Mid-Week Monochrome: Neal Street, London, First Week of May 2022

Posting for Brashley Photography’s Mid-Week Monochrome Challenge # 88 : WALKWAYS.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 199: Mechanical/Industrial Past

Railroads opened up the American west. They were built by cheap labor, imported from China.

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, hosted by Journeys with Johnbo, self is sharing photos of a memorial to these laborers, at the train station in San Luis Obispo, a small town on California’s central coast. The memorial is by artist Elizabeth MacQueen.

Self knows San Luis Obispo, as son attended Cal Poly there. Last summer, when California opened up again after over a year of lockdown, she drove there to see if it had changed. It hadn’t.

Six Word Saturday: Contemporary Ceramics, Great Russell Street, London

This is self’s post for Debbie Smyth’s Six Word Saturday challenge.

Self started going to London regularly in 2015. She visited every year and stayed at The Penn Club on Bedford Place, in Bloomsbury. The Penn Club became her home away from home, a place where she formed fast friendships. In 2020, the pandemic killed it. Most of its patrons were elderly. She hopes they didn’t get covid, but she suspects many of them did. After a hundred years in Bloomsbury, The Penn Club closed its doors, permanently.

Now, self is back in London. She couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else but in Bloomsbury. Another of her favorites, a French restaurant on Hanway Place, had closed. She spent days walking up and down Great Russell Street, dropping by the British Museum, seeing their special exhibits (Right now the special exhibit’s about Stonehenge), dropping by the London Review Bookshop.

An architectural firm used to be next door to the bookshop, but the large windows through which self had peeked many and many a time to watch people industriously working at giant drafting boards were boarded up. She was so relieved to see the Contemporary Ceramics gallery on Great Russell Street was still there! She wandered in. Several other people were there — most young. Wonder of wonders, they were buying!

Self wanted to buy a piece, too. But she is traveling, and her bag is already quite heavy. In fact, the airline slapped a HEAVY BAG sticker on it, when she checked in at Belfast on her flight to Heathrow. But if people are buying fine ceramics, the gallery will make it.

The ceramic artist whose works are on exhibit is Ruth King. Her works stay up until May 21. Here’s a quote from the flyer the gallery gave out:

  • Ruth’s sculptural forms and vessels are fashioned from soft sheets of clay cut and assembled to wrap and define a space. The surface is then enriched by the passage of salt vapours in the firing reacting to each twist and turn of the form adding colour, texture and articulation.

Flashback Friday: Belfast Botanic Gardens

Posting for Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day.

Water, Water Everywhere: Russell Square

Happy to spend this morning in the green tranquility of Russell Square.

For years, The Penn Club, on Bedford Place, just off Russell Square, was self’s London nest. It shut its doors forever in 2020.

Today, self passed by. Aside from the dead plants in the window boxes, it looked exactly the same.

Posting for Jez Braithwaite’s Water Water Everywhere Challenge.

Six-Word Saturday: Visiting the Titanic Museum in Belfast

Posting this for Travel with Intent’s Six-Word Saturday challenge.

It was rainy and cold in Belfast today, but — what an experience it was to visit the Titanic Museum on the same dock where the 11-story-high cruise ship was built. Self has visited the Seacity Museum in Southampton, which told the moving story of the large number of Southampton employees who sank with the ship (most of the Titanic staff were from that southern English city). But Belfast was where the Titanic was built, and the shipbuilding process is meticulously described, as is the history of Harlan & Wolff, the company that produced, in total, 1401 great ships (The Titanic was number 403; according to our tour guide, the builders knew their shipbuilding process was sound. The fault did not lie with them or their engineers. In fact, the man who designed her went down with the ship, as did eight of his engineers. In contrast, the man who owned the cruise line cravenly jumped into one of the 20 lifeboats — imagine, only 20 lifeboats for 2800 people! — ahead of the women and children, and survived). What a fascinating story.

The Titanic launched in April 1912. The museum opened in April 2012 (making this month the museum’s 10-year anniversary)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC): Garden Ornaments

Cee Neuner: This week our topic is celebrating Metal of any type.

