Yet another set of photos that never got blogged at the time of taking them back in January (don’t ask, it’s been a very strange year) which is a shame as I was, and am, very proud of these London beauties. Many were taken from the top of Tower Bridge; I paid my tenner AND got to see some Martin Parr prints that were exhibiting there at the time.
The Purbeck railway line transports the nostalgic voyager along the 12mile track through English countryside and past the magnificent Corfe Castle sitting high on its hill above its quaint village to the seaside town of Swanage. There, we took a tall ship out along the coast to witness, from the sea, Harry Rock and the white chalk cliffs that are so typical of the south coast. Returning, on the train, to the car park, the other half was thrilled to find a car park full of vintage racing Bugatti cars. An excellent first day.
We stayed in a little farmhouse just up the road from Lulworth Cove from which, cliff top footpaths offered beautiful coastal panoramas to include the famous arched peninsula of Durdle Door.
Of all the drama of this stretch of coast, one of the most bizarre things we saw in that small area was the grey stone beach, and therefore foreboding grey waters, but yet the multi-coloured seaweeds of Kimmeridge Bay.
Tyneham village, commandeered by the military as a strategic location during the war is still in the hands of the military and therefore the village and Worbarrow Bay are only accessible on certain designated days. We were lucky to see them.
We spend a pleasing day on the National Trust Brownsea Island. Pleasing firstly because it required 2 ferry rides to get there and secondly because there were no vehicles and few people about but mostly, because we saw a rare red squirrel. Red squirrels are indigenous however, they were virtually wiped out when the larger, more aggressive grey squirrel got introduced from Nth America in C19.
The bridge at Wareham was very pretty
And, after a thorough lovely few days, for the grand finale, which happens to be my favourite place ever, and happened to fall on my birthday… we visited Monkey World. We had been once before when the boys were young and I do try to catch the daily dramas on the TV series but there is nothing like spending time watching these apes and monkeys that have had such difficult lives – many rescued from the pet trade and some from the tourist trade. This place does a great job in giving them back some dignity and allowing as natural a life as they would ever be able to enjoy. They have an excellent breeding program with some of the rarest of species whose young can end up getting transported back to the wild. I think it’s a great cause.
Wow, that’s quite an accolade for the structure that locals either love or hate, and regardless of opinion, colloquially call ‘the plank’. The 2017 RIBA Stirling architecture prize for best building is, according to some, excessive for a space in which there is ‘nothing to do’ and well deserved for others who love to promenade to the end and enjoy the huge void above the waves. Hopefully, these photos on, off and of the pier, taken over a period of time in the past couple of years, may prove this open space, that is adaptable for a range of events such as music, yoga and…. a car show room…., is well worthy of the prize.
It’s always interesting to go to Whitstable for the day. Not only because the seafood lunches are fabulous but also because the north facing coast is enjoyably disorientating, putting a different view on the sunset. And, my oh my, have the sunsets been glorious this autumn.
It wasn’t quite the same walking the orchard this week without the little white thing but the weather was fine and the cider brewery didn’t clear all the apples so the colours were resplendent in the autumn sun. It was such a fine day, we extended our walk up to the castle and engaged with the ducks who are always extremely outrageous but highly comical.
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:
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.
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.
We left the house under a glorious autumnal sun and by the time we’d got to the harbour in the Cinque Ports town of Rye (20 mins up the coast) already the clouds had started gathering.
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 – still 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.
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.
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.
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.