A walk down All Saints Street, Hastings

Well, it took me over an hour to walk the few hundred yards that is All Saints Street in Hastings. It was resplendent under the mid afternoon sun – not the best time to take photos but sometimes you have to before everything disappears into shadow.

At least, this time,¬†I managed to stop myself for a while before being drawn over the road and onto the beach. But that’s another post.

 

DSC_0435
The Priscilla MacBean (C1920) is one of the two old life boats currently on display in Hastings
DSC_0438
The Stag Inn is the reputedly the most haunted pub in Hastings.
DSC_0444
Example of Tudor architecture in Hastings
DSC_0448
The flagstones of All Saints Street pavements.
DSC_0451
Pretty flowers decorated the street.
DSC_0476
Looking a little spaghetti western in places adds to the eclectic atmosphere of Hastings Old Town
DSC_0458
People making a real effort with their potted plants And, when the decisive moment is the sudden appearance of a babies’ buggy.
DSC_0468
Maybe not the oldest architecture, but I love these little cottages.
DSC_0470
These slab steps are a fond memory of my youth – sitting there with my then besties ūüôā
DSC_0482
More early architecture – once inhabited by fishermen and tradesmen, many have now been priced out by holiday let landlords.
DSC_0461
Love zinc pots
DSC_0465
Postcard perfect scene.
DSC_0609
The second of the lifeboats on display with All Saints church in the background.

 

Advertisements

Mayday 2017

Posts are pretty random at the moment as we have had a disjointed house move that saw us sell one without having secured another and therefore spending a couple of months in temporary accommodation. However, we have now completed the purchase on a new home and are expecting Open Reach to come and install our phone line and therefore our internet at the end of the week Рwe will have only had to wait nearly 4 weeks. Ggrrrrrrr!!!!!

Anyway, just because I have only been posting randomly from various open Wifi spots across town, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out and about, taking photos.

This first set were taken at daybreak up at Lady’s Parlour near Hastings castle on the West Hill where some of the dancers, the bogeys and some members of the public gather to watch the sun come up and have a jolly good dance about.

DSC_2487
DSC_2481
DSC_2439
DSC_2548
DSC_2515
DSC_2648

Then, from 10am, starting at the¬†Fishermans’¬†Museum,¬†the procession passes, loudly and joyously, through the narrow roads of the old town and back up the hill towards the castle where Morris Dancers from all around the world perform in some sort of Folk dance off before the Jack is slayed around 3pm.

DSC_2756
DSC_2806
DSC_2829
DSC_2851
DSC_2882
DSC_2907
DSC_2935
DSC_2948
DSC_2994
DSC_2997
DSC_2684

 

 

London South Bank

Despite the cold and the catastrophe that is the British Rail network at the moment, I braved the odds and took myself off to London for the day this week.

Amazingly, the trip was an absolute success both because I got to see 3 of the 4 exhibitions I had on my list for this winter and, I didn’t have to stand, bemused and confused, on any train platforms due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. The grande finale was getting a few night shots on the way back to Charing Cross station along South Bank.

So, totally out of keeping with any of the photography I saw at the Magnum gallery, at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition or at the wonderful exhibition of Elton John’s fine, eclectic collection of photographs, here are some of my efforts of the day:

dsc_4841
To do list – climb The Shard
dsc_4854
St Paul’s – gone are the Mary Poppins days of grandeur – now over-shadowed with lots of modern glass structures
untitled-1
Photo Story: he saw, he came, he conquered.
dsc_4872
No skaters tonight – bbrrhhhhhh!!!
dsc_4862
Down the River Thames to Blackfriars Bridge
dsc_4865
Twinkle
dsc_4863
Twinkle to the Savoy Hotel
dsc_4876
St Stephens town shining bright.
dsc_4874
Competition for the London Eye
dsc_4877
Trying to take a night shot from a suspension bridge
dsc_4878
Charing Cross station building looking rather retro.

 

Alleppey, Kerala, India

We took ourselves down to Alleppey (or Alappuzha) with a view to spending a couple of nights on a rice boat in the back waters. Little did we realise that it was a national holiday in India and the place would be heaving. After elbowing our way through the other tourists along the quayside where the houseboats were moored and speaking to a couple of captains, we agreed that it may not be quite the unique, romantic, enlightening experience the guide books would have us believe and therefore, opted out.