Since it is such a beautiful day, more like summer, self went around her backyard, taking pictures of metal garden ornaments. Without further ado:

Her newest garden ornament: Tibetan wind chimes, purchased last summer from Growing Grounds in downtown San Luis Obispo, right across from the San Luis Obispo mission.

Her oldest: the pig watering can, which has seen better days.

In her hanging planter, a bird built a nest.

The metal crocodile on the wall of the shed reminds her of Bacolod, Dear Departed Dad’s hometown. Her grandfather opened the first zoo in the Visayas, and one of the zoo animals was a crocodile that lived to a very great age. When it finally died, her cousins had it stuffed. Don’t know which cousin kept the stuffed crocodile. She should find out.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

One-Word Sunday: FAME

Travel with Intent’s prompt for the One-Word Sunday Challenge is FAME.

Here’s something dear to self’s heart: THE BENCH in the Oxford Botanical Gardens where Philip Pullman’s iconic characters Lyra Bellacqua and Will Parry meet once a year. Self visited the gardens in 2018, looking for this particular bench. It’s all the way in the back, there’s not even a sign. But she knew it was their bench when she saw these initials carved on it.

Will and Lyra’s Bench, Oxford Botanical Gardens

As self was taking pictures, a gardener nearby said, “Careful!” When she looked up, he said, “You might fall into another universe.” LOL

Self looked for other sites mentioned in Philip Pullman’s novels, even taking the bus to Godstow Abbey and tramping across a muddy field to reach the ruined walls of the old convent. When she returned, she tweeted about all the places she had visited, and out of the blue, the author himself tweeted to her, “Busy day.” Self wanted to DIE! The Master himself was aware of her lowly existence! This was in 2018.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

GIs Enter Berlin: Summer 1945

The two groups of people — American and German — encounter each other for the first time, free of the filter of government propaganda. German women check out the newcomers. Actress Hildegard Knef makes note of GIs’ “tight buttocks.” LOL

Throughout the war, America had been portrayed as “the enemy” — greedy and rapacious. Concurrently, “the American military leadership had ordered their soldiers to maintain a strict but deliberately unfriendly relationship towards the Germans . . . the Americans had always stressed civilian mass sympathy for and participation in the Nazi regime. For Americans, most Germans were fanatical Nazis and incorrigible criminals. In view of this, the American military leadership had prepared their soldiers for a ruthless subjugation of the enemy and, in April 1944, forbidden any kind of fraternisation. No handshakes, no exchange of words, not the slightest approach of any kind was permitted. As they rolled in, the GIs were all the more surprised by the friendly reception they were given by pretty women and admiring youths, and they couldn’t get enough of the grateful reactions prompted by the cigarettes and chocolate that they handed out of the jeeps in spite of the prohibition.

With the Americans, an unfamiliar army entered the country. The locals admired everything about them as they passed: their relaxed sitting postures, the confident laughter, their casual way of smoking. “The GIs’ shoulders were as wide as wardrobes, their tight buttocks as narrow as cigarette boxes,” as Hildegard Knef put it in her memoirs. They were described as bursting with health, as unusually life-affirming and, we read repeatedly in numerous eyewitness reports, as being as “naive as children.”

Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955, pp. 149 – 1950

citysonnet’s March Colors and Letters: ‘K’

March 12 is a Letter, the Letter K.

Here’s the full list of March Colors and Letters.

Self’s letter K is KRAKEN.

Specifically, KRAKEN COFFEE COMPANY, which has a store on Avila Beach, in Central California.

Avila Beach, which she remembers from when son was in college in San Luis Obispo. She visited again last summer, her first stop when California’s mandatory lockdown ended. (And already, last summer feels sooooo long ago)

Avila Beach was a little more crowded, a little more commercial than she remembered from 15 years ago. But she went early, and found parking right in front of the beach. She entered the coffeeshop and asked the young woman behind the counter, “Is it too early for ice cream?” The young woman responded, “It’s never too early for ice cream.”

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