant to drivers of British cars. We’re not hard to spot. We’ve got a large GB sticker on the back of Betsy. I feel like it’s a sign saying ‘Idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing is driving’.
I was also nervous because I’d left my driving license at home.
I wasn’t looking forward to the interrogation that was about to take place with the 4 officers waiting for us. I wound the window down and said hello.
Something happens to me when I speak to police officers. It comes from being raised in a ‘rough’ area. I know that the police have the control in this situation and that I should be polite, especially in a foreign country, but I also know that it is their job to serve us and not to bully. Essentially, they should not be the bosses in this situation but I struggle to strike the balance of being helpful to them but not submissive.
They asked me where I’d been and where I was going. I was fairly casual with my responses and didn’t smile too much. He didn’t seem suspicious after he saw Rachel and her mother in the car. He must have thought, despite this weird looking fella driving the car, the two women look fairly normal so they are clearly trust worthy.
He gave us the all-clear and we drove off. This is when my confusion with the police gets worse. I don’t know how to end the interaction. I yelled ‘have a nice day,’ put my foot down and sped away too quickly – I did an impressive wheel spin.
With the possibility that they might be waving at me to return, I chose not to look back and instead accelerated even quicker. I was in escaped-convict mode. No one was taking me alive, especially not these chumps. With a sexy ford Mondeo that at last count can clock up an impressive 0-60mph in 32 seconds, I knew I wouldn’t be caught.
As it happens, they didn’t pursue us. They probably didn’t notice anything strange.
Today’s Photo – The Doors
These are the doors to Auxerre cathedral. They’re impressive beasts in real life.
Click to enlarge
French Journal Day 111 (Travel Diary Day 191)
Our evening concluded in a small, out-of-the-way restaurant in the town of Avallon. Finding an open restaurant in this deserted part of the world was not an easy task. We darted from doorway to doorway to avoid being caught in the torrential downpour. This restaurant, the only one we found, wasn’t due to open until 7:00pm. We had an hour to kill.
We took our seats in a cafe to kill some time. While Rachel and her mother partook in a touch of mulled wine, I was the designated driver and enjoyed a coffee instead. I’m obsessed with French cafes. They’re cozy, friendly places that serve coffee strong enough to knock the hairs off your chest.
Earlier that evening we revisited the Abbey of Vezelay so I could see it with its lights on. I can’t describe to you how strange it is to stand in a large church hall, metres away from the supposed remains of Mary Magdalene, surrounded by the silence of night and without a living soul nearby.
It’s not quite an eerie sensation. It’s more like a feeling of trespassing. That may have something to do with my atheist tendencies.
Today’s Photo – The Beam of Light
And on that note, here is a shot of the cathedral in Auxerre. I hope you’re not getting tired of these church/cathedral shots.
Click to enlarge
French Journal Day 110 (Travel Diary Day 190)
While the murky haze of this grey winter continues to block our adventures in Burgundy, Rachel and I have had some time to reminisce.
Over a glass of wine or two last night we laughed at the often ridiculous situations we’ve found ourselves in over the last few years. In fact, it was only 3 months ago when we drove our car off the ferry in Calais only to mistakenly drive straight up to the entrance of another ferry going straight back to Dover. That would have been the shortest visit to France ever. I had to reverse around the long line of cars that had angrily parked behind me.
When I was a teacher in Korea I once had a student back for detention. He couldn’t speak any English. After he’d written a couple of hundred sentences of his lines, he started waving frantically at me, speaking Korean and pointing at his watch. Ingeniously, I pulled up google translate and had the boy write in Korean. Google translate’s English output was not what I expected. It quite simply said “I will hump your mother”.
Knowing the inaccuracy of such translation software, I hid my smile and looked at the kid. Snot was running down his nose. Even at 14 this lad had no chance. I told him to go and I emailed my Korean co-teacher the Korean sentence. Apparently it’s more accurately translated as ‘My mother will get the hump/get angry”.
Another time in Korea, I was standing on a packed bus when a little old lady, probably in her 80s, got on. Old Korean women are the bosses of the world. I’ve been punched in the back multiple times by this demographic. On this occasion, she headed straight for me. I was holding onto a vertical pole to keep my balance. She placed her hand firmly on top of mine. We stood for 15 minutes, hand-on-hand. It was all made worse by the sweatiness that resulted from the awkward contact.There was space below and above my hand. I’ll never know why she did it, or why I didn’t move my hand. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t romantic behaviour.
Today’s Photo – Vezelay Abbey Vertorama
This is a rare vertorama from me. This place demanded it, and I have 3 more very different vertos to come. To get this blue tone, if you enjoy it, simply set your White Balance to Tungsten.
Click to enlarge
French Journal Day 109 (Travel Diary Day 189)
Today proved to be a day of photographic inspiration. At one point I was in the dark and echoing crypt where Mary Magdalene’s bones reportedly rest, watching a man in sandals kneel and pray. I was praying, too. My prayers were directed to the camera gods that my photos were going to come out as well as I’d hoped.
We were in the Abbey at the famous village of Vezelay.
While I was standing in the main hall, tripod and camera at the ready, I was approached by a Frenchman who recommended I return at 5:00pm when the lights of the abbey are turned on and the room takes on an even more spectacular feel than it already held. I’ll be taking his advice and returning to the Abbey on Monday evening.
Shooting in churches has allowed me to get over this awful weather. I usually try to vary the shots I publish from day-t0-day to keep it interesting for my readers but this week I have a selection of church images that I absolutely love, including a couple of vertoramas.
I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression – I’m not becoming a believer. But anyone who has followed my work for a while will know how much I love religious buildings in HDR.
Today’s Photo – The blue hall
This is a hallway in the Abbey of Vezelay
Click to enlarge
French Journal Day 108 (Travel Diary Day 188)
When I was 12 I started going to the cinema by myself. The first film I watched was Cool Runnings. It was an odd thing to do, I think. At that age it’s all about being with friends and acting cool. The problem was, I didn’t like people talking to me when I was watching films – I was a grumpy 12 year old.
I think the same is true for photography. While Rachel and her mother walked around Auxerre today, I invaded the cathedral by myself. It’s great being alone with your camera. You can take your time. Sometimes well-meaning people can disturb the creative process.
Rahel has a tendency to laugh at me when I’m taking pictures. Apparently I put myself in ridiculous poses. She also says I have a special camera walk that looks like I’m desperately seeking a toilet.
I prefer not to be laughed at when I’m shooting, especially when the audience has now doubled.
With Rachel’s mother being in France I’ve now lost any control I may have had over the TV.
May you have a good weekend and watch what you want on TV.
Today’s Photo – Auxerre Cathedral
Here’s one of today’s photos from the lovely cathedral.
Click to enlarge