The host at our homestay had said he could organise a day with a backwater village guide and so we arranged that instead. And, what a pleasurable experience it was. My only regret is to not have spent more evening and morning time on the water when the villagers are going about their daily chores on the rivers.

dsc_1358
Taking his human for a walk
dsc_1357
Lucky goat
dsc_1339
Going about their business
dsc_1552
Local
dsc_1332
Converted canoes for the tourists
dsc_1350
Waiting to be hired.
dsc_1348
Houseboats converted from traditional rice boats – Kettuvallams
dsc_1346
Choose your houseboat.
dsc_1394
The pollution from boat motors is a little disquieting.
dsc_1417
Footpaths and waterways through the villages – away from the tourist trails
dsc_1516
So many butterflies but mostly too quick for me.
dsc_1448
Our guide and his canoe
dsc_1477
Traditional Keralean banana leaf meal at the home of our guide.
dsc_1482
The grandchildren of our backwaters village host and his wife.
dsc_1481
The grandson having his lunch
dsc_1469
canoes in all shapes and sizes
dsc_1465
Bathroom accessories
dsc_1462
Sheltering from the midday sun.
dsc_1438
Family of water buffalo
dsc_1455
Local wildlife – kingfisher
dsc_1421
All life happens here – quietly.
dsc_1423
Serene and calm
dsc_1446
Local transport
dsc_1416
Washing up.
dsc_1406
But I feel they are playing.
dsc_1405
Should be bathing…
dsc_1400
Daily chores at the riverside for villagers
dsc_1376
Bathing for all
dsc_1397
Loads of river traffic on this national holiday.
dsc_1396
Traditional house boats in a queue.
dsc_1493
A big responsibility for a small boy.
dsc_1509
Late afternoon on the canal in town.
dsc_1503
Boats to service the tourist trade
dsc_1532
In town, the bustle is intense.
dsc_1544
Retro cast advertising figurines.
dsc_1500
Recycled rice bags.
dsc_1546
Retro shop mannequins.
dsc_1541
The electricity system frightening.

Fort Kochi, Kerala, India

Fort Kochi, Kochi or otherwise Cochin; a lot of the towns we visited had two names such as Alleppey and/or Alappuzha but I never did find out why. So, to differentiate, I choose to use Kochi for the fort area and Cochin for the district.

Kerala, like many places in the world, is a melting pot of genes and mores left behind by invading societies and no where is this more evident than in and around Fort Kochi where the Arabs left Islam, the Chinese left their nets, the Portuguese left Catholicism, the Dutch left a cemetery, the Jews left trade and the British left Willingdon Island and everyone took boat loads of wonderful spices away.

It feels cosmopolitan; not like London or New York might feel cosmopolitan with their stylish business people and modern architecture but in a gritty, pragmatic, impoverished way, Fort Kochi with its varieties of peoples engaged in varieties of activities feels bustling and cosmopolitan but without the first world sparkles.

dsc_1697
Not your usual backpacker.
dsc_1582
Street vendor
dsc_1581
Loving that camera
dsc_1583
Pretty with pink
dsc_1560
In the town centre
dsc_1627
Lifestyles juxtaposed
dsc_1638
More lifestyles juxtaposed
dsc_1630
Which is the way forward?
dsc_1563
Man-child, what are you thinking?
dsc_2660
A country that now has a ‘lower-middle income economy’ – for some.
dsc_2416
Bringing home the day’s catch.
dsc_2383
King fish were the catch of the day.
dsc_2427
Fish auction on the quayside
dsc_2464
Some ice might help – for a while
dsc_2406
Similar to our ‘boys ashore’ who get a cut of the catch.
dsc_1675
Litter of feral dogs harbouring under fishing boat.
dsc_1602
Day of strike following electoral murders – play on.
dsc_1619
Schools shut for strike – on to the serious business of cricket
dsc_1579
Football on the other side of town.
dsc_2641
Street shot.
dsc_1572
It sure does.
dsc_2614
Bazaar Road for spices and rices.
dsc_2610
Varieties of rice
dsc_2602
Grain merchant
dsc_2598
Building on Bazaar Road
dsc_2546
A visit to the Dhobi Khan
dsc_2567
Community laundry
dsc_2575
Not so used nowadays and under threat of extinction
dsc_2560
How do they get those whites so white?
dsc_2533
In one of the many antique and salvage shops in Jew Town
dsc_2526
The spice market – also with a variety of ingredients for ayurvedic medicines
dsc_2657
The Dutch cemetery – not that you can get in here
dsc_2366
Thought I’d left him behind in Cuba… The Socialist Party headquarters.
dsc_1696
Huummmmmmm?
dsc_2691
When it rains, it rains.
dsc_1711
Lovely to watch.

 

 

 

Lakshadweep Islands, Indian Territories

WARNING – LONG POST!!!

For the second main stage of our travels to India, we found ourselves heading out into the Arabian Sea with a boat load of middle-aged, middle-class domestic tourists. And I make this distinction because I feel it impacted greatly on the impressions we were left with Рstill the same kindness and friendliness yet totally different to the fishing community at Cherai Beach.

