Amethyst, native Silicon, Azurite and native Bismuth samples from a friend's collection, clockwise from top left. All of these are naturally-occurring minerals that you can pick up from the surface, if you're looking in the right place. Amethyst and Azurite are used as gem stones; Silicon and and Bismuth are two of the few elements which can be found in pure solid form in the ground. Crystalline Bismuth is unusually dense so the sample feels "heavy" compared to expectation. Thanks Peter.
France is having a day of strikes, «Mardi Noir» (Black Tuesday), the actions protesting against a number of separate grievances, including changes to employment law and education standards.
Place Castellane is a busy roundabout, a large group of taxis converged on the monument at a snail's place, a movement known as an «Operation Escargot». They don't like apps like Uber.
Schools shut. Government offices, social security etc just the Welcome desk manned, no-one actually talking to clients. Not much public transport running. 3/4G internet flaky and working half speed. Maybe because of the traffic jams or maybe surveillance. At least 20% of today's flights show as cancelled in advance but direct experience shows the reality is more than that.
Graffiti in several places with the slogan which translates as "Demos don't work any more: SABOTAGE". Nearby, a fire at an employment office. No evidence of any connection but either way, it's not good for democracy.
Is anything going to change? I wonder. Meanwhile businesses and individuals suffer.
Apparently also in Paris as in Marseille. Welcome to France!
Cap Morgiou (221 m.): view of the massive limestone cliffs flanking Mt. Puget (564 m.) down to the Mediterranean in the Calanques National Park between Marseille, Cassis and Cap Cannaille (394 m.), just visible far away in the mist.
A brisk hike up from Les Baumettes prison, the terminus of the convenient bus route. Once on the cliff route, misty despite a breeze but big views over the Calanques of Sormiou and then Morgiou. A rare treat to see the snows on the peak of Mt. Ventoux (1912 m.) far away to the North whilst hearing the waves of the Mediterranean crash on the base of the cliffs 200 m. below the cliff path. What a view for lunch on my first hike of 2016!
The prominent peak top centre of my photo is La Grande Candelle (454 m.) which I hiked up to in 2014: see Massif de Mt. Puget, Sept 2014
First ride out from Marseille of 2016! Morning mist cleared rapidly to reveal dry roads clear of traffic, right for late braking and high revs riding despite bulky winter gear.
An opportunity to stay within the Bouches du Rhône département, taking in the Roman bridge at St. Chamas and views of the limestone of the Luberon and Alpilles mountains. Plus meeting with a French mate for lunch in Sénas.
Regency Brighton continues to benefit from investment and construction. There’s a bold new development at the Marina, which unfortunately dominates the view towards the white cliffs of the Severn Sisters. And in the westerly direction the steel column (162 m.) of the nearly-completed Brighton i360 viewing platform replaces the Victorian wrought iron of the much-loved West Pier, long since ruined first by fire and latterly by prevarication.
The Brighton Pavilion North gatehouse dates from about 1774.
Mistletoe in trees silhouetted against the pale winter sky.
This picture from North Somerset, where there is no shortage of mistletoe this winter.
Brighton’s own Philharmonic started an adventurous New Year’s Eve Viennese Gala with a brisk and colourful rendition of the Overture to Die Fledermaus. Warm strings, confident brass with supportive conducting from Barry Wordsworth. The Brighton Philharmonic clearly enjoy playing together and (having many seasoned players in their ranks) have respect but little fear for technical difficulty. A fullish house, I heard a figure mentioned of more than 1320. So the second item, Bahn Frei (“Line clear”) was doubly ironic as Brighton has been marooned from London by Rail Engineering Works since Christmas Eve.
Franz Lehar’s Waltz Gold and Silver, with its lusciously beautiful melody, was the first of no fewer than four full-scale waltzes in the programme; each given sensitive and intelligent performances, no small feat of preparation and commitment. And shining through the Brighton Philharmonic’s performances is a sense of enjoyment in the same way as happens with the best performances of chamber music amongst friends.
Carménère grape used to be a staple of the Bordeaux clarets but has been largely replaced in France by varieties of the Merlot grape for reasons of yield in the climate of the Bordeaux area, which attracts storms from the Atlantic. Carménère has been successfully transferred to the resurgent Chilean vineyards in the rebuilding since the boom and consequent bust following the liberalisation of Chile (including wine production) after the 1974 reforms under the Pinochet regime. European producers arrived in strength, including producers from Bordeaux including the Rothschilds. So although Chilean wine is mostly known in Europe for its exports of single grape wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, there is production of other grape types which are not exported in large volumes; for example there's a fine Blanc de Noir, a sparking white wine from Pinot Noir grapes.
Nestling amongst the skyscrapers of the City and within the distance of a First Thursday Art Walk from the renowned Whitechapel Gallery, the Leyden Gallery is hosting a show by Nude for Thought, a group of artists specialising in the male form.
This year’s show “re: Defining beauty” features a thought-provoking and wide range of styles. Jon Armour’s striking pieces dominate the entrance floor, he represents the painted skin of a male body displayed both splayed flat as a pelt and explored on video while still three dimensional, which he terms the enjoyment of a Visio-haptic experience. It’s worthwhile trying to work out exactly what body parts are being explored!