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Showing posts from February, 2019

Neighbours

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In an ideal world, Mrs P and I would live with just two neighbours. On one side, we would neighbour a large forest. And on the other side, we'd neighbour a large lake. In this ideal world, I live as a ridiculously wealthy semi-recluse, venturing only occasionally beyond the boundaries of my estate to embard on luxurious travel to exotic lands. Alas, I must continue to live in the real world. And like most urban residents these days, Mrs P and I live in a flat. Or apartment, if you prefer. We must share our lives with others, to a certain degree, whether we like it or not.
In Mexico City, we occupied a ground floor flat in a block shared with six other families. Next door to us was Crazy Old Lady, almost certainly old enough to recall the revolution and possibly only a generation or two departed from passengers on the Ark. Sometimes she'd knock on our door in the evening because she was hungry and Mrs P would give her something to eat. One day she went to live in a nursing hom…

Black Gold

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It's unseasonably warm. The sun can be felt on the skin. The sky is blue. Birdsong has returned. And some fools had the grand idea that a bit of surfing would be a good idea. But we are still in February, I am still de-icing my windscreen in the morning and the water is still bitterly cold. But the really remarkable object in this photo of Bournemouth's beach and pier is less obvious. The oil rig, four miles out, exploring Poole Bay for black gold. It's an unpopular sight. If they are successful, we are told that rigs will not dominate the horizon of one of the UK's most popular seaside towns. Extraction will take place from land based operations.

Flickr Karma

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Every year since 2006, I have ponied up about £25 and bought my annual Flickr Pro membership. This year, under SmugMug ownership, the fee has doubled to nearly £50. That might be reasonable value for the product they offer, although I might suggest that Flickr should have rolled out the promised improvements before increasing the price - not after. Doubling the cost has cost them at least one customer. It's the wrong year to hit me with an increase. I'm consolidating my online presence and reducing my costs.

My iCloud plan with Apple Photos has become my preferred photo storage system. So I have cancelled my Flickr auto-renewal. And have been waiting for the fateful date in mid March, when Flickr will delete 16,484 of my photos, leaving just my most recent 1,000 uploads. Hundreds of my images embedded from Flickr into my own blog and other websites will all suddenly break. Which is a shame.


Yesterday I came across a blog post from SmugMug/Flickr which provided good news. I th…

Romania

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Travel is about exploration, discovery and the occasional surprise, is it not? Some places I research more thoroughly than others. What did I know of Romania before I left? It's full of gypsies, the people are piss poor, Dracula lives there, more gypsies, and tons of commie buildings. Those, of course, are the common stereotypes of Romania. But Romania isn't a country that I was hugely familiar with, and so that's pretty much all I had to work with. I expected to find some evidence of each one of those stereotypes. Equally, I expected to find that the bigger picture would reveal that there's an awful lot more to the country than a few lazy slurs.


Language

I really hadn't given the language or Romania much thought. My assumption was that it'd be of slavic origin. It turned out that this is not so. It's one of the Romance languages. Or Romanic languages as they are sometimes called. And this instantly makes sense. Romanic. Romania. Just a letter apart. It bel…

Delhi of the West

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There are more than two dozen cities around the world which proclaim themselves to be the 'Paris of the East'. Some of those claims, like Budapest or St Petersburg, are entirely understandable. Some, such as Hanoi, are imperially logical. Others, such as Jaipur, are of dubious nature. Bucharest once held itself up for Parisien comparison, until a couple of decades of rule by Nicolae Ceausescu rather took the shine off Romania's capital city. Today it is famed more for its ugliness. Travel guides warn visitors of the impending visual carbuncle that is about to befall them. What is the opposite of 'Paris of the East'? We need a label for those cities that fall a certain degree short of the beauty of Paris. Might I suggest 'Delhi of the West'. India's capital city is thus far the most ghastly, catastrophic example of human urbanisation that I have encountered.


But to refer to Bucharest as the Delhi of the West would be grossly unfair. It is true that you …