Leaving from Willingdon Island near Fort Kocki in Kerala, we were embarking on a five night adventure which would include a day visit to 3 of the 39 islands of this archipelago located to the north of, and a geographical extension of the Maldives. The ship that would take us out was, primarily, the ferry and service boat for the locals of the island. And, to help finance the running costs, 200 berths have been made available to tourists. The islanders, generally, are not wealthy people and many of their young depend on jobs on the mainland. Using tourism to help finance this facility that keeps the islands in touch with the mainland seems good business.

dsc_1729
Luckily, there were only 200 tourist class passengers
dsc_1726
Many of the initiatives are still a work in progress.
dsc_1725
Please do not spit here & on to the lifeboat – wonderful curly, friendly font of the characters in the Malayalam alphabet
dsc_1775
Off into the night in the rain.
dsc_1792
The Kavaratti ship seen from Kalpeni Island

On this trip, our first stop¬†was Kalpeni Island – I believe the itinerary may change depending on weather, tides and the needs of the islanders. Here, I had a very brief conversation with a man about how more tourism could help improve the lives of these people. I was quite surprised, from a gender perspective,¬†to be approached; it¬†seems still a very patriarchal society where men talk to men. I’m not sure of the motivations of the SPORT people and their promotion of tourism on the islands; it was quite complicated to make this booking¬† and spaces are limited; it would seem that, rightfully so,¬†access to¬†the islands is being kept in check.

dsc_1787
Local fishing boats were used for transfers from ship to island.
dsc_1995
All tourists were required to wear life jackets… The locals fended for themselves.
dsc_2003
Just because I liked the colours.
dsc_1835
Morning water activities.
rimg0671
Beautiful corals and sea life
rimg0663
Snorkelling was very easy in these shallow waters.
dsc_1810-edit
Off to experience scuba diving
dsc_1807
Barely above sea level
dsc_1960
Pre-dinner activities – hermit crab racing.
dsc_1954
Chickens on the beach
dsc_1936
Goats on nests
dsc_1875
Local folk dance
dsc_1911
Not so different from our Morris Men
dsc_1929
The coconut industry
dsc_1924
There is no shortage.
dsc_1932
Disused textiles factory – no longer viable
dsc_1935
Tourists checking out the textiles for sale

After a comfortable nights sleep in our bunks on the ship, we awoke on the second day to find the ship had already moored off Minicoy island. After a basic but nutritious breakfast, we were again loaded into the local fishing boats and ferried ashore.

dsc_2033
A visit to one of the many lighthouses left behind by the British – Hari and Christine were the only other Europeans that had found their way to this trip.

 

dsc_2034
A handsome devil
dsc_2085
Salt water lover.
dsc_2075
Entertainment laid on.
rimg0663
We preferred to spend our morning snorkelling – there was so much to see.
rimg0671
I cannot do the vibrancy justice.
rimg0741
Shy.
rimg0748
Magnificent corals
dsc_2069
Nature’s washing line.
dsc_2094
Traditional racing boat.
dsc_2050
The very little exclusive tourist accommodation that was on the islands was way beyond our budget.
dsc_2060
Cliches are cliches for a reason – someone said that to me recently.
dsc_2128
The locals on the top deck.
dsc_2149
Getting the land-lubber tourists aboard – there was a bit of a swell this evening which meant the leap had to be well timed.
dsc_2142
Watching the loading process. Love how their boats are shaped like fish.

The final island we had the good fortune to visit, Karavatti like the¬†name of the ship,¬†is the capital of the Lakshadweep Islands and therefore a little more populated, but not visibly any wealthier. I should have liked to talk more with the locals but they seemed quite shy, keeping away from the hoards of tourists. And, I was surprised the Indian tourists didn’t try to engage with them – again it made me think about the class system in this country and wonder how things work.

We did get a little insight into the psyche of our upwardly mobile travelling companions¬†on this day. Having had a drink in a paper cup, my other half wandered towards the rubbish bin, on his way collecting a few cups, as you do,¬†that had been dropped on the beach and, having placed them all in the bin, thought no more of it…. until. After lunch, a¬†woman came up and said how she had noticed him collecting some of the litter and explained how it ‘almost’ made her consider doing the same. Later that evening, on the boat, after dinner, a couple of the men came over and there ensued a huge discussion on why they could never be seen to be picking up litter. And it was that conversation that, for us, clarified a little the class system in the country and how closely linked it is to the huge litter problem they have.

dsc_2164
The population of Kavaratti swells for a few hours.
rimg0774
Firstly, a swim to look at the sea life.
rimg0790
Just as great a selection here as on the other two islands.
dsc_2168
An option for non-swimmers – lazy us.
dsc_2195
Cows on the beach.
dsc_2199
Lakshadweep
dsc_2179
Goats and boats
dsc_2208
Washed away.
dsc_2184
Dried fish industry
dsc_2189
Luckily, they don’t have the seagulls we do.
dsc_2210
Older local lads making their own amusement on the beach
dsc_2212
I’m of more interest than the lesson
dsc_2221
School children
dsc_2227
The same the world over.
dsc_2219
Smart phones and shark tanks
dsc_2215
A very good display of preserved sea creatures – not supposed to take photos
dsc_2228
Selling it by the chunk
dsc_2245
Beach combing at low tide.
dsc_2285
A quick selfie whilst waiting for something to happen – Bollywood style.
dsc_2271
Locals leaving the island
dsc_2298
To make sure we go or make sure they stay?
dsc_2305
Alone on the dock
dsc_2336
The farewell committee
dsc_2345
Another lighthouse
dsc_2320
Locals on the top deck Рagain, mostly male.

 

 

 

 

Vypin Island, Kerala, India

And I am so terribly behind with posting. Not that I’m complaining after having spent a month in India for which I feel privileged, dumbfounded, enlightened, heartbroken, joyous, humbled, confused, enriched…. I defy anyone to come away from India and feel they have an understanding of how¬†they feel about¬†that place and its people.

Our trip was restricted to Kerala and a little of Tamil Nadu as we didn’t want to spend our month traveling long distances (although I do regret missing the experience of the trains) and we¬†planned a gentle¬†introduction¬†to¬†the country, its¬†people, its food (no¬†global fast food chains¬†here) and the climate¬†by spending several days at Cherai Beach on Vypin Island.

I guess, unless you travel with one of the big tour operators where tourists may be somewhat shielded from the raw everydayness of Indian life, there is no gentle introduction to this enigmatic land. The first obstacle we encountered was how to eat – we were traveling cheaply (lots of homestays and small, independent hotels) and food wasn’t part of the accommodation – mainly vegetarian meals and curried vegetables for breakfast¬†didn’t take too much getting used to and at least, near the beach, there was a wonderful range of seafood.

The seafood leads me onto the second dilemma we encountered very early¬†on during¬†our stay: the Indian’s relationship with the sea. We are avid swimmers and love to get in the sea (yes, even the English Channel) but were unnerved to learn, on the day of our arrival, that a lad had gone missing in the water. Then, after a couple of days watching the domestic tourist buses turn up late afternoon, we realised that the Indians just don’t swim. Some male youths may get in the water properly but as soon as they¬†get beyond chest depth, the ‘lifeguard’ blows his whistle and they come back to shallower water. And, to be honest, although there are miles of beautiful golden sand, the litter and other pollution (yes, it is true, there is still some human defecation in places of extreme beauty) are not particularly inviting. As mesmerised as we were to watch the romantic scenes of the cast net fishermen every morning, it was also dumbfounding to watch them return to the sea the plastics and other refuse they had just dragged¬†ashore in their nets¬†– probably to then drag it all back ashore the following day.

But the landscape was beautiful and the people, whether on the street, from the accommodation or working in the eating places were friendly and helpful and pleased to share insights into their culture.

This is our photo journey of Vypin Island:

Domestic tourists would arrive by the bus load towards the end of the afternoon and then disappear again after sunset:

 

Very few Indians got into the water when they came to the beach and often, if they did, they would be fully dressed:

It was fascinating to watch the cast net fishermen each morning:

A sight highly recommended by the tourists books, these static nets that are raised and lowered by a series of boulders working as counter-balances and purportedly introduced by the Chinese, are best seen on the north tip of Vypin Island.

As well as the lone cast net fishermen and the small crews that work the canoes, Kerala has a considerable fleet of deeper water fishing boats:

It was on Vypin Island that we first met some of¬†India’s animals – domestic and wild:

And started to become aware of the spiritual diversity of the country. Christians, Hindus and Muslims live their daily lives, side by side, in seeming peace and understanding of one another.

And finally, a few photos for no other reason than to celebrate how wonderful the light is in this part of the world:

 

 

Rye Jazz Festival in Mono

It’s that time of the week, and it’s that time of year again. Rye Jazz Festival is going from strength to strength every year and, despite a dreary day with intermittent downpours, it seemed a good time was had by all on the Saturday.

Something else that is going from strength to strength in terms of the quality of images, is Leanne Coles MMC. Don’t miss out taking a look at all the cool entries here.

DSC_8449-Edit
Some serious brass from Red Diesel.
DSC_8421-Edit
The artist and the audience.
DSC_8423-Edit
Getting out amongst things.
DSC_8437-Edit
Ahh… The British weather.
DSC_8446-Edit
Watching the watchers.

Hastings’ Pram Race 2016

It was another great evening in¬†Hastings’ Old Town¬†with teams of people dressed up and racing their carts and prams around the pubs to make money for charity. Not sure why I didn’t get so many good photos this year – it certainly wasn’t because I was spending too much time in the pubs. Haha!

DSC_5448
DSC_5488
..
DSC_5442
DSC_5496
DSC_5475
DSC_5495
DSC_5485
DSC_